Wolverine (3rd series) #23

Issue Date: 
February 2005
Story Title: 
Enemy of the State - part 4

Mark Millar (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson (inkers), Paul Mounts (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Jennifer Lee (editor), Axel Alonso (exc. editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine’s rampage as an assassin for Hydra and the Hand continues. During a devastating attack on Stark International, SHIELD finds the remains of Wolverine’s latest victim, the young hero called the Hornet. Signs of Wolverine’s true personality trying to regain control do not lessen the impact of his current actions. SHIELD has hired Elektra to lead the efforts to capture Wolverine. She handily repels an attack by the Hand while plotting out the best ways to take Wolverine down. Part of her plan involves using the psychics at the Xavier Institute to try and anticipate Hydra’s next move through precognition. Hydra’s mysterious financer is revealed to be Elsbeth Von Strucker, the aged and wealthy wife of Baron Von Strucker himself. She has grown unsatisfied by her husband’s leadership of Hydra and the direction he is pursuing. Elsbeth is a Satanist with a vision of bringing about the end of all life on Earth and views her husband’s attempts to undermine society’s institutions as antiquated and boring. SHIELD has the “big guns” of the superhuman community under lock and key and is now relying on “street level” heroes to counter Hydra’s operations. However, it becomes clear that even “street level” heroes are a target when Wolverine leads a team of Hand ninjas to capture Daredevil.

Full Summary: 

Colonel Nick Fury and Elektra Natchios are surveying the site of Wolverine’s latest assault: Stark International in New York. As they walk amidst the rubble, a SHIELD agent informs them that Wolverine has killed Spider-Man and they have just unearthed his body. He goes on to explain that Wolverine attacked Stark International with a hundred Hydra agents. Within fourteen minutes, they had slaughtered Stark’s security forces, stolen various data files and destroyed all the current defense projects Stark was working on for the US government.
Fury asks where Iron Man was and the agent notes that he was in Helsinki on business. He adds that Spider-Man showed up but was overwhelmed by the forces led by Wolverine and that his guts were hanging out as a result of his efforts.
The agent states that after the battle, Wolverine was seen petting a dog and smiling as if nothing had happened. Fury asks if Wolverine was in costume, which he was. SHIELD’s profilers suggest that this is being done for the added psychological impact.
Fury wonders why Spider-Man was operating on his own since he ordered that all New York’s “capes” work in pairs until the situation with Wolverine was resolved. At that moment, a SHIELD paramedic calls Fury over to Spider-Man’s body. She reports that they did their best to save him but that even he had given up. Fury looks down at the body and says that it isn’t Spider-Man but one of the Slingers. Elektra identifies him as The Hornet. Fury looks down at him and comments that the guy dies in the line of fire and no one even gets his name right. Behind Fury, Elektra unsheathes her sword and offers to handle the decapitation. Fury is initially taken aback by this suggestion until Elektra reminds him that they are dealing with the Hand and that part of their intent is to resurrect and brainwash the heroes they manage to kill. Fury and his agents reluctantly stand back as Elektra beheads the Hornet’s corpse.
Back in her posh hotel room, Elektra is working out. She notes that she has been hired by SHIELD at an exorbitant rate to assist in bringing in Wolverine. It has now been five weeks since he was resurrected and turned by Hydra and he’s made eighteen significant strikes. She has been tracking these attacks as well as other Hydra strikes against Earth’s heroes. The alliance between Hydra, the Hand and the Dawn of the White Light is an effort by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker to maintain control of Hydra. As she completes her workout, room service arrives with twelve different meals. When the room service staff asks how many places to set, Elektra comments that it’s just her but she hasn’t decided what she wants yet.
Elektra continues her mental review of the case. She describes Elsbeth Von Strucker, the Baron’s third wife and the fourth wealthiest person on the planet. She notes that until three weeks earlier, SHIELD didn’t even know she existed. Rumor has it that Elsbeth is one hundred and seventy-five years old and has been the lover of several kings and US presidents. She has also been funding Hydra since 1957. Other noteworthy facts include the fact that she’s a Satanist, a chess genius and the financial force behind some of the world’s largest corporations.
Elektra moves to the window of her suite and steps out onto the snowy balcony despite the fact that she is only wearing a sports bra and workout “briefs”. She leaps from the balcony and bounces off of a power line, using the momentum to launch herself onto a nearby rooftop. As she somersaults agilely to a nearby perch, she thinks about what Baron von Strucker is trying to accomplish. He is using Wolverine and his plans to convert other superheroes into an army of assassins as a last ditch effort to retain control of Hydra. She notes that SHIELD counts 4,700 superheroes in the US currently. Even if Hydra only manages to acquire and turn five or ten percent of the current active heroes they would be a considerable threat. This would be especially true if they got even one or two heavy hitters. She notes that Wolverine alone has half the world’s security agencies on red alert.
Elektra pauses on a ledge and without turning around says to the legion of Hand ninjas behind her that they may as well attack her now. The Hand ninjas advance and Elektra cracks the ice beneath her hand and sends a fistful of shards towards her attackers. One of the ninjas note that she is barefoot, half-naked and unarmed as Elektra pries loose a pipe to use as a weapon. She wades into the crowd of ninjas, quickly snatching up the sword of the first one who falls. She cuts off limbs and hands; thinking to herself that she stills gets sentimental when fighting her perennial foes. She decimates the group of ninjas in a matter of minutes, their green blood dripping from her body. She then contacts Nick Fury to let him know that the Hand is aware of her presence and alliance with SHIELD and that she has just devised three perfect plans for capturing Wolverine.
Meanwhile at the Xavier Institute, SHIELD guards monitor the gates. Inside, Kitty Pryde chases after Emma Frost having just seen the news of Wolverine’s latest attacks. Kitty notes that there were forty or fifty casualties but no fatalities. She is also thankful that the media is keeping Logan’s name out of their reports at SHIELD’s insistence. Ever the cynic, Emma insists it is not to protect Logan’s reputation or those of mutants, but to cover up SHIELD’s own inability to handle the situation. Kitty changes the subject by asking Emma about The Gorgon whom she has reportedly met. Emma notes that he dated a friend of hers in Japan when he was only twelve and her friend was in her late thirties. Emma says that he was a lunatic even then and completely anti-life. She asks Kitty if she’s heard the story of how he joined the Hand. When Kitty says she hasn’t, Emma replies that she’s lucky. At this point, Kitty realizes that Emma has been speaking telepathically and asks why. When Emma tells her it is just a touch of laryngitis, Kitty sarcastically suggests that Emma might want to consider wearing a bit more.
Emma leads Kitty into the Cerebra chamber where she has assembled the surviving Stepford Cuckoos and several other students. She explains to Kitty that Elektra has devised an idea for getting around the Hand’s mystical block that is preventing SHIELD and the X-Men from learning Wolverine’s whereabouts. The plan is simple, use Cerebra to amplify the powers of all of the psychics and precogs at the Xavier Institute in an effort to learn where Wolverine will strike next.
In Washington DC, servants in the home of Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker are cleaning up after a gathering. The only ones who remain are the Gorgon, the Baron himself and his wife Elsbeth. The Baron sits playing the piano as Elsbeth flirts with the Gorgon. He thinks to himself that she has ignored him all evening and refused to touch him even though they have not seen each other in months. He recounts a bit about their party, which include the ritual sacrifice of children. Through it all, she has snubbed him while pursuing his young mutant bodyguard. Elsbeth laughs openly when she hears of the Baron’s plans involving Wolverine. She accuses him of being dated in his methods, seeking to undermine systems and governments instead of dedicating himself to cleansing the world of all life, as is the current fashion. The Baron argues that this is the most successful Hydra campaign in decades. She counters that Satan has sent mutants to assist them in ushering in the apocalypse and restoring the planet to a pure and lifeless state. She walks away making it clear that she is heading upstairs to bed…with The Gorgon. She asks the Baron to play some Wagner since it helps her to relax while making love.
In New York, Captain America’s shield bounces off a wall before striking several Hydra agents and then returning to his waiting grasp. He reports in to Nick Fury that he and his partner, the Falcon have cleared out another Hydra cell. This time they were using a Girl Scout Hall as their hideout. Fury sends in some clean-up crews, noting to Cap that Hydra has increased activity to the point where their forces are spread dangerously thin. He also mentions that they can’t risk sending in “capes” for fear that Hydra and the Hand will get a hold of them. The Falcon suggests that they continue to keep the “big guns” under lock and key while the street level heroes clean out Hydra’s operations.
Cap asks if there’s anything further regarding Wolverine. Fury reports that he blew up three banks and a credit union, killed half a dozen police officers in the process and released a gas bomb on a naval liner in a single afternoon. The odd thing, noted Fury, was that he also stopped an attempted sexual assault. Fury wonders what his motives are here; committing heinous terrorist attacks but still stopping crime as well. Cap responds that it sounds as if Logan is trying to fight Hydra’s conditioning. Fury responds that he is trying hard enough. He has just received reports of an arson at the IRS complex in Manhattan and Emma’s team of psychics have predicted a major act of terrorism on American soil using one of the devices stolen from Reed Richard’s database. Cap’s communications signal cuts out as the power in Manhattan blinks out. Wolverine detonated a minor EM pulse and sent SHIELD a 30-second warning along with a message. He wants a “big-name partner”.
As Colonel Fury wonders what that means, a team of Hand ninjas leap across another snowy rooftop. They drop down onto the roof of Matt Murdock’s brownstone in Hell’s Kitchen. Inside, Matt is asleep on the couch in his Daredevil costume sans the mask. The ninjas move in noiselessly. Wolverine recalls what the Black Widow once shared with him about Daredevil. Wolverine knows that Daredevil is blind but can hear a pin drop from a block away and that his team of Hand ninjas has to be quieter than that to get the drop on him. Matt’s eyes open as Wolverine presses his gloved fist to the side of his face. Logan asks where his guards are and wonders if SHIELD thinks that Hydra’s only after superheroes with big, noisy powers. He makes it clear that they aren’t and that the Hand has been after Daredevil for a long, long time.

Characters Involved: 

Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, Emma Frost (both X-Men)

Stepford Cuckoos (Celeste, Mindee and Phoebe)

Unnamed mutant pre-cogs from the Xavier Institute student body

Nick Fury

Elektra Natchios

Eddie McDonough/The Hornet

Steve Rogers/Captain America, Sam Wilson/Falcon

Matt Murdock/Daredevil

Room service staff at Elektra’s hotel
The Gorgon, Elsbeth Von Strucker, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker (All Hydra)
Hydra agents, advisors and technicians

Hand ninjas

Unnamed thugs and their intended victim

Story Notes: 

Eddie McDonough AKA The Hornet was a members of the Slingers, a group of young heroes who adopted the costumes and identities used by Spider-Man during the “Identity Crisis” story arc. (Sensational Spider-Man #26-28, Amazing Spider-Man #433-435, Peter Parker: Spider-Man #90-92 and Spectacular Spider-Man #256-258) During this period, Spider-Man had a bounty on his head and adopted four new costumes and identities to continue fighting crime until he could unearth who was behind the bounty hunters sent for him.
Elektra herself was resurrected and trained by the Hand. She rebelled against her masters and has been one of their chief foes ever since. She also befriended Wolverine during the period when his humanity was being overwhelmed by his bestial nature. (Wolverine (2nd Series) #103-109) This combined knowledge along with her previous experience working with SHIELD makes her an ideal choice to track down Wolverine.
Under Hydra’s commands, Wolverine infiltrated the Baxter Building and stole files from Reed Richards in Wolverine (3rd series) #22.

Issue Information: 
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