Wolverine (2nd series) #20

Issue Date: 
January 1990
Story Title: 

Archie Goodwin (writer), John Byrne (breakdown artist & cover), Klaus Janson (finishing artist), Jim Novak (letterer), Mike Rockwitz (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Beneath the surface of the ocean, the battle between Tiger Shark and Wolverine continues. In the battle, Tiger Shark is able to drive Wolverine claw first into a coral shelf, trapping his arms. While Wolverine does what he can to release himself, Tiger Shark takes off to deal with more important things. In the Tierra Verde medical center, La Bandera is surprised by Geist and Tiger Shark and learns that this was a set-up! Somehow, she makes her way out of the predicament and starts to flee. Deep in the center, Tiger Shark is hunting down La Bandera. When he thinks he sees her in the shadows, he leaps at her and is shocked to see Wolverine!! Wolverine proceeds to slash Tiger Shark, knocking him off of the catwalk to the depths below. At that same time, Sister Salvation, under the watchful eye of her husband, Felix Guillermo Caridad, is laying her hands on Roughhouse. She is healing him so he may be drugged up again. Wolverine and La Bandera make it to where Roughhouse is being held and free him, then heading up to the roof where the helicopter is. Wolverine puts Roughhouse, Sister Salvation and La Bandera on the helicopter. As they take off, Caridad is going nuts that his wife has been kidnapped, but Geist tells him to relax; all will be taken care of. Once the helicopter has departed and has made its way over the ocean, it is attacked by Tiger Shark, who leaps from the ocean to the air. A battle ensues until Tiger Shark falls into a school of sharks that were brought on by Wolverine’s attack earlier. On the plane, Roughhouse, thanks to Sister Salvation, is starting to get better. Wolverine finds it to be a miracle, but it may not last too long, as unbeknownst to him, he has been shot by Geist’s cocaine darts!!

Full Summary: 

He calls himself Tiger Shark. He’s got all the powers the name implies...and then some. On land, I might beat ‘im. Underwater...not a hope. It’s my kind of odds. Hopeless doesn’t mean you can’t make him hurt.

As Tiger Shark continues to drag Wolverine deeper and deeper into the ocean, Wolverine slashes at his assailant. His reaction to the pain allows Wolverine to follow up with a kick – a kick that allows him to make it to the surface. Once he reaches the surface, he takes huge gasps of air. This will allow him to reach the shore, enough so he can... Before he can finish his thought, Tiger Shark leaps out of the water and tells him not to make any plans; they’re not finished yet!!

He again attacks Wolverine and informs him that it’s the shark in him, imprinted over his human instincts. They fix on a certain prey, doesn’t let him go. Especially not a hero, the thing he hates the most. As Tiger Shark grabs a hold of Wolverine’s wrists, Wolverine thinks to himself that his grip is steel, his strength incredible. As they plunge towards the deep at torpedo speed, Wolverine wonders how deep they will have to go before his eardrums explode or his lungs burst. He needs a miracle. Going to have to make do with claws. He’s gotta hurt him like before. Hurt him enough that he’ll...

Before Wolverine can finish his thought, he looks below and notices the coral shelf!! They’re going to ram it!!! They do, but not like he expects. Even without knowing about his unbreakable adamantium-laced skeleton, Tiger Shark had more in mind than pulping Wolverine against some rocks. Tiger Shark points out that Wolverine seems to be pretty proud of those claws of his. They’re pretty effective against him, but now, he’s stuck with them. Wolverine, stuck in the coral, thinks to himself that it’s eerie, hearing someone talk where it shouldn’t be possible. Worse, hearing what he says.

Tiger Shark, as he goes to leave, informs Wolverine that his real business is upstairs, the little girl playing revolutionary, otherwise he’d stay and give lessons on how to breath underwater. His last words are “Good luck learning on your own.” Once Tiger Shark leaves, Wolverine struggles to free himself from the coral. He heaves, kicks, and strains against the coral. Nothing. Claws are imbedded too deep, too tight. He can’t retract them, can’t slash. Can’t think about it. He continues to fight. His mutant healing factor can’t counter drowning. He wonders if it will prolong the effects, extend the agony!?! He can’t think about it!!! He has to fight, he can’t think... can’t... can’t...

Up in the Tierra Verde medical center, La Bandera and her followers are continuing their assault. As she makes her way up the stairs of the facility, she barks out orders. She orders a rear guard to stay in the lobby!! She wants everyone else to stay with her. She finds a door, the political prisoners ward should be there. With her staff, she shoots the door down. She informs the inhabitants that she is there to free them from the torture and sick experimentation of...

She stops in her tracks, the room is empty. As she makes her way through the room, she thinks back - her information was obviously correct that the prisoners were kept there but... She is cut off by Geist, who informs her that they have been moved. He then introduces himself to her. He is the one who leaked the information that brought her, something of a trap. La Bandera refuses to believe what he is saying. She tells him that she became La Bandera to inspire war against drug lords like Caridad and, while she wields this staff, she can. Geist points out that the power of her staff is seeming to fade – the glow is gone.

From behind La Bandera, Tiger Shark points out that, along with the power of her staff fading, so have her fellow rebels. He has taken them all out. There may be some sort of connection. Interesting, if she was going to survive this encounter. La Bandera spins around to notice Tiger Shark. She asks him if he is still playing assassin for the drug interests she attacked in Florida. As Tiger Shark back fists her, he informs her that there is no play to it. He continues to tell her that there is one big act of vengeance going down against all super heroes and that she popped up with a few feeble powers just in time to qualify. He then tells her that she’s small fish. But with his hatred of heroes, every little bit helps.

As Tiger Shark leaps at her, she plants her staff in Tiger Shark’s gut and flings him over her and into Geist. She tells him that, whatever she is or whatever he is, she won’t be paralyzed. She won’t just lie there and die! Taking this as an opening, she makes her way out of the room and to safety. As she runs, Tiger Shark informs her that she is already dead. Running won’t change that, not with him behind her. The longer it takes, the more horrible it will be!!

In another room of the medical facility, the president of Tierra Verde, Felix Guillermo Caridad is informed that his helicopter has arrived and is on the roof, ready to care him to safety. Caridad asks his colonel if the rebels are still confined to the location where Geist predicted that they would hit. The colonel affirms that it appears that they are. He starts to warn the president, but he is cut off. Caridad asks if the political prisoners are still on the roof to discontinue sniping at their escape craft. The colonel again answers in the positive. While there is no immediate danger...

He is cut off by Caridad, who informs him that that is guarantee enough. He instructs the colonel to return to his post, so that they may return to making history now that his wife at last realizes her duty to her country and to her husband. He turns to see Roughhouse, worse off than he once was, covered in sores, chained to the wall. Along with him are Caridad’s scientists, and his wife, Sister Salvation. The scientists inform Caridad that the last dosage of tainted cocaine they were testing has made the subject Roughhouse particularly violent. He continues that since Sister Salvation is such an unpredictable factor, some delay is perhaps justifiable.

Sister Salvation responds that no delay will be necessary. No matter how scientifically questionable this seems, her ability to heal is a miracle she does not understand herself. However, she accepts it and tries to use it unselfishly, except tonight. This is not for Tierra Verde or her husband; this is for her son. She does this so she may see her son that’s been kept from her since she left to go join the church. These are Felix’s terms, and her risk. She turns to look at Roughhouse and is shocked by what she sees. She asks in horror what Felix has done!!

Another scientist, armed with an electronic device, informs Sister Salvation that she is ready if he breaks free. They don’t know the limits of his strength or of his madness. Sister Salvation finishes that they do not know his pain either. She asks how they can ignore that. Those terrible sores are almost an expression of it. Much like a demon inside him, trying to burst out. With that she reaches out to tough Roughhouse, as he tries to back away.

At the entry of the doorway, Caridad watches the proceedings with an excited look on his face. One of the scientists informs him that she shouldn't’ be touching him like that. Caridad responds that her touch is her miracle. He knows; he has felt it. Much as she cures his migraines, she’ll purge the cocaine’s devastations, leaving only its mutagenic effects. From that, they’ll create the super hero he wants. A source of pride for Tierra Verde, of redemption for him!!!!

Further down below in the complex, Geist is perched upon a catwalk. He looks down into the smoke below him and calls out to Tiger Shark. He inquires if he has found La Bandera. He gets no response, so he finds that it is time to leave war to the warriors and rejoin his president. Further down below, Tiger Shark thinks to himself that is where Geist should be - where it is safe. That way he won’t keep shouting like a schoolgirl, expecting an answer when any sound could only alert his prey. In the distance, he sees a shadowy figure. Thinking it is his prey, he leaps at it with furor. As he reaches his prey, he realizes who it actually is - it is Wolverine!!!! Wolverine informs him that it is not his prey; it just looks that way.

With his claws unsheathed, he stands between Tiger Shark and La Bandera. He informs Tiger Shark that, if he is in a real killing frenzy, he’s found the right man. As he proceeds to hack and slash away at Tiger Shark, he continues that he is kind of berserk himself. Spent too much time underwater. Not as long as Tiger Shark would have figured, though. Seems Tiger Shark rammed him into a thin section of the coral shelf with so much force, that he cracked it. With all of his kicking and straining, it made it give. It was a real miracle for him, and really the end of Tiger Shark. With that, Wolverine gives him one last good slash and knocks him over the railing of the catwalk down to the depths below.

Wolverine looks below and notices that this is where their brawl started - down in the sub-levels where the hospital’s water filtration system is. It’s as good a place as any for him to wind up. La Bandera rushes over to Wolverine in tears. She tells him that it was horrible. All of this has been. She should have listened to him when they first met. She informs him that she has had enough. Before she can finish, Wolverine grabs her by the arm and leads her up a flight of steps. He tells her that talking to him is a wasted effort. Being trapped underwater blew something in his hearing and, until his healing factor solves the problem, he needs ears and she has been elected!!

Even though his hearing is shot, his other animal senses are still keen. He has a scent - man, machine - Geist. His trail will lead to what he’s really there for. He then sees La Bandera’s problem. All of her followers are dead!! He tells La Bandera that she has a real deadly mutant power - inspiration. You can’t undo having used it. You can only run from the results or try to make them mean something.

In a control room upstairs, two scientists are discussing Caridad and his super-soldier program. One of the scientists says to the other that nothing meaningful can come from this. Whatever worked at her jungle mission, this nun isn’t doing anything that they haven’t tried. The other scientist points out that she does it somewhat more hands on. Also that there’s no denying that Sister Salvation is having a calming effect on the subject. The other replies that calming isn’t curing. However effective with hysterical savages, pseudo-religious nonsense cannot contain the madness the cocaine releases and if their country’s leader believes in this, who knows what will invade their laboratory next.

As the scientist talk, Geist makes his way into the room and notices on a video-screen, Wolverine and La Bandera making their way through the complex. Upon noticing this, he runs into the room to inform Caridad that they are both her. Caridad informs him that a miracle is underway and he will not miss it because of hysteria. Besides, they have guards to deal with such matters. As he talks, Wolverine and La Bandera are disposing of the guards quite easily. Caridad then tells all that he wants no more distractions! His wife must be allowed to...

He is then cut off Sister Salvation who tells him that she has ministered her prayer and that she’s done all that she can do. She wants to see her son. Caridad moves past her to see his miracle. When he sees Roughhouse, he is shocked and disappointed. He is unchanged, the doctors have accomplished as much by shooting him full of tranquilizers. He asks her if this is how she rewards his faith? He then looks into Roughhouse’s eyes. He is awake, but the madness doesn’t burn there anymore. The true test will be his reaction when free. Caridad then asks someone to remove the restraints.

Just as he does, Wolverine enters the room and pushes Caridad aside. He informs Caridad to not bother complaining that he didn’t gesture for him – he can’t hear. As he slashes Roughhouse free, he points out that he sees what has to be done, and what has to be answered for. He tells Roughhouse that they are a long way from where they started but, now, he’s taking him home. Wolverine then orders La Bandera to get a volunteer to show them the safest way out of this horror show. He adds that if anybody is uncooperative, that will be swell too. He’s in the mood to do some very pointed reasoning. Caridad yells to La Bandera that her partner is as deaf in the brain as he is in his ears. They will go nowhere, not with Roughhouse. He explains that Roughhouse is a ticking time bomb and, once his wife’s healing power wears off, he will explode!

From up above, a voice calls to them that, for a way to get out, they should come up to the roof as he did when it became obvious they would breach his gap. Geist continues that they shouldn’t delay. The longer it takes for them to surrender, the more political prisoners they will have to execute. Once he has finished inviting La Bandera and everybody up to the roof, he is approached by a colonel in Caridad’s army, who points out that the rebel girl and her companion hold President Caridad, which is a stronger bargaining chip than their threats.

Geist agrees that is the case, but he finds that it is still important for them to go through the motions. Secure in the belief that they have won their demands, they will be unprepared when he shoots them with the dart gun that he attaches to his mechanical arm. Each dart that it is loaded with contains the tainted cocaine used on Roughhouse. One shot and instead of a helicopter escape, they will face insane attack by the very monstrosity they hope to save.

As they reach the roof, Wolverine, carrying Roughhouse, calls out to La Bandera to keep Caridad and his lady close. Everybody looks anxious. Over where the prisoners are, one of them asks the other if he thinks this pair of strangers plan to include them in their escape. The other prisoner responds that his belief is that rather than wonder – it is better to act!! With that, they attack the guards that are surrounding them. They call out to their fellow prisoners to do the same. In the ensuing chaos, the colonel informs Geist that he must work quickly, as the Wolverine is flinging the big man on board the helicopter. Geist points out that there is no clear shot between the prisoners and the president.

Over at the helicopter, La Bandera and Roughhouse have made it onto the helicopter. Wolverine orders La Bandera to make the pilot take off now! With that, he pushes Caridad away, letting him know that they don’t need the extra weight. However, he does grab Sister Salvation. He tells her that he can’t desert a patient halfway through his cure. Sister Salvation begs that she can’t go; she has to stay to see her son. Wolverine informs her that it’s too late for arguments, even if he could hear them. She tosses her onto the helicopter and once he climbs on, the helicopter takes off!

Down on the roof of the building, Caridad is frantic. They have his wife!! He orders no one to shoot unless they are expert enough to pick off that little animal that is responsible!!! Geist, his dart gun smoking, tells him that he may already have what he wishes.

Up in the helicopter, Wolverine notices that it is dropping like a rock with all of the weight on board. He silently asks that, if La Bandera could ever use her power to inspire, she needs to do so on the pilot. The pilot is yelling that he is doing his best. His government has fine aircraft, but shoddy maintenance - it’s not up to this strain! Wolverine looks into the helicopter and thinks to himself that it is all coming apart, all except Sister Salvation. In spite of being forced along, she radiates peace. Maybe some luck too, they’re starting to gain some altitude.

At that very moment, Tiger Shark leaps out of nowhere from the water and takes a punch at Wolverine! He tells him that they aren’t finished yet! He continues on that Wolverine has made the worst mistake of his life. He almost killed him, but he was able to crawl to the sea, and the sea has made him strong!! As Wolverine continues to kick and punch at Tiger Shark he realizes that he seems to be strong enough to take them down. He’s laughing at his kicks and his claws won’t reach him.

As the helicopter is drug further and further down to the ocean, Tiger Shark continues his rant. The ocean is his domain and no more miracles will save him!! To think that, at one time, he tried to be like him once, but would up crippled and weak instead. Now he hates his kind, kills his kind so he’ll never be like him again. He lives for being a shark and Wolverine will die for being a he... Before he can finish, he is dragged into the ocean by a school of sharks. Wolverine notices this as one more miracle. Sharks are strong and deadly, but they feed on their own. Blood from the wounds he gave Tiger Shark earlier must have attracted them. Even though you probably can’t finish a guy like that, the sharks will keep him busy and away from any prisoners who fell off the chopper during the scuffle.

Inside the helicopter, La Bandera pulls Wolverine into the helicopter. It’s about time he rides inside for a change. They can’t make it too far, but they’ll at least get away from Caridad’s city. Once inside the helicopter, he sees Roughhouse. Thanks to Sister Salvation, the sores that were on his face are fading. Wolverine points out that her husband was right, she is a miracle worker. Sister Salvation laments that she does have a gift but perhaps they shouldn’t be too swift to label anything a miracle until they know the sacrifice involved. Wolverine retorts that they shouldn’t be too swift to discount them either. Along with everything else today, his hearing is coming back. And not a moment too soon, a thing like that can really throw your senses off.

Little does he realize that, in his back, lay a grouping of Geist’s cocaine darts!!!

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 political prisoners of Caridad (Enrique is the only named one)

Helicopter pilot

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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