Wolverine (2nd series) #105

Issue Date: 
September 1996
Story Title: 
Faces in the Fire

Larry Hama (Writer), Val Semeiks (Artist), Chad Hunt with V. Russell and H. Candelario (Inkers), Chris Lichter and Joe Andreani (Colors), Richard Starkings and COMICRAFT (Letters), Malibu (Enhancements), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine decides to let the heavy hitters deal with the big action against Onslaught and goes to help firefighters rescue people trapped in burning buildings. In one building, there is a young boy trapped named Sean. Wolverine has the firefighters soak him and he heads in to get the boy, who is at first frightened by Wolverine, but realizes that he is a superhero. Wolverine’s exit route is blocked off, though, but fortunately he and Sean are found by an old man, who can somehow see through all the smoke, which is clouding Wolverine’s senses. The old man leads the two out of the building, though Wolverine is badly burned. Wolverine quickly heals and heads back into the building to find the old man. The man, however, refuses to leave and leads Wolverine on a chase to the roof, where he easily knocks Wolverine to the ground. Wolverine realizes the man is Stick, Elektra’s mentor and is also dead, and thinks that he has come to help him get back on his true path. Stick explains that no one can help Wolverine but himself and that Magneto only ripped out his adamantium; it was Wolverine who decided to give up and succumb to his animal nature. Wolverine, however, is trapped on the collapsing building, but Stick guides him out one last time. Outside, the Human Torch finds Wolverine and tells him that they are all regrouping at Four Freedoms Plaza to plan their final assault against Onslaught.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine braces himself against the deluge of water and orders the firemen to keep it up. He needs to be soaked for this to work. As New York City burns, Wolverine recalls how Magneto did it. Magneto infected Charles Xavier with a part of himself that brought out the darkness in the Professor. Now he is Onslaught and it is up to the combined forces of the X-Men, Fantastic, Four, the Avengers and others to stop the most powerful psionic creature on the planet who wants to punish humanity. Wolverine knows that he should leave the heavy action to those who can lift cement trucks with their brains or shoot beams out of their eyes. Someone like Wolverine is better at cleaning up the collateral damage.

As the F.D.N.Y. works furiously to put out the most dangerous of the fires that engulf the city, one of them announces that the ladder needs to be moved, because there is a child in one of the buildings. As looters run by, another firefighter asks where the kid is, because he cannot see through the smoke. The child is on the sixth floor, says another man. A man on the fire ladder screams that the boom extension won’t reach. They need the net. At the window is a little boy who screams for his mother. On the street, the mother, who carries a crying baby, calls out to Sean and tells a firefighter that she though he was behind her. Her other son tells her that Sean went back for Mr. Winky.

Wolverine hears this and realizes that there are two people trapped up there. He asks one of the firefighters if they can get the kid to jump, but he is told that the net is two blocks away and their resources are stretched. Wolverine realizes it is up to him, as he jumps onto the fire truck and runs up the ladder. One of the men tells him that the ladder doesn’t reach, to which Wolverine replies that it is why he ran up the ladder.

As he runs to the top of the ladder, Wolverine hopes he had enough of a good start. He jumps and just barely reaches the windowsill. He pulls himself in, but the scared Sean runs away. Wolverine calls out to him and tells him not to go, because they need to find Mr. Winky. Sean runs into a bedroom and closes the door. Wolverine comes in and finds Sean crying under a bed with his teddy bear. Wolverine tells him that it is hard tracking a scent in the smoke, but his noise is still useful. He tells Sean that they have to leave, because his mother is waiting.

Sean stays far from Wolverine and tells him that he isn’t a fireman. His mother told him never to speak with strangers. How come he wears a mask? Wolverine tells Sean that his mother was right about the stranger part, but he is wearing a mask because he is a superhero. He pulls it off and explains that his mother said he came back for Mr. Winky. Is Mr. Winky somewhere in the apartment? Is he an old man? Sean smiles and shows him his teddy bear. Mr. Winky is his bear, says Sean. Wolverine reasons that the bear must be important for Sean to run back into the building. Sean says that it is true, as he crawls out from under the bed. Wolverine picks him up and says that they are both getting out of here.

Wolverine races back to the window and Sean asks if they are going to jump out. Wolverine tells him that they are if the way is clear. Suddenly, the ceiling collapses in front of Wolverine, blocking his path to the window. Outside, the firemen rush back as the whole floor collapses and fire and debris rain everywhere. Sean’s mother screams that her son was still in the building. Inside, Wolverine and Sean are safe. Wolverine rushes into a hallway and asks where the fire stairs are. Sean says that they are in the main hallway. Wolverine kicks down the door to the apartment and asks if he should go left or right. Sean points to one direction, but immediately changes his mind. He admits that he doesn’t know. Sean asks Wolverine if they are going to die. They are superheroes, says Logan, they cannot die. He isn’t a superhero, though, says Sean. Wolverine tells Sean that they can fix that and he puts his mask on Sean’s head. Now he is the hero.

A voice calls out from the fire and tells Wolverine to come this way. Wolverine is confused and turns to see a shadowy figure with a stick ordering him to come, unless he wants to be burnt alive. Wolverine admits that there is too much smoke and he cannot see. The man extends his stick and tells Logan to grab it. Puzzled, Wolverine asks the man how he can see through all the smoke. The man tells him he has a knack. Wolverine grabs the stick and is led to the fire stairs. Logan tells the man that his answer explains nothing. In the stairwell, the man tells him that he walks too much and then warns him to watch his step, as they are now going down some stairs.

Wolverine, still blinded, tells the man that it feels like it is getting hotter. The other man points out that it usually does when one gets near fire. Shocked, Wolverine asks if the man is really leading them through fire. The man points out into the fire and tells Logan that this is the only way out. Is he coming? Wolverine realizes that he has no other choice and tells Sean that he is going to give him a wet shirt to cover himself with. Wolverine takes off his shirt and covers Sean with it. He tells the boy to take deep breaths through the wet cloth. Wolverine leaps through the flames and tells the frightened child to hang on and not to worry, because Wolverine promises to get him out of this mess. Wolverine recalls how he has been through a similar situation when he pulled Elsie Dee from a burning warehouse in Venice, California. However, he didn’t have to go through six floors of burning stairs.

The man with the stick calls out to Wolverine and tells him to hurry up, then laughs at the idea of how stairwells are supposed to be fire proof. Wolverine crashes through a door to the lobby and smells his hair burning in his nostrils. He hears the other man tell him that there is only one more floor left. As Wolverine’s body fat begins to sizzle, he tells Sean that they are on the home stretch.

Wolverine runs out of the front door in flames, as the fire fighters are shocked that he made it. Wolverine, on fire, drops Sean and tells him to run. Sean runs to his mother, who thanks the Heavens that her son is alive. She immediately asks to see the man who saved her son, but a firefighter tells her that she doesn’t want to see the mess. A medic walks towards Wolverine, but is shocked to see that he is still alive. As the fire on Wolverine dies out, he finds that his flesh is all burned and blistering. In seconds, though, his skin and hair regenerate, as his healing factor is able to cope with the injuries. Moments later, he is back to normal. He tells the people that he has a mutant healing factor, though wishes sometimes that he had a pain suppression factor too.

Wolverine puts his shirt back on as a firefighter calls him a hero. Modestly, Wolverine says that he isn’t. A hero is a guy who does this stuff everyday, like him and the other firemen. He then orders the man to wet him down again. The fireman asks if he is going in again, as he sprays Wolverine down. Logan explains how there is a crazy man inside, though if it weren’t for him he and the kid would be dead. Wolverine owes him.

Before Wolverine can run into the building, Sean runs up to him and tells him that he cannot be a hero without his mask. Wolverine thanks Sean and puts his mask back on and tells the boy that he wouldn’t want to be recognized by the bad guys. Sean agrees and asks Wolverine if he is Captain America. Wolverine introduces himself as Wolverine and runs back into the building. “Woover-who?” asks Sean.

Wolverine enters the building and calls out to the old man, asking him where he is as the whole building is going to come down soon. On the second floor balcony, the man asks Wolverine if he is a glutton for pain. Annoyed with the man’s games, Wolverine tells him to come down nice and easy now, or else Wolverine will make him come down. Part of the ceiling caves in front of Wolverine and the old man takes advantage of the distraction to run up a flight of stairs. Wolverine leaps to the nearest staircase and sees that the man is running to the roof, which makes his job simpler. He reaches the top of the building and opens the door to the roof. He announces that the game is over, but is hit in the head with a stick.

Rubbing his head, Wolverine unsheathes his claws and growls menacingly. The man asks if he is going to claw him up. He thought Wolverine came to save him. Wolverine tells him that he is going to save his life even if he has to knock the man unconscious. The man tells Logan that he is a lot of things, but not crazy. Besides, what makes Wolverine think that he can knock him out? Wolverine grabs him by the shirt and tells him that he is going to save his life whether he likes it or not.

The man hits Wolverine under the chin with his stick in one swift movement and realizes that Wolverine doesn’t know who he is. He jabs Logan in the gut and asks if he is thick. He lands another blow to the X-Man’s face and asks if he has been an animal so long that he cannot use his brain anymore. Wolverine cannot figure out who or what he is? Wolverine, pinned to the ground, realizes that the man is Stick, sensei to Elektra and master of the chaste, and he is also dead. Stick removes his weapon and Wolverine gets back up.

Stick smiles and admits he doesn’t let a little thing like death keep him down. Besides, if he is dead, then how can he be standing here attacking Wolverine with a bow staff? He lunges at Wolverine, but Logan is quick this time and evades his blow. Wolverine taunts Stick and tells him that he isn’t hitting him anymore. He may not be dead in the way that they know it, but he sure isn’t alive anymore. Is that why Wolverine isn’t counter-attacking, asks Stick. Does he realize that there is no use attacking a ghost? Wolverine tells Stick that he isn’t a ghost; he is like something vibrating on another plane of existence. Maybe he got to that state before he died.

Wolverine leaps up top a water tower, with Stick close behind. They meet up top, where Stick tells Logan that they aren’t here to discuss his state of being. Wolverine admits he knows why Stick is here. He is here to finish what Elektra started, which was to put him back on the path and make him a man again. He is here to show that without humility there isn’t pride and without fear there is no bravery. Without ignorance there is no learning. Stick knocks Wolverine to the ground, but Logan catches his staff before the man can hit him again.

Stick scoffs at Wolverine’s explanation and tells him that he isn’t there for any of those reasons. He cannot make Wolverine a man or put him back on the path. The water tower collapses, as both men leap off and back onto the burning roof. Stick tells Wolverine that Elektra cannot help him either. Anyone who says they can is lying. All he and Elektra can do is tells Logan that the path exists. Wolverine has to find it himself and get back on it. Wolverine must save himself.

The rest of the roof collapses except for a narrow strip that Wolverine and Stick are on. Logan asks Stick how he can save himself. He has no control over this. Magneto pulled out his adamantium and everything went downhill from there. Wrong, says Stick. When Magneto pulled out his adamantium, it was Wolverine who gave up. Magneto just put the fear into him and eroded his soul, but it was Wolverine who slipped back into his animal nature. Stick backs Logan up the end of the roof and tells him that he and the others are going up against an evil they cannot comprehend. They need to get their acts together to defeat him, but only they can help themselves. Logan is no animal as long as he strives to better himself. Wolverine asks what good is all that he just said if it seems that he isn’t getting off this building alive.

Stick points his staff into the smoke and tells Wolverine that he will live if he jumps to where he staff points. Wolverine asks how he can believe Stick. The sensei asks if he has a choice. As the rest of the roof collapses, Wolverine leaps in the direction of the staff and says that a man always has a choice, but right now he is choosing to trust Stick. Wolverine is enveloped in the smoke, but comes out on the other side right in front of the fire truck ladder. He grabs on and survives. Below, Sean is happy to see his hero survived and asks his mother what his name was again. “Valvoline?” says his mother as she tries to recall.

The Human Torch flies to the building and tells Wolverine that he has been looking all over for him. Jokingly, Logan asks if it is hot enough for him around here. The Torch tells him that he isn’t funny and announces that everyone is regrouping at Four Freedoms Plaza to coordinate a final offensive against Onslaught!

Characters Involved: 



Sean’s mother and siblings

Human Torch


Various F.D.N.Y. firefighters

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of Impact Two of the company-wide Onslaught.

Magneto ripped out Wolverine’s adamantium in X-Men (2nd Series) #25 during the Fatal Attractions crossover.

Issue Information: