Wolverine (3rd series) #56

Issue Date: 
October 2007
Story Title: 
The Man in the Pit

Jason Aaron (writer), Howard Chaykin (artist), Edgar Delgado (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Aubrey Sitterson (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

As part of their ongoing harassment of Wolverine, Romulus has Wolverine placed into a pit at a secret facility. There, employees are instructed to sit at a machine gun and shoot him all day long. One of these is Wendell Rayfield, a former cop whose life isn’t exactly going as he thought it might. His wife has left him, Doris, an attractive colleague, won’t go anywhere near the guy, and the messages on his machine seem to imply that Wendell is in financial difficulties. One day, Wolverine speaks to him and tries to get under his skin, using his keen sense of smell and observational skills to build a picture of his abuser. He is spot on. He tells Wendell that his wife has left him and that he drinks too much. He figures from the way he shoots that he used to be a cop who enjoyed hitting people. He later talks about Wendell’s father, who he assumes is from where Wendell got his sparkling personality. He makes Wendell think about who was really at fault in their relationship - he or his father. Wendell takes hard look at his life and visits his father. He hands him a pistol and asks him to show him how much he hated him. His father, being old and frail, doesn’t do anything, so Wendell decides to use Wolverine to do the job. He goes to work and kills the guards, who storm the room when he doesn’t open fire on time. He then allows Wolverine out of the pit and begs to be killed. Wolverine tries to ascertain who he is working for but Wendell knows nothing. Logan tosses him into the pit and tells him he’s pathetic. As far as he’s concerned, he is exactly where he belongs. Meanwhile, a set of photographs taken by Doris finally make their way to Wild Child and he pins them to a wall with countless others of Wolverine in the pit. He tells Romulus that it’s not a bad start.

Full Summary: 

It’s six o’clock in the morning when Wendell Rayfield’s alarm clock sounds. He didn’t get much sleep during the night but, after two and a half cups of extra-bold Sumatra, his eyeballs are jumping out of their sockets. He packs his lunch box and drives to work, making small talk with the guard on the way in. He scans his hand which allows his access and passes the heavily armed guards on his way to the basement level.

A skeletal scan follows as he heads deeper into the complex. Once he finally arrives at his destination, he smiles at Doris and asks how it’s going. She files her nails, not even offering him a glance. He notices that she’s wearing that sweater again. He wonders if maybe he could stay and have a chat with her before his shift starts, but he’s eager to begin so that he might relax.

He enters another room and finds his tattooed colleague sat on a spring-loaded chair, firing a machine gun into a pit. The guy stops and removes his ear guards. He then climbs off the chair and asks Wendell if he’s ever heard the guy make a sound. “Who?” replies Wendell. “Him?” His colleague replies that it’s been six weeks and they’ve never heard him cry out or whimper. Nothing! Wendell asks him not to dwell on it, but his friend asks him if he ever wonders what his story is. Wendell replies that he’s in the pit. They’re paid to keep him there. End of story.

The guy guesses he’s right and makes for the door. Wendell takes a long look at the man in the pit and thinks about how, over the years, he’s sat across the table from some of the most deprived and dangerous killers you can imagine. After a while, you get so you can see it in their eyes. One look into the cold, black eyes of the man in the pit, and he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that this sonuvabitch is as dangerous as they come.

In the pit, surrounded by blood, Wolverine squats, naked and riddled with bullet holes courtesy of Wendell’s predecessor. Wolverine’s healing factor ensures he doesn’t actually die, despite the horrific injuries he receives. He’s a sitting target. Wendell sits in the chair and takes hold of the huge gun. It’s aimed into the pit. The clock ticks down to when he can begin shooting. He places ear guards on his head and begins to relax. For most people, it might be hard to do what he does, having no idea who the guy in the pit actually is or what he’s done to deserve such punishment. However, for Wendell, it’s easy. It has become therapeutic; a stress reliever one might say. Some people squeeze stress balls and some watch steel balls clink back and forth on their desks. Wendell - he takes a gun that fires one thousand rounds a minute and he shoots the man in the pit.

After a while, Wendell stops and tucks into his sandwich. Doris walks over; all legs and tight sweater, and takes a photograph of Wolverine. Wendell watches her as she walks and attempts to chat her up. He tells her, nervously, that there’s a comedian coming to town next weekend. He knows a guy who works at the club, and wonders if he could ask him to get a couple of tickets. Doris replies that he should. His wife will love it. Wendell’s face drops. “Yeah, sure,” he replies, quietly. “I bet she will.”

Once Doris has left, he chastises himself for his stupidity. Wolverine talks to him from the pit, calling him pathetic. A girl like Doris would never go out with him even if she knew the truth about his wife. Wendell is surprised at his comment, and asks what he means. Wolverine asks when he’s gonna man up and just tell everybody; tell them his wife left him weeks ago. They’re gonna figure it out eventually, especially if he keeps mixing that whiskey with the extra-bold Sumatra. Wendell asks him to stop talking, and without even placing the ear guards back on, he begins shooting again. Budda budda budda goes the gun, firing countless rounds into Wolverine’s body.

Five hours later, Wendell leaves the room and heads outside. Once in the car park, he stops and vomits. He wipes his mouth and heads over to his wife’s place. He knocks on her door and she opens it on the chain. “Yeah?” she asks. Wendell tells her it’s him and she asks if he brought alimony. He hands it over and says he wants to talk. He just wants to talk to someone. Cindy replies that next time he comes he should arrive before the bank closes. She then shuts the door, leaving Wendell to go home.

There, he tucks into some food and listens to the thirteen messages he has waiting on his machine. They’re from firms like Midwest Collections and the bank. He’s clearly in some kind of financial trouble. He goes to bed and tries to relax, but morning comes too soon for Wendell.

Back at work, the clock ticks down to when he can begin again. As the time almost arrives, Wendell asks Wolverine how he knew about his wife. Wolverine smirks and sniffs the air. “You saw her last night, didn’t ya?” he asks. Wendell asks how he could know that. Logan tells him that she smells like a chemical fire. The first thing he smelled when he came to this place was her rancid perfume. Until a couple of weeks ago, that is. Then it was gone. It was soon to be replaced by the salty stench of late-night tears and the sweet aroma of cask-strength, single malt scotch. He doesn’t suppose Wendell happened to bring any with him? The clock ticks over and Wendell replies that he’s gotta go. Wolverine assures him that it’s fine. They’ll talk more after.

Five minutes later and Wolverine is yet again covered with blood and riddled with bullets. One of his eyes appears to be missing - not for the first time. As he picks himself up, he tells Wendell that he’s not used to taking those head shots. His natural instincts are to shoot to wound, aren’t they? Not like the other yahoos they have there. Them boys are straight up killers, but he guesses Wendell used to be a cop. He can tell by how he holds the gun that he’s broken his hand lost of times. So, he was a cop who liked to hit people. Is he right? That’s why he’s not a cop anymore?


A man lies on the ground, with blood spilling to the concrete. Wendell, wearing a cop’s uniform, squats beside him and tells him to pick up his teeth and get the hell outta his sight. Maybe next time he’ll remember to address him as ‘Sir.’


Wolverine asks Wendell if he likes this job. He replies that he used to. Seeing Logan in there made him feel like there was at least one person in the world more miserable than he. Wolverine tells him he likes making people suffer. Who is it that taught him that? Before he can finish the sentence, Wendell grabs the gun and begins firing again. Budda budda budda. “I’m just doing my job,” he snarls.

Later, Wendell leaves for home again. He never figured that some day he’d be looking down the business end of forty with no career. He has no wife, no kids and not a single friend in the world to talk to. Except him…

He doesn’t know what sparked it, but Wolverine now talks to him every single day unless there’s someone around. He’s pretty sure he’s the only one he talks to. Day in and day out, he goes to work, talks to Logan and shoots him until his shift ends. He can’t imagine what harm can come of them talking.

(two weeks later)

Wendell is again sat at the machine gun. Wolverine asks him to tell him again about his father. Wendell doesn’t want to talk about it, but Wolverine is intent on hearing it. He tells Wendell that he said his mother died giving birth and his father always blamed him for that, right? He blamed Wendell for everything, didn’t he? When he drank too much, when he lost his job and when his life spiraled down the toilet. The worse things got, the more he hated Wendell.


Wendell endured many beatings, and even needed hospital treatment on occasions. His father drank in the basement and, when he was good and sauced, he would grab whatever was handy, such as a golf club, and he’d come up the stairs. He’d show Wendell exactly how much he hated him, again and again. He’d beat him half to death and tell him all the while, “It’s your fault. It’s all your fault.”


Wolverine asks whether, in all those years of being beaten, did he ever stop to consider that maybe he was right? Maybe it was all his fault. Wendell covers his face. Everything Wolverine has said is on the money. Logan continues to ask if his mother and father, his wife and all those people he abused as a cop wouldn’t have been better off if he’d never been born. “Think on that for a while, bub.”

Later, Wendell leaves at the end of his shift, not uttering a word to the guards that patrol the facility. In the following days he continues to shoot Wolverine, but he doesn’t say a word. He lets Wendell stew. After a while, Wendell begins to wonder if he imagined their conversations. However, whether or not it was real, it dredged up a lot of old demons. This doesn’t escape the notice of the other workers. One day, Wendell gets the tar kicked out of him by three colleagues, reminding him of exactly what is at stake. They don’t want him to ruin it for them. Eventually, he realizes what it is he must do to finally be free. There’s only one man that can help.

Later, Wendell visits his father in an assisted living block. He is old and frail and needs a wheelchair to get around. Wendell enters his room and his father asks if he’s there to fix the TV set. “No, dad,” replies Wendell. He puts his face near his fathers and asks if he remembers him. Does he remember how much he hated him? How he beat him and told him that he wished he was dead? His father is forgetful in his old age and doesn’t remember a thing.

Wendell places a pistol into his hand and asks his father to show him that he meant what he said. He raises the pistol to his own head and asks his father to kill him. His father’s feeble grasp makes him drop the weapon, so Wendell picks it up and places it to his forehead. “All you have to do is pull the trigger, dad. Can you do that?” Nothing happens, and Wendell begs him to kill him. His father is confused and seems unwilling to do what is asked of him. Wendell finally breaks down and rests his head on his father’s knee. His father holds his son’s head in his hands.

(the next morning)

Wendell Rayfield heads to work and walks past all the people that he casually ignores on a daily basis. His father was a huge disappointment, as always, but thankfully there is one man he can count on. He won’t hesitate to kill him. He enters the pit room and sits behind the gun. The clock ticks down as he looks at Wolverine, sitting naked in the blood-splattered pit. The shift begins, and Wendell does nothing. Moments later, four security guards enter and ask why the hell he’s not firing. One orders him to fire his weapon. Wendell takes aim. Budda budda budda. He shoots the lot of them.

As the smoke rises from the discharged gun, Wendell gets off his chair and tells Wolverine he can come out now. He crawls his way out as Wendell just sits there, thinking about how he’s looking forward to being killed. “Do it,” he says as Wolverine gets to his feet, “I deserve it.” Logan grabs him by the throat and lifts him from the ground. He then snikts his claws and aims them at Wendell’s face. He asks Wendell to tell him what he wants to know, and they’ll make this quick. He demands to know how he got there and who hired him.

Wendell replies that he doesn’t know. He never saw his face, and Logan was already there when he started. He once again asks to be killed, reminding Logan that he watched him suffer so many times and shot him plenty. Wolverine retracts his claws and pushes Wendell into the pit. He then looks into it and tells Wendell he really is pathetic. He adds that everything he told him was total B.S. It wasn’t his fault. His dad was a scumbag. Nobody deserves what he went through and anybody who does that to a child ought to be put down like a dog. As a kid, his heart goes out to Wendell, but as an adult, he should never have crossed his path.

He tells Wendell that he’s gonna go and kill the guards waiting outside and then he’ll kill everyone in the building. After that, he’s gonna find the man who hired him and cut him into bite-sized chunks. However, he won’t harm a hair on Wendell’s head. He won’t give him the satisfaction. As far as he is concerned, he’s right where he belongs.


Wild Child holds an envelope in his hand. He informs Romulus that it’s the last batch. Before he asks, he informs him that they took the usual precautions. They moved it through nine countries using seventeen different couriers; all of whom are now very dead. “Put them with the rest,” says Romulus. Kyle empties several photographs of Wolverine in the pit, taken by Doris, onto the table and begins pinning them to a wall. The wall is already littered with countless photographs of Wolverine suffering. Kyle quips that it’s too bad they couldn’t keep going a while longer. They might have been able to cover the whole wall. Still, it ain’t a bad start.

Characters Involved: 


Wild Child

Wendell Rayfield and several colleagues including Doris, Karl

Security Guards


Wendell’s father


Wendell Rayfield

Wendell’s victim

Wendell’s father

Story Notes: 

This is a double-sized issue by a stand-in creative team.

Extra-Bold Sumatra is a coffee, often found at Starbuck’s coffee shops.

Romulus doesn’t appear in this issue, but it is presumably he who Wild Child is talking to.

Issue Information: 
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