First story :
This story is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #119. There are, however, three additional pages.
The first two concern a flashback featuring Moses Magnum. He recalls the last moments on Katsyu Shima, when a massive earthquake had toppled him screaming into the shaft his laser drill had bored to the center of the Earth. The whole place came crashing down around him. There were miles to fall and myriad ways to die. His shrieks were more from rage than from fear, as though he was offended that his life was over. Imagine his surprise, when he discovered it wasn’t.
He found himself shackled, with Apocalypse standing nearby behind a control panel. He welcomed Magnum and told him that he was a difficult man to get hold of. Magnum asked who he was and where he was. He introduced himself but reminded Magnum that he was in no position to make demands. Apocalypse could be considered, his benefactor.
He told Magnum that he liked his style. He wished to offer him power beyond his wildest dreams. “Out of the kindness of your heart?” replied Magnum, almost sarcastically. Apocalypse added that Magnum caused chaos and he himself thrived upon it. To paraphrase Nietzsche, whatever does not kill the race, makes it stronger, and, in his world to come, only the strong would survive and the strongest rule. He offered Magnum the chance to join them. Magnum asked what the price would be. Apocalypse smiled and replied that the price would be his freedom. He would no longer be his own man but belong to Apocalypse. Magnum asked what if he refused. Apocalypse said he would be teleported back to where he was found. Magnum said he had no choice then. “No - the ultimate choice!” replied Apocalypse. “I’m yours,” concluded Magnum. Thus, months ago, Moses Magnum’s plans for conquest were reborn.
The third additional page takes place at Tokyo University Hospital. The X-Men are sitting around, waiting for news on Sean’s condition. “Another death-watch,” says Cyclops. “Thunderbird, Jean, Hank and now Banshee; I wonder if it will ever end, or if we’ll all have to join ‘em. Kurt reminds him that theirs is a risky profession. Scott asks him to spare the platitudes. He looks through the window at the snow outside. He thinks that maybe times have changed. The villains are tougher and more ruthless. The stakes are higher and the consequences of failure and the price of victory are becoming too much to endure. He asks Kurt if he ever wonders if what they do is worth the effort and the pain. Kurt asks what of the millions of people who would have died if not for them. They must also be weighed in the balance.
Misty meets Colleen in the reception area. Colleen has just received the good news that Sean is well. Misty asks her about trouble brewing between her and Scott but Colleen replies that it is their business. He’s in pain and she thinks she can help. Is that so awful? She rejoins the rest of the X-Men. Colleen is Misty’s partner and Jean is her friend. She doesn’t want either of them hurt. Maybe it isn’t any of her business. She looks in and sees the X-Men in jubilant mood having been given the news. Lord knows, she thinks, that they could all do with a little uncomplicated joy in their lives, Scott more than most. She’s trusted Colleen’s instincts all her life and it’s too late to quit now. She crosses her fingers and hopes it will all end as happily as it began.
Wolverine is moonlighting from his normal job as member of the X-Men. He is employed by persons unknown, referred to as Central. He plants some explosives outside a building but knows the fuses are too short. Central will learn just how short his fuse is when he returns to headquarters. All he knows of his prey is that they’re bigger creeps than those at Central. He lights the fuse and runs for all he is worth but, before he is more than a handful of yards away, an explosion rips the place apart, taking the men inside with it. Wolverine catches fire, as he dives for safety and rolls in the snow to douse the flames. He sits in the snow, smouldering, and almost naked. Terrific, he thinks. There’s only one thing to do and that is to start walking. Now, in this wilderness of Bears, Bobcats and Mountain Lions, the hunter has become the hunted.
As he wanders towards civilization, another hunter, wandering this wilderness, picks up his trail. The strange footsteps he finds are from no animal he knows but he’s out there; he can feel it. Wearing a large coat and carrying both a bow and a rifle with a telescopic sight, he wonders if the beast he follows is one that no man has seen before. The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Sasquatch; they all are stuff of legend. Maybe he is chasing his own imagination, his own fear and his own shadow. Maybe it’s the monster from the Id, some childish bogeyman. He catches something in his sights and thinks that the above myths are the ones that men seem to see but never quite catch. To bag one of those beasts will be like catching your own shadow.
He focuses on the creature in his sights. He’s spectacular! The moment he glimpses him he froze. He knows he is here and the only thing to do now is to hunt it. Wolverine looks back at him through the snow, recovering from his burns and looking as feral and inhuman as ever. The hunter is startled. The beast sees him! That’s impossible; he’s much too far away. But, is there a moment when the line between hunter and hunted snaps taut? That moment when he realizes he’s got him and he realizes he’s dead?
The hunter lowers his rifle. Yes, he thinks. First there’s the game, then the dance and the slow teasing chase. Thus begins a tug of war; of spirits and of wills. A wire of tension draws tight. Like an umbilical cord, we’re bonded forever, bonded by the life and death chase. The fuse of life burns shorter bringing us closer. The hunter looks forward to the final intimacy of the kill. He wonders whether this dumb beast knows his fate. Can he guess? Can he sense his fate shadowing him, silently, invisibly? Not this time, the hunter reckons. He is far too silent, far too stealthy.
Wolverine continues walking with three of his claws extended in case of trouble. He can’t believe this idiot is being so noisy. Any louder and he’d need earplugs. All the hunter’s crashing about is attracting every slavering carnivore for miles. He can smell the sulphur stench of his gun. ‘Who does he think he’s tracking?’ thinks Logan, ‘Some blind dumb deaf beast?’ Wolverine is too cold to bother trying to lose him. His mutant healing ability can barely keep up with the frostbite covering his feet and hands. Maybe he should ambush the jerk for his warm parka and boots. Listen to him crash about; the great white hunter jerk!
Oblivious to his amateurish status, the hunter recalls his first big hunt. It was the first time he experienced the conflict between the art of the hunt and the tragedy of the kill. He remembers fishing; his father’s hands on his shoulders, the beauty of casting the line and the thrill and horror as he felt the tug. Then he reeled it in. He doesn’t know whose eyes bulged more, his or the fishes.
Then, he bagged his first deer. Those gentle doe eyes, her sad trusting look. He chastises himself for thinking about it like that. This wasn’t Bambi! The deer was just meat. You pull the trigger and you kill it. He’s a hunter and must dominate; man over nature. He looks up and sees a bird of prey hovering not far away. It’s time to reel in his prey. Wolverine sees the same bird and enjoys its beauty; so free. He loves the stark silence out here, the echoing stillness of freedom and the joy of pure survival.
He suddenly turns, having sensed something behind him. Coming towards him at speed is a large bear and it clearly has Wolverine in mind for lunch. Wolverine draws back his fist and launches his claws at the creature. The bear is big and strong, but it is no match for a powerful, agile mutant like him. Wolverine slashes the creature’s neck open and the fight is ended. The bear falls and Wolverine immediately feels sorry. Most men he kills give him no choice. They choose their fate but an animal is usually just hungry and doesn’t deserve this. He had no right. For now though, he can hear the hunter approaching and has no patience for him. He needs to be alone.
As he leaves the bear to become food for the scavengers, he senses the hunter preparing to fire an arrow. ‘Don’t do it jerk,’ he thinks but it’s too late, as the arrow leaves the bow and heads straight for Wolverine. He catches it effortlessly and, in one swift motion, throws the arrow back from where it came. It strikes the hunter in the thigh and he falls to the floor in pain. ‘What?’ he thinks. ‘How? A dumb beast… how?’ Wolverine continues his journey.