Underrated: Maverick #1-12
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week something a little different as we take a look at one of my favourite characters, and his twelve issue solo series from the late 90’s: Maverick.
One of the first non-Wolverine comics I ever picked up was Maverick #4. Of course, the reason I picked it up was because Wolverine was on the front cover, so technically, the first non-Wolverine comic I picked up was Maverick #5. As it turns out, I’d end up reading a lot about Maverick through the years because of Wolverine; Marvel UK’s Wolverine Unleashed was reprinting the original American comics.
Maverick is a product of the 90’s; his first appearance in 1992’s X-Men #5 had all the hallmarks of the time; giant shoulder pads, heavy guns, and a half face mask that allowed his hair to fly free. Maverick would end the decade with a more streamlined version of his armour; sleeker and slightly less bulky for his solo series that ran for twelve issues beginning in 1997. Although he’s had numerous guest appearances in a few X-Men based comics, Maverick has never really reached the level of popularity of certain other characters introduced during the same time frame, but he does have a very fond place in this comic lovers heart.
Although Maverick is almost always featured in X-Men related titles, he is most closely associated with everybody’s favourite dead Canadian mutant, having been a significant part of Wolverine’s life before his skeleton was coated in adamantium. But it wouldn’t be fair to Maverick, though, to just write him off as that mercenary friend of Wolverine’s; Maverick’s own history is a rich bed of potential, and it’s explored within this series.
Born in East Germany to parents who were either Nazi sympathizers or full blown Nazi’s, Christoph Nord was self-described idealist, and fought against the communist regime during the height of the Cold War, joining a West German black ops unit named Cell Six. During this time Nord met and fell in love with a nurse Ginetta Barsalini, whom he fell in love with and married. Not realizing he was a spy until it was too late, Nord was forced to shoot her inn self defense (unwittingly killing his unborn child in the process). Shortly after this Nord was recruited by the CIA, changed his name to David North and ended up on a team with Victor Creed and Logan.
When the team was sent on a mission in East Germany, both Creed and Logan were badly injured. Rather than follow protocol and leave them, North dragged them to the extraction point where he was cornered by Andreas Nord, now an assassin, North saved his teammates the only way he could; killing his own brother in cold blood.
Maverick is a character rooted in tragedy; from his early years already recapped to his contracting a slow acting deadly disease that took his powers before killing him slowly (he was brought back to life moments after his death with some inventive CPR which also returned his powers), before becoming an executioner for a shady government organisation by way of brainwashing before losing his powers (again).
One of the most enjoyable twelve issue series I’ve ever read was Maverick Vol. 2; this run had me from the moment the protagonist died in the opening pages to the very end. It’s a series that has never been, and probably never will be collected into a trade paperback, which means that to read it you’ll need to track down the floppies. The series deals with some suddenly relevant again issues surrounding anti mutant attitudes, Russian gangsters and the struggle of being born to Nazi sympathizing parents, as well as what it’s like for a young facing certain death at the hands of the Legacy Virus. On top of that there’s a few guest stars, some pretty fantastic enemies (some new and some old), and some really great art and writing. Honestly, I tend to read this series on an almost yearly basis.
Other than appearing in a few Wolverine stories that have been released as TPB’s and being a part of the ensemble cast of the 2002 Weapon X series that’s also been at least partly collected into TPB’s, finding Maverick comic appearances is largely a case of scouring the back issue bins at your local comic shop anyway. If you do that, and I highly recommend you do, then hunting for the Maverick #1-12 comics could be an easier (and cheaper) task than hunting for key issues of Deadpool or Wolverine because not many people are looking for them – which is a shame, but could work out to your benefit.
Do yourself a favour; find Maverick. You’ll not be disappointed.