Wolverine (2nd series) #144

Issue Date: 
November 1999
Story Title: 
First in Cut!

Erik Larsen and Eric Stephenson (story), Mike Miller (guest pencils), Vince Russell (guest inks), Javins & Rosas (colors), RS/Comicraft/ST (letters), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Aboard a plane, Logan tells Dum Dum Dugan about one of the times when he used to work for Department H. It was his first job and he was to take down some thugs. During the siege, Wolverine was transported away by the Leader. The Leader had collected Wolverine, Hercules and Karkas to take down his nemesis, the Incredible Hulk. Breaking free of his chains, Wolverine frees Hercules and Karkas and eventually takes down the Leader, foiling his plan. Back at Department H, various military officials are freaking out about Wolverine’s disappearance due to the Hulk arriving on Canadian soil. Just then, Wolverine shows up and is sent out to face the Hulk and the Wendigo. In present time, Wolverine leaps out of a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet towards the Incredible Hulk, prepared for battle.

Full Summary: 

It happened years ago, before I joined the X-Men, before anything...


Remembering when he put on the yellow and blue uniform the first time, Logan recalls telling Hudson that it ain’t bad, ain’t bad at all. Admiring it as well were James MacDonald Hudson and his lady Heather. They had taken him in during one o’ the roughest patches o’ his life. They gave their friendship, their love and, by way o’ Mac’s affiliation with Canada’s top secret Department H, they even gave him a purpose in life.

Heather told him that it looks wonderful. James added that yellow and blue aren’t exactly the colors that spring to mind when you think of a “Wolverine” but they do make for a rather striking costume. Wolverine informs them that he wasn’t at all sold on runnin’ around in PJs in the first place but it’s nice t’ be wrong for a change, it works for him. Heather tells him that if he’s going to be Department H’s first super-agent, he’ll need to look the part. James includes that, truth be told, some of the top brass wanted to wrap him up in a maple leaf and try to make him into Canada’s answer to Captain America. Pulling off his mask and chomping on a cigar, Logan laughs and says that’ll be the day. He’d hate t’ be the sucker that gets saddled with that getup. He then thanks them for going to bat for him. After everything he’s been through, he’s lucky to be alive, let alone have a cushy gig like this.

Just then, Chasen storms in and says that it’s nice to hear at least somebody around there appreciates his job. After telling Doctor Jimmy and Heather good morning, he informs Logan that the suit looks good on him like he was meant to wear it. He then asks him if he’s ready to give it a “test drive.” Logan tells Chasen that he should know him, he’s always itchin’ for a good scrap. What does he have in mind? Holding up a file, Chasen tells him a small-time terrorist group in Ontario. They’ve been observing them since they first set up shop, but their activity appears to be picking up. They could be preparing to strike. Taking a proactive stance and stopping them before they can make a move would make a fine first mission for “Wolverine.”


Logan recalls that what Chasen was leavin’ out was that these weren’t real terrorists and this wasn’t a real first mission. Mac had already explained t’ him that Department H wanted t’ put him through a kind o’ dry run before turnin’ him loose on the unsuspectin’ world. He didn’t want him t’ gut some poor slob who was just playactin’, it’d make a lousy first impression. He recalls that he left the stuffed shirt Chasen yammer on as if it meant something. When he was finished, he made it clear he was pretty much up for anything. Ya know that cliché – “famous last words?”

The way the scenario went these “terrorists” were squatting in an old abandoned warehouse. They were a wild-lookin’ bunch, that much was on the level. And there was a lot o’ talk about kidnappin’ the daughter o’ the Canadian minister of defense. It sounded about as convincin’ as your average high school production o’ “Hamlet”, but he went along with th’ gag. If it was a show they wanted, he was more than ready to give his finest performance. Out of the three terrorists, two were men and one of them, a lady. The lady begins spouting off that it’s the only way they can get through to them. Unless they put their backs up against the wall and force them to see things their way, they’ll never achieve anything.


One of the guys with the darker hair and a beard and moustache tells her that she said it. It’s time people in this country opened their eyes and… He is cut off mid-sentence when Wolverine asked him if he has a match. Logan recalls that whether they’d been expectin’ him or not, there was nothin’ premeditated about their expressions. They were shocked all right and he figured his next move would be to give ‘em something to actually be scared of. Jumping out from his hiding place, Wolverine tells them that they might wanna mind where they’re pointin’ the pop-gun, somebody could get hurt more ‘n likely, them. With that, Wolverine kicks the two guys in the mouth, taking them out simultaneously.

At that moment the lady yells out that they could use some backup, they’re under attack. Looking over at the door, Wolverine sees a bunch more “terrorists” join the fray. He couldn’t say he was too impressed. As they open up fire on him, they call out “kill the runt!” Leaping towards his attackers, Wolverine asks them “runt?” If he were the sensitive sort, they’d be a red smear for that. As it is, they just bought themselves a whole world o’ hurt.

As one of the “terrorists” runs away, he calls out to the others to look out, he’s crazy. Taking out the terrorists one by one, Wolverine says yeah, but just a little crazy, right. Just then, one of the “terrorists” whacks Wolverine in the back with a chair, knocking him down. When the “terrorist” exclaims that he got him; he’s down, Wolverine turns around and tells him news flash bub. His entire skeleton is laced with unbreakable adamantium. Only thing he accomplished with that little stunt is t’ make him mad. He then proceeds to grab the “terrorist” by the chin and pop his claws.

From a nearby van, one of the men watching tells his buddy to check it out, he popped his claws. The other says yeah, that guy’s gotta be scared witless right about now. James MacDonald Hudson, also in the van, tells the two of them all right. They’re supposed to be monitoring the situation, not acting like they’ve got front row seats to a pro wrestling tournament. One of the guys says they don’t and states that this Wolverine guy’s great, just lookit ‘im.

Back at the warehouse, Wolverine tells the “terrorist” that in case he’s wonderin’, he could use his claws t’ dice him like a tomato rather than give him a new haircut. So, what does he say t’ surrendering before he tosses restraint out th’ window and do just…. Just then, Wolverine disappears in a flash of light, much to the surprise of everybody. In the van, Hudson emphatically asks what in the name of heaven just happened and asks his compatriots if they just saw that. One of the guys asks what that was, one of Wolverine’s ninja tricks? Hudson tells them no and gets on the speaker telling the other person on the other end that they need assistance pronto, Wolverine has disappeared!

As a spaceship speeds off in the distance, Wolverine thinks back that he can only imagine the kind o’ tizzy Mac was in just then. Not only was he as close as kin but the Canadian government had invested millions in trainin’ him. Now, as if by magic, he’d vanished without so much of a trace. Don’t think anybody was gettin’ that much sleep that night ‘cept him, that is. He was in dreamland big time. His life flashed before him but as usual he wasn’t treated t’ the director’s cut. He was still missin’ most of it an’ even today, parts o’ his memory are still an incomprehensible jumble. He started comin’ to he doesn’t know how many hours later. When he did, Wolverine woke up to find himself strapped down to a table.

A voice welcomes him back to consciousness and trusts that he had a good sleep. Wolverine angrily replied that, if there’s one thing he really hates, it’s patronizin’ creeps like him actin’ like there’s a pleasant side to bein’ captured ‘n strapped to a steel bar. He asks the voice if he wants to get to his flamin’ point an’ let him know what this is all about or does have t’ carve open that noggin’ o his. Sitting in his chair, the Leader introduces himself and tells Wolverine to still his tongue lest he still it for him. He finds his appearance strange but it is merely a small and acceptable byproduct of the accident that transformed him from an unskilled laborer into one of the greatest minds that ever lived. Ever since exposure to gamma rays magnified his intelligence, there is nothing he cannot do. Teleporting himself from harm in a recent explosion and artificially enabling himself to be freed from paralysis was child’s play. Tracing his, Wolverine’s, peculiar bio-signature and capturing him was simplicity itself. He then tells him that escape is quite out of the question incidentally. Even if he was able to free himself from his bonds, his hidden lair is miles below ground. At the very least, he is not there alone.

Looking over on the other side of the room, Wolverine recalls seeing Hercules. He knew he was in a fix from the get-go but there’s something about findin’ out you’re trussed up alongside a livin’, breathin’ Greek god that puts things into a whole different perspective. The other guy turned out to be Karkas. A member of a race called the Deviants that predates mankind’s existence on earth. Seems they keep themselves pretty well hidden these days, which is fine by him. The sucker’s not much to look at. Hercules told the Leader that, although he may indeed be able to hold captive this dwarfish mortal, the son of Zeus will not stand to be bound like a common slave. Thou doth toy with his patience. The Leader tells him to calm himself. He should know by now that his protests are idle at best. He’s “recruited” them all to help him capture the Hulk. He was thwarted his efforts in times past, even leaving him for dead more than once. But through his superior intelligence, he has at least crafted a plan, which will rid him of that mindless gargoyle once and for all.

Wolverine pipes in and tells him that doesn’t wanna wreck his monologue or anything, but is he some kind of nut? Near as he can figure, the Hulk’s dumb as a cardboard box. Why does he need some highfalutin’ plan to curtail that dimwit? Give him a break, he could take that chump any day o’ the week. Hercules tells him surely he jests. Deranged as their captor might be, the Hulk’s might is not to be underestimated, especially not by one so diminutive. The brute’s strength doth nearly rival that of Hercules himself.

At that moment, the Leader tells them enough. This witless posturing grows tired; he’ll be the judge of his feral mutant’s ability to face the behemoth. Only he has spent years studying the Hulk, testing him, cataloging information gained from each confrontation. Only he knows the true extent of the man-beast’s power, the magnitude of his savagery. Restrained, Hercules tells him methinks thou judge the monster too harshly. He’s naught but a confused beast. He is but a mortal man trapped within that monstrous form, an innocent scientist named Bruce Banner. The brute’s only identity is solitude. There is no destructive intent on his part.

The Leader proceeds to tell him not to presume to lecture him on the nature of the Hulk. It is through the dual identity the Hulk shares with Banner that he shall finally conquer him. By submerging him in a gamma-nullifying plasma bath that will transform him back into Banner forever. Hercules asks him if dost thou truly require their assistance then. This mortal Banner has long sought to rid himself of his curse. Wouldst he not willfully submit to having the beast expelled from his life? The Leader calls him a brainless oaf and tells him that he fails to grasp even the most basic knowledge of the relationship Banner shares with his lumbering alter ego. He transforms into the Hulk at the slightest hint of danger. As much as Banner may relish the idea of freeing himself from his curse, he could never get close enough to broach such an offer. He needs him, Hercules, Wolverine and Karkas to join the Hulk in battle to defeat him and bring him to the Leader.

Just then, Wolverine tells the Leader that, somehow, bub, he’s not gettin’ the feelin’ he’s doin’ this for any kind o’ humanitarian reasons. He’s guessin’ he’s another pinhead out to take over the world and he’s tired o’ that big green galoot givin’ him grief. Looking over at Wolverine, the Leader realizes that he is free and shockingly asks him how he escaped, even Hercules couldn’t shatter the restraints. Wolverine informs him that you don’t spend umpteen years as an intelligence agent without learnin’ a trick or two about gettin’ out of tight spots.

Frightened, the Leader orders his Humanoids to destroy Wolverine. Popping his claws, Wolverine leaps towards the Leader and tells him, wedge-head, that it seems t’ him that he depends a little too much on others to carry out his mad schemes. He, on the other hand, is more of a hands-on kind o’ guy. With that, he slices the restraints holding back Hercules and Karkas. Once free, Hercules thanks Wolverine as does Karkas, who mentions that it appears the Leader’s synthetic Humanoids now have them vastly outnumbered. Smiling, Wolverine says they’re his kind o’ odds. Grasping hold of a pillar, Hercules tells Wolverine that he believes that he will find that the Leader’s humanoid horde, though abundant in number, is no match for the lion of Olympus. Their victory is well assured. With that, Hercules pulls the pillar out of the ground and takes out a bunch of the Humanoids. Pounding on another humanoid, Karkas cautions the godling to be careful not to grow overconfident. They’re still on the Leader’s turf and there’s no way of knowing what he has planned next.


Wolverine recalls that as it turned out, the first leg o’ the Leader’s “Plan B” was to beat a hasty retreat outta harm’s way. The others didn’t notice right away, but the Leader was more ‘n a little conspicuous in his absence. None of ‘em saw him take off but he managed to sniff him out. He’d been makin’ good use of’ his mutant hyper-senses long before Department H tagged him to be their first Weapon X so it didn’t take much to figure out where he was headed. The only real obstacle in his path was the sheer size o’ the Leader’s underground lair. He caught up to that cone-headed creep in the end though. He had him right where he wanted him, or so he thought.

As soon as he entered the room where the Leader was, a bunch of coils extended from the wall and the floor, grasping him in their steely hold. He never was certain if the Leader actually knew he was trackin’ him or if he’d just stumbled into any one o’ the traps he designed t’ protect his pad from intruders. Whatever the case, he never paid him no mind, just whizzed off on his little flyin’ chair clearly intent on gettin’ his hands on somethin’ that would turn the tide o’ the battle.


Rushing down the corridor, the Leader states that the fools think them beaten but it is he who shall prevail. Just then, Wolverine leaped at him and told him not to count on it. He already turned his last line o’ defense into so much scrap so why doesn’t he park his flyin’ footrest before he slices him six ways to Sunday. The Leader yells out no, not when he’s so close! Wolverine tells him to have it his way and slices his flying chair. When he does he tells him that the only thing he’s “close” to is takin’ a fall. Flying out of control, the Leader stated that his omnichair is out of control.


Wolverine recalls that worse ‘n that, it was losin’ power. The Leader ditched his flyin’ high-chair in a last, desperate bid to salvage something out o’ the whole mess but it was too late. He activated an enormous walkin’ tinker toy, he assumes by some means of mental summons. But in one o’ life’s more ironic moments, the robot smashed into the gamma-negating bath he’d prepared for the Hulk. A dam might as well have burst. The plasma rushed out in a torrent and that was all she wrote for the high ‘n mighty Leader – he was rushed away in the flood. He wishes the same could’ve been said for his walking wind-up toy. All the goop seepin’ outta the plasma bath had unsettled the thing’s footing. It was comin’ down fast and danged near took the rest o’ the place with it. As it fell up against the wall, Wolverine recalls that there was no time to think, no time to react. Within seconds it was all over.


He can’t recall how long it took him t’ pry himself out from under all the debris. How long it took to claw his way t’ the top but by the time he’d finished, the dry heat of the New Mexico desert couldn’t have been more welcome. Turns out he wasn’t the only survivor. Sitting down on a rock, Wolverine proceeds to smoke a cigar and asks Hercules what is the good word. Hercules tell him that the humanoid army froze in their tracks when the tunnel the Leader did flee down collapsed. The drooped their immobile bodies into a deep chasm and sealed off the lab, it shall not be used anon. Wolverine proceeds to tell Hercules and Karkas beauty. He then tells him that he hopes those funky shoes o’ his are comfy, they’ve all got a long walk home.

Wolverine recalls that needless to say, he was missed up in Canada. In a board meeting with a bunch of Canadian military officers, they told Dr. Hudson that they are still struggling to understand what has happened there. He’s saying that Weapon X has simply vanished into thin air? Hudson tells them that it certainly looks that way. They’re looking into every possible scenario in an effort to…

General Chasen tells him to come off it, how could he have let this happen especially in a time like this? The Hulk is on Canadian soil and Wolverine was their best line of defense against him. Hudson informs Chasen that he understands that he’s upset, that they’re all disturbed about this turn of events but what does he want him to say. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. Another officer states that there’s no need for hysterics, he’s sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation to all of this. He’s sure he’ll be recovered shortly. They are attempting to locate Weapon X, are they not? Hudson tells him that they are but it’s not going particularly well he’s afraid. It’s as if…

Just then, Wolverine walks in and asks someone to throw him a hanky, he’s about to tear up there. He then tells the men sitting around the table that they have their knickers in a twist over nothin’, he’ll give them th’ lowdown later. Sounds t’ him like they have got themselves a bigger problem than a missin’ agent. The Hulk is at large an’ given what he’s just been through he’s itchin’ t’ have a go at him.


Wolverine recalls that he was pretty headstrong back in those days. A point probably best illustrated by his willingness to join right on in when he tracked down the Hulk and found him mixin’ it up with the Wendigo. Without gettin’ into too much details, his first “official” mission for Department H would up bein’ his only failure. He’s scrapped with ‘em both a few times since then but he never really got another chance to settle things with the Hulk once and for all.

Aboard a jet, Dum Dum Dugan tells Logan that was some story. Logan informs him yup, kind of a prelude to an even bigger one. After bein’ recalled by Department H, he wound up playin’ “secret agent” man for a while but his life was already changin’ fast and furious. Before he knew it, he’d bailed on the department and was workin’ full-time with the X-Men. Dugan mentions that helpin’ his buddies in Alpha Flight out must have been a regular ol’ trip down memory lane then. He’s not sure they could have sorted out that whole mess with A.I.M. if he hadn’t lent a hand either. Department H must have been tickled to have him back on the job. Logan states that you’d figure but he got a pretty cool reception from those folks. Not that he’d ever want to get tangled up in that stuff again but he has the distinct feelin’ somethin’ ain’t right in the great white north. May bear lookin’ into later on down the line, but right now…

Dugan asks if he’s getting’ anxious already. He then tells him that, if he hasn’t said it already, he’s glad he’s willing to lend his old S.H.I.E.L.D. partners a hand. Logan replies that here he thought he was just gettin’ a free ride home for buyin’ the last round back in Ottawa. Dugan tells him that was much appreciated too but he knows that the plan is. Walking up towards the cockpit, he tells Logan good luck.

Getting prepared, Logan asks “good luck?” and tells him that he can save his condolences for the Hulk. At that moment, the Hulk is within sight and the pilot tells Logan to move out before he takes off again. Logan tells him not to give him orders. He’s there because he wants to be, not because he owns him. Leaping out of the plane, Logan plummets towards the Hulk. As he falls down towards him, he notices that the Hulk has seen him and is coming towards him. This ought to be good…

Characters Involved: 


Dum Dum Dugan

Various S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel (all unnamed)

Incredible Hulk

In Wolverine’s memories:


James MacDonald Hudson and Heather Hudson

General Chasen

The Leader


Karkas (member of the Deviants)

Incredible Hulk


Various “terrorist” thugs in Canada (all unnamed)

Various Department H personnel and Canadian military officers (all unnamed)

Various Humanoids under the control of the Leader (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

James MacDonald Hudson and Heather Hudson saved Logan after they found him wandering in the wilderness in Buffalo Wood National Park as depicted in Alpha Flight (1st series) #34.

Wrapping up somebody in a Maple Leaf and trying to make him into Canada’s answer to Captain America is exactly what James Hudson would be years down the line as Weapon Alpha/Vindicator/Guardian.

The Leader freeing himself from paralysis was documented in Marvel Feature (1st series) #11.

Wolverine faced the Hulk and the Wendigo back in Incredible Hulk (1st series) #180-181.

This story is continued next in Hulk (2nd series) #8.

S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Directorate.

A.I.M. stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics.

Wolverine helped out his Alpha Flight comrades out against A.I.M. in Wolverine (2nd series) #142-143.

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