(flashback, Ypres, Belgium, April 22, 1915)
Logan stands over Lazaer’s body with a sword stuck into his chest. Lazaer doesn’t die, even though he is dead. Whoever he is, he isn’t human. There’s no blood or carrion feeding on him. A real bad feeling comes over Logan. He looks up and inexplicably sees Lazaer standing nearby. Lazaer finds it remarkable. He hasn’t been bested in combat for centuries. ‘Centuries?’ thinks Logan. ‘What is this?’ His mind races and he finds himself unable to speak. Lazaer tells him that they will meet again, and when they do, he won’t consider what he won today a prize. He then vanishes, leaving Logan to think.
When he returns to his barracks he can’t shake the memory of his confrontation with Lazaer. Whoever the guy was, Logan thinks, he was right. Killing the guy… did something to him. He begins to drink a little more than usual, enough to get blind drunk, and it takes a lot for that to happen. It makes him sloppy in the field when he returns to battle, but it’s somehow not quite sloppy enough. Time slows to the point where days feel like decades.
He soon finds that he can’t sleep or eat. One day it hits him. He shouldn’t be alive. His whole being is unnatural. He decides to do something about it, and one day, in the barracks, he places a pistol to his head.
Doctor Strange asks if something’s wrong. Wolverine asks if he means apart from the fact that he is dead and this is hell. He has a question or two for the good doctor, which Strange finds understandable under the circumstances. Logan says that he appreciates his efforts, but why doesn’t he do this for everybody? Strange replies that he isn’t performing a resurrection. He is merely helping him return his soul to its corporeal form. In the ordinary case of death there is no corporeal form to return to. Logan asks where his corporeal form is, anyway. “About a foot above my head,” replies Strange, “On the Earthly plane.”
Wolverine wants to get this over with and asks how he gets out. Strange tells him that he walks out the door. However, it’s not that simple. He has to win back his soul by confronting it. Logan asks if he can translate that into English, but Strange half-jokingly replies that the metaphysical doesn’t lend itself to English. He wonders if he can try explaining it again, but Wolverine tells him not to bother. He’ll find out for himself.
(in Logan’s memories/mindscape)
Wolverine steps out of the bar and finds a younger version of himself, from shortly after he discovered hid true nature, standing there next to a roaring fire and wearing a robe. His other self snikts his claws and Wolverine realizes that this must be what Strange meant by ‘confronting’ his soul - fighting a scared boy who’s terrified of what he just became… a killing machine. His younger self fights hard and even draws blood by slashing Wolverine across the face. “James. Oh lord have mercy. What are you?” he asks himself. He’s a savage animal. Wolverine remembers that this is why, when pressed for an alias, Rose called him Logan. Logan was the name of the only savage she had known. The name has fit like a glove ever since. The youngster orders him out of the house.
Wolverine departs and then finds himself fighting the Logan that fought the Germans in Ypres. The soldier asks if he doesn’t understand. He was always slow. He was always stupid. All these years, these lifetimes, does he think he’s been fighting enemies? Sabretooth and Cyber, he adds, as he uses a blade strapped to his wrist to slash at Wolverine. Ogun and Gorgon, Shingen and Magneto. The Blob, even. But this whole time, really he’s only been fighting himself. He’s been fighting his nature. Fighting who he is.
The scene changes again and Wolverine confronts the Logan that was tortured at the Weapon X Project. The brutish Logan says that Wolverine must think that something must have happened to him, changed him… turned him into something else. But they both know that it just ain’t true. Wolverine’s opponent then becomes Alpha Flight’s operative, the pre-X-Men version of himself. “The real you has been there all along.” He slashes at Wolverine repeatedly, drawing blood yet again. He transforms into the Logan of Wolverine’s nightmares and he tells Wolverine that he’s gotta face it. There’s to be no more running. He has two choices. Live… or die. What’s it gonna be? Will you face an old man in single combat with wooden combat swords?
A wooden sword appears from nowhere and Wolverine grabs it, before being confronted by another version of himself wearing the brown costume. This Wolverine taunts him by saying that he isn’t worthy of a true sword. In fact, he’s not worthy of any kinda metal. Adamantium flows out of his body as Wolverine looks on - a reminder of one of the worst experiences of his life. The other Wolverine tells him that the adamantium he wears makes him weak. The leaking metal wraps itself around Wolverine, holding him tight. “Healin’ factor, indestructible skeleton, flamin’ immortality even. You’ve had it too easy.” Wolverine grimaces as the metal grips him like a cocoon. “It’s made you soft,” his other self continues. “You used to be a killer.”
The scene changes yet again, and Wolverine finds himself in a baseball game with some of the other X-Men. His other self calls him a puppy. With his marriages, his adoptive daughters, his teammates… what happened to the loner? He’ll tell Wolverine what happened. “He died!”
Wolverine finds himself at the scene of his death at the hands of the Gorgon. He realizes that this is when it happened. When the Gorgon killed him. The first time he died. The Gorgon’s men took him away and the Hand brought him back. No, not the Hand, he remembers. It wasn’t them. At least, it wasn’t just the Hand. It was her. In his memories, a red-haired woman dressed in a cloak stands besides Shogun as he is resurrected.
Wolverine thinks that he hasn’t been the same since then. He’s been tortured, like the way he was way back then. Adrift. When he’s been hurt real bad, so bad that his healing factor couldn’t even repair his mind - when in every sense of the word he has died and been rematched with Lazaer, it’s been getting harder each time because of her. The redhead pops into his mind once again. She must have done something to him when she brought him back. He recalls that Shogun was there the whole time, too. Quiet as the dawn.
Doctor Strange welcomes him back to the land of the living, and Wolverine finds himself naked, floating several feet in the air. Strange allows him to drop gently to the carpet and he asks Logan how he feels. Logan smiles and replies that he feels great, because he found out who he has to kill now.