It appears that we’re going to do battle, Steven. They say free cable is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Maybe not, I’m just borrowing lines from the classic Jim Carrey flick, Cable Guy. And since I don’t really care for the mutant known as Cable, you can fully expect all my little intro paragraphs for this four-part mini to quote that Ben Stiller-directed film. So without further ado, I present to you the first part of Avengers X-Sanction, the lead-in title to next year’s Avengers vs. X-Men event. Enjoy!
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist: Morry Hollowell
Letterer: Comiccraft’s A. Deschesne
Cover Art: McGuinness, Vines & Hollowell
Plot: The team of super villains known as the Lethal Legion has escaped from a prison convoy and is pursued by Captain America, Falcon, Red Hulk, Spider-Man and Wolverine. The heroes dispatch the convicts but Falcon is shot down from the sky by a mysterious assailant. The shooter is revealed to be Cable, who then drags the wounded hero into the sewers.
It is revealed that Cable’s sacrifice to save his “daughter” and mutant messiah, Hope, along with the rest of the X-Men, left him in an alternate post-apocalyptic future. Cable’s frequent ally, Blaquesmith, is alive in this timeline and informs Cable that this future could have been prevented if Hope was there to save it. Blaquesmith tells Cable that the Avengers are responsible for Hope’s absence. The techno-virus that has plagued Cable his whole life is now out of control and Blaquesmith tells him that he has twenty-four hours or less before he dies. Cable rejects Blaquesmith’s belief that nothing can be done to save her and returns to present day to hunt the Avengers.
Cable’s first target is Captain America. He took Falcon hostage in order to lure the super soldier into a trap. Cable pulls a gun and Captain America tries to reason with him. The time-traveling mutant opens fire and the two engage in battle. Cap takes Cable down with his shield, but loses the upper hand when Cable blasts the Avenger with a large-scale telepathic assault.
Cable takes up Cap’s shield, but his attack has left him weak. Captain America recovers and opens fire using his adversary’s gun. Cable blocks the shots with the shield and then throws the weapon at its owner. The shield gets lodged in a wall and when Captain America tries to recover it, Cable knocks him out from behind. Captain America regains consciousness but is held captive in an inhibitor chair with Cable’s gun pointed at his head. Cable declares his intention to track down every single Avenger to save his daughter and then a gun is fired.
Story: The only reason I have any interest in this story is because it’s setting the stage for next year’s big event, Avengers vs X-Men. I’m not the biggest fan of Cable since he’s the epitome of the hero who carries a big attitude and an even bigger gun, and I don’t find those characters interesting at all. So seeing Cable face off against one of my favorite characters, Captain America, and winning, rubs me the wrong way.
Despite not liking the star of the mini, the premise is intriguing and I’m hoping it will be a good lead-in to next year’s throw down between the two superhero teams. Right now we’re just given the beginning of the story, but Loeb has left us with some good hints at what to expect. I’m eager to see how the Avengers are responsible for Hope’s absence, and how the Phoenix Force plays into that as well, although some of that may be left for the main event next year.
The main problem with the ending of this issue is the cliffhanger Loeb leaves the reader with. The gun going off is meant to make it seem like Cable shoots a captured Captain America, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that this won’t be the end of Captain America. That cheapens the ending of this comic a bit since it’s more of a cheap tactic to try to keep the reader’s interest.
Writing: The dialogue for the first half of the comic felt a bit sparse, but it picked up once Cable and Captain America faced off. Cable wasn’t exactly very talkative about his motives when attacking Captain America, but the seeds for future stories were sown thanks to Cable’s conversation with Blaquesmith. It didn’t answer a lot of questions about how Cable survived his sacrifice at the end of Second Coming, either. I’m hoping that we get a bit more exposition and background, but I fear that this mini will just be a series of Cable-centric battles.
One problem I often find with Avenger cameos is how the writer tries to give all the characters a quick quip at the beginning of their battles. It seems like Red Hulk, Spider-Man and Wolverine are fighting to get their own line in before all the action goes down. These throw-away lines, with the exception of Spider-Man’s ‘eensy-weensy spider’ line, seemed a bit forced and didn’t offer much.
Characterization: I like the angle of Cable as a father-figure to Hope. It’s at least a different angle for a normally uninteresting character in my opinion. I know Cable’s racing the clock, but he doesn’t waste any time raising the stakes with the Avengers. He admits to respecting Captain America, and he sided with him during the Civil War, so I would think he would at least explore the option of talking to Cap about the potential problem with his daughter before coming in guns blazing.
The use of Falcon seems a little cheap. He was only used as bait by Cable to lure Captain America into his trap. Despite being on past Avengers teams, he seemed a bit out of place since he currently doesn’t serve as an Avenger and has been working with the Heroes for Hire instead.
Art: If there’s one way to make me dislike Cable more, it’s to draw him like another character I don’t care for, Deathlok. With Cable’s techno-virus growing out of control, more of his body is being covered by the techno-organic substance, resulting in a more cybernetic look. The rest of the characters have a very classic, comic book feel to them and the coloring helps make the effects pop, such as the red trail behind Captain America’s shield whenever it’s thrown.
One aspect of comic book art is the iconic speech balloons. I like when certain characters are given a different style to help display their scary, creepy or robotic voice as needed, but the speech balloons in this comic are a bit random at times. Sometimes they are more rigid or have a different border design. That, in addition to the squiggly lines under some words to emphasize some of the exclamations, came off as distracting to the overall art.
Action: A plot revolving around Cable fighting the Avengers sounds like it will be filled with action and it seems like that is the direction this mini is going. The problem with that is there’s not a lot of time to answer potential questions a reader may have. It also feels like it shortens the comic a bit since there’s not a lot to read and you’re just looking at fight scenes.
I wasn’t a big fan of this matchup in general though. It seemed like Captain America was taken down like a chump by having him waste time trying to recover his shield which was lodged in the wall. I would think an experienced soldier like Captain America would know not to turn his back on another soldier like Cable. Captain America did have a good move in ricocheting his shield off the wall to hit Cable in the back of his head, but upon closer inspection I’m not sure how that worked since the angle at which he threw the shield seems like it should have bounced in the opposite direction than it did. But that’s a bit picky on my part.
Rating: Meh, action, art, characterization, story and writing. 3/5 X-ecuted Avengers