Wolverine (2nd series) #132

Issue Date: 
December 1998
Story Title: 
A Rage in the Cage

Fabian Nicieza (guest writer), Leinil Francis Yu (pencils), Tadeo, Koblish, Elmer & Candelario (inks), Jason Wright (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft/EM (letters), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In a hospital, Linda Higgins is brought in dead from a broken neck and her daughter, Jane, is in critical condition. Upon discovering it, Logan knows the man responsible is none other than her husband, Bob Higgins, the same man he had issues with way back when. As the cops complete their investigation their way, Logan does it his way, using his senses. Over time, the officers learn that the person who swung the shovel was not Bob; it was his son, Richie. Using his senses and a note left by Richie in a hotel, Logan tracks Bob down to Albany airport and holds him still until the cops can converge on him. When he learns the truth, Logan tells Bob that he can tell everybody he’s innocent, but his kids will always know the truth.

Full Summary: 

Inside a hospital, two cops, one male, one female listen to what the doctor in front of them has to tell them. He states that he’s no medical examiner but he’ll take a wild guess – the D.O.A. broke her neck. Just then, the female officer points out a mark on their dead patient to her partner Cowaher and asks the doctor what it is. Cowaher tells his partner, Dunleavy that it looks like a welt and wonders aloud what might have made it. The doctor tells them that’s what an official coroner’s report is for. He’s a trauma resident, he deals with them while they’re still alive.

Dunleavy takes a picture of the wound, as she tells the doctor that she’s sorry he didn’t get a chance with this one and calls out the details. Victim – Linda Higgins, dead on arrival at 10:32 p.m., time of death between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. Cowaher states that the presumed cause of death is a broken neck suffered in a fall against her porch steps. Dunleavy then asks how the little girl is doing. The doctor informs her that they stabilized her the best they could and that she’s been moved up to I.C.U. Where it stands at this point, he doesn’t know.

Out in the waiting room, Doctor Kellan asks the couple sitting there if they are the next of kin for Jane Higgins. The man confirms that he is her uncle, John Kole. He introduces his wife Michelle next to him. Jane’s mother is, was, her sister. Upon hearing that, Dr. Kellan tells Mrs. Kole that he is sorry for her loss. Picking her head up, Michelle asks the doctor how her niece is. Dr. Kellan tells her she is in critical condition and if the swelling doesn’t go down, she might not survive the night. At that moment, Michelle cries out “Oh God, I can’t believe he did it, he finally did it, he killed them both, he killed them both!”

Driving away from the hospital on his motorcycle, Logan thinks to himself that he listened to the cops some more, heard enough. The cold air smacks him hard. Maybe it’ll slap the stink of guilt outta him, or maybe not. He’s headin’ towards the Higgins house. Logan wonders why he even cares, he’s a mutant. Between rounds of savin’ the universe, the X-Men just “slum it” an’ just save the world. After all that, where do you find the time to save one screwed-up family? He was in a bad place when he found out their neighbor down the road was beatin’ his wife. He had less self-control than he did. The claws popped, the blood boiled – he would have gutted the guy. Ororo and Chuck had no choice but to stop him, he can’t blame ‘em for walkin’ away from the whole ugly mess. But he knew when they left, he always knew that eventually it would come down to this. She told them to leave, said it wasn’t their business. Said the pig really did love them all. Yeah, he was just so misunderstood. That’s why a week later he’s drivin’ drunk an’ runnin’ him down. He had a chance to ice him again but he let it go. All ‘cause he was fightin’ back the animal inside o’ himself. An’ part of him was proud then – “look at me Chuck, look how well I can control the rage in the cage.”

But every animal knows that there’s a time for control an’ a time to cut loose. Hindsight is 20/20 but he shoulda torn Bob Higgins to pieces when he had the chance. Done is done. After a brief visit to the Higgins house and some observation, Logan drives off down the road thinking what he just saw. Footprints on the lawn, shuffling, sign of a person in a rush. Empty beer can – the start of a binge? Receipt from a bar, bought himself two six-packs, he still has plenty o’ brews left. There was also an oil stain on the driveway, a leak. Car was never fixed right after he used him for a speed bump.

Reaching the stoplight headin’ south on Graymalkin Lane, he sees nuthin’. Trying the other way he finds no sign, no hope. Just then, he sees the oil leak trails when he came to a stop. Catching the scent of an empty beer-can on the side of the road, Logan heads off to find Bob Higgins. He killed his wife, hurt his daughter, took his son, an’ he’s still drinkin’. Some dogs need to be put down.

At the Hideaway hotel, Bob Higgins yells at his son Richie to stop crying. He tells him what’s done is done, it happ’n’d. Nothin’ he c’n do ta change wha’s done. As he continues to cry, Richie colors with his red crayon in a scribble pattern. His father continues to drink his beer and tells his kid to stop cryin’ an’ get some sleep. They gotta be at Alb’ny airport by nine.

Driving north on the thruway, Logan figures he’s at least two hours behind his quarry. He wonders if he’s gonna be able t’ catch him. An’ if he can’t, or he loses his trail, he’s no cop, how far can he push this?

At a house downtown, Dunleavy knocks on a residential house’s door. Eventually, an older man comes to the door and recognizes the two officers by name. Dunleavy apologizes to Mike and says that if they had any other choice or if he had a life. She tells him that they got a D.O.A. three hours old and that the victim’s husband/suspect is on the run with his son. The autopsy isn’t till tomorrow and she needs to A.P.B. this hump now. Looking at the pictures, Mike informs her that she broke her neck. Dunleavy adds that she accidentally banged her own daughter’s head in the fall too. They need to know if she was pushed. Looking at a picture of Linda’s back, Mike tells them that the object that made that mark was a blunt one, thick and heavy, probably metal, swung from behind, maybe an iron, shovel, or even a skillet.

Hearing the information, Dunleavy calls her fellow cops Jackson and Farley. Jackson informs her that there has been no sight of the hump. Big surprise, he’s probably halfway up to Canada by now. Cowaher tells them to look around the house and see if they can find an iron, shovel or… He is cut off by Jackson who informs him there’s a shovel in the front yard stickin’ up out of the ground. Cowaher tells Dunleavy there goes the physical evidence and tells the two cops to bring it in an’ not to touch the handle. They might get lucky an’ catch some prints off it.

Early in the morning, Logan finds himself traveling more’n twenty miles without a trace. Sixteen ounce can, being conservative – one slug every mile, he shoulda found at least one more can by now. Which means he either stopped drinkin’ or he pulled off the road. It’s 4 a.m., he’s gonna have to check every off-road hotel between there and the point he got on.

At the Hideaway hotel, Richie tells his dad that he has to go. Annoyed, his dad asks him that he couldn’t do that five seconds ago and then tells him to hurry up. As Richie walks back into the hotel room, his dad waits for him outside. Angry, Bob barges back into the hotel room and asks his son what’s taking so blasted long. Richie tells him that he was just using the bathroom. Bob asks him that he wasn’t thinkin’ of leaving any messages, was he? Blocking the door, Richie asks him huh. Satisfied with the answer, Bob tells him to hurry up or they’ll miss their flight.

6:49 a.m. – six hours later, Logan is almost back to where he started – the Hideaway Hotel. All he has left to fuel him is anger and an oil stain in the parking lot. Entering the vacated room, Logan finds a young, busty maid and asks her how long ago they left. The maid tells him about a half an’ hour ago. When Logan asks if he can look around f’r a second, the maid tells him he can do more than look. Surveying the room, Logan thinks to himself that she must like ‘em short, ugly an’ hairy. Go figure, he doesn’t like the ones who like ‘em that way. He then notices there are empty beer cans in the trash and realizes that Bob is dry. He also sees crumpled papers.

Pulling the paper out of the trash he smells paraffin wax, crayons. They are Richie’s drawings. Looking at the paper, he sees that a red rage inside of him that he was tryin’ to let out. Logan then catches another scent, salty tears. The boy was cryin’ a lot. Logan then figures it’s over. No beers left an’ no oil stains ‘cause he ain’t stoppin’ on the thruway. He can’t follow a trail of wax an’ tears. Just as he prepares to leave, he catches the scent of crayons again behind the door. Behind the door is a note written in red crayon – Albinee airport 9:00. Logan deciphers that it means Albany airport and realizes that he has less than two hours to make a three hour trip – doable.

At the police station, Cowaher tells Dunleavy that the prints are back. Looking at the prints, Dunleavy notices that the person had small fingers and asks Cowaher to run the prints through the system. As they run the prints through the system, they see that Mr. Suburban has priors. One D.U.I. and arrested twice on assault for battering Mrs. Suburban. She never presses charges but his prints stay on file. Just then, the prints come up as a no match. Cowaher wonders aloud whose prints they belong to. Dunleavy mentions that the school system runs a print program for the kids – run a match for the son.

In the hospital, Jane Higgins begins to wake up. At her bedside are her aunt, uncle, and Dr. Kellan. Seeing her starting to stir, Michelle is elated. Dr. Kellan then asks Jane if she can see them. Jane confirms that she can. Michelle tells her that it’s going to be okay, they’re there. Hearing that, Jane asks about her mommy.

8:45 a.m. – Logan’s hog is suckin’ flames as he pulls into the airport parking lot. He wonders why Higgins came all the way up t’ Albany when LaGuardia is closer to Salem Center. Then he remembers there’s a lot less flights out of there but more quickies into Canada. It narrows down the departure time an’ destination so he’s not checkin’ every gate in the whole place. Once inside, Logan catches up to Bob Higgins, grabs him from behind and tells him that he’s goin’ t’ jail for killin’ his wife unless he wants to make a move, please. Bob tells his son to stay back as Logan tells him that he shoulda put him down when he had the chance.

In the hospital, Jane asks Aunt Michelle and Uncle John where daddy and Richie are. John tells her that her daddy took him away. Jane asks if that is ‘cause Richie hurt mommy much to the shock of her aunt and uncle.

In the airport, Richie calls out to Logan to stop. His dad didn’t kill his mom, he did! At that exact moment, officers Dunleavy and Cowaher discover that Richie’s prints match those found on the shovel much to their horror. Back at the airport, Bob Higgins defiantly tells Logan that a man comes home from work, a little late maybe, and the food’s cold on the table. She can’t even keep his meal warm. He gets mad and smacks her across the face. She gets madder, goes to the car knowing he has the gun t’ protect himself from him, Logan. He screamed at his wife “How dare you point my gun at me.” She’s cryin’, kid’s screamin’, he’s a little dizzy. He tells her somethin’ stupid like “Do it Linda or I’ll do you.” That’s when Richie says “Mom, no” and smacks her in the back with the shovel. When he does, she falls forward and lands on top of Jane on the porch.

As the cops surround Bob Higgins, Logan tells him that maybe the boy pushed her, but he didn’t really kill her. He can tell everybody he’s innocent but his kids are always gonna know the truth. While Bob gets arrested, Logan walks away.

Characters Involved: 


Officers Dunleavy and Cowaher (lead investigators in the case)

John and Michelle Kole (Jane Higgins aunt and uncle)

Bob, Jane, and Richie Higgins

Linda Higgins (corpse)

Officers Jackson and Farley (officers on a stake-out at the Higgins house)

Various hospital personnel (Doctor Kellan is the only one named)

Maid at the Hideaway hotel (unnamed)

In Logan’s memories:

Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Storm, Professor Xavier (all X-Men)

Bob, Linda, Jane, Richie Higgins

Story Notes: 

Logan almost killed Bob Higgins back in Wolverine (2nd series) #91 while he was in a savage state of mind. He was stopped from doing so by his fellow X-Men and Bob’s wife, Linda.

Logan was almost run over by a drunk Bob Higgins back in Wolverine (2nd series) #92.

There are a few errors in this issue. Once at the police station where the voice bubbles seem to be switched in a few panels and another where Aunt Laura visits Jane in her hospital room. Earlier in the issue, her name was Michelle. All in all, not a good month or so for the editor when you take into consideration last issue’s racial slur faux pax.

Issue Information: 
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