Wolverine (2nd series) #130

Issue Date: 
November 1998
Story Title: 
Survival of the Fittest Part Two – to Survive!

Todd Dezago (story), Leinil Francis Yu (pencils), Edgar Tadeo (inks), Jason Wright (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft/EM (lettering), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief) (with thanks to Mike Wieringo for his unwitting inspiration…)

Brief Description: 

In a shed in North Battleford Saskatchewan, Logan is found inside a shed by a young boy by the name of Tommy and his dog, Jake. Over time, Tommy helps Logan to heal after his brutal attack by the Wendigo. They also become friends and tell each other about their families. Eventually, Logan remembers that the hunter will return and doesn’t want to get Tommy stuck in the middle of all of it. Seventeen miles away, the Wendigo stops to heal a little before he goes back after Wolverine to get his revenge. He thinks back to when he was a headmaster in Wisconsin who fell in a hole by accident. Crushed by a log, he resorted to eating his own severed fingers which in turn, transformed him into the monstrous Wendigo. As he is leaving the shed, Logan recalls that the Wendigo will go to where his scent is – the shed. Making his way back to the shed, he uses his wits and is able to make the Wendigo run off after catching his face on fire. Now safe, Logan carries Tommy out of the burning shed.

Full Summary: 

North Battleford, Saskatchewan, as the sun rises on the sleepy farm of Jim Jarman. With his chores completed, Jim’s youngest son, Tommy, goes off in search of his usually attentive dog. It’s this time, before school, when his older brothers are already out and working the farm, that Tommy finally has some time to himself. When the house, the barn, and the woods surrounding them become his own private world. Calling out for his dog, Jake, Tommy finds him pawing the door to the shed. Tommy asks his dog if he’s got a possum in the shed again. Opening the door, he doesn’t see a possum, he sees a half-dead Wolverine.

Semi-conscious, Logan wakes up and notices that his hearin’ comes back long before he has th’ strength t’open his eyes. He thought he heard a voice but he can’t recall how long ago. He wonders how he got there and what he does remember. The answer – nothing. He has pain everywhere, all through him, his back is burning, guts on fire. He has to block it. Feeling the sun hitting his face he wonders what day it is. Just then, he hears a dog growling at him. He didn’t notice him, scent him, he’s that out of it.

After a short time, the dog makes his way up to Logan and he pets him. Attempting to sit up, he cries out in pain. Tommy tells the stranger that he better not hurt his dog. Logan hears his voice and sees that he missed him too and wonders how long he’s been sittin’ there. Hidin’ in the shadows, starin’, scared – ten, eleven, curious. Logan feels that his stomach is screamin’ at him, he feels like he was ripped in two. Whatever happened to him was bad. Reaching out to the boy he tries to ask him for help but his mouth’s caked with blood and his throat’s dry a desert gotta get through to ‘im. He doesn’t wanna spook ‘im. Weakly, he asks for help, water. Freaked out, Tommy tells him no and runs out in fear much to the dismay of Logan.

Eventually, Logan wakes up after blacking out. The massive trauma he suffered almost too much fer his healin’ factor. Other mutant abilities, his heightened senses to get his feelings, get control, get outta there. Looking around he determines that he looks like he’s in some kinda work shed. He can hear animals, cows, tractor in the distance, smells o’ musty wood an’ hay. He then sees the water and snacks left for him. Reaching out for the water, his reaching tears open his guts and his healing factor’s workin’ overtime, puttin’ him back together. But jus’ like alla his other enhanced senses, he can feel every inch o’ his wounds. Th’ pain o’ his body stitchin’ itself back together. He wonders what did this time. He remembers the Wendigo. He was at the Weapon X facility lookin’ fer answers. He found the Wendigo, still mad after alla this time. Wendigo s’ old Indian legend, shaman’s curse against cannibalism. “He who tastes the human flesh shall be possessed by th’ evil spirit o’ th’ Wendigo.” He tore him open, ripped him up good. But somethin’ was different. Attempting to concentrate, he wonders what it was.

Meanwhile, some seventeen miles to the northwest, in a fleeting moment of incongruous calm, the Wendigo pauses by a river to regard its damaged hand. It also strains to focus, to recall a life before the rage, before the curse. It was the life of a headmaster in northern Wisconsin, a rural lifestyle, nearly a month ago stocking firewood for the coming winter. The felling of the big trees weakening the ground beneath him, his chopping loosening the thin soil under his feet revealing a previously unknown cavern below. A cavern of darkness and pain.

When the man fell to the ground below, the massive log landed on his midsection and by fate, the axe he was wielding landed next to him, cutting off two of his fingers. The memory of that pain brings the creature back to its own bitter injuries, the deep, burning furrows recently carved across its snarling, savage face by its most hated foe, its enemy – Wolverine. The muddied images fade away quickly as the monster begins to seethe with customary fury, becoming enraged with a lust for blood and vengeance. With that, the creature unleashes its mighty howl – WEN-DI-GO!

Back at the shed, Logan fades in an’ outta consciousness. The kid tells him he’s been there three days. The kids been sneakin’ stuff out there t’ the never-used part o’ th’ barn, he’s kept him a secret from the family. Logan gets the impression he doesn’t get t’ have many secrets. He’s takin’ care o’ him, pretty skittish at first, but th’ dog, Jake, warms up ta him fast, puts the kid at ease. With a little time an’ patience, he finally earns his trust. He’d forgotten what a precious commodity that could be. The kid’s name is Tommy.

Logan tells ‘im a little about who he is, an’ where he came from. He sugar-coats the Wendigo story, tells ‘im that he mixed it up with a bear. Tommy tells him about his family and then he tells him about his, the X-Men. Weak as he was, th’ stories went on fer hours an’ Tommy’s eyes were huge the whole time. He can only imagine what he was thinkin’ when he described th’ gang to him.

A Russian strong man, made of metal – Colossus (to Tommy – a robot). A guy that could shoot laser beams from his eyes – Cyclops (to Tommy – a man wearing a helmet that can shoot lasers). A girl who hadda keep herself all wrapped up ‘cause her touch could take yer memories away – Rogue (to Tommy – a female mummy). An African girl who could throw lightning – Storm (to Tommy – a lady who is physically holding a bolt of lightning in her hands. A blue elf – Nightcrawler (to Tommy – a blue elf wearing a Christmas hat). A beast – Beast (to Tommy – a blue looking beastly creature with a ring through its nose).

Logan was exhausted, still a little bit outta it but tellin’ th’ stories were keepin’ his mind offa th’ pain. Tommy then asks Logan what a mutant is. Logan informs him that it’s a person, just like him ‘cept they’re born a little different. Somethin’ in their genetic makeup is different, somethin’ unique. Maybe they’re smarter or stronger or they can do somethin’ most people can’t but they’re still people. But there’re always some folks that don’t like “different.” They’re afraid o’ different an’ threatened by different an’ they’ll do anythin’ they can t’ get rid o’ different. They can’t see that they’re all the same. That sometimes they’re afraid too an’ that in the end, they’re all just a buncha animals, animals doin’ whatever it takes to survive.

In the northwest woods and closing, the Wendigo’s hunger for revenge is all-consuming as the cursed creature thunders through the dense Canadian woods. So focused and driven by its primal rage that the tiny spark of humanity still left within the possessed beast grasps once more at a flickering memory of what had come before. For how many days had he been there, trapped, pinned beneath the weight of the huge log that had crushed his pelvis, broken his legs – four, five days? He had stopped the bleeding using strips of his clothes, wrapped his severed fingers in a torn swatch of cloth with the hopes that if he got out of here soon enough they could be saved. But all hope has gone now. He had begun to see visions, going mad from the pain and lack of food and water. He knows that his brother will be coming by on Saturday – tells himself that if he can just hold out ‘till then. But he knows he won’t last, he’s dyin’, starvin’. It’s a painful and agonizing death. If only he could find something, anything, to save himself. At that, he reaches out to his own severed fingers.

For five days, Logan has been out in the shed an’ he’s finally thinkin’ straight again. Still weak though. Wendy musta tore him up good fer th’ healin’ factor t’ take so long. The kid’s been good help, good company. Good kid, lotsa questions. Dragging a kerosene heater into the shed, Tommy tells Logan that even though it’s still September, it’s s’posed t’ get really cold tonight so he thought he’d bring this out there for him. It’s an extra one they got for when it gets really cold so mom an’ dad won’t miss it. He’ll bring him out s’more kerosene though, in case it goes out in the night.

He then asks Logan when he said “whatever it takes to survive” does that mean killing. Logan tells him that once, a long time ago, it did, but then he found a better way. The X-Men don’t believe in that. But yeah, all through history people have been forced t’ kill, forced t’ do terrible things they didn’t wanna do just to survive. But a lotta times survival is more about sacrifice. He remembers during World War 2, if you were Jewish, or gypsy, or just about anythin’ other than “pure” German, you hadda do lotsa crazy things justa get away from th’ Nazis. Too many didn’t. It’s kinda like a fox that gets caught in a trap. He’ll go to the point o’ chewin’ his leg off t’ get away before th’ hunter comes…

Just then, it hits him an’ he curses himself fer bein’ so out of it, fer not seein’ it sooner. The hunter’ll come back. Tommy sees the fear in Logan’s face and asks him what’s wrong. Logan replies nothin’, that he jus’ remembered somethin’.

That night, Logan waits an hour or so past sunset t’ leave and leaves th’ kid a note. He was so groggy an’ out of it – how could he have been so stupid t’ put Tommy an’ his family in that kinda danger? Wendi’s gonna want revenge. The more miles he puts between him an’ there, the better. He’ll come after him, follow his scent. Hearing the howl of WEN-DI-GOOO, Logan recalls that his scent’s all over that place and says to himself that he’s an idiot and hot-foots it back to the shed before Wendigo tears the shed apart lookin’ for him an’ slaughters anythin’ that gets in its way.

At the shed, the Wendigo rips the door off of the shed and enters it, intent on revenge. Underneath the shed, Tommy hides underneath the shed with his dog Jake and pleads with him to stay quiet or he’ll hear them. The more Tommy pleads, the more Jake growls. Eventually, the Wendigo reaches the location above them and punches his fist through the floor below. Just then, Logan lands on the Wendigo with both of his feet into his back, knocking him against the wall.

As he does, he thinks to himself that he’s in no condition t’ be doin’ this. He’s weak, stiff, and his stomach feels like he swallowed razor blades. But then he realizes that this is what he came lookin’ for, this is what he needed. T’ find th’ Wolverine from before Department H, before Weapon X, before the adamantium. An’ not jus’ Wolverine the animal, the berserker but Wolverine the man! A fighter who’s cunning, who thinks, who sizes up his opponents an’ figures out th’ best way t’ defeat ‘em. Sometimes he thinks he’s less without the metal, but he’s more than that, better than that. He’s gotta use what he knows.

As Wendi charges, he grabs fer th’ first thing he can get his hands on, it’ll work better than he thought. Splashing the kerosene in the Wendigo’s face, he figures it ain’t feelin’ too good in those grooves he cut into his face. Reelin’ an’ screamin’ in pain, Logan doesn’t have a chance t’ stop the Wendigo ‘fore it knocks over th’ heater. Th’ flames splash out across th’ floor like water. Wendi books outta there as th’ barn goes up like it was made o’ matches. Logan then decides that he’s gotta find the kid an’ get him outta there, he’s probably terrified.

Finding the kid in the hole, Tommy asks him if the monster is gone. At that moment, the Wendigo flies towards them. Upon seeing him, Logan thinks jeez, he guesses th’ kerosene didn’t slow Wendi down like he thought it would. But it’s justa dumb animal, a beast. Comin’ back in there, it doesn’t know that kerosene’s flammable. Taking an axe, Logan smacks the Wendigo across the face, causing it to catch fire.

Logan watches th’ light disappear off inta th’ woods, hear the thing’s howls o’ agony recede inta th’ night. He hadta do it – stupid animal. Carrying Tommy, who is gripping Jake’s empty collar, out of the fiery inferno, Logan thinks that life is fulla lessons. Some harder than others, some brutal, but in th’ end they’re all just animals doin’ whatever it takes t’ survive.

Characters Involved: 



Tommy Jarman and his dog Jake

In Wendigo’s memories:
The man he used to be before he became the monstrous Wendigo

Story Notes: 

Logan was torn apart and beaten within an inch of his life by the Wendigo in Wolverine (2nd series) #129.

This unnamed third man who would be the Wendigo. The first was Paul Cartier whom Logan faced back in Incredible Hulk (1st series) #180-181. The second, Georges Baptiste, whom Logan, Nightcrawler and Alpha Flight faced back in Uncanny X-Men #139-140.

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