Spider-Man / Wolverine #4

Issue Date: 
November 2003
Story Title: 

Brett Matthews (writer), Vatche Mavlian (pencils), Paul Mounts (colors), VC’s Cory Petit (letters), Nick Lowe (assistant editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Nanci Dakesian (managing editor), Kelly Lama (associate managing editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In Switzerland, Nick Fury has just shot Wolverine down with a dart. Logan survives and takes out the dart, noticing his wound isn’t healing. Fury starts explaining why. Years ago, young Edward Brecker lost his mother while they witnessed a battle between Thor and some dragons. His mom died and ever since Brecker had a hatred for super-people, wanting to shut them down permanently. He became a scientist for SHIELD and head of a department called “Stuff of Legends.” He kidnapped both Spider-Man and Wolverine when they were away from their usual hang-out places and began experimenting on their genetic material to find a way to destroy all super-powered individuals. When Fury found out the two heroes were released, but as they were unconscious their minds were wiped of the experience. Brecker has now resurfaced and still yearns for revenge. Fury wants Wolverine and Spidey to visit Brecker at his base and put him down. Wolverine and Spidey agree to do as told and manage to infiltrate Brecker’s base by switching places in each other’s costumes. Wolverine stabs Brecker with his claws, but doesn’t kill him. With the battle finally over, Fury detonates Brecker’s base in exchange for the heroes’ service and flies them back home. That brings Peter and Logan’s story to the interrogator to its conclusion, who mentions that a simple apology next time Peter is late will be enough instead of such an outrageous story. The lights are turned back on and the questioner is revealed to be Aunt May, who was just waiting for Peter to have dinner with her. Logan thinks it’s time for him to leave now, but both Peter and May want Logan to stay. Wolverine agrees, and uses his claws to carve the roast and has a nice meal with the Parkers.

Full Summary: 


The interrogator asks Wolverine what does a man who’s just been shot in the neck say. Wolverine admits he has a line for that, but he didn’t get a chance to say it, because Fury had too much to reveal.

Earlier, a story about the past…

Across town, people are attacked by huge, flying, green, dragon-like creatures. Thor soars into rescue and heroically fights the creatures. Below him, Thor doesn’t notice a kid is playing in the middle of the street with his ball, while his mother calls after him to come to safety. The child loses his ball and doesn’t listen to his mom. One of the dragons spits fire at Thor, who evades it but instead the flames hit a nearby building. Bricks shatter off the structure and fall on the mother… killing her! Thor sees it all happening and quickly finishes off the monsters. He then tends to the boy, who of course cries inconsolably for his loss. When he looks at thor, though, his eyes are full of anger.


Wolverine also feels bad about the story, though it doesn’t explain the dart Fury just shot in his neck. Fury corrects that’s exactly what it means. Or, Fury jokes, did Logan really think he would just shoot him like that? He knows better. Logan smiles he does and then Wolverine snitks out his claws, yelling that he doesn’t care about the reason. He just never wants Fury to muck with his life again. To this, Fury reminds Wolverine about all the rifles pointed at his head, but again Logan doesn’t care, confident he’ll survive the bullets.

Fury again disagrees, claiming that, if Logan even so much as blinks, the guns will be fired and he’ll be one dead mutant. When Fury realizes that Logan is staring at him in disbelief, he says he knows a way to change his mind. He scratches Logan with another dart on his shoulder, and Logan thinks Fury must be really sick of living. Fury asks Logan to look at his wound. When he does, Logan is stunned when the wound… doesn’t heal? Intrigued, Wolverine agrees to let Fury talk.

“Stuff of Legends,” Fury exclaims. It’s the codename of a black-level SHIELD operation project both Spider-Man and Wolverine are the charter members of, despite the fact they don’t know about it. It’s also the reason Logan’s healing factor is currently disabled, as it will remain for the next twenty-four hours, until it’s able to compensate for and overcome the formula Fury has introduced as an object lesson. He reveals it wasn’t long after Wolverine and his kind started leaping tall buildings in single bounds that people (them that don’t glow in the dark) all had the same question on their lips: how do they stop one of those super people, if it ever comes to that?

One of the agency’s top secret scientists, Doctor Edward Brecker by name, proposed an answer. The response Brecker received from the brass was… enthusiastic. Officially on the fast track, Stuff of Legends quickly reached its final stage: field testing.

Wolverine gets angry, but Fury tells Logan to get some perspective. What would he have them do, if he ever truly lost it? Or worse, turned on them? Fury thinks Logan can’t tell him the offer has ever been made to him, and can’t really tell him he never considered it, if only for a moment. Wolverine promises he would never hurt innocents. Not ever. Especially for being different. Fury tells Logan, for what it’s worth, he believes him. He truly does, but this isn’t about what he believes. Or wishes for. Or prays to some invisible thing up in the sky before they go to bed, it’s about dealing with what is. Fury is sorry Logan and Peter are in on this thing. If they can bring themselves to believe it, Fury fought against their involvement, but none of that matters now.

Peter thinks Fury is only telling them this much is because he needs them. Unless, of course, it’s all just out of the goodness of his heart that he seems to have misplaced somewhere back around the Secret Wars. Peter wonders why Fury just isn’t straight with them for once.

Explaining, Fury further reveals that a group of SHIELD agents has gone rogue. If reports are accurate, and they are, both Spider-Man and Wolverine have already encountered one such agent in Paris. The splinter group is led by none other than Edward Brecker, the mastermind behind Stuff of Legends, and he was also the child in the unfortunate story he told them earlier. Wolverine smiles to Peter that it’s like he told him: it’s always about a girl.

Needless to say, Fury continues, Brecker’s got no great love for the genetically unique. A raging hatred for mutants and those with powers, to be precise. Frustrated by the agency’s… ambiguous stance on the subject, and coupled with a healthy dose of good-old fashioned greed, Brecker’s decided to take matters into his own hands. And he clearly has no qualms about betraying his own country if he does so. And as they can imagine, this creates all sorts of problems for Fury, the foremost being Brecker could well start World War III.

Peter feels Fury’s being a little melodramatic here. He wants to know what anything Fury just said could possibly lead to World War III. Fury agrees to answer that question: Wolverine will! The response: Huh?!

Fury continues. With Peter, obtaining the genetic material necessary for the program was as simple as following him around with a mop and bucket and waiting for the next slobberknocker. Blood, sweat, skin, hair, cells, they even found fingerprints on occasion. Fury warns Peter he really should be more careful. In this day and age, that kind of stuff, well… it tells people like SHIELD a lot about the man under the mask. Wolverine is a different case, him being the reclusive type. Fury tells Logan not to get him wrong but, when he does poke his head out of the sand, there’s usually plenty of blood to be found, and most of it is not Logan’s. Obtaining a clean cell proved to be impossible.

But lucky for SHIELD, Logan’s prone to disappearing for weeks if not months at a time without so much as telling anyone, including the team of twenty year old something X-Men. So they waited. And the next time Logan went Kerouac, collapsing after drinking a lot of beer, SHIELD extracted him. Fury doesn’t know the particulars of the “mickey” that was slipped into Logan’s beer himself, outside that it cost the country a couple million dollars to engineer and tastes like strawberry. Brecker was on that extraction team. He put in to oversee the op personally. Given his standing with the brass, no one said no. He was running tests the second the chopper carrying the unconscious Wolverine was airborne.

It went on for days. Fury promises Wolverine was never conscious for any of it, because he demanded that. And, when all was said and done, Logan’s short-term memory was “scrubbed” and he was scheduled for insertion the very next day. If all went to plan, Logan would have nothing than a nasty headache to show for it the next morning. But Brecker had other ideas. Seems, in studying Wolverine’s genetic stuff, Brecker hit on something, something he believed he could replicate.

Peter is shocked by the story, and Logan recalls he thought that beer tasted funny. Fury also says you need money for the kind of science Brecker had in mind, and his window was short. So, he hacked SHIELD’s database and started calling up Spider-Man’s and Wolverine’s enemies, of which there are no shortage. Pretty soon, he found himself a winner in Takeshi Kishimoto, whom Fury understand “died” recently. It’s win-win for Brecker: Kishimoto ponies up the cash for Brecker to play God and gets to torture him to death afterward, which doesn’t go poorly for the doctor either. Brecker uses the money to convince a handful of traitorous SHIELD agents that government money isn’t cutting anymore, they abscond with people’s unconscious butt. It also allows him to hide, and well. He uses the time to formulate some bastardized form of Wolverine’s healing factor, a formula he clearly intends to sell on the international black market.

Giving Kishimoto that satcam was Brecker’s only misstep, if a necessary one. By the time SHIELD’s surveillance cameras could pinpoint the field, they were pretty sure Wolverine’s torture had been going on for a straight week. Wolverine doesn’t understand the point, but Peter believes it’s a commercial. A living, bleeding advertisement for the kind of punishment anyone shot up with Brecker’s formula could take. And any nation with the cash to spend and utter lack of morality to do so would no doubt become welcome to sit at that table. The number of which Peter is guessing is about half the world.

Fury quietly laments that Peter always was an optimist. But that is what brings them all here. As they speak, Brecker’s inside the mountain facility, running an infomercial for every country that has a couple of million to rub together. Peter wants to know what Fury is waiting for. He’s going in, right? But that’s the thing… Fury can’t. This project is so dark it doesn’t even officially exist. As it stands at the moment, Fury is not even here right now. Brecker chose his spot very carefully. Were American forces to engage as is on Swiss soil, it would very clearly be an Act of War. Half of the countries even they’ve monitored arriving to hear Brecker’s pitch are officially America’s allies. So, until Fury gets the authorization from the top to mobilize, and Fury should say if, his hands are tight.

Peter can’t believe this. Fury makes all this mess… he does, and the president won’t even allow him to clean it up? Fury claims this thing is on so many levels above the president he sincerely doubts the man can count that high. But Peter and Logan, Fury has no jurisdiction over. If they were to act, he wouldn’t technically be at the liberty to stop them. Wolverine angrily snikts his claws out, and tells Fury to shut up. With furious red eyes, he says those with souls left have work to do.


Wolverine adds that it was at that point that he came up with a plan. Peter corrects Logan that it wasn’t his plan alone. “Fine,” Logan admits, it was “their” plan. But it was a brilliant one. Peter mocks he can’t wait to hear what happens to them next. First step, Logan says, they needed to create themselves a diversion.


As they climb up a mountain, Logan asks Peter if he’s up to this. Peter jokes that, for as long as the mad scientists they’re about to fight aren’t making any clones in his lab, he should be fine. Logan stares inquisitively at Peter, who simply jokes that’s a loooooooong story. Logan doesn’t care and just wants Peter to put his costume on.

Inside Brecker’s lab…

Brecker’s sensors pick up Wolverine’s presence and one of the soldiers informs Brecker, who wonders what Wolverine is doing. The soldier explains that it appears Wolverine is just standing on a mountain, and… is giving them the finger. “How very cultured,” Brecker gloats. He orders all of his operatives to intercept. It’s about time they earn their keep. They are to shoot on sight, using the ampules prepared specifically for Wolverine. The lethal ones. Nothing must interrupt the infusion. However, Wolverine’s dead body has to be brought to him, as he has a special place in his curiosities cabinets for Logan’s skeleton. When the guard asks what they’ll do to Spider-Man, Brecker orders them to let the web-slinger come to him. He’s quite certain he’d be interested in seeing the science behind his work for himself. As it will kill him, of course.


A hatch opens in the cave behind Wolverine, and soldiers run through it. Wolverine says he is ready to get it over with. The guards open fire, but the X-Man dodges all of the bullets and runs away. The guards report to their boss that they’re in pursuit. Meanwhile, still standing on a mountain nearby, Spider-Man watches the battle. Another hatch in the cave opens, and Spidey quietly enters. He immediately notices a lever to open and close the hatch, and destroys it.

Outside, Wolverine has run to the end of a mountain, and a it’s a deep fall below him. A dead end. In the cave, Spider-Man finds a lab in which a scientist is operating on a man. Both heroes don’t know for sure what to do. As the soldiers catch up on Logan and order him to give up, Spider-Man jumps into the lab, though Brecker smiles he made it just in time for his presentation. On that moment, Spider-Man is in complete agony! Brecker apologizes for what the gas this room is pressurized with is doing to him, and explains the gas is without doubt shutting down the web-slinger’s central nervous system as they speak. So, Brecker will be brief in what he’s about to say.

He finds the gas to be amazing. And Brecker thinks a man with Spider-Man’s background can surely appreciate the science he’s experiencing. He wonders if Spidey can actually feel the gas breaking his cellular membranes down, and that they’re liquefying his guts. However, Brecker adds, it was Spidey’s genetic material that became bonded with that radioactive spider, and it did so completely. He wonders if Spider-Man even knew that. That he’s only ever scratched the surface of his genetic potential. He dug deeper. And so, he gave Spidey the radioactive spider’s venom now.

While Spider-Man continues to reel in great pain, the scene is being watched by several people behind a safety glass. Brecker wants Spider-Man to indulge a hypothesis of his. He calls the web-slinger a mistake. All of the heroes. He thinks they’re all accidents. And just because their helices twisted their ways when their genetic soup knit itself together, because of their cells’ inability to replicate properly, the “heroes” all think they’re gods. But Brecker realizes that isn’t enough for them, because a god requires worship. So they don ridiculous costumes and fight one another, choosing sides as children will. But it’s not for good or ill as the heroes make everyone believe. Brecker believes that’s too easy, and thinks the heroes do what they do to make sure they aren’t alone. To know there are others every bit as abhorrent as themselves. He thinks it was only a matter of time until someone put heroes under the microscope, as Brecker thinks it’s where they all belong.

Brecker holds a scalpel close to Spider-Man’s face, knowing what he’s probably thinking right now: “This isn’t how this is supposed to work.” And about now, Brecker is supposed to take a header into a vat of acid. Maybe shoot himself up with some bizarre genetic cocktail of his own creation, or start sprouting limbs. But then, he wouldn’t be able to give Spider-Man back what he needs most… his humanity. To die as he lived his human life: alone, awkward and as an outcast.

Suddenly, adamantium claws snikt out of Spider-Man’s gloves… and stabs Brecker! “Spider-Man” takes off his mask… and is revealed to be Wolverine! Logan mocks Brecker must have mistaken him for someone else. Logan tells the people watching the scene that should leave now, so they won’t bleed, and live good lives. The crowd starts panicking, screaming and others run away as told.

Outside, the actual Spider-Man outmaneuvers the soldiers behind him by web-slinging away. He makes it back in the lab and hopes he reaches Brecker before Logan does. He finds a huge, closed door and tries to pull it open, while behind the door Wolverine tries to do the same to get out. After a short while, the two succeed and, when Spidey goes inside and finds the doctor apparently dead, he is shocked. A distraught Wolverine promises Spider-Man that Brecker will live, though won’t be doing jumping jacks anytime soon.

Peter sits down and is relieved it’s all over now. Wolverine isn’t sure that what Brecker put in motion here ever will be. A thing that’s fuelled by hate tends to have a long reach. Despite that, Peter thanks Logan for keeping his word. Logan smiles that’s what makes them good guys.

Nick Fury bursts through the ceiling and compliments the men on their victory. He tells them that there is a transport waiting for them outside to bring them back home. Fury apologizes for not gaining the authority to interfere sooner, but he had politics to deal with. When Spidey then asks if this means that “Stuff of Legends” will be shut down after this, Fury makes it clear that decisions like that are made above him. If he even knew who it was making those decisions, he could state his case, but since they gave him a solid here, Fury smiles he’ll see what he can do.

On that moment, the base erupts in an explosion! Peter smiles at Fury, who asks if there is anything else he can do for them. Peter hits Fury in his face, who jokes he’s feeling better already. Wolverine laughs that he and Peter are going to have themselves a pop now, and it will be his treat.


Peter continues the story by explaining that, so, they hop on this plane-like thing and fly halfway around the world without a movie and the turbulence sucks and his costume smells like Wolverine now, but they finally made it back to New York. And this stuff with Fury, it happened in… Wolverine interrupts, adding it all happened in the last twenty-four hours. Peter agrees, saying that after their victory he and Logan went for that drink, and it was at that moment that Peter realized he had no idea what day it was, much less the time. And when he found out he and Logan ran, and he means ran, back here as fast as they could.

Logan jokes he never saw Peter move that fast. And he has seen Peter get shot at. And the bottom line is, Peter sighs, he still screwed up. He tried so hard this time but stuff just happened like it always does. And he knows it sounds lame but, really, this was beyond his control. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that he is really, really sorry.

And not a moment too soon, the interrogator says, as the hourglass is completely empty. Her roast would have burned if the story took any longer. The lights go back on, and the interrogator is revealed to be none other than… Aunt May! May wants Peter to understand that an aunt just likes to know she’s appreciated once and a while. That she’s remembered, and the fact Peter is Spider-Man doesn’t change that. So there is no need for the outrageous stories he whips up. A simple apology will be enough next time he’s late.

When she asks who’s hungry, Peter begins licks his fingers. Logan notices and puts his hat back on, mentioning he’d better leaves now. However, May refuses to let Logan go now, informing him that she even made a pie. Peter also wants Logan to stay, so Logan agrees. He snikts out one of his claws, and starts cutting the roast.

Characters Involved: 



Nick Fury

various SHIELD soldiers (all unnamed)

Dr. Edward Brecker (scientist of Stuff of Legends)

various other Stuff of Legends members (all unnamed)

mysterious interrogator of Spider-Man & Wolverine (Aunt May)

various people in danger (all unnamed)

various attacking monsters

In Fury’s explanations:


Dr. Edward Brecker (as a child)

Brecker’s mother (unnamed)

various dragon-like creatures (all unnamed)

in Fury’s flashback:



Dr. Edward Brecker

various other Stuff of Legends members (all unnamed)

various SHIELD agents (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The reference to “clones” undoubtedly refers to the “Clone Saga” of the 1990s, derided by fans as being a low-point in Spider-Man publication history.

Issue Information: 
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