In a stark room, surrounded by armed men in sealed environment-suits, the Pink Mink is protected by the very latest technology… and then some. Appearing to be a furry, bright, pink cloth, which writhes like a fish, the Pink Mink “swims” in a transparent sphere, which is filled with pink energies. The sphere is held mid-air by its base, keeping it from touching anything. Titanium bars. Sonic cannons. Cutting-edge bio-psychic barriers. A labyrinth of deadly steel, lethal ingenuity, high trained personnel with surprisingly little concern for their own physical well-being. But today… none of it is enough. A building noise alerts the Pink Mink’s guards but it is too late. With a gigantic sound, the sphere bursts and the Pink Mink is free.
A well-dressed man enters the remains of the room that once housed the Pink Mink. In the center of the room, standing atop the base that held aloft the Mink’s sphere, he sees a young woman, scanning the remains with a small hand-held device. Addressing her, the man asks if there’s some kinda’ problem. Turning to face the man, the woman scowls from behind her glasses. Addressing the man as Mister Wolverine, she tells him that it’s more than just a problem. They’ve had a break-in of uncanny proportions. And, she continues, she’d like to state that she’d rather this case were handled by someone more… someone more regular. Taking the woman’s meaning, Wolverine completes her thought… someone who ain’t a lousy mutant?
The woman lowers herself from the base to the room’s floor. As she does so, she clarifies… Many of them wanted to destroy that horrid pink, mutant monstrosity… but, no, that wasn’t politically correct, was it? No, Wolverine replies. It wasn’t. Bearing his eyes down at the woman, Wolverine changes the subject and suggests that she start talking about the Pink Mink, as in… what the hell is it? A little taken aback, the woman pauses. After a moment, her frown turns into a smile and she lets out an innocent ’kay as she leads Wolverine away.
Leading Wolverine into another room, the woman draws his attention to a gigantic screen, upon which the Pink Mink’s image is displayed. Referring to the Mink, the woman tells Wolverine that scientists are unable to agree but it seems to be connected to the whole “Mutant X-gene” phenomena, engendered in an entire golden bough literature of legend and myth, culminating in stories of a beautiful pink lady. What they do know, she continues, is that it’s dangerous. People – particularly his kind of people – are affected by it; visions… manias.
Staring at the image of the Mink, Wolverine lets out a rare “wow” and admits that the “piece of fur” is startin’ to give him the jitters. A little incredulous, the woman tells Wolverine that she’s not sure he’s taking this entirely seriously. Still viewing the image, Wolverine informs her that she obviously doesn’t know him too well. When she begins to reply, Wolverine interrupts: he’s on her side, believe it or not. Drawing his attention back to her, he tells her to talk.
A new image appears on the screen; it is of a young, red-haired man in a straightjacket. His right eye is swollen and his mouth is open in a vacant expression. Pointing to the man, the woman informs Wolverine that they captured one of the culprits. Two died, the rest got away but they captured this one. Snarling at the man’s image, Wolverine proclaims that he wants to rap wid’ that pretty boy. Viewing the man’s image as well, the woman replies that they’ve tried. They’ve interrogated him and used the latest psychological techniques, to no avail. He’s in some kind of hypnotic trance. Obviously skilled in all manner of mind and body control… there’s no way he can get through to him. Leaning in close to the woman’s ear, Wolverine tells her that it is like he said: she obviously doesn’t know him too well.
Pink. the man declares. So very… utterly… unimpeachably… pink. He is the Collector and he knows what he likes. He like it to be authentic. Hanging on one wall of the large room is the Shroud of Turin, swapped for the medieval copy that the fools carbon-dated. He has the real Mona Lisa. The actual copy of Aristotle’s poetics, rather than the mass-produced lecture notes. In the middle of this room of trophies, the Collector gloats over his latest acquisition. Atop a base from which erupts a twenty-foot pink flame, the Pink Mink writhes in a twisted glass structure. Neither the structure nor the Pink Mink is consumed. Flanked by his bodyguards, the Collector now has what he really wants. Or deserves.
Thanks to the flash of lightening, which is followed by a crack of thunder, the Collector becomes aware of a dark figure with claws about to crash through his stained-glass window. As the figure crashes through, the Collector yells out for his guards. However, as they spring into action against the assailant, the Collector cannot help but admire the magnificence of Wolverine. So entranced by the visage, the Collector orders his men to not damage his surface, as he wants to stuff him and hang him next to Geronimo. Already at work slicing up the guards and their firearms, Wolverine tells the Collector that it’s the best offer he’s had all day. With this, he leaps into further action, taking down men and dodging bullets, some of which break open a glass frame, which holds the Constitution of the United States.
Almost defying gravity, Wolverine leaps from one position high above to another, dodging automatic weapon’s fire. In mid-air, he manages to slice in half a sarcophagus, which’s top half, now sliced from the bottom, slides off, to the ground below. Succumbing to the will of gravity, the sarcophagus falls of the base of the Pink Mink’s latest prison, turning it over and bringing the glass structure to the ground. Not designed for the impact, the structure shatters, depositing the Pink Mink onto the ground. In horror at what has happened and eyeing the pink mist, which rises from the Mink’s inert form, the Collector cries in dread and calls Wolverine and idiot. The Pink Mink, he tells Wolverine, must not be exposed to the air!
Unconcerned, Wolverine tells the man to quit blubbering. It is just a piece of old fur with a rinse. Wolverine’s declaration begins to ring hollow as he picks up the apparent stole. Does he feel it? As though it’s trying to pull away? To escape? And there’s that smell. That… pink smell. And that noise… Not so much heard but felt… Maybe it’s dust from the mink, laced with some narcotic. Maybe the lightening has triggered off the Collector’s feraliminal lycanthropizer, a sound device that stimulates animal and sexual instincts.
Drowning in sensations that he cannot explain, Wolverine releases the Mink, which floats out of his hands. Simultaneously, high above him, the image of a woman appears. She is naked, pink in color and smiling broadly. Her hair is composed of every shade of pink and fills the room and Wolverine’s senses, wrapping itself around him. The Pink Lady opens her arms out to Wolverine, as she floats high above him, and is silhouetted by the rain in the might sky behind her.
Wolverine sits in the windowsill where the Pink Mink had escaped hours before. Now sitting in the new day’s sunshine, he regards the woman from the Pink Mink’s earlier prison. When she suggests that he imagined the vision, Wolverine quickly retorts that he didn’t imagine nothin’. She was there, he says, right in front of him. She smiled at him. She… she took the Mink from him. Her hands on her hips in disbelief, the woman supposes aloud that she just disappeared with a stroke of lightening. That’s exactly what she did, Wolverine replies. Turning her back on Wolverine, the woman retorts that she was assured that, unlike many of his kind, he had a good, deductive mind. Clearly she was misled. He allowed the Collector to steal the Mink back from under his nose. As she walks out, the woman informs Wolverine that their own people will take over from there. He can forget about the Pink Mink.
But how can he forget out it? How can he forget about… her? How could he ever think about anything else again? Wolverine tries all of the usual tricks. Booze. Sleeping pills. Work. When nothing works, Wolverine wonders who can he turn to? Who does someone like Wolverine, the fearless hunter, whose genes repair and renew any damage his flesh and organs suffer… who does a man such as this turn to?
Speaking in a language few understand, Doop floats several feet from the floor and uses his stunted arms to pull the skin away from his eye sockets, causing his eyes to seem to bulge. Confused, the officer asks Guy Smith what did he… or it… say? “Day of the Pink Psychos.” Guy replies simply. Doop comes out with stuff like that all the time. Of course, Guy continues, Doop doesn’t mean psychos in the normal sense, short for psychopath. It’s short for psychosomatic. Pointing to the three nearby tanks encasing pink-skinned zombified people, the officer replies that it still doesn’t explain why some citizens, including one of his own officers, are turning pink and talking gibberish, Mister…. Smith, replies Guy, cross-armed. It’s because psychosomatics are mutants.
Disbelieving Guy, the officer replies that he’s known Officer Halloran for twenty years and is the godfather to his kid. If he were a mutant, he’d know about it. Replying simply, Guy states that he almost certainly didn’t even know about it himself. Jumping into the conversation, X-Statix’s employer, Spike Freeman, explains that psychosomatics carry an incredibly low-level mutant gene that usually only kicks in if something particularly big or weird goes down. They go about their lives being teachers or cops, moaning about their taxes and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… then one day… Kaboom! They’re a mutant. In a sense, Guy adds, Officer Halloran is a mutant barometer of the zeitgeist. Damn, the officer replies. He thought he was a Catholic.
An unearthly howl comes from the captive Officer Halloran as he writhes in pain. Seeing his friend in evident pain, the officer asks Guy to get some more sedatives in him before he hurts himself. Guy asks for them to wait… Halloran is trying to show them something. Seeing Halloran shake his right hand in agony, Guy tries to guess what he is trying to say. Where’s he trying to point them? Suddenly, from the above the knuckles of each hand three metallic-looking claws shoot out, each making a familiar snikt sound as they do so. While their visiting officer looks in horror, Guy Smith and Doop manage a knowing glance at each other.
(two weeks later)
At the door of a remote house, which overlooks a cliff, Wolverine asks Doop if he thinks this is where the Collector’s been hanging out. While the two are not sure, this location is the culmination of two weeks of tracking and hunting and tying together loose ends. Pointing to the doorknocker, Doop utters a word in his language. Understanding Doop’s speech, Wolverine replies that he is right; the doorknocker is an ancient Egyptian ankh. Maybe they are getting warm and maybe now he’ll find out if he was duped and the Collector did take the Mink from him. Or maybe the legends of the beautiful Pink Lady are true. She really is summoned from some other dimension when the Mink is exposed to the air. With this, Wolverine and Doop break down the door and walk into the darkness within. Thinking back to the possibilities, Wolverine also adds that maybe old Wolverine has finally gone funny in the head. To this possibility, Doop glances at his old friend from the corner of his eye. It is a look that Wolverine returns.
The two mutants enter a room in chaos. The room is littered with dead bodies, the furniture is torn apart and pink paint has been poured over everything. Taking it all in, Wolverine tells Doop that he’s getting kinda sick of this color. Doop speaks something in his language, followed by a statement of affirmation by Wolverine. Investigating a corpse closer, Wolverine announces that it looks like they were poisoned or they poisoned themselves. Then, they were splattered with cheap pink paint. Kinda comforting, he muses, to know that he ain’t the only one getting a little cranky.
Noticing a rope tied to the ceiling and disappearing behind a paneled curtain, Doop investigates and discovers a hanging man, his head covered with a paint bucket. Wolverine agrees with Doop’s pronouncement… the Collector is now extinct. He should be preserved and displayed in a museum. Seeing Doop pick up and read a note that was attached to the corpse, Wolverine asks what it says. After Doop replies, again in his language, Wolverine is shocked: She’s real? The Note says… she’ real?
Later, sitting at their table in the bar, Wolverine looks through the glass of his mixed drink with misgivings. He asks Doop to tell him that he ain’t imagining it and that the drink is really… pink. Seeing Doop holding up another glass of the same drink and smiling, Wolverine asks in rhetorical disbelief that he really ordered him and cocktail called a Pink Lady. For an amorphous green blob of dubious sexual and moral proclivity, Wolverine states to Doop, he’s got quite a sense of humor.
No longer concerned by his cocktail and enjoying the backrub being given to him by a scantily clad brunette, Wolverine returns to the issue at hand. The Collector… what does it prove? That he went nuts? Maybe another collector stole the Mink from him and left that note to send them on a wild goose chase. Or maybe… Wolverine catches something out of the corner of his eye. Moving abruptly, he slams his drink down sloshing it and startling the young woman behind him. Over a crowd of people, from across the bar, Wolverine sees to smoky tendrils that resemble the hair of the Pink Lady.
As Doop exclaims something incomprehensible, Wolverine launches himself over the table and begins forcibly making his way through the crowd of people between he and the Pink Lady. All the while, he yells out her name. Did he imagine her? Was she a chimera wrought of the smoke, the pulsing light and the alcohol in his bloodstream? One would think he’d feel stupid or embarrassed calling out that name but Wolverine’s expression does not show it. As he continues to follow the gaseous trail of his quarry, Wolverine does not look the kind of man who gives a damn what these bruised and boozed denizens of the night think of him.
Finally making his way into the alley, Wolverine yells out into the night air the name of who he is tracking but cannot find: Pink Lady! A soft and pink voice addresses Wolverine as soldier and tells him to keep his voice down. Does he want to wake the whole neighborhood? Appearing before Wolverine is the Pink Lady from the Collector’s house. No longer naked, she is clothed only in a fur coat, which seems to be made from the Pink Mink. Then again, she says, smiling broadly as she runs her hands through her ephemeral hair, ain’t too much sleeping going on in this town. Dumbstruck by her presence, Wolverine stammers the obvious… she’s real. Replying wryly, she tells Wolverine that she’s been called worse. She invites him to touch her if he doesn’t believe his eyes. Seeing Wolverine subdued and stupefied by her beauty, she entices him to go on… she doesn’t bite. At least, not on the first date.
Wolverine begins to rub his hand across the Pink Lady’s dark-pink skin. Still entranced, he nevertheless manages to inform her in a stammer that he has to take that Pink Mink. Replying with a grin that she knows, she replies in kind that he knows she ain’t gonna just hand it over to him. His eyes drooping from his altered mental state, Wolverine replies that he… knows… Some distance away, Doop emerges from the bar and into the alley. Looking toward the street, he sees an amorphous pink cloud hovering on the other side of a lamppost, upon which rests a sign that Wolverine is lovingly caressing.
It’s really gotten that bad, asks Guy Smith, as he looks at Doop’s image on the X-Statix monitor board. After Doop replies in his language, Spike Freeman swears. Who would have thought? The great Wolverine carrying the Code-X: the regressive gene that can render some mutants dangerously unstable. On the small monitor that is emerging from his torso and the infinite space contained therein, Doop hears the suggestion from Guy that, maybe, there’s another explanation. They have to be positive before they take any action. Drooping his head, Spike replies that Guy is right and suggest to Doop that he push a little, turn up the heat and see if he sweats. And then, if in his analysis, Wolverine is indeed suffering from the early symptoms of Code-X… there’s only one thing for it: Wolverine must die! The transmission finished, Doop takes the small monitor/transmitter and places it back into his torso, closing it once again. Ready to exit the bathroom and return to the bar, Doop takes a moment to wipe a tear from his face.
Some time and many drinks later, the Pink continues to swirl in Wolverine’s eye, as much as his mind. He saw her again, he tells Doop. Then, she was gone again. Telling his friend that he thinks she’s trying to get inside his head, Wolverine wonders: just what is it he’s after? He’s supposed to be tryin’ top keep his reputation in order by recovering the Pink Mink, which everyone thinks he let slip from his fingers. But maybe… maybe he doesn’t care about the Mink. Maybe he doesn’t care about his reputation. Maybe all he’s interested in is her.
Rising to his feet, Wolverine attempts relatively unsuccessfully to balance himself. After a few words from Doop, Wolverine replies that, nah, it’s his round. And this time… he continues, no pink cocktails. As Wolverine stumbles toward the bar, Doop rears a soft, pink voice telling him that, though his friend is cute, he should let his hair down… and keep those sharp claws in. Turning to the speaker, Doop sees the Pink Lady, clad only in the coat made of the Pink Mink, lounging seductively atop the pool table. Her legs are crossed in a provocative manner and the coat barely covers her bosom, which displays ample cleavage. As ever, the Pink Lady’s hair wasps like living smoke and encircles Doop, who grins uncontrollably and dumbstruck.
As he repeats the same thing in glee, the Pink Lady tells Doop that she could say the same thing about him. Let’s face it, she tells him, neither of them is gonna make president. His eyes wide, Doop reaches out inquisitively and asks the Pink Lady something. She replies that, no, he cannot touch her there. And, she continues with a smile, it’s very naughty of him to even ask. Over at the bar, Wolverine finishes paying for his drinks. Looking back at Doop’s location, he sees his friend floating next to a mop, drooling in affection and longingly brushing his hand across the mop’s head.
In the bathroom, Wolverine is in telepathic conference with Professor X. So, the Professor realizes, it’s finally come to this. Wolverine tells the Professor that he did it like he said. He played it like he was losin’ it… kept on an’ on about this Pink Lady junk. He even pretended he was talkin’ to her… and he bought right into it. The poor, beautiful, green blob’s out there talking to the freakin’ mop. He’s gone, Professor.
He’d hoped it had merely been propaganda, the Professor counters. As he knows, he tells Wolverine, Doop has many enemies, especially among their own people. But, Xavier continues, he wants to make sure that he is suffering from Code-X. Wolverine must squeeze him a little more and then, if he cracks, there is no other choice. Wolverine knows what must be done. With this, the telepathic connection ends. Ready to exit the bathroom and return to the bar, Wolverine takes a moment to wipe a tear from his face.
Wolverine reenters the bar to find it in the middle of a brawl. Pink-skinned patrons, including a gun-firing policeman, attempt to tackle Doop, who yells aloud in his language. Responding to Doop’s announcement, Wolverine joins the fight and agrees: they are all pink psychos… but where the hell did they come from? To this, Doop grits his teeth and spits an answer.
The fight concluded and the two of them the only ones standing/floating, Wolverine suggests that they go somewhere a little more salubrious for a nightcap. They’ve got a long day ahead of them. Dusting his hands satisfactorily, Doop replies in his speech with a smile. Ya know, Wolverine says, as they make their way down the street, he’s got a feeling this case is goin’ ta get a lot more… complicated before it’s over. Doop replies with a wry smile, which is followed by Wolverine’s promise to watch his back. As the two make their way down the street, arm in arm, each holds a weapon behind their back with their free hand. Wolverine bares one set of claws and Doop holds a broken bottle. Each is ready, if necessary, to make their move.