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.