Rivalries are pretty much the foundation of comic books. Sibling rivalries even more so. Think about it – Thor and Loki, Professor X and Juggernaut, Wonder Man and Grim Reaper. Ok, maybe not so much that last one. Nevertheless, “who is the better sibling?” is a game audience can definitely play when it comes to the X-Men comics.
Nathan Summers, aka Cable, and Rachel Summers, aka Phoenix, come from a complicated family. Each character comes from a different timeline and is also the child of Scott Summers and (kind of) Jean Grey. While each character is strong in their own right, let’s take a look at which Summers sibling is more powerful.
10 Cable: Stepping Between Moments
Time travel is pretty much the key ingredient for both Summers kids, but Cable has a unique ability that gives him a bit of an edge. Thanks to his tutelage with the Askani in the future timeline he was raised in, Nathan Summers can telekinetically freeze time and basically skip forward.
Pretty scary when time becomes that little button on someone’s streaming remote that lets them go forward or back ten seconds. If you’re a bad guy and want to get the drop on Cable, you better have done it a while ago.
9 Rachel: Chronoskipping
Though there’s been a hint or two that Cable has this same power, he has never used it on the scale that Rachel Summers has. In a nutshell, chronoskimming is the ability to project your consciousness forward or backward in time, into your own body or even someone else’s.
Rachel first does this after the end of the hallmark Days of Futures Past arc, when she wants to know why Kitty Pryde’s efforts to undo the apocalyptic timeline they exist in failed. Rachel goes back in time and sticks around in the present.
8 Cable: Bodysliding
Lots of mutants and super people can teleport, but Cable has an advantage here as he does pretty much everywhere. Bodysliding allows Cable to teleport to virtually any place, a pretty nifty trick when caught in a jam.
Saying “bodyslide by one,” he can teleport himself, or “bodyslide by two,” he can teleport another. This ability really benefitted Cable when he was protecting his young charge Hope Summers from all the people who wanted to prevent her from, well, living. Cable can be anywhere, at virtually anytime, making him staggeringly powerful.
7 Rachel: Chrono-Shield
Cable can slide around in time and space, which makes it hard for villains to get the jump on him. What might come in handy would be something like a time shield, a power that would allow someone to defend themselves against an attacker who is manipulating the time stream. Luckily, Rachel can do just that!
In addition to all of her other immense powers, Rachel Summers can generate an unconscious time shield, insulating her against someone tying together her temporal shoelaces. With this power, she puts herself well ahead of Cable in the chrono-department.
6 Cable: Mental Antibodies
Imagine being infected with a terrible, fatal disease. Then imagine the best cure is telekinetic self-discipline. Early in his complicated life, Nathan Summers was infected with a techno-organic virus by Apocalypse and taken to the far future where he might be cured.
The balance of his treatment was in learning how to use his own telekinetic gifts to keep the virus within his body at bay. Doing this requires extraordinary, constant vigilance, and inhibits Cable from using his mental powers to their full extent. Hard to imagine what he could do if he didn’t have to keep himself from dying every minute of every day.
5 Rachel: So Worthy
While a lot of debate goes into who’s worthy to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, not nearly enough surrounds who can take a hit from it. Rachel would not even be on that list, as she would never let the hammer touch her.
In the massive crossover Avengers vs. X-Men, Rachel fights to defend Hope Summers from the Avengers and, in the process, blocks a blow from Thor’s hammer with a telekinetic forcefield. For good measure, she even clubs the God of Thunder with his own weapon. Basically, if the person you are fighting has Summers as a last name, just don’t.
4 Cable: Which Is Which?
As if things weren’t complicated enough with Nathan Summers, there are quite a few of him floating around (or there have been; with time travel, it’s all a bit fuzzy). First up was his clone, Stryfe, aka “He Of The Spiky Helmet.”
Most recently was Kid Cable, who arrived from yet another timeline and killed his older self. The younger Nathan Summers has taken up residence on Krakoa and if nothing else, proves Cable’s endurance. Despite a debilitating disease, endless enemies, and one crisis after another, Cable is a hard man to get rid of.
3 Rachel: The Phoenix Force
Someone is clearly a badass if being the host of the Phoenix Force isn’t even the highest thing on this list. Inheriting the cosmic power from her mother, Jean Grey, Rachel is the longest-running host of the Phoenix Force and more than that, has never succumbed to its darker impulses.
With the Phoenix Force at her disposal, Rachel has defeated Galactus, The Beyonder, and generally made havoc of the nefarious plans of a lot of would-be conquerors and tyrants. Unlike her mother, Rachel does not have the same contentious – and fatal – attraction to her power.
2 Cable: We Have The Technology
One of Cable’s most distinguishing features – and most powerful attributes – are his cybernetic implants. His cybernetic eye allows him to see into the electromagnetic spectrum far beyond any instrument of man, as well as see psionic energy fields (a little like Cerebro).
Cable’s cybernetic arm makes him someone you don’t want to arm wrestle, and best of all, his telekinesis can rearrange the techno-organic properties of his body. That means Cable can heal injuries and also form weapons, like swords, out of his own body.
1 Rachel: Limits Her Own Powers
What ultimately distinguishes the two Summers kids is the fact that Rachel has access to extraordinary powers she is not even using. Cable holds back his virus, but Rachel blocks her own potential.
The ramifications of this – considering she’s already an Omega-level mutant – are humbling, to say the least. In X-Men: Gold, Rachel defeats a new Sentinel AI by wiping out its consciousness with a thought. This unlocks new powers she didn’t have access to before because she herself was putting a cap on how far she could go. That wisdom and caution, combined with her native power, make Rachel the most powerful Summers kid around.
In the Marvel Universe, “Summers” is synonymous with power. That begs the question, is Cable or Rachel the most powerful Summers child?