Wolverine (3rd series) #41

Issue Date: 
June 2006
Story Title: 
The Package

Stuart Moore (writer), C.P. Smith (colors), VC’s Randy Gentile (letters), Michael O’Connor (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Rebel forces under the leadership of a general named Lago having been laying siege to the president of the central African nation of Zwartheid. Realizing that the president's dream for ending decades of civil war to the nation is dead, the Black Panther asks the Avengers for help to extricate the deceased president’s infant daughter, so that one day the girl can complete her father’s work and restore peace to the country. Logan volunteers for the mission and promises he’ll do his best. He makes it to the presidential house, where he finds the president already poisoned to death. An assistant of the president hands over the baby to Logan, and he makes it safely outside with her. Logan now makes his way to the border to safety, but along the way he is attacked by a host of angry villagers, soldiers and even Lago himself. Logan manages to kill most of the soldiers but is then confronted by Lago himself, who has his best soldiers, mere children, bring Logan to his knees by a barrage of arrows. Pretending to give up, Logan begins to hand the baby over to Lago so that no more blood will be spilled. However, as Logan gets close enough to Lago, he kills the man. Their leader dead, Logan makes a deal with the young soldiers not to spill any more blood, and Logan is allowed to pass through. He manages to make it to the border, and rescues the baby’s life, hoping she’ll succeed in her future mission.

Full Summary: 

“When two elephants fight in the grass… the grass suffers.”

- Old Liberian Saying

The free Republic of Zwartheid, Africa. Just before nightfall…

High above a lone helicopter, which moves over the African jungle, Wolverine approaches a city, lying in the middle of the forest. Speaking to the pilot, Logan regards the area, saying that it looks like there’s trouble there, all right. Below them, are flames and rising smoke.

When Logan wants to know how much time they’ve got, the pilot – in actuality the Black Panther – explains that the rebels will reach the city within forty minutes. Logan sighs, since that isn’t that long. The Panther wants Logan to remember that, when he lands, he has to go straight to the central government building, where he’ll pick up the package. At all costs, Logan must get it out of this country. Logan smiles that he knows the drill, and tells the Panther to just drop him as close as possible. The Panther thanks Logan for doing this to him, and that only a man of his experience could pull this off. Logan wants the Panther to thank him when this job is over, because he has never done a thing like this before.

Logan jumps out of the helicopter, opening his parachute. A quick glide later, he lands in an empty street, watched from the buildings by its citizens. Removing the parachute, Logan reminds himself that it’s only half a mile and half an hour until the rebels get there. He thinks he’d better move, or else the package will never make it out safely.

Making his way toward the president’s mansion, Logan sneaks by soldiers on guard. He takes a look at their guns, and remarks to himself that they are armed for bear. He thinks that, when the rebels arrive, there will be a bloodbath – which means that he’d better be gone before that starts. He climbs over a wall, and remembers what the Panther instructed him: Logan has to find President Mayamba. He’ll hand him the package.

Wolverine makes it to the government house, but finds President Mayamba dead. He was poisoned, not two hours ago, the woman tells him. He was a great man, she says. Still in haste, Logan asks her for the package, which the woman hands over: a baby girl! When Logan asks the woman what she is going to do, she simply tells Logan to go. Her place is there. Logan stares a little at the woman for a moment, seemingly almost uncertain what to do. Without another word, he takes the baby and straps it into a front-load baby sling. His arms now free, Logan unsheathes his claws and runs out the way he came in. Running at full speed, he jumps over the spiked fence and for the border.

As he sprints to safety, Logan is lost in thought about the status of the nation of Zwartheid, which the United Nations ranks last in quality of life. The average life expectancy around these parts is thirty-six years. The Panther gave Logan the short version on the flight in. Basically, the country’s natural mineral wealth has made it the western nations’ killing ground for more than a century now. President Mayamba actually managed to bring the warring tribes together and stabilize the region.

He was much loved, until he was driven out in a coup ten years ago. The next decade was an unholy nightmare. There were civil wars, in which thousands of children enlisted as soldiers. Whole villagers where all the adult men had one or more limbs amputated to break their spirit. Women and teenage girls got raped and deliberately infected with HIV. Entire tribes were wiped out by malaria, AIDS and genocide. Then, six months ago, Mayamba came back. He was on his way to restoring peace to the region. He even got the warlords and the diamond merchants talking. That all changed when a vicious general named Lago took exception. Mayamba’s hope for peace is dead now. Unless, someday, his daughter can pick up where he left off.

Back to his current situation, Logan thinks that insects around these parts are deadly. The heat is no picnic either. Logan keeps running, until he thinks he’s getting near to the edge of the town. He hopes he can get clear before Lago’s forces storm the place.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, as Logan is spotted by the rebels. At first, Logan is ready for a fight, but then he remembers the importance of the baby he has to rescue, so he decides to hold back – for now. He holds his hands into the air, and walks over to the rebels, lying that he isn’t armed. He asks if anyone of the soldiers speak English. One of them does, and asks the “American” what he wants. Logan corrects that he’s not American, but Canadian and explains that he’s just doing someone a favor.

When the soldier wants to know who the baby is, Logan’s countenance becomes stern, and he states that the baby belongs to a friend of his and that he’s taking her to her mother. Quickly, he tries to change the subject by offering the soldiers some cigarettes. However, the lead soldier replies that he hopes Logan doesn’t take this the wrong way, but they want to know why he, as a white man, is playing messenger boy for a black baby.

Logan thinks to himself that the soldier is talking tough, but he thinks he can get through him. An American would be dead by now. Still, he wants to try a gamble. Logan smiles that there are two different ways to which he can answer that question. He states that the difference is in whether the soldiers are working for Lago or Mayamba. After a moment of consideration, the officer accepts the cigarettes and tells his men to let Logan pass. They do as told and, as the officer takes a cigarette in his mouth, Logan continues his voyage.

Sometime later, after leaving the city, Wolverine realizes that he got lucky. He found a patriot who saw something in his eyes. But, he realizes he won’t get that lucky twice. Though he’s out of the city now, it’s still eighty miles to the border. And this terrain is murder on his senses. The smells are overwhelming him, and the high grass and thick jungle in every direction he can see isn’t helping much. Logan hates open grounds like these. Lago’s army could be anywhere without him knowing it until it’s too late. The baby starts to cry, because the grass itches her. Logan uses his claws to cut his way through the grass field, and tells the baby to be quiet.

As he proceeds, Logan curses the Panther, thinking that his country could conquer this whole joint in just a matter of days. However, the Panther has replies that they do not interfere with their sovereign neighbors, claiming that it is every Wakandan chief’s solemn vow. So, the Panther called the Avengers to do his dirty work and, like an idiot, Logan volunteered for the mission. He had figured “what the hell?” He has seen a lot of places in his life, but he has never been to the worst country on Earth befo….

Suddenly, someone fires an automatic weapon and, with a groan, Logan gets hit! Spotting a solider in the field, Logan realizes there could be more hiding, but still he advances. As he uses his right arm and hand to protect the baby, Logan snikts his claws out of the other. Two shots from another sniper hit him and he thinks that he hates being right all the time.

Wolverine has only one advantage here: his speed. That isn’t enough though, as he needs an equalizer. After he kills the first soldier, Logan takes his gun and moves the baby sling to his back. He then pops up out of the grass and uses the rifle to shoot the other soldiers! Four soldiers are dead now, five including the man at his feet. Logan looks in front of him, and notices that the jungle is only fifty feet away from him. With a little luck, he can make it there safely. However, more soldiers arrive on the battlefield, driving a jeep, a troops transport and a tank. Unsheathing his claws again, ready for action, he thinks that luck, she ain’t his date tonight.

Even as the soldiers from the transport open fire, Wolverine continues running toward them. Arriving at the vehicle, he uses his claws to slice open the tires, causing it to list and fall on it’s side in an explosion. Logan then makes his way toward the jeep and leaps toward it. Quickly tossing he driver off, Logan drives off, telling himself that he’s got to keep moving.

An explosion behind the jeep draws Logan attention to a helicopter above. Almost instinctively, Logan knows that in the helicopter sits Lago! Logan uses rocket launcher from the truck, and barely misses Lago’s helicopter. No time for another shot, Logan drives on, into the forest. It doesn’t matter, though, he thinks. The country belongs to Lago, at least for now. Logan’s job is to make sure that won’t stay this way.

A few moments later, Logan surprisingly enough finds an abandoned road – “road” being a relative term in these parts. There’s no sign of Lago forces, which can mean two things: either they decided that he and the baby aren’t worth the trouble, or the soldiers are waiting for them to come out of the other side of this forest. He thinks this is the old mining road the Panther told him about. It was used back before this area was tapped out. If so, it will lead Logan to a small village near the border. Which is a mixed blessing, because there’s a good chance Lago will set up an ambush there. However, Wolverine jokes to the baby that they aren’t so easy to ambush.

On that very moment, Logan’s jeep drives into a pit and tips over violently. Propelled into the air, Wolverine somersaults while clutching the baby to his chest and lands on his feet in a crouched position. Seeing the baby reach out to a nest of ants near where they are crouched, Logan jokes to the baby that, if she’s ever going to rule this country, she has to learn that black ants bad. Sit still in this place, he tells her, and you’re meat for the hunters.

Logan decides to run through the jungle again. He doesn’t know how far or how long he runs. This jungle is hotter than the city was, and at night deadlier as well. Once, Logan thinks he feels a bullet whiz by his ear, but it might have been one of those giant mosquitoes. Somewhere along the line, the baby passes out. Logan reminds himself that he has to get her out of there, as a place like this will eat a little thing like the baby alive.

Emerging from the jungle into a clearing, Logan sees soldiers waiting for him, carrying machetes, handguns and automatic rifles. Regarding them, he recalls what the Panther told him. Whole villages, where all the adult men had one or more limbs amputated. And even after all that, the men are still pressed into service, forced to fight for the very men who maimed and tortured them.

Calling out to these soldiers, Logan tries to explain that he doesn’t want to fight them, and that the border he is heading to is just a couple of miles past their village. One way or another, he’s going across, so they should stop for a minute and ask themselves… is this worth it?

The soldiers don’t listen to what Logan says and open fire. Logan is hit, though he again twists his body to protect the infant. Still standing, he unsheathes his claws and gives them a last chance. This doesn’t have to happen, he tells them. When he soldiers attack, he replies with force and claws.

During the battle, a knife grazes the baby, causing her to bleed. Logan wants to call up the berserker in him. He wants the world to go red, and the killing to become a second nature. But he knows he can’t do that. Logan realizes that, for as long as he’s got the baby to worry about, he has to stay in control of his body.

A few moments later, Wolverine has killed all of the soldiers and continues his voyage yet again. Moving past a few huts, Logan curses the guns. This whole part of the world is filled with them. Pistols, AK’s, Kalashnikov’s and even rocket launchers. It’s a miracle anyone lives past…

Suddenly, Logan gets hit by a host of arrows! There are thousands of them, piercing through his skin – his legs – couple of vital organs, he thinks. The archers are keeping their distance. They must have seen what Logan did to those villagers. But Logan still doesn’t give up. He can’t. He can’t take this battle to the enemy. Because if one arrow gets through, even one, the baby is finished. Even though Logan continues to get hit by the arrows, he starts crawling over the floor, and does the best he can to protect the baby, still clutched to his chest. After a while, Logan can see the Samaya River, which is the border he was trying to get to. But, as the arrows are still coming, Logan realizes he’ll never make it there at this rate.

Two child soldiers approach Wolverine, thinking he is an American, and ask him if he can take their picture. Logan wants to kill them, but holds back, realizing he can’t kill kids. Lago arrives, and tells Logan to hand him over the package. He promises Logan that, if he does that, no more blood will be spilled today. Logan doesn’t know what to say. He looks at the child soldiers again, and realizes they don’t have a childhood, and barely a life to speak of. It’s probably too late for them. But the baby still got a chance.

Seemingly broken, Wolverine appears to comply. However, he says that he won’t throw her to him like a rag doll. They’ll do this like civilized men. He gets up, and begins to hand the baby to Lago. Lago’s fine with that, but reminds Logan not to be deceived by the absence of his other forces. They are busy in the city right now, enforcing the new order. These children are Lago’s best soldiers, and they are excellent shots. Lago knows that Logan sees him as a monster, but Lago defends that Logan has no idea of the forces that are at work there. The people of Zwartheid had nothing, as the western corporations treated them like modern-day slaves. That changed until he came along.

Wolverine approaches Lago, holding out the baby. However, once he’s close enough, Logan sinks his claws into Lago. As Lago’s soldiers cock their weapons at him, Logan is unphased. He reminds them about what their now-dead leader said a moment ago: no more blood has to be spilled today. It’s up to them. After a moment of consideration, the young soldiers turn and leave.

With arrows still sticking out of his back, Logan continues his trip. He believes that maybe someday, the baby can come back to this country and make it all right. Until then, Logan guesses that the elephants are just going to keep on fighting with bows, arrows, guns and knives, hammers, axes and just plain bare bleeding fists. They are going to fight with everything and everyone they can find. And the suffering of the grass will continue for another bloody day.

Characters Involved: 


Black Panther

President Mayamba

Mayamba’s infant daughter

Mayamba’s female servant (unnamed)

General Lago

Lago’s soldiers

Citizens of Zwartheid

Story Notes: 

This issue is double-sized: 35 pages in total.

Throughout this story, both Wolverine, the Black Panther and everyone else in it are mostly covered in shadows, comparable to Wolverine (3rd series) #32.

First mention of the fictional nation of Zwartheid.

Wolverine recently joined the new Avengers in New Avengers #8.

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