Wolverine (2nd series) #61

Issue Date: 
September 1992
Story Title: 
Nightmare Quest

Larry Hama (script), Mark Texeira (art & cover), Steve Buccellato (coloring), Pat Brosseau (lettering), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

As Wolverine and Jubilee head to Los Angeles from their travels in Tokyo, they are redirected to a S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier. There, Nick Fury informs him that somebody has pulled some strings and wants to meet him. Later, Wolverine and Jubilee meet up with John Wraith. During their conversation, Wolverine remembers a time when they were in a jungle in South East Asia, where Sabretooth killed an innocent girl and to the time in Berlin when he saw Wraith use his teleportation powers against Omega Red. He also recalls a time in Cuba when Wraith was grabbed by tentacles being directed by Silver Fox. Before the memories continue, Jubilee snaps him back to reality. The three of them make their way to Wraith’s house in Los Angeles, where they meet up with a decrepit Mastodon. Wraith tells him that’s why he brought him there. Mastodon’s body is deteriorating and he’s getting the old team back together to find out why. He then shows Wolverine Sabretooth chained up in the basement.

Full Summary: 

The color o’ pain is the red you see through your closed eyelids when your head is shoved into a blast furnace. The taste o’ pain is sour metal, hot and bitin’ like the fillin’s meltin’ in your mouth. The sound o’ pain is a voice screamin’ from the bottom of a well – an’ it’s your own voice.

Wolverine exits the woods and tells the people in the shadows to come out an’ show themselves. Come on out an’ fight him face to face. They reply that he won’t like that; he won’t like what he sees. Wolverine tells them that he will be the judge of that but realizes that they are right, he don’t like what he sees. It’s Silver Fox, but not the Silver Fox he was in love with in that log cabin so long ago, but some evil Silver Fox from a hazy memory of a revolutionary hide-out in Ontario. The mean dude with the shades – another revolutionary – Carlisle? He wonders why he thinks he has another name. An then there’s Sabretooth. If he really is his fa…

Just then, rifle fire comes from more company stepping out of the wood-work. Whoever they are, Wolverine thinks, they’re shootin’ at the bad guys. Silver Fox informs Sabretooth that they have no cover and that they have to bug out. When they do, Wolverine turns around to see who is there and is shocked by what he sees. It’s Sabretooth, Silver Fox and John Wraith in their Team X uniforms. Sabretooth asks Wolverine if he has any kind words for his pals, the good guys. Wolverine replies that they’re the same, but not the same… Wraith says that he’s got it, then adding that, this time around, his name is John Wraith.

At that moment, the other Silver Fox opens fire at the new group and tells them that good guys finish last. She then grabs Wolverine by the collar and asks him who he can he trust to tell him the truth about his worst enemies. Doesn’t he know who his friends are? She then tells him to wake up. Wolverine asks, “Wake up?”

The response by Jubilee is, yes, wake up. They have to return their seatback and tray tables to the upright position for landing. Wolverine asks if they are in Los Angeles yet; it seems like they only left Tokyo… Jubilee tells him that he’s been out like a light for over ten hours but they’re not at LAX yet. Their flight’s been diverted to the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier. Wolverine tells her that they have to tighten Nick Fury up, he’s runnin’ a bit fast and loose with that badge o’ his.

When they land, some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents take Wolverine away as Jubilee protests. When Wolverine gets to Fury, he asks him what the matter is. Didn’t Uncle Sam like the math on his tax return? Fury replies that it’s the cigar deductions. Seriously, somebody with a lot o’ push wants him down on terra firma ASAP and that there’s a chopper waitin’. Wolverine tells him let’s go; he’s down to meet anybody who can make S.H.I.E.L.D. jump through a hoop.

At the plane, Jubilee uses her fireworks power to get past the guard, stopping her from getting to Wolverine. As she makes her way towards Wolverine and Fury, Wolverine tells him that he’d better tell the aircraft commander to ease up on his cyclic and let the kid hop on, or his whole heli-carrier crew’s gonna be seein’ spots. Fury replies that it’s no skin off of his teeth. The man with push wants to see him. He didn’t say zip about whether or not he came with a retinue. When Jubilee reaches them, she notices that Wolverine is suiting up in his yellow and blue costume. She asks if they are on a secret mission for the government. Wolverine tells her that it’s so secret they ain’t even tellin’ him doodly-squat.

As they approach the rendezvous point, Jubilee mentions that she can’t see anything and asks where they are. Fury informs her that they are at grid coordinates KS580234 of the updated 1938 US Army Corps of Engineers topological 1:50,000 survey map #23865. Jubilee sarcastically thanks him. When they are let out of the chopper, the location they are in is a complete disaster area. Jubilee mentions to Wolverine that this place is totally yucked out. Wolverine mentions that it’s like Dresden after the English Air Force lit it up. Jubilee asks if that was in one of those wars with the Roman numerals. Wolverine tells her to try II. He then mentions that it’s a leery spot for a meet-up, everything around is burnt rubble.

A voice adds that it’s in more ways than one. It then tells Logan that he was supposed to show up solo. Wolverine sarcastically replies that life is supposed to be fair, so what else is new? The voice asks Wolverine if he knows who he is. Wolverine tells him that sometimes he’s Carlisle and sometimes he’s John Wraith. He then tells him that the pistol he’s holding at him won’t stop him. Wraith says that he knows that but it sure will knock the stuffing out of his little friend, won’t it. Jubilee, scared, calls for a time-out.

Wolverine mentions that he’s seen this scene before in some rotten, stinkin’ jungle in South East Asia. When he arrived on the scene, he sees John Wraith holding a pistol to a young lady’s head. He asks Sabretooth what is going on. Sabretooth informs him that it’s goin’ to Fort Polk in a hand basket. While he was out scoutin’ ahead, the lil’ ol’ Montagnard gal stumbled right across them. Wraith adds that she saw everything and that they have been compromised to the utmost. Sabretooth answers that it won’t be if she don’t walk outta there. He tells Wraith to do her, they have a mission.

Wraith tells Sabretooth and Wolverine to go ahead, he’ll do it quiet and catch up. Sabretooth answers that in a pig’s eye he will and shoots the woman in the back, killing her. Wolverine immediately goes up to Sabretooth and grabs him by the collar. He asks him what is he, some kind of animal? They’re out there doin’ a lousy job, but they are supposed to be the good guys. He oughtta… Sabretooth cuts him off and tells him that it had to be done. Ol’ John Wraith was gonna let her slide, ‘cuz he don’t have the guts to DX her commie butt. The ol’ Wraith-man got a soft heart.

Wolverine tells Wraith that he couldn’t do it in the middle o’ the boonies all those years ago, and he don’t think he can do it now. Wraith withdraws his gun and asks Wolverine that he remembers that one, it is “beaucoup” interesting. He then asks him if he remembers the objective of that mission or if he had any idea where they were. Wolverine tells him that he doesn’t have a clue and whispers to Jubilee to get behind him. He then tells Wraith that he recalls somethin’ else about him – Berlin, twenty years ago. Wraith asks if that is a fact.

Wolverine tells him that it was him, North, and Creed. They got the carbonadium but Janice was dead. He recalls that Wraith stayed behind to cover their getaway and, as they pulled away, he looked back. He saw Wraith connect with a dead on, center o’ mass point of impact blast on Omega Red. The shot had enough high explosive to drop a rabid bull rhino, but not for Omega Red. Nada, zip, N.D.E. (no discernible effect). The light was bad, and he was in a speedin’ jeep and the ol’ adrenaline pump was workin’ overtime but he’s pretty sure of what he saw. He saw Omega Red grab Wraith with his tentacles but Wraith disappeared into thin air.

Wolverine then asks Wraith if he has some sort o’ vanishing act. Wraith replies that he might say that and shuts off his flashlight. He asks Wolverine if he ever read Ralph Ellison. Wolverine asks if he’s related to Harlan. Wraith tells him not hardly and tosses something towards him. Wolverine catches it and asks what it is. Jubilee tells him that she will shed some light on the subject and uses her fireworks power to reveal it. Wolverine recognizes it as the head from a Shiva android. Wraith says give the man a cigar! As code name Kestrel, he’s fourth on the Shiva hit list but ol’ Wolverine is up there at number one with a bullet.

Just then, a cataclysmic memory backlash occurs when a blast is emitted from the Shiva’s head. Shiva has the electronic triggers with activates implants in his brain. Every moment o’ pain in his life, compressed into one janglin’ nerve center in the middle o’ his brain. Bloody specters from his past, rippin’ and tearin’ at him. He’s cuttin’ and slicin’ himself. Spikes/tentacles/vines. Vines? He’s in a jungle, but it’s a different jungle. This time it’s in Cuba.

Wolverine shows up and calls out Sabretooth, or is he El Tigre? Sabretooth replies that it’s about time he, Garra, showed up. He tells him to cover with Elefante when Halcon makes his run for the missile. Wolverine asks missile? Sabretooth informs him that Tio Fidel kept one back when JFK called Nikita’s bluff. Now it’s their job. Just then, revolutionaries appear and open up fire on the group. Elefante tells Wolverine to come on and kill some commies. It will help take his mind off that traitor, Zora de Plata, the Silver Fox of the Sierra Maestra. Wolverine asks him what did he say and then recalls that Elefante was Elephant – Mastodon and Halcon was John Wraith. Sabretooth tells Halcon to put a hustle on it. Halcon, setting the charge, replies that the shaped charges have to sit just right.

Just then, a tentacle grabs Wraith and drags him towards the woods. Wolverine recalls the memory by wonders why it was suppressed. Why did he care about John Wraith? As he opened up fire on the tentacle he notices that somebody is standin’ back there directin’ it. He recognizes it to be Silver Fox!

At that moment, Jubilee grabs the Shiva head out of Wolverine’s hands and tells him that he’s not allowed to play with it anymore – it’s weirding him out. As the head falls on the ground, it cracks. Jubilee proceeds to stomp it and tell Wolverine that he really should have heard himself yammering away about foxes. Wolverine tells her that Wraith zapped him with the Shiva head. Wraith informs him that he thought it might jog his recollection a might. Wolverine lunges towards him and tells him that he’ll jog him. Wraith tells him that he had better get copasetic because he has to come with him to meet somebody.

Just then, Wraith disappears. Wolverine wonders where he went and Wraith tells him that he’s over on the sidewalk. Jubilee asks sidewalk? They’ve been in Los Angeles all this time, not even twenty minutes away from a mall. Wraith answers that they are. Wolverine asks if he was tryin’ to make some kind o’ point, meetin’ them there. Wraith tells him that the answer to that is spray-painted on the side of his house – “I’m not making a point - - I live here.”

When they walk up to the house, Wraith notices that the door’s been forced and that somebody is in his crib. Wolverine tells him that they’re still inside and they’re packin’. At the last moment, he pushes Jubilee and Wraith out of the way, as gunfire blasts through the door towards them. Wolverine tells them to stay down; he’s still the best at what he does. With that, he charges through the side of the house and towards the assailants.

At the same time, Wraith teleports himself behind them and holds his guns at their heads. He tells them that is the sound of the safeties on a pair of .45 automatics and they don’t want to hear the next sound they make, do they. The assailants tell him no sir. Wraith orders Wolverine to put the claws away, the situation is under control. Jubilee enters the room and turns the lights on. She mentions that this is bogus, they’re just kids. Wolverine adds “kids with machine-guns, rippin’ off TV sets.” He then snaps and slashes the kids guns into pieces. He tells them to get out o’ there!! As the kids go to leave, Wraith tells them to take the stupid-vision with them.

From a backroom, a voice calls out that he watched that thing. It’s all he has to d-d-do these days. From the room, a crippled old man lies on the floor. He asks Wraith-man who is out there with him. He r-r-recognizes the voice. Upon seeing Wolverine, he says awright. “It’s the little hairy f-f-fire plug.” Wolverine recognizes the man as Mastodon. He says that he can’t be Mastodon. He was a big strong fella, the same age as him…

Wraith adds like all the rest of them in the program. He informs Wolverine that Mastodon was fine until last month. Then, this happened. All those years came running up behind him and cut him off at the pass. That’s why he’s tracking down the old team. Maybe together they can figure this out. He adds that he’s been able to track down most of them, including Silver Fox.

Hearing that, Wolverine slams him up against a wall and asks that she’s alive? Sabretooth didn’t kill her, his memory of that is a lie? Wraith tells him that it’s implants man, all implants. It took him years to sort his own out. Sabretooth never killed her in any of his scenarios. Of course, he might still think he did her in. He then adds that he can just ask him about that himself. Wolverine asks he’s here? Wraith replies not willingly, but he’s there all right. When he opens up a cellar door they find Sabretooth chained up to the wall. He tells Wolverine not to get too close, he bites. He adds that the shaped charge he’s got strapped to his chest can do a lot of collateral damage.

Characters Involved: 

Jubilee, Wolverine (both X-Men)

John Wraith

Shiva’s head

Nick Fury
Various agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (all unnamed)

Various residents of Los Angeles (all unnamed)

In Wolverine’s memories:
Wolverine / Logan / Garra
Sabretooth / Creed / El Tigre
John Wraith / Kestrel / Halcon
Maverick / North
Omega Red
Elefante / Mastodon
Various revolutionaries in Cuba (all unnamed)

In Wolverine’s hallucinations:
John Wraith
Silver Fox

Story Notes: 

Montagnard is a French word meaning “Highlander” or “Mountain Man”. It is also any member of the hill-dwelling peoples of the Indochinese Peninsula.

Ralph Ellison was an African-American novelist and writer who wrote the novel Invisible Man and Shadow and Act.

The Harlan that Wolverine refers to is most likely Harlan Ellison. He is a prolific American writer of short stories, novellas, essays, and criticism. He wrote for the original series of both The Outer Limits and Star Trek; edited the multiple-award-winning short story anthology series Dangerous Visions; and served as creative consultant to the science fiction TV series The New Twilight Zone and Babylon 5.

When Sabretooth said “when JFK called Nikita’s bluff” he was referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. JFK was John F. Kennedy while Nikita was Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

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