Friday, March 12, 2010

X-MEN UNLIMITED #15 - June 1997

Second Contact

Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Duncan Rouleau (penciler), Rob Hunter (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Shannon Blanchard (colors)

Summary: Iceman learns from Chris Bradley’s mother that their home has been firebombed by anti-mutant zealots. Iceman visits Chris, who is angry with the X-Men for ignoring his phone calls. Chris turns to Maverick, a fellow mutant suffering from the Legacy Virus, for support. They’re targeted by more anti-mutant zealots and go on the run. Iceman calls Maverick’s old friend, Wolverine, for help. They find Chris and Maverick and help them fight off the zealots. Chris refuses Iceman’s offer of help, and Maverick convinces Wolverine to let him aid Chris. Maverick uses his contacts to set Chris’ family up with a new identity.

Continuity Notes: Chris Bradley first appeared in Unlimited #8. A flashback reveals that Maverick met Chris at a clinic treating Legacy Virus victims. He saved Chris’ family from (of course) anti-mutant zealots, and gave Chris his contact information, not expecting to hear from him again. Maverick tells Chris he lost his mutant powers years ago (he had “energy absorption” powers in Wolverine#87, which apparently reemerged briefly because of Legacy Virus side effects). Another flashback from Wolverine reveals that Maverick killed his East German brother during a Cold War mission with Team X.

I Love the ‘90s: One of the anti-mutant thugs wants to be home in time for Xena, Warrior Princess.

Review: The short-lived Maverick ongoing is a few months away, which is presumably what this issue is setting up. Pairing Maverick and Chris as an odd couple fighting the same disease has potential, even if this specific story doesn’t get a lot of mileage out of the idea. Maverick’s character arc goes from grumpy to paternal over the course of a few pages, even though there’s nothing in the story to really evoke this change. Chris’ hatred of the X-Men also feels a little off. He claims that the X-Men have been ignoring his calls for weeks, and the only justification in the story is that they were too busy dealing with Onslaught. I guess this could work as an excuse, but it doesn’t seem to me that the Onslaught storyline lasted for an extended period of time, and the issues after the crossover mainly consisted of the X-Men hanging around their mansion or going to the movies. They couldn’t find the time to return the kid’s phone calls? If the idea is that the messages were lost when part of the mansion was destroyed, that’s not made clear at all.

The villains in this issue are obviously not a threat, but since the main goal of the story is to pair Chris with Maverick, it’s not much of an issue. I do think the last two issues of this series have effectively shown the new climate in America following Graydon Creed’s assassination. Unlimited did a better job than the main titles even, since UXM went into an extended outer space arc and X-Men mostly ran filler during these months. The country’s paranoid mood was supposed to be a natural segue into the Zero Tolerance crossover, but the increased anti-mutant sentiment fizzled out before the year was over. So, this isn’t great, but Unlimited has seen worse.


Matt said...

If you have access to it, you should review the Maverick ongoing! It was only 12 issues, as I recall, and I remember really liking it at the time, though I haven't looked at it in over ten years, so I'm not sure if it still holds up (I feel like I say that a lot around here)...

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

You know, for some odd reason I remember really liking the Maverick series as well. I haven't looked at it since it came out, and it was really kind of obvious that the character's brief window had passed a long time previous, but I remember it being a nice little superhero / espionage crossover book with good art.

Of course, that might be the drugs talking.

Morgan said...

Count me in for enjoying this series at the time too. I remember being disapointed it was being canceled.

But that happened alot with Marvel of this era. They launched alot of new books during this time and most didnt make it past issue 12.

I think the only series to survive this era was Deadpool, and it memory serves they tried to cancel that one atleast twice.

I remember liking Elektra, Heroes for Hire, Alpha Flight, Slingers.

I think I was the only person to read Slingers.

Strange times at Marvel.

G. Kendall said...

I do have the Maverick series, which I got dirt-cheap on ebay a few months ago. I figured it was worth owning for Cheung's art at least. I'll eventually get to covering it.

Harry Sewalski said...

Morgan: "I think I was the only person to read Slingers."

I've read Slingers (I was introduced to it through Ricochet appearing in Runaways), and I loooooved it. I always hope that one day we'll get news of a new Slingers series being announced, but that day probably won't come for ages...

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