Wolverine (2nd series) #168

Issue Date: 
November 2001
Story Title: 
Bloodsport - part 2

Frank Tieri (the ref), Dan Fraga (in the red corner), Norm Rapmund (in the blue corner), JH Williams III (covered the event), Avalon’s Raymund Lee (bruised and confused), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Saida! (punch drunk), Mike Raicht (distributed flyers), Mike Marts (fixed the results), Joe Quesada (coulda been a contender), Bill Jemas (televised the event)

Brief Description: 

After discovering that Mr. X is the champion of the Bloodsport tournament, Logan angrily confronts him and Viper about it. Deciding to wait his turn, Logan walks away. When he does so, a spirit transfers itself from Blok to Jae Lo, Logan’s assistant during the tournament. Before Logan’s next match against Puma, Jae gives Logan some water which turns out to be poisoned. After barely winning, Logan becomes suspicious that Viper has poisoned him and confronts Jae Lo about it. In the next match, Mr. X easily defeats Taskmaster, which enrages Taskmaster. Next up is the final match – Logan versus Mr. X. At first, X has the upper-hand but after Taskmaster shoots a flaming arrow which engulfs the cage in fire, Logan discovers what X’s power is – he’s a telepath. Taking his rage to an animalistic level, Logan is able to gain the advantage. In a fluke, X is able to capture the belt and win the tournament. Before Logan can finish him off, Blok steps in protecting his master. Just then, the floor collapses and Logan finds himself alone. Later, Logan prepares to leave but Viper stops him when she tells him that Ogun is back.

Full Summary: 

In the crowd, Justin Timberlake celebrates with all of the other rowdy fans in attendance and asks Chris Kirkpatrick if he saw that. Dude just popped that guys head off like a pimple. Chris replies that this sure as hell beats the Grammys.

Peering at the man who beheaded Headhunter, Logan thinks to himself that he doesn’t know what ticks him off more. All the yahoos in the crowd screamin’ fer blood like it’s the last days of the freakin’ Roman Empire or that “a friend,” the guy who not only tipped him off during the Weapon X fiasco but also who he came t’ face when he entered this damn Bloodsport turns out t’ be one a’ the sorriest excuses fer a human being he’s ever met. Not t’ mention one o’ the deadliest, the mysterious serial killer Mr. X. First time he tangled with him, he fought fer the right t’ be called “the best there is.”

No question about it, he handed him his lunch. They’d soon lock horns again, right after he filled him in on his sick code a’ conduct fer murder an’ offered him a chance t’ become one a’ his “killer elite.” Like that was ever gonna happen. But since that fight ended inconclusively, he guesses that lurin’ him there was his way a’ finishin’ what they started. He’s more than happy t’ oblige.

As Logan goes to the stage, Jae Lo asks him where he’s going. He’s not going to do anything rash, is he? Leaping onto the stage, Logan is stopped by one of the ring personnel who tell him that he can’t just… Grabbing the man by the throat, Logan tells him that he wouldn’t dream of it, bub.

Accepting his robe from Blok, Mr. X mentions to him that it took nearly 3.51 seconds to defeat Headhunter, he fears he may be losing his touch. Walking over, Viper tells him that if he calls that losing his touch, he’d hate to see him when he’s on his game. Kissing her hand, X tells Madame Viper that he sees his beauty has not diminished since their last encounter. Viper states that he’s charming as always but he wouldn’t be trying to influence the judge, would he? X informs her that his championship is assured with or without her help. Just then, a loud crash is heard. Turning around, Mr. X points out to Viper that the main course, a mutual friend of theirs, has come to say hello – Wolverine.

Walking up to Mr. X, Logan tells him that he doesn’t know what game he’s playin’ there. Mr. X says that it’s the only “game” he plays, is the only one he’s ever played, that of life and death. Popping his claws, Logan says that it seems that he’s played that game a few times himself. He then adds that if any of his goons inch any closer, three in the neck will see to it their “game” ends here an’ now. Mr. X says that is highly improbable but tells his men to hold back anyway. Logan then tells X that he has news fer him, he ain’t waitin’ fer no stupid match but he does have to know somethin’ before he tears him apart. Why did he tip him off?

X tells him that he has his reasons. For one thing, he was given credit for a crime he did not commit. It isn’t in good taste for artistes such as themselves to have their “stats” padded for them. And no, begin mind-controlled doesn’t count. Shocked, Logan asks him how he… X finishes his thought for him. Know? Let’s just say a man who has committed the amount of carnage that he has does not avoid incarceration without a few choice connections within the government. Connections that informed him Weapon X had targeted the same prize he had, forcing him to intercede. He then tells Logan that he is his to deal with and his alone. But while he can appreciate his exuberance in resolving this unfinished business of theirs, they need to save it for the ring. Or they could begin now, but he cannot guarantee the safety of the innocents around them.

Walking away, Logan knows that X means what he says and that he’s gonna have to wait. Putting her hand on X’s shoulder, Viper tells him that ticking off that little runt definitely gives him points in her book. Now if he can only knock him off in the Bloodsport… Mr. X tells her that he doesn’t believe he heard her correctly, did she say “if?”

Just then, Blok begins to act strangely and a spirit leaves his mouth and transfers over to Jae Lo. After witnessing what had just happened, X remarks that was most interesting and unexpected. It does shed light on a few questionable moments however. He then tells Viper that she shouldn’t concern herself with Wolverine. He’d say she presently has much bigger concerns on her docket. Viper asks bigger concerns, did she miss something? Jae Lo replies yes, he’d say she most definitely did.

Logan wants to kill X so bad he can taste it but he has to put that away fer now, Puma’s next on his plate in an electric cage match. Giving him some water, Jae Lo tells Logan that he is good luck for him; he brings water to quench his thirst. Drinking it, Logan replies that it would ‘a been better if he’d brought him a beer. Entering the cage, Logan tells the man before him, Thomas Fireheart, that it seems t’ him he heard that he was a noble man of honor. Fireheart informs him that times change, the puma inside him has grown stronger, more controlling nastier. Transforming into the Puma, he adds that it forces him to do things like entering this contest, all to quench its insatiable appetite for blood!

While he battles the Puma, Logan sees that he’s very fast and just as vicious. He gutted him before he even had a chance t’ raise his claws. After slashing the Puma, he sees that he just keeps comin’ and wonders if he reminds him a’ anyone he knows (Sabretooth)? Just then, he doesn’t feel quite right, he suddenly feels woozy – he’s been drugged. He’s gonna need a little time fer his healin’ factor t’ flush it out whatever it is, but he ain’t gonna get that time. He’s in trouble there an’ Puma knows it. He’s takin’ advantage a’ the situation, goin’ fer the kill right there an’ now. He’s hittin’ him with everything he’s got.

Logan realizes that he’s gotta play his cards right. Fer once, he’s the one with all his marbles intact an’ it’s his opponent who’s lost control. He has to use that, let him keep slashin’ him, make him think he’s hurt more than he is. An’ while he’s thinkin’ that, thinkin’ he’s got him right where he wants him, he shows him how wrong he is. As the Puma leaps at Logan to deliver the final blow, he ducks and his attacker is shocked by the electric fence. Standing over his fallen foe, Logan realizes that he got lucky. If not fer the electric fence, this outcome might a’ been different.

When Logan is announced as the winner, the drugs have just about flushed themselves out of his system. Just in time too, ‘cause it don’t take a Reed Richards t’ figure out who slipped him that mickey. Rushing out of the cage, Logan grabs Jae Lo by the collar and says to him that he set him up and asks him who made him do it – Puma, X? Jae Lo stammers that he hurts his feelings. Logan tells him that after every answer he doesn’t like…

Jae replies that more than just feelings get hurt, he catches his drift. He then tells Logan not to be mad. Gambling odds are in his favor, he had to bet the long shot. A major player gave him poison to slip him, tasteless to his senses, but strong enough to affect even him. Logan thinks to himself a major player? Looking up at Viper, he has a hunch that “major player” is sittin’ up in the sky box right now an’ he just happens t’ be married t’ her.

The following contest is Taskmaster versus the Champion (Mr. X) in a standard steel cage match. The first one out of the cage and onto the floor wins. Watching the match, Logan thinks to himself that this should be interestin’. Taskmaster ain’t no pushover. His photographic reflexes let him mimic the moves a’ any fighter he’s seen, includin’ the likes of Shang-Chi, Hawkeye, Iron Fist and even Captain America himself.

Once the bell rings, Taskmaster can’t believe Mr. X that he’s treating him like he’s nothing and blowing kisses to the crowd. Taking advantage, Taskmaster tries to sneak attack Mr. X. As he does so, Mr. X tells him such poor sportsmanship and proceeds to toss him to the ground. Taking a swing, Taskmaster tells him like he cares and to stay still. This little move he learned from the Man Without Fear himself. When he misses, X tells him that he’ll have to do better than that. Undeterred, Taskmaster takes a swing at X with his shield, a move he learned from Captain America himself. Missing again, X says to him that he says the names of these men as if they’re supposed to mean something to him. He’s fought the finest fighters in the world; did he honestly think he’d be impressed with tactics he learned from men sporting pretty colored underwear? Mister X then clocks Taskmaster with a solid uppercut.

Continuing to watch the battle, Logan sees that X is doin’ the same thing t’ Taskmaster that he did t’ him – anticipatin’ every move he makes before he actually makes it. How the hell does he do it?

Pulling out his bow and arrows, Taskmaster tells him that he’s got his “impressed” right here and shoots them at X. Catching them, X tells him that this is really getting boring and snaps them as if they were twigs. Seeing that, Taskmaster says that he’s had just about enough. All he has to do is get out of the cage to win. So if he shoots up to the top with his billy club, the match is in the bag. Now it’s just a matter of getting down to…

Turning around, he sees Mr. X standing there right next to him. He exclaims that this is impossible. Scaling the cage so fast, no one is that good. As X picks him up over his head and tosses him back into the cage below, Taskmaster exclaims that this can’t be happening to him, He’s fought the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes. Reaching the floor next to the cage, X is declared the winner by the referee who stops the match. X asks that he’s stopping the match? The referee says yes, he’s out of the cage which means he’s won. X tells him not yet he hasn’t, he’s still to get his kill. The referee says he’s sorry but the match is over. X asks him that he would deny him what he has earned? The referee defiantly tells him that the rules clearly state…

Before he can finish his thought, X grabs him in a reverse choke-hold, tells him that was a foolish decision and proceeds to kill him. When the referee drops dead, Mr. X states that he is never denied his kill and this time he’ll do just fine.

As the announcement is made to the Bloodsport fans in attendance that this is the match that they’ve been waiting for, Logan thinks to himself that they’re not the only ones. The ring announcer states that that the championship bout is a four corners match where the first man to find the championship belt in one of the four boxes in the ring wins. What’s in the other boxes? That’s for their contestants to find out.

Stepping up to Logan, X tells him that this is his last chance. Bow down to his superior skills and he shall let him live. They could kill together. Logan tells him fat chance and goes to punch him. When Mr. X blocks him time after time, Logan says to himself here we go again. No matter what he does, he’s got an answer fer it. Wishes he could say the same.

Punching Logan across the face, X tells him that he so does hope he’s going to put on a better show than this. The fans did pay good money after all. With Logan knocked down for a stretch, X reaches the first box and discovers a pair of nunchucks, a personal favorite of his. Seeing what X has found, Logan decides that this ain’t good. X is a master of nearly every weapon known t’ man, so he needs him with weapons like he needs a hole in his head.

After X delivers another elbow to Logan’s head, Logan thinks to himself that he wanted a piece a’ this guy in the worst way. So, what’s that they say ‘bout bein’ careful what ya wish for? Making his way over to box #2, X finds a sai and proceeds to toss it at Logan. Dodging it, Logan realizes that his offense has been so ineffective that he’s forced t’ play defense. The only thing is, that gives X the opportunity t’ get t’ the next box and bust out with nasty surprise number three – a flail. Logan realizes that he can’t let him cut loose with that thing and lunges himself at him tackling him. As X rolls with the blow and turns it around into a choke hold with the chain from the flail, Logan wonders what he has to do t’ beat this guy.

Underneath the ring, Taskmaster readies an arrow and shoots it through the ring above him stating that if he can’t win the title, then nobody can. Inside the cage, Logan gets out of the way thanks to his senses but so did X. He anticipated that just like he’s been anticipatin’ everything else. As the cage begins to engulf in flames, Logan wonders how X could have sensed it.

Just then it hits him – X is telepathic. An’ now that he thinks of it, the story he told him about how he first became obsessed with death, he’s heard it before with Jean Grey. Jean’s powers were activated when a girl died in her mind. The same thing happened with X an’ that woman. But with no Professor Xavier around to pick up the pieces, X went nuts. It all makes sense now. Good fighters always think four to five moves ahead an’ if X can see those moves ahead a’ time, he has a tremendous advantage.

Now that he knows how X is doin’ it, what can he do about it? The only time he’s ever seemed t’ get t’ X was when he lost control, went berserk. An’ that’s ‘cause even he don’t know his next move when he’s like that. Does he do it, does he consciously let loose the demon he’s kept bottled up all these years? He decides to do it and begins to psyche himself up by thinkin’ a Weapon X and Mariko dyin’.

Enraged, Logan tells a shocked X that he knows his secret. Facing off against X, Logan starts to feel the animal beginning to take control. X is probably a limited telepath. He ain’t figured out what he’s doin’ yet. But even if he did, he can’t do jack about it ‘cause he’s there. Slashing away at X, it’s all instincts now. X tries to come back but it doesn’t matter – it’s too late. Slashing X again, he knocks him back into the fourth box which knocks it loose.

As it drops down, the box smashes open and reveals the belt. Picking it up, X has won, he’s defeated him once again. Logan angrily tells him yeah, he’s won, now here’s his prize. Just as he prepares to jam his claws into X’s head, Blok steps in front of X, blocking Logan’s path. Logan tells him t’ get out of the way, it ain’t him he’s after. When Blok refuses to move, Logan tells him t’ have it his way and prepares to attack. However, before he can, the fire makes the floor collapse sending them down to the level below. Standing up, Logan discovers again that, as usual, X and Blok are already gone.

Later, Logan is packing up and preparing to go home. He hated havin’ t’ do that, purposely lettin’ himself go like he did but X left him little choice. Worst part is, this was a one trick pony an’ he knows it. The next time he tries the same thing, X’ll be ready fer it.

At that moment, Viper rushes into the room and calls out his name. Popping his claws, Logan states well if it ain’t Lucrezia Borgia. Viper says to him never mind that now, she needs his help. Turning his back to her, Logan tells her that she has some never comin’ t’ him after she poisoned him like that. Viper says to him not to dismiss her so fast until he knows what this is about. When Logan tells her he’s all ears, Viper informs him that he’s back – Ogun is back. Shocked, Logan stops what he is doing and turns around.

Characters Involved: 



Various unnamed bodyguards of Viper

Mister X


Jae Lo


Various unnamed observers in the crowd attending the Blood Sport tournament (Justin Timberlake and Chris Kirkpatrick, members of N’Sync are the only recognizable ones)

Unknown entity/spirit – Ogun?

Story Notes: 

Logan faced Mister X back in Wolverine (2nd series) #159-161.

Lucrezia Borgia was alive between 1480 and 1519. She was the daughter of Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander VI). Her family epitomized the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption alleged to characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy. Because of this, she is often cast as a femme fatale as see in various artworks, novels, and films.

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