Wolverine (3rd series) #32

Issue Date: 
November 2005
Story Title: 
Prisoner Number Zero

Mark Millar (writer), Kaare Andrews (pencils), Jose Villarrubia (colors), VC’s Randy Gentile (letters), Cory Sledmeier (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Andrew Devenney, Andrew Wickliffe & Will Eisner

Brief Description: 

Poland, 1942. Major Bauman arrives at the Sobibor death camp and is the new boss there. The former boss had just committed suicide, so that’s why a void had to be filled. Upon arrival, Bauman finds a prisoner doing nothing and gets upset by it. That man… is Logan! He orders his soldiers to shoot Logan to make an example out of him for the other inmates, so they do and later burn up his body. But that very same night, Logan returns, alive and well. Bauman freaks out, and he and his soldiers shoot and torture Logan again, until they think he’s dead. But he keeps on coming back. The next day, Bauman’s mentor, General Heydrich, pays a visit. He still isn’t pleased with the camp, despite its few improvements, and wants to see a possibility being created so five thousand more prisoners can be held. Heydrich also believes that Logan can’t die, and he and the other soldiers gather around and kill Logan every single week after that, until Heydrich is murdered by the British. Bauman, in the meantime, grows insane because of this. Soldiers later inform him that a prisoner refuses to die in the gas chambers, and that he wants to have a talk with Bauman. He runs outside, and finds Logan with lots of killed soldiers around him. Bauman ties Logan up on a chair and tortures him, but he still doesn’t die. Logan doesn’t even say a word. Bauman continues kicking Logan around until he drops against a table, on which a lit candle stood. The light falls on the floor and the entire room catches on fire. A bookcase falls on Bauman, killing the man, and the fire consumes Logan. However, the very next day, he’s alive again and watches how a new boss arrives at the camp, ready for action.

Full Summary: 

Poland, 1942, World War II…

The commandant in charge of the Sobibor death camp had just committed suicide and so the Schutzstaffel were left with something of a void to fill. So, more victims were arrested and transported to the camp inside trucks. This camp was a disgrace, compared with Auschwitz and Treblinka. Discipline was poor, escapes were not unknown and the camp’s extermination rates were embarrassingly low. In other words, as General Reinhard Heydrich stressed when he offered a new guard the job, Sobibor would be the perfect chance for a young man like him to make a big impression.

Bauman was still going places back in those days, straight to the top, according to his allies in the Party. This was hardly where he planned to spend the rest of the war, but the experience would look good to his superiors, he surmised. Besides, processing people and sticking to a timetable was hardly the most challenging of asks for a young man with Bauman’s abilities.

The victims are released from the truck, and Logan, covered in shadows, is one of them. With an angry look on his face, Logan enters the camp.

After Bauman makes himself comfortable in his operating room, his superiors arrive. One of them takes a look at the collection of Bauman’s books, thinking he is quite a reader. Bauman is actually a writer. He explains that most of his collection is reference books, though all his favorite novels are in the wooden boxes around the room. Bauman likes to carry them around, just to keep them safe. The boss never saw the point of hanging onto books once you’ve already read them. Bauman knows what his boss means, but they are trophies to him. They are all lined up to make one look more studious. Personally, he just keeps them around for inspiration.

Boxes of wine are carried inside, and Shenker jokingly asks Bauman if he keeps these around for inspiration as well. Bauman claims that some of these bottles have been in his family for over three hundred years. Since Bauman is aware that Berlin is such a strange, unpredictable place at the moment, he feels better knowing that, if he’s going to hell, a few bottles of his finest red wine are coming too. Bauman takes a look at one of the bottles, which is named “La Fin du Monde” and has a picture of a flaming devil skull on it.

Later, the camp gets audited. Muller doesn’t understand the situation but Bauman doesn’t think it’s complicated. All he’s asking is why they are wasting money on food for these people when that money could be going to the War Effort. Muller explains that’s because the prisoners require a certain level of sustenance. How else would they get their work done? Bauman doesn’t think that shaving heads and burning bodies is a skilled job. All they have to do is ship more in. The Jews are hardly in short supply. Bauman notices Logan just standing around and gets angry at him, demanding that he starts working. Logan doesn’t do anything, making Bauman even more upset.

Bauman tells his soldiers to look at Logan. He wonders what kind of camp the soldiers have been running lately. Even the prisoners are laughing at them. Bauman remembers Logan, having seen him staring at him through the fence as he was driving through the gates. He orders the soldiers to stick Logan up against the supply sheds. The soldiers do as told, and Logan doesn’t even struggle. Once Logan is against the shed, Bauman orders the soldiers to shoot him. The soldiers are startled. Bauman tells them not to shoot Logan in the back of his head right away. He wants to make an example of him for all the other inmates. He wants them to shoot his knees first, one at the time. The soldiers do as told.

Logan falls on his knees, from which blood sprouts out. Bauman corrects that now the soldiers can shoot him in the head. They do, and Logan falls down! Bauman angrily tells his prisoners that now they know what happens when they are gawking and fail at doing their work. Bauman walks away, telling the soldiers to dump Logan in the furnace with the others in the furnace.

As an academic, Bauman had very little interest in cruelty, but was wise enough to know that every empire that had ever lived had been built on the bones of women and children. Bauman took no pressure in the camps of their preemptive strikes, but recognized that it was necessary to fight this terror abroad just as they had done for the security of the German homeland. As he writes in the Volkischer Beobachter, the Jews might have started this war when they brought down one of the German’s finest buildings, but it’s the duty of all patriots to finish it. Even the most cultured of men cannot be sentimental when his very nation is under threat.

Suddenly, Bauman hears something… it sounds like whispering? He holds a flashlight closer to the window, and recognizes… Logan?! Freaking out, Bauman calls out to Muller for help. Soldiers quickly dress up and Bauman wants Logan’s head for just dancing around his window like that. The soldiers don’t say that Bauman didn’t see somebody out there in the main yard, but this prisoner he’s talking about was executed and burned this afternoon! Bauman doesn’t believe the soldiers on their word, and point them to look at Logan.

The soldiers try to defend themselves, but Bauman doesn’t want to hear it. The soldiers didn’t do their job properly. He wants them to tell him how Logan managed to fake that bullet wound on his knees. Logan, while still standing in the shadows, doesn’t say a word. Bauman thinks that’s fine, and a soldier hits Logan in his face using his gun. He faints. Bauman orders the soldiers to do take him away and do their job right this time. The soldiers do as told.

Bauman thinks they really did do their jobs right this time. They shoot a bullet through the heart, two in the skull, one in his left lung and three in his stomach. A final bullet shattering his pelvis. They poke holes with their bayonets for a little while too, and then, once satisfied that he was dead, Bauman supervised as Logan was taken to the incinerator and burned like coal. But he could still hear whistling in the dead of night, no matter how many times he tossed and turned or how many bottles he opened. Bauman remembers how stupid he had been, not even wondering why the old commandant had opened up his wrists. And the one before him, too.

The next day, General Heydrich pays a visit. Heydrich wants a confirmation that Bauman’s prisoners take the dead bodies from the gas chambers themselves. Bauman confirms, along with any gold teeth and valuables they might have missed before the victims were locked inside. Then, it’s off to the crematorium in which they now stand in front. Bauman adds that they use their own people to operate the machines and clean out the chambers afterwards, but it seemed like such a waste when some of these prisoners are… He stops talking.

Heydrich asks if something’s wrong. Bauman points him at Logan, who’s sitting nearby. He introduces him as the one they had shot last week. The one they shot twice. And now he’s back again, somehow. One of the soldiers isn’t sure if he recognizes Logan, as he wasn’t on duty last week. Heydrich mentions that, as he was about to say, they are still not happy with the capacity there and would like to see an extension built over by the east wall to hold an additional five thousand. Bauman asks Heydrich if he wants to excuse him for a moment, and walks over to Logan.

He turns his face around, trying to ignore Bauman. Bauman thinks that this is insane. He saw his soldiers kill Logan himself. They shot him in the head and poked holes in his chest. How is Logan doing this? Bauman angrily takes out his gun, and shoots Logan! He falls down on his knees. A line of soldiers gathers around, and shoot Logan at each turn until he faints and they think he’s dead.

Bauman wishes he could say it all ended there, out behind the coal bunkers with a few well-placed shots, but it didn’t. Not as far as he was concerned. Though he knew there were whispers in the lower ranks that he had lost his mind since he came to Sobibor. Week after week, Bauman had to have Logan all lined up until he found what he was so sure was that little man hiding among the Jews or the communists or the sexual delinquents.

Week after week, they had have firing squads, stabbings, beatings and beheadings until he was absolutely sure Logan wasn’t breathing anymore. On the 27th of May, Bauman’s friend and mentor, Reinhard Heydrich, was assassinated in his car by a gang of British-trained Czechs. That night, Bauman started opening the old, Oak-rich wines he had promised his father he would pass along his children and grandchildren. Outside, the wind was whistling a haunting and familiar tune.

The next day, a soldier brings Bauman his food, correcting that actually it’s almost noon. The soldier asks Bauman if he would like to sit up before he gives him the tray. Bauman tells the soldiers to keep his tray. Last thing he feels like doing after last night is staring at a plate of runny eggs. Another soldier informs Bauman that they’ve got a problem with one of the gas chambers. Bauman tells the soldiers to just phone the technicians then. The soldier corrects that they can’t, because this isn’t a technical problem. Well, not exactly.

Bauman wants to know what the soldier is talking about. The soldier mentions that one of the prisoners just isn’t dying. Bauman can’t believe that. The soldiers inform Bauman that the prisoner told them it’s time they had a talk. Bauman and the soldiers walk outside, and find Logan sitting on his knees, with lots of dead bodies of soldiers lying around him!

Bauman takes Logan inside his operating room and ties him up on a chair. Bauman claims he isn’t stupid and that he knows what Logan is. He’s one of those special people. One of those freaks who can do things people shouldn’t be able to do. He claims there’s nothing supernatural about all this. Logan is just a quirk of nature. Like that boy Gustav Reifsnyder said he saw pick apart an armored car just by looking at it. Bauman asks Logan if he has any idea where Gustav is now. Either way, while drinking yet another glass of wine, Bauman tells Logan that he isn’t going to ruin his reputation. He wants to know who send Logan there to make Bauman look like a fool.

Logan doesn’t answer. Bauman becomes furious, and breaks his wine bottle on Logan’s head! Bauman knows they can’t kill Logan. But, he can still feel pain. He still bleeds like the rest of them. And this gift of his, Bauman concludes, this ability to recover from any wound, well, he mentions it won’t be such a blessing when he’s tied to a chair. Bauman sarcastically mentions that this could all go on for months. Years, even. Logan could be his exercise every night after work. So, Bauman tells Logan to be smart and just talk to him. Though with blood floating over his face, Logan still sits in shadows and doesn’t respond. Bauman gets angry and wants to know why Logan picked him. Logan still doesn’t respond, but gets an evil grin on his face.

Bauman throws another wine bottle against Logan’s head, and kicks him to the other end of the room. The chair breaks apart, and Logan falls on the floor. Bauman sticks several bottles through Logan’s chest and shouts at him to die! He kicks Logan against a table, but on it stood a light candle. It falls on the floor as well and mixes with the wine. The entire room catches on fire. The fire grabs onto Logan, but he still smiles, with the exact same evil look. While Logan’s body starts burning up, he can see how a bookcase falls onto Bauman, crushing him. The flames finish the rest.

Outside, soldiers gather and see the house burning up, but don’t know what’s going on.

The next day, a new car drives through the camp gates. The driver recalls that the commandant in charge of the Sobibor death camp had just died under unknown circumstances, and so the Schutzstaffel where left with something of a void to fill. This camp was a disgrace compared with Auschwitz and Treblinka. Discipline was poor, escapes were not unknown and the camp’s extermination rates were embarrassingly low. In other words, as General Reinhard Hydrich’s brief successor so succinctly put it, Sobibor would be the perfect chance for a young man like this new guy to make a big promotion.

Naturally, he knew nothing of that hairy little stranger. Turning here now in this much-too-warm place, he can only smile at how they all thought he was locked up there with them when they first saw Logan shivering in the cold. But the truth, of course, was quite, quite different…

The honest truth was, they were locked up there with HIM! Logan takes a look at the new Major of the camp, the same way he did with Bauman.

Characters Involved: 


Major Bauman

General Reinhard Heydrich

Shenker (Bauman’s boss)

various Nazi soldiers including Muller (others unnamed)

various Nazi victims (all unnamed)

a new Major to the Sobibor death camps (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Though it’s intentionally unclear, in the afterword by writer Mark Millar, it gets confirmed that the person, who’s constantly covered in shadows throughout the story, is actually Wolverine. During the interview, he revealed that super-heroes should not be used in situations in which real life people died, like Vietnam and Iraq, so that’s why he tried covering it up by constantly keeping Logan in shadows and with him not saying a single word throughout the issue, and that fans only could recognize him by the cover and his unique hair style. The idea to this story is from Millar himself, but the plan of having Logan speechless came from legendary comic book writer Will Eisner (creator of the Spirit), so that’s why he’s named in the Special Thanks section of this summary.

The story is narrated by Major Bauman.

“La Fin du Monde”, is the French translation for “The End of the World.”

The boy that Gustav Reifsnyder said he saw pick apart an armored car just by looking at it is most likely a young Magneto, who was also a prisoner of the Nazi death camps during his youth.

Issue Information: 
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