Review – Avengers: X-Sanction #1 (04)

Written by Jeph Loeb
Art by Ed McGuiness, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowell

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.


Filed Under: MarvelReviews

Tags: , , , , , ,

Who ARE these people!?

Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

I'm even on Google+... Kind of.

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dan Mahoney says:

    Nice write up, this is definitely suffering from the Avengers vs X-Men announcement. They should have at least given it a Prologue subheader.

  2. Lazlo says:

    Whenever I read a review that says something to the effect of “it only took me 7 minutes to read it” I always think the same thing: “Read slower, then.”

    You could gaze at the art for extended periods of time and ponder what’s happening to slow yourself down. You bought the ticket, so take the ride. Read it a couple more times or something, instead of putting it in a bag and filing it away.

    My second point: Whenever I read a review that says “It’s not as good because I already know what happens” (this happens with stuff like superhero comics and prequels), I always tend to think: “Sometimes it isn’t about *what* happened, it’s about *how* it happened. That’s the interesting part anyway, since *what* happens in stories seems to stay more or less the same and the only place you’re given any variation is usually in *how* it happens. How Loeb and McGuinness choose to tell it.

    I mean, if you traveled back in time and told yourself everything that was going to happen to every comic character over the next 10 years, would you just stop reading comics?

    Sometimes getting there is half the fun, and sometimes it’s not even about getting there, it’s about *being* there. So soak it up. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, it could be the last comic you ever read. Enjoy it!

    I’m glad you liked the comic. So did I. It’s just that given your positive review, I wondered why you would even bother to throw some of that stuff in.

    • Dan Mahoney says:

      Yes. If I traveled back in time and told myself everything that would happen in comics over the next 10 years, I would almost certainly stop reading comics.

      Question: would that course of events trigger an alternate universe, since by current day me deciding not to read comics, future me would no longer know what happened in order to tell current me what happens?

    • Jason Kerouac says:

      1) You came to a website and read a review. The reviewer like the book as a whole, but found fault with certain aspects. Isn’t it then his job to bring those issues to light, so that others can make an informed decision? Would you say that it is impossible to like something but still find flaws in it?

      2) Prequels are different from stories whose endings have been blown. A prequel is written with the express purpose of filling in the unknown that came before a story. X-Sanction was written not as a prequel, but as a story to be read, on its own, with its denouement unknown to the reader. The news of Avengers Vs. X-Men then disrupts that reading experience. I can fairly assure you that Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are entirely different as movie prequels than the books were as the first three chapters in the story of a burgeoning universe.

      3) You suggest Lee slow down, and sure… you CAN do that. But it’s undeniable that every comic book has its own energy. The best pull you through, from panel to panel. Too much dialog and you get bogged down and lose momentum; too little and you get a “Death of Superman”-like flipbook that’s over before you know it. COULD Lee slow down? Sure. But that would be artificial. Good pacing in a comic is as necessary as good pacing in any other medium. The difference is, in a movie, you’re going to sit there for an hour and a half one way or the other. The only question? Will the time be used effectively and efficiently to deliver all of the elements necessary, or will large action set pieces steal time from character and plot development that must be shoehorned in to later scenes? With a comic book, there IS no set time span for reading a book, only a natural flow. And I couldn’t agree more with my colleague; some books are over too quickly.

Leave a Reply