Wolverine (3rd series) #7

Issue Date: 
January 2004
Story Title: 
Coyote Crossing - part 1

Greg Rucka (words), Leandro Fernandez (art), Studio F (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wooton (letterer), Leo Fernandez (cover artist), Axel Alonso (edit), Warren Simons (more edit), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine arrives at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and finds two men inside who have killed the guy working there. He takes out the larger of the two with his claws and ‘persuades’ the smaller man, Lake, to tell him why they killed him and who organized it. It turns out he is a Coyote, a people smuggler and their cargo, nineteen Mexicans are all dead in the back of a tractor trailer. They were after the guy’s truck to make their escape. Wolverine forces him inside with them as he leaves for El Paso with a name, Ritter. There, he meets up with an old acquaintance called Nestor and informs him that the man he’s after is called Ritter. Meanwhile, Cassie Lathrop tries to get information from Sycamore Blaine about Wolverine but he is too cautious to give anything away apart from his name, Logan. She leaves and is about to give up her search, but for a news report in which Lake is shown being led away by police, mentioning a man fitting Wolverine’s description.

Full Summary: 

(New Mexico)

107 miles North North East of El Paso, Texas, Wolverine arrives at a small rundown gas station, the last place for gas and beer for a hundred miles. The sun beats down and the place looks deserted as he gets off his bike and looks around for an attendant. With no-one forthcoming, he edges inside the door and asks if anybody’s there as he needs a refill, but no-one answers. He sniffs inquisitively and begins to understand the situation.

In the back room, a bruiser called Merrick aims his pistol towards the door as he sees Wolverine’s shadow behind it. His partner, a weaker man called Lake, asks what’s happening but Merrick just wants him to find the keys for the truck. Lake is in over his head and looks at the gas station attendant lying on the floor, blood leaking out of his still warm dead body. Lake checks his pockets, a little disconcerted about the amount of blood around. Merrick loses Wolverine’s shadow and wonders where he’s gotten to, standing with his back to the wall next to the door.

On the other side of the wall, Wolverine weighs up the situation, listening to the two men, Lake anxiously searching for the truck’s keys. He pops his claws on his right hand and swings round, thrusting them through the thin wall and into Merrick’s body. A scream is heard as Wolverine kicks the door in, sending his would-be assailant tumbling to the floor amongst shards of glass. Merrick’s bleeding profusely from the stomach; Wolverine’s claws having gone clean through his body.

Lake cowers next to the attendant’s body, glancing nervously at the pistol Merrick has dropped. Wolverine tries to goad him into picking up the weapon, knowing that he isn’t in any real danger. He shouts at Lake to do it, but Lake, despite being a simple man knows his limitations and leaves the gun well alone. Wolverine grabs him by the hair, asking if he killed the boy but Lake says it was Merrick, swearing to god it wasn’t him. Wolverine is angry and it shows. He pushes Lake against a wall and grabs him by the throat, demanding to know why they killed him or he’ll be gutted right here. Lake points outside and tells Logan he’ll show him.

(Portland, Oregon)

ATF Agent Cassie Lathrop pulls up outside Sycamore Blaine’s gun shop, My Cold Dead Hand, and enters, finding Blaine reading the paper. She flashes her credentials and introduces herself. Blaine plays it cool, telling her she’s good looking for a fed and asks what he can do for her; his permits and licences are all current. She replies that she’s sure they are, but that’s not why she is here. He probably has an inkling what she’s after but doesn’t give much away, asking if she’s shopping as he has a rather nice custom Les Bauer forty-five which just came in which would fit her hand like a glove. She plays along but tells him she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. She pulls a piece of paper out of her bag and shows it to Blaine. The face is unmistakably that of Wolverine and she asks if he’s seen him, maybe a couple of months ago.

He lowers his glasses and looks at the picture but tells Cassie that he’s never seen him. Cassie knows better and asks him to have another look but Blaine again denies having seen him. Cassie tells him that she simply wants to talk to the man; she isn’t trying to collar the guy. He asks why she needs to talk to him so bad and she replies, “I think he maybe saved my life.”

(New Mexico)

Back in New Mexico, Lake leads Wolverine outside, talking non-stop and making it abundantly clear that Merrick was behind the whole deal. Merrick had told him they should ditch the truck they were in but Lake didn’t want to, but what was he to do? He said the pump jockey was all Merrick too. He tried to stop him but he had the gun. They were like mutants to Merrick, not even people really. Wolverine sees a couple of vultures flying overhead as Lake leads him over a ridge nearby, telling him that he isn’t a bad guy, he just needs the money.

Looking down from the ridge, Wolverine sees an abandoned tractor-trailer with several vultures perched on its roof. They head down and Wolverine opens the back, discovering a pile of corpses fresh from Mexico. Things like this sicken Wolverine to the core of his soul. Despite everything he’s been through, nothing riles him like innocents being preyed upon. Lake tells him that Merrick kept saying they’d be all right, but they kept pounding on the walls and shouting. He told Merrick that it was hot back there and that they needed water, or just a little ventilation but Merrick pointed out that if there were holes, their noise might be heard. Merrick figured that they paid the price, took the chance and knew the risks.

Wolverine demands to know who arranged it but Lake says he swears he doesn’t know, the business side of the arrangement all being organized by Merrick. Wolverine again grabs him by the throat and says it’s too bad for him. Lake is petrified; he doesn’t want to die but, as Wolverine points out, neither did they. He points his claws at Lake’s face and they do a pretty good of forcing him to come clean. He offers Wolverine a name; a guy in El Paso by the name of Ritter; he arranges things. Wolverine doesn’t say a word and instead, he carries Lake by the throat to the truck, opening the doors again and telling him to get in. Clearly, this isn’t something Lake wishes to do, but the claws are persuasive and he reluctantly climbs inside. Wolverine locks the doors with a chain, leaving enough of a gap to give him enough air to breathe before departing; something that wasn’t allowed for the nineteen dead people inside.


Cassie meanwhile chats with Blaine who realizes from her demeanor and attitude that she’s probably telling the truth. They chat about when he and Wolverine served together in Vietnam, over thirty years ago now. Cassie looks at a photograph, pointing out that he doesn’t look much different and Blaine says that he wouldn’t. He passes her a fresh brewed coffee and admits that he isn’t that comfortable talking about him with someone who works for the government but Cassie reiterates that this is personal business.

Blaine smiles. “Yeah, I’ll bet. He does have that effect on the ladies.” Cassie says that isn’t it but Blaine replies of course it isn’t. She asks him if Logan is his first name or last but Logan is the only name Blaine knows him by. He never really needed another one. She continues to press Blaine for information but he’s not giving it up that easily, offering to pass on her thanks to him. Cassie wants to do it herself and so, they reach an impasse. She leaves the gun store and gets into her red Jeep, clutching the steering wheel with both hands before hitting it repeatedly. “Dammit, dammit, dammit!!!” She leans back in her seat in resignation before driving off, saying the hell with it.

(El Paso, Texas)

Wolverine heads into town and makes an anonymous phone call to the authorities from a pay phone, telling them that Lake is in the truck. That done, he enters a bar called Cerveza Fria and receives some wary glances from the residents. He wanders to the bar and asks for a beer, showing off his fluency in speaking Spanish as he quizzes the barman.

He says he is looking for a man named Nestor and the barman, Angel, asks who’s looking for him. Wolverine replies that it’s the guy who solved his problem when Oscar vanished, adding that he’ll wait there. He continues drinking while Angel opens the backroom door. His boss, Nestor, tells him he wasn’t to be disturbed as he’s doing the accounting but Angel informs him that there’s a man who wants to see him. Nestor replies that he isn’t here but Angel thinks he should see him, as he’s the one who settled the matter when Oscar disappeared. Nestor asks if he’s here now and Angel tells him he’s the stocky runt at the bar. Nestor takes a peek and sees Wolverine enjoying a beer.

He approaches him, followed by the larger Angel. “You’ve got a nerve walking in here,” he tells Wolverine. “Do I?” he replies. “After the last time… you left before we could thank you, you dog.” Nestor grabs him by the hand warmly and a broad smile appears underneath his jam jar glasses. Wolverine had saved his little boy and just gone away. Wolverine replies that it’s good to see him again. Nestor tells Angel (sporting a tattoo with the words Pinche Cabron sandwiching a scorpion) that his drinks are free and if he tries paying for them, he should return his money.

Nestor asks Wolverine what brings him to El Paso and if there’s anything he can do for him. He replies that he looking for someone, possibly a couple of someones. He asks for their names but Wolverine only has one; Ritter and he’s a Coyote; a people


Cassie calls out for a pepperoni pizza as a news report appears on television. The report is from El Paso where the police have found the nineteen illegal immigrants after Wolverine’s tip off. Lake is in custody and speaks to the reporter as he is led away from the scene. He tells her that is innocent. This guy with claws coming out of the back of his hands did it. The reporter says that police and border patrols are continuing their investigation. “Well hell,” says Cassie.

Characters Involved: 


ATF Agent Cassie Lathrop

Sycamore Blaine, Gun shop owner



deceased Gas station attendant

deceased Illegal immigrants


Angel, the barman

Cerveza Fria customers

on television:

Marcia Zandi, reporter


police officers

Story Notes: 

Sycamore Blaine was last seen in Wolverine (3rd series) #2. His shop has been through some cosmetic changes since Wolverine was there. The deer‘s head for instance is now next to the door instead of above it and the stand behind the jacket rack has changed. Even the shop sign has changed. It was Guns, Ammo, Army Surplus, Fishing Gear but now reads Firearms, Ammo Trade.

The series takes place two months after the previous issue and moves the story from Oregon to New Mexico, 107 miles North North East of El Paso which puts it not far from Alamagordo, the place where the nuclear power plant is located that Dr. Brain Xavier and Dr. Kurt Marko worked at. [Uncanny X-Men #12]

The black and white picture Cassie shows Blaine was drawn by a sketch artist in Wolverine (3rd series) # 6.

Special thanks go to the message board poster known as Navybluevalentine who helped with the spanish translations in this issue.

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