…Ahab’s origin?

Days of Future Present trade cover by Mike Mignola

Figure 1: Ahab's introduction in the Days of Future Present crossover.

Ahab was the “Master of the Hounds” from the Days of Future Past future – the one that Rachel Grey hailed from.  Hounds were mutants with powers useful for tracking other mutants, who were controlled by Ahab in that timeline.  Back when Cable still didn’t have a past, Ahab was introduced in the Days of Future Present crossover (Fantastic Four Annual #23, X-Factor Annual #5, New Mutants Annual #6, Uncanny X-Men Annual #14).  During one fight scene during this crossover, Cable and Ahab get close to one another, and Cable is shocked to recognise something familiar in Ahab, reinforced to readers further when Ahab says: “What’s wrong Cable? See someone you know?” (cf. Uncanny X-Men Annual #14).

Ahab coming to blows with Cable for the first time?

Figure 2: When Cable meets Ahab face-to-face he appears to recognise him; but how?! from X-Men Annual #14, p.31

Now, although Rictor was the first to point out that Cable looked like Ahab

Rictor being the first to point out Cable looking like Ahab

Figure 3: The panel that started it all - Rictor being the 1st to note a physical resemblance between Cable and Ahab, from New Mutants Annual #6, p.45

I believe his judgement was clouded by his guilt over killing the Hound

Rictor demonstrating a heightened state of stress due to killing one of Ahab's "Hounds"

Figure 4: Was Rictor's judgement clouded by his guilt over killing the Hound? from New Mutants Annual #6, p.31

and his reluctance to trust Cable (cf. New Mutants #89, p.30)

first indications of Rictor's grudge towards Cable

Figure 5: First indication of Rictor's grudge towards Cable, from New Mutants #89, p.30

due to his belief that Cable set his father up to get killed  (cf. New Mutants #90, p. 14 & 18)

Rictor taking Cable on about setting his father up to get killed

Figure 6: The reason for the animosity is that Rictor believes Cable is responsible for killing his father, from New Mutants #90, p.18

and his recollection that when he was a child – prior to manifesting his powers – Cable seemed like such a monster (cf. New Mutants #93, page 14).

Rictor runs ahead of Sunspot and Wolfsbane, but Sunspot tells him to wait up, reminding Rictor that the problem he has with Cable has caused difficulties for them before - Rictor interrupts, telling Bobby to drop it, as it is over, and that there won’t be anymore problems, as they are a team and will stay a team. Rictor wonders however, how Cable fits into this, and remembers that when he was a child, Cable seemed like a monster, but now he isn’t so sure.

Figure 7: Rictor recalls that when he was a child Cable seemed like such a monster, from New Mutants #93, p.14

This along with noticing superficial physical similarities – scar over right eye, and bionic left arm and shoulder (cf. X-Factor #61, p. 6 among others)

Cable tells himself that Wipeout's power blocks somehow makes him unable to control his bionic left arm, rendering it useless

Figure 8: Cable notes his left arm as the bionic arm, etc. from X-Factor #61, p.6

– while experiencing a heightened state of stress, provides a reasonable excuse for Rictor’s misplaced paranoia.

I do think Louise Simonson had somewhat of a plan for Cable negative relationship with Rictor – and no I don’t think it was the later revelation of Stryfe being his doppelganger – which I believe was somehow tied into his having previously worked as a government agent who went “rogue” (cf. New Mutants #88), his past with Moira MacTaggert (cf. New Mutants #89), his past connection with Sunfire and the Yashida Clan (cf. New Mutants #93) and the outstanding scores with Wolverine and his previous link to Madripoor.

However, I’m certain the intention was NOT to impose Ahab’s origin onto Cable to resolve the fact that they didn’t initially have a background for him, but that it was planted as a RED HERRING!

Fabian Nicieza claims the latter, suggesting Bob Harras pushed for the dialogue in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14; though I’m not entirely convinced it was him primarily since the dialogue at the time seemed indicative of Claremont’s well-known catch phrases – which I’ll expound below.

While Cable and Ahab did have some similar features, there are more distinct differences, than similarities, during Ahab’s introduction in the Days of Future Present Annuals.

While both characters had similar scars across their right eyes, Cable’s left eye was the bionic one.

Even though his Physical Description from the Marvel Universe Master Edition #3 at the time suggested otherwise,

Figure 9: Physical Description notes mistakenly that Cable has bionic right eye, from Marvel Universe Master Edition #3.

Figure 9: Physical Description notes mistakenly that Cable has bionic right eye, from Marvel Universe Master Edition #3.

New Mutants #89 (p. 26)

Cable indicates his left eye as the bionic one.

Figure 10: Cable indicates his left eye as the bionic one - unlike Ahab's which is the right one - from New Mutants #89, p.26.

and Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (p. 17) proved the original intention since Cable’s right eye was blue,

Panel showing the original intention since Cable’s right eye was blue.

Figure 11: Further proof the original intention that Cable's left eye is the bionic one, as this panel shows the right eye is blue, from X-Men Annual #14, p.17

page 18 showing Ahab’s left eye as brown, his right eye being the bionic one.

Ahab’s left eye being shown as brown, his right eye being the bionic one.

Figure 12: Panel showing Ahab’s left eye as brown - the right eye being the bionic one, from X-Men Annual #14, p.18

While the rendering on their bionic left arms was awfully similar, the renderings appeared to suggest Forge’s design, since they were practically identical to how his prosthesis was depicted as in New Mutants #65 (p. 24, panel 4)

Forge’s prosthetic having identical renderings to those of Cable and Ahab's.

Figure 13: Bionic renderings appeared to suggest Forge’s design, from New Mutants #65, p.24

and on the cover of New Mutants #66

Cover of New Mutants #66 with further demonstration of Forge's bionic design.

Figure 14: Further evidence of Forge's bionic design, from New Mutants #66 cover.

(given the similarity of Forge’s design it is most interesting that he claimed credit for Misty Knight’s cyborg arm in UXM #264).

Forge claiming credit for Misty Knight’s cyborg arm

Figure 15: Forge claiming credit for Misty Knight’s cyborg arm in Uncanny X-Men #264, p.8.

In addition, on page 18 of X-Men Annual #14 (1990) Ahab calls Cyclops “laddie-buck”, definitely not indicative of Cable’s speech patterns.

Panel of Ahab calling Cyclops “laddie-buck”.

Figure 16: Ahab calling Cyclops “laddie-buck” - definitely not indicative of Cable’s speech patterns - from X-Men Annual #14, p.18

This was a well-known Claremont idiom regularly used by his Welsh character Dai Thomas, who I might add he originally introduced as an anti-superhero police officer and friend/ member of Joseph MacTaggert’s infantry in the Royal Marine Commandos.

Also, according to Banshee in New Mutants Annual #6 (p. 18) Cable was in Madripoor at the time Ahab was rounding up fellow mutants with Rachel.

Banshee explains that Cable was in Madripoor at the time Ahab was rounding up fellow mutants with Rachel.

Figure 17: Banshee explaining that Cable is in Madripoor at the time Ahab was rounding up fellow mutants with Rachel, from Banshee in New Mutants Annual #6, p.18

What this all suggests is that Cable obviously recognised Ahab in Annual #14, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he was recognising himself.  It could alternatively suggest that Cable may have encountered Ahab in his former identity, before he became “Master of the Hounds”.

What was that former identity, you ask?

The one thing that has been completely overlooked in the two decades since Ahab’s introduction is his going grey in a really unusual pattern.

I still can’t believe I am the only one who picked this up, but I’ve noted no one else make the same particular reference online over this whole time.

The only question remaining with regard to Ahab is whether he is Rogue’s father, brother or son.

Unlikely that he is her father or brother since Ahab is obviously Welsh or Scottish and Rogue was born in Mississippi.

However, could he be Rogue’s son?

During Uncanny X-Men #278 the Shadow King seduces Rogue.

Panel of Rogue being seduced by the Shadow King

Figure 18: The Shadow King seduces Rogue, from Uncanny X-Men #278, p.17

What if Claremont intended her to become pregnant by him, with Ahab?

When she comes to realise what has occurred, perhaps Claremont didn’t originally intend her to return to the team right away, but rather have her remain on Muir Island to give birth.

She swears Moira to secrecy about the pregnancy (who likely empathises Moira, given the father of her own child was a monster), and after giving birth returns to the X-Men.

But not before leaving the child with Moira to rear (drawing a nice parallel to Mystique’s own giving up of Kurt).

Moira, not unfamiliar with raising other bairns (i.e. Rahne), raises the child, who upon reaching his teens, like Crystal’s child, Luna, goes on to develop no powers.

He develops a crush on Rachel, who rejects him for Franklin Richards!

He takes the rejection harshly, considering the reason being because he is not a mutant, and goes on to develop a burning prejudice against mutants (much like the latter-introduced Graydon Creed).

This anti-mutant prejudice brings him into some conflict, and he is left for dead (without arms, his right eye and left leg).

But like Cameron Hodge before him, he survives, and submits himself to a process developed by the Genoshans, becoming “Master of the Hounds”, going on to enslave and humiliate Rachel; developing the Hound process in tribute to his father the Shadow King.

Note: His being raised on Muir Island would perhaps explain the accent Claremont imbued him with in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14; his crazy hair perhaps be explained by having Legion be the biological father (who was possessed by the Shadow King at the time).

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12 Responses

  1. Alan Davis showed the circumstances of the accident that crippled Ahab and necessitated his bionic limbs towards the end of his run on ‘Excalibur,’ when he was exploring Rachel’s past. Sorry I don’t have the issues handy to be more specific. Not a Claremont tale, true, but nobody has demonstrated the ability to make sense of Claremont’s dangling plotlines like Alan Davis.

  2. @Tony: While I’m aware of Alan’s story Rory, etc. still doesn’t account for Ahab’s trademark skunk-stripe suggestive of a link to Rogue.

    I don’t agree he made total sense of Claremont’s danglers, though since look at Widget’s origin.

    • Hmm, I liked what Alan Davis did with Widget. In fact, I liked everything Alan Davis did.

      • While I was a fan of Davis’s work too, I would have preferred Claremont’s original intent for the character.

        His creation had something to do with Tweedledope and some factory from the future that had been transported to Loch Daemon called Gateway Technologies, which is interesting when you recall at the same time Claremont had likewise introduced the character Gateway into Uncanny X-Men.

        There was obviously a plan to tie them together but again cut short by Claremont’s departure.

  3. Very interesting theory!

    I’m not so sure how much of it holds up. Claremont was pretty upset at the infamous “rape of Ms. Marvel” story, so I’m not so sure he’d do a rape tale of his own. Although granted, his objection seemed to be more with the Avengers’ acceptance of all of it than the fact that a villain had raped Carol (but I could be wrong).

    Another theory to make it less rapey but still maintaining the spirit of the idea would be that the Shadow King had corrupted Rogue instead of just controlling her. As has been pointed out, in Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men run, the Shadow King indicated he had a long-standing interest in Rogue, so that could have been Claremont’s original intention.

    I noticed there have been suggestions that the Shadow King wouldn’t use Rogue because of uncertainty over her powers potentially causing a stillbirth. But my response to this would actually be a question — would the Shadow King really care? On the one hand, he’d have a child of his influence. On the other, the despair Rogue could potentially feel from a stillbirth or miscarriage would be something he’d enjoy as well. So really, it’s a win-win for him.

    These speculative exercises are really fun. I remember once reading through old X-Men issues that there were more than a few mentions about Gambit moving like Longshot, plus their weapons (Gambit – spikes, Longshot – knives), their eyes (a sparkle frequently appeared over Gambit’s similar to Longshot’s), and their names led me to a theory that Gambit was actually Longshot after he’d passed through the Siege Perilous. Although later I found out that Claremont’s intention for Gambit was that he was simply an agent of Sinister working to subvert the X-Men from within. The Longshot connection may have just been a red herring.

    • Hey Percival, thanks so much for dropping by.

      I totally agree that the Shadow King wins either way too:)

      The Longshot/ Gambit connection you point out is an odd one. Their names were basically synonyms, and one character didn’t appear until the other one was gone… they both had agility as an attribute and they both had the glowing-eye motif… but you’re right, as far as Claremont intended, this was all coincidence and no connection was ever intended between the two.

      I’ve always thought the retconning of Cable never made sense, especially the later elements such as his using his powers to suppress the TO virus, which made scenes that happened during the X-Tinction Agenda even more strange – when Cable’s and everyone else’s powers were shut off, the virus should have gone crazy, BUT IT DIDN’T!

      And it also made scenes in early X-Force issues, where Cable’s fake skin was damaged and he looked the Terminator also strange…of course, if he was using fake skin to cover up part of his face, why not cover up the arm as well? I guess he thought a cybernetic arm looked cool…but I digress…

      So the question becomes who was Cable originally intended as?

      What if he was originally intended to be Longshot who disappeared during the whole Siege Perilous fiasco? If people want to use the glowing eye to suggest a Longshot and Gambit, why not Cable?

      Recall also Longshot’s wish to become “a better fighter”. Longshot became disillusioned with himself right before the Siege Perilous Fiasco. (This was from how Inferno ended and happened in Uncanny 248.) He literally disassembled himself, talking to Storm, and said something to the effect of “I need to become better, stronger… a better fighter.” He was then not seen again until his appearance in
      X-Men #5-7.

      Now this does not mean that idea was entertained for long, but the name Cable (TV themes in Mojoworld), the glowing eye (both of their left eyes glow), the idea about becoming a better fighter and the mysterious arrival of Cable shortly after Longshot’s disappearance lend credence to this theory. It really seems like a logical progression of thought to link the two;)

  4. nice theory even though kind of creepy with the bit about maybe ahab beind rogues son due to the shadow king. or rogues brother or father since the only known ones rogue has would be night crawler and craydon creed as step ones by mystique. plus given moria track record with kids. rogue would surely not give up her baby to her to raise. not to mention ahab was revealed to be rory cambell in excalibur

    • Rory Campbell was not the identity the original creators had in mind but was created much later after they left, and I was trying to resolve with what was revealed before their departure from the X-titles. The connection to Rogue was the primary obvious clue…

  5. […] All that’s left to figure out now is how Cable knew the Master of the Hounds, Ahab in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (and no I don’t believe the two were originally intended to be the same character and here is my reason why). […]

  6. Hi, I Think Ahab was the old Banshee, because the accent plus the red beard, the eye and the hand prosthetics and leg. It is also said that he died by Sentinels and Forge. May have been where the Sentinels turned it into Ahab.

  7. I love theses theories.

    However, I don’t think Ahab being related to Rogue holds much water. Other than them both having a streak in their hair it is pretty unfounded. I mean, Ahab would have been born about 7 years after Franklin and be around the same age as Rachel from this implication, right?? Yet somehow he looks about 20 or 30 years their senior. I don’t know about that one. The whole Rogue being impregnated by Shadow King would have been interesting story to play out though.

    The thing to remember about this point in time (early 90s) is that the X-Books were in creative upheaval. Claremont wasn’t in control, Lee, Liefield, Portacio and Simonson all had their own ideas, Bob Harras had his input as well…..for all we know, maybe Ahab was supposed to be Cable himself or maybe a clone of him and that is where Liefeld got the idea for Stryfe from. Who knows?? Characters like Cable, Rictor, Gambit, and a lot of other characters created from this point in time were all supposed to have very different end games from what wound up happening to them.

    I actually think Nathan Adler hit it on the head in passing in this blog. Ahab could have very well meant to have been Dai Thomas from the future. Not only did Dai Thomas have a similar accent but he has a past of hating all superhumans, in the “Days of Future Present” story Ahab doesn’t really discriminate between mutants and superhumans, he just apparently hates them all equally.

    Claremont wasn’t consistent with several things…possibly because of editorial altering his intentions, or maybe because he always had a lot on his plate he would forget….I don’t know. The “Days of Future Past” details coming to fruition were always weird. Initially, it’s shown that the Hound “handlers” were just human military looking officials, then it is shown that Shadow King would use the process, but in a very different, unrefined way. However, according to things I have read, Shadow King was supposed to be finally defeated in X-Men 300, so how would he have taught the process to anyone, let alone collaborate with anyone to utilize it for beneficial purposes?? I suppose there is the detail that Sebastian Shaw was supposed to create Nimrod, a la Terminator via reverse engineering from the left over parts. Wasn’t Shadow King supposed to be linked to the Hellfire Club somehow??? Lol, see what I mean, this was all convoluted craziness.

  8. My read was always that Cable’s right eye IS his bionic one, made to look like a normal eye and his left eye is an organic eye housed in a cybernetic frame.

    Why does the left eye glow? Because he inherited Cyclops’ eye blasts and he holds back the discharge with telekinesis he inherited from his mother.

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