Wolverine (2nd series) #170

Issue Date: 
January 2002
Story Title: 
Stay Alive - part 1

Frank Tieri (writer), Sean Chen (pencils), Norm Rapmund (inks), Avalon’s Raymund Lee (colors), RS & Comicraft’s Saida! (letters), Mike McKone (cover art), Mike Raicht (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

As one of the injured contestants of the reality show “Stay Alive” is transported due to injury, they are ambushed by Mauvais and his minions, Bloodscream and Vermin. There, Mauvais takes the form of the show’s host and transports up to the Arctic. In a diner, Logan is watching the show on television and sees Mauvais reveal his true self and attack and kill the contestants. Logan immediately heads to the Arctic to face his foe. As he does so, Mauvais uses the dead bodies to cast a spell to take revenge on the Canadian gods who imprisoned him all those years ago. Eventually, Logan makes his way to Mauvais, thanks to the Canadian gods and prepares to face off against him, having first to kill three enraged polar bears to get to him. Once he finally makes his way to Mauvais, he is unable to attack him until the monstrous Wendigo has been summoned. Mauvais intends to eat the creature’s heart in an effort to destroy his captors those many years ago. Realizing his situation, Logan must save the Wendigo if he has any chance of saving Canada. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Sabretooth secretly spies on Omega Red and watches him murder a cheating associate of the General’s.

Full Summary: 

Sixteen contestants… Braving the frozen tundra of the Canadian arctic, all vying to be the last one standing with the million dollar prize! To do so, they must stay alert, they must stay fit, they must Stay Alive!

A young female television reporter asks ‘stay alive?’ Maybe not for much longer if these ratings continue for SBS’s fourth installment of the once-popular reality series. In an office, a man yells at the man standing before him, Bartlet, and asks him if he heard the tramp. What kills him is she’s right. Has he seen today’s Nielsen’s by any chance? Bartlet tells the man before him, Mr. Stone, that he has and he’s sorry. But to be honest, an eventual drop-off with these reality programs wasn’t completely unexpected.

Flanked by his large bodyguard, Stone yells at Bartlet that maybe he should have taken that into account when he plopped the damn show down into the freaking arctic. People want to watch bimbo contestants in bikinis eating rats and bugs, not people freezing their collective butts off. Not to mention that they, imbeciles, convinced him to air the show live via remote-controlled cameras. He then asks which one of the geniuses came up with that idea so he can have them killed. Sweating, Bartlet replies that it was Milo Stevens, but he already had him killed. Stone states yes he did, didn’t he. Well, seeing as how he can’t dig him up and murder that sorry S.O.B. again, that leaves just him – Bartlet. And he is going to make sure nothing else goes wrong with his show, isn’t he? Bartlet stammers actually, they just got word that one of the contestants had to be airlifted off the show to the nearest hospital. It seems he was bitten by a seal.

At the nearest hospital to the Canadian arctic, emergency personnel unload the injured contestant from an ambulance. As they do, the contestant mutters a seal, how the hell did he get bitten by a seal? They juggle balls on their noses for crying out loud. Helping one of the announcers of the show, Mr. Grotts, out of the ambulance, a man grabs his arm and says to him that he will ‘elp him down from there. When Grotts asks him what he is doing, the man informs him that he is merely doing away with masks that are no longer relevant. Seeing the people around him turning from emergency personnel into Mauvais, Bloodscream, and Vermin, he asks what is going on there, is this still part of the show? Mauvais replies non, he’d say not.

Changing his form from that of Mauvais to that of Grotts, Mauvais states that he doubts the men behind this silly production would appreciate the life being sucked out of their host’s body or ‘is identity assumed by him – Mauvais. As the helicopter goes to take off, Mauvais asks the helicopter pilot where he thinks he’s going, to inform on what he’s seen ‘ere, to spoil the moment of his greatest triumph when he’s so close? Exclaiming never, he causes the helicopter to slam into the side of the building. Turning to Bloodscream and Vermin, Mauvais tells them that he must leave them now but the amassing of ‘uman flesh for his consumption will continue while he is away, non? Bloodscream asks his master what of this one, the man on the stretcher. Teleporting away, Mauvais replies that he ‘as just eaten, he is theirs to do with as they see fit. Upon hearing that, Bloodscream and Vermin immediately begin to tear into their victim.

Later, in Canada, Logan sits at a diner stand and thinks about what he’s recently been through. It’s been a rough few weeks. First, he fails t’ nab the dirtbag pullin’ the strings fer Bloodscream an’ Vermin durin’ that “homeless murder” caper, then he finds himself back up north there dukin’ it out with an alien. An now, he can’t even get a decent meal. Asking the man running the diner what he has to do t’ get some service round there, the man turns around from watching the television and tells him sorry, his dopey wife’s got him hooked on this show, he’ll be with him in a flash. Logan looks up and sees it’s a stupid reality show, people givin’ up their privacy an’ dignity just so they can pop up on Hollywood Squares two months later, he wouldn’t watch ‘em if ya paid him. Somethin’ ‘bout this one, though, seems a little off.

When the host informs Terri that they’ve been eliminated and turns towards the camera, Logan sees that his right eye is larger than the other and poking. Upon seeing that, Logan says to himself cripes, is he seein’ things, he could’ve sworn he just saw Mauvais. Just then, the show’s host bites Terri on the shoulder and tells her that she’s got a big mouth, perhaps this will shut it. As she screams out in pain, Mauvais changes to his actual form and tells the rest of the cast members that no one can ‘elp any of them.

Standing up from his seat with a jolt, Logan asks the diner worker where the show is being filmed. In shock, the diner worker tells him up north, in the Arctic. Logan tells him that he better make that order t’ go. An’ while he’s at it, he wouldn’t happen t’ know where he can charter a plane, by any chance, would he?

At the Pyramid nightclub in Brooklyn, a young man is cozying up to two young attractive women. Nibbling on one of the lady’s ears, the man asks them if they would like some more champagne. He will have them bring two more bottles; after all money is no longer problem. At that moment, another man comes up to him and tells him, Nikolai Vernoff, that he would like a word with him. Nikolai tells him can’t he see he’s busy? The man replies that he can also see he’s getting fat off money made dealing drugs, drugs sold in the territory of the General. Nikolai asks and what if he is? The General is rotting away in jail cell somewhere. There is nothing he can do to him from in there.

When he tells the man to go away, the other man, Omega Red, extends his coils and wraps it around Nikolai’s neck. He then tells Nikolai that is why he sent him. Shocked to see Omega Red standing before him, Nikolai stammers that he did not know he was working for General now. Let them talk, this is all just big mistake. Omega Red tells him that with some mistakes, comrade Vernoff, there is but one way to correct them. Abruptly raising Nikolai up in the air, Omega Red proceeds to snap his neck and kill him.

Turning his attention to Nikolai’s men, he mentions that he can see that they are no less foolish than he is. Imagine, trying to sneak up on a man who can release death spores in the air. Rather pointless, wouldn’t they agree? Walking up to him, a man, tells him that there are no worries ‘bout anybody muscling in on the General’s turf anymore. With him now taking care of his interests, he can’t see anybody messing with them. As the men talk, Sabretooth sits at the bar and overhears what they are saying.

Over the Canadian Arctic, the pilot turns back and tells Logan that the storm’s mighty fierce. Ain’t no way he’s gonna be able to land, they’ll have to turn back. Dressed in his black leather costume, Logan tells him that’s not gonna happen. Just fly him over a clear patch a’ land and he’ll take it from there. As Logan leaps out of the plane on a snowmobile with a parachute attached to his back, the pilot remarks that he’s gonna ‘chute into this, is he nuts? Logan thinks to himself no argument there. As he releases the parachute, Logan discovers that the pilot wasn’t kiddin’, the ‘chute’s already tangled up in the wind. He has no choice but t’ cut it an’ hope fer the best. Landing in the snow, Logan says that he’s comin’ Mauvais. He took his eye out last time they squared off, he plan on takin’ a helluva lot more than that from him.

In Mr. Stone’s office, Bartlet asks him if he’s seen what’s going on with the show. Stone tells him as a matter of fact, he has. Isn’t it wonderful? Bartlet asks wonderful? Did he hear him correctly? People are getting slaughtered up there! Stone yells at him and asks what of it, finally this lousy program has produced something that’ll have everyone in the world glued to their sets. And he somehow sees this as a bad thing? Bartlet tells him that he’s insane and that he refuses to be a party to what he’s doing. He’s cutting off his transmission whether he likes it or not.

Turning to leave, Bartlet runs right into Stone’s massive bodyguard Chen. When he does, Stone tells Bartlet that he doubts he’ll stop him and adds that maybe he’s right, maybe it is time they parted ways. Telling Chen that he thinks he knows what to do, Chen complies and picks Bartlet up by the neck, killing him. On the phone, Stone calls the control room, introduces himself as Ty and informs them that he’ll be overseeing the show personally from now on.

In the Arctic, Mauvais begins drawing a large circle in the snow with a severed leg from one of the contestants of Staying Alive. As he does so, he remarks ‘ow he’s longed for this moment, to finally pluck their ever-present thorn from his side. No longer will they interfere in the affairs of mortal men as they did when they first clashed during the so-called French and Indian War or with the role they played in his eventual downfall in the midst of the French Revolution.

Finished making the circle, Mauvais head towards the circle of it where he has piled the pieces of bodies. Reaching his hand to the sky, he calls out and asks if they, cochons, ‘ear him up there. They thought him gone from their lives? Locked up in that prison, cursed to an immovable existence. They could ‘ave never dreamed he would return, daring to strike them there, at this very spot where they are at their strongest, where he will ‘ave his revenge. With that, a large funnel cloud forms in the middle of the Arctic, with Mauvais in the center of it all.

Just then, the sky turns dark and Mauvais is surprised by what is happening. He senses that a presence ‘as been drawn there, but not the one he seeks. He calls out that this is their doing, they ‘ave recruited a champion to fight their cause. Flinging a skull into the air, he states that he is curious to see who they ‘ave deployed. Seeing Wolverine coming his way on a snowmobile, Mauvais remarks that he is an interesting choice but one that can certainly be dealt with and begins to conjure up some magical powers.

Riding towards the funnel cloud, Logan thinks to himself that it looks like he’s there no thanks to his enhanced senses. Truth is, a storm like this pretty much negates ‘em. No, it was somethin’ else that led him there, somethin’ he can’t explain. Just like he can’t explain what that is comin’ towards him. When Mauvais’ spell hits the ground in front of him, Logan guesses that Mauvais’ aim ain’t too…

Before he can finish his thought, Logan is hit by a flying piece of debris, knocked off his snowmobile and flung into the air. Picking himself up out of the snow, Logan comes face to face with three enraged polar bears and discerns that Mauvais’ aim is better than he thought. Whatever was in that blast turned the bears into somethin’ nasty. At first, Logan attempts to talk to the polar bear and diffuse the situation. When that doesn’t work and the polar bear slams him into the snow, Logan realizes what he has to do.

Engaging the bears in battle, he thinks to himself that he doesn’t wanna do this. It ain’t their fault Mauvais turned ‘em into this. But the reality, unfortunately is that it’s either gonna be him or them. After a couple of the bears takes a bite out of Logan, Logan is able to overpower them and kill them with his claws. Standing over them, Logan says that he wishes this coulda worked out another way but if it’s any consolation, they’re about t’ be avenged. Rushing over towards his snowmobile, Logan again directs it towards Mauvais and the gigantic funnel cloud.

Inside the funnel cloud, Mauvais has his hands raised to the sky and calls out, asking what is takin’ ‘im so long? Surely, cannibalism of this scale, they should be there by… Just then, Logan slams his snowmobile into Mauvais from behind. Picking himself up from the ground, Mauvais curses Wolverine and says to him that he has more lives than a cat. But where the bears may ‘ave failed to end his miserable existence, just as Bloodscream and Vermin did in New York, he most certainly will not. Logan asks New York, that was him behind those two dirtbags? Now he’s got even more of a reason t’ kill him.

As Logan runs into a column of mystic energy that keeps him away, Mauvais tells him that it is not so easy to kill that which you cannot touch. Separated, Mauvais tells Logan that he is actually pleased to find him there. He shall bear witness as he corrects a grave injustice perpetrated upon this land centuries ago as he returns Canada back into the hands of the French, this Frenchman in particular. Logan says to him that he’s kiddin’, right? He does realize that even if he can’t get in there t’ stop him, there’re forces that protect this land. Forces that are a lot more powerful than both of them put together.

Mauvais tells him that he needs no lectures on the gods who lord over Canada. What does he think this is all about, who does he think led him to him for that matter? They must have sensed his plans to use their own creation against them, a creature attracted to the cannibal acts that spawned him, a creature whose power will be added to his own once he’s devoured its living heart, enabling him to lock those infernal Canadian gods out forever. Logan remarks that he sees that he’s lowerin’ the column. Does that mean he’s finally man enough t’ face him? Mauvais tells him that he didn’t lower it for him, Wolverine, he lowered it for him.

Turning around, Logan hears the beastly howl of the Weennnddigooooo! Preparing himself for battle, Logan realizes that if he’s gonna save Canada, he’s gonna have to save him first.

Characters Involved: 






Omega Red


Mr. Stone and his bodyguard Chen


Nikolai Vernoff, his unnamed female companions, and unnamed bodyguards

Various images of the Northern Canadian Gods (all unnamed)

Mr. Grotts (host of the Stay Alive competition)

Various unnamed participants of the Stay Alive competition (Casey and Terri are the only ones named)

Various unnamed medical personnel (Mr. Grotts is the only one named)

Unnamed cook in a diner

Various unnamed patrons of a club

Story Notes: 

Staying Alive is reminiscent of the popular reality show “Survivor.”

“Bimbo contestants in bikinis eating rats and bugs” probably refers to the now defunct reality show “Fear Factor” hosted by Joe Rogan.

Logan faced off against Bloodscream and Vermin during the “homeless murder” caper and against an alien in Wolverine Annual 2001.

Mauvais plucked out Logan’s eye back in Wolverine (2nd series) #165.

Omega Red mentions to be working for a man by the name of the General. The General is a Russian mob boss and former KGB agent. He was spotted imprisoned in the Cage back in Wolverine (2nd series) #164.

The French and Indian War occurred between 1754 and 1763. It occurred, primarily, in what is now known as the Canadian province of Quebec.

The French Revolution occurred between 1789 and 1799 and occurred in France itself.

Issue Information: 
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