Friday, February 6, 2009

MAVERICK #1 – January 1997

The Sword Sung on a Barren Heath
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Wilfred Santiago (artist), Chris Eliopoulos (lettering), Marie Javins (colors)

Summary: In an Ottawa hotel, Elena Ivanovna finds Maverick, barely coping with the Legacy Virus. Elena is a telepath whose mother was killed by Sabretooth, and she wants Maverick to tell her where to find him. Unbeknownst to Elena, both John Wraith and Omega Red followed her to Maverick’s hotel. Omega Red demands Maverick tell him where he hid the carbonadium synthesizer. Maverick and Elena flee Omega Red with Wraith’s help. Maverick leads Omega Red to a Canadian Air Force base, hoping that their security can take care of him. Omega Red is captured, and Wraith once again helps Maverick and Elena escape. Omega Red breaks out of custody and uses the Air Force’s database to discern where Maverick and Wraith would go next. He finds them at the abandoned Weapon X compound, which is where Maverick has been hiding the carbonadium synthesizer. Elena uses her telepathy to trick Omega Red into entering a containment chamber. Maverick, Elena, and Wraith escape in Wolverine’s old Lotus Seven as the Air Force arrives and firebombs the compound. A sickly Maverick collapses while driving the escape car. Elena decides to delay her vengeance on Sabretooth and help Maverick during his final days.

Continuity Notes: The “carbonadium synthesizer” is a plot device that will enable Omega Red to live without siphoning other people’s life force. It played a role in the original Omega Red storyline in X-Men #5-#7.

John Wraith and Elena Ivanovna are characters from Larry Hama’s Wolverine run, specifically issues #61-#68. Wraith was involved in CIA jobs with Maverick, Wolverine, and Sabretooth. Elena Ivanovna’s mother was killed by Sabretooth in a flashback in Wolverine #68.

Sabretooth’s former sidekick Birdie is given an origin. According to John Wraith, Birdie was sent to assassinate Sabretooth in Hong Kong years ago. Her telepathic assault wasn’t enough to harm him, and through mysterious means, Sabretooth was able to twist her into his slave.

Miscellaneous Note: The title of this issue is a reference to a William Blake poem.

Review: I had no idea this comic existed when it was published. I didn’t buy it until a few years later, when I read online that it resolved some of Hama’s Wolverine storylines. During this era, Marvel was pumping out more X-related one-shots and miniseries than it had since 1993’s 30th anniversary “celebration”. A combination of spotty newsstand distribution and growing apathy lead to me missing out on Beast, Colossus, Pryde & Wisdom, Magneto, Gambit vol. 2, and probably a few others I’m forgetting. I don’t know why exactly Maverick was singled out for his own title, especially since he rarely appeared after his initial storyline, and had been infected with a lethal virus. I assume this one-shot did well enough, though, as a short-lived Maverick regular series began within the next year.

The mood of the story matches the darker tone of the Hama/Texeira issues it follows. It’s essentially an issue-long chase scene with some flashbacks thrown in, but Maverick’s grim attitude about his mortality and the grisly details of the Sabretooth and Omega Red flashbacks keep the story from feeling too generic. Santiago’s art follows the Sienkiewicz school of gritty lines and moody shadows, while maintaining its own unique identity. The story mainly focuses on the action, so the characterizations remain mostly on a surface level. Maverick is sick and numbing his pain with booze, Elena is driven by revenge, and Wraith is just a helpful guy. Hama’s unique dialogue livens things up, giving us terms like “take the Wall Street plunge” as a synonym for jumping out of a window, along with quirky lines like, “The team could be neck deep in a class ‘A’ furball with no way out other than the bodybag express…and up pops the Wraith-Man…handing out ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards!” This isn’t as strong as the Wolverine arc that preceded it, but it has its moments and it’s better than most (if not all) of the material coming out of the X-office at this point.


rob said...

I can remember some more stuff - Mystique and Sabretooth (surely a classic), X-Men/Brood, X-Men/Clandestine, a Juggernaut one shot (by Joe Kelly and Duncan Rouleau, so it's probably pretty fun, but I've never read it), Daydreamers, Kitty Pryde Agent of Shield (a bit later). It was a really bizarre and heavy output. I didn't read most of these either. I've heard the Beast mini-series was terrible.

Anonymous said...

X-men/Clandestine wasn't that bad, had some great artwork, by Alan Davis, at least. I think a lot of the miniseries and one-shots were hit or miss. Some, like the first Gambit mini, were pretty badly written, but the Lee Weeks art still holds up, if you ask me.

wwk5d said...

whoops, that last post was me, forgot to add my name...

G. Kendall said...

I do have the X-Men/ClanDestine mini, but I've always filed it with my ClanDestine issues.

I also remember a second Bishop mini, a Domino mini, a Strong Guy one-shot, and the X-Men/Star Trek special. None of which I read.

Anonymous said...

Im pretty sure the second Bishop mini series was called X.S.E., Xavier Security Enforcers.

Ones that havent been mentioned yet:

Onslaught: Epilogue
The Rise of Apocalypse
Black Knight: Exodus

Pretty sure the Generation X Underground Special came out this year too. There was also two Generation X/Gen 13 crossovers, may have been later though.

Next year there was a follow up to Star Trek/Xmen with the Next Generation crew. Also a Magneto War Prelude one shot.

Oh yeah, the Askani' Son mini series was somewhere in here too.

May have been one or two more, but I think we have named most of them.
Whats really sad is own and read every one of these.

Anonymous said...

I knew as soon as I hit post that I would remember another. X-Babies also had a one shot around this time. And for some reason I remember Meggan from Excalibur having a mini with someone else, could have been the Colossus mini though.

Anonymous said...

Knowing there was more then what we all mentioned I had to go check my comic collection and see for myself. And yes, turns out there was more:

Starjammers mini series (Oct 95)
Imperial Guard mini series (Jan 97)
New Mutants: Truth or Death mini series (Nov 97)
Psylocke & Archangel: Crimson Dawn mini series (Aug 97)
Wolverine: Days of Future Past mini series (Dec 97)
Sunfire and Big Hero Six mini series (Sep 98)

One shots:
Colossus one shot (Oct 97) This one stars Meggan too. This might have been what I was thinking of earlier.
Longshot one shot (Feb 98)
Generation X Holiday Special (Feb 98)
Those were all I could find on my quick look, didnt feel like pulling out more boxes. There were a few more in 99 but I dont think your going that far.

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