Wolverine (2nd series) #19

Issue Date: 
December 1989
Story Title: 
Heroes & Villains

Archie Goodwin (writer), John Byrne (layouts), Klaus Janson (finishes), Mike Rockwitz (colorist), Jim Novak (letterer), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Once Wolverine arrives in Puerto Verde, capital city of Tierra Verde, he notices a battle between a young lady and Tiger Shark. He stays out of it until Tiger Shark gains the upper hand and is getting ready to kill her. Wolverine interrupts and assists her with running Tiger Shark off. He discovers her name is La Bandera and recommends to her that she not get too involved in things she shouldn’t. As he continues through the streets of Tierra Verde, he meets up with an old acquaintance, Jack Bascomb of the CIA. Jack tells her all about La Bandera. He also advises Wolverine to disappear again. In New York, the Kingpin and President Felix Guillermo Caridad are discussing the appearance of Tiger Shark in Tierra Verde. Once their conversation is complete, the Kingpin attends a meeting regarding further acts of vengeance with Doctor Doom, Magneto and the Red Skull. Back on Tierra Verde, the president learns from his scientists about his new crop of cocaine and how powerful it is. Once he goes to talk to Sister Salvation and to convince her to help him in his quest, Wolverine attacks Geist. He forces Geist to lead him to Roughhouse. At that moment, La Bandera and her followers attack the palace. In the midst of the explosions, Geist leads Wolverine down to the bowels of the palace. There, Tiger Shark drags him deep into the water. Wolverine is able to make it out to the ocean but, before he can make it up to the surface, he is dragged deep into the ocean by Tiger Shark!

Full Summary: 

Time was, I was strictly a loner, Wolverine thinks. Now he’s one of the X-Men, part of a team. And since all of them have different kinds of mutant powers, there are surprising advantages. Course, the newlyweds here might disagree. As Wolverine walks past the newlyweds in question, lying on a blanket on the beach, he kicks up sand at them.

Continuing without pause, despite their stares at him, he thinks that, specially, if they look back to where his footprints start - at the edge of the surf. It is Gateway’s work, Wolverine silently notes. “He’s kinda our instant travel service. Yep. Nice being part of a team. Still some things you handle alone.”

As Wolverine makes his way through the streets, past the residents and visitors, he realizes that, at first glance, this place might be Miami Beach. Moving beyond the hotels and tourists, each new block fits more with his research. He did that while his mutant healing factor fixed a few injuries of his – from a world class beating and being dumped from a plane. As he continues to make his way through the streets, he watches government troops reasoning with the press. Their reasoning is beating them and blowing up their shop.

Wolverine is in Puerto Verde, capital city of Tierra Verde and his invasion has begun. Appears some others seem to have gotten into the business before him!

On a pier, a young lady in a costume is being punched around by Tiger Shark, as some locals are watching the action. She is then tossed headfirst into a stack of crates, right in front of Wolverine. He thinks to himself that he got into this mess to save an old enemy from some new ones. Complicated enough without adding new trouble to complicate it more. He doesn’t know the players, it’s not his game. Way things look, girl shouldn’t have made it hers.

Tiger Shark informs the young lady that traveling from Dade County, Florida to Central America is a long trip - just to die. He informs her that there’s no reason getting up, it’s already over, she’s fighting Tiger Shark not strung out crack peddlers like she tackled at home. The young lady, defiant in her words, shoots back that he’s an assassin - nothing more!! A tool of the corruption that she fought in the barrio, the same she has come to challenge here! As she leaps to her feet to go back on the attack, the locals who have been watching the fight join her for she will not fight alone. They will rally to La Bandera!!

Tiger Shark knocks the bricks they throw at him away with ease. He informs them that they should rally around the flag - he might as well off a dozen wastes as one! La Bandera informs him that they are the people and when the spirit moves them, you don’t know what they can do. Tiger Shark, ready for her attack, indicates that he knows what he can do. La Bandera shoots back with he can suffer the defeat his kind always does!! With that, she shoots a blast of energy from her staff, knocking Tiger Shark off the pier and into the water below.

Wolverine, watching the action is impressed. The kid’s got moves and surprises - can’t help but be drawn to her. The locals are standing on the pier with La Bandera. They are cheering her victory!! La Bandera thanks them for their help. Without them she couldn’t have... Wolverine knows that a guy like that can’t be beat that easily and yells out to her to Look Ou... Before he can finish, Tiger Shark bursts through the pier and informs La Bandera that now; it gets ugly!!

As Tiger Shark continues his assault on La Bandera, he informs her that now is a bad time for that staff of hers to be running out of whatever powers it, but then those precious “people” of yours seem to be running out too! They’re smart. They recognize who’s a run-of-the-mill assassin and who’s not even if she doesn’t. With that, he knocks her staff out of her hands. As he grabs her by the neck, he informs her that she stepped on some big toes playing Ms. Community Inspiration back in Florida. That netted her a death warrant, fulfilling it will be his personal pleasure.

Before he can deliver the deathblow, Wolverine leaps on his back, claws extended. Wolverine points out that it won’t be for a man who talks when he should be watching his back! Tiger Shark, shocked, inquires - another hero?? Good, that’s what this is really about. With that, he grabs Wolverine and flings Wolverine into a wall. He hates heroes!! Everything he is today is because some idiot tried to be a hero and wound up a cripple! With Wolverine out of the way, he makes his way towards La Bandera again. He continues that he was that idiot - no more! Now he’s a shark, the baddest shark in the ocean and heroes like her are his favorite prey! My...

Before he can continue, he turns around to see that he is leaking water from his back!! He is in shock! Wolverine points out that he’s afraid that he’s caused a leak. Nobody tosses him around and gets off free. He then points out to La Bandera that, if he’s got water circulating through that suit... La Bandera finishes his thought that it must be vital to him! Keeping him between them, cut off from the sea, they can... As Wolverine and La Bandera converge on Tiger Shark, he completes a backflip and escapes their grasp, landing in the water. Weaken him? Beat him? Not today!!!

Wolverine looks on and decides that he’ll settle for that. The guy has the strength, the power to be in Sub-Mariner’s class. He’ll settle and count himself lucky. He then notices the ship, the same one where he took his lumps. If it’s anchored here, then... Before he can finish, he receives a kiss from La Bandera. She is excited. Victory is theirs. He has helped her to victory and for that, she loves him for it. Wolverine pushes her away and tells her that she doesn’t even know him. Or the difference between a victory and a breather. This ain’t the time to celebrate - only to hide. La Bandera informs him that she didn’t come here to hide.

She came to fight and to inspire others to do the same. As Wolverine grabs her arm and they make their way down the street, he responds that he felt that, too much. Says mutant ability to him, about the most dangerous he’s come across. He then tells her to trust a fellow mutant. La Bandera rips her arm away and retorts that it is a gift, a wonderful gift. One that makes her more than a kid. Drug traffic supported by this country’s government destroyed her family and...

Wolverine cuts her off, asking if she’s going to start a revolution to bring it down? Inspiration fades fast, when you’re also drawing on it, turning it into a physical force, to channel through that staff of hers. He then tells her to pitch her costume. This old section of town is a maze. Lose herself until she makes it home. He tells her that she has it in her to hurt a lot of people - he advises that she shouldn’t.

As Wolverine continues to make his way through the streets, he thinks about La Bandera. She has left, but will she listen? Maybe. If she’s not as stubborn as he was at her age, as he is now, as he has to be with all the detours popping up between him and what he came for. At that time, he is called to by a man who offers him a free beer. It is a face from Wolverine’s past, from his days with Canadian intelligence, Jack Bascomb, CIA. Jack informs Logan that waterfront set-to caught his attention. He’s feisty as always and a tad misguided. He continues that the little lady he helped has questionable roots.

She’s Cuban. Her father was a big deal in Fidel’s revolution. Supposedly got disillusioned later and fled to Florida. He stayed bitter, found drugs, died a junkie. Wolverine responds that that is pretty sad. He asks that somehow Jack sees his daughter as a big, bad communist threat? Jack retorts that he sees him, Wolverine, as a threat. Him getting all involved in something that he’s been out of too long. There are wheels within wheels spinning in Tierra Verde and Wolverine is just natural born grit in the gears. As Jack goes to enter a taxi he advises Wolverine to disappear again.

New York:
In a New York skyscraper, the Kingpin points out that he believes that this matter requires a broader view. On a video-screen in front of him, President Felix Guillermo Caridad shoots back that his only view is that the Kingpin acted without consulting him!! This Tiger Shark violated Tierra Verde’s borders to inflict personal punishment on his behalf!! The Kingpin agrees that it does appear so. The young lady attached has rashly interfered with his Florida operations, but this is still the intricate part of a grander scheme, and all those individuals dubbed super-heroes will eventually suffer.

He then asks the president that the long-range benefits - even in their relatively uncomplicated drug transactions - surely do not escape him - do they? Felix asks that as Tiger Shark’s target escaped him?? He then responds that while he, Wilson Fisk, may be the Kingpin of crime, it is presumptuous of him to expect a world leader to shelter his assassin until... The Kingpin cuts him off. He informs him that his input is greatly appreciated, but he has a meeting that cannot wait. He turns off the video-screen and walks away muttering to himself that the president is a comic opera fool. The problem is that his cocaine trade is a necessary hedge against the power of the Columbia cartel - for now. He enters a room to see Doctor Doom, Magneto, and Red Skull. When he sees them he notices that they are eager for further acts of vengeance.

Tierra Verde:
In the president’s palace, he slams his fist down on his monitor. He yells out that the Kingpin is a gangster pig. The arrogance of that slab of pork, of his scheme! He calls out to Geist - he and whatever mad partners he has would destroy the world’s heroes! He asks Geist how? It cannot happen, no matter how many heroes they destroy - the people will only create new ones! As they make their way through the halls, Felix continues - that is the truth and why Tierra Verde will remember his name. Not because he was a drug-trafficking dictator, but because he gave them their own symbol of national honor - a super hero! Equal to any in the world! But when he should be concentrating on this most, he has Tiger Shark, La Bandera, rebellion, and, and...

He has another migraine. He requests Geist to go get his wife, she’s the only one who can... Geist puts his hand on Felix’s shoulder and informs him that she still refuses to see him, but he asks him if he can offer a suggestion. He points out that in the past the president has said that barring his lady’s amazing touch, there’s nothing so relaxing as a clean, close shave.

As Felix takes a seat in the barber chair, Geist informs him that, while he understands the urgency of his interests, he has taken the liberty of sending for his research team. As he shaves him, they can report on their latest findings. The three scientists inform the president that after exhaustive tests, they have isolated the so-called miracle cocaine. The cocaine is from one field only - El Jardin Del Rey. Not only one field, but one particular crop, which since that crop’s harvest, that field has been barren. The president points out that gifts from the gods are always rare, seldom limitless. The important thing is that they recognize them for what they are and use them well. He proceeds to tell the tale of El Jardin Del Rey.

It is a jungle mountainside, a place of many legends. Some say that in prehistory, the site was bombarded by falling stars. Other stories have it that in the most ancient of days, mighty gods made war. One such god fought to his death on the mountainside. Since then, many have come to fear El Jardin Del Rey and most try to avoid it. Whatever, it is an ideal place for growing cocaine, or finding a miracle.

The scientists point out that the tale cannot account for why the cocaine induces hyper-abilities or how to control those effects so the test subject doesn’t die. The president scoffs at the scientists. He points out that his advisor, Geist, has found a man apparently strong enough to survive numerous doses of the drug. That and he has realized a most obvious means for assuring control - his wife. She is blessed with a talent for healing such a talent in that she left him for the church and service in a jungle mission. He then sends the scientists away - there will be no more of their tests or theories, he has freed Sister Salvation from her duties. She can now free them of their miracle drugs destructive side effects.

Once the scientists have left, Felix feels much better. He will have the means of creating the super hero he desires for Tierra Verde! He then commends Geist on his clean, close shave - it does make him feel better!! Geist then asks if the moustache itself should go as well? Felix responds that Geist has the remarkable ability to inspire trust in those he serves. Who else would he let put a razor to his throat? However, he doesn’t think Geist will be happy until everyone is shaved as smooth as that armor he wears. He then asks him if it is true that he once shaved Adolf Hitler? Did he have to fight for his moustache as he does? Felix goes to leave, informing Geist that he is revitalized and despite the late hour, it is time to face his wife, to make perfectly clear why she must lend her gifts to his project. Geist wishes the president luck and closes the doors behind him.

Once he is back in the room, a puff of smoke is blow into his face. Wolverine informs him that they are alone at last. As he backhands Geist into the wall, he informs him that it is time for a little payback for their previous meeting. From what he’s learned since, when it comes to paying Geist back, there are lots of others with bigger claims but no one better equipped for the job. As Geist goes to scramble to reach the machine pistol, Wolverine leaps at him and stabs his claws into Geist’s hand. They are going to talk about his missing sparring partner - Roughhouse!!

In another room in the palace, the president and Sister Salvation are watching a video-screen that shows Roughhouse chained up in a cell. He points out that it is sad. As he gets stronger with each dose of the cocaine, he grows more uncontrollably violent as well. The scars on his face are old, perhaps even from childhood - but the sores? They are a new development. In anything ever required her touch...

She cuts him off, she asks him how could he do this to another human being!?! To imagine she would aid in such blasphemy, especially after he ruthlessly destroyed her mission?!? Felix responds that it is all for Tierra Verde. Only his methods are brutal. His goal is great. But if patriotism doesn’t move her what about their son? Just as Sister Salvation goes to respond, a blast rocks the palace!!!

La Bandera is leading her people on an assault on the palace. She tells them that they have fought as small, isolated groups in the slums and on the farmlands - tonight they are an army!!

Deep in the palace, Wolverine is following Geist through a tunnel. He asks where they are. If there are any tricks, he’ll puncture more than his mechanical hand. Geist informs him that they are nearing the medical center. He points out that Wolverine demanded that he take him to Roughhouse and for a man in a Wolverine costume, a route where attention is unlikely seems best. Wolverine again reminds him that the can opener is ready, just in case. Geist turns and informs Wolverine that these threats are unnecessary. He is a man dedicated to surviving. His cybernetic armor is a vital and expensive part of that. Replacing his hand will eat any profit he made setting up for Wolverine’s enemies - General Coy and Price Baran. Wolverine informs him that their day will come, but Geist is long overdue for some losses.

With the right computer, the right sense of what intelligence files to tap, he’s come to know about him and what a package he, Geist, is. He was up to his elbows in blood as one of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, bartering German rocket scientists to the American OSS to escape war crimes prosecution, making himself useful in questionable CIA operations, and to new world fascists like Caridad. A long proud tradition.

Geist points out that he is the Nazi ghost who still haunts the free world - an embarrassing cliché. He asks why there is such outrage? The notion thrills most people. Look in any bookstore - from all the swastikas decorating the covers, you’d think they won the war. As they enter another tunnel that was built just in case the president ever had to flee the palace, another blast rocks the palace. As debris falls from the ceiling, Wolverine and Geist run through the room.

On the other side, they are on a metal catwalk above water. Geist points out to shake this sub-level, they have greater firepower than he expected. The complex’s filtration system is housed here. The medical center uses reprocessed seawater for most of its needs; that’s what all the tanks are for. Wolverine continues to push Geist down the catwalk. He informs Geist that he can forget the industrial tour. He then asks why a hospital would draw this kind of attack? Geist speculates that word must have leaked this wing is used for experimentation on political prisoners - just the sort of news to fire rebel idealists into action. Wolverine then asks Geist why he is so cheery about it - what does he know that he... Before he can finish, Tiger Shark leaps up and drags Wolverine into the water below.

Tiger Shark tells Wolverine that in his element, playing to his strengths, if it isn’t sport, it’ll be fun!! From the catwalk above Geist calls down to Tiger Shark that he must take Wolverine out quickly. His original target, La Bandera, can’t be very far. After he carefully leaked word about the political prisoner situation to lure the girl, he, Tiger Shark, can’t be too preoccupied to finish her.

Down in the water, Wolverine surmises that Tiger Shark will expect him to fight for the surface. He does the opposite; he goes deeper. While it puts him free of Tiger Shark, and into something else - undertow!! Hauling him like a freight train. Going to smashed or shredded. If his claws don’t do it first. Adamantium is wonder stuff. It can’t slice an undertow or get you extra air, but it can slice into the pipeline. He’s in the pipeline now, no worries but one - which ends first? Him or it??

Wolverine reaches the ocean. As he makes his way up to the surface he is grabbed by Tiger Shark and pulled back down to the deep. Wolverine realizes that getting to the surface, breathing, and warning La Bandera are not all he has to do!!

Characters Involved: 


La Bandera
La Bandera’s followers (unnamed)

Tiger Shark


Felix Guillermo Caridad (President of Tierra Verde)
Sister Salvation
President Caridad’s scientists (unnamed)
President Caridad’s men (unnamed)
Various residents of Tierra Verde (unnamed)

Jack Bascomb (ex CIA agent)

Doctor Doom
Red Skull

In flashbacks:
Adolf Hitler
Ancient Mayan warrior (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

This is a crossover from the Acts of Vengeance storyline. In it, a group of head villains, Magneto, Kingpin, Red Skull, Doctor Doom, the Wizard, and Mandarin are all brought together by an unknown individual (later revealed to be Loki) so that they may all switch opponents versus the other heroes.

Tiger Shark was an old Avengers and Sub-Mariner villain. He was a member of the Masters of Evil along with Mister Hyde, the Wrecking Crew, and others.

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