REVIEW: Avengers X-Sanction #3

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With just two months to go until the launch of the much hyped Avengers vs. X-Men event, the penultimate issue of Jeph Loeb’s prequel series, Avengers X-Sanction, hit stores this week. Pitting Cable against “Rulk” with the future of Hope Summers and mutantkind on the line, issue #3 delivers another knock-down-drag-out fight between the time traveling X-Man and one of Earth’s mightiest heroes. This issue also sees several new players join the fray in the last few pages, setting up a potential Cable versus everyone finalé for next month.

Spoilers for Avengers X-Sanction #3 will follow.

PTB: I’m excited about Avengers versus X-Men, but the giant banner on the cover is just obnoxious. It actually doesn’t look as bad on this book as it does on others on the shelf this week, but I’m not sure who it’s meant for here.

KevinMLD: I’d assume it’s for people excited about AvX who aren’t aware of this book. To help it stand out at the store. Though I’m not sure how many of those types of people exist either.

PTB: That aside, I really like Ed McGuinness’ cover image this time around. I’m a little surprised that it gives away Cable’s means of defeating the Red Hulk, but I never would have realized that as these techno-organic spikes are news to me. I wasn’t even quite sure what had happened in the story until it was explained a bit.

KevinMLD: I agree. I had no idea what happened when Cable defeated Rulk until he explained it on the next page.

PTB: I don’t see any chance of this Red Hulk infection sticking around past the next issue, but it has provided an out for Cable being overtaken by the virus as his infection recedes a bit once he transfers it to Rulk.

KevinMLD: I’m sure Rulk’s Hulk-like healing factor will help him overcome it. I actually figured this was how Cable was going to survive this series. That he would have passed enough of the virus to Rulk to get it back under control.

PTB: One minor art complaint, the virus appears to turn Cable’s hair black. Of course it doesn’t stay consistently black. It’s like a magic disappearing Hulk mustache

KevinMLD: One major art complaint, Rulk has a long monologue about how he’s known soldiers with suicide missions on the page before Cable hits him with the technovirus. It’s a pretty impassioned speech, but he looks like he’s having a difficult time pooping in the art.

PTB: While we’re on the topic of Red Hulks, we do get an explanation of Cable’s references to Talbot. There’s a Talbot Red Hulk he’s fought sometime in his past but the Marvel Universe’s future… even though Glenn Talbot is dead. Didn’t he have a son though?

KevinMLD: Maybe. I’m not familiar with the kid if he had one. You’ve mentioned before that you thought Talbot was an older guy, but he’s a contemporary of Bruce and Betty Banner. He’s Betty’s ex-boyfriend actually. So how old could such a hypothetical kid possibly be in the modern Marvel Universe? I guess that’s a round about way of saying, I don’t think so.

PTB: A quick look around the Internet revealed I’m thinking of Glenn Talbot’s brother Brian who appeared in the Gamma Corps series after World War Hulk. We’ve been assuming they’re talking about Glenn Talbot all this time, but they’ve only ever said “Talbot.” There’s a Matt Talbot running around as well.

KevinMLD: Well, we’re not the only ones who weren’t aware of these other Talbots. Clearly Rulk has no idea about them either or maybe it’s just Jeph Loeb.

PTB: There’s also Cable’s comments that everything can change and the identity of the Red Hulk may be one of the things that has. Either way, I was surprised when Cable decided that he had free reign to kill Rulk since he didn’t have to preserve his existence in the timeline if he wasn’t Talbot. This is where it comes off the rails a bit for me, until this point we were told Cable was trying to prevent whatever happened to Hope not preserve his specific version of the future.

KevinMLD: Thinking too much about any of this time travel garbage inevitably leads to madness. I’m just assuming he’s not quite right in the head at the moment thanks to the virus. Yes he has a mission, but he’s fighting to keep his head on straight.

PTB: The timeslide to the far future where we see Cable and Blaquesmith at the ruins of Avengers Mansion is my favorite part of this issue. It looks great from pencils to inks and colors and it succinctly explains how and when Cable got the weapons he’s brought back, a time travel device, and a new arm after Second Coming. Plus I’m all about seeing futures when someone has cobbled together the technological marvels of the present.

KevinMLD: Yeah, but what was the deal with the timeslide involving the ship that happened “twelve or 50 hours ago”?

PTB: You know I read the same thing and wondered how it could be 50 hours ago when Cable is only supposed to have 24 hours to live. I even considered whether they time traveled a second time between that scene and the attack on the Avengers. Then I realized it says “Twelve or so hours ago.” That is an “S” not a “5.”

KevinMLD: If that’s the case, it’s very unclear. Nice font choice Marvel.

PTB: It was nice to see Hope arrive on the scene for a reunion with Cable, especially operating on the assumption that he either doesn’t survive or remain in the present beyond this series. It was nicer to see Cable’s adopted son Tyler mentioned. I have to credit Loeb for fitting in a lot of story elements from Cable’s history without getting lost in them.

KevinMLD: I agree. Except for the confusing alien sidekick, I think Loeb has explained Cable’s history pretty clearly. I have no idea who Tyler was, but I think it’s enough to know it was his son who died.

PTB: Blaquesmith gets a fairly straightforward (albeit all-encompassing) description here as Cable’s ally, time jumper, telepath, fighter, tactician, mentor, trainer, sensei or whatever it said exactly. I’d still prefer Cable hadn’t been brought back, but I’m becoming more accepting of it. I didn’t think I’d be saying that.

KevinMLD: I have to say I’m enjoying this book more than I expected to, but in my experience Loeb stories tend to have crash landings. So we’ll have to see where this all goes next month. As I said last month if they just kill Cable off again at the end, I’ll absolutely consider it a cheap stunt.

PTB: I go back and forth on that point.

Things wrap up next month with a final battle between Cable and Avengers Wolverine and Spider-Man with Hope and Cyclops caught in the middle. Somewhere this turned into X-Men: X-Sanction.

Read more about Avengers: X-Sanction including a look at each issue’s variant covers and this Summer’s Avengers vs. X-Men on MyLatestDistraction.

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