Before “Avengers vs. X-Men,” the Avengers need to get past Cable and, so far, he’s taken out Captain America and Falcon. The simplicity of “Avengers: X-Sanction” is one of its greatest strengths. Not much happens except Cable getting ready to fight or fighting members of the Avengers, and Cable reflecting upon Hope, his adopted daughter and reason for attacking the Avengers. This comic isn’t just easy to understand as a whole conceptually, every page reminds you what the point is. In the midst of that, Jeph Loeb returns to some of his pet interests with Cable to drive the story forward, making for a satisfying reading experience.
Loeb’s tenure on “Cable” lasted from just before “The Age of Apocalypse” to just after “Onslaught,” and, during that run, Cable’s techno-organic virus became one of the central ideas. His struggle to contain and control the virus played a large part, so it’s no surprise to see Loeb returning to that in this event. Cable only has three things on his mind (the Avengers, Hope, and the virus) and each plays into the other. That basic presentation of the character on display makes Cable easy to understand; the simple rhythm of his thought process and desires gives the issue a steady pace that Loeb and Ed McGuinness use to suck the reader in and surprise at key moments.
Iron Man is the Avenger that Cable fights this issue and Loeb draws upon one distinct advantage Cable has over all of the Avengers to give him the edge: time travel. It’s Cable using armor Tony Stark hasn’t invented yet versus Iron Man. Really, it’s an excuse to add a little tech to Cable’s look and have him slug it out with Iron Man, something McGuinness depicts rather well. He makes a surprising choice in not having Cable don the full armor, only the gloves, boots, and chest plate. It seems like the wrong move at first, but it makes a lot of sense: what’s the point of Cable fighting Iron Man if Cable doesn’t look like himself?
The entire issue is that basic, that direct. Cable’s memories of Hope come off as over-the-top melodramatic because they’re so sincere. He’s almost hard to buy as a character because of that purity of vision and drive. There’s no shade of grey with the character or anything in the comic. Part of enjoying this comic is being able to get over the urge to make sarcastic jokes and roll your eyes. It’s an all or nothing experience.
Halfway in, “Avengers: X-Sanction” is proving an entertaining read. Cable taking down the Avengers one by one has had some nice surprises and the storytelling’s directness and clarity is refreshing. Jeph Loeb’s previous experience writing Cable is one of the reasons why the writing is so sincere and direct. He knows the character and doesn’t need to work his way into his head or get to know him as he writes the story. This series was sold as Cable vs. the Avengers and, so far, it’s living up to that hype.