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First Story: Michael Higgins (writer), Dave Ross (penciller), Dan Day (inker), Brad Vancata (colorist), Todd Klein (letterer), Kelly Corvese (assistant editor), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief), Dave Ross & Joe Rubinstein (cover art)
While searching for his fellow X-Men, Wolverine saves a man from being mauled by a bear. He helps the man into his truck intent on getting him medical attention. But the man abruptly insults Logan and demands to be let out in the middle of nowhere. Logan considers leaving the guy but can’t just strand him in the middle of nowhere. He tracks the man to a cave only to find himself face to face with the Hulk! At the exact same time, a naked man who looks identical to Logan (complete with claws) succumbs to a berserker rage and murders someone!
Logan is behind the wheel of an old pick-up truck driving through the pouring rain. He has journeyed to the Carolinas to search for the X-Men after hearing reports of mutant activity there. Once there, Logan learned that the mutants reported in the area were actually the government team called Freedom Force. Logan thinks to himself that he has no use for them and didn’t care for his own time as a government agent. Instead he found the X-Men and a family he never thought he’d have. Now, he is determined to find them.
Suddenly, something huge comes into view on the road ahead of Logan. He slams on the breaks and sees a gigantic bear attacking a man. Logan gets out of the truck and pops his claws. He says to the bear “Guess you didn’t hear about glasnost? The bear is supposed to be friendly now!” The bear roars angrily in response. Logan lunges at the bear in response and easily dispatches it. He then helps the dazed man the bear was attacking into his truck. He hopes that the man was too distracted to notice his claws.
Logan wonders why his unexpected passenger, a puny intellectual type, was doing way out in this neck of the woods to begin with. The man rudely breaks the silence and tells Logan that he’s not thrilled with this situation either. Logan is taken aback by the guy’s gall as he says he doesn’t like the company much and demands that Logan pulls over and lets him out. Logan can’t believe this guy is serious but relents when the stranger insists. As he gets out of the truck, he calls back “Good riddance!” Logan watches as the man wanders off into the woods and decides to hang out for a bit in case he changes his mind.
Elsewhere, a naked Logan stands in what appears to be a darkened outdoors area. He pops his claws and slashes them at an unseen person who cries out in horror. Blood splatters everywhere as Logan’s face becomes twisted with rage as he kills the unseen individual.
A short while later, night is setting in and Wolverine decides he can’t let the guy just wander off into the woods by himself. He dons his distinctive brown uniform and tracks the man’s scent to a cave, only to find that it suddenly disappears. He is about to turn back when he recognizes a new scent. He can’t believe his senses and follows it into the cave where he finds… the Hulk! The Hulk looks surprised by Wolverine’s arrival and tenses up. Wolverine realizes that this must be his luck y day, “I’m gonna have to fight the Hulk!”
The other features in the issue are:
2nd Story: Werewolf by Night in “Children of the Beast “Part 1
3rd Story: Stingray in “Family Matters” Part 2
4th Story: The Shroud in “The Dark Light of Kali”
This story takes place between INCREDIBLE HULK #369 (in which Freedom Force appeared) and INCREDIBLE HULK #370 for the Hulk and just prior to the X-TINCTION AGENDA crossover in the X-Books.
Wolverine is searching for the X-Men who were presumed dead by the world at large at the time. The team had suffered several blows around this time. Rogue disappeared into the Siege Perilous during a battle against Master Mold in UNCANNY X-MEN #247. Longshot left the team to go on a journey of self-discovery and Storm was seemingly killed during a battle with Nanny and the Orphan-Maker in UNCANNY X-MEN #248. The remaining X-Men (Colossus, Psylocke, Havok and Dazzler) entered the Siege Perilous rather than face death at the hands of the Reavers as shown in UNCANNY X-MEN #251. Logan would not be reunited with the X-Men until the X-TINCTION AGENDA crossover.
Logan mentions his time as a government agent. Prior to joining the X-Men, Wolverine was part of several Canadian agencies. He worked for Canadian intelligence before being drafted into the Weapon X program. He later worked with Department H and was supposed to be a founding member of Alpha Flight before being recruited by Charles Xavier to join the X-Men (As seen in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1).
Glasnost was a major shift in Soviet policy introduced in 1985 by Mikhail Gorbachev. Glasnost involved a new openness in information sharing and government openness intended to create transparency in regards to official state actions. This policy and others initiated by Gorbachev led to the end of the Cold War and improved relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The bear was a symbol of the Soviet Union.
At this period in the Hulk’s evolution, his transformation from Bruce Banner into the gray-skinned Hulk only occurred at night. This explains why Banner did not “Hulk out” when attacked by the bear and his strange insistence on being let out of the truck as the sun began to set.
On page six of this story, the “Wolverine” who succumbs to a berserker rage and seemingly kills someone is not Logan but Calvin Rankin AKA The Mimic. The mystery of this duplicate Wolverine is not revealed until MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (1st series) #59. Prior to this revelation, Mimic was believed to have died in INCREDIBLE HULK #161.