X-Sanction is a tricky book to review. On its own, it’s okay. It reads a little quick, despite the necessary exposition to explain how and why Cable didn’t die at the end of “Second Coming,” but I think a lot of that comes from the fact that Jeph Loeb is a big fan of Ed McGuiness. He writes to McGuiness’s strengths and that means big action scenes, so he does his best to not clutter those scenes with word balloons. I absolutely get that. The result is a truly gorgeous comic book, but at $4, I’d like it to take a little longer than 7 minutes to read it. Even so, the Hulk creative team turned out a total popcorn comic in all the right ways. It’s big and loud and only a little confusing (and when we’re talking time travel, “only a little confusing” in the first chapter is pretty good).
Unfortunately, this book is a casualty of what comes after it and the fact that we already know what that is. There’s no tension to this story, and not just because I know Cable’s not going to shoot Captain America in the head as the cliffhanger in this issue would have us believe. Cable has come back (his body ravaged by the Technorganic virus) to save Hope form the Avengers. Without her, the future is a barren wasteland. He knows this because Blaquesmith told him so in the future (just go with it). The problem is that we know that Avengers vs. X-Men after this, wherein the two biggest teams in the Marvel Universe will fight over Hope. Hmmm… I wonder how X-Sanction is going to end…
That’s an unfortunate mindset to read this or any story in, but in this case, I can’t help but look at it through spoiler-tinted glasses. It’s hard to get terribly involved in this story because I’ve already been told what the next one is. It doesn’t really matter how good or bad this story is, and that’s too bad because the idea of this mini WAS pretty exciting. Now I feel like it was doomed before it ever saw print. For their part, the creative team did a good job with this and there are certainly some areas for surprises (looking at you, Falcon), so I’ll stick this one out. I just can’t shake the feeling that at the end, it won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things and this story may very end up being little more than a means to an end for something else. Maybe that’s true of all comics and serialized media, but it’s definitely more obvious in cases like this.
Taking all of this into consideration, I give Avengers: X-Sanction 3.5 out of 5 empty energy blasters. For the diehard Cable fans out there, you’ll probably want to check it out. Fans of Ed McGuiness will definitely want it because he does what he does best in this issue. For everyone else, you may want to wait for the trade or just read the recap page in Avengers vs. X-men #1.