Jeph Loeb is back in the saddle with Cable, a character he wrote for a while back in the 1990s. With him is the master of the burly-guy arts, Ed McGuinness, who last teamed up to bring us the critically-reviled version of the Red Hulk (but he's fixed up and okay now, lest you wonder).
What was wrong with his Red Hulk, you ask? Well, aside from opening by essentially off-panel killing a long-standing Hulk villain in Emil Blonsky, the Abominaton, out of nowhere, he started with a lot of really obnoxious 'look how perfect and unstoppable my new character is' crap while dragging out the mystery of who the Red Hulk was for so long that no one ever had a chance to care about the character – who was the ONLY Hulk we had at that point. It wasn't until Jeff Parker came in with the Fall of the Hulks stuff that Red Hulk turned around.
Ahem. Sorry. Old complaints. The point is that now, Loeb and McGuinness are kicking off the huge Marvel 2012 Avengers vs. X-Men extravaganza with Avengers: X-Sanction, a four issue series wherein Cable comes back from the dead to kill the Avengers in 24 hours in order to protect his daughter, Hope Summers. As expected, Loeb jumps right into the action with no real explanation. Ostensibly, Cable has sabotaged a prison transport craft and sprung the Lethal Legion to draw the Avengers out (including Red Hulk, yikes), and then proceeds to employ a 'divide and conquer' strategy to help draw this out over four issues. Of course, he takes out Falcon with a sneaky sniper attack. Even in the Avengers, they take out the black guy first.
We'll give him a pass, because it's really Falcon's connection to Captain America as long-time partner and pal that Cable is exploiting, drawing their leader into a trap. Cue fight scene between soldiers who respect each other and such – Cap can see that the techno-organic virus is really ravaging Cable (how much do we bet that Loeb isn't aware that Cable/Deadpool writer Fabian Nicieza replaced the 'virus' with a techno-organic organism with a consciousness that Cable could actually negotiate with?), and Cable does reaffirm his canonical respect for Steve Rogers.
So here's the explanation we DO get by the end of the issue. Cable survived his death during the Messiah stuff in X-land by timesliding to the distant future, where the only thing left alive in a nuclear winter was Blaquesmith, who I assume is someone important to longtime Cable fans. He's then told that the world is destroyed apparently because the Avengers somehow prevented Hope from saving the world. So, since the T.O. virus is going to kill Cable in 24 hours or so, the old bastard decides he has to take out Earth's Mightiest Heroes to protect his daughter.
Having expected eye-rolling groan-worthy stuff, Avengers: X-Sanction #1 is actually fairly decent. Cable's big plan feels ill-conceived and counter-intuitive, but that might be intentional. That virus in his brain and his constant pain could be making him more irrational about things than normal. The issue is mostly fighting, so any judgment about plotting can be withheld for now – although the big dark last page action is pretty obviously horsepuckey, but pseudo-fakeouts like that are pretty standard in funnybooks. McGuinness, for his part, is always pretty good – he can get a bit overly-cartoony at times, but when he's on, he's dynamic and exciting and his characters definitely are given a forceful presence.
So, it's a decent start to the big AvX proceedings. However, as we've seen countless times over the past decade, a good start doesn't always lead to an acceptable finish. Time will tell. Cable would agree with that.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 7/10