Wolverine (2nd series) #78

Issue Date: 
February 1994
Story Title: 
Deathstalk: A Test of Mettle

Larry Hama (script), Adam Kubert (pencils), Mark Farmer & Mike Sellers (inks), Pat Brosseau (lettering), Steve Buccellato (coloring), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief), Adam Kubert (cover)

Brief Description: 

In Canada, Bloodscream and Cylla give chase to Wolverine. Wolverine proceeds to lead them on an extremely long trek in which Cylla and Bloodscream become more and more hungry. As a result, in Heath Junction Bloodscream kills a man and feasts upon his blood while Cylla gets nothing. During their continued trek, Bloodscream tells Cylla his story. Of how he was born human and then transformed into the undead form he is now by Dagoo on one of Sir Francis Drake’s ships. He learned there that he could cure the effects of his transformation with the blood of a man who ageth not. That man would turn out to be Wolverine, whom he met in the 2nd World War in Normandy. Eventually, they catch up to Wolverine in the town of Logan. Neither Bloodscream nor Cylla have the strength to face him until Bloodscream drains Cylla of her life-force, killing her. Wolverine then rushes towards him on his motorcycle and slices him down with the honor sword of the Yashida clan, leaving him for dead.

Full Summary: 

There are folks who go trampin’ into the wilds o’ the north Alberta high country in the dead o’ winter for fun. Not Wolverine. He’s been out in the long white night with nothin’ but his skivvies and the hair on his back with the wind like a cut-throat razor and the cold like the hand o’ death. He had this wild longin’ to run through the forests o’ his yesterdays. But this ain’t no Hundred Acre Wood. No cute lil’ teddy bears there. This is the place where the map ends, here there be monsters.

On his motorcycle, Wolverine is wearing the hide of an animal on his head and wielding a sword. He don’t hardly recognize the bag o’ teeth and claws who’s been doggin’ his trail these past four weeks but he sure remembers his stench. It’s a graveyard stink that wafted by the ol’ canuckle-head’s sniffer in another time and place called Madripoor. It’s a stink that had a name attached to it – Bloodscream!

Before him, the monstrous form of Bloodscream tells Patch that now has come an ending, an ending to all his days. As Wolverine begins to swing his blade at Bloodscream, he thinks to himself that he’s sure heard that before. Ol’ Shingen even wrote a haiku about it. “The bright light flashes inscribing the final arc on all tomorrows.” He said “the sword has honor, the sword remembers….”

Does it remember the last time it bit deep into flesh four weeks ago? In the forest, Wolverine wipes the blood off of his sword after he just killed a rabid wolf. He tells the wolf he’s sorry. He tried to warn him off, but he just had to keep on comin’, didn’t he? He knows that his kind don’t go after two-legged game unless he’s starvin’ or from a bullet-wound. Walking up to the wolf, Wolverine discovers that it’s the latter. He realizes that he must have got tagged by a hunter and been runnin’ crazy with pain. He tells the wolf that he’s the luck one, his pains over. For some o’ them, the pain goes on. At least for a little while yet. Sniffing the air, he discerns there is a cold front movin’ down from the north. Turning back to the wolf, he decides to slice the coat off of the wolf.

Further away, Bloodscream and Cylla arrive at Heath Junction, where Cylla informs Bloodscream that Wolverine’s trace is strong there. Bloodscream adds that the scent is fresh; at long last, they close upon their quarry. Bloodscream notices an old man pushing Wolverine’s motorcycle and he asks him where the man is who rode upon it. The old man tells him that he’s out where he shouldn’t oughta be. He told him that the big ol’ out there ain’t no place to be when the weather’s turnin’, but would he listen? The durn fool’s gonna freeze out there. Got a death wish he has, he seen it in his eyes. Cylla replies no matter, he’s on foot now; they can catch him in no time. Bloodscream asks for a moment. The chase has been long and he hungers. With that, the old man’s face is one of absolute fear.

Standing on a mountainside, Wolverine thinks to himself that, if the wind hadn’t shifted on that mountain cutback a few days back, he would have never caught their scent. They would’ve come up behind him with the wind in their faces and got the jump on him. Back on the highway with all the diesel fumes, they could’ve done it. Not so easy out there. This is his turf, his hunting ground. As far as his eyes can see, as far as his voice can carry. He then howls and challenges them – let them come.

Down in the forest, Cylla asks Bloodscream if he heard that. Wolverine is heading up into the high country. She then tells him to cut the old man loose, he’s just slowing them down. Bloodscream asks her if she knowest of the Masai. They bear not the burden of food on the march, for they drinketh the blood of their cattle. Cylla tells him that her power cells are low, so she is shutting down her long-range sensors. She adds that she is very hungry too. Bloodscream invites her to partake of his meager store, ‘tis old and thin, but still the stuff of sustenance. Cylla tells him no. Bloodscream replies as she will, ‘tis all the more for him. Cylla says that she will get by on her own and is able to kill a bird that is flying by. As she eats the bird, she tells Bloodscream to just get on with what he has to do so they can get back on the trail.

Up on the mountain, Wolverine is attempting to make his way through the driving snow. He lost track o’ the days. The blizzard just keeps on comin’. He wonders how does he keep from walkin’ in circles. How does he keep track o’ the direction? He then remembers that he’s luggin’ the honor sword o’ the Yashida clan. He tries to remember the story Mariko told him. The legend of the Masamune blade. It was Yashida Hoken who subdued the powerful bandit lords of the north, 800 years ago and won the unholy blade, said to have been hammered from meteorite iron by demon smiths in the caves of Kyushu. Yashida Hoken had Masamune himself re-forge the blade into a new sword, the sword he now carries – the honor sword. A sword hammered from meteorite iron, an alien lodestone. He wonders if the tamperin’ demagnetized it, or… Jus then, the sword points north. Wolverine then realizes that he’s got himself a compass o’ sorts. As he trudges along he thanks Mariko.

Continuing their pursuit of Wolverine, Cylla mentions to Bloodscream that he’s not really human, is he? Bloodscream replies that he was born of woman, quite ordinary in every way till he was ‘prenticed to be a leech. Cylla asks a what? Bloodscream turns and tells her a sawbones. A hacker of limbs, a cauterizer of open stumps – eventually a naval surgeon in the ships company of bloody Francis Drake – he who the Spaniards called the Dragon. Good Queen Bess made a knight of him, but a dub hath no power to cleanse the taint of piracy, for that in truth they wert. Engaged they were in the involuntary transfer of title on a bullion galleon when a grandee split his breastbone with a pistol ball and would have made of him a meal for fishes had not Drake himself delivered him unto the tattooed hands of the heathen necromancer Dagoo.

With the human form of Bloodscream lying on the ground, Dagoo mention that Cap’n Drake told him to “make whole again.” Dagoo say “no can do, he make undead.” With his potions, Bloodscream asks what he has done. Dagoo told him that he gives life. Bloodscream recalls it was a false sort of life that needs to be replenished with living blood, an abomination. Dagoo gave him good reason to strangle him be ere he crushed his throat, he made Dagoo surrender the secret of the potion for he feared the waning of its effects. Root of mandrake, spleen of whale, and blood of a man who ageth not. Dagoo told him that he mix with bone of tiger. Tiger no kill him. Nothing kill him but metal not made by man.

Bloodscream asked him where he finds a bloody immortal. Dagoo told him they go to war. ‘Tis true, for all men seek out what they cannot have, e’en if it be their own death. Thus, he soldiered from Yorktown to Austerlitz. Mexico and the Sudan with the legion strangers. Ypres and the Alcazar. Then, on the black night of June 6, 1944 in Normandy, he met a knife-wielding demon. Fifty years later in Madripoor, their paths crossed again and he saw that time had marked him (Logan) not. Upon hearing the story, Cylla asks if he wants Wolverine’s blood for his potion. Bloodscream verifies that he does and then holds up the captive old man. He informs Cylla that he is drained but she can sup the meat of him. Cylla tells him that she may have lost part of her humanity in Pierce’s tanks, but she hasn’t sunk that low, yet. Bloodscream answers as she will and forges on. Henceforth, they will both go hungry.

Further up the mountain, Wolverine continues to trudge through the snow. Rule o’ thumb up in those parts – walk far enough in any direction but north, and you’re gonna find breakfast. As he sees a village in the distance he determines that it’s about time, too. He’s been getting’ might tired o’ chompin’ on the ol’ shank o’ wolf. Still, it’s probably a heap more’n those two doggin’ his trail have had for weeks. Bad way to go – walkin’ into the cold white nowhere with emptiness gnawin’ yer gut. He almost feels sorry for ‘em, but not quite.

Sometime later, Cylla and Bloodscream happen upon the spot that Wolverine just vacated. Cylla indicates that she can’t make it. She turned off all suit functions, she needs food. Bloodscream tells her that his trace is strong and they are closing the gap. Up in the distance, they see a piece of wolf meat that Wolverine left behind. As Cylla rushes towards it, Bloodscream stops her and tells her that he mocks them. He streweth their path with orts. He doesn’t let her eat the wolf leg and tells her to stay her hunger. They shall soon have their cold dish, and sweet shall it be.

Down, in the town of Logan, Wolverine is chomping away at another half-dozen burgers. He tells the waitress that he needs a phone so he can call the station master at Heath Junction. The waitress tells him that old man Cooley flew the coop and departed for parts unknown. Leastwise, he wasn’t around when the special stopped there. She adds that he should have ridden that big ol’ Harley Davidson they found on the platform. It had a tag on it that said “Logan,” so they brought it there. No name or address, just “Logan.” She asks what he makes o’ that. Outside, Wolverine sees Bloodscream and Cylla heading into town.

Finished with his meal, Wolverine heads outside and gets on his motorcycle. Bloodscream tells him ‘tis a poor thing of iron, made by human hands, ‘twill not serve him. Wolverine tells him that it’ll fire up; they build them good in Milwaukee. Cylla, holding on to Bloodscream tells him that she can barely stand. She doesn’t have the strength to fight him. Bloodscream tells her neither does he, not until he drinks of the last of his cattle. Cylla asks cattle? What is he… Bloodscream grabs her by the throat and tells her she is the cattle. He asks her if she thinks she wert more than a meal on the hoof? ‘Tis his life essence, drawn hot and salty, that is her only worth.

Draining Cylla’s life-force, killing her, Bloodscream says that the spark of animation, the spectral pith of vitality wasted in the husk of a vengeful trollop yet fanned to flame within the breast of one who hath traversed the ages, it burneth brightly. Revving up his motorcycle, Wolverine tells him that it’s time to snuff his pilot light. Bloodscream asks with his steed of iron and his heathen snickersnee? Wolverine unsheathes his sword and speeds towards the monstrous form of Bloodscream. The sword has honor, the sword remembers. Bloodscream challenges him, calling him “Patch,” that now has come an ending, and ending to all his days. With one swift swing of the blade, Wolverine connects with Bloodscream, causing him to tumble backwards.

As Wolverine drives away, he looks back at the human form of Bloodscream and asks him why does he have such a surprised look on his mug. Did he think he could live forever?

Characters Involved: 




Old man Cooley

Waitress in a diner in the town of Logan (unnamed)

In Bloodscream’s memories:

Sir Francis Drake


Various pirates (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Winnie the Pooh was a famous child character created by A.A. Milne. He and some of his friends, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and Roo all live in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Bloodscream faced Wolverine when he was Patch back in Wolverine (2nd series) #4-6.

This issue marks the death of Cylla and at first glance, Bloodscreams as well.

Sir Francis Drake lived from 1540-1596. He was an English privateer, navigator, slave trader, among other professions of the Elizabethan era. He was knighted by the Queen in 1581 and was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He was known to the Spaniards as "El Draque" meaning “the Dragon.”

The Battle of Normandy, D-Day, was part of World War II and began on June 6, 1944 and ended on June 30, 1944.

Logan was confirmed to have been part of D-Day back in Wolverine (2nd series) #34, where he served with a man by the name of Dooling.

Issue Information: 
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