It’s no secret that Deadpool and Cable have the same collaborator, and it’s fitting that these two should pay tribute to Rob Lifeld, the artist who spawned them. Because of this, the two characters cannot help but be connected to each other, and their paths intersect at different points over the years. In particular, one panel from a series of their collaboration in the mid-2000s paid tribute to its creator with a perfect joke.
First appearing in the early 1990s, Cable and Deadpool came from the pen of the superstar artist Liefeld. Cable was created jointly with writer Louise Simonson, and Deadpool was created with writer Fabian Niceza. Although their characters could not be more different, both characters share many features of their original artist’s signature style. They are both mystery men, each with a secret past that won’t be fully revealed until years later. Both use deadly force to achieve their goals, often with incredibly large weapons that often resemble parts of a vacuum cleaner. Cable and Deadpool also wear similar suits, each designed to look like high-tech paramilitary gear, their weapons are stored in a variety of holsters, buckles and, most importantly in the Lifeld comic, in bags.
After their solo titles were canceled, both characters began appearing in the Cable and Deadpool series starting in 2004 and written by Fabian Niciesa with illustrations by Mark Brooks and Patrick Zircher. According to the plot, Deadpool is hired by the “Church of the One World” to steal a super virus from a secret laboratory, claiming that they have plans to use it for the benefit of all mankind. At the same time, Cable is researching the virus, aiming to destroy it before it can be transmitted to the general population. Cable and Deadpool eventually fight each other, and both become infected with the virus. Of course, these two eventually find a cure and interfere with the implementation of the Church’s plan, but the real pleasure for fans lies in the reference to the creator of the characters. A tribute appears in Cable and Deadpool #4, where artist Patrick Zircher depicts Cable rushing into battle armed with a huge Gatling pistol with the label “Liefeld XS”.
The joke is twofold. On the one hand, he represents the “excess” of the comics of the early nineties, which made Liefeld a superstar, where big muscles and big guns were the order of the day. On the other hand, “XS” also means “super small”, since Cable’s rather large Gatling gun is still quite tame compared to the weapons that Lifeld usually supplies his characters with. This is the perfect joke to honor the overall creator of the characters while simultaneously noting and slightly ridiculing the artist’s features.
After leaving Marvel in 1992 to co-found Image Comics, it seemed that comic book fans might face a future in which Lifeld would never draw Cable or Deadpool again. However, Liefeld periodically returned to Marvel to draw his character characters again. The artist even drew the covers for the first four issues of Cable and Deadpool, a series that came out in the number of fifty issues. Wherever the comics take them, Cable and Deadpool will always be connected to their original creator Rob Lifeld.