An image from the Cable and Deadpool series pays a loving tribute in the only possible way to the characters’ co-creator, Rob Liefeld.
It’s not a secret dead Pool and Cable share the same co-creator, and it’s only fitting that both pay homage to Rob Liefeld, the artist who gave birth to them. The two characters can’t help but bond because of this, with the characters crossing paths at various times over the years. One panel in particular from their mid-2000s team-up series paid tribute to their creator with the perfect joke.
First appearing in the early 1990s, Cable and Deadpool emerged from the pen of superstar artist Liefeld. Cable was co-created with writer Louise Simonson and Deadpool with writer Fabian Nicieza. While their personalities couldn’t be more different, the two characters share many signature characteristics of their original artist’s signature style. They are both mysterious men, each with a secret past that will not be fully revealed until years later. Both use lethal force to achieve their goals, often with impossibly large weapons that often resemble parts of a vacuum cleaner. Cable and Deadpool also share similar costumes, with each outfit designed to look like high-tech paramilitary gear, their weapons stored in an array of holsters, loops and, especially in one Liefeld comic, the pouches.
After having their solo titles cancelled, both characters began appearing in the Cable and Deadpool series, beginning in 2004 and written by Fabian Nicieza with art by Mark Brooks and Patrick Zircher. The story sees Deadpool hired by “The One World Church” to steal a super-virus from a secret lab, claiming they intend to use it for the good of all mankind. At the same time, Cable investigates the virus, aiming to destroy it before it can be released into the general population. Cable and Deadpool end up fighting and both end up infected with the virus. Sure, the two eventually find a cure and stop the Church’s plan from coming to fruition, but the real treat for fans is in the character creator reference. The tribute arrives in Cable and Deadpool #4, where artist Patrick Zircher renders Cable crashing into battle, wielding a massive Gatling gun tagged with “Liefeld XS”.
The joke is twofold. On the one hand, it represents the “excess” of the early 90s comics that made Liefeld a superstar, where big muscles and bigger guns were the order of the day. On the other hand, the ‘XS’ also stands for ‘extra-small’, as Cable’s rather large Gatling gun is still quite tame compared to the weapons Liefeld regularly equips his characters with. It’s the perfect joke to honor the characters’ shared creator, both to celebrate and lightly poke fun at the artist’s idiosyncrasies.
After leaving Marvel in 1992 to co-found Image Comics, it looked like comic book fans might be facing a future where Liefeld would never draw Cable or Deadpool again. However, Liefeld would periodically return to Marvel to draw his iconic characters again. The artist even designed the covers for the first four issues of Cable and Deadpool, a series that ran for fifty issues. No matter where the comics take them, Cable and dead Pool will always be linked to their original creator, Rob Liefeld.
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