Monday, June 21, 2010

MAVERICK #1 - September 1997


Credits: Jorge Gonzalez (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Chris Eliopoulos & Virtual Calligraphy (letters), Kevin Somers (colors)

Summary: Maverick begins to succumb to the Legacy Virus, but Elena Ivanova uses her psychic powers to keep him alive. After going into cardiac arrest, he explodes with energy and begins to feel the virus go into remission. They’re soon attacked by Sickle and Hammer, agents of Russian mobster Ivan "the Terrible" Pushkin. They escape to the home of Maverick’s friend, and technology supplier, Isabel Ferguson. While Maverick has a phone conversation with Chris Bradley, Pushkin and his men invade Isabel’s home.

Continuity Notes: Elena Ivanova is the woman from the Maverick one-shot; the Larry Hama character obsessed with killing Sabretooth in retaliation for her mother’s death. Chris Bradley is the mutant teen with the Legacy Virus Maverick met in Unlimited #15. While near-death, Maverick has a vision of a woman named Ginetta, wearing a wedding dress. Maverick, who claims that Weapon X experiments might be responsible for his remission, has not only regained his energy absorption powers, but has also developed new ones. He can melt objects by touching them, punch with super strength, and shoot concussive force if he’s absorbed enough energy.

Review: It’s 1997, and you know what the kids want. A spin-off starring a long-ignored character from Jim Lee’s X-Men run -- Maverick, the secret agent who wears bright yellow body armor. Due to Maverick’s past with Wolverine he became a de facto character for Larry Hama, who wrote the original Maverick one-shot, to handle. However, editor Kelly Corvese seemed to be under the impression that only Howard Mackie and Jorge Gonzalez could write his books, so the most obvious choice wasn’t given the job. He could’ve flipped a coin and chosen Mackie, though, so I guess we should be thankful Gonzalez was hired.

Gonzalez seems to be going for a James Bond riff (the story’s dedicated to Ian Fleming), so it’s odd that he not only revives Maverick’s powers, but even gives him new ones. A really cool secret agent wouldn’t need super powers, and since Maverick has never actually used his powers in his previous appearances, it’s not as if he’s closely associated with mutant abilities anyway. However, I do understand why Gonzalez has Maverick go into remission, even if the scene is a little clumsy, since he’s a lot less credible as an action lead if he’s terminally ill. The Legacy Virus is what connects Maverick to Chris Bradley, and Maverick has no idea how to tell him that he’s now in remission. It’s kind of a cowardly move on Maverick’s part, although it seems to go along with what little we know of him so far. Initially a generic tough guy, Maverick turned into a self-pitying crybaby after his Legacy Virus infection, so maybe Gonzalez is trying to make an intentional point about his character here. Gonzalez also introduces the idea that Maverick feels he’s undeserving of a second chance after the actions of his past, which is one way to tie human emotions on to the rather cheap “remission” copout.

If 1997 was an odd time for a Maverick ongoing, it was certainly a strange time to introduce Russian villains named Hammer and Sickle. They’re working for the mafia and not any Communists (as far as we know), but they’re still rather ridiculous. Maverick’s also fought Omega Red on more than one occasion by this point, which is probably more than enough reason to lay off the Russians a bit. As weak as the villains are, and as stilted as Gonzalez’s script can be, this is a decent start for a new series. The relationships between the characters are clear, past continuity is used logically, and Gonzalez keeps things moving. By the end of the first issue, Maverick’s out of his deathbed, practicing his new powers, and working on his second encounter with the arc’s villains. No decompression here. Jim Cheung’s somewhat abstract artwork looks nice, as he brings a lot of energy to the pages and gives Maverick a stylized look that works without any Jim Lee influence.


Matt said...

Yay, glad to see you're reviewing this! I really enjoyed these 12 issues when they first came out, but I have not even cracked a single issue open since the series ended over ten years ago, so I'm curious to see how it holds up.

As I recall, this was one of (I think) nine ongoings that Marvel launched within a couple of months of Onslaught's conclusion. The others I recall off the top of my head included Marvel Team-Up, Man-Thing, Alpha Flight, Deadpool, and Thunderbolts. It's kind of sad that only two of those lasted -- though the fact that they're both still being published is kind of cool, even though at least one of them has mutated into something I've had little interest in for years.

Morgan said...

Loved this series too.

Didnt they try to cancel Deadpool twice before the 90s was over?

PS. You forgot Quicksilver, Heroes 4 Hire.

2badguys said...

I really enjoyed Heroes for Hire.

Will you be reading Quicksilver, or does that count as Avengers?

G. Kendall said...

I'm only reviewing books that were a part of the X-line, so no Quicksilver, Ka-Zar, or Deadpool ongoing.

Morgan said...

Ah damn Ka-Zar! How could I forget you!

That was another I really enjoyed.

Quicksilver not an X-Title?
Hmm... I guess it could go either way. Pretty sure it was only 12 or 13 issues though.

Deadpool on the other hand I would consider an X-Title. But except for the occasianal Siryn appearance he really didnt interact with the other X-Titles so I guess I could see you not wanting to review them.

Although if you never read them I recommend them as it was a fun series.

Adam Farrar said...

Quicksilver was definitely not an X-Men book. It was 13 issues plus a shared annual (as was Marvel’s practice in 1998) with Heroes for Hire. The book mostly had to do with his connections to the High Evolutionary and the New Men and the Inhumans with some Brotherhood of Evil Mutants thrown in there. I really liked the book and thought it did a good job of giving a character who had been primarily an Avengers or X-Men guest star some new range and a chance to shine on his own.

I am excited though that you’ll be covering Maverick. He’s actually a character I like. I think that’s because just as I was getting into the X-Men he first appeared and seemed cool. Sure now I can look back and see the manufactured cool of knowing Wolverine, being secretive and having big armor, shoulder pads and guns. But to my 9-year old self, he was cool and I was in on the ground floor!

So I followed his appearances but sadly didn’t get all of these issues and barely remember the ones I do have. I’m excited to hear what you find in them, because maybe I should open them back up.

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