Wolverine (2nd series) #9

Issue Date: 
July 1989
Story Title: 
Promises to Keep

Peter David (writer), Gene Colan (art), Bill Oakley (letterer), Mark Chiarello (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In the past, a group of mercenaries are trying to find somewhere safe after two of them are killed by Logan. They are soon attacked in a cabin, and Logan takes out Van Slyke before disappearing into the woods. That night, their leader, Malone, dreams of how Logan took out Shelly and Schmidt, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles away to safety. Logan has followed them all the way. Logan makes an appearance that night, and simply says, “Remember Iraq?” before vanishing into the woods again. The mercs follow him outside and find Rollins dead. With just Bruno, Malone and Needle still alive, they take a canoe and head down river. Malone figures this has to do with an incident in Iraq five years ago tomorrow. They were hired to storm the American Embassy. There, Malone abused a nun before escaping by the skin of his teeth when the Embassy was attacked. Logan manages to destroy their canoe and kills Needle. Bruno then figures that, if he kills Malone, whose idea the Iraq job was in the first place, Logan might let him live. Malone kills him before he gets the chance. Malone heads down the shoreline, until he runs out of both energy and land. Logan appears beside him, overlooking a precipice, which drops into a ravine. Logan informs Malone that the nun was Canadian, and she had told him in her dying breath to ensure they suffered as she had. Logan was angry that they had taken away her spirit and her soul to the point where she could not forgive them. Malone points out that he’s a day early, but Logan tells him he forgets the time zone. Iraq is a day ahead of them. Malone takes his own life rather than be butchered by Logan, and Logan heads off with no sense of satisfaction coming from his actions. In the present, Karma offers Logan a drink. She comments that he was lost in thought. Logan replies that he was thinking of a man who avenged a nun once. He was a different man to Logan; more of a loner and more vicious, but less of a man. He accepts the drink, figuring this’ll be a long night.

Full Summary: 

(flashback, several years ago)

A group of mercenaries arrive at a rundown motel, which is advertising vacancies. They want a cabin, and the lethargic manager says he’ll be with them once he’s finished reading an interview in Playboy. He then glances over and notices the men, one of whom is picking his teeth with a blade. The manager agrees to let them have the Norman Bates cabin, and the group’s leader, Malone, hands him some cash. They turn to leave, but hear a ripping sound. They’re jumpy, and turn back to the manager who explains he was just ripping a page out for his collection.

They head to their cabin, but Malone thinks he sees something out of the corner of his eye. The others think he’s just being nervous, and Malone lets it go. Van Slyke is nominated point man as they enter the cabin, and Malone carefully locks the door behind them once inside. He, along with Rollins, Bruno, Van Slyke and Needle, are relieved to be safe once more. Van Slyke doesn’t think he’s following them anymore, but Rollins asks what about Schmidt and Shelly. They’re worm food.

Van Slyke lights a cigarette and replies, “so what.” They’re hundreds of miles away from where that happened. He couldn’t have followed them all this way. If he had, he’d have killed them by now. That’s how he knows he’s not following them - they’re still alive. Van Slyke suddenly pauses, as he hears a snikt coming from the other side of the door and, an instant later, Logan’s claws smash through the timber, narrowly missing Van Slyke’s face.

Logan’s follow up assault kills him instantly. From outside the cabin, Logan says, “Thought I came for you, Malone? Not yet.” The mercs exit the cabin and spread out. They shoot aimlessly into the trees, and Rollins figures they must have got him. Malone hits him across the face with his gun, and asks if they got him last time, or the time before that? Since he’s so sure, Malone says Rollins can take the first watch, and shoot anything that moves.

(flashback, Malone’s dream)

That night, as the mercenaries sleep, Malone dreams about how this whole saga began. Schmidt was killed whilst out hunting deer. A voice from the trees told them he could kill them all right there, but now wasn’t the time - so they should start running. The mercs shot into the trees, but the voice only told them, “Nice try,” before dropping Schmidt’s body in front of them. Logan knew they daren’t go to the authorities, as they’d love to get their hands on these guys. They were on their own, just them, and Logan. He then killed Shelly.

(flashback, reality)

Malone wakes up sweating and then notices Rollins just lying there with a sheet covering his body. The body rises, and Malone figures it’s just a joke, but suddenly three adamantium claws emerge from underneath and Logan steps out from underneath. “Remember Iraq?” he asks, before leaping through the window. The mercenaries fan out and soon discover Rollins dead body on the ground outside. Malone considers what Logan just said to them.

Bruno says that the Iraq thing happened five years ago, but Malone reckons it means five years ago tomorrow. Needle doesn’t think that’s right, but Malone reiterates that the Iraq thing was five years ago tomorrow. Bruno wonders where they’re gonna go. They’re playing his game. He suddenly has an idea to set fire to the woods, but Malone replies that even if they manage to survive, it won’t stop him. If they make it to a city he’ll follow them there too. Whatever he is, he’s nuts. He’s a loon.

Bruno asks him to shush or he’ll make him angry. Malone laughs out loud, but then asks him to shut up or he’ll kill him himself. As they tread carefully through the forest, Malone recalls the Iraq incident. They wanted to take over the heavily-guarded American Embassy there, but didn’t have the guts or the know-how. They went looking for mercs and hired Malone and his guys.

(flashback, five years earlier, minus one day)

The mercenaries were in Iraq, decked out in military gear and carrying rifles. They managed to successfully overpower the embassy’s guards and spent days inside with the hostages, waiting for the president to give in to the ransom demands. They played cards and drank, and began going stir crazy. Malone took a fancy to a nun there. She kept turning down Malone’s advances, until one day Malone said he guessed he’d have to shoot her. He lined her up with two others, just to see the looks on their faces when the rifle’s clicked. “Not today I guess,” Malone smirked, taunting the nun. “Maybe tomorrow.” Every day, sometimes three times a day they did the same thing, and Malone did other things with the nun besides.

Suddenly, it all fell apart for the mercs. On the thirteenth day, a group of soldiers attacked them, and Malone only escaped by shooting one of them, stealing his uniform and keeping his head down until he was clear of danger. One of the Iraqis saw him, but before Malone reached him, the guy had his throat cut by an unseen assailant.

(flashback, reality)

Malone suddenly realizes that the man tracking them now was there back then. Whatever he was… is… he was there at the operation that fell apart, five years ago tomorrow. They come across a couple of guys with a canoe and take it from them at gunpoint. They then head down river at some speed, and figure the lunatic will never follow them now. As they paddle, suddenly, a hand pops out of the water in front of the canoe and three blades shoot out of its knuckles. They slice the canoe apart, and the three remaining mercs hit the water.

Needle is dragged underwater, leaving just Malone and Bruno left alive to face him. They drag themselves onto the bank, and Bruno shoots into the water. Malone tells him not to bother. At least the pistols still work. The rifles are ruined. Bruno asks where they’re gonna go. The guys nuts and will kill all of them, and all because of that Iraq thing. It wasn’t even his idea, remarks Bruno. “You made me go, Man. You did.”

Malone asks him to get a grip on himself, but Bruno figures that maybe the guy will allow him to live if he kills Malone. He aims his rifle at his leader, and shouts into the forest, “You watching?! Let me live! Let…” Without warning, Malone shoots him in the chest, and leaves Bruno dead. Idiot, he thinks. He told him the water ruined their rifles.

Malone makes his way on foot quickly through the forest, staying along the shoreline so he can’t be snuck upon. Maybe he’ll find help, he thinks. Heck, he’d even go with a cop. Anything’s better than this. After running for what seems like hours, he is tired, and he comes to a halt at the edge of a vertical precipice overlooking a waterfall. With nowhere left to run, Logan walks up behind him and asks Malone if he’s wondering, why? Of course, replies Malone.

Logan recounts his tale. He explains that there were a few Canadians in that American Embassy. So, when the yanks opted to send in Delta Force, they contacted the Canadian government. He was government issue at the time, called Weapon X. They sent him along. “Canadians in the embassy?” asks Malone, inquisitively. Logan replies that included amongst them was a Canadian nun. “Ah,” replies Malone.

Logan knows that Malone marched her out every day and pretended to kill her. “Not yet, you’d say, and then you’d use her.” When Logan found her she was dying from a bullet after being caught in a crossfire. One civilian casualty is what the military calls ‘acceptable losses.’ Before she died, she told Logan what he’d one to her. This woman, whose whole life was built on love and forgiveness, asked Logan to promise her he would make them suffer like she suffered. The last thing the nun heard from Logan’s mouth was, “I promise.”

Malone points out that he didn’t kill her, but Logan tells him he did worse. He destroyed her spirit and her soul to the point where there was no forgiveness left for him. Well, there’s certainly none from Logan. Right after the incident he got busy, but he never forgot. Now, on the fifth anniversary, he has tracked them down to keep that promise. Malone points out that he forgets, he can’t kill him today. The anniversary’s tomorrow. Logan snikts his claws, and tells Malone that he forgets the time difference. In Iraq, it is tomorrow.

Malone knows he is going to die, and says it’ll make his foe very happy to see his blood dripping from his claws. Well, the last thing he wants to do is to make him happy. He takes his pistol and points it at his head, pulls the trigger and kills himself. His body falls into the ravine, and Logan retracts his claws. Killing Malone wouldn’t have made him happy. Maybe Malone thinks he’s won, but it makes no difference to Logan, because taking a life doesn’t being him any joy. Hardly anything does, except innocence. Because he sees so little, he’s learned to cherish it, and all Malone knew how to do was destroy it.


Patch is jolted from this memory by Karma, asking him if he wants another drink. She asks if he’s okay. He was a million miles away. Patch tells her he was thinking about a long time ago, back before he had any friends, or X-friends. He looks at a wooden cross he’s holding. He was thinking about a nun, he explains. She died years ago, today in fact. He was thinking about the man who avenged her a couple years back.

“Was it you?” she asks. “A man like me,” he replies. He was more of a loner, more vicious, more lots of things, but less of a man. He asks her to bring him another drink. It looks like being a long night.

Characters Involved: 



Bar customers

(in flashback)


Bruno, Cubby, Malone, Needle, Rollins, Schmidt, Shelly, Van Slyke (all mercs)

Story Notes: 

Playboy Magazine is a well-known pioneering pornographic magazine, owned by celebrated publisher, Hugh Heffner.

The ‘Norman Bates Cabin’ refers to the 1960 movie Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. Norman Bates was the motel manager and the psycho that the title refers to. The movie was remade scene for scene in 1998 by Gus Van Sant and starred Vince Vaughan and Anne Heche.

Characters called Annette and Cubby are mentioned in the story, but they are a joke, referring to Mouseketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club show, which aired in the 1950’s. They were Annette Funicello and Cubby O’Brien.

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