Wolverine (3rd series) #6

Issue Date: 
December 2003
Story Title: 
So, this priest walks into a bar

Greg Rucka (words), Darick Robertson (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Studio F (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wooton (letterer), Esad Ribic (cover artist), Axel Alonso (edit), Warren Simons (more edit), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine is drowning his sorrows in a New York bar, having driven three days from Oregon to meet with Nightcrawler. Kurt enters the bar wearing an image-inducer, which Wolverine isn’t happy about. He wants Kurt to be himself, especially in this particular bar which is mutant-friendly. Even the bartender, Jo, is a mutant. Kurt tries to get to the bottom of why Wolverine is feeling particularly morose. He enquires about the dead girl, Lucy Braddock, and the two discuss death, murder and the fact that Wolverine killed twenty-seven men three days ago. Wolverine needs reassurance, maybe even absolution, for what he feels are his crimes and Kurt provides the reassurance, but not the absolution, arguing that he doesn’t need it. He asks if a wolf is evil because it culls sickness from a herd? Wolverine is an honorable man, not an animal. Meanwhile, ATF Agent Cassie Lathrop struggles to obtain a clear picture of Wolverine from a police sketch artist, who tells her that it’s difficult to draw someone when emotion is clouding Cassie’s judgement. Later that evening, Cassie dreams about him killing her in bed. He is in her, head deep, and she can’t figure out why.

Full Summary: 

At a police station in Portland, Oregon, a sketch artist holds up her latest attempt to create a satisfactory impression of the man Agent Cassie Lathrop is describing. It’s clearly the man known as Wolverine but Cassie hasn’t made that connection and isn’t a happy bunny. She rips the sheet from the artist’s book and tosses it into a waste paper basket, already overflowing with numerous earlier failed attempts. Cassie is upset that she has drawn the eyes wrong. She’s drawn dumb, and this guy isn’t dumb. She’s drawn the mouth as though it should have blood dripping from it. He’s not an animal she insists, so why can’t the artist do it right?

The artist has had enough of Cassie’s endeavors to get a drawing she’s happy with and packs the sketchpad into her bag. She’s pretty happy with her work, but she tells Cassie that it helps when the agent she’s working with has a clear picture of the suspect; one that isn’t colored, for example, by emotion. Cassie tries to defend herself but the artist says that she’s been trying to draw his face for twelve hours, and she still can’t figure out whether Cassie wants to arrest the man, or sleep with him. She wishes Cassie a nice day and departs. Cassie, still sporting a bruise from her time in Cry’s compound, quietly replies that she hopes she gets hit by a car.

On the opposite side of the continent in New York City, a priest enters a quiet bar called the Box. Evening rain falls on a motorbike parked outside; its owner sitting contemplatively at the bar, clutching a bottle of beer. Another man leans on the bar nearby, half asleep and propping his head up on one arm. As the priest heads in his direction, Wolverine calls to the bartender, Jo. “Coming right up,” she says as she pulls a pint for someone else. She has long, pink hair, a lip piercing and tattoos that cover her arms. She hands him a bottle before turning to the priest and asking if she can help him. The priest asks for a beer but Wolverine, without even glancing in his direction puts three fingers up, telling her to make it a pitcher and to put it on his tab, implying that he’s clearly a regular here.

“Thank you my son,” says the mild-mannered priest, raising his arms towards Logan’s shoulder but Wolverine tells him to knock it off, and not to even think about touching him unless he’s gonna look like himself when he does it. The priest, really Nightcrawler using an image-inducer, doesn’t think that’s a good idea; Logan knows how people react to his appearance. Logan calls once again to Jo, who tells him he always shouts. Logan asks her to show the ‘father’ her right hand and she smiles, teasing them that she’s always wanted to play show and tell with a priest. Placing the pitcher of beer on the bar top, her hand is shown to be tentacled, revealing her to be a fellow mutant. She turns away, telling them she’ll get Brady to get them some peanuts and Kurt watches her, understanding that he’s in a much friendlier environment than usual. He reaches to his image-inducer and switches it off, revealing his natural blue form underneath. Grasping his glass with his three fingers, he then places his hand on Logan’s shoulder and asks if this is better. “Better is you not having to hide yourself, but it’s a start” comes the reply, as Logan pours beer into the third glass, leaving it where it sits.

“You’re in a mood,” Kurt says but Logan replies that it has nothing to do with it. “No, of course not,” replies Kurt, who sits beside his friend. “The bartender, she’s one of us?” he asks. She is. “And the drunk at the bar?” Logan replies that his name’s Mike. He needs alcohol to stay awake; problem is, he takes alcohol; he gets drunk and has been drunk for the past three months. Kurt suggests that perhaps the Professor could help him but Logan says he doesn’t do referrals. Before beginning their drinks, they both raise their glass and toast Peter, and all absent friends. The third glass, Piotr’s glass, stays where it is.

Logan finishes his drink quickly and is already pouring himself a fresh glass when Brady arrives with the peanuts, saying something in a strange tongue as he hands them over. Kurt thanks him, telling Logan that he thinks he likes this place. Turning to him, he mentions that he had seen Katchen a few months back. She is doing well, going to school in Chicago. She had called him as she thought she’d seen Peter. Wolverine doesn’t seem interested in what Kurt has to say; Peter’s dead and he instead calls for the pitcher to be refilled.

Kurt asks him what happened but Wolverine replies that nothing happened. Kurt disagrees, saying something must have happened, something even more unpleasant than normal. He adds that Logan could also use a shower too. Logan snarls, “You think I don’t know how I smell, you think I don’t know?” Tossing a peanut into his mouth using his prehensile tail, Kurt ignores the uncharacteristically aggressive remark, telling Logan that self-loathing doesn’t become him. “This from a guy who hides his face,” comes the response. Logan looks back at his drink, as Kurt is left speechless by the remark.

Jo hands over another pitcher of beer, asking if Logan would like her to run a tube from the keg for him. Logan asks if she can do that and she smiles, saying she’ll look into it. Kurt grins, and tells Logan that she likes him. He simply says that’s her mistake. Nightcrawler is eager to get to the bottom of this. His friend is not usually this morose, so he decides to go straight to the heart of the problem by asking what her name was, the girl who died; the one he couldn’t save. Logan pauses before replying. “Lucy, Lucy Braddock; she was seventeen, Kurt.” He continues drinking, beer dribbling down his chin. He can’t drink fast enough.

Back in Portland, Cassie Lathrop sleeps. Slowly, though, her eyes slowly open and she glances towards the doorway. Standing there is Wolverine, naked with his claws drawn. She doesn’t appear to move an inch, but her right hand takes hold of her pistol as he approaches the bed. He leans over her before settling on top of her, his face inches from hers and his claws still unsheathed. “We have to stop meeting like this,” she smiles. Wolverine grunts a response. “No, really,” she adds before turning and holding the gun towards his face. In an instant, Wolverine brings his claws down with animal ferocity.

Cassie wakes, holding her throat before collapsing back on the bed. “Oh, for the love of Mike,” she says, as she realizes it was just a dream. She flicks the bedside lamp on and heads in to the bathroom. She washes her face and stares into the mirror, repeating her name and asking herself why this man is in her head so deep.

In the Box, Jo calls last orders as she serves three mutants, one of whom literally has eyes in the back of his head. Kurt asks Logan if the beer’s working, as it must be hard to punish himself when his healing factor fights him every inch of the way. Logan says he has no idea. Kurt continues, saying that, regardless, he is still here, doing his best impression of a fish. He remarks that they’ve both seen innocents suffer before. They’ve both seen the inhumanity of man to his fellow man. He asks why Lucy Braddock is so different that he drives across country for three days, without rest, to meet him there and then engages in this vain attempt to torture his liver. Logan doesn’t reply and instead pours yet another glass of beer. Kurt continues, saying that seventeen is too young, he agrees, but so is seventy. They’ve both seen too much death and lost too many they’ve cared for, but as trite as it may sound, death is part of life, even unnatural death; even, perhaps, murder.

“Not murder,” Logan says. Kurt launches into his argument, pointing out that every Judeo-Christian religion has murder in their basic text. Cain slew Abel and, thus, the world knew murder. One could argue, he adds, that murder is as natural as dying of old age. Logan turns to him, asking if he really believes that. Kurt doesn’t know what to believe. His grasp of ethical and theological theory is slipping by the day and, as a result, he is often forced to rely on the facts, as he knows them. He tells Logan that actions speak louder than words, and Logan knows this better than anyone. His actions have always marked him, to Kurt at least, as a good man, an honorable man. There is another pause in the conversation as Logan considers his reply. When it comes, Nightcrawler is visibly shocked. “Three days ago I killed twenty-seven men.”

Kurt hasn’t much to say to that, only asking him if he was enraged. “All the way to the bone,” replies Logan. Kurt asks if these men had earned this rage and Logan asks if he’s looking for an excuse. He says he isn’t, he is simply straining to understand, because if Logan tells him that these twenty-seven men were innocents all, then he is everything he has always feared himself to be and would have to be stopped. “And you’d stop me?” asks Logan. Kurt stares at him, saying no, but he would die trying.

Logan decides to explain himself. He informs Kurt that they were a cult. They’d broken a town, made it afraid. They kidnapped women, girls and they used them up. “Then you are describing evil, my friend,” says Kurt, “and evil begets evil.” Logan asks if he means him, and Kurt tells him that if that’s his question, then he cannot be of help. “You were a priest, absolve me,” Logan replies. Kurt grins and asks with more than the merest hint of sarcasm that it would be wonderful if it worked like that. What a world they would have. He flings his arm towards the doorway, saying there’d be legions of sinners, all committing their crimes with abandon, safe in the knowledge that absolution was just one quick trip to the church away.

He says they tried it once, during the middle ages. Enough gold, you could be forgiven for anything. He asks Logan if he would like that, such a hollow forgiveness? Logan asks if he needs forgiveness and Kurt wonders if that’s what he’s after. He asks if those men were evil without question and by killing them in his rage, is Wolverine evil? He tells Logan that he is unique, and he doesn’t speak of what has been done to him. He asks, “Is the wolf evil when it culls the sickness from the herd?”

Jo peers outside into the rain and turns the sign in the window over to read ‘Sorry, we’re closed.’ Logan pays the bill and the two X-Men exit the bar, leaving Jo to look after Mike. Standing in the rain, Logan tells Kurt, “That thing about wolves….I’m not an animal, I’m not. Kurt says he knows. Wolverine isn’t so sure. “I’m not...”

Characters Involved: 



Agent Cassie Lathrop

Police sketch artist and station staff

Jo, bartender at the Box

Brady, barman at the Box

The Box customers including Mike and several other mutants

(in Cassie’s dream)

Cassie Lathrop


Story Notes: 

The toast to Peter refers to Piotr Rasputin, Colossus, who sacrificed himself to destroy the Legacy Virus in X-Men (1st series) #390.

Nightcrawler says he met Katchen (Kitty Pryde) a few months back. This was in X-Men Unlimited #38 when he also used the same image-inducer disguise as shown here. Wolverine met Kitty again in the God Loves man Kills 2 story so this issue presumably takes place before then.

Lucy Braddock was killed in Wolverine (3rd series) #1 and the twenty-seven men referred to died in Wolverine (3rd series) #5.

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