Wolverine: First Class #10

Issue Date: 
February 2009
Story Title: 
The Pack: Part 1

Fred Van Lente (writer), Francis Portela (artist), Ulises Arrerola (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Williams and Ulises Arreola Quintana (cover), Joe Sabino (production), Mark Paniccia and Ralph Macchio (consulting), Nathan Cosby (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine strands Kitty Pryde in the woods of southern Illinois in order to teach her a few things about navigation. She has until dawn to make it back to her mom and dad’s cabin. Wolverine, meanwhile, returns to the cabin right away, and finds a battered woman stumbling outside of it. He takes her inside to let her rest, forcing himself to resist his lustful thoughts for the beautiful woman, but before long, a group of werewolves surrounds the cabin and attacks. Wolverine tries to defend the woman, but she, too, transforms into a werewolf and marks him. On her way back to the cabin, meanwhile, Kitty encounters a sick man named Jack Russell, whom she carries home. She takes both him and Logan, who bears an animal bite which defies his healing factor, to the hospital. Later that night, under the light of the full moon, Wolverine transforms into a werewolf and attacks Kitty. She is saved by Jack Russell, who also transforms into a werewolf. Wolverine abruptly flees the battle, however, to find the woman who bit him. He finds her the next morning at Kitty’s cabin with her clan, and after she announces she marked Logan because she believes he is her soul-mate, Malik, the clan leader, says Logan must first test himself before joining the clan by eliminating a nearby film-manufacturing plant that keeps dumping silver into the water. If not, they will kill him.

Full Summary: 

The woods of southern Illinois…

Kitty Pryde cannot believe what she’s hearing. Logan seriously wants her to find her way back to her family’s cabin using only a map, a compass, and a flask of water? What is this supposed to prove, she asks? That he’s the most sadistic super hero teacher ever? Did he forget she’s only thirteen-and-a-half?

Wolverine tells her that excuse will go over quite well if she ever becomes a full-fledged X-Man. Does she expect to say that to Magneto to prevent him from crushing her under a pile of metal? Besides, what if the Blackbird crashes in the woods, and the other X-Men get slain by wolves? Or mutants? Or mutant wolves? What if Kitty is the only one left to find help, and she cannot, because she doesn’t know how to use a map?

Mutant wolves, Kitty asks. Do those exist? It’s a hypothetical scenario, Logan says. “Hypothetically stupid…” Kitty quips. Regardless, Logan informs her no student of his will graduate without some rudimentary knowledge of wilderness survival. It is not up for discussion. Kitty, leaning down to tie her shoe, asks what will happen if she cannot find her way back. Wolverine tells her not to worry; he’ll come and find her if he has to, an easy feat thanks to the pungent perfume she’s wearing. “Hey!” Kitty says, pivoting and pointing her finger at Logan. “This perfume is personally endorsed by Dazzler herself!” To her surprise, she discovers Logan has already left. She curses his name.

Logan hikes back to the Prydes’s cabin in the woods later that night. Along the way, he is almost crushed by a speeding Kodiak Film semi-truck as he crosses the highway. As he approaches the cabin, he figures he has at least six hours of free time before Kitty finds her way back to the cabin. He wonders what time the Oilers/Rangers game starts. Suddenly, he detects a foreign smell and realizes he has company. “Might as well come out, whoever you are,” he announces to the hidden intruder as he unsheathes his claws. “Trust me – you don’t want to make me find you!”

To Logan’s surprise, a battered woman stumbles out from behind the corner, and after asking for help, collapses in his arms. Logan picks up the unconscious woman and carries her inside the cabin. As soon as he announces his plans to call an ambulance, however, the woman wakes up and asks him to stop. She doesn’t want to see any doctors; she only needs some rest to get over her sickness. If she can rest, it might pass, she says.

While brewing a cup of coffee for the woman, Wolverine tells her he can relate to her hospital aversion. The woman changes the subject and asks what he is doing at this particular cabin; she thought a bunch of yuppies from the city used it as their summer home. “Yeah, that’s the family of one o’ my, er, students,” Logan tells her, adding they let them use the cabin for a training exercise. The woman asks if he is a teacher. “In a manner of speaking,” he tells her. The woman says she isn’t surprised. Logan finds this reaction perplexing. She explains he emanates a certain trustworthy quality she normally sees in teachers. For instance, she instinctually knew she could approach him out here, in the middle of nowhere, and he would not turn her away.

Wolverine stares at her while she speaks. His mind wanders. Wow. She’s beautiful, he thinks. He reminds himself to hold things together; he is with Mariko, after all. Refined, worldly Mariko…who’s nothing like this girl. Nothing at all. His eyes widen. Trying to focus on something else, he asks the woman what happened to her clothes. What, is he trying to give her fashion tips, she asks? He cuts the nonsense and asks straight-out who she is running from. Who says she is running from anything, she asks?

The distinct howl of a wolf from outside the cabin halts their conversation. Logan, detecting as many as five distinct scents, rushes to the window to get a better look. To his utter shock, he sees a gang of wolf-people surrounding the cabin, and curses. Unsheathing his claws, he orders the woman to find a hiding place while he fights off the attackers. She stares at his adamantium blades in amazement. “My – are you one of us?!” she asks.

“You mean – a mutant?” Wolverine asks back.

“A what?” the woman says, confused.

“Huh?” Wolverine responds, clearly confused as well. Suddenly, the five werewolves crash through the log cabin’s windows, their attacks focused on Wolverine. He tells the woman to stay behind him. While fending off the attackers, Logan tells the helpless woman he refuses to let either of them become some monster’s midnight snack. As he turns to face the woman, however, his eyes widen in astonishment. She, too, has transformed into a werewolf, and has clearly set her sights on Wolverine. She lunges at him and bites him on the shoulder before smashing his face into the floor.

The werewolves stand around Logan’s unconscious body. One of the werewolves admonishes the woman for “marking” Wolverine, despite what he did to her. The woman disagrees; it wasn’t Wolverine who hurt her. The “sickness” hurt her, but as they can clearly see, she has already recovered.

Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde, still finding her way to the cabin, stands overlooking a steep cliff. According to her map, she might have to backtrack a quarter-mile in order to find a way down the ridge, unless she gets creative. She activates her phasing ability, and “air-hikes” down to the bottom of the ridge. Immediately upon setting foot on the ground, however, she screams.

A half-naked man lays partially submerged in a creek, and looks as if he might be dying. He begs Kitty to help. After drinking from this stream, he fell ill, and now he can barely move his own body. Kitty asks what happened to his clothes; the man instead tells her he came to these woods seeking other members of his kind. Missing his insinuation, Kitty puts his arm around her shoulder and hoists him off the ground. He is far too heavy for her to carry under ordinary circumstances, but she realizes if she phases both of them, she could easily carry him back to her parents’ cabin. Wolverine would freak out if he saw her using her mutant powers out of costume, Kitty realizes, but, as an X-Man, her first priority is to help people in need. She tells the man to brace himself; he is about to experience something rather weird. The man, who finally introduces himself as Jack Russell, tells her not to worry. He has plenty of experience with “weird.”

Eventually, Sprite arrives at her family’s cabin with Jack Russell safely in tow. Her stomach sinks at the sight of the cabin’s multiple broken windows and splintered door, however. Her parents are going to disown her when they see this! She steps into the cabin, which looks as if it went through a tornado. She sees Logan lying on the floor in a daze. She asks what happened, but he barely has enough energy to eke out a response. At this point, Kitty notices the gaping animal bites on his shoulder, and declares she has never seen such a wound in her life. Wolverine admits he hasn’t either. He begins to wonder why his healing factor hasn’t yet taken care of it. Worried, Kitty tells him they both need to get to the hospital immediately. Both? Wolverine asks. Kitty points to the unconscious man on the couch and asks Logan if he feels good enough to drive.

Shortly thereafter at the hospital, the doctors struggle to restrain Jack Russell, who thrashes about wildly. He implores them to listen to him; whatever illness has stricken him, it can only be temporary! He knows he will change back to his true form soon, and doesn’t want to be anywhere near the hospital when the transformation begins! The doctors, ignoring his pleas, inject him with a sedative, putting him to rest.

Kitty and another doctor watch from the doorway. He said he drank from a stream in the woods, the doctor asks? Yes, Kitty replies. Has that been a recurring problem as of late? The doctor tells her no, that is not the case, actually. Nevertheless, the man could have ingested some sort of waterborne virus, which might explain his delirium. He decides they should check on the other patient Kitty brought with her – Logan. Perhaps his mood has improved by now, the doctor asks? Kitty laughs and tells the doctor not to take anything Logan says too seriously.

Meanwhile, Logan sits on his hospital bed and stares intently at the wall. Quit staring at it, he tells himself. No matter how many times he looks, his wound will not look any different. It just isn’t healing like it should. His healing factor cannot seem to do anything about the werewolf’s bite. Logan washes his face in the sink. He has been in every kind of scrap imaginable since joining the X-Men, but never has he felt as scared as he feels right now. Never before has he had to worry about injuries or illnesses. On top of that, he cannot get the image of the woman out of his mind; he sees her everywhere he looks. Thinking of her sets his entire body afire, like… well, he doesn’t know what.

The full moon rises in the window behind Logan and bathes him in its luminescent glow. His eyes begin glowing yellow. At that moment, Kitty Pryde throws open the door, and jokingly asks if “Grumpy McGee” if he is ready to let the doctor examine him now. She screams in terror before she can finish her sentence. Wolverine has transformed into a monstrous, snarling werewolf with adamantium claws, and he howls at the intruder in his room. Kitty, sill screaming, phases through the nearest wall and into the hallway. Wolverine crashes through the doorway in pursuit.

Kitty’s screams reverberate throughout the hospital and wake the sleeping Jack Russell. He cannot save her as Jack Russell, he realizes, but maybe, in his other form, he can. He looks at the moon out glowing out the window and transforms into his werewolf form. In the hallway, Wolverine lunges at the cowering Kitty, but the werewolf Jack Russell crashes through the wall and intercepts his attack. “Oh, this just keeps getting better and better,” Kitty sighs as the two monsters fight.

The fighting carries them into the hospital lobby, and it looks as if it might continue indefinitely, until something else capture’s Logan’s attention. He hears a voice in his head, calling his name, and telling him to come find his maker. He turns and sees the apparition of the woman from earlier – the woman who bit him – floating by the hospital doors. “Come to me,” she says. “You didn’t tell me your name, but I know it. Because I marked you. As my mate. So come to me, Logan.” Wolverine lunges at the apparition, and using his enhanced, primal instincts, seeks out his pack of werewolves in the forest. He races through the woods on all fours. The six werewolves wait for him on a bluff in the woods with a clear view of the moon, but Wolverine fails to find them that night.

The next morning, as the sun rises over the valley, Wolverine finally returns to the Pryde cabin in the woods and finds it guarded by the werewolf clan. With the moon gone, however, he reverts back to his default, human appearance. He still keeps his claws unsheathed, though. The werewolves snarl at him before reverting back to their human forms as well. Didn’t he hear them telling him to stay away, the leader asks? This is their territory now. Rolf, one of the clan members, asks if they can attack the intruder. Malik, the leader, tells Rolf to shut up. He then turns to Wolverine and tells him he has five seconds to leave.

“No, Malik!” the mysterious woman says, jumping between Wolverine and her colleague. “This is the one I marked!” Malik scoffs; she marked this runt? What was she thinking, he asks? “That I know my soulmate when I see him,” the woman answers, staring longingly into Logan’s eyes. Wolverine stares back at her with contempt.

Malik interrupts their moment and says her mark makes no difference. He leads the clan, and as per the clan rules, all new pups must prove themselves. He points to a nearby trio of makeshift graves, adding that no matter how many of their clan they lose to the “sickness”, the old rules still apply. Luckily, he adds, clan members Buzz and Lakota pinpointed the source of the sickness. The Kodiak Film manufacturing plant has been dumping its chemical waste into the marshes, and the chemicals have seeped into the groundwater of the forest. And what do they use to make black and white film, he asks? Silver, of course – poison to their kind! That ends tonight, Malik adds. He points to Logan and tells him that he will accompany them as his initiation. If Logan doesn’t do what is necessary to achieve vengeance on their fallen brethren, the werewolves will make sure he soon joins in death.

Characters Involved: 

Sprite, Wolverine (X-Men)

Jack Russell/Werewolf by Night

Malik, Rolf, Buzz, Lakota (werewolf clan)

Unnamed werewolf woman

One other unnamed clan member

Various doctors and hospital staff

Story Notes: 

Judging by Wolverine’s comment about Magneto, this issue takes place before their encounter with him in Uncanny X-Men #150.

Interestingly enough, Magneto does take Kitty’s age into consideration in Uncanny X-Men #150, after he accidentally almost kills her. Once he realizes he has almost murdered a child --specifically a child of the race he has sworn to protect -- he realizes he has become everything he once hated and gives up his villainous ways.

Page two, panel four, is a an homage to the Paul Smith-penciled, classic opening page of Uncanny X-Men #168, in which Kitty so famously states “Professor Xavier is a jerk!”

Minor continuity error: Kitty states her act of phasing Jack Russell in this issue is the first time she has accomplished such a feat. However, this undermines a scene in Marvel Graphic Novel #5: God Loves, Man Kills, published in 1982, in which Kitty phases a man through a car and declares it to be the first time she has ever done such a thing. Incidentally, that scene also undermines another scene in Uncanny X-Men #174, published in 1983, in which Kitty phases Colossus through the floor with her, and acts as if it’s the first time she’s ever phased another person. The dialogue in Uncanny X-Men #174 is less restrictive, however.

Jack Russell, commonly referred to as Werewolf by Night, or simply Werewolf, first appeared in Marvel Spotlight (1st series) #2. His family is cursed with lycanthropy. He is the direct descendent of Baron Gregor Russoff, the werewolf who killed Jessica Drew’s mother Merriem in the High Evolutionary’s backstory in Uncanny X-Men Annual #12.

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