Wednesday, December 15, 2010

MAVERICK#8-#9, April-May 1998

Fractured Lives

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

Summary: The Confessor breaks Sickle out of Canada’s “Ice Box” prison. In Florida, Maverick watches over Elena, who remains comatose. For her protection, Maverick’s kept her in Chris Bradley’s home. Maverick and Chris resolve their differences, and Isabel arrives with a new suit of armor. Maverick announces he has to travel overseas to take care of old business. Meanwhile in Russia, Ivan the Terrible sends the Confessor after Maverick.

Continuity Notes: Maverick reveals to Chris that his Legacy Virus infection has resurfaced. He suspects that his remission is caused by his psychic connection to Elena, which is severed now that she’s in a coma. His powers are now out of control, which means his hands melt anything they touch. The erratic powers have left both of his hands with third-degree burns. Before he leaves Florida, Maverick asks Chris to come up with a code name to use on their “chatterboxes” (which are basically cell phones). Chris comes up with “Bolt,” which sticks around until the character is killed off.

Review: This is mostly a “quiet” issue, and since character work isn’t Jorge Gonzalez’s strong suit, it’s quite dull. Maverick spends the issue at the Bradley’s suburban home, where he watches over Elena, recaps the past few issues, goes on a boat ride with Chris, recaps a few more plot points while spelling out the new status quo for his powers, and then decides to leave on a mysterious mission. I understand that Maverick’s connections to Chris and Isabel are supposed to ground him with the real world, but Gonzalez has never made any of the suburban material that interesting, and now it’s taking up the bulk of the issue. The continued focus on Maverick’s powers and the Legacy Virus is also getting tedious. And how exactly is a psychic rapport supposed to keep a terminal disease at bay? The rest of the story is dedicated to the Confessor breaking Sickle out of jail in the middle of a blizzard, which does alleviate some of the boredom. These are enjoyable action scenes capably rendered by Jim Cheung, who is still the highlight of the series.

The Wall

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

Summary: In Paris, Maverick asks his estranged friend Jean Luc Vivant if he knows of any connection between Major Barrington and the murders of Cell Six. Jean Luc angrily sends Maverick away. Later, he receives a message instructing him to travel to St. Augustine’s Church in Germany. Maverick arrives and is promptly ambushed by the Confessor. Before knocking him unconscious, Confessor reveals that Maverick’s parents and brother were Nazis.

Continuity Notes: Jean Luc Vivant hates Maverick because he blames him for his paralysis. Maverick says it was an accident.

I Love the ‘90s: The Bullpen Bulletins recounts James Cameron’s recent appearance on the Howard Stern Show, where he revealed his intentions to make a Spider-Man movie with Leonardo DiCaprio as the star.

Review: This is closer to what I would’ve expected from a Maverick solo series -- conspiracies, mystery characters from the past, and action scenes set in unusual locales. The dialogue is still pretty flat, and the narrative captions have a habit of just dumping blunt exposition that isn’t relevant to the story (this issue, it’s a dry recap of the history of the Berlin Wall), but the action scenes are energetic and Cheung is given some cool environments to draw. As for the Nazi revelation, this is pretty much The Most Predictable Thing You Can Do with a German character, isn’t it? Perhaps Gonzalez had some twist on the concept in the works, but the series is close to cancellation and the idea is never properly explored.

Easy Targets

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

Summary: Chris visits Maverick’s friend, Dr. James Keeler, for a checkup. Chris leaves despondent, but returns to apologize for his sour attitude. Before entering, Chris notices a gang from his high school is raiding the doctor’s office.

Review: Hooray, Chris Bradley’s monotonous subplot pages are now relegated to their own back-up story. Since most of the main story is told as a flashback (with an appropriate ‘90s “hazy” coloring effect), I imagine these pages were shuffled to the back in order to retain the main story’s flow. Chris is still complaining about the things he always complains about, but now he’s placed in a potential action scenario. When he sees the teenage punks harassing the doctor from outside the window, he questions, “what do I do?” It’s the classic “hero in civilian identity has to use his powers to help an innocent” dilemma, and apparently Chris has never read a comic book before. As a child of the Chromium Age, perhaps he just kept his comics in mylar bags and never opened them. The proper response is to use your clothing as a partial mask, Chris, that way the bullies will magically be unable to recognize the rest of your face. Duh.


Adam Farrar said...

"This is closer to what I would’ve expected from a Maverick solo series..."
That makes sense just from the book's cover. #8's cover of someone, Maverick apparently, on fire doesn't give me any sense of the story inside it or a reason to read it. #9 on the other hand is begging me to open it and see what's going on.

That's something that's been lost in today's era of pin-up covers usually by artists who aren't involved in the book's content. I don't however miss the many mismatched fonts Marvel was throwing on its covers at the time days.

wwk5d said...

Yeah, Marvel was find of throwing ugly, ugly, fonts on the covers back in the mid-to-late 90s.

wwk5d said...

Er, meant to say fond of, not find of lol

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