Ruh-Roh. I’m breaking the Cable Guy theme I was using for these reviews to use a Scooby-Doo reference. It’s just that the name “Rulk” sounds like something Scooby would say. And I use that name plenty in this review as Red Hulk comes to the rescue of Captain America, Iron Man and Falcon. But who will come to Cable’s rescue? Who cares about any of that though? We get appearances by Spider-Man and the leader of mutant-kind himself. No, not Wolverine. Cable’s daddy, Cyclops. Read on as things begin to pick up for the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event.
Avengers: X-Sanction #3
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist: Morry Hollowell
Letterer: Comiccraft’s A. Deschesne
Cover Art: McGuinness, Vines & Hollowell
Variant Cover Art: Ian Churchill & Morry Hollowell; Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan & Jason Keith
Plot: Red Hulk has Cable pinned down at gunpoint in the freighter where the Avengers are being held captive. The mutant’s Techno-Organic Virus is raging out of control in his body. Cable is rescued by his companion Blaquesmith, who attacks Rulk with a modified bo-staff. Blaquesmith dances away from Rulk’s attacks long enough to allow Cable a chance to recover. Cable shoots his opponent with a large gun which sends Rulk flying out of the freighter.
In a flashback to the future apocalyptic timeline, Cable and Blaquesmith discuss the events which led to their disastrous surroundings. They visit the ruins of Avengers Mansion. Inside, Cable finds equipment which combines X-Men and Avengers technology, such as an Iron Man suit integrated with Sentinel tech, and Gambit’s bo-staff upgraded with Stark tech.
Back in the present, Rulk has recovered from Cable’s attack. He beats the mutant mercilessly with the anchor of the ship. Running out of options, Cable unleashes his hold over the Techno-Organic Virus and manages to shoot it out of his body, infecting Rulk. Cable is stopped from putting Rulk out of his misery by the arrival of Cyclops and Hope.
Hope embraces her father, glad to see him alive. Cyclops tries to reason with his son and begins to release Captain America from the inhibitor chair. Cable threatens Cyclops and claims that this is the only way to save Hope, who intervenes and demands that she is the only one in control of her life. The family reunion is interrupted by Wolverine and Spider-Man who have arrived to save the Avengers, even if they need to go through Cable.
Story: This mini is finally feeling like a proper lead-in to the big Avengers versus X-Men event. When I hear X-Men, Cable is pretty far down on the list of characters I’d pick to represent the team. So it was nice to see Cyclops and Hope pop up in the end of this issue. I liked that Cyclops went to Captain America right away in order to release the Avengers’ leader. It showed the respect the two characters hold for one another and gave me more hope that these two teams will reach a favorable agreement at the end of Avengers vs. X-Men. It will also be nice to finally see the payoff for Hope at the end of the big event. Maybe her importance to the X-Men universe will begin to diminish, but that’s unlikely if she acquires the powers of the Phoenix.
One of the most promising things to come out of this crossover event is in this issue. I enjoy seeing the tech of both the X-Men and Avengers being mixed together. I found the upgraded Gambit staff, which Blaquesmith used against Rulk, particularly interesting. I think it would be cool to see what would result if these teams officially teamed up and worked together. The characters all run in the same crowd, face a lot of similar troubles, and even share a bunch of members. Why can’t the Avengers sanction an official mutant team? I would totally buy an Uncanny Avengers comic.
The biggest downside to this mini though, and a common story device with Cable, is the use of time travel. These stories can be hard to keep up with at times. Like Erik Lexie pointed out in his review of the recent Amazing Spider-Man story arc, you’re always left with questions. What if this timeline in which Cable found himself was because he went back in time and interfered? Cable tells Blaquesmith not to worry, the Avengers “brought this on themselves,” but Cable seems to be the one instigating things, which leads to mistrust between the two organizations.
Writing: Loeb begins to answer some of the questions he laid out in the previous two issues. It’s great that he shows the X-Men tech in the future version of Avengers Mansion. The Talbot connection to the Red Hulk is also brought up again, but Loeb answers that shortly after he mentions it by insinuating that Talbot becomes a Hulk in Cable’s own timeline. I’m just not sure what this reference is for. Has this been mentioned in the past, or will Loeb try to explore this at a later date?
Wolverine and Spider-Man’s entrance in the end was a missed opportunity. I would have liked to have seen Spider-Man get the opening quip. Maybe he could have defused the situation a bit with a joke. Instead, we get an empty threat by Wolverine; because there’s no way anyone will believe that Wolverine will actually kill Cable. And now that everyone is gathered, why can’t Cable just tell his side of the story? This conflict could easily be wrapped up with some expert writing in which Cable explains himself and what he fears.
Characterization: Despite my dislike of the character, I find the family dynamics between Cable, Cyclops and Hope interesting. This gives Cable something more than just the bad attitude and gun. Loeb also gives the reader some additional insight to Cable’s background by referencing the fact that he lost a son in the past. I enjoyed the reference because most of my knowledge about Cable comes from the X-Men Animated Show which had a storyline involving Cable’s son, Tyler.
Cable’s relationship with Blaquesmith is given a little more credence as well in this issue when Cable refers to his ally as a trusted friend and mentor. I would have liked to see some of this explanation in the first issue when Blaquesmith showed up since I wasn’t familiar with him, but it helps fill out the beginning of this issue so it’s not too bad.
Art: There’s nothing wrong with McGuinness’ art in this issue, but there’s nothing really great about it. Like the rest of the series, it’s just there. The characters all look like they should and the sequential art is easy to follow. It comes across as good but generic comic book art. I like the idea of the Techno-Organic Virus taking over Cable’s body. It shows some insight as to what Cable is fighting against on a daily basis, but the execution of the artwork doesn’t come across that well. Cable just looks like a cross between Colossus and the Terminator.
Action: One of my problems with all the characters who rely heavily on guns is that I don’t find the action very dynamic for those characters. In one panel you see a guy firing a gun, and then the next panel there’s just another guy getting hit with the bullets or having the bullets bounce away. There’s not a lot to leave to the imagination, like when you picture a physically brawl between two characters.
It seemed a bit bizarre when Cable shot the Techno-Organic Virus out of his body. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on because I didn’t realize Cable could do something like that. Rulk’s beat down on Cable was a highlight of the action. I liked how Rulk used the anchor to take down Cable but I question whether or not Cable could survive a beating like that.