Wolverine: First Class #8

Issue Date: 
December 2008
Story Title: 
Zone of Alienation: Part 2 of 2

Fred Van Lente (writer), Steven Cummings (penciler), Vicente Cifuentes (inker), Sotocolor (colorist), Deron Bennett (letterer), Michael Golden (cover), Nathan Cosby and Jordan White (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

While Wolverine, furious over the apparent death of Kitty, beats the Soviet Super-Soldiers into submission, Kitty and Colossus, both very much alive and underground, confront a powerful being comprised of seven mutant souls. This collective entity reveals it was created by an accident of a malicious government program designed to enhance Russia’s superhuman population, and vows to let the nation suffer a nuclear holocaust as revenge. It incorporates both Colossus and Kitty into its being, but Kitty manages to override its consciousness because of her overwhelming love for Colossus. She forces the Collective to expel the nuclear core into space, put a stop to the senseless fighting between Wolverine and the Russians, and then discorporate into its component peoples. With the day saved, Kitty reveals to Logan that although she knows Piotr doesn’t feel the same way about her, she intends to work tirelessly to change his mind.

Full Summary: 

Darkstar, Vanguard, and the Crimson Dynamo are ready to defend themselves against the rampaging Wolverine. However, their accomplice Mikhail, seemingly just a regular soldier in a hazmat suit, asks them to stand back. Wolverine may be ferocious, but Mikhail intends to match him claw for claw… as Ursa Major! He suddenly transforms into a great bear, ripping through his hazmat suit in the process.

They can’t let him do that, Darkstar says to her brother Vanguard. Mikhail, merely a cadet, has not even been inducted into the Soviet Super Soldiers yet! Plus, without his hazmat suit he may succumb to the ambient radiation. Vanguard reminds her there is nothing they can do except hope the radiation will be repelled by Ursa Major’s thick coat of fur.

The Crimson Dynamo, meanwhile, can hardly fault Wolverine for reacting this way. After all, he did witness his teammate Sprite perish right before his eyes. Vanguard tells him to shut up; they don’t know how long they have before Russia is destroyed, and right now, they need only worry about subduing Wolverine, who is currently trying to thrust his claws into Ursa Major. The great bear holds him away, but marginally. Vanguard unexpectedly creates a force shield, enveloping Ursa Major, Darkstar, and himself. “Bah! I had him right where I wanted him,” Mikhail says.

Taking advantage of Wolverine’s temporary confusion, Darkstar hits him with the most powerful Darkforce blast she can summon. It barely slows Logan at all. He immediately leaps to his feet and sprints up a pile of rubble, climbing all the way to the room’s vaulted ceiling. The Crimson Dynamo, having learned during their previous encounter not to let Wolverine get too close, attempts to knock him down with a few long-range attacks of his own. Wolverine swiftly dodges them. The Crimson Dynamo doesn’t manage to score a single hit; he does, however, sufficiently weaken the ceiling’s supports. It takes only a few swipes from Wolverine’s claws to liberate enormous chunks of steel and concrete. The Crimson Dynamo activates his rocket boosters in an attempt to stop him, but he is too late, and is crushed by the first falling slab of concrete.

Wolverine turns his attention toward Darkstar and Vanguard. He drops down toward the two super-powered siblings, but Vanguard’s spherical force shield holds him at bay. Wolverine slashes at it furiously and tirelessly. Vanguard has trouble maintaining it against this flurry of attacks. Fortunately for them, Darkstar has a bright idea. She asks her brother to create an opening in the field just large enough for her to project some of her Darkforce. After he creates this opening, Laynia summons a gargantuan hand, composed entirely of Darkforce, which she uses to lock Logan in a grip. Maybe now they can reason with him, she says.

After grabbing Logan’s attention, Darkstar explains that although they did initially kidnap his teammate Kitty against her will, she and Colossus both volunteered to help them once they learned of Russia’s predicament. Basically, after a nuclear reactor overloaded recently, its core melted away the ground and began sinking into the earth. If its magma hits the groundwater beneath the concrete foundation, it will trigger an explosion so powerful it will destroy many cities in Russia and render Europe uninhabitable with its fallout. They recruited Colossus, hoping his strength and impervious armor would prove useful in deflecting the nuclear core away from the aquifer. However, upon meeting Kitty and learning of her mutant ability to phase through matter, they decided she could help too. She phased both Colossus and herself beneath the concrete willingly. “And we are all saddened she has fallen in her attempt, but know, Logan, that she will be a hero to the Russian people forever,” Darkstar says. As she turns to look at Kitty’s body once more, however, she realizes she has vanished! Where did Kitty Pryde go?!

Wolverine takes advantage of her lapse in concentration and breaks free from the Darkforce. Still enraged, he slips through the force field and descends on Laynia. Vanguard shouts for her to get out of the way. Wielding his hammer and scythe, he declares he will send Logan back where he belongs! Wolverine, however, cuts him off mid-sentence and completely disarms him before smacking him across the vast expanse of the room.

Ursa Major sneaks up from behind and grabs Wolverine in a bear hug. He has no choice but to crush him, he says, before Logan slips out of the grip and hoists the hefty bear over his head. Ursa Major shouts as Wolverine, his strength fueled by his rage, hurls him across the room and into Vanguard.

An unknown being, observing these events from someplace else, acknowledges everything is proceeding according to plan. This being encircles both Piotr Rasputin and Kitty Pryde in a protective wall of flames. Kitty looks up at the floating, hairless, fire-filled entity, and asks for some clarification. What did it do to Logan? What did it do to them? Are they still under the nuclear reactor?

Quiet, the being says! It needs a moment to gather its thoughts. It came into existence only recently, and needs time to make sense of things. Having scanned the thoughts of the rescuers above, it explains to Kitty that it projected an image of her death in order to create diversion. The being doesn’t want to be rescued. Kitty asks why not. Piotr just wants to know who the being is; did it work at the power plant?

“Power plant?!” the fiery being shouts. “They told you this was a power plant?” Each of the being’s several, rotating faces seem alarmed by this news. Do Colossus and Sprite really believe a mere power plant could produce a freak like the one they see before them? It explains what led to its creation.

The Kremlin, fearing the surge of superhumans in the United States, decided to bolster its own super-soldier numbers beyond the mere four they had. They rounded up as many of their mutant civilians as they could find and brought to this facility, inside of which they bombarded them with radiation, hoping to enhance their existing powers. They even brought in pregnant mothers and flooded their wombs with radiation, hoping to turn their unborn children into superhumans.

Naturally, something went wrong. The radiation chamber malfunctioned, bombarding its occupants with beta particles. The eight mutants inside braced themselves as a flash of light blinded them. Somehow, perhaps due to the use of one of their latent powers, they survived, but emerged from the incident as a unified, collective being. The unified entity cannot help but find this funny. “Truly, we are the Supreme Soviet!” it laughs.

It will be worthy of that title, Colossus says, if it uses its enormous power to destroy the nuclear deathtrap below and save the Mother Russia. No, the Supreme Soviet says. Each of its faces grows infuriated at Piotr’s suggestion. The state nearly killed them with its cruelty and incompetence, and will surely attempt to finish the job once it learns of their collective survival. Why should it make any effort to help them? Colossus implores it to ignore the crimes of the state and think of the innocent people it could save! The Supreme Soviet refuses to see them as innocent. These same people looked the other way while the state took away the rights and families of its own citizens! The Supreme Soviet intends to repay their indifference in kind. But millions will die, Colossus says, lunging at the powerful being. Without even the slightest effort, the Supreme Soviet absorbs Colossus into itself, adding his strength to theirs.

Kitty looks on in horror as Piotr’s face is added to the amalgam of the collective entity. He is now with them, both in body and in soul, the being says. Kitty mourns not only his death, but also that she never told him how she really felt. Mercifully, the Supreme Soviet gives her very little time to ponder her loss before absorbing her as well. It seems to have found its purpose: absorbing all the mutants in the world and making one collective being. This way, no human tyrant shall exploit them ever again! Sensing four additional mutants in the ruins above, the Supreme Soviet begins salivating over their addition.

Something, however, goes wrong. The Supreme Soviet loses control over its body as one of its component souls begins acting in dissent. Using its vast telekinetic powers, it seizes the nuclear reactor core from the ground and hurls it into space. It objects then cease, as Kitty gains total control of the being, which now bears her face. She brings it to the surface and addresses both Logan and Ursa Major. K-Kitty, Logan asks? Yes, she tells him. They need not fight any longer. Instead, she asks them to get everyone away from the reactor; the radiation levels are still far too high.

The conscious heroes carry their fallen comrades far outside the zone of alienation. Once everyone is safe, Kitty performs her last act as the designated driver of the Supreme Soviet, and separates it into its component bodies and souls. Sprite, Colossus, and the eight Russian mutants come tumbling out of a bright flash of light. The Soviet Super-Soldiers knew not the true nature of this nuclear facility. As Vanguard and Darkstar comfort the distressed civilians, they vow to bring to justice those who were responsible for authorizing this abomination.

With the crisis resolved, Logan helps Kitty off the ground and tells her he has one question to ask. “Yes, I would have totally gone berserk-o nuts-o if I thought you were finished too,” she says. “I thought that was sooo sweeeet…”

“No, not that,” Logan says. Instead, he wants to know if she finally told Piotr how she felt. No, she says. Why not, Logan asks? Kitty reveals that because she was absorbed into the Supreme Soviet just as her passionate feelings for Colossus were on her mind, she was able to use that intensity to overwhelm the being and take over its personality. However, while in charge, she could not help but peer into Piotr’s heart. She learned he doesn’t feel the nearly the same way about her. Instead, he thinks of her as he would a little sister.

Wolverine seems relieved. He asks the boy-crazy Kitty if she plans to move on and find another guy. “Heck, no!” Kitty says, waving her finger. Instead, she now plans to spend every waking moment working to change Piotr’s mind!

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Sprite, Wolverine (X-Men)

The Crimson Dynamo, Darkstar, Ursa Major, Vanguard (Soviet Super Soldiers)

Supreme Soviet

Seven unidentified Russian mutants

in illustrative flashback image:

Several Russian government officials

Story Notes: 

This issue also contains a two-page backup story titled “Kitty’s Dream,” written by Fred Van Lente with artwork by Colleen Coover. In this story, Kitty dreams she sleep-phases through the ground, meets a group of partying Moloids, and recovers their mix tapes from the Valley of the Diamonds, where Mole-Man had thrown them. After she tells this dream to Logan, he calls her crazy and then tricks her by leaving a pair of cardboard-cutout Mole-Man glasses in her bed.

The status of Major Mikhail Ursus, a.k.a. Ursa Major, as a mere cadet in this issue is likely a continuity error, as he was officially inducted into the Soviet Super-Soldiers during his first appearance (and first meeting with the Crimson Dynamo) in The Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #258.

Issue Information: 
Written By: