Thursday, January 5, 2012
X-Sanction #2 - The Hardware of Awesome
I don't hide the fact that I have a long list of bad habits. I like to think they're no worse than any professional drunk that has doused his brain in every exotic substance on the periodic table. But ignore for the more manageable habits like taking a shit in your sock drawer while drunk or wrapping your dick in aluminum foil and using it as a radio antenna when you're stoned. There are far more distressing habits that make you question the order of the universe and whether or not God was just drunk when he created everything and needed the seventh day to sleep off the hangover. One such habit is praising Jeph Loeb comics.
Drunk or not, I'm well aware that some writers come with a certain level of baggage. If Jeph Loeb was an airport, he'd need a fleet of jumbo jets flying non-stop for a year to haul the kind of baggage he carries into every book he writes. He's one of those comic writers that people love, hate, or love to hate. I admit I've been in all three categories. His amazing work with titles like Batman/Superman and supremely shitty craftsmanship with titles like Ultimate leaves me more conflicted than Chaz Bono at a public restroom. That's why when Avengers: X-Sanction #1 came out, I was actually glad to go into relapse so to speak. The first issue of this very important mini was Jeph Loeb at his finest, which is a lot like me at my most drunk but with fewer damaged telephone poles.
X-Sanction #1 began to tell the story of Cable's return from the future. It was not a very upbeat story to say the least. Cable found out that after sacrificing his life to save Hope, it all amounted to jack shit. He ended up in the future where the world was more desolate than Jon Huntsman's poll numbers. And it's all because the Avengers had to go and fuck with Hope, ensuring that she wasn't there to save the world. For Cable, you might as well have called his mother a psychotic bitch that made a deal with goblins. Even though you're right, you're going to get your ass kicked.
So Cable spent most of X-Sanction luring Captain America to a tanker ship and beating the living shit out of him until he could restrain him. He succeeded because even the guy that used to drink the blood of Nazis for breakfast can't measure up to a pissed off Cable trying to save his adopted daughter. But Captain America wasn't the only target. He needs to take on all the Avengers. X-Sanction #2 continues this mission. While Cap was off getting his ass kicked, the other Avengers were back in New York dealing with a prison break that Cable may or may not have had a hand in. Iron Man notices that Captain America isn't answering his calls. Then when he sees Falcon's pet, Red Wing, flying without his Falcon, he knows something's up and follows it. That's bound to be his biggest mistake of the day. I mean besides not wearing a condom with the last underwear model he banged.
Iron Man makes the same mistake as Captain America. He blindly walks right into an obvious trap. And this is Cable we're talking about. Mercy isn't really in his database. This would be all well and good...if it hadn't happened exactly like this in the previous issue. My short-term memory may be shot because of so much weed, but it's not THAT bad. I refuse to believe that Jeph Loeb's weed is more potent than mine. It's dangerously close to being repetitive. Thankfully, Loeb does offer an explanation of sorts. Cable, who narrates much of the comic, reveals that he didn't put a bullet in Captain America's head at the end of the last issue. Cable's short-term memory is definitely better than that. He knocked him out instead. Not just to use as bait, but because he wants to know specifically what these assholes do that hurts Hope. There's even a flashback of Cable's time raising Hope that show just how motivated he is. You fuck with his kid and he's willing to beat the shit out Earth's mightiest heroes. Reminds me of my ex-girlfriend's dad.
So how's he going to take down Iron Man? Well he already came back from the future equipped with enough hardware to contain Falcon and Captain America. Why can't he also have enough hardware to take on Iron Man? That's easier said than done of course. But since Cable's from the future, one can expect that the natural progression of technology means that everything people have right now becomes paperweights within ten years. Iron Man shows up sporting his latest suit. Cable reveals that he has the latest suit he made in the future. How did he get this? How did he even set that up? Not really clear. Loeb usually doesn't get into that kind of detail. But it looks awesome so it's hard to give a shit.
The battle that ensues is every bit as epic as the fist-fight Cable had with Captain America in the first issue. Except this time the fight doesn't involve fists. It involves energy blasts, rocket boots, and a fight that ends up underwater. Again, it's similar in style to the Captain America fight in the last issue. But it involve more shit that explodes and that's always a plus. Now the battle isn't just completely mindless action with each character throwing off one-liners. I'm sure Loeb is saving that for the Spider-Man fight.
Through this battle, Cable continues to narrate and while this may seem obtrusive for some, it actually does something important. In the last issue Cable's motivation's weren't entirely clear. In fact, he came off as a bit of a dick. Then again, he is trying to kill the Avengers. But as he muses over Hope, his dickishness becomes more understandable. And it helps that Tony Stark is a dick too. The reader should probably just imagine they're a beautiful woman that Tony Stark screwed over.
But no matter how determined or motivated he is, Iron Man is still smart (you know, in addition to being a dick). Since Cable is using Iron Man-like tech it makes sense that Iron Man himself would be able to crack it. While they're battling underwater, Iron Man reminds Cable that even if he's using Stark tech that he hasn't invented yet then he still has a way to shut it down. It's basically a dick move that he builds into all his gear. It's kind of like Apple products, but you can't jailbreak it without it blowing up on you. But Cable can be a bit of a dick as well. While Iron Man is pulling his drowning ass out of the water, he puts that techno-organic mesh he calls a brain to good use and hits Iron Man's system with a special little bit of email called the Askani virus. It's basically like giving your credit card info to North Korean gangsters. It's gonna screw you over.
Cable has Iron Man defeated. That means he now has two Avengers captured and he's prepared to rip into them like my old gym teacher ripped into fat kids. So he sets Stark in another containment chair just like he did with Captain America. This is another instance where he probably could have become a major dick, but some extra flashbacks help justify it as best a manner as torture can be justified. To this point there have been various flashbacks that show Cable raising Hope in the shitty future he's stuck in. He parallels it with the difficult decision his own parents faced when he was sent into the future. It doesn't really justify torturing the Avengers. It just shows that he's really overprotective of Hope.
And therein lies the problem with these flashbacks. While it's nice to see Cable mixing the future with the present in his mission, these don't work as well as the flashbacks in the last issue. In the last issue, the flashbacks actually fit into the plot that was unfolding. All these flashbacks to is offer some loose reminders as to why Cable wants to save Hope. We get it. He's a pissed off adopted father. It gets to the point where the flashbacks come off as filler. There may be some shitty parenting techniques in between, but not much more than that.
Cable is about to begin Dick Cheny's version of lawful interrogation. But once again, this issue parallels the last issue in that it ends with someone pointing a big as gun at someone else. In this instance the big ass gun belongs to Red Hulk and he actually shoots in a way that's not meant to stun. Cable takes a nasty shot and unlike Iron Man or Captain America, Red Hulk isn't opposed to impromptu target practice. Seeing as how Red Hulk is Jeph Loeb creation, it's understandable that he would give him a badass pose.
This would be a badass way to end the issue, but that simply isn't enough for Loeb. With more flashbacks adding to his motivation, Cable understands that he's not going to outsmart someone that's not afraid to shoot him in the head with a non-stun gun. Keep in mind he's also been shot once already and his body is already turning to shit faster than the Indianapolis Colts's Superbowl hopes did this past year. The extra shot allowed the techno organic virus to finally take over. So how Cable's plan to save Hope and stop the Avengers turning to shit, but now he looks like a pre-love child, pre-governator Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's either bad news for him, bad news for Red Hulk, or both. Either way, it's awesome for us readers!
And so this bad habit of mine gets worse and like some of my other habits, I love it! Jeph Loeb continues to offer painful reminders that he still has talent and he can still tell an awesome story. Now this issue had pretty much the same format as the last issue. Cable goes through the trouble of luring an Avenger to his domain and then he spends the issue beating the shit out of them. Along the way, we get some flashbacks of him and Hope. It worked in the first issue and it worked just as well here. However, the flashbacks with Hope didn't seem to relate as well to what was going on with Cable and Iron Man. I get that they were meant to convey the message that Cable wants to save Hope and he's kind of fucked up with the techno-organic virus, but that meaning is not very clear and comes off as needless filler at times.
It's still a complete comic. Some may not like the fact that it follows the formula of the first issue almost to the letter. But it's not completely identical, although it does end with someone holding a big ass gun to someone else's head. This isn't done because Loeb is low on ideas (although some may suspect as such). He makes it clear early on that Cable isn't out to just whack everyone in the Avengers in the tradition of Tony Soprano. He kind of wants to know what the hell they wanted with Hope and how their actions led to the world getting broiled. Even for an old guy dying of a techno-organic virus, he can't help but be a little curious. So there is a reason behind his actions, although you get the sense that they kind of went to hell at the end when Red Hulk (another Jeph Loeb creation) showed up at the end just in time to see the techno-organic overtake him. That makes for another cliff-hanger style ending that will give Loeb plenty of excuses to blow more shit up in the pages of the next issue.
I still can't get over all the great things I said about Jeph Loeb and this series with my first review. All those things apply to this review as well. X-Sanction #2 is just as well written and enjoyable as the first issue. However, the repetitive formula and the poor use of flashbacks keep this issue from being as flawless as it's predecessor. Make no mistake. This is a comic you definitely want to read if you're interested in important shit that's going on in the Marvel universe. This thing sets the stage for Avengers vs. X-men and after two issues, my dick is already rock hard and ready for this event! With that disturbing image I give X-Sanction #2 a 4 out of 5. Cable is in several different dimensions of fucked up. It's the kind of story in which Jeph Loeb is at his finest and if that's not enough for you, then you're just being a dick. Nuff said!