With the conclusion of Marvel’s comic event of the year “Avengers Vs. X-Men” (which I will review as soon as the last issue ships) nearing, I thought that it may be a good idea to review one of the ‘prologue’ 4-issue mini-series that came before it. This is where writers Jeph Loeb and illustrator Ed McGuiness “Avengers: X-Sanction” comes into play as a direct ‘prequel’ to that Marvel event. I’ll get right to the point, there really is nothing essential to read about in this mini-series (now collected as a trade paperback), but it isn’t really bad either. All the mini-series does is bring back Cable and try to welcome him back into the fold of comicdom with a bang.
The Avengers being led by Captain America (with Wolverine, Red Hulk, Spider-Man, the Falcon, Iron Man) are hot on the trail of the Lethal Legion. The group had managed to escape during a routine transport when suddenly, they find themselves under assault from another front. Lured and separated, one by one the Avengers fall prey to traps laid out by Cable. The man was presumed dead (after the events of “Second Coming“), and now tipped off by Blaquesmith, he believes that his adopted daughter Hope will be killed in the future by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Cable has hatched a plan that will enable him to take out the team one by one and maybe save Hope and mutant kind’s future in the process.
“X-Sanction” is a mini-series designed to give hints that something cataclysmic is about to happen between two of Marvel’s most renowned teams and to promote the upcoming AVX crossover event. There really is nothing much that happens in the series, it is a play by play stealth strategy against the Avengers and it becomes downright predictable. It is all formula as Nathan uses his knowledge of the future to get the advantage against the Avengers, a team he’d have no hope of conquering head on. The twists and turns can be seen from a mile away, and readers of the X-titles would not be caught unawares that Marvel would use a mini-series to capitalize of the two team’s popularity.
The one value I can see from the series is the further development of the man called Cable. The mini-series is another declaration just how committed he is to his cause; it is more or less a tale of a man trying to protect his daughter, and the lengths that he would stoop to just to save Hope from murder (or so he believes). Time traveling causes ripples in the time stream, and we get to see as to how and why Nathan had come to the conclusion that the Avengers are a threat. I liked some devices that Loeb had built, but really they weren’t all that special. It was more of a ‘by the numbers’ scheme as Nathan goes into the steps of surprise, stealth and determination for him to capture the Avengers one by one. There is one twist that I appreciated and I liked the way the series had a lot of clues as to how the future had been altered (he believes Red Hulk is Glenn Talbot), Cable may be seen as a madman trying to fight for a cause and is vastly being mislead by something. To balance out the grim situation, Loeb adds in some bits of humor and I have to admit, I've always liked the exchanges between Spidey and Logan.
The illustration of Ed McGuinness is good; it had the same style that he had done with the “Red Hulk” saga but had that atmosphere that is different from his work in “Superman/Batman” during the early 2000’s. He tries to incorporate a side of gritty appeal and darkness in order to properly express the writing by Loeb. The action sequences were alright, and for some reason, Cable’s encounter with Iron Man was a lot more exciting than the way he took down the other members. McGuinness’ artwork always had that character around them, and his work in this title is no different. There is that ‘bronze age’ charm about them as he keeps that cartoonish tempo around the panels.
I guess while I did not find “X-Sanction” to be essential reading for fans, I believe that my time reading the series wasn’t a total waste. Yes, it felt so damned rushed (I mean, writers need to think of other ways to plug Spidey and Wolverine), and the twists and turns were all very predictable and were only meant to excite fans about the return of the Phoenix force. This mini-series is nothing special and truth be told, it was just so predictable that I came so close to being bored by the story. Nathan takes down the Avengers one by one and voila, Cyclops and Hope show up. But hey, there is a question as to what Blaquesmith’s motives were, and again, the series was just meant to tease readers for the upcoming Avengers Vs. X-Men event (again?)
Peep it, Don’t Buy it. Story: 2 Out of 5 Art: 3 ½ Out of 5 Dialogue: 3 Out of 5 Overall: [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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