Wolverine (2nd series) #39

Issue Date: 
May 1991
Story Title: 

Larry Hama (script), Marc Silvestri (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters), Mark Chiarello (colors), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Logan and Storm begin to make the attempt to save the little girl trapped in the warehouse – Elsie Dee. Storm is unable to approach the fire, but Logan is able to walk through and save her, ignoring the intense pain the fire puts him through. When Elsie Dee sees the sacrifice he made, she is reluctant to complete her detonation sequence and then confesses to Logan and Storm what she is and what her ultimate responsibility is – to blow up Wolverine. Logan decides that he’s not giving up on her, much to the chagrin of Storm. He is then able to convince her to try to override the detonation sequence. Meanwhile, Albert is able to make his way off the boardwalk and eventually meets up with Sally and his gang, who offer to help Albert out if he will help them out. Albert agrees and contacts Elsie Dee through their radio transmitters. Elsie explains the situation to him and Albert makes his way to a Radio Hut store, where he taps into the computers and accesses government computers. Eventually, he is able to determine the detonation sequence, however he has also brought the attention of the FBI and local police, who converge on the Radio Hut. When he exits the store and proceeds to provide Elsie Dee with the sequence, he is riddled with gunfire. Nevertheless, he is able to provide her with the sequence just in time and Elsie Dee does not explode. Logan is proud of her, but Elsie is not; she can’t reach her friend Albert. His frequency is dead.

Full Summary: 

As Logan runs towards the burning warehouse, he thinks to himself how he came to where he is now: He came to California because he heard there’s a dead ringer for him running around knocking off betting parlors. Then, when he finally tracked down the doppelganger in Venice Beach and crossed claws with him, the double turned out to be an android construct. He wonders what the scam is and what, if anything, does it have to do with the burning warehouse.

As they run towards the burning complex, he mentions to Storm that there’s a little kid trapped up in the warehouse. Storm replies that witnesses said that android he just ripped apart had a little girl hostage. In the warehouse, Elsie Dee is calling out for help – “the fwames are getting cwoser.” Down near the entrance, Storm indicates to Logan that the child could have been an accomplice, an android as well. Logan replies that may be, but he doesn’t intend to let a real kid burn up on account of “could.” Storm says neither does she and flies up to the window where Elsie was and calls out to her to come back to the window so she can get her to safety.

Inside, Elsie calls Storm “a stupid meddwar” and says that she doesn’t need to be wescued by her. She needs Wolvewine to gwab hold of her, so she can fulfill her pwime diwective – to detonate the pwastic expwosives that constitutes most of her mass and weduce him to a fine wed mist. With that in mind, she uses her blowtorch to light some flammable waste that had spilled. As she does, she says that ought to keep that fwying wadie out of her hair. Instantly, a blast of fire blows out of the window, forcing Storm to retreat.

On the ground, Storm informs Logan that the fire is too intense and that she cannot get near it. Logan tells her to stay put and just let the ol’ canuckle-head take care of the situation. Ignoring Storm’s pleas for him to stop, Logan rushes into the burning building. As he does he says to her that it’s only fire – it can’t do nothing but burn. Storm proceeds to brew up a little thunderstorm. As she does, Logan thanks her for the cloudburst but tells her that the blaze looks like its going to need a regular monsoon to put the damper on it. On the next level, Elsie Dee waits and calls out again for someone to save her.

On the boardwalk, Albert starts to pull himself up off the ground. As he does, one of the on-lookers tells his friend that he told him it wasn’t a real guy. It’s a special effect and the camera crew is probably hidden in the taco stand. Radio control, cheapo stuff. The expensive stuff is all computer generated. Albert is eventually able to pull himself to a hole in the boardwalk. As he does, he thinks to himself that Elsie Dee told him to save himself and that he was just the bait. She’s the main event. As he lands in the sand below the boardwalk, he thinks to himself that everything was so simpler before she opened them both up and improved them. Now he knows too much. Now he feels too much. As he lies there, he calls out to Elsie and asks her if she can hear him. He asks if Wolverine came in for her and if she is going to carry out her prime directive.

In the warehouse, Logan is making his way through the fire towards Elsie Dee. As he does, he thinks to himself that the funny thing about his mutant healing factor is that it sure doesn’t cancel out any of the pain. Most times, he can bear the pain if that’s all there is that stands between you and what you have to do – still doesn’t stop the hurting though. As he reaches her, Elsie indicates to Albert that she can hear him and informs him that he’s there. He came thwough the fwames for her. She adds that he’s all burnt up and he still kept coming for her. As Logan takes Elsie into his arms, she informs Albert that he suffered for her and now he’s going to die for her. As Logan holds Elsie in his arms, his hair has been burnt off and his clothes are in tatters. Still, he informs her that nothing is going to hurt her now and that’s a promise. Elsie begins to cry and thinks that it’s just not fair that, now that somebody weally cares about her, it’s going to be all over.

In Australia, Donald Pierce is working with Lady Deathstrike to see if her new arm is as good as the old one. Nearby, Bonebreaker asks Reese if he thinks he should fess up to Pierce that he messed up Elsie Dee’s logic program. That he programmed her intelligence up to genius level. Reese tells him that he should never own up to anything unless he’s forced to. Bonebreaker decides to go against the advice and starts to make his way over to Pierce and Deathstrike. Deathstrike continues her training and asks about the rabbit she sees near by. Pierce informs her to give it a running start, like Elsie Dee did with Wolverine.

As Deathstrike kills the rabbit, she says to Pierce that she doesn’t understand how he expects that little android to outwit Wolverine if she’s programmed to think like a five year-old. Pierce informs her that is the genius part. Elsie Dee was programmed with the brain-wave patterns an actual five year-old child. Wolverine will believes she’s real because she thinks like a real child. Upon hearing that, Deathstrike laughs out loud and tells him that, in order for her to think like a real child, she has to feel things like a real child. Even if her emotions are utterly rudimentary, that’s almost as stupid as making her too intelligent. Pierce, looking annoyed, notices Bonebreaker and asks him if he has something to tell him. Bonebreaker gulps and replies that he does not. Whatever it is, it just slipped his mind.

Somewhere in Venice, Sally, Jocko, Reno, and Molokai are in the water. Jocko asks Sally where they are and Sally informs him that they are in the canals. He adds that the wind-lady hit them with a tidal wave that carried them inland. Reno mentions to Molokai that something is in the water with them and Molokai informs him that those are ducks. However, when Albert rises out of the water, Reno tells him that’s no duck. Upon seeing Albert, Jocko tells him that they’re sorry and that he can keep all the money. In fact, he can have it all good buddy.

Hearing this, Albert asks them if they mean friend and asks them if they are his friends. Jocko whispers to Sally that it’s an android and this could be there big break. Sally tells him that he’s nuts, that thing could tear them apart - besides that was the thing that was knocking off their gambling joints. Jocko implores Sally to trust him for he has a feeling on this one. With that, Jocko goes over to Albert and puts his arm around him. He asks him what his name is and Albert tells him. Jocko tells him that he looks like he could use some fixing up and offers to help him out if he helps them out. Albert agrees but they have to leave there right away – Elsie Dee is going to blow up any minute…

Over at the warehouse, Logan comes down the stairs holding Elsie in his arms. When Storm sees him she says that he’s… Logan cuts her off and agrees with her. It’s like they say, “If you mess with fire, you’re going to get burnt.” Storm starts to ask if it… Logan finishes her thought and informs her that it doesn’t hurt as much as it did a few seconds ago. He adds that that’s the one good thing about physical pain. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Even the memory fades. It’s not like psychic pain. That just seems to hang around like sniffles in winter.

As he talks, his body heals itself, including his hair growing back. He pats Elsie on the back of her head and informs her that she can lighten up – it’s over. He then tells Storm that she’s tensed up like she was concentrating on something. Storm says to the little girl that it’s all right; she’s safe. Elsie shoots back that she’s not all wight, she’s not a widdle girl, and she’s not safe. She’s an andwoid! She’s packed full of pwastic explosives and wight now she’s using all her concentwation to override the detonation pwogwam. She adds that Donald Pierce made his wookawike, Albert, to be the bait, and made her to bwow him up.

Logan is in shock and asks her why she is telling him all of this, though Storm simply yells to Logan to drop that thing and get away from it. Elsie tells him to wisten to her and save himself. She adds that she doesn’t know how wong she can overwide the detonator. As she opens up the back of her shirt, she tells them to look at the panel on her back. The pwoximity fuse is armed and that it should have gone off as soon as Mr. Wolverwine touched her. She pleads with them to get away from her. Storm makes the attempt at appealing to Logan and tells him that it’s not a real little girl; it’s a construct, a cleverly programmed puppet. She tells him to not let himself get blown up over an audio-animatronic. Logan replies that he knows what he’s doing and recommends for her to get behind some cover.

Elsie then says to Logan that she doesn’t want him to die, not for her. She’s just a thing, not a weal person. As she looks into Logan’s eyes, a tear falls from hers. Logan informs Elsie that he’s no philosopher and he’s sure no molecular biologist but he has a gut feeling that something that can make the decision to sacrifice itself for another creature can’t be all machine, there’s got to be something human in there. He adds that that something is scared and hurting and he’s not about to leave it all alone to face the dark. Logan then turns around and tells Storm that she better clear out and get the rubber-neckers away from them. Elsie screams “No!” and tells Logan that she wants him to go. The detonation pwogwam is too compwex to overwide. There’s nothing he can do. Logan informs her that she’s wrong. There’s something he can do real good. The real thing he does best – he doesn’t give up. Ever.

In a location five levels underground, somewhere in Maryland, a computer technician informs one of his colleagues that they are all totally out of their control. He adds that some super-hacker has penetrated their security system and is accessing their entire array. His colleague informs him that it can’t be. Every computer they have is running a de-coding program on a random sequence code. She asks where all the data is going and asks if the back-up security system down at the Bird (Fort Holabird) traced the outside access. She is informed that it is an ordinary phone modem in a Radio Hut store in Venice, California. Immediately, she informs him to get the FBI on it ASAP!!!

In California, Elsie pleads with Wolverine to go before it’s too late. Logan informs her that would be giving up and he told her; he doesn’t do that. He’s expecting her not to give up either. Elsie replies that she’ll twy, she’ll weally twy. Just then, the fusing system on the control panel on her back is armed and it begins to count down from 60 seconds.

On the streets of Venice Beach, Jocko, Sally, Molokai, Reno and Albert are heading towards where Elsie Dee is. As Albert is sitting in the limo, he hears Elsie Dee through his radio and is ecstatic that she hasn’t exploded yet. Elsie informs him that she put the detonation pwogwam on deway, but she can’t overwide it – she needs his help. When Albert asks how she can help her, Elsie replies that he needs to input data, that he needs to pwug in and go nationwide. Aloud, she wonders where he can do that.

Just then, Albert yells out for them to stop the car. Albert gets out of the car and heads toward a Radio Hut store. However, in the process of getting out of the car, he breaks the car door. Jocko asks if this is some sort of rest stop. Sally notices that Albert needs stuff from the electronics store and informs Molokai to go in and cover up Albert so he’s decent. He orders Reno to make sure that Albert gets what he wants. He then provides them both with guns.

Inside the Radio Hut store, Albert is wearing Molokai’s shirt and is flipping through computer manuals, inputting all of the data he can obtain. A Radio Hut employee tells him that the store has a no browsing store policy. Reno informs the employee not to bother him, can’t he see he’s reading up a storm. The employee backs off and lets it go. As Albert continues his scan of the manuals, he gets to a point where he no longer has sufficient storage space or hardware access. He mentions that he needs more input and that he needs mainframe access. Misunderstanding, the Radio Hut employee asks him if he’s interested in a modem, to which Albert tells him that he has his own and walks over to the man’s computer.

Once there he sticks his thumb into the computer. The employee yells at him to take his thumb out of that – he can’t… Reno cuts him off by sticking a gun to the man’s nose and asks him what Albert can’t do. The employee recants his stance and informs him that he can, he can. He can access anything he wants. As Albert continues his work, he tosses a list to the other men and indicates to them that he’s going to be busy for a while and informs them to find him everything on his list.

Back near the warehouse, Logan tells Elsie Dee to listen, “lil’ darling,” but Elsie Dee corrects him by telling him her name. Logan tells her that there has to be a way to disarm this thing and asks her if she can cancel the program. Elsie says she’s twying but it’s such a cwever pwogwam, full of twaps and safeguards. She can deway the detonation pwogwam by weally concentwating hard but she can’t unwite or disable it. The code is too compwex. It’s based on such a wong sewies of wandom numbers, that it would take hundweds of mainfwame hours to… She is stopped mid-sentence when she realizes that she let her concentration slip and the arming sequence was initiated.

In the Radio Hut store, the man working in the store looks at all of the computers on the wall. All of them say “NSA Main Banks Access Approved.” He is in shock and points out that he has been able to access the manifest mainframe of all the computers. He adds that he’s also got into the National Security Agency’s two acres of Cray computers in their underground bunker in Maryland. He then notices that every printer in the store is spitting out reams of random-sequence numbers. He starts to complain that all his units are overloading and that Albert is going to burn out everything in the store. Reno then puts the gun up to the man’s nose again and tells him that he hates whining and that it riles him up something fierce. Once again, the Radio Hut employee changes his tune and says let them burn out, what does he care.

At that moment, Sally enters the store and tells Albert that they need to leave right away. It sounds like everything with a siren in the whole county is coming this way. Albert replies that he’s not moving until the code is broken and tells him to go back out and wait in the car. He will get all of them out of this when he’s done.

Back on the boardwalk, a crowd has begun to gather around Logan and Elsie Dee. Storm does her best attempting to control the crowd and informs them that this is a very dangerous situation. One of the people in the crowd with a television camera tells her that’s why they’re there. They have to cover the late-breaking stories as they happen. In another section of the crowd, a television reporter by the name of Cindy Cates from News 57 is beginning her report on the poignant human drama is being acted out.

Logan continues to talk with Elsie Dee and tells her that she has to give it all she has. Elsie replies that she is, but she just doesn’t have the memowy capacity to find the code sequence. That and she’s scared. She then asks Logan if that is what she’s feewing and asks if this is what fear is wike. Before Logan can answer Storm tells him that the crowd is out of control and not listening to her. She says to him that he can’t let a cleverly programmed construct get to him. She’s not real and she’s endangering a whole crowd of living humans. She finishes with, if he doesn’t throw her – into the ocean, she will have to make a decision…

She is cut off by Logan who tells her that nobody’s throwing Elsie Dee into the ocean. If she can’t stop the clock, he will cover her and absorb the blast. Then, they will see how good his mutant healing power really is. As they talk, Elsie’s timer continues to count down. 30..29..28..27..26..25..24..23..22..21..20..19…

Just then one of the reporters calls out to the other people in the crowd that they just heard on the police band that every cop and FBI agent is converging on a Radio Hut store on the other side of Venice. They have SWAT vans, snipers, and helicopters. One of the cameramen replies that means there will be ultra-sexy visuals. All of a sudden, everyone in the crowd leaves and heads towards the Radio Hut store across town. Even as Cindy Cates leaves, she continues her report that she is re-routing to the scene of an even more poignant human drama.

In moments, the crowd has dispersed and all that remain are Storm, Logan and Elsie Dee. Storm begins to say something to Logan but he cuts her off and tells her that there is no need to explain; he knows she was just trying to save him from himself. Storm asks him if he really believes. Logan replies that he does, deep in his gut. He adds that she may have a mess of chips for a brain, but somehow, there’s a soul twinkling in there. Still, Elsie’s timer continues to count down. 18..17..16..15..14..13..12…

On the other side of Venice, the police and the FBI have converged on the Radio Hut store where Albert is located. They call out to him that he needs to come out with his hands on top of his head. They have the building surrounded and that he doesn’t stand a chance. One of the policemen informs his Lieutenant that the FBI is claiming jurisdiction on this. They say there’s been a violation of national security and that they’re setting up radio interception gear and jammers. They don’t want whatever’s being piped into the store getting out again. The Lieutenant responds that those Feebs all think they’re Melvin Purvis and asks if they are going to take this guy alive or what. The policeman responds that, sure, they are going to take this guy alive like they took John Dillinger alive.

As this is all going on, Sally and Jocko are sitting in their car, sweating bullets.

Inside the Radio Hut store, Albert is happy, as he has been able to break the code. He can save Elsie Dee. Everything is going to be fine. He then motions to Reno and Molokai who are hiding behind the counter with the Radio Hut employee and tells them that they can go. They’re finished there. Reno says that he can go right on ahead and Molokai adds that he’s beginning to like it there. As Albert begins to leave the store, he contacts Elsie Dee through his radio and informs her that he broke the code. He adds that he’s transmitting a direct feed into her detonator system. 876632987245439812309873543… When Albert reaches the outside, the cops notice that he’s not even human, that he’s either android or cyborg. They also know that it’s transmitting in FM.

On the boardwalk, the code continues. …14289444183890975326734… Elsie Dee informs Logan that Albert is twansmitting the code sequence that disarms the fiwing mechanism. Logan asks her if there is enough time as the time begins to tick away - 05.. Elsie informs him that she doesn’t know.

At the Radio Hut, the cops begin to open up fire on Albert – they must terminate the transmission. As Albert is riddled with gunfire he continues the code ..642420782545501987342675.. Even as he does, the timer ticks down. 04..03..02..01..

On the boardwalk, Elsie receives the last three numbers to the disarming sequence. ..231. Once Elsie is able to receive the sequence, the control panel on her back beeps and the detonation sequence has been terminated. All firing systems are safe. Upon learning that, Logan is proud of Elsie Dee and tells her that he knew she could do it. As he hugs Elsie Dee, Storm indicates to him that he certainly has a way with girls, of all ages and construction. Logan doesn’t respond but continues to comfort Elsie. He tells her to let it go, everything is going to be just fine. Elsie starts to cry and tells him that evewything’s not all wight. She’s twying to weach her friend Albert and his fwequency is dead.

Characters Involved: 

Storm, Wolverine (both X-Men)

Elsie Dee


Sally and Jocko

Molokai and Reno (thugs working for Sally and Jocko)

Lady Deathstrike

Donald Pierce

Reese and Bone-Breaker (members of the Reavers)

Various patrons on Santa Monica Boulevard and the boardwalk (all unnamed)

Various reporters (Cindy Cates is only named one)

Various law enforcement and FBI agents (all unnamed)

Various employees of the National Security Agency (all unnamed)

Employee of Radio Hut (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Fort Holabird was a U.S. Army post in the state of Maryland that closed in 1973. Before it was closed, it was home to the U.S. Army Intelligence School and Counter Intelligence Records Facility until it closed and transferred to Fort Huachuca in Arizona in 1971.

“Radio Hut” most likely is an allusion to Radio Shack, an electronics supply chain.

Cray Inc. is a supercomputer manufacturer based in Seattle, Washington.

Feeb is slang for an FBI agent.

Melvin Purvis was an American lawman and FBI agent. During his time as an FBI agent, he captured more public enemies than any other agent in FBI history, a record that still stands. He is best remembered, however, for leading the manhunt for John Dillinger. Outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago in 1934, he called out to the famous outlaw "Stick 'em up, Johnny." Dillinger was shot dead by FBI agents, supposedly going for his gun, though some dispute this since Dillinger did not have a gun and was shot six times in the back as he ran.

John Dillinger was an American bank robber, considered by some to be a dangerous criminal, while others idealized him as a latter-day Robin Hood. His exploits, along with those of other criminals of the 1930s Depression era, dominated the attentions of the American press and its readers during what is sometimes referred to as the public enemy era, between 1931 and 1935, a period which led to the further development of the modern and more sophisticated FBI.
FBI stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was started in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation. It received its current name in 1935 during the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover.

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