Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #332

Issue Date: 
May 1996
Story Title: 
The Road to Casablanca

Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Team Bucce (colors), Bob Harras (editor), Cover by Joe Madureira

Brief Description: 

In Casablanca, Morocco, Professor Charles Xavier confronts Zoe Culloden in the offices of Landau, Luckman and Lake to figure out where Wolverine is. Zoe is reluctant to give up any information, but Xavier uses his mind-power to coldly take it from her. Outside of the office, Jean Grey discovers where Wolverine is and leads her fellow X-Men Cyclops, Iceman and Cannonball towards his location. At a temple at an undisclosed location, Wolverine happens upon a trapdoor, much to the chagrin of Elektra, who was tracking him. A mile below resides Ozymandias, a former disciple of Apocalypse. He eventually demands to know why Wolverine is there or he will kill him. Before he can act on that, however, the X-Men arrive. Ozymandias responds to their presence by creating stone figures of various enemies and friends of the X-Men, which begin to attack them. During the battle, Cyclops falls, plummeting into the chasm below while the other X-Men can do nothing to save him. Before Wolverine can attempt to save him, Ozymandias grabs him and prepares to toss him into the chasm as well, while a helpless Jean Grey helplessly watches on.

Full Summary: 

On a hillside, the now feral Wolverine overlooks a temple below. While he makes his way to it, Elektra observes him, careful not to be seen by Wolverine. Suddenly, Wolverine senses somebody near him but, when he turns to see, he finds nothing.

Meanwhile, in a branch office of the far-flung firm of Landau, Luckman and Lake (LL&L) located in Casablanca, Morocco, Professor Charles Xavier tells Zoe Culloden that he’s out there. Somewhere, Logan, the X-Man they call Wolverine, is alone. He’s hungry, exhausted, disoriented. He wants him home now. In a moment of severe crisis, he was forced to shed the last vestige of his humanity. A captive of the mad boy called Genesis, Wolverine felt the only way to save his teammate, Cannonball, his sole recourse in preventing the genetic overlord, Apocalypse, from once again grabbing a foothold over the human race was to give himself, both body and soul, to the animal within.

Until he has a chance to examine him, to assess the amount of damage done to him during his battle against the Dark Riders, he cannot say with any certainty if Wolverine will ever truly be human again. He wants to find him before anybody else does. Zoe replies that she hopes he does but she’s afraid she can’t help him. She informs him that he may or may not be aware of this, but her employers LL&L have a business relationship with Logan that significantly predates his tenure as an X-Men. Because of the sensitive nature of the ventures in which they’re involved, she has to cite client-attorney privilege.

Xavier calmly tells her that he’s afraid he hasn’t made himself clear on this matter. It is known that Professor Charles Xavier is possessed of the most powerful mutant mind on the planet as well as, fortunately, a natural aversion to imposing his telepathic prowess upon others – when he can avoid it. Xavier proceeds to tell Zoe that she is working under the misconception that he came there to ask for her help. That is not the case. Nor is he the least bit interested in the “sensitive nature” of what they do there or in the twenty-six branch offices they have sprinkled about the planet or those situated throughout any number of alternate dimensions. Shocked, Zoe asks that he knows about… Xavier tells her to allow him to ask the questions, please. He then asks her again, what does she know about Logan’s condition?

Down on the street, Cyclops and Jean Grey are sitting in a car, while Cannonball and Iceman converge on the outside. Nature made them mutants, something more and, some might argue, less than humans – both gifted and cursed with powers. Charles Xavier made them X-Men – heroes sworn to protect a world that fears and loathes them for their differences. Charles Xavier made them a family.

Inside the car, Jean informs Scott that she’s dealt with LL&L first-hand and they’re not necessarily the enemy. She then tells him that now; she needs a little silence as she’s trying to telepathically locate Wolverine. Scott quietly replies that it’s not LL&L he’s worried about. Outside the car, Sam says to Bobby that he knows he’s gonna tell him… Bobby cuts him off and tells him that it’s not his fault. What happened to Wolverine, he shouldn’t blame himself. Sam asks who the heck is he supposed t’blame? He went off in search o’ Logan on his own, like he was trying to prove he ain’t the greenest member of the group and what happens?

Bobby asks him if he thinks he’s the only X-Men ever to mess up and asks if he ever told him about the Champions. Sam tells him no. Bobby says picture this: him, the Angel, Black Widow, Hercules and Ghost Rider in L.A. Does he have any idea how hard it is to find a major super-villain to fight in Los Angeles? Sam replies that does sound pretty embarrassing. He’s just scared for Logan. He then tells Bobby that he didn’t see him, he’s different. Hearing that, Bobby thinks to himself that they’re all changing. What’s really scary is, the day has come where he’s the team member doling out advice. Brrrr. He then tells himself that’s it, keep the jokes to himself.

Just then, Jean tells the crew that she’s found something. It’s Logan’s telepathic echo ten miles south of… Scott calls out to the Professor who projects his astral form. Scott informs him that they’ve located Wolverine and that they’ll pick him up and… Xavier cuts him off and tells him that’s only half the job and for him to go on ahead, he’ll be joining them shortly. Scott starts to ask if he’s su... but Xavier cuts him off and tells him that he’ll be fine. In short time, the X-Men head off into battle as they have countless times before. However, their leader, Cyclops feels it in his gut that things are far from fine.

Inside the offices of LL&L, Zoe asks Xavier if he would like a drink. When Xavier tells her “no thank you,” Zoe asks what was she thinking. She forgot who she was talking to. Charles Xavier, the self-proclaimed patron saint of purity. “Thou shalt not drink, smoke, nor use your mutant powers to dominate humanity,” right? Xavier replies that his reputation precedes him but he didn’t come there to talk about him. As Zoe walks up behind Xavier, she points her wrist weapon at the back of his head and says to him yes he did. Whether he knows it or not, he did. She then asks Xavier to please leave before it’s too late. There are things happening beyond the scope of his understanding, beyond his imagining.

Roughly grabbing Zoe’s arm, Xavier tells her that she’d be surprised what she can imagine. Fighting back, Zoe tells Xavier not to struggle and that if he truly believes in this “dream” of his, if he sincerely wants to achieve genetic harmony between the races, he’ll end it here now!

With that, Zoe’s weapon goes off, shooting Xavier in the face. Shocked, Zoe looks at Xavier and he is perfectly fine. She stammers that she never left the desk, she never stood up and crossed the room, didn’t offer him a drink. She asks that he just let her believe she had. Xavier responds that he was curious, curious to see how far she’d go to keep her employers’ secrets. He allowed her to play out the worst scenario in her mind. Now he knows what she’s capable of. He asks Zoe if she would like to know what he’s capable of. Sitting in her chair, Zoe discovers that she can’t move. Looking at Xavier she asks him that he’s decided not to fight fair. Xavier replies that she’s the one who blew his head off a moment ago, remember. He then tells her he’ll make this easy. He lost Sabretooth, he will not lose Wolverine.

Ironically, the man called Logan is now beyond such concerns. Beyond all matters both human and mutant. He has become a creature of the senses – sight, taste, touch. For him, it is no longer about “right” and “wrong.” It’s about curiosity and for better or for worse the satiation of the same. When Logan approaches the temple and accidentally steps on one of the bricks below, he falls through a trap door as it closes immediately afterwards. When he falls due to his curiosity, it is much to the consternation of the shadow-cloaked observer, Elektra.

One mile below, a stone figure continues to chiseling away at a column. As always, as ever, he sits alone in darkness. Once, before a thousand sunrises, he, Ozymandias, stood as a king stands among his minions. Before En Sabah Nur. Before the dark one called Apocalypse felled him, imprisoned him. For sunset upon sunset, piled high, one atop the other, the former king has set his blind eyes, his stone hands to a singular task to fending off madness. But today, the burden of solitude is broken. Today, he has company.

When he sees Wolverine landing on his feet before him, he is aghast. For has he been exiled for so long that the very face of humanity has changed? When Wolverine doesn’t answer him, he concludes that there is no answer forthcoming. Again, as with every time before it, he is left with questions. Was he such a horrible king that he should suffer so for so long? Or was his only transgression that he dared oppose Apocalypse? Why has Ozymandias’s vision been replaced with images, images of a world that cannot be? Apocalypse is a cruel captor agreed. For the only way for Ozymandias to free himself of his visions is to record them, to etch them in stone.

Before them, stands a massive column, on each side, an etching. He then wonders if he has simply, finally, gone mad. When last he walked the earth above, man was neither fish nor fowl nor rock nor flame. Man was simply man. But the creature before him bespeaks another age of humanity. Much like the image of men, of entire cities, falling from the sky. Of spirits being plucked from the ether to the now. Impossibilities, atrocities, blasphemies. Floating over to Wolverine, Ozymandias says to him “tell me” he beseeches of the creature-who-would-be-a-man, tell him why he is there. Answer for him the thousand thousand mysteries which plague him through the eternal night. Answer him, lest he tears the answers from his very skull.

At that moment, Cyclops blast narrowly misses Ozymandias as he tells him that maybe they can think of an alternative to his problem. Cannonball adds that “thank gosh” they found Wolverine. Iceman asks, “Gosh?” Who says gosh anymore? Jean then tells Scott to look at Logan. Without his adamantium skeleton, he’s mutated further than anyone could have guessed. Scott informs her that he sees him and as bad as he looks, they’ll have to worry about Wolverine after they get him out of there. He then tells Ozymandias from what they managed to hear, it’s clear he has as much reason to fear Apocalypse as they do, but he’s dead, killed months ago on the moon’s surface. There is no reason to fight each other. Ozymandias flings his mallet over his shoulder and tells Cyclops that he’s a fool if he believes the eternal one can ever die. No, Ozymandias opposed the dark will of Apocalypse once. He will not err so again.

When he saw Ozymandias fling his mallet over his shoulder, Iceman mentioned that at least they don’t have to worry about getting hit by any flying mallets; his aim couldn’t be any farther off. When the mallet strikes the column, Ozymandias tells him that just the opposite is true. In the time he has dwelled within this prison of rock and stone, he has become one with his creations – a cruel parting gift from the dark lord. Just then, stone figures emerge from the column and take the shape of Spyne, Hurricane, Colossus, the Blob, Nate Grey/X-Man, Wolverine, Joanna Cargill, Magneto, Sven and Harlan Kleinstock, as well as others.

Jean wonders “gift” and says to Scott that either Apocalypse didn’t want the competition of another mutant or Ozymandias is another human re-engineered along the lines of Mr. Sinister. Whatever the answer turns out to be, she can tell him she’s not picking up any signs of life within these things. They’re nothing but animated stone. That allows her to telekinetically crush the one doppelganger she doesn’t recognize – Nate Grey. As she does, Mimic comes behind her and strikes her in the back. When he does, Jean says that they’re slow-moving, but there are so many of them. Before Mimic can inflict further damage on Jean, Wolverine leaps on him and slices his head off. With Mimic down, the Blob comes up behind him. Iceman calls out to Logan to look out, but Cannonball saves him by powering himself through the center of the Blob, taking him out.

Iceman then informs Cyke that they’re ready. Because the stone figures aren’t alive, they didn’t realize he was dropping their internal temperature to the point where… Cyclops, riding on Iceman’s ice slide, finishes his thought that he can shatter them with a single optic blast. With that, he shoots and takes out Joanna Cargill and another stone figure with one blast. Iceman says teamwork, you gotta love it. Seeing what is going on, Ozymandias says that the creatures of flesh and bone and ice are fooling themselves for he once ruled an entire kingdom. His soldiers of stone are more than capable of thwarting their assault.

At that, the stone version of Wolverine leaps up and uses his claws to shatter Iceman’s ice slide. Realizing what happened, Iceman calls out to Cyke, but Cyclops tells him to anchor himself, he’ll be okay. Just then, he begins to plummet into the chasm below. Any other time, this would not have been a problem. One member of the team or another would have been there to assist him. But not everyone is working to their full capacity and the creature known as Ozymandias is much faster than anyone suspected.

Grabbing Wolverine by the head, Ozymandias says to Logan that if it his intent is to join his ally, then allow him to assist him. Jean, restrained around her throat by Magneto, thinks to herself that she can barely breathe… can’t concentrate enough… to free Wolverine… and wonders what’s going to happen to Scott.

Characters Involved: 

Cannonball, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Professor X

Zoe Culloden/Expediter



Stone versions of the following: the Blob, Magneto, Sven and Harlan Kleinstock, Joanna Cargill, Wolverine, Nate Grey/X-Man in his original costume (thanks Monolith), Colossus, Hurricane, Spyne and Mimic.

Story Notes: 

Elektra started on the path to find Logan back in Wolverine (2nd series) #100 on recommendation by Stick.

Wolverine sacrificed his humanity to save his teammate Cannonball back in Wolverine (2nd series) #100.

Jean Grey, along with Logan, dealt with Landau, Luckman and Lake personally back in Wolverine (2nd series) #97.

Sam Guthrie started looking for Logan back in Wolverine (2nd series) #99. He found him in Wolverine (2nd series) #100.

First appearance of Ozymandias.

Ozymandias mentioning entire cities falling from the sky refers to Avalon plummeting back to Earth back in X-Men (2nd series) #43.

Apocalypse was seemingly killed in X-Force (1st series) #18.

This issue is concluded in Wolverine (2nd series) #101.

Issue Information: 
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