Wolverine (3rd series) #49

Issue Date: 
February 2007
Story Title: 
Better to Give

Rob Williams (writer), Laurence Campbell (penciler), Kris Justice (inker), Paul Mounts (colorist), VC’s Randy Gentile (letterer), Michael O’Connor (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

A small-time crook named Cave receives a tip from Lacy’s Santa that Toulouse Lexington will be visiting the store and, as she has a rich father, Cave cooks up a kidnapping scam. On the day of the visit, Wolverine is shopping for presents when he accidentally knocks into Miss Lexington. Her bodyguards warn Logan off, and he departs without causing a scene. When Toulouse later visits Santa, an elf draws two weapons on them and shoots several of her bodyguards. One of them, Pinter, grabs the elf and takes him down a chute away from his charge. Cave has his men grab Toulouse and he forces her to wear a jacket filled with plastic explosive. He then explains his plot to extort money from her father. Pinter disposes of the elf and then, to his surprise, meets Wolverine, who has noticed what is going down. The two men then proceed to take down as many of the elves as they can, whilst noting that the bombs that have been placed around the place are just distractions. As they make their way to where Cave and his men are, a huge explosion rips the top floor off the store, causing Wolverine to reassess his tactics. As they stand there, Cave has the people trapped inside rush the doors in order to escape, and he takes Toulouse Lexington with him. Several of his men also escape in the confusion. Outside, Cave arrives at the meeting point with those that managed to get free, and he figures he’s pulled it off. Unfortunately, Wolverine and Pinter arrive, with Logan having followed Miss Lexington’s scent. Cave’s men give up, but Cave clicks a remote that activates the explosives around Toulouse. She has ten seconds to live, but Wolverine slashes the jacket from her and clutches it to his chest. It explodes, severely wounding him, but he survives and wishes them a merry Christmas as he lies bleeding.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine is in New York City at the behest of Kitty Pryde. She figured that, as he was in New York anyway, he might as well pick up some presents for her. He isn’t happy about having to do this. In Lacy’s Department Store, a young woman wearing a Christmas outfit approaches him and asks if he’d like to try a scent called Sex Panther. She stumbles over her words when he turns to look at her, and leans into him. “You… are an extremely attractive man.” Logan replies that he’s killed less terrifying things than her, but as he speaks he inadvertently knocks a woman standing behind him.

The woman, short, blonde and bespectacled, calls him an idiot, and a bruiser named Pinter steps between them, reaching into his jacket pocket as if to grab a firearm. Flanked by several other guards, he warns Logan to back away from Miss Lexington, and calls him warthog boy in the process. Logan remains calm, despite the insult, and when the perfume girl asks if he’s doing anything later, he opts to turn and leave. As he walks, he thinks about doing something to Kitty - slow and painful.

Miss Lexington complains that there was no need for Pinter to overreact like that, but he reminds her that her father pays him a lot of money to protect the spoiled anorexic hide of Miss Toulouse Lexington, so protect it he will. Miss Lexington jabs her finger at him and says that he’d be out of a job fast if her father knew how he spoke to her. Pinter replies that if that were the case, her father would actually have to talk to her. He immediately regrets saying that, and apologizes, but Toulouse wants to forget it. They’ll go see the fat drunk getting paid to be Santa and get this farce over with. Her father paid for this trip, and they all know how important money is to him. As they depart, a man dressed as an elf sporting a goatee says that he’s seen exactly what he wants for Christmas.

The security guards flank Toulouse as they approach Santa’s grotto. He wishes them a dispiriting corporate welcome, as he’s being paid by her father. As she banters with Santa, an elf standing nearby reaches into a red sack and pulls out two automatic weapons. He grins and opens fire, taking down several security guards. Pinter leaps at him, knocking him over. Meanwhile, Santa grabs Toulouse from behind and two more elves emerge carrying weapons. She screams for him to let go as the elves chase after Pinter. He sees them coming and lays down pistol fire as he grabs the first elf again and pushes them both down Santa’s chute.

With four bodyguards down, the guy with the goatee, Cave, tells his miniscule followers that it went fairly well. He’d have preferred them all dead but, as time is of the essence, he places an armored jacket around Toulouse Lexington’s shoulders. Barry calls on the radio for everyone to move on all positions.

More elves block the exits to Lacy’s, knocking out a guard in the process. Many of the shoppers are trapped inside, and Cave says he intends on killing them all. He introduces himself and his followers to Toulouse as Black Christmess. They’re a kind of death cult. He informs her that the harness she wears is filled with plastic explosive, and the remote he carries will ensure that, if she tries to run away, she goes boom.

Meanwhile, Pinter is on the run through the store, pursued by several armed elves. One guy radios to Justin, informing him that Pinter looks like he’ll be searching for a ground exit. Justin replies that he and his men are in position, and they wait for Pinter with guns at the ready. Pinter makes his way down a dark staircase before stopping to catch his breath. He is annoyed at himself for running, but tells himself that he can do this. He used to do this once upon a time. He’s paid to protect Toulouse, so protect her he will. He turns the handle on an exit door and opens it to find Wolverine standing over the elves that were awaiting him. They are all dead or unconscious. Logan quips that it feels weird fighting people smaller than him. He likes it.

Cave grabs the store’s public address system microphone and decides to talk to the stunned shoppers. He explains who he and his crew are and berates them for turning Christmas from the most holy of holidays into nothing more than a celebration for the dollar. As Jesus says, he adds, “My father’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” He wants to remind the world what the true meaning of Christmas is. They are about to become a global signal - a sacrifice for change.

Wolverine listens carefully. He figures that he can’t even shop in New York without a messianic nut job getting in his way. Pinter isn’t sure that he is, but Wolverine says, “Whatever.” He’ll have the place back to normal in half an hour. The public address system kicks in again, with Cave informing the shoppers that his brothers have placed high explosives throughout the store. Soon they shall all die together. “Maybe longer,” adds Logan.

Cave continues his oration to the shoppers, as a forlorn Toulouse Lexington hangs her head. Meanwhile, two of his elves are setting up one of the bombs in part of the store. They’re running a little late, but the guy setting the timer doesn’t want to be distracted. He is distracted moments later, as Wolverine strikes with his claws extended.

Pinter takes a look at the device and wonders how many more are hidden around the store. They can’t deal with the bomb. They need an expert. He ponders getting the NYPD bomb disposal guys, but Wolverine has other ideas. He slices the wires, detonating the bomb. It hurls him across the room but doesn’t harm him much. He explains that it’s just powerful enough to scare people but it’ll do no real damage. They’re setting up a misdirection. Logan grins. “So… warthog boy… tell me again about the girl.”

Elsewhere, Toulouse is giving Cave a mouthful of expletives. Black Christmess? she asks, incredulously. Cave, brandishing a pistol, admits that he’s appalling. She asks why he doesn’t just admit that this is just a sleazy attempt to get ransom money from her father. Cave says he thought it was obvious. “Because I want to get away with it,” he yells. He wants the fine things that her daddy gives her every day. He wants to win for once in a while. This is his chance. He knew from the moment that the store Santa tipped him off about her little visit. He also knew the moment they started shooting that half the NYPD would show up to save her. They’d never get her out of the store alive. It would have been like Butch and Sundance all over again. So, he came up with this clever little Plan B.

Toulouse warns him that Pinter will stop him. “Your tired old bodyguard?” he enquires, adding that he ran away as fast as his portly legs could carry him. His pay slip didn’t cover him getting killed. He tells her that this is an important life lesson. Everyone, including her father has one motto, whether it’s Christmas or any other day. “What’s… in… it… for… me?” He tells Toulouse that people are scum, and that no one’s really selfless. The timers are set and confusion is about to reign. He picks up a Santa’s outfit and orders her to wear it. They’re getting her out of there, ‘cos no one’s coming for her.

Meanwhile, Pinter and Wolverine wade through Cave’s elves. Logan slashes their weapons with his claws, whilst Pinter does it the old fashioned way - pistol-whipping anyone he can get near. When they have been dealt with, they head for the main stairwell, but as they run they hear the bombs going off. Wolverine reminds Pinter that they’re simply distractions. They’re trying to scare people. “They don’t want to blow up the…” His sentence is interrupted by a huge explosion that tears the entire top floor of Lacy’s apart. This isn’t good, feels Logan.

Two villains wearing Santa outfits wait at the exit doors and open them when the panicking people inside rush toward them. Outside, the officer in charge orders his men to hold their fire as he sees everyone approaching. The doors open and dozens of people pour out of the store, causing Wolverine to grab Pinter and push him to safety. The officer in charge grabs a megaphone and asks those running to remain calm. His colleague tells him that there’s no chance of that happening, and if the bad guys are in the crowd, there’s no hope of catching them. Inside Lacy’s, Pinter figures that they’re gone. They’ll never find Toulouse now. They’ve lost her. Wolverine has other ideas.

Outside in the snow, Cave and Toulouse find their way to a quiet street. Cave gloats that their authorities-avoiding exodus is over. They’ve reached the Promised Land. They arrive at a large Christmas tree where several other guys also appear in Santa costumes. Seven of them have survived, so far. He asks the store’s Santa if they were followed. He assures Cave that they weren’t, and Cave spreads his arms out wide. “I did it. I actually did it,” he exclaims. He turns to his men and tells them that they called him a loser; that he’d never amount to anything. They were wrong. In a city with Avengers, Fantastic Fours and Spider-Men, he’s just showed that an ordinary Joe can still pull off a kidnap scam and get away with it. “I tell you, boys: this is the American dream, right here.

Cave turns his attentions to Toulouse Lexington. Grinning at his victory, he figures that he’s now going to get his reward as he’s going to take her to the safehouse, phone her daddy and watch the Benjamin’s roll in. He asks what she thinks of Manhattan’s newest millionaire. “What you think of them apples?” Toulouse raises her knee swiftly and Cave lets out a gasp of air. “I think their bag just split,” she replies, before making a run for it.

Cave calls after her, reminding her that the harness she wears contains explosives. He suggests that she stop running and gets her skinny ass back there. Toulouse sniffs, and tells him that she wants her father. As she tries to pick herself up, Pinter arrives with Wolverine and assures her that it’s going to be okay. Cave’s face drops when he sees them. He can’t believe that they found him. Wolverine replies that it’s amazing how strong certain perfumes are. He can smell them from blocks away, even when they’re accidentally sprayed on a girl’s glasses. He tells Cave’s men that he figures they know who he is. He has no stomach to rip out the guts of seven Santa’s on Christmas Eve, but he will. So, if they want to live, they should drop their weapons. Sensibly they do, but Cave doubles over and holds his stomach.

Wolverine warns him that, whatever he’s got hidden there, he’s got two seconds to let it go if he wants to see in the New Year. Toulouse screams that he’s got a bomb, and Cave pulls out a remote control device and clicks it. A ten-second timer begins to count down on the bomb wrapped around Toulouse. She starts to cry as she realizes these may be her final moments, but as she looks up at one of the angelic statues near the Christmas tree, Wolverine’s silhouette fills her vision.

He slashes at the straps holding the bomb to her and grabs the device. He then turns with it clutched to his chest and walks away. The bomb then explodes, causing Toulouse to cover her eyes. Wolverine lands on his back, with his torso ripped apart and blood splattered across the road. “Merry Christmas,” he whispers.

Characters Involved: 


Lacy’s shoppers

Perfume seller

Toulouse Lexington

Pinter and fellow security guards


Cave’s men including Barry and Justin

NYPD officers

New Yorkers

Story Notes: 

This is an extra-sized issue featuring a stand-in creative team.

Lacy’s is a play on the real department store, Macy’s.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 movie directed by George Roy Hill and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. At the movie’s conclusion, they find themselves surrounded by the Bolivian Army and they exit their hideout, seemingly to their bloody deaths.

Benjamin’s are one hundred dollar bills, named for U.S. statesman and Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.

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