Weapon X (2nd series) #21

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
Countdown to Zero - part 3: Under the Mask

Frank Tieri (writer), Roger Robinson (penciler), James Pascoe (inks), Avalon Studios (colors), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Stephanie Moore and Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Agent Zero demasks the badly injured Maverick and is startled to find that he is Chris Bradley, aka Bolt, Maverick’s old sidekick. Evidently, after having been informed of Maverick’s apparent death, Chris had decided to make the name live on and to make his mentor proud by hunting down and killing the Weapon X Program. However, he failed and he dies in Zero’s arms, before he has a chance to tell him that he is the real Maverick and that he indeed is proud of Chris’ actions. After grieving for his friend’s death, Zero wants revenge and hunts down every single member of Gene Nation and kills them. He even gets to Marrow and is ready to shoot her, but realizes that this would make her a martyr and would further inspire her terrorist cause. Therefore, he spares her and promises to kill every single mutant that supports her, until she realizes that she is all alone and useless. Meanwhile, Logan receives a phone call from Chamber, who has discovered Neverland and transmits him the coordinates of the place, when suddenly the connection breaks down. Logan travels to the coordinates, somewhere in the Canadian woods, and finds the concentration camp abandoned. Returning to the Weapon X compound, Agent Zero finds the place empty as well and he wonders what has happened and where everybody went.

Full Summary: 


Chris Bradley is sitting in his apartment in front of his computer when he hears someone knock the door impatiently. Chris tells his visitor to keep it down and opens the door to find that it is Logan, aka Wolverine of the X-Men. Chris asks him what the matter is but a look in Logan’s sad face tells him already – it’s Maverick and he is dead. Logan hugs the young man, who guessed the matter of his visit correctly. Then, he hands Chris Maverick’s face mask and tells him that he would have wanted Chris to have it.

Chris doesn’t take the mask, though. Instead, he turns around, walks into his apartment and asks how it happened. Logan closes the door behind him and explains that he heard the Weapon X program wanted Maverick back in the fold and Maverick refused to take up their offer. Chris is in tears and covers his mouth with his hand but suddenly he gets mad and shouts that he will hunt down every single member of Weapon X and make them pay. He’ll ram down his Bolt powers up their collective--

Logan interrupts the young man and touches his shoulder. He knows that Maverick was as close to him as family, but he wants Chris to be clearheaded about this. Some crazy revenge quest won’t solve anything, Logan says, it will most likely get him killed and that sure wouldn’t be what Maverick would have wanted. Logan offers that he will take the Weapon X Program down, after all he has been going at them for years now and, sooner or later, he will take them down. Handing Chris the mask of his late mentor, Logan asks him to promise not to do anything stupid. Chris looks at the mask in his hand and makes the promise that Logan has asked him for, though the expression on his face betrays him – his decision is set.


Agent Zero holds the same mask in his hand. He has just pulled it from the badly wounded Chris Bradley, who has been posing as Maverick in the recent months. Zero mutters, ”You... you ‘re”. “Not Maverick?” Chris finishes the question. “It’s not for lack of trying,” he goes on. He had Cable train him but, even after he tried his best to be like Maverick, to actlike Maverick and to even look like Maverick, only to do what he would do, namely to kill the slime that killed him, he failed. Agent Zero tries to lift up the young man and calls him by his name, Chris, as he prepares to tell him something but the badly wounded man doesn’t want to listen to anything he has to say. He has won and now he is just another scalp for Zero’s Weapon X masters, Chris weakly says. His eyes no longer focusing properly and his voice growing weaker. Chris explains that he wanted so much more – he wanted Maverick’s name to live on and to make him proud of him...

Then, Chris Bradley is no more. His body gets limb and he no longer sees Agent Zero pulling off his mask, saying that Maverick is proud of Chris. A tear flows down Zero’s cheek, it’s Christopher North, the real Maverick, and he says once more “I am proud of you.” He hugs the dead body in his arms.

In upstate New York, Logan is sitting in a bar frequented by many bikers. The X-Man enjoys his beer not bothering with the brawl that ensues behind him – in fact, as one of them tries to hit Logan from behind, he throws his nearly empty glass in the guy’s face and simply orders himself another one. Right then, his mobile phone rings; it’s a call Logan has been waiting for. On the other end of the line is Chamber, the X-Men’s mole in the Weapon X program. Logan wants to reprimand Chamber for the way he disappeared on him, but the younger X-Man tells him they don’t have any time to argue for the situation has turned extremely serious.

As he walks outside the bar, the phone in his right hand, Logan uses his free arms to deal with any of the fighting customers that get in his way and continues the conversation at the same time. Jono says that he “is here” and Logan asks what that is supposed to mean. “Neverland,” Jono answers, but he has not much time as they are about to go inside. Logan reminds Jono that he was against this decision to go there and asks Chamber to be careful, but Jono puts aside these concerns and says that Logan worries too much. Next, he starts transferring the coordinates of the concentration camp and Logan board the jet he had hidden in the nearby woods.

At the base of Gene Nation, the many members of the terrorist group are watching another news feed on a huge screen, commented by the voice of their leader, Marrow. The screen shows their success in the bombing of Grand Central Station but Marrow also has some disturbing news – they are being hunted. Several Gene Nation cells have been wiped out recently, due to the actions of one single man – Agent Zero. Just as the screen shows a close-up of Zero, the images freezes and a hole starts to burn through the screen.

In steps Agent Zero himself and he says that everything said about him is true. Looking up at the audience of about fifty mutants, Zero says that he has an offer which he will make only once – those of them who want to live should leave now and never come back, everyone else is dead. None of the audience takes Zero’s offer. Instead, they all assume battle positions and close in on the man. It’s just like Zero wanted it and he pulls his two machine guns, firing randomly at the crowd.

Aboard the X-jet, Logan receives another call from Chamber, informing him that he has made it inside and urging him to come as soon as possible. Jono reports that it’s worse than they ever could have imagined it and that he has troubles controlling himself and not burning “these animals” straight to… Logan tells Jono to get his emotions under control and that he is on his way, when suddenly the connection breaks down. Concerned for the young X-Man, Logan speeds up the jet.

In the main communication room of the Gene Nation headquarters, Hemingway and Marrow are following the events in the auditorium. Displayed on a multitude of monitors they see more and more of Agent Zero’s victims, all dead. Marrow is amazed by the precision of the man’s work, the Weapon X program always said that he was dangerous, but she never would have believed him to be capable of this in such short time. A door opens and Marrow turns around to see Vessel come in. However, before he fully makes it into the room, he collapses, bled to death form several wounds in his back. Before Hemingway and Marrow can tend to their fallen friend, Agent Zero comes in, in his hand a knife with Vessel’s fresh blood on it.

Hemingway tells Marrow to get behind him, while he will deal with Zero, but, before he can even attack, the man has pulled his guns and fires several shots with adamantium bullets, that according to Zero are “able to penetrate anything, misguided lackeys included.” Hit in the chest about a dozen times, Hemingway dies and falls backwards, on top of Marrow, pressing her into a chair behind her. Trapped under the weight of her loyal comrade, she is helpless. Zero approaches her and asks if she is ready to die but Marrow doesn’t answer, being busy with reconfiguring the bones in her nose to release her emergency peep. Zero mocks Marrow, saying that he hopes she isn’t calling for her secret underground mutant cell, because there is no one left to call.

Having no options left, Marrow looks her fate in the eye. She reminds Agent Zero how he once asked her whether she was ready to die for what she believes in. Well, she is, Marrow says, though she doubts that the same could be said about him. Zero pauses and then refrains from shooting Marrow. He argues that, on second thought, killing her now would be a terrible mistake. Still trapped under her friend’s body, Marrow asks him what he means. Zero reasons that killing her now would make her a martyr and mutant cells would be popping up in her name faster than he could take them out. So, instead, Zero says he will leave her alive – until he has hunted down each and every single member of Gene Nation, until she knows that she is absolutely powerless to do anything about it and that she has become nothing. Then and only then he will come back and she will be sorry that he did.

Later, Zero arrives back at the Weapon X headquarters in his jet. He repeatedly asks for permission to land but receives no answer, so he lands anyway. He makes his way into the compound and shouts whether is anybody there, again nobody answering him. Eventually, he enters the main communications room, which is supposed to be swarming with staff members to review all the data and news reports from all over the globe, but the hall is empty. Zero is puzzled. He wonders out loud where everybody went and what happened while he was gone.

At the same time, something similar happens in the Canadian woods, where Neverland is located. Logan lands the X-jet and makes his way to the base, cutting through some trees and bushes. Once he becomes aware of the huge camp, he is somewhat startled, though. The front gate is open and not a single person is inside, no guards and no prisoners. Logan wonders why the place is empty and what might have happened to Chamber.

Characters Involved: 

Agent Zero (Weapon X)

Maverick II

Marrow, leader of Gene Nation

Hemingway, Vessel and several other mutants (all Gene Nation)

Wolverine (X-Men)

Customers of a bar

voice only:


in flashback:


Chris Bradley/Bolt

Story Notes: 

Maverick was apparently killed by Sabretooth when he slashed open his chest and dropped him off a huge building. [Wolverine (2nd series) #166] Apparently, he later picked Maverick up, more dead than alive, and returned him to the Weapon X program, which upgraded him to Weapon Zero [Weapon X: The Draft – Agent Zero] Until this issue, Zero’s true identity was unconfirmed.

Chris Bradley, aka Bolt, was originally discovered and contacted by the X-Men, but he stopped training at Xavier’s mansion when he was diagnosed with the Legacy Virus. [X-Men unlimited (1st series) #8] Sharing a similar fate, he was soon befriended by Maverick and became somewhat of a sidekick to him. [X-Men unlimited (1st series) #15, Maverick #1-12] Eventually, he joined the New Warriors and, with the Legacy Virus cured world wide, he seemed to have a new lease on life.

Marrow’s comment about bones in her nose is curious, as the structure of the human nose is not composed of bones but of cartilage.

Issue Information: 
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