Wolverine (2nd series) #161

Issue Date: 
April 2001
Story Title: 
The best there is (part three)

Frank Tieri (writer), Sean Chen (penciler), Norm Rapmund (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Saida (letters), Avalon’s Raymund Lee (colors), Mike Raicht (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Logan regains consciousness, only to find he is bound and gagged. Mr. X and his cronies are seated before him around a dinner table. One of his assassins, A, gets a little out of control and so Mr. X dismisses them, and asks them to send in his attorney, Postlewaite. Mr. X’s strange request is that Logan signs a document, relinquishing the right to claim he is the best there is at what he does, as this is clearly no longer the case. Logan asks him to stick it, so Mr. X decides to provide an understanding of his background. He explains that he went from being the son of a wealthy couple, to witnessing the exhilarating death of a woman, to being a full-blown killer. Logan realizes he’s quite insane. Mr. X trained himself to kill people, and became quite proficient. Now, he simply wants the document signing. Wolverine calls him sick, and breaks free of his shackles. He attacks Mr. X and they tussle once again. During the fight, Logan has to go into a berserker rage, and he notices that it’s only then that he seems to gain the upper hand. Mr. X escapes to a trophy room, where he uses a machine gun and a flamethrower to try and stop Wolverine’s incessant attack. Logan finally gains the upper hand, but is unexpectedly knocked out by Mr. X’s bodyguard, Blok. He wakes to find himself in a dinghy, with a note from Mr. X. It congratulates him on being a worthy opponent, and asks him not to bother looking for him. Despite this, Logan and Nightcrawler later find Mr. X’s island, but there is no trace of the madman. Logan knows they’ll meet again.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine slowly regains consciousness and, for a second, he thinks something is really wrong. He sees the face of a devil before him, but as his eyes gradually begin to focus, he realizes it’s just his breakfast. He looks around, and sees Mr. X seated before him at the opposite end of the table, raising his glass. The major is seated to his right, the giant Samoan, Blok, is standing behind him as usual, and T&A are seated to his left. A has a neck brace on and T’s left arm is in a sling; the cost of tussling with someone as brutal as Wolverine. Logan remembers everything now. The main guy dropped him like he was yesterday’s newspaper!

Logan is shackled in a hi-tech seat, semi-naked and with a ball in his mouth, acting as a gag, attached to two straps that wrap around his head. His arms are positioned so that if he pops his claws, he’ll gut himself. Clever! He has an interesting day ahead of him. Mr. X asks A why she had to put the ball in his mouth. He can’t speak to him now. A thought it was kinda ‘Pulp Fiction,’ but removes the ball, only to receive a bite from Wolverine. She shrieks, and shoves her pistol into Logan’s mouth, telling him the next thing he’s gonna bite is a bullet.

Mr. X calls her off, but A is determined to pop Wolverine herself. Mr. X stands, and says he will not repeat himself. A smirks, and replies that she was just kidding. Mr. X tells the others that A has ruined breakfast for them. He asks them to leave, and to send in Postlewaite on their way out. As they stroll away, T is annoyed. She was enjoying her Eggs Benedict.

Postlewaite enters, as Mr. X apologizes to Logan for that unpleasant display. He thinks that, if he has a fault, it’s that he sometimes spoils those below him. Logan isn’t interested in his platitudes, and demands to know what this is all about. Where is he? Mr. X explains that he’s on one of his little island getaways. They’re quite secluded there, and no one will interrupt their business. ‘Business?’ thinks Wolverine.

Mr. X explains that Mr Postlewaite is his attorney, and he presents Logan with documents outlining what he refers to as his most generous offer. He sought Logan out because he’s heard whispers about him; about how he is the best there is at what he does. Obviously this is no longer the case. Now that Mr. X has defeated him, he now lays claim to that title, and the documents he sees before him state, in effect just that. They state that Logan will no longer refer to himself as ‘The best there is,’ because that is now Mr. X’s distinction, and his alone.

Logan considers this maniac’s ludicrous proposal, before telling Mr. X to stick the papers where the sun don’t shine. Mr. X asks Postlewaite to gag Wolverine and leave. He gets bitten too, but does as he is asked. Mr. X then decides to explain the nature of all this. Logan may then understand why it’s in his best interests to sign the documents.


Mr. X starts at the beginning. He was born to wealthy parents and never wanted for anything. He was a happy child, and would have remained that way but for one very important incident that occurred one day. He was walking with his mother when he noticed a crowd had gathered on a street corner. A woman had been tragically hit by a car and was beyond medical help. People were screaming and crying, and his mother tried shielding his eyes from the scene. He found he could not look away, and while chaos reigned around him, he felt nothing but a great easing calm.

He wriggled free from his mother and took a closer look. He had never seen death before, and yet he was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He knelt beside the woman and looked into her dark, soulless eyes. She was clinging to life, but not for long. He waited patiently for her to pass on from existence, and then he saw it. He could actually feel her passing from this life to the next. It was glorious.

His mother yanked him away from the dead woman, but it was too late. Mr. X tells Logan he was already hooked. From that moment forth, everything he did paled in comparison to that woman dying in his arms. Nothing could replace the feeling; not women, material possessions or even vacations to exotic locations. Nothing! As a result he became more depressed by the day, and his parents referred him to the finest doctors in the world, but nothing that medical science offered could cure his ills.

One day, he was washing the dog that his parents had bought him; one of the many gifts they showered upon him in an attempt to lift his spirits. The maid had left the oven open; she was cooking a soufflé. To this day, he doesn’t even remember doing it. It’s as if some outside force came along and pointed the way to freedom. He watched with glee as the dog desperately tried to free itself from the oven. The smell of its wet fur and the look in its eyes - he knew he was alive once again.

His parents found him and were appalled that he could do such a thing. He tells Logan that he needn’t concern himself with them. They soon followed the dog... and so it began.

At first, he started killing vagrants, junkies, runaways: people no one would notice. Then he grew bolder. He did away with a few friends of his, and even a few old girlfriends. He rather enjoyed killing those, he admits. Soon, he moved on to rather dangerous targets; men of power and influence. But, that too eventually became commonplace. He was a hunter hunting prey, but it wasn’t nearly enough. They were good for a quick fix, but he needed more.


Mr. X releases a small mouse and a snake, and allows a snake to close in for the kill. Before it can reach its prey, Mr. X kills the snake. He explains to Logan that he needed to hunt the hunters. He knew that, if he were to undertake such a task, he needed to better himself as no other man had done before. He would become the greatest killing machine this world has ever seen, and would settle for nothing less.


He trained under the greatest masters this planet had to offer. Martial Arts, Boxing, Escape Artistry, the use of nearly every form of weaponry - anything that could help him reach his goal was perfected. Ultimately, he murdered the people who trained him, becoming their master. He then traveled the world honing his skills against a multitude of skilled opponents, and perfected a process of killing the likes of which the world had never seen before. Eventually, he destroyed everything that linked him to this life, and effectively disappeared. It was as if he had never existed.


Now, he has come to Logan. He holds the document up before him and, with a certain amount of emotion, explains that this proposition is made to only a select few. His sessions with clients almost always end with their demise. That is, unless he finds a kindred spirit; a fellow killer as he has in Logan. He adds that only men like themselves can know the rush of taking another life; the exhilaration of snuffing out another from existence. To destroy Logan would be like an art collector destroying the Mona Lisa. Instead, he will allow Logan to accept his superiority and join him in his new murder avant-garde. He removes the ball from Logan’s mouth, and informs him that failure to join him will result in certain death.

Wolverine replies that he’s heard a lot of sick things in his time, but this story takes the cake. He snarls that he has to fight each and every day to keep the animal side of him in check; to keep himself from losing control and killing people. Mr. X? Death is all some kinda sick game to him. Wolverine’s anger turns to rage, and despite the damage popping his claws will doubtless do to him, he pops them anyway, and they tear through his skin and out through the contraption he is being held in. In a second he is free and leaping straight for Mr. X


Senator Walsh is reading his newspaper in his office when he sees the story about John, Peter and Michael all being killed. He can’t believe it. John was killed by a car bomb whilst Peter and Michael were gunned down in the street like animals. The paper doesn’t have any idea that their murders are connected, but he knows differently. He hasn’t thought about them for years. What if he’s next? He begins to sweat, as his aide enters the office and asks if he’s okay. The senator replies that he’s fine, but if he will excuse him, he has some arrangements to make.


Wolverine is in full berserker rage now, and whatever humanity he had is gone. He slashes Mr. X’s torso, but he responds with a powerful blow to the back of Wolverine’s neck. Logan whips his left arm out and throws Mr. X across the room. He’s not even thinking from one move to the next. It all just flows; it’s all instinct.

He heads over to Mr. X, who stands and leaps out of the way of his blow and rushes for a doorway. He clicks a control pad and enters. By the time Wolverine arrives, Mr. X is waiting for him with a machine gun. “Welcome to my trophy room!” he smiles. It’s where he keeps most of the souvenirs he’s gathered over the years. He has the usual fare; knives, guns, human heads. The particular item he’s holding once belonged to John Dillinger, he believes.

He unleashes a volley of bullets at Wolverine, who manages to withstand the assault. Mr. X then reaches for a spear, which he acquired from an African chieftain. He explains that the chief refused to part with it: something about it being with his tribe for centuries or something. He should have spared himself the nasty disembowelment Mr. X was forced to give him. Wolverine leaps at him, but he lands on the end of the spear, which plunges deep into his stomach. His momentum is then used to send him crashing through a glass display case.

Mr. X then grabs a semi-automatic flamethrower, a gift to him from Saddam. He pours flame into the room, enveloping Wolverine in a tomb of searing heat. Even before Logan comes rushing out of the flames, Mr. X somehow knows he’s just going to keep coming. As Logan’s slash misses his opponent’s back by inches, Mr. X grabs a broadsword and prepares to try and remove Wolverine’s head. He’s loving the action more than Wolverine, and can see something familiar in the X-Man’s eyes. As he brings the sword down, Wolverine’s claws slice it into four pieces, and he delivers a sturdy kick, which sends Mr. X smashing through a glass paned doorway.

As he lies on the ground, he grins. “Death! Yes. Let me have it! Kill me if you think you can.” Wolverine is ready to oblige, but out of nowhere, his arm is grabbed by Blok, who knocks him out with one powerful blow.


Wolverine wakes up and sees the face of a devil once again. As his sight gradually returns, the devil transforms into the shapes made by the clouds above him. He finds himself floating in a dinghy. He’s in the middle of nowhere, and all he has with him is a note on his chest. It reads: -

Mr. Logan. You yet live due only to Blok’s bout of foul play back at the island. He knows better than to interrupt when I’m in session with a client. As such, please take solace in the fact that he has been punished in kind. In truth, his interference was unnecessary as, although you are aware, you were mere moments from suffering yet another defeat at my hands.

I have never faced an adversary quite like you and must say it was the most outstanding session I’ve had in years. Therefore, we simply must conclude this unfinished business of ours. Don’t bother to try and locate me. I guarantee you will find such efforts fruitless. So, as the old saying goes, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”


The X-Men’s Blackbird flies gracefully through the air, piloted by Nightcrawler. He is with Logan on their way to find Mr. X’s island hideout, and Logan explains that, as he knows, there isn’t a man alive that he’s afraid of, but it’s what Mr. X is that’s the problem. He’s everything Logan is afraid of becoming. He toyed with him; predicting his every move even before he made it. Then, when he went into one of his berserker rages, he actually had him on the ropes. He was enjoying himself, Logan adds, and laughing the whole time. It was like Mr. X was trying to bring something out in him.

Mr. X? replies Nightcrawler. Logan admits it’s kinda corny, but asks what else one calls someone like that who changes names and identities like he changes his underwear? Kurt jokes that, now that Logan mentions it… He isn’t in the mood for jokes, and Kurt turns to him and tells him they’ve arrived at the island. Logan looks down to find there is nothing there. The whole complex is gone.

Kurt lands the Blackbird and Logan sifts the soil through his fingers. Kurt asks what next, and Logan replies that they’ll wait, ‘cause he’s comin’. When and where he has no idea, but he is, and when that happens, he ain’t leaving until one of them is dead.

Characters Involved: 

Nightcrawler, Wolverine (both X-Men)



Mr. X

The Major



Mr. Postlewaite

Senator Drexel Walsh and his aide, Bryars

(in flashback)

Mr. X (as a child) and his parents

Crowd and victim

Female suitor





VIP and bodyguards

Martial Arts tutors


Bare-knuckle boxer

Wrestler and referee

(in newspaper)

John, Michael and Peter

Story Notes: 

In Pulp Fiction, Marsellus Wallace and Butch Coolidge are captured by a couple of redneck rapists, Zed and Maynard. Clearly into S&M, balls are placed in their mouths to muzzle them. This act in turn leads to Marsellus getting ‘medieval’ on his ass!

John Dillinger was a bank robber who operated in America throughout the early part of the twentieth century. He became the FBI’s public enemy number one before his death in 1934.

Saddam Hussein was the president of Iraq between 1979 and 2003, after which he was captured by U.S. forces.

The Mona Lisa (Madame Lisa) is probably the most famous painting in the world, painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1503 and 1507. It currently hangs in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Blok’s punishment for interrupting the fight was to have his right little finger removed by Mr. X.

The Senator Walsh storyline was continued in the next story arc. Mr. X returned in Wolverine (2nd series) #167 - 168, where Logan picked up on something he mentioned in this issue. He figured Mr. X was a residual telepath, and gave in once again to his berserker rage to outwit him.

The letters page in this issue was replaced by a selection of responses provided by readers who used the X-Fan website to let the title’s creators know what they would like to see during their run.

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