MAVERICK: Page 4 of 7

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27th June 2013


Somehow, he eventually made his way back to civilization and was back in the game a few months later when Wolverine was on the run from the law for killing a US senator. Maverick did his best to uncover the true story behind the senator and his assassination, but things took a surprising turn when he got a call from John Wraith and was invited to join the very organization responsible for Wolverine's plight: a revamped Weapon X Program. Wraith and Sabretooth had already signed up for the program and North found himself fighting for his life against his former Team X comrades. Wraith went down quickly, but Sabretooth had been given an Adamantium skeleton and upgrades across the board. He was too much for Maverick to deal with, and the fight ended when Creed gouged his hand fully into North's chest and dropped him more than twenty stories to the street below. [Wolverine (2nd series) #163-166]

North awoke in the Weapon X Program's facilities on the brink of death, as the Director offered him a choice—join us or die. Initially rejecting their offer, North unfortunately succumbed to his own fear of mortality and sold his soul to the program, agreeing to work for them if they saved his life. He underwent a genetic re-engineering process, one which not only patched up his host of injuries, but also gave him new powers and abilities as well. The fate of his original kinetic energy power is unknown, for it hasn't been mentioned since his revival. He was, however, redesigned specifically to be a one-man weapon against the likes of Wolverine or Sabretooth—corrosive force blasts deliberately designed to overcome healing factors, physiological alterations that prevented his body from producing a scent, a Vibranium stealth costume that let him move noiselessly and invisibly in shadow, and a host of Adamantium-tipped knives and bullets for maximum penetration. In his shame for selling out, North adopted a full face mask and extracted a pledge from his employers that only Director Malcolm Colcord, Sabretooth and Brent Jackson would know his true identity. From then on, he was known only as Agent Zero.

The Director primarily kept him as a solo operative, away from field missions involving the other recruits, and began him on a series of smaller missions involving legitimately corrupt or evil targets. As he knew they would, though, the Weapon X Program finally sent him on a mission to assassinate Logan. At the last moment, he refused to make the shot, sparing Wolverine's life. The Director punished him using the torture implant in his head, but had no intention of letting Wolverine be killed so easily anyhow, and had merely been testing North's commitment and the depths to which his spirit had been broken. [Weapon X: The Draft - Agent Zero #1]

The Weapon X Program continued on, successfully recruiting a menagerie of mutants and outcasts, until they hit a snag when Sabretooth himself went rogue, stealing the entire database of mutant files in the process. With little luck going through conventional channels or regular agents, Colcord called in Zero to deal with his former comrade. Agent Zero tracked Sabretooth to Manhattan and a series of horrific murders when he suddenly received an offer of aid from an unlikely source: Omega Red. It seemed Arkady was now set up with the Russian mob in New York, and was interested in getting some payback on Creed. He revealed that Sabretooth parlayed the Weapon X files into a new role as a "mutant information broker," selling identities and locations for top dollar. Agent Zero tracked Creed to an international auction of mutant locations and murdered all his potential clients in advance. Sabretooth returned and, despite his ferocity, was unable to overcome Zero. North planned to violate his orders and kill Sabretooth until the Director used the torture implant to force his compliance. Agent Zero returned Creed to Weapon X alive, if not particularly well. [Weapon X (2nd series) #2-3]
Over the following months, the Weapon X Program was consumed by in-fighting, as Brent Jackson secured the loyalties of a select group of agents and joined forces with a mutant Underground led by Cable to bring down the Director. During the battle between the two organizations, Agent Zero came face-to-face with the last man he ever expected to see: Maverick. Whoever the Underground's Maverick was, he evaded Zero's questions about his identity and escaped from the program. Meanwhile, Jackson turned on the other members of the Underground after they helped him force Director Colcord into hiding. Jackson assumed command as the new director of the Weapon X Program, and planned to brainwash and experiment on Cable and his followers. Before he could, though, agent Marrow freed the Underground and went renegade, taking advantage of Cable's scrambled memories at the time to assume control of his various Underground splinter cells, and forge them into a new Gene Nation for her to lead. Jackson assigned Agent Zero to hunt down both Maverick and Marrow, which suited him just fine. [Weapon X (2nd series) #13]

Agent Zero shadowed Maverick back to one of Cable's underground bases, where Marrow had set up house. Witnessing the new Maverick agree to throw in with Gene Nation, Zero waited until Marrow was alone and pressured her into revealing the location of the Nation's next strike: Grand Central Station. He was ready to execute her right then and there, ending the movement, but Marrow whistled up some help and Agent Zero decided it was more important to stop the station attack than get into a brawl with Marrow's cell. He spotted Maverick in Grand Central and held him at gunpoint, demanding to know who he really was under the mask. When his mysterious impersonator reached for the inside of his coat, Zero shot him in the chest. Moments later, Zero realized Maverick had been playing Marrow and was going to shoot the kamikaze firebomb mutant who was the real terrorist. She exploded, and the resulting shockwave and structural damage left the new Maverick hovering on the brink of death. [Weapon X (2nd series) #19-20]

Zero removed the man's mask and was horrified to find Chris Bradley's face looking back at him. It seemed Wolverine had visited Chris to tell him of North's apparent demise following his encounter with Creed. Chris had sworn revenge, and worked with Cable to train himself to be just as good as his "departed" friend, becoming the new Maverick to take revenge on North's killers and keep his name alive. Chris died there in the ruins of the station, cursing Agent Zero as a sellout while hoping that somewhere, the real Maverick was proud of him. Humiliated and vengeful, North began single-handedly hunting down and destroying each and every one of Marrow's Gene Nation cells. He tracked her down personally, killing her private guards, Hemingway and Vessel, and was about to execute Marrow as well before realizing he would only be making her a martyr by doing so. Having completed his missions, Zero returned to the Weapon X compound only to find it completely barren and empty, with all the personnel and their equipment vanished into the night. [Weapon X (2nd series) #21]
His search for his former employers brought him into a temporary alliance with Wolverine and Fantomex, as they hunted the current head of the rival Weapon Plus Program, John Sublime. [Weapon X (2nd series) #23-25] The War of the Programs had begun, with forces loyal to Sublime, Colcord, and Jackson struggling for dominance. Catching sight of Mesmero at one of Sublime's Transspecies Movement rallies, Zero followed him back to a hotel. [Weapon X: Days of Future Now #1] Zero was surprised to find Jackson and the rest of Weapon X patiently waiting for him. It seems Mesmero had installed extensive post-hypnotic suggestions in his mind, making him a sleeper agent for the program. Thanks to Mesmero, Agent Zero could be subtly directed towards a goal (like increasing his desire for vengeance against the rival Gene Nation organization), or taken over completely, as they did recently when he was used to slaughter all the remaining residents of the Neverland facility before the Program pulled out. The saddest part was that this wasn't the first time Agent Zero learned of his sleeper status. Mesmero intimated that North had uncovered his puppet masters several times already, only to be mindwiped and sent back into the field again, still "hunting" for Weapon X. [Weapon X: Days of Future Now #3]

The War of the Programs continued until M-Day, when the Decimation de-powered most of the major players involved in the power struggle. North lost all of his powers, including his mutant abilities and the modified powers granted to him by the Weapon X Program. As a stroke of good fortune, Mesmero was also de-powered on M-Day, making it virtually impossible for anyone to access the post-hypnotic triggers that controlled North's actions. Basically his own man again, North discarded the Agent Zero identity and left the Weapon X Program behind.

Maverick spent some time in Europe, but it soon got too tense to stay. Logan had been stirring things up from the old Weapon X days, and all sorts of past vendettas were heating up. In order to make it out of Europe and into America, Maverick bartered the Carbonadium Synthesizer to Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow. He found his way to a flophouse for former mutants in New York, run by Jubilee. North wasn't there for long before both Wolverine and Omega Red tracked him down, looking for the C-Synth. Even without his powers, North evaded Omega Red and gave Logan the information he needed to track down the C-Synth. [Wolverine: Origins #6-8]

North got back into the intelligence community after that, setting himself up as a freelance spy and information broker. He got careless, however, and allowed some old Weapon X files in his possession to make it onto the black market. As a result, RoXXon Oil's private military contractors, Blackguard, got a hold of the Adamantium bonding process. Maverick executed Grecian, his contact who released the files, but the damage was done. North made contact with Wolverine in order to help salvage the situation. His guilty conscience kept him from telling Logan exactly how the files were uncovered by Blackguard, but Maverick was determined to clean up his mess. After unleashing Wolverine on the "Adamantium Men" mercenaries Blackguard created, he also arranged for a reporter named Melita Garner to uncover the information necessary to sink Blackguard in the public eye. [Wolverine: Weapon X #1]
When the Red Right Hand launched their opening gambit against Wolverine and attempted to murder all his friends and allies, Maverick was one of the lucky survivors who fought off his attackers. [Wolverine (4th series) #3] He later helped Logan track down the organization's base of operations through his intelligence connections. [Wolverine (4th series) #9] Despite the help he was now offering Logan, Maverick continued to be plagued by feelings of guilt. The revelations of his role as an executioner in Weapon X's Neverland camps as well as his complicity in the creation of the Adamantium Men drove North into a deep depression. He was on the verge of suicide with a gun to his head when Wolverine next contacted him for information. Sensing his ally's distress even over the telephone, Logan told him to put down the gun. Maverick began to confess his many sins to Logan who interrupted him and told him bluntly that he knew all about it and still had need of him. Dishing out his unique brand of "tough love", Wolvie told Maverick to put down the gun, pick himself and get back to work. [Wolverine (2nd series) #304]