WOLVERINE: Page 15 of 23


Life after the Decimation continued for mutantkind, and Logan took an interest in training one of the remaining students, Hisako Ichiki, whose spiritual exoskeleton could only be penetrated by adamantium. During a struggle where Cassandra Nova manipulated Emma Frost into assaulting the X-Men, Wolverine was telepathically regressed to childhood, and the adolescent James Howlett proved woefully incapable of dealing with the mindlessly feral “blue moose”, Hank McCoy. Only the miraculous healing powers of beer allowed Logan to shake off the effect and regain his normal faculties. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #15-18]

As the fighting expanded to include the renegade Danger and Ord of Breakworld, all the combatants were teleport beamed up into one of SWORD’s ships on a warp space transit to Breakworld itself. Hisako was swept up in the beam as well due to her proximity to the fighting. In the whirlwind series of battles, exploding ships, and disastrous planetfall, Hisako wound up on Breakworld alone with Logan. She was on the verge of breaking down when Wolverine gave her a battlefield promotion to full X-Man, and told her to stop crying on his shoulder. After that, Wolverine and “Armor” partnered together for the rest of their struggles on Breakworld. When Kitty Pryde apparently died saving Earth from Breakworld’s Retaliator bullet, Logan tried to drown himself in grief and booze. Hisako told him to stop crying on her shoulder, and pushed him into training with her again to raise him out of his funk. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #19-24, Giant-Sized Astonishing X-Men #1]

During a fight with the criminal organization Scimitar, Wolverine and his ally and lover Amir were lured to a fake SHIELD Helicarrier to stop the alleged execution of Tony Stark. Instead, Scimitar’s silent enforcer Shogun attacked the duo, killing Amir in front of Logan and then shoving a grenade down Wolverine’s throat before crashing the entire ship to earth. Wolverine survived…physically, at least. Amir’s death shook Logan’s will to live enough that he finally lost his duel with Lazaer. He was reduced to a vegetative “curaetar” – technically alive, but with his soul trapped in purgatory. Doctor Strange helped Logan reunite his body and soul. In the process, Wolverine learned of Phaedra and Shogun’s involvement with his prior resurrection. He tracked them down through the Hand and confronted Phaedra.

In the confrontation that followed, Logan was shocked to learn three things. First, Phaedra’s scheme against him was one of vengeance for her lover, the resurrected Shingen Yashida. Second, the missing piece of Logan’s soul from the Hand resurrection was used to animate a warrior to serve Phaedra and Scimitar: Shogun. And finally, Lazaer was also allied with Shingen and Phaedra, eager to finally end Wolverine’s long defiance of Lazaer’s claim on his soul. Lazaer, Shogun and Shingen were each impressive opponents on their own: together, Wolverine had little chance of defeating them all. Remarkably, Logan managed to reason his way out of the situation. Although Lazaer and Phaedra appeared to be allies, Wolverine realized that a woman who could resurrect the dead at will couldn’t possibly be on the Angel of Death’s list of favorite people. Furthermore, if Lazaer was capable of eliminating Phaedra, he would have, meaning he couldn’t for some reason. Their alliance must have been one of pure convenience, and so Logan only needed to offer Lazaer something of greater value than his soul. After incapacitating Shogun and Scimitar, Wolverine proposed a deal to Lazaer – if Logan killed Phaedra for him, Lazaer would use his holy powers to return the lost portion of Wolverine’s soul to him. Lazaer agreed, but stipulated that their prior arrangement would be null and void as a result. This meant that Logan no longer had the choice of winning back his right to life in spiritual combat against Lazaer; the next time he died, that was it. Accepting these terms, Wolverine slayed Phaedra and left in peace with Lazaer, his healing factor greatly reduced from what it once was, but feeling more alive and ready to challenge death than he had in years. [Wolverine (3rd series) #57-61]

After the Decimation, mutantkind not only was reduced from millions to merely a few hundred, new mutants also stopped being born or manifesting their powers, leaving mutants as a truly dying species. One day, the first new mutant birth since M-Day erupted onto Cerebra, pointing to Cooperstown, Alaska. Wolverine and a squad of X-Men rushed to the scene, but found a warzone. The town was in flames, and bodies of the anti-mutant Purifier soldiers and Sinister’s Marauders were discovered in the wreckage. The X-Men hunted down leads of both enemy factions, only to discover that neither side had the baby. The new mutant child was taken by one of their own: Cable. With the fate of the mutant race on the line, Cyclops and Wolverine activated a contingency plan they had privately discussed in the past. They assembled a team of trackers and killers, a group uniquely suited for hunting down potential threats and assets for mutantkind. A team that would do what needed doing, regardless of personal cost. An X-Force.

Wolverine gathered X-23, Wolfsbane, Hepzibah, Warpath and Caliban as his new squad, and they returned to Cooperstown to make a second attempt at tracking Cable’s spoor now that the debris had settled. X-Force was successful, and they eventually located Cable on the run from the Purifiers. The three-way struggle turned chaotic as Caliban was killed and Cable escaped with the baby. They missed him at Eagle Plaza when Cable went for one of Forge’s time machines, but the Marauders didn’t. They stole the baby from Cable and retreated to Muir Island, where Sinister established a laboratory. Wolverine and X-Force tracked them to Muir Island, and the final battle for the infant was joined between the X-Men and X-Force, Sinister’s Marauders, the carnivorous Predator X, and the rogue X-Men Cable and Bishop. It was Wolverine who finally brought down the Predator X monstrosity by getting swallowed by the creature and carving it up from the inside. In the end, Cable convinced Cyclops that the new mutant would always be at risk in the present, and Scott allowed him to take the child into the future to raise until she was ready to return. [Messiah CompleX crossover]

Part of the reason Cable was at odds with the X-Men was because he couldn’t trust his own teammates: several members of his squad, led by Mystique, betrayed the X-Men to the Marauders shortly before the new mutant birth. In the aftermath of Muir Island, Cyclops told Wolverine that Mystique had betrayed them too many times. He sent Logan out to track, locate, and eliminate Raven once and for all. They fought their way across several countries, causing massive damage in Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq, before the final showdown in the Syrian Desert. And after they both caused each other serious harm, Logan was left victorious, holding a loaded gun on Mystique. Instead of killing her, however, Logan simply defined her: he told Mystique how he was different from her, how he could call his friends to come pick him up and tend to his wounds, while she would lay in the desert alone, bleeding, unable to even call her own children for help, because they would not come. And with that, he told her to consider the outcome of her life, left her the gun, and walked away. [Wolverine (3rd series) #62-66]

As the X-Men disbanded for a few weeks to recuperate after the destruction of the mansion and war for the new mutant birth, Wolverine and Cyclops reassembled X-Force at Angel’s Aerie in Colorado. With the new mutant birth in hiding and mutantkind still on the verge of extinction, Cyclops was prepared to be permanently proactive. X-Force would remain operational, but as a secret from Emma Frost, the rest of the X-Men…from everyone. Their goal was to aggressively hunt down and eliminate with extreme prejudice any potential threat to what remained of mutantkind.

Logan wasn’t thrilled with Scott’s choices for team members. He was used to taking responsibility for “kills” when it was necessary for the X-Men to do so, and didn’t like letting the others get their hands bloody, too. Logan was particularly opposed to using X-23 as a killing machine again, after his efforts to help her develop as a genuine human being, but ultimately the decision was taken out of his hands. X-Force succeeded in hunting down Matthew Risman, leader of the Purifiers. Risman was executed by X-23 and a large portion of the Purifier army was killed or dismantled, but the situation became more complicated by the end. Risman had resurrected the Sentinel hybrid named Bastion, who in turn co-opted a techno-organic virus and used it to resurrect a half-dozen of the worst anti-mutant advocates of all time. Although the first mission was successful, X-Force’s list of targets was only increasing. [X-Force (3rd series) #1-6] It didn’t help that two members of the squad literally couldn’t be in the same room as each other. Wolfsbane was captured and forced through subliminal programming by the Purifiers to attack Angel whenever she saw him. Their first encounter led to Rahne shredding and amputating Warren’s wings, causing him to shockingly regress back to his metal-winged Archangel identity. This transformation also brought Apocalypse’s “survival of the fittest” dogma to life again in Warren’s genes, leaving Logan with another ticking time bomb on his team. [X-Force (3rd series) #7]