Even the sharpest razor grows dull over time. It eventually has t’be honed or discarded. The same applies t’people. He, Logan, is plannin’ some serious honing this year… even if it kills him. He’s been losin’ his edge a little bit at a time. Growin’ sloppy, undisciplined. He began this year with a simple goal – “to be the best there is at what he does an’ figure out what that is.” So he’s gonna start with the basics, he’s gonna sharpen his senses, refine his reflexes and enhance his fightin’ skills. At least that’s his plan.
While Logan thinks to himself, he takes on three ninjas inside a dojo while blind-folded and watched by a master. After he takes them out one by one, the master tells him not too shabby for a gaijin who bends his elbows and wheezes like an old man on his death-bed. Still, they notice that he has possibilities. They offer Logan to stick with them for a few dozen years and he might even reach the level of rank amateur.
Logan tells the master, Mabel, that he appreciates the offer but he can’t spare the time. Mabel tells him it’s his loss. Logan knows that old Mabel isn’t anybody’s idea of a venerable sensei. Her teaching style’s as crude as the stinkweeds (cigars) she favors – but she gets results. Mabel then raises her staff and begins to walk towards Logan. As she does, she tells him that she hates to see any talent, even one as meager as his, go to waste. Logan informs her that she shouldn’t lose sleep over it. Mabel replies don’t worry, she won’t and brings the staff down onto Logan’s head.
At the last second, Logan is able to block her strike with his sword. When he does, Mabel yells at him again for having a bent elbow. She adds that he hasn’t learned anything from her, has he? Logan tells her just to expect the unexpected and anticipate the inconceivable. Mabel replies that it’ll have to do for now. She tells him to keep practicing and she might even let him treat her to an expensive dinner sometime. Lighting up his own cigar, Logan quips “oh happy day.”
As Logan leaves the dojo, he thinks to himself “a few dozen years?!” Ha, sometimes he feels like at the rate he’s goin’, it’ll be decades before he’s back at cruisin’ speed. In the past few months he’s made some rookie mistakes. He was almost popped by a former assassin who seemingly came back from the dead t’settle an old feud. If that wasn’t bad enough, he also allowed a crisis situation t’develop in the X-Men’s Danger Room when he dropped his guard in front of Marrow, one of their new recruits, who responded to his momentary carelessness by attemptin’ t’slit his throat. And then he fell prey t’a pair o’ mental degenerates who were runnin’ a protection racket in the East Village. But that’s the past. He has to find a way t’move beyond these mistakes before they start festerin’ in his mind.
Just then, Logan happens upon a large banner depicting the image of Captain America. A group of on-lookers begin to comment. One of them says check it out, the flagman’s doing a show at the (Madison Square) Garden. Another replies big whoop, they’d rather see the Spice Girls. The other guy replies don’t be that way; he heard the dude’s got some wild moves. The other guy replies ditto for Scary and Baby and they dress better.
Logan hears what they’re saying and thinks to himself so, the glorified boy scout is makin’ a public appearance for charity. Gotta give ‘im credit. Captain America has always drawn record crowds whenever he put on an exhibition of his fightin’ skills for the charity du jour. But for whatever reason, his popularity’s at an all-time high. What was once admiration an’ respect has become almost worship. Wonder what that does for a man’s psyche? You’d think the public would get used to them costume jocks. Maybe people just need somethin’ they see as bigger than themselves to believe in.
Realizin’ that he’s in no mood t’sit through Cap’s demonstration, he’s already turnin’ away when a wild tattoo starts poundin’ in the center o’ his head and his hyper-senses kick in with the subtlety of a Texas mule. After passing a van on the street, Logan realizes somethin’s wrong – real wrong!
Logan can suddenly smell a dozen men in the alley but seein’ ain’t believin’. Walking up to the door, he wonders if his senses have finally gone the way of his other skills. He decides there’s only one way t’find out. Using his claws, he pops the lock and slips inside and that’s when things get a mite complicated. The place is packed with dozens o’ people attached to the show addin’ t’ the difficulty o’ zeroin’ in on his invisible friends.
Just then, a cop tells Logan that area is closed to the public. He’s going to have to ask him to leave if he can’t produce a backstage pass. Logan tells him to take it easy, Captain America may be in danger. The cop sarcastically replies really. He guesses they ought to be real thankful he’s there to help him. Logan says that’s right. The cop then tells Logan that he’d better come along with him, he’s sure his sergeant will want to hear the details. Logan tells him maybe later, he has work to do now. When he pushes the cop away, the cop asks him if he’s lost his mind. Logan pops his claws and says good question. Stick around and they’ll learn the answer together.
Swiping at the air, Logan thinks to himself there was a time when his skeleton was laced with adamantium, the strongest metal on earth. It was ripped outta him and he’s been livin’ under a dark cloud ever since. As the crowd around him runs off in fear, Logan thinks that he’s begun to doubt almost everythin’ he once took for granted about himself – his skills, his goals, and sometimes his humanity. Almost everything except his senses. They are his window t’the world. If he can no longer trust them, he is truly lost. Has all his recent failures and insecurities driven him over the edge? Has he finally lost his eternal struggle with the snarlin’ beast who lives within’? Is this what madness feels like, t’battle foes he can’t see? T’believe he’s surrounded by invisible enemies?
Unseen to Logan, two foes attack him. They state that they have to take him down now while his back is turned. They just have to hold him long enough for the security guard to slap a pair of cuffs on him. After rehearsing their routine with Cap all afternoon, this runt should be a breeze. Knocking the foes off of him, Logan tells them to make that an ill wind as far as they’re concerned. In case they haven’t guessed, he’s not part o’ the show. From behind him, a voice tells him that’s true x-man, he’s fightin’ as if his very life were at stake, and he wants to know why.
Turning around, Logan sees Captain America standing before him toting a triangular shield. Cap tells him that they can save the pleasantries for later. Logan asks him what’s with the new shield to which Cap tells him that his reason for switching shields is hardly their most pressing concern at the moment. He’s guessing he has an explanation for his rather extreme behavior and he wants to hear it. Logan tells him okay but actions speak louder than words.
With that, Logan pops his claws and leaps in the direction of Cap. As he avoids Cap and attacks the man behind him, Logan tells Cap that he’s gotta compliment him. Any other masked moron would have assumed he was leaping for them and they’d be wastin’ the next few moments in a gratuitous fight. Cap replies that maybe he didn’t fall for that old chestnut, but he still wants to know why he.
At that moment, Cap sees blood coming from out of mid-air where Logan slashed his claws. Logan tells him it is but not to break a sweat over it. Based on the way their foe is breathin’ and the sound of his heart, he’s pretty sure it’s only a flesh wound. Cap then notice that a figure is suddenly materializing. Logan mentions that he must have ripped some circuitry in his costume, he can’t remain invisible. Cap states that at last he understands. Holding up a pair of goggles, Logan says that he knew he’d catch on eventually and he’s sure the goggles will make things even clearer.
After putting on the goggles, Logan can finally see what he is up against – about 10 to 15 attackers. Their leader tells Logan “nice going freak.” He ruined a perfectly good situation there. Not to mention a massive investment in time, training, equipment and money. Lucky for him, he doesn’t believe in cluttering his life with petty grudges, he just goes for the jugular. Wearing a full-body uniform that looks, in a way, like Hydra’s uniforms, the leader tells his followers to kill him. Leaping into action, Logan tells him that’s easier said than done. The leader then introduces himself, he is Rascal and his followers are known as the Rodents.
Seeing Logan thrash around at invisible warriors, Cap calls out to Wolverine and tells him that he can’t even guess the odds he’s up against, but he needn’t fight them alone. Charging in with his shield, Cap tells Logan that if he shouts out their locations, he’ll be glad to lend a helping hand. Logan replies that he’ll do him one better than that and tosses him a pair of goggles. After donning the helmet, Cap finds it interesting that their attacker’s costumes somehow render them invisible but the helmets enable them to be seen. Continuing the battle, Logan says yeah, yeah, he thinks everyone’s pretty much caught up with the back-story by now so he might as well join in the fun. Cap replies it’ll be his pleasure, he’s not one for sitting on the sidelines.
As Cap and Logan continue their battle against the Rodents, Cap asks Logan if he has any idea what this is all about. Logan informs him nope, but the leader of the rat pack seems like the chatty type. He’s sure he’s just achin’ t’share. While Logan continues to slash away at his attackers he thinks to himself that his instincts proved wrong about them. He never once questioned his senses until today. Does that mean he should stop doubtin’ himself or keep questionin’ his instincts? During a particular battle with one of the attackers, the guy says t-this isn’t fair. They were assured the target wouldn’t even be aware of them until it was too late. Logan tells him that it sounds like he ought’a renegotiate his fee and he’d better include hospital benefits.
Just then, Logan calls out to Cap to look behind him. At the last second, Cap raises his shield and is able to deflect the blast coming his way. He then tells Logan thanks for the warning and reminds him that he has to try to restrain himself. They only have to subdue the men, there’s no reason to maim anyone. Hearing his plea, Logan replies by saying, “Nag, nag, nag.”
Witnessing his men being taken out, Rascal determines there’s still a chance to salvage the operation. With that, he calls out to his men and tells them to follow him. Cap sees what is happening and tells Logan that they’re making a break for it. When Logan asks where the tunnel they are heading down leads, Cap tells him the main stage. Immediately, Cap leaps into action and takes out some more of the attackers. As he does, he tells Logan to come on, the entire audience may now be at risk. Watching Cap in action, Logan is impressed – Captain America moves faster than most men think.
When they all tumble out onto the stage, the audience members are excited to see Cap and the other guy? They wonder why they are wearing those ridiculous looking gizmos on their heads. Another says maybe Cap’s gone 007 with some cheap licensing tie-in. On the stage, Rascal tells his men since their primary objective can already see them, it’s pointless to remain invisible. They may as well deactivate their suits and re-route the excess energy into their weapons systems. Once they do, Logan mentions to Cap that their attackers are drastically increasin’ their firepower and it doesn’t seem t’matter if they mow down their own men in the process.
Cap says to Logan to keep moving to the rear of the stage. It’s the only way they can prevent stray shots from going into the audience. In the audience, one of the on-lookers yells out go Cap go! The Spice Girls got nothing on him. Hearing the crowd, Rascal states that this is starting to get frustrating. His associates and he are serious professionals and yet the crowd is cheering them on as if they were mere performers. Kicking one of the attackers in the face, Cap tells Rascal not to look to him for sympathy, sometimes the best plans go awry.
Logan thinks to himself ain’t that the truth. A man can either deal with his problems or whine about ‘em. It’s easy to see where Cap comes down on that equation. Not too shabby for a glorified boy scout. Punching out another attacker, Cap tells Rascal that he should have picked a more accommodating target. Rascal replies that he thought he’d wired a perfect win-win scenario. The Rodents and he whack an American icon in a public forum – you can’t buy P.R. like that.
Logan then begins to wonder how Cap does it. He is a mutant with a special healin’ factor which can deal with all the bumps and bruises he picks up along the way. He, Cap, is just human but he’s the energizer bunny of the spandex set. He then laughs to himself, like he could really analyze him when he can’t even read himself. Rascal calls out to his men that he hates to spoil everyone’s fun but the clock is ticking. He needs to score a kill in the next few minutes or he’s going to miss the eleven o’clock news. Logan sees that it seems like everyone’s got a personal agenda. Rascal wants t’make a rep, he’s tryin’ t’reclaim his title. An’ Cap, he wonders what’s pushin’ his buttons. It’d be a kick t’learn he comes with his own set o’ insecurities. Yeah, like that’s even possible. Then again, why not? T’most o’ the people in the crowd, Cap is a symbol, a walkin’ costume without a real man inside. He wonders if he’s fallen into the same trap.
When a pause occurs in the action, Cap asks Wolverine if he’s okay, he suddenly looks a little distracted. Logan replies that he’s fine and asks Cap if he ever has an off day. Cap informs him many more than he could count.
Just then, Rascal tells them that he hates to intrude while they’re attempting to bond, but he pays his men by the hour. No sense running up any unnecessary overtime, if they catch his drift. With that, Cap asks Logan if he’s ready to close the show. Logan tells him that it would be his pleasure. Cap then tells Logan that he’ll take the two with the blasters… Logan says that he’ll deal with Mr. Mouth. Heading up to the catwalk above the stage, Rascal tells claws that he doesn’t even know his name. He’s just a simple businessman – struggling to ply his trade in a highly competitive vocation and he pops out of nowhere to screw with his shot at the bigs.
Following him, Logan thinks that’s him, the spoiler. A wild card who tends to endanger most everythin’ he touches. Yet, he’s also a man who’s constantly strivin’ for a perfection he’ll never achieve and probably wouldn’t even recognize it if he did. Rascal then tells Logan that he can’t even begin to calculate what his interference may have cost him in lost revenue. And don’t even get him started about medical and legal fees. Suffice it to say, he’s not high on his “favorite people” list. Logan determines that he guesses he should learn t’take some comfort in that instead of just concentratin’ on his failings. The struggle t’improve is a never-endin’ process. Maybe he ain’t the best now, and won’t ever be again but he’ll never stop tryin’.
As Cap takes out the two attackers with the blasters, Cap tells Logan to be careful. His playmate is a little too glib for a man who stands a good chance of spending the next decade behind bars. At that moment, Rascal starts to spark and tells Logan that he should listen to the good Captain; he built a special fail-safe into his costume. Sparking, he tells Logan to back off or he’ll treat the audience to the most spectacular pyrotechnic display of their oh-so-fleeting lives. Logan replies nice try bub, but no sale. Cap asks Logan if he’s sure Rascal is bluffing. Logan tells him the pretty boy is too much in love with the sound of his own voice to pull a sacrifice play; he can feel it in his gut. Cap tells him that his gut is good enough for him and proceeds to throw his shield at Rascal, taking him out. With Rascal down, Cap tells Logan nice call. Logan replies that he appreciates the show of faith.
Just then, the audience goes wild, leapin’ t’their feet and shoutin’ their approval. It’s not exactly an occurrence the X-Men are used to. Standing together, Cap mentions to Logan that he seems troubled. Logan tells him no more than usual. Cap asks him if he wants to go talk, catch a meal or something. Logan replies that he’s afraid he’ll need a rain check on that invitation, he’s already committed t’treatin’ an old friend to an expensive dinner.