First Impressions – AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #1

Before we begin, allow me to reiterate that my experience with Marvel comics, especially with modern continuity, is limited. Unlike DC comics, I never spent a lot of time researching the many stratas of minutia, or reading many of the trade paperbacks of Marvel’s most influential storylines. I chalk this up to simply enjoying the underlying message of DC over Marvel.

On the one hand, DC’s heroes tend towards being the bastions of virtue. They are the ones that personify heroic traits and provide a good role model by which people ought to live there lives. As such, with obvious exceptions, I find DC’s universe to be a far brighter one.

Marvel meanwhile takes the approach of making most of their heroes just like normal people. They have their faults and failures and fumbles. Because of this, they’re more relateble to everyday readers. Unfortunately, the Marvel universe also tends to be much bleaker than DC’s. And when push comes to shove, I don’t like bleakness or hopelessness in my escapist entertainment. It’s also the main issue I have with DC’s recent reboot. DC is trying desperately to capture Marvel’s success by emulating its style. It’s trying to become Marvel, even though they have different ideologies.

It’s like New Coke all over again, except I’m fearing the changes made to the DCU won’t be changed back. That it won’t go back to DCU Classic.

While we’re on the subject of hopelessness, this is the driving force behind AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #1. Specifically, that the time-traveling Cable (alternate future son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey) escapes the events of a recent event in the X-Men titles that I don’t know about, and arrives in a future where the world is covered in a nuclear winter. And the only way Cable knows to prevent that future is by preventing the death of Hope Summers, the Mutant Messiah. And in order to do this, Cable must kill the Avengers in the few hours remaining before the techno-virus that’s ravaged his body all his life finally kills him.

If that explanation seems needlessly convoluted and full of confusing details about obscure Marvel comics lore, it’s only because it is.

It’s here that I run smack into my own ignorance about the Marvel Universe. What I just described was what this first issue and some choice research here and there have told me about what’s going on. And I’m not blaming the comic for not explaining all the things that have happened in Marvel comics for the last two decades. I just refuse to research it any more than I have to, because it’s not going to be easy to do that. I cursory glance at Wikipedia’s article on Cable and Hope Summers told me some things, but the nature of how it’s organized means that in order to learn any details on how this continuity functions beyond some scant details, I would need to read all of it. And I refuse outright.

The only reason I know Hope Summers is the “Mutant Messiah” is because other people have described her as such. I have no idea what that means. I don’t even know who Hope is related to, because Wikipedia didn’t bother to name her actual relations. X-Sanction has Cable refer to himself as her father, but I don’t know if that’s literally true or only figuratively.

So basically as a reader I’m running straight into this miniseries blind. As such, for the sake of my sanity I’ll treat this as a First Impressions from the perspective of someone who’s just getting into the whole thing. Which I am.

From that perspective, AVENGERS: X-SANCTION does do an admirable job getting the reader up to speed on at least what they need to know to follow the plot. It establishes Cable as a time traveler, as a mutant, and as one afflicted with a techno-virus. It establishes at the very least a paternal relationship between Cable and this girl named Hope (though not really who Hope is). And while only two of the Avengers really matter in this issue, we get enough information about them to know why we should care that Cable is trying to kill them.

However, for someone with absolutely no prior knowledge of these characters, X-Sanction is a poor doorway. And despite spending several minutes complaining about my limited knowledge of the established continuity, it has enough weight that if necessary I could muscle through and not worry about things I’m ignorant of. But doing so would be slow going for one such as me.

I’m honestly debating whether I should see this miniseries to the end or not. There are plenty of Marvel characters that I enjoy, like Spiderman or the Punisher, but I’ve never been all that interested in the Avengers. Too mainstream is the thinking. It’s also why I tend not to jump at the chance to read Justice League comics. The X-Men I have a rocky relationship with for reasons I won’t get to here. And Cable is in many ways a relic of the early nineties, with all the sensibilities of that era. The character was essentially created by Rob Liefeld.

So for me personally, it would be a difficult sell to get me to stay with this series beyond the first issue. I’ll decide when the next issue comes out whether or not I keep going. For those who like the Avengers, the X-Men, or Cable, I definitely recommend this book though. It has Captain America fighting Cable, after all.

Next time, though, I’m going to be looking at yet another book involving the Avengers. Yes, I admit to not having much interest in the Avengers, then proceed to buy two issues involving them. This next one however involves Spiderman more so, however.

Next time, my First Impressions of CARNAGE, USA #1.

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