Wolverine (2nd series) #54

Issue Date: 
May 1992
Story Title: 
Station Identification

Fabian Nicieza (guest writer), Darrick Robertson (guest penciler), Don Hudson (guest inker), Brosseau & Heisler (letterers), Kelly Corvese (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In New York, a day after a Morlock is brutally murdered, Shatterstar watches the news on TV and decides to go find out what it is all about. Wolverine learns about the murders after a training session with Rogue in the Danger Room. He as well, decides to figure out what is going on. In the alley where the last murder occurred, Wolverine and Shatterstar meet. After a brief tussle, they discover who each other are and decide to team-up to stop the murders together. They soon meet up with the murderers, the Vidkids, in the tunnels where they engage them in battle. During the battle, Shatterstar learns why they are fighting – for entertainment. He is disgusted by the whole thing and almost kills one of them but is stopped by Wolverine. Wolverine destroys their cameras and the two of them walk away together. As they watch the cops arrest the Vidkids, Shatterstar learns that things are very different on this new world from where he comes.

Full Summary: 

In the South Bronx of New York, a Morlock is being chased through an alleyway. His pursuers behind him call out to him to get back there and call him a Morlock dirtbag. Another says lookitem’ hobblin’. Still, another tells him to come an’ play mutie freak. As the Morlock runs away, it pleads no, no, no.

Eventually, he runs directly in front of a crew of punk kids. Some of them are dressed up in outfits, one like Wolverine. Upon seeing the group before him, the Morlock gasps in shock. The leader of the group points out that was a nice reaction shot and welcomes the mutie to tonight’s show. He says why don’t they make this show one the folks at home are going to enjoy? The Morlock asks why but gets only the response for him to run for his life.

As the Morlock begins to run away, one of the gang points out that he runs like a walrus and tells one of their compatriots, Link, to get on him. Cueball, another of the gang, throws a billiards ball at the back of the Morlock’s head, knocking him to the ground. Still another smacks him when he’s done and calls out geek alert and informs the others that this ain’t one for the reruns. As the gang converges on the Morlock, he asks why. The gang member dressed as Wolverine mocks him and asks the rest of the group why. One of the other members of the gang says it’s because entertainment is in their blood. The leader adds that now the Morlock’s blood is in their entertainment. With that, the gang beats the Morlock unmercifully with bats, swords and fists until he is killed.

The next morning, a man watches the beating on the news. The reporter informs the viewing public that the videotape that was just shown was delivered to eyewitness news an hour ago, once again showing the graphic murder of an unidentified mutant by the gang who call themselves the Vidkids. The reporter adds that this brings to four the number of filmed murders committed by this gang throughout the five boroughs. After watching the news report, the man thinks to himself that he finds the actions undertaken by these people to be unsettling, but intriguing. Save for American Gladiators, it is as close a use of the televised medium of this world to the kinds of programming he grew up with on his home-world. His name is Shatterstar and he is a stranger to the ways of this Earth. But not a stranger to the ways of these Vidkids.

Shatterstar then orders his computer to display the assault locations. He discovers that two occurred in the place called the Bronx, one in Queens and one in Manhattan. No discernible pattern, save for the fact those hunted and killed were all mutants. More precisely, Morlocks. Mutants who have isolated themselves from society due to their deformities or disfigurements. As Shatterstar begins to prepare himself to leave, Sam Guthrie appears at his door and asks him if he’s plannin’ a workout session for he will join. Shatterstar thinks to himself that Sam is a fellow member of the X-Force unit he has allied himself with. He is a good man but he wouldn’t understand why he needs to find the Vidkids. Because of that he tells Sam no. Tonight, he does not plan to practice. He plans to hunt!

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center, New York is a place which isn’t what it appears to be from the outside. Case in point, Rogue and Wolverine are inside participating in a Savage Land scenario in the Danger Room. There, Rogue tells Wolvie to stay alert for a Tyrannosaur came up outta nowhere. Wolverine, in his brown and tan costume, tells Rogue that it’s all part of the Savage Land program. As he slices through some hostile inhabitants, he adds that they need to be prepared all the time and work through whatever comes up. Rogue tells him to just keep on havin’ fun but the mission op is to reach the cave an’ rescue whoever’s inside…

She stops in her tracks when she comes face to face with Magneto. When she fails to react, Magneto shoots her with a blast, knocking her to the ground. On the ground, Rogue says to herself that she knows it’s just a construct programmed t’simulate Magneto’s powers, but she still choked. Before Magneto can deliver the final blow, he is sliced in half from behind by Wolverine. Once he is done, Wolverine tells Rogue that, like he said, they have to be prepared for any contingency. He then tells the computer to end program.

Once the Danger Room goes back to normal, Rogue picks herself up and brushes herself off. As she does, she tells Wolverine that she knows, she just wasn’t expecting Magneto. Wolverine asks her if she is still carrying the torch for him. Rogue emphatically tells him no and then tells him that she doesn’t know how she feels about him. As Wolverine removes his mask, he tells Rogue to not let it throw her off. Rogue replies that what’s throwing her off is him lecturing her on Danger Room etiquette. She adds that she always thought he was the one who called the practice sessions a waste of time. Wolverine quips only when he don’t win them. Rogue snaps him with a towel and tells him sarcastically nice attitude. Wolverine tells her that it’s the only attitude he’s ever known. Rogue says that’s a little too comfortable with her. Wolverine replies “whatever gets you through the night.”

As they watch the news report, Rogue asks Wolverine if he has checked the news out lately and if he’s heard about the buncha kids hunting the Morlocks. They are hunting for sport, for fun. Wolverine replies that neither one’s a good reason to hunt. Man or animal neither one’s a good enough reason to hunt.

Later that night, Wolverine is perched on top of a building. He found out what he needed to on these Vidkids from the news-reports. He looked and listened between all the lines, since all they give you is gloss. In the South Bronx, where their last hit took place, the smells and sounds remind him of a little cesspool he likes to call his own – Madripoor. He quickly picks up the scent of the Morlock that was killed. It’s the easiest one to spot. It’s the smell of blood and fear.

As he leaps down onto the street below, he picks up the Vidkids too. He finds an empty videotape box. The scent is raw, young, unwashed – the smell of the streets. Speaking of raw and young, Wolverine narrowly ducks the swipe of a double-bladed sword. His assailant, Shatterstar, comes out of the darkness and tells Wolverine to come out of the shadows murderer. Stand in the spot-light and stare death in the face. Wolverine pops his claws and wonders if his attacker is a Vidkid. He doesn’t know for sure but it doesn’t feel right. He delivers a kick to Shatterstar’s stomach, to which he counters with a back-flip to ready himself for another attack.

Wolverine recognizes that he has a good move and that the gang he is lookin’ for are pack-travelers and this kid is solo. Dangerous, but solo. Shatterstar comes down with a swipe from his double-bladed sword but Wolverine blocks it with his arm. Shatterstar asks him who he is but Wolverine doesn’t answer. As he delivers a punch to his stomach, he thinks to himself that the kid is a talker and that is stupid of him. In short time, he pins Shatterstar up against a building and puts one claw on each side of his face. He tells him that wasn’t bad and that he almost broke a sweat. He then asks him that he really ain’t interested in seein’ the other claw, is he?

In shock, Shatterstar says claws and then recognizes him as Lord Wolverine, warrior of legend. He immediately bows before him and tells him that arena warrior Shatterstar offers his sword to him. His life is forfeit, should he wish for dishonoring him in careless combat. Wolverine thinks to himself that he’s startin’ t’like this kid and tells him to get up. He then tells him that he’s got his scent now, he’s one of Cable’s new ones, an X-Force brat. He can smell him on him. He asks him what his stake is in all of this. Shatterstar answers that on his world, arena sport for entertainment is their way of life. The situation intrigued him so he sought to play in their game. Wolverine tells him this ain’t a game and he’s there to put a stop to it. Shatterstar asks him whyever for? Wolverine tells him to come with him an’ find out.

As he follows Wolverine, he asks him if he knows where they are. Wolverine tells him that he has a scent an’ he knows where the Morlock’s main tunnels are. They ride the 6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge. The Morlocks tunnels that lead to the catacombs under the city are just a few blocks away. Wolverine notices that the kid is tense. Maybe he’s nervous because of him. Maybe ‘cause this hits too close to home for him. Either way, they have a job to do.

Near the Brooklyn Bridge, a female Morlock pushes a shopping cart down the street. As she does, she mutters to herself who knew? Streisand, best director? She knows it’s all a publicity stunt. Just then, she is alerted to the fact that the Vidkids are directly behind her. They tell her that she’s not allowed to steal shopping carts and that it is a death penalty crime. As the Morlock takes off running, they notice that she’s heading down into the subway. Before she descends the stairs, she turns around and tells them no Academy Award for them. The Vidkids call out to get on her.

In the tunnels of the subway, the leader of the Vidkids tells K-Scope to stay there and watch the tunnels and to get a nice pan shot as they come back with the kills. As the rest of the Vidkids run into the tunnels, they yell out in excitement into the dark fantastic. As soon as they head into the tunnels, K-Scope is taken out quickly by Wolverine and Shatterstar. Deeper in the tunnels, the Morlock has been backed into a corner. One of her attackers points out that she has her back to the wall in a Masada defense. Another adds that it’s hopeless sitch with great emotional pathos. The audience’ll really identify with the victim now.

As they converge on her, they are grabbed from behind into the darkness by Shatterstar and Wolverine. The Morlock laughs and tells her attackers to never give an award t’ the best boy. One of the Vidkids calls out to the others to focus; they are in trouble. As Wolverine and Shatterstar leap towards the Vidkids, Wolverine thinks to himself they got that right. Shatterstar thinks that as they face them side-by-side; it’s an honor. Their opponents remind him so much of his comrades from Mojoworld too much. As they make short work of the Vidkids, he wonders if this is how others view them, as ranting lunatics with a one-camera point of view.

Once the Vidkids have been taken out, Wolverine and Shatterstar hear clapping behind them. The leader tells them that they dumped on the rest, now it’s time for them to try the best. He is flanked by six of his best fighters. He tells them that it is Oliver Stone and John Ford wrapped into one. He adds that “the Oscar goes to…” One of his followers, a lady, says “US!” Wolverine asks them why? The psycho hunt he can figure out, but why mutants? The leader replies why not claws? It makes for better sound bites. Wolverine asks him that it could have been blacks, Jews, or gays? The leader answers that it coulda been Girl Scouts, but muties suffice. He then adds that Girl Scouts ain’t a bad idea thought. Shatterstar asks then it’s not for justice, honor, or even freedom? The lady with a sword connects with a kick to his jaw and tells him that it’s even better than that, it’s for kicks.

Wolverine leaps into action and yells enough! As they engage the Vidkids in battle, he has had enough o’ this madness played out like a game. They’re kids, punks. He gave ‘em a shot, heard their story, gave ‘em a chance but no more! They may think they’re just makin’ a movie, but he gets the final cut! As Shatterstar fights he thinks to himself that they fight side-by-side again but it is different this time. They aren’t fighting out of self-defense, or even protectin’ anyone. They’re fighting out of anger. As he squares off against the female of the group, she tells him that he’s pretty good and says that one of them is going to end up on the cutting room floor. Shatterstar tells her that she knows nothing about the “cutting room floor,” until she has walked through it in the blood of her brothers.

On the other side of the tunnel, one of the Vidkids tells them that they have to learn to light up. He adds that they need to forget about this all an’ play ball. With that, he throws a billiards ball that hits Wolverine in the head. He thinks to himself that actually hurt but adds wait’ll the punk gets a load of his fastball. Meanwhile, Shatterstar swipes with his sword and breaks his foes’ sword in half. As he does, he tells her to come on and asks her where her posing for the cameras has gone. Connecting a kick to her jaw, he tells her that she is a cruel reflection of everything he has been his entire life. He then pins her to the ground and points his sword at her throat. He tells her that killing as a sport, misery as entertainment, freedom as a lure for hope never fulfilled. He asks her why should she not die for her sins. Hopeless, the lady begins to cry.

Wolverine sees this and tells him no. As he grabs Shatterstar’s shoulder, Shatterstar tells him that everything they do, everything they say, it’s reflected in their eyes, their cameras and he sees himself in that reflection and he does not like what he sees. Wolverine tells him that he doesn’t kill them for that. That’s givin’ ‘em what they want. The ultimate shot – their own deaths for the camera. Shatterstar asks what then? As Wolverine slices the video-cameras in pieces, he answers that they say the best way to punish a punk is to take away their toys. With that, they walk away. As they do, Shatterstar asks himself if it is over. The Vidkids have been stopped. Some killed, some hurt, some merely spiritually crushed. But is it enough for them to stop their ways? He does not know for sure.

As Wolverine and Shatterstar watch from an adjacent rooftop, Wolverine notices that the kid is quiet as the cops round up the Vidkids. Media vultures show up of course. The kid watches the circus, but not with innocent eyes. Instead of seein’ ‘em get slapped an’ caged like they deserve, they watch ‘em get exactly what they want – a forum for their madness. Shatterstar tells Wolverine that the television oh his world is strange. Wolverine replies that he doesn’t watch too much of it. At its worst, he figures it’s an escape for people who don’t want t’work at makin’ their lives mean anything. Shatterstar tells him that on his world, it has made life unbearable, on this one, too lenient. He asks where does he fit in.

As Wolverine leaves, he tells him where the rest of them usually do, right in the middle. Once he leaves, Wolverine knows that the kid is gonna stand there for a while and watch the vultures go to work. Wonderin’ how many pieces they’ve already torn out of his flesh an’ if what they’ve left is enough to make up a whole man or not.

Characters Involved: 

Rogue, Wolverine (both X-Men)

Shatterstar, Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball (all X-Force)

Vidkids (Link, Cueball, K-Scope are the only named)

Morlocks (unnamed)

Various news reporters and policemen (all unnamed)

In Danger Room scenario:

Savage Land inhabitants (all unnamed)



Story Notes: 

The five boroughs of New York are Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

American Gladiators was a popular show broadcast on American TV from 1989 to 1996.

Barbara Streisand was nominated for a Golden Globe for best director in 1992 for Prince of Tides it was beat out by JFK.

Oliver Stone and John Ford are both famous movie directors.

Masada was a hilltop base in the Judean desert built by Herod the Great in the first century AD. It is most famous for being under siege for over a year by Roman forces, who were attempting to capture and kill Jewish rebels. However, when the Roman soldiers breached the base, they found that all rebels, including women and children, had chosen suicide above capture.

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