Wolverine (2nd series) #30

Issue Date: 
August 1990
Story Title: 
The Lazarus Project Conclusion: Family Matters

Jo Duffy (writer), Bill Jaaska (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Jim Novak (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Inside the basement laboratory of the prince of Madripoor, the Broker is discussing with Doctor Page the Lazarus project and all of its successes. They are interrupted by his assistants, who inform him that all of the soldiers they sent to Rumika have been killed and whoever did it left the Master Form on the island. The Broker instructs them to inform General Coy of the setback and for them to gather any information they have on the man named Patch, or Wolverine as he is known. Meanwhile, Wolverine, Karma and Target are making their way via boat to Madripoor. When they get there, they are able to infiltrate the palace and make their way down to the laboratory, where they meet up with Coy, the Broker, Doctor Page and Pinocchio. Wolverine and Pinocchio engage in a battle while Karma confronts her uncle on why he killed innocents. As Wolverine gains the upper hand in his battle against Pinocchio, the robot seems to recognize Target. With Karma’s assistance, Target is able to figure out the person inside the Pinocchio armor is none other than his cousin, Ricky. Doctor Page threatens to kill the organic parts in Pinocchio but Wolverine is able to take her out with ease. When he turns his attention to Coy, he is stopped by Karma. She informs her uncle that she is no longer in debt to him and that, if he kills any more innocents outside of Madripoor, she will kill him. Wolverine then makes his way over to handle the Broker and his assistants but, when he gets there, he finds them dead by apparent suicide. However, the Broker is not dead, he was just faking it. He is able to make his escape undetected. As Wolverine surveys the goings on in the laboratory, he realizes that he was able to save two kids and maybe another depending what is in the Pinocchio armor. He also realizes that the Lazarus project has been stopped and with it, people will stop chasing after the Master Form and there won’t be anymore Rumikas. For today, that’s enough.

Full Summary: 

In a secret lab in the basement of the palace of the prince of Madripoor in southeast Asia, Doctor Page is working on Pinocchio as the Broker looks on. The Broker is quite pleased with the first and finest fruit of the Lazarus project. He proceeds to compliment Doctor Page on her creation and asks her if they should consider her as Gepetto and asks her if she sees herself as a puppet maker or as its master. Doctor Page responds that the Broker is the one pulling all of the strings and that he is the one that conceived the project. All the rest of them ever did was implement his plans. She adds that all of his laboratory subjects behaved as expected, in accordance with the Broker’s projections. She may have created Pinocchio, but he and Lazarus are the fruits of his genius.

At that moment, they are interrupted by two of the Broker’s assistants coming in to inform him that something terrible has happened. The Broker / Mr. Andover informs his two assistants Hikaru and Genji to calm down and instructs them to make their report. He will decide for himself whether it is terrible or not. Hikaru informs the Broker that the follow-up force they sent to Rumika to find out if the islanders had successfully protected the Master Form has informed them that there’s no sign of anyone there. No soldiers or villagers. Genji adds that someone has killed them all and that they have burned the bodies.

When the Broker asks what became of the Master Form, Genji informs him that whoever killed everyone left it behind in the ashes as if it had no value. The Broker finds what he has heard interesting. He also indicates that the Master Form, with all of its deadly secrets was what the soldiers were after and what the Rumikans died to protect. He adds that there must be no proof that they were ever there. He also informs his assistants to tell their people to leave it as is and to return at once. General Coy is their client and he orders Hikaru to inform Coy after he has contacted the soldiers.

He then tasks Genji with compiling whatever information they have in their files on a sometime local resident who goes by the name of Patch. He is the personal bodyguard and close personal friend of a local crime lord who is General Coy’s chief rival. He adds that Patch is a particular tough customer who disappeared some weeks ago, immediately before the sudden local appearance and subsequent disappearance of Wolverine. He is a self-styled mutant hero, who most of the world believes to be dead. Reports describe Wolverine as having extreme physical strength and stamina, animal keen senses, and a set of adamantium steel claws, which are apparently bionic and which would categorize him as a cyborg. He continues that, based on the evidence, they have to assume that Patch is Wolverine. In some way, he made it to Rumika before the soldiers and that he may have correctly divined at least some part of the nature of the Master Form and the Lazarus project.

Out on a boat, Wolverine, Karma and Target are heading towards Madripoor. As they make their way, Wolverine thinks to himself that they are a bunch of refugees with their homes gone and their families. He knows how they feel, Rumika was like a home to him. Now it’s ashes. At least he knows why his people died. That gives it some meaning. He also didn’t get suckered into working for the people responsible. And he’s not a kid.

As he looks around, he wonders how Karma is holding up. She’s a refugee from a real war, not just staged games and she’s a mutant, same as him. She doesn’t owe her abilities to the people who ruined her life. He knows her however. She always identifies with victims and she’s living with the knowledge that the man who bought and paid for Lazarus is the man she’s been serving for months, General Nguyen Ngoc Coy. He then looks over at Target. He seems like he’s a tough enough kid but maybe that’s just what Lazarus made of him. He hasn’t said much since it sank in that he was working for the ones who slaughtered his family.

As Target is busy rowing the boat, his head is somewhere else entirely. He is thinking about what happened after he lost his parents. How he and his cousin Ricky begged Captain Merrick to take them in so they could help him get even. How during his “training” he was told that he was to stop thinking of himself as a child. He was constantly reminded that his family was dead. As they slept at night, it was very hard for them to cope with the fact that their families were dead and all they had left was each other. Then again, they were able to have some good times, especially when Ricky gave Ted a tough time for throwing like a girl. Later, when they got older, Ricky volunteered through Doctor Page for the next phase of the project. From that point on, he was separated from his cousin and Ted never saw him again. Now, Target (Ted) realizes that he never should have let him volunteer. He also wishes that he knew what they did with him.

On the other side of the boat, Karma indicates to Wolverine that he know how deadly and ruthless their enemies have been and if her uncle has the prince on his side as they believe him to, the numbers they will be facing will be far superior to their own. She also admits that she is prepared to kill if they must, but if it’s possible to avoid it… Wolverine responds that chances are, they won’t have that choice. If anyone goes for one of them, they will nail them first and any guard they leave kicking can come back after them again. He asks her if that is what she wants. Karma replies that her wishes are of no consideration. Knowingly or not, she served the butchers.

She then asks Target what he thinks. Target replies that he doesn’t want to turn into them and that if they kill someone, they will probably be cheating some new orphans. He adds that he also doesn’t want to be martyred for his principles either. The folks in charge are definitely dead meat and so will be anyone who comes between them. He finishes up by saying that, if any of the rest of them want to run for their lives, he votes to let them go. Wolverine agrees and then thinks to himself that the kid actually has something going on in his head besides guns and attitude. He thinks he also has a chance to grow a brain when he gets old enough.

When the three of them finally reach the Madripoor harbor, nobody pays them much attention. They leave the boat at a pier in wharf side, where Wolverine knows the guy who runs that section of the neighborhood. He owes Wolverine a favor so he is sure that he won’t let anyone know that they are in town. After all, they don’t want anyone to realize it until they are inside the palace door. When they reach the palace, they meet up with the first guard who asks them who they are. Wolverine replies that it’s opportunity. Before the guard can react, Karma is able to use her powers to slip into his head. He is now under her control for as long as she wants.

Inside the palace, General Coy is quite upset after what Hikaru has told him. He wonders aloud what he is paying the Broker for. He asks again where the soldiers are that he sent to Rumika, and also where Target is. Hikaru informs him again that they are all either dead or missing. That is why Mr. Andover felt he should be warned that Patch, or Wolverine, is probably responsible and that he may be coming over there. Coy indicates that he bought the Lazarus project so he would have his own super soldiers and asks what good the money is that he invested if there’s no one to protect him. He then asks where his niece is.

Before he gets his answer, one of Coy’s guards rushes in and informs Coy that Wolverine has arrived and that he is coming there for them along with Target. After hearing that news, Coy informs the rest of them to inform Prince Baran of the situation. After all, he was his ally in this. He then heads off to the lab with Hikaru to get protection from the Broker and Pinocchio.

In the palace hallways, Wolverine, Target and Karma are being led down the hall by Karma’s mind controlled guard. One of the guards asks the mind-controlled guard what he is doing. The guard informs him that Doctor Page wants to see them. When the other guard asks him for his ID, the mind-controlled guard shoots him. The other guard realizes that it’s a trick but, before he can do anything, Wolverine takes him out with a solid punch to his back. Once he has finished taking out the guard, Wolverine informs Karma that it’s time to let the guard go. Once she does, Target points his gun at him and strongly encourages him to let them go. When the guard doesn’t, Wolverine informs the crew that from now on in, it will be a running fight.

Inside the lab, Coy, the Broker and some of their guard are with Pinocchio and Doctor Page. One of the guards mentions that it sounds like Wolverine and them are getting close. Doctor Page nonchalantly suggests that they let them come and that Pinocchio is a masterpiece and they won’t get past him. She is then interrupted by a guard who runs in and informs General Coy that Prince Baran has relocated to his summer residence and that he left word he will return once Coy has sorted out matters there. With that, Coy goes nuts. No sooner does the guard get out what he needed to say, is he taken out by Wolverine.

Upon seeing Wolverine, Doctor Page calls out to him that Pinocchio already beat him once and he will do it again. She then calls out to Pinocchio that there is an intruder and that he needs to protect her. Wolverine pops his claws and remembers Doctor Page as a sick lady. He also remembers that he was halfway to dismantling her tin terror when she flung a beaker of poison into his face, which wiped away his mind. He doesn’t get to think much more about that, as Pinocchio lumbers towards him. As he does so, Pinocchio repeats the commands – “Activate” – “Intruder” – “Protect.”

When Pinocchio gets in close, a blade pops out of housing on the back of his hand. Upon seeing that, Wolverine thinks to himself that he knows that trick already. As he dodges a swipe by Pinocchio, he thinks to himself that Pinocchio is fast, but so is he. He also realizes that all he needs to do is cut down until he hits something vital and that will be the end of Pinocchio. Wolverine is able to connect with Pinocchio’s outer shell and delivers a large gash in his armor. And just like the last time they fought, the robot starts to repair itself, sealing the cuts right after Wolverine makes them. Wolverine realizes that, sooner or later, he’s going to cut faster than Pinocchio will be able to heal himself even if it takes all day.

On the other side of the laboratory, Target, with the help of Karma, is taking out the guards who are trying to interfere with Wolverine taking down Pinocchio. Just then General Coy angrily asks Target and Karma how they can help his enemies. He tells them they will rue the day! Karma angrily shoots back that she already rues the day she served a murderer. She adds that now comes the reckoning for all the victims of his Lazarus project. Coy calms his tone and attempts to appeal to Karma. He indicates that he is the head of their family and that the others were nothing, nobodies. He wasn’t hurting anyone they knew, so why should strangers matter? Karma replies that they mattered because they were human beings and that she doesn’t have to know them to care. Target adds that everyone is part of someone’s family.

No sooner do Target and Karma finish chastising Coy than they are interrupted by Wolverine taking down Pinocchio near them. As Pinocchio falls at the feet of Target, he “References Human Beings” and then “Family.” It then begins to “Initiate a Memory Scan.” Upon hearing Pinocchio, Doctor Page runs down the stairs, yelling at it that he has no memory scan and to cancel the input. She then threatens him to cancel or she will override. Pinocchio ignores her and continues. “Referenced.” “You Throw Like a Girl.” Upon hearing that, Target looks puzzled. Just then, Karma is able to take control of a guard that was just about to gun down Target from behind. As she does, the Broker and his cronies look on in fear. Doctor Page yells at Pinocchio that she will override and permanently wipe out all of the organic…

She doesn’t get to finish, as Wolverine knocks her down with a smack. When he is done with Page, Wolverine pops his claws and gets ready to finish off Pinocchio who already has a large gash in his back. Before he can, Target stands between them and pleads with Wolverine to not finish him off. Wolverine asks him why he can’t finish the job and Target asks him to give him a chance to talk to him. He indicates to Wolverine that he won’t hurt anyone if he can just make him understand.

Target then turns his attention towards Pinocchio and asks him if he knows who he is and if he recognizes him. Before he can get his answer, Pinocchio violently strikes out. At the last second, Wolverine is able to pull Target out of the way and indicates to him that it was a good try, but he better let him… Target cuts him off and informs Wolverine that, if he kills Pinocchio, it will be murder – because there’s a human being in there. Karma takes over at this point and uses her mind to ask Pinocchio who he is. Pinocchio replies “Input Negative.” “Intruders Hostile.” “Protect.” Karma asks him again who he is and who Target is. The answer again “Negative.” She persists until Pinocchio remembers back when he was a kid and he used to throw the baseball with the kid who threw like a girl. Pinocchio then says “Teddy?” Target responds back to Pinocchio with Rick and kneels down on the floor to comfort him as Wolverine and Karma look on.

On the other side of the lab, Coy yells to Doctor Page to do something for he will not stand for anymore of his soldiers going over to the other side. He proceeds to order her to override Pinocchio at once. Page replies that it will be simple enough to do and that a sufficient electrical charge should kill its organic parts and leave the cybernetic brain in undisputed control. Wolverine overhears what was said and rushes over to Page, claws unsheathed, before she can push the button on her remote.

Karma looks on in horror until she realizes that Wolverine didn’t use his claws; he just punched her out. She indicates to him that she thought he was going to kill her. Wolverine admits to her that he was tempted just like he is with her boss General Coy. As Wolverine corners Coy and gets ready to strike, he is stopped by Karma, who informs him that Coy is hers to let live another day. Wolverine answers that if that’s the way she wants it. Karma replies that it is. She admits that as much as it disgusts her, Coy is part of her family and she owes him for the time and money he’s spent trying to locate her missing brother and sister. She then points her finger angrily at her uncle and informs him that from this day onward, all debts between them are cancelled. Also, if he hurts another innocent – anyone outside of Madripoor – and she will take his life in ever sense of the world. She then reminds him that with her powers she can do it.

Inside the Brokers office, the Broker and his assistants, Hikaru and Genji, are cowering, trying to hide from Wolverine. When Wolverine arrives, he finds the bodies of three men presumed dead by suicide. He thinks to himself that it figures they would take that route for it’s always the ones who treat others the worst who are the most gutless when its them at risk. At least it makes things simpler for him – the slate’s been cleared. As he leaves, the Broker gets up and thinks to himself that he would never have suggested to his assistants that they kill themselves but that they certainly saved him a great deal of trouble by doing so. He then picks up the phone and indicates to the person on the other end of the line to have a chopper on the roof of the palace immediately for he needs to get off the island while Wolverine thinks he’s dead.

In the laboratory, the Prince’s assistant informs Coy that the Prince has asked him to remind him that, as the sole shareholder in the Lazarus project, he is holding him responsible for all of his losses as well as for all damage to the staff and furnishings of the palace. As Coy angrily storms away alone Wolverine thinks to himself that he’s not surprised by Karma’s decision about her uncle or that he blames her. It’s also worth it to see her free of him. Besides, the way he carries on, his day will come soon anyway.

Wolverine then overhears Pinocchio asking Target/Ted what they did to him. Target replies that he doesn’t know and that he hopes they left an owner’s manual or something lying around. As he sees the two walk away, he thinks that out of the body count stretching back years and into the hundreds he was able to save two kids – two and a half, counting what’s left inside the robot. At least the Lazarus project has been stopped and people will stop chasing after what the Master Form and whatever they think it represents. Maybe now the dead of Rumika and places like it can rest a little easier. There won’t be anymore Rumikas and, for today, that’s enough.

Characters Involved: 


Shan Coy Manh (Karma)

The Broker / Mr. Andover
Doctor Page
General Coy
Hikaru and Genji (The Brokers assistants)
Guards at the palace (all unnamed)
Prince Baran’s assistant (unnamed)

In Target’s flashbacks:
Ted (Target)
Ricky (Target’s cousin)
Captain Merrick
Doctor Page

Story Notes: 

Wolverine first faced Pinocchio in Wolverine (2nd series) #27.

All of the inhabitants of Rumika were all slaughtered in Wolverine (2nd series) #28.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Lazarus was the name of a man that Jesus raises from the dead. In more modern times, the name "Lazarus" is popular in fiction to name anything relating to reviving the dead or prolonging human life.

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