Graphic Novel Review: Avengers: X-Sanction

(Panini Books)

THE time-twisted son of original X-Men Scott (Cyclops) Summers and Jean (Marvel Girl) Grey, future soldier Cable was presumed dead after the X-event Second Coming, sacrificing his life for that of his surrogate daughter, the mutant messiah Hope Summers.

Now he’s back, and he has the Avengers in his line of fire for their role in the death of Hope and the devastation of the Earth, events which have yet to happen in the present day… But Cable has a deadline of his own – just 24 hours before the techno-organic virus which has permeated his body since infancy becomes terminal.

After kidnapping Captain America’s former partner Falcon, Cable begins taking out the team one by one using technology plundered from the future, capturing Cap, Iron Man and the Red Hulk with ease. But has the ruthless mutant soldier gone too far this time?

Meanwhile, the question of Hope Summers’ destiny as host of the all-powerful cosmic entity the Phoenix - the same destructive force which was once hosted by her late mother - has once again reared its flaming head, suggesting this may be the reason why the Avengers are forced to terminate her at some indeterminate time yet to come…

If this four-issue collection seems remarkably lightweight on first reading, don’t despair, it’s really little more than a prologue to the forthcoming Avengers Vs X-Men crossover epic, due for release as a trade paperback later this year.

Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness, seemingly Marvel’s go-to guys for blockbuster action sequences with little in the way of plot and characterisation following their recent run on Hulk, deliver exactly what is asked of them – a no-holds-barred battle to the finish between a key team of Avengers and the tooled-up Cable which doesn’t get bogged down in continuity at the expense of action.

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As an appetiser, it’s suitably mouthwatering, the sort of book you can devour rapidly, leaving you hungry for the main event. As a stand-alone story however, it’s rather too much of a snack, and will probably come across as much stronger when read in conjunction with AvsX.