Friday, July 2, 2010

MAVERICK #2-#3, October-November 1997



Truth and Consequences

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

Summary: Ivan Pushkin and his scientific advisor Etta Langstrom use shock therapy on the captive Maverick. By exploiting Maverick’s psychic bond to Elena Ivanova, Ivan is able to view his memories. After Maverick relives the worst moments of his life, Ivan inserts new memories to cover the recent past. When Maverick comes to, he’s tricked into believing Ivan is his ally. Ivan convinces Maverick to kill his former superior, Major Barrington. Elsewhere, Maverick’s friend Isabel emerges from hiding. Her ex-husband demands she cut ties to Maverick, or he’ll revoke custody of their daughter.

Continuity Notes: Major Barrington was the shadowy figure giving Maverick orders in his early appearances. Dr. Langstrom claims that Maverick has had the Legacy Virus for two years, which is an unusually specific time period to attach to Marvel continuity (it also inadvertently ages the Marvel Universe two years between 1994 and 1997). During Maverick’s flashbacks, he remembers fighting an assassin with an unusual Catholic motif called the Confessor. He also recalls his wedding to Ginetta Lucia Barsalin, who he later learned was a double agent. Maverick killed her in response to the murders of his teammates in Cell Six, another Cold War secret ops group he belonged to. With her final breath, Ginetta bragged that she was pregnant with Maverick’s child.

Review: The majority of this issue is dedicated to flashbacks, as Jorge Gonzalez tries to find some material to fill in the virtual blank slate that is Maverick. We already know from his recent X-Men Unlimited appearance that Maverick killed his brother, and now we learn that he killed his pregnant wife as well (although I’m not sure why he’s taking her at her word that she was pregnant with his baby…she was a ruthless spy who could’ve been lying just to screw with him). Obviously, there isn’t a lot of subtlety here. After Maverick declares that he doesn’t care about anyone in a flashback, Wolverine questions why he risks his life to save people if he feels that way. Making this more obvious, Maverick states that he’s just a bundle of contradictions. There’s really no nuance, but even knowing this much about Maverick is an improvement. I’ll also give Gonzalez credit for trying to come up with a plausible means for Ivan to perform memory scraping and brainwashing; plus, tying the two together in the same issue prevents the story from lagging.


Denouement

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

Summary: Vindicator and Puck are assigned to protect Major Barrington as he testifies at an inquest in Ontario. Maverick evades them and confronts Barrington. After Barrington trips and knocks his head against the wall, Maverick begins to question his assignment. He realizes Ivan brainwashed him, just as Vindicator and Puck return. When Maverick learns Pierre Cloche, Department H’s Director of Foreign Affairs, is stationed nearby, he worries Cloche is another target of Ivan’s. Maverick convinces Vindicator to help him protect Cloche, as Puck stays behind to guard Barrington. Soon, Maverick and Vindicator stop Sickle from slaying Cloche, but Puck is unable to prevent Hammer from killing Barrington. Meanwhile, Isabel rescues Elena, while Chris Bradley runs away from home.

Continuity Notes: Sickle loses an eye while fighting Maverick. Ivan wants Barrington dead because he feels Barrington’s testimony will threaten his financial interests in Canada. Maverick theorizes that Pierre Cloche is a target because “conceivably, he’s been a thorn in Pushkin’s side for years now.” Maverick questions if Ivan was possibly telling the truth about Major Barrington setting up his wedding to the double agent Ginetta, and infecting him with the Legacy Virus. Maverick believed the claims so easily, he fears there’s a kernel of truth to them.

Review: For a general in the US Army, Major Barrington gets around a lot. He was friends with Maverick back in Maverick’s days as a “West German freedom fighter,” he was a CIA liaison for Team X, continued to send Maverick on missions after the team dissolved, and somehow, even has information that the Canadian government really needs to know, even though he’s now retired. The character was always in the shadows in his early appearances, even when he showed up in a Generation X annual, and now we know why. He’s horribly insecure about going bald and apparently can’t afford the plugs. Seriously, I have no idea why this guy was kept in the shadows for years, only to emerge here as a nondescript retiree. I’m also not sure why Gonzalez bothered to reintroduce him, only to kill him off in the very next issue (unless there’s a resurrection coming up I’ve forgotten about).

Maverick’s doubts that Barrington really did do the horrible things Ivan accused him of make for an odd plot device. Maverick knows that Ivan had every motive to lie, and his only evidence against Barrington was his willingness to believe Ivan’s claims…while Ivan was brainwashing him. That’s reaching for angst material, and it’s not as if the book really needs it just one issue after we’ve learned Maverick killed his pregnant wife. Cheung is still doing impressive work, but as the conclusion to the title’s first arc, this is a bit of a letdown.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I'm glad to see that you're reviewing more of Maverick. I've been reading this series for the first time over the past couple of months. While I agree with you that some of the plot points do seem to be pretty unreasonable, I've been enjoying this book. Certainly Jim Cheung's art does a lot to make up for less-than-stellar storytelling!

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