Wolverine (2nd series) #73

Issue Date: 
September 1993
Story Title: 
The Formicary Mound

Larry Hama (script), Dwayne Turner (breakdowns & cover), Joe Rubinstein (finishes), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In the Australian Outback, Wolverine follows the Sentinel carrying Jubilee into Gateway’s vortex, which leads them to the Ant Hill. There, Wolverine is able to free Jubilee but, for his efforts, he is blasted by the Sentinel. Angered, Jubilee unleashes a mega-pamf and then collapses. The Sentinel kicks them both out of the way and proceeds inside the Ant Hill. There, he begins to complete the construction of the solar flare generator. Outside, Jubilee begins to drag Wolverine up the hill. As she does, she tells him that she wants to kill her parents’ killers but Wolverine tells her not to, it’s not worth it. After some time, they face off against some dingos, but Wolverine uses her bestial nature to drive them off. When they finally get to the top of the hill, they see the Sentinel manning a large gun. At that moment, Wolverine remembers what initially happened at the Ant Hill. He and Jubilee are then attacked by the Sentinel. Wolverine is able to slice off the Sentinel’s head but, as the Sentinel falls, he grabs onto Wolverine. Once they hit the bottom of the hill, the Sentinel begins to call out random numbers. Those numbers belong to four of his Sentinel comrades, which begin to approach them.

Full Summary: 

What happens when you soak a Sentinel from the future in a puddle o’ whatever it is that inter-dimensional, time-twistin’ she-witch Spiral cooks up cyborgs in? What do you get when that Sentinel starts thinkin’ for itself and gets a hold o’ the cosmic doughnut hole that their ol’ buddy, the mutant Aborigine Gateway left in the space/time continuum? Whatever it is, it spells bad news for the ol’ canucklehead and Jubilee.

Holding Jubilee hostage, the Sentinel informs Wolverine that he is utilizing the space-time vortex to go to a time and place where the betterment of Sentinel-kind may be realized. He tells Wolverine not to follow, or the life force of the little mutant will be nullified. Wolverine thinks to himself that he has no choice. Ol’ Gateway’s bullroarer wore itself a hole in the fabric o’ time and space. This side o’ the hole is sittin’ over Gateway’s knoll above the X-Men’s old compound in the Australian Outback. The other side could be anywhere or anywhen and there sure ain’t no guarantee o’ Jubilee’s safety if he’s not there to kick butt and take names.

With that, Wolverine leaps towards the Sentinel and grabs a hold of his leg. As they all get sucked into the vortex, Wolverine finds it funny how his mind keeps blankin’ out what it feels like to step into Gateway’s time vortex. Sorta like gettin’ on the caped crusader ride down at the action park after scarfin’ down a pepperoni-onion pizza and a warm six or gettin’ caught in the spin cycle of a Maytag.

As they continue to make their way through the vortex, the Sentinel begins to call out sensor overload, conflicting input. Illogical data, re-sort, re-index file parameters. Random series/non-binary/switches/codified anomalies/topological impossibilities/extrapolate reality curve/postulate time strings. Upon hearing that, Wolverine mentions that at least the cosmic roller coaster is just as discombobulatin’ to Sentinels as it is to livin’, breathin’ non-purple types. The Sentinel responds by shooting towards him with his hand blaster and telling him not to confuse momentary processor malfunction with system failure. Wolverine asks him s’matter? Can’t fess up to droppin’ a load o’ transistors in his shorts? The Sentinel tells him that fear is a function of entities that suffer and die. Sentinels are beyond that.

Continuing their fall through the vortex, Wolverine notices a big pile o’ rock below them. He’s never seen it before, but he’s heard of it. It’s the Ant Hill – a big time Sentinel hangout from way back. While the Sentinel uses his feet blasters to ease his way towards the ground, it tells Wolverine there lies the once and future hope of Sentinel-kind. There beneath megalithic boulders on the great western desert waitin’ to be unearthed and…

Wolverine cuts off the Sentinel and asks him while he’s waxin’ poetic about his blasted, android Camelot, howsabout unhandin’ his little friend. The Sentinel replies that she is nothing; she is an insect to be crushed. Wolverine quips back that he shouldn’t say things like that so off-handedly. With that, Wolverine slices off the Sentinel’s hand. Once the Sentinel’s sawed off fist lands on the ground, Wolverine tells Jubilee that as soon as he slices off the last finger, she needs to make herself scarce and… Jubilee cuts him off and tells him like she’s gonna just leave him there. Wolverine tells her not to get cute, just…

Before he can finish his sentence, the Sentinel blasts Wolverine with a direct shot to his back. As Wolverine lays on the ground motionless, Jubilee frees herself from the fist and goes to check on him. When Wolverine doesn’t answer her, she tells the Sentinel that he is history, kaput, expired, his ticket is canceled, he’s dead! Leaning down, the Sentinel tells her exactly. This unit is not now, nor has ever been alive. This unit gains nothing by terminating her pathetic existence. He tells her to remove herself and to cease being an obstruction. Jubilee responds by telling the Sentinel that he doesn’t get it, does he. He has ticked her off to the max.

At that moment, Jubilee unleashes her fireworks power with extreme force, knocking the Sentinel backwards. Looking down at her hands, Jubilee asks if that came from her. She then wonders why she is feeling so weak. Why is she… Just then, she passes out and lands on top of Wolverine.

Fixing his hand, the Sentinel thinks to himself curious. The little mutant committed herself to a deliberate action that was detrimental to her own safety. She violated her own instinct for self-preservation for the sake of the other mutant, who is too severely injured to survive much longer. Curious, but, so much for musing on the subject of feelings and sentiment, as interesting as it is to this awakening intellect. With a swift brush of his foot, he flings Wolverine and Jubilee down the pile of rocks to the ground below.

The distractions gone, the Sentinel goes back to his original plan. Blasting a hole in the top of the Ant Hill, he deducts that according to background data in his memory banks the boulders he is blasting were stacked upon the Ant Hill by the Avenger known as Iron Man. They were quite effective blocks to human tampering but they are not obstacles to a Sentinel. The Ant Hill is a place of power. Before entering the hill, the Sentinel rationalizes that it must defragment memory and optimize processors before descending into the place where Number Two plotted to activate a solar flare capable of sterilizing the entire planet.

Entering the bowels of the Hill, the Sentinel discovers Sentinels – the units that destroyed Number Two, before they too were deactivated. The Sentinel calls out that they will lie dormant no longer nor will the Sentinel stronghold known as the Ant Hill. As he begins to run a power system main circuit check and its system re-cycles, the white light appears before him – the proscenium of reality. The cataclysmic ecstasy. He is no longer the anonymous Sentinel. He is 3.14159, he is the irrational ratio. He is the factor that resolves the difference between the infinite arc and the straight line.

Outside the Ant Hill, Jubilee begins to wake up with a bummer headache. She calls out to Wolverine next to her who tells her to turn it down; she’s not the only one with a headache. When Jubilee exclaims that he’s not dead, Wolverine replies not hardly. As Jubilee begins to help Wolverine up, she tells him to come on, they gotta go, they gotta go stop the Sentinel. Wolverine tells her that he’s all busted up inside; he needs some time for the ol’ mutant healin’ factor to kick in. Jubilee replies that they don’t have any time. Wolverine tells her that he’s hurtin’ and to give it a rest. With that, he falls to the ground. Jubilee tells him no. The Sentinel is inside the Ant Hill working away in a frenzy. Can’t he hear it, look at the lights. They gotta stop him before he finishes whatever he’s doing. Wolverine simply tells her that if she wants to get him up there, she’s gotta drag him.

After some time, Jubilee begins to make her way up the side of the hill with Wolverine in tow. Wolverine asks her why doesn’t she just let him lie there and knit for a spell and he promises he’ll run up the rest of the blamed hill. Jubilee tells him that she’s not going to let him give in to the pain, he said it himself. She adds that the Sentinel has got it into his head that humans are just cluttering up the planet, making it messy for Sentinels and he’s fixing to do something about it. Wolverine points out that she smells more anger than righteousness. He claims that she wants’t to stop this robot’s ticker so she can get back state-side and get her cold dish o’ revenge. Jubilee simply states, yeah – what of it.

Inside the Ant Hill, Sentinel 3.14159 begins to access the Ant Hill memory banks. It then projects a holographic extrapolation of a solar flare. After indexing the data files, its calculations and schematics for solar flare generator is incomplete. It proceeds to run a search for related data and learns that memory matrixes for the Sentinels are intact. Even Number Two is retrievable. The solar flare scenario is still viable. All further mutation can be eliminated. As it begins to tear apart a control panel it calls out recycle, restructure, reconfigure.

Outside the Ant Hill, Jubilee continues to drag Wolverine up the hill. As she does, she asks what of it, doesn’t she deserve to get some payback? What those creeps did – her parents never did anything to deserve that. All this time, she thought they drove off that cliff on Mullholland Drive by accident. Now, thanks to Gateway’s timeloop, she knows what they look like. Now she knows their names. Reno and Molokai. She’s gonna mega-paf ‘em in the ears and eyes first so they can’t hear or see. Then she’s gonna paf them inside their brains. Gonna give them cerebral hemorrhages and…

Wolverine cuts her off and tells her to not even think about doin’ that. Too much ugly luggage to be carryin’ in those places in her head where she wants to be travelin’ light. As he slumps back down, Jubilee calls out to him. Wolverine informs her that he hears her but the pain has brought him back to the bad place again. It’s a place that smells bad and there’s somebody playin’ a bass solo that never stops. Wranglers screamin’ and shootin’, bears roarin’, radiators hissin’, trees gnashin’ their teeth. Hungry things out there, their eyes glowin’ in the dark and…

He stops mid-sentence and sniffs the air. He realizes it ain’t no nightmare, not a memory. Before them are dingos. Not the cyber-type that Pierce cooked up, but real wild-dogs. He informs Jubilee that they smell the blood. Jubilee answers that she’ll just paf ‘em and… Wolverine tells her to nix that; fireworks will just tip off the Sentinel. He will handle it. With that, he begins to growl at the pack of dingos before him. As he does, he thinks to himself that they say that animals can smell fear. He supposes that’s true. There’s somethin’ else they can smell too. It’s whatever it is that wants off the pelt of anything that ain’t about to give up. It’s the stink o’ crazy orneriness sendin’ out a message sayin’ “it ain’t worth it.” He guesses he has it in spades.

Once Wolverine wins the stare down with the dingos and they run off, he collapses to the ground in a heap. Jubilee heads over to him and tells him that was way cool. She asks if he hypnotized them or what. Wolverine struggles to his feet and tells her yeah, something like that. He adds that he’s gettin’ it back together, he just needs a little hand getting to the top o’ the rock pile. Jubilee tells him sure thing as they continue their journey.

While on the way up the rock pile, Jubilee again tells Wolverine that she’s really impressed. She asks if he talked to them or something. Wolverine tells her to just concentrate on getting up the last few feet. Once at the top of the hill, Wolverine tells Jubilee that she was right the Sentinel has been real busy. Jubilee asks Wolverine what the Sentinel is standing behind; it looks like a giant ray gun. Wolverine informs her that whatever it is, it’s on a turret and it’s risin’. Jubilee asks what he’s gonna shoot at, there’s nothing around there for miles. Wolverine tells her to try hundreds of miles. The gun is built for range, some sort o’ beam projector. He adds that the Sentinel is turnin’ it and aimin’ it but they can’t see what his target is.

Jubilee wonders what direction it is. She questions where the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross are. She determines that the target is… Wolverine finishes her thought, the target is due east. Jubilee asks that he’s gonna blast downtown Sydney? Wolverine then indicates to her that he just remembered what the big ruckus at the Ant Hill was all about. There was a renegade Sentinel back then, plottin’ to trigger a solar flare big enough to send them all to crispy-critterville. That gun is aimed at the spot where the sun will rise.

At that moment, Sentinel 3.14159 tells them precisely. All organic life-forms on the planet will be incinerated. But first, he must crush the two of them. At the last second, Wolverine pushes Jubilee out of the way. Jubilee responds by telling him that she’s not going anywhere and unleashes a mega-pamf, knocking the Sentinel backwards. Wolverine tells Jubilee good shot and then uses his claws to slash through the Sentinel’s body and then at its neck. As he does he mentions that the big lug sure didn’t expect him to go through him or do what he is doin’ now. When Wolverine slashes off the Sentinel’s head, it catches it and calls out damage control, reconfigure.

As it falls backwards into the Ant Hill, it grabs a hold of Wolverine and calls out re-budget processor assignments. Jubilee recognizes that the Sentinel grabbed hold of Wolverine as he fell and heads into the hill itself. When the Sentinel hits the ground it calls out 23, 66, 86, 99. Wolverine asks what is this, a bingo game. What are all those numbers? Jubilee answers him by asking aren’t numbers what Sentinel’s use for names? As she looks up, four Sentinels approach their fallen comrade.

Characters Involved: 

Jubilee, Wolverine (both X-Men)

Sentinels (3.14159, 23, 66, 86, and 99)

In Jubilee’s flashbacks:

Reno and Molokai (the thugs that killed her parents)

Story Notes: 

The Ant Hill was last seen in Avengers (1st series) #104. That particular storyline covered Avengers (1st series) #103-104.

3.14159 is the approximate amount of Pi or π. The constant π is an irrational number, which is a number that cannot be written as the ratio of two integers.

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