Before the 4 : Ben Grimm & Logan #2

Issue Date: 
August 2000
Story Title: 
Midnight Train to Moscow

Larry Hama (script), Kaare Andrews (pencils), Walden Wong (inks), Kevin Somers (colors), RS & Comicraft’s Troy Peteri (letters), Bobbie Chase (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

In Russia, Ben Grimm is forced to land the plane he, Logan and Carol Danvers are in after they are shot down by Russian troops. Upon reaching the ground, Danvers rushes off into the woods with the black boxes in tow, while Grimm and Logan stay behind to face off against the Russian troops and provide her with the necessary cover to escape. Danvers is able to make it into the woods but, eventually, Grimm and Logan are captured. After Shostakova disarms the bomb on board the Americans plane, Logan overhears Colonel Malenky talking about the Russian experiment “Red Storm.” After he and Grimm are loaded onto a prisoner train, they escape and steal the case containing Red Storm. At the same time, Danvers is able to hijack a plane and is prepared to leave without Grimm and Logan but, when she sees them standing on top of the train, she flies low and towards them. At Nellis AFB, Nicholas Fury discovers that the whole recon mission was a front for Logan to steal Red Storm. Enraged that two of his operators were put in harm’s way, Fury mentions to Anthony Stark what really burns him is that, if the three of them do make it back, the spy-meisters who fronted this won’t like it one bit.

Full Summary: 

Time: sometime in the not so distant past. Place: inside a Northrop Flying Wing bomber somewhere over Eastern Russia.

Holding up his fist to Ben Grimm, Logan asks the uppity fight jock if he’s had enough. Grimm tells the sawed-off Canucklehead runt ‘not hardly.’ Turning around, the pilot, Carol Danvers, informs them that the Russian stealth fighters on their tail just lit off heat-seeker missiles at them. Upon hearing that, Logan tell Grimm that they’ll settle this later, to which Grimm replies that he can count on it.

Taking action, Grimm takes over command of the aircraft while Logan mans the dorsal gun turret. Grimm adds that he’s popping chaff and flares and warns the others on board to hang on for evasive maneuvers. In one of the pursuing Russian aircraft, the auburn-haired special agent Natalia Shostakova of the KGB gives one last warning to the capitalist adventurist intruder aircraft. She informs them to land at the military airfield below or they will continue their attack and shoot them down.

Aboard the American plane, Grimm states that as General McAuliffe said to the German commander at Batogne: “nuts!” The hydraulic lines are hit and number three engine is on fire. At the same time, Logan notices that none of the gun turrets are loaded and exclaims that they’ve been set up. Danvers asks him what he expected. They’re not at war with the Soviet Union. They didn’t want any Russians to get shot down by accident. Grimm adds that the hydraulic pressure is dropping fast; the controls won’t work without the hydraulics.

At that moment, Logan proceeds to tell Danvers that he wasn’t goin’ to shoot nobody down by accident; he was aimin’ to do it on purpose. He guesses they have no choice now but to bail out. Danvers replies that’s a no-go. All the ejection seats and parachutes have been disabled. If the plane went down, there weren’t supposed to be any survivors for interrogation. Logan quips ‘mighty trustin’ o’ the brass hats, don’tcha think?’

Grimm yells out to his crew that he’s putting the crate down on the nearest clear tarmac. It’s a low cloud cover, so he’s not going to have any visibility until they’re below Angel One (a thousand feet). As they begin their descent and the clouds begin to clear, Grimm asks what the large structure in front of him is. When they clip it, Logan tells him that it was one of the low-frequency transmitters they were sent to spy on. They accomplished that part o’ the mission, now all they gotta do is get home in one piece. Grimm mentions that he’s not expressin’ a lot o’ confidence in his pilotin’ abilities, is he? Logan replies that he thinks he’ll get them down all right, it’s the gettin’ off the runway without gettin’ shot part that worries him. Observing them land, Shostakova states that it’s now up to Colonel Malenky and his Spetsnaz Commandos to take care of them on the ground.

Inside the aircraft, Danvers tells the others that they can’t let the plane full of secret components fall into Russian hands. Pushing a few buttons, she sets the auto-destruct timer. Grabbing the black boxes, Grimm asks what about them; they’re built to withstand explosions. Danvers tells him that she’ll make a run for the woods with them and melt them down with thermite grenades. Arming himself with a number of guns and knives, Logan tells Grimm that it’s time to get strapped for the throw-down and then asks him if he wants one o’ the new experimental armalities.

Outside the aircraft, Shostakova mentions to the man in the armored vehicle, Colonel Malenky, that he’s just in time. Malenky orders her to stay out of this. He’s in command of the ground and the capture of the crypto-fascist adventurist bandits is wholly within his jurisdiction. He then orders his troops to move quickly and surround the landed aircraft. Exiting the aircraft and armed to the teeth, Grimm mentions to Logan that they have to hold ‘em off long enough for Carol to get away with the black boxes. Tossing a grenade at the Russian troops, Logan tells them ‘chew on this punks.’

After one of his vehicles explode, Malenky informs his troops that he wants them alive. He doesn’t care how damaged they are, as long as they can answer the interrogators. Standing back to back with Logan, Grimm points out to him that they are completely surrounded. Logan replies good, that means they’ve got a 360 degree free-fire zone. As she runs off into the woods, Danvers tells them just a few more seconds, she’s almost there.

Just then, Grimm tells Logan that he’s outta ammo. After Logan responds that he’s dry as well, Grimm states that they gave it their best shot. Logan agrees and adds that discretion is the better part o’ valor. The logical thing to do is surrender. Looking over at him, Grimm asks if he thinks… When Logan tells him naah, Grimm says he thought so and yells out it’s clobberin’ time!

As Grimm and Logan begin to beat up the Russian troops, Malenky tells his troops to subdue them and take them alive. He then adds that he wants a detachment to follow the woman into the woods and bring her back. Shostakova tells him not to bother with her. She won’t last five minutes in those woods and his troops would last even less. Glaring at her, Malenky tells her that he told him to leave this to him. Shostakova asks how can she when he’s forgotten all about the bomber. As Shostakova enters the bomber, Malenky gives chase and tells her to stop; she can’t enter it without him. Shostakova informs him that he’s more than welcome to come along as long as he’s well versed in the procedures for disarming a low-yield nuclear self-destruct device. Upon seeing the device, the concern on his face tells the story.

In the woods, Danvers continues to run further and further into the trees. As she does, she says that she can’t let them get the instruments. She has to get deep into the woods before she sets the thermite and… Just then, Danvers stops her thought mid-sentence when she sees a number of blood-thirsty wolves staring directly at her.

Inside the bomber, Malenky asks Shostakova if she is qualified to… Shostakova cuts him off and tells him not to make her lose her concentration. He doesn’t want to be reduced to a glowing patch of tundra, does he? After disarming the device, Shostakova looks at the bomber and remarks that it is a wonderful prize. When Malenky asks her how she acquired the disarming codes to a top secret American bomber, Shostakova informs him that if perhaps his security clearance was higher, she could tell him.

At that moment, Malenky is informed that the prisoners have been subdued and secured. Malenky gives the order to ship them back to Moscow on the next prisoner train from the Gulag. Calling the Turyatem research center, Shostakova tells them to be prepared to receive a captured American aircraft as soon as her tech crews can repair it.

In the woods, a starving wolf comes rushing towards Danvers. Before it reaches her, Danvers is able to smack it with her bag and knocks it to the ground. Once the injured wolf falls to the ground, the rest of its pack begins to devour it. With a shocked look on her face, Danvers replies ‘better him than me.’

Inside one of the transmitters, Malenky mentions to Shostakova that this affair is quite troubling. The ultra-low frequency transmitter operates by oscillating filaments of an extremely rare metal of which there is only twenty kilos in all of Russia. The project cover name is Red Storm. It is imperative that this experiment succeeds. They are at a crucial stage in their research. This brazen attack by the Americans could not have come at a worse time. He then asks what if this reconnaissance is but a prelude to a raid. The whole Red Storm project would be compromised if the Americans captured their entire supply of the power source. After Shostakova tells him it’s not her problem, Malenky quips that he sees it is up to him to watch his own back.

Later, at the train depot for the local Gulag, one of the soldiers asks a fellow soldier that those are all prisoners whose sentences are completed and they’re loading them into cattle cars? His fellow soldier replies why not, they’re still prisoners until they get to Moscow. Malenky points over to Grimm and Logan and informs his soldiers ‘except for those two.’ They are going straight to the Lubyanka for special interrogation. He adds that he wants a detail of Spetsnaz riding the train to ensure the safety of the strongbox before them that is being moved to Moscow for safekeeping. He wants it kept up front in the engine and watched at all times. It is the very essence of the Red Storm project. Upon hearing the words Red Storm, Logan’s ears perk up.

As he watches the prison train fire up its engines, Malenky mentions that this is all very good. With Red Storm safe in Moscow and the American bomber intact and secure, his promotion to General is a done deal. Peering out the wood wall, Logan looks over at Malenky and says the secret project. His special orders were to steal the Red Storm oscillating metal from the transmitter station and bring it back at all costs. But he has to get outta there to do that.

Just then, he calls out to the other prisoners inside the train car and points over to Grimm. When he does, he tells them that he bets his boots he can floor the big lug in less than three rounds. Backhanding Grimm, Logan tells them to put up or shut up, he’s startin’ this off with a bang. As they begin to fight, the prisoners call out their bets. Grimm asks that they’re bettin’ on the runt? They can kiss their bicuspids goodbye. As they start to fight the other prisoners, Logan tells Grimm to lay into ‘em, they gotta rock this club car off the rails. Running along the tops of the train cars, two Russian troops exclaim that it sounds like a riot in car #7 but it’s nothing that a short burst from an AK won’t solve. Opening up the top of the car, the troops order the prisoners inside to get against the sides of the car with their hands up and…

Just then, Logan grabs one of them by the neck and yanks him into the car.

Standing at the tree line, Danvers looks out at one of the transmitters and thinks to herself that maybe she doesn’t have to destroy the black boxes if she can get them back to the States. They contain the scanned data about the transmitter stations and as long as they aren’t in danger of being captured, it might be worth the risk to hijack a YAK observation plane. Running towards the plane, Danvers decides that she can’t stay in the woods for too long or those wolves will be getting hungry again.

Atop the speeding train, Grimm asks Logan why they can’t just jump off and make a run for it. Logan informs him that there’s something in the engine that he has to get a hold of.

Reaching the plane, Danvers knocks out the man filling the plane with gas and jumps in. As she starts it up and prepares to fly off, she remarks that it’s too bad about Logan and Ben Grimm but the mission comes first. As the observation plane flies off, one of the troops mentions that’s odd. There wasn’t supposed to be an observation mission for another hour. Another troop tells him that the pilots make their own rules. Overhearing their conversation, Shostakova asks them what they just said.

In the engine cab, when Grimm and Logan enter, the train engineer asks an escape? This is madness. Where do they expect to run to? Grabbing the case holding Red Storm, Logan tells him to let them worry about that, he just needs to keep going and not make any sudden stops. Once on top of the train with the case, Grimm mentions to Logan that the engineer had a point. Now that he has what they came for, where is he gonna go with it. Logan tells him they sure ain’t goin’ back where they came from, that’s for sure. What they need is some sort o’ alternate transportation. Grimm asks ‘like that plane up there circling in the distance?’

Flying the plane, Danvers states that at least the gyro-compass still works on the crate. All she has to do is get it turned around and head east to the Pacific and… Just then, Danvers notices two men riding on top of the train and then notices that it’s Grimm and Logan. Seeing the plane lower, Logan mentions to Grimm that they’ve been spotted, now they… Grimm informs Logan that was Carol, she hijacked a plane. Logan notices that she’s comin’ back and tells Grimm that on her next pass, they grab the skis.

Meanwhile, at Nellis AFB, Nicholas Fury yells into the phone and asks the person on the other end ‘what?’ The whole recon mission was just a blind to send in some poor shnook to glom some weird chunk o’ tin called Red Storm? The sawed-off Canadian operator had sealed secret orders to bring it back at all costs? But they sent him inside Russia in a top-secret American bomber with two of their own operators. Now they’re telling him that the plane has been captured?

After Fury asks where the buck stops on this cluster foul-up, the person on the other end of the phone proceeds to hang up on him. Once they do, Fury mentions to Anthony Stark that the puzzle-palace honcho hung up on him. Stark informs him that the whole thing was a set-up. D.O.D. canceled the contract for the flying wing, so having it captured is just more disinformation. Their other intel sources seem to think that the low frequency transmissions are more voodoo Russian science like their experiments in telekinesis. Slamming the phone down, Fury mentions to Stark what really burns him about this is the fact that if those three pilgrims do manage to exfiltrate themselves from this mess, the spy-meisters who fronted this op won’t like it one bit.

Characters Involved: 


Major Benjamin Grimm

Carol Danvers

Natalia Shostakova

Colonel Malenky and his Spetsnaz commandos

Various unnamed Russian military personnel

Colonel Nicholas Fury

Anthony Stark

Story Notes: 

Logan met Nicholas Fury, Carol Danvers, and Benjamin Grimm back in Wolverine (2nd series) minus 1.

This mini-series is set a short time before Grimm joined NASA and became a member of the Fantastic Four. Shostakova (Black Widow) had just finished her recent training in the Red Room. Logan was doing some spy work after his time with Team X and before he was taken in by Weapon X.

Issue Information: 
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