Wolverine: First Class #3

Issue Date: 
July 2008
Story Title: 
The Last Knights of Wundagore: Part One

Fred van Lente (writer), Salva Espin (artist and cover), Guru EFX (colorists), Simon Bowland (letterer), Paul Acerios (production), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In search of Magneto, Wolverine and Kitty Pryde track a strange Cerebro signal to Mount Wundagore. After arriving, two hyper-evolved animals, Lady Bova and Prosimia, greet them and beg for help in recovering their missing fellow villagers. Wolverine agrees to help, as he thinks Magneto may be responsible. He sends the pouting Kitty Pryde back to the Blackbird to await his return. She submits, but after wandering on her own, gets lured into a trap by Prosimia. Meanwhile, Wolverine follows Bova into the mountain and inadvertently summons the High Evolutionary. After learning of the New Men’s troubles, he decides to let Wolverine help, but only after removing the berserker tendencies from his genetic code. Together they travel to confront Magneto, but instead discover the true culprit is another of the High Evolutionary’s creations, Man-Beast. At the same time, Kitty meets up with everyone, but Wolverine is shocked to see that she has been transformed into a cat-girl.

Full Summary: 

“Gather ‘round, younglings, all you pups and you chicks, all you cubs and you foals. Let your tale-weaver spin you a saga you’ve heard a hundred times or more,” says Prosimia the storyteller.

Prosimia proceeds to tell the tale of the High Evolutionary, the brilliant geneticist revered as a god by the New Men. In this tale, the High Evolutionary retreats to his sanctuary, Mount Wundagore, where he evolves animals into civilized, conscious beings. He trains the best of these New Men to be his Knights of Wundagore, defenders of the New Men. However, the High Evolutionary also creates an unruly monster of great power known as Man-Beast. This creation rebels against its master, banishes him from Wundagore, and establishes his own army. His efforts are thwarted by the emergence of two courageous heroes: Lady Shadra and her squire Gulo. With the help of Thor, they defeat Man-Beast and exile him in space. After this war, the High Evolutionary and his knights leave Wundagore for the stars, feeling they have outgrown the Earth.

“And should you look up into the sky for their return, younglings,” Prosimia concludes, “…wish on the brightest twinkling point in the heavens, and one day the roar of the rockets shall fill your ears…”

Outside, a low-flying jet soars over a secluded mountain village, shaking its very foundations with its massive engines. The children of the New Men, who have gathered in the town hall to hear this story, look up at the storyteller with terrified expressions on their faces. “Is that them? Is that Shadra and Gulo?” one of the children asks. “Don’t fool us, Prosimia – did you make that happen? Is that part of your story?” another child asks the storyteller.

Prosimia the tale-weaver decides to incorporate the strange rumbling into his story, and tells the children that the noise was probably Shadra and Gulo coming to punish those who have disobeyed their matron, Lady Bova. Lady Bova, however, takes the noise seriously, and tells Prosimia to quit scaring the children. She orders him to hide the children in the bunkers.

Outside, the Blackbird makes a rough landing on rocky ledge. The doors open, and an angry Wolverine storms out. He tells his protégé, Kitty Pryde, that this will be the last time she gets to land the jet. Kitty fails to see the problem, as they did manage to exit the jet in one piece.

As soon as they step out onto the soil, Kitty sights a couple of men approaching in the distance. She comments that it usually takes much longer for the locals to confront them with their pitchforks and torches.
Wolverine addresses the men in German when they arrive. He tells them that he and Kitty are merely passing through and do not want to be bothered. They advise Wolverine and Kitty not go any further, as they will soon enter the forbidden territory of the Russoff estate! They add that no man has ever returned from the shadow of Mount Wundagore.
Wolverine thanks them for the tip, but he and Kitty head toward the mountain anyway. As they leave, the two locals conspire to strip any salvageable materials they can from the jet; they do not expect its owners to ever return.

Once they get out of an earshot, Kitty comments that Wolverine withheld the true reason behind their excursion to Transia. Wolverine responds that he did not want to take the time to explain their mission. After all, that would require him to explain about the X-Men, the disappearance of their greatest foe, Magneto, and how Professor X has been nervously awaiting his inevitable reemergence. By checking in on Magneto’s former hideouts, Professor X hopes to thwart Magneto’s schemes before they cause any more damage.

Suddenly, they spot a strange light emanating from the far side of Mount Wundagore. Kitty speculates that the light may be the odd electromagnetic signal that Cerebro detected. As they press onward, they approach a seemingly abandoned mountain town. Wolverine gives the air a good sniff and detects several scents: wood-burning ovens, freshly oiled machinery, and a plethora of animal smells.

Unbeknownst to either of the X-Men, a pair of flycycles quickly approach from behind. Wolverine turns just in time to see the machines bearing down on him and Kitty. He dives towards his teammate and pushes her out of the way just as the men on the flycycles strike. While Kitty recovers, Wolverine lunges at one of the flying machines and locks onto it with a claw. He swings himself on board and kicks off its driver, effectively commandeering the vehicle for his own use. He begins chasing the other rider, but his complete lack of experience makes itself evident. He swerves first into some coniferous branches, gets a face full of needles, and then steers headlong into a house and crashes through the window.

The rider turns around and faces Kitty. She readies herself, phases, and dives through the approaching machinery with finesse. On her way out, she solidifies her hand and removes the machine’s circuitry, shorting it out. The flycycle crashes to the ground.

A furious Wolverine emerges from the house and assaults the downed rider. He slashes off the rider’s helmet, revealing a scared, teenage human/rhinoceros hybrid. “We weren’t gonna hurt you,” the frightened boy says as tears well up in his eyes. “We just wanted – to scare you away…”

Kitty comes from behind, grabs Logan by his arm, and pulls him off the boy. She pleads with him to stop, but Wolverine knocks her hand away and lashes out at her. “Watch the hands, Suburbia,” he snarls. “And the mouth.” He instantly regrets his harsh words. Realizing he is merely mad at himself for losing control of his temper. I gotta watch my temper, or somebody – somebody I care about – is gonna get hurt one o’ these days.

Nearby, Lady Bova and Prosimia watch the X-Men from beneath a trap-door. Prosimia comments that these new warriors must be Lady Shadra and Squire Gulo, just as their prophecy predicted. Bova does not believe him at first, but after noting similarities between their costumes and the one worn by their savior Thor, she agrees that he may be correct. They hesitantly emerge from the cellar and approach the X-Men. Bova apologizes for having the New Men attack them, and then asks if they are “heroes.” Wolverine makes a snide remark, and Bova continues. She informs them that their fellow New Men have been rapidly disappearing from town, and these disappearances have coincided with the strange light emanating from Mount Wundagore.

“You try checking it out yourself first, Bessie?” Wolverine asks.

“Bova,” she corrects. “Indeed I did…last night I mustered up the courage as best I could and ventured into the mountain as far as our codes allow…as far as one not knighted may!” She explains that she saw a caped figure levitating large pieces of machinery inside the caverns using nothing but his mind.

Wolverine deduces that this must be Magneto. He orders Kitty to return to the Blackbird and radio the other X-Men while he follows Bova to Magneto’s lair. He even orders Kitty to wait in the Blackbird for the other X-Men to arrive. Kitty argues that she should be able to accompany him, but Wolverine gets in her face and barks that he is tired of her questioning his orders all the time. Kitty concedes the argument, but certainly isn’t happy about it.

Bova leads Wolverine into a set of tunnels that connect her village to Mount Wundagore. They come across some of the remnants of the High Evolutionary’s inventions, including the Round Table of the Knights of Wundagore. In the center of this table rests a broadsword sheathed in a stone. Bova shows Wolverine one of the carvings on the wooden table that depicts Squire Gulo. She tells him that Wolverine reminds Prosimia of Gulo, who, incidentally, evolved from a wolverine.

Logan does not quite know whether to take this as a compliment or an insult. Before he has a chance to decide, a reptilian man bursts into the room and attacks both Wolverine and Bova. While the creature reaches for Wolverine’s throat, Bova comments that she recognizes him; it is the missing villager Kingii. Kingii spits a wad of acid onto Wolverine’s face, enraging him even further. Logan lashes out in retaliation. As soon as Kingii recovers, he rushes toward the sword jutting from the round table. Wolverine wipes the spit out of his eyes and lunges at the sword, grabbing it a moment before Kingii has a chance to take it for his own.

Suddenly, an alarm sounds, capturing the attention of everyone on the room. They look around in a state of confusion until a bright light erupts from the table. The High Evolutionary appears above the table and his voice booms across the room. “Who summons the High Evolutionary?” he asks.

Meanwhile, Kitty approaches the Blackbird. Wolverine thinks he’s so wise and everything just ‘cause he’s, like, a million years old… she mutters to herself as she nears the jet. However, when she finally reaches it, she sees several injured men strewn on the ground, as well as boxes of equipment that were taken from the Blackbird. She recognizes them as the hunters from earlier, and deduces that the automatic defenses must have stopped most of them. However, she does notice that their communications radio is missing, meaning that she and Wolverine will not receive any backup. Unbeknownst to Kitty, the lemur-like Prosimia observes her from a nearby tree-branch.

Back in the tunnels, the High Evolutionary finishes de-evolving Kingii into a small, standard-sized lizard. He then reprimands Bova for drawing the Sword of Summoning. Wolverine interjects and informs him that he was the one who drew the blade. The High Evolutionary turns to him and sizes him up. “One of the weasel folk, eh?” he asks. Wolverine sneers at this, but the High Evolutionary ignores him and continues speaking. He acknowledges Bova’s dilemma, and agrees to let Wolverine serve the role normally filled by the Knights of Wundagore. “Though I did not make this weasel man, I sense within him the strength of spirit that mark all my knights, save for one minor flaw…a tendency toward berserker fits unbefitting to the code of chivalry!” The High Evolutionary decides to remove this supposed kink from Wolverine’s genetic code, and does so with a mere gesture of his hand. Wolverine comments that he feels no different, but when the High Evolutionary orders him to kneel and be knighted, he immediately agrees. Kingii, now a lizard of regular size, sneaks away in the background.

Outside this chamber, Kitty walks through the tunnels in search of her teammate. Prosimia calls to her from a dark laboratory and lures her inside. “Tell me something, little kitten…do you tire of the way the weasel man treats you?” he asks with a sly expression on his face.

Kitty is delighted to get a little sympathy from someone. “Even the manimals can see it!” she responds, while walking directly onto a large, glowing platform. “He never trusts me with anything!”

Prosimia replies that he can help her, just as she will help him bring his stories to life. With that, he flips a switch with his striped lemur tail and activates the machinery. It zaps Kitty where she stands.

Up ahead in the tunnels, Wolverine, Bova and the High Evolutionary finally approach the source of the electromagnetic anomaly. Logan peers into the vast, underground laboratory and sees several New Men trapped in containment chambers. They chambers are all filled with a green fluid, and the unconscious New Men breathe through oxygen masks. In the center of the room stands a man in a fuchsia cloak. Wolverine tells Bova that these must be the missing villagers, but notes that the man in the center of the room certainly does not look like Magneto.

The High Evolutionary concurs, but adds that this villain is someone far worse than Magneto; it is his own rebellious creation, Man-Beast!

Suddenly, someone calls out Logan’s name from behind. He turns and sees Kitty Pryde, but she is barely recognizable, having been transformed into a feline/human hybrid. With tears in her eyes and a terrified expression on her face, she begs Logan for help.

Characters Involved: 

Sprite, Wolverine (both X-Men)

Lady Bova, Prosimia (New Men)

Kingii (feral New Man)

The High Evolutionary


Human Villagers

Various New Men youth

in Prosimia’s tale

Lady Shadra and Squire Gulo, Thor, The High Evolutionary, Man-Beast, Jane Foster

Story Notes: 

The High Evolutionary’s origin story was first told throughout all eleven issues of the Evolutionary War crossover in 1988. However, the battle between Man Beast, Thor, and the New Men occurred much earlier, back in Thor #134-135.

The X-Men have not heard from Magneto since their encounter in X-Men (1st series) #113. They encounter him again in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #150, meaning this issue takes place before then. It is very unlikely though that Xavier would let Kitty go on a mission to find Magneto, considering he deemed it to dangerous for her to accompany the whole team to do so in Uncanny X-men #149.

The locals’ warning about the Russoff estate no doubt refers to the land owned by the Baron Gregor Russoff, who incidentally is a werewolf.

There is a lettering error on page seven of this issue. A voice bubble bearing the query “Abandoned?” is shown coming from Kitty Pryde, but it should be coming from Wolverine.

Issue Information: 
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