Ultimate X-Men #11

Issue Date: 
December 2001
Story Title: 
Return to Weapon X - part 5: Sins of the Past

Mark Millar (writer), Adam Kubert (pencils), Art Thibert (inks), David Stewart (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Saida! (letters), Pete Franco (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

During Operation Desert Storm, an Iraqi attack on a convoy results in Wolverine – back then little more than a killing machine – escaping and slaughtering the Iraqi soldiers. He then turns to the one American survivor – Nick Fury – and instead of killing him, as one might expect, he instead carries the injured man back to the camp, where he is shot and once again imprisoned. In the present, Fury, back in his Manhattan pad, receives a mysterious phone call… At the Weapon X HQ, Marvel girl apologizes to Wolverine for judging him in the past. Now she understands him better. Wolverine, strangely enough, doesn’t seem to be worried. Using Xavier, Wraith stages what could amount to a coup within SHIELD, murdering General Ross and several of his people as they had the intention to close down the Weapon X program. Sabretooth and some soldiers take Wolverine out into the woods to torture him but Wolverine grins, knowing something they don’t. Back at the HQ, Wraith and Cornelius realize that Wolverine carried a tracking device. At that moment, the power is cut and the prisoners are free to leave their cells. The soldiers threaten to detonate the implants in their heads if they step out of line. However, that proves no longer possible, as the Brotherhood of Mutants has infiltrated the compound and removed the implants.

Full Summary: 

(Kuwait, during Operation Desert Storm:)

A convoy of American truck is hit by Iraqi snipers shooting at them from the hills. A few soldiers return fire. One of them – Nick Fury AKA “November Foxtrot” – radios his superior – John Wraith and asks for help: they are surrounded by ten to fifteen locals five hundred miles south of Al Basran. They require immediate ground and air cover. On the other side Wraith scoffs. Ground and air cover because of some half-stared Iraqi snipers? Is he joking? Negative, Fury replies. It’s not the Iraqis that are the concern but the fact that they just shelled the Adamantium cage they were carrying Weapon X in.

At that moment, the truck Fury was using for cover is hit and explodes. The snipers close in on the inferno intent to make sure that the soldiers are dead and to see if there is anything valuable for them to pilfer. They wonder what was in the now open cage. Lifestock? Oh sure, one of the men – Omar – scoffs; these American special units have really made a name for themselves transporting cows and sheep. Suddenly, they hear the noise “snikt” and something – someone - is coming closer. The men wonder – that sounded like someone unsheathing a sword or knife, unaware that their colleagues re already dead. One of the men realizes something is wrong and tells the others to grab their rifles. As no answer is coming, he looks around. His friends are dead and a naked man with claws is standing above one of the corpses. After the naked man spits out something bloody, the Iraqi swears and does the smart thing: he runs for his life.

Wolverine sniffs – someone is still alive; it’s the heavily injured Fury, who snarls that he should have known that holding his breath wouldn’t be enough. Wolverine smelled the blood, that’s what they trained him for after all. He’s not afraid of dying, Fury states defiantly, but could Wolverine do him the favor and focus his attack below the neckline? Identifying his corpse, minus the eye, is going to be hard enough for his mother.

At the camp, Wraith is desperately radioing another division: do they have any sign of Weapon X or November Foxtrot? Negative, the reply comes. Fury’s entire division is strewn about the area along with fourteen dead Iraqis but neither Weapon X nor November Foxtrot are anywhere in the vicinity. It’s been seventeen hours. They probably have no chance of either recapturing the mutie or seeing November Foxtrot alive, the soldier states. Well. Losing a highly decorated officer is tragic, Wraith spits out, but misplacing a unique killing machine is a career breaker. So they are to resume their search. All their hides are on the line right now.

Another solider enters the tent, shouting that they’ve found Wolverine. The men step out and cannot believe the sight in front of them. Wolverine is walking towards them, carrying the injured Fury on his back. Wraith orders everybody back and not to look Wolverine in the eye. That thing has been programmed to kill any human it sees, he shouts and shoots Wolverine. The others put Fury who is actually still conscious on a stretcher, while Wraith orders that someone should put the monster back into its Adamantium cage.

(New York City, last night)

Nick Fury is back in his luxurious Manhattan penthouse. Ordering his computer to fix a drink, he checks his phone messages. After the sixty-plus messages from telesales, religious organizations and girls he promised to call back are erased, three messages are left. In the first message, the caller states, “Nick, it’s me. Listen carefully. I don’t have much time here…”

(Weapon X HQ, Finland)

It’s the middle of night, while her cellmates are asleep, Jean addresses Wolverine, who is in the cell next to hers and apologizes. After six weeks in this horrible place, she finally understands why he hated people as much as he did. The fact that he could still embrace the Professor’s dream, after years of being tortured in this place, not to mention that came back to try and save them, shows that he has more hope and strength of character than anyone she’s met and she’s sorry for giving him such a hard time. She just wanted to tell him that before they are brainwashed or killed. Sorry. Well, she shouldn’t be, Wolverine smirks, because everything’s going exactly to plan.


Wraith radios General Ross, head of SHIELD, interrupting a strategy session of his with several other high-ranking SHIELD members. Is the rumor that SHIELD intends to phase out the Weapon X program within the next two years true, Wraith wants to know. Ross is angry. They are in the middle of an international situation here. Wraith doesn’t give up though and reminds Ross that he has two hundred and fifty people with mortgages and families here. He’d like a straight answer.

All right, Ross gives in, Weapon X will be phased out in that timeframe. During this period, every mutant under Wraith’s command will be rehoused, retrained and compensated for their time in captivity. All employees will have the option of voluntary redundancy or a guaranteed job within the organization. So nobody’s getting shortchanged. Except for the public, Wraith points out. More mutants are popping up every day and not all of these creatures are particularly fond of humans. Granted, the Sentinel-initiative may have been a stupid, knee-jerk idea but isn’t SHIELD in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater here? Close down Weapon X and who is going to save the world the next time some lunatic with the wrong genes decides to play football with the president’s head? Spider-man?

Provision have been made, Ross curtly replies. Is he referring to the Super Soldier program, Wraith demands. Those freaks haven’t had a result since 1942. Ross is starting to lose patience and coolly repeats that provisions have been made. What about the Brotherhood, Wraith, who’s clearly on a roll, demands. Does Ross really think SHIELD is ready for them when the resurface? Well, he doubts it.

Ross interrupts him. He sees a mess of cables and part of a helmet behind Wraith and asks what that “thing” behind him is. That’s hardly a nice way to describe a gentleman with a serious disability, Wraith sneers. As Ross fiddles with the controls to get a better picture on the screen, Wraith introduces the man strapped to the device behind him. Professor Charles Xavier – and that Cerebro helmet enhances his powers up to one thousand times…

Ross orders his people to evacuate the building. He needn’t bother, Wraith sneers. The windows and doors are already sealed. They have covered every conceivable base. What is he hoping to accomplish, Ross shouts. Oh, Seizing control of SHIELD, taking a tough line against mutants again and making sure the world is safe for his two little daughters back home. It’s humans against mutants and he didn’t spend billons of years evolving so some idiot like the general could come along and screw everything up. With those words something in the room detonates.

(the Netherlands:)

Sabretooth has arranged for the chained Wolverine to be transported here, somewhere into the lonely snowy woods. The soldiers are preparing what looks like a barbecue. Sabretooth shows Wolverine what they intend to burn: the classified SHIELD file including all information on Wolverine –all the things Logan no longer remembers. From his first day of school up until when they dragged him to Weapon X, Sabretooth claims and strikes a match. There’s even a picture of his father in there, he sneers and lights the file.

Wolverine breaks free and angrily runs towards Sabretooth but the soldiers shoot him in the back and he falls. Sabretooth states that he hates Wolverine. Hated him ever since he waltzed in there with powers like his and fooled everyone into thinking he was the top dog. The only laughs he remembers were when he offed Wolverine’s wife and his ugly little kid, he confides. That’s a lie, Wolverine exclaims. Perhaps, but that’s something he’ll never know Sabretooth sneers. Nevertheless, unexpectedly Wolverine grins.

At the HQ Dr. Cornelius notifies Wraith. He has found something irregular in the scans from the medical they gave Wolverine when they thawed him out. The x-ray shows an abnormality in his large intestine. Wraith takes a good look at it and identifies it as a tracking device.

In the woods, Sabretooth has had enough of Wolverine’s snickering. Either he tells him what’s so funny or he’ll detonate the implant in his skull. He’s just thinking about what his old cronies in the Brotherhood of Mutants are going to do to Sabretooth, Wolverine replies.

At the Weapon X HQ, suddenly, the power is cut, meaning that the cells are open. The mutants leave their cells walking towards the soldiers. One soldier who is clearly frightened out of his wits threatens that he’ll detonate their neural implants if they take another step.
“Not when they aren’t in their heads anymore,” a voice announces from behind them
The soldiers turn around to see the Brotherhood of Mutants standing behind them, with the Scarlet Witch holding the implants in her hand. “Abracadabra.”

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Colonel Nick Fury (SHIELD’s deputy commander)

General “Thunderbolt” Ross (commander of SHIELD)

Unnamed SHIELD officials

Colonel John Wraith (head of Weapon X)

Dr. Cornelius

Nightcrawler, Sabretooth and unnamed mutants(prisoners / agents of Weapon X)

Blob, Mastermind, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad (all Brotherhood of Mutants)

During Operation Desert Storm:

Weapon X/Wolverine

Nick Fury / November Foxtrot

Colonel John Wraith

Linklater and unnamed American soldiers

Omar, Najim and other Iraqi soldiers

Story Notes: 

Among the Wolverine files one can also see part of a sheet with the headline “Origin”…

Nick Fury lost his eye during Operation Desert Storm.

The one success of the Super Soldier Program in 1942 was, of course, Captain America. More of the Super Soldier Program and SHIELD’s response to superhuman threats can be seen in the pages of the Ultimates.

The Sentinel Initative took place within Ultimate X-men #1-6.

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