Years ago, ca. World War II, narrated by Hercules:
It was Paris, before the Vichy Regime, and even before the invasion of 1940. But still, these were tense times in the city of lights. The Nazis were looming right around the corner, capable of an attack any day. One such day, people are enjoying the beautiful weather as they relax at a café, when tremors suddenly occur, knocking their drinks over - before a large robotic foot comes crashing down upon them. The day of the Nazi was upon them, as a robot, bigger than the Eiffel Tower, controlled from on top by Nazi officer Baron Strucker, was sent by the Nazis to “soften” the city before their arrival. The robot unleashed some sort of electrical charge at the fleeing civilians.
Strucker smirks as the French army arrived on scene, but their bullets just ricocheted off of the robot, useless. Nothing could stop it. Strucker prepared to slam the robot’s arm down on the army below - they duck, too late to flee - but the army do not get squashed, as something intercepts - it was Hercules! The Scion of Olympus! The Prince of Power!
“Present” (actually some years ago):
Inside the Sign of the Lion Bar, in New York City, ‘Wait…back up a bit’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan tells Hercules as they sit at their table, several empty beer glasses lay on the table. ‘Why were ya running around in green speedos again?’ Logan asks. Hercules sighs, before asking ‘Don’t you even listen when I talk?’ to which Wolverine replies ‘Most of the time, no’. ‘Oh please. You love my stories’ Hercules winks at Logan, who looks sideways and replies, so long as he does not have to hear the one about Hercules and Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution again. ‘Deal’ Hercules assures his friend, but suggesting that Logan retires his story about him and Rita Hayworth in the bathroom at the Brown Derby.
Hercules continues with his story, reminding Wolverine that he already explained that Zeus did not permit the Olympians to get involved in the war, as some things are too important for men not to sort out themselves, as Zeus put it. ‘But you ignored that, of course’ Wolverine remarks. ‘Of course. My involvement would just have to be of the more covert variety’ Hercules smiles, adding that, to that end, he was secretly instrumental in the forming of the Greek Underground, and it was in that capacity why he was in Paris, meeting a contact. ‘So then when Strucker and his robot attacked the city…’ Hercules begins, ‘Ya posed as the Sub-Mariner so ya old man wouldn’t catch on to ya. Hence the green underwear’ Logan concludes. ‘Hence the green underwear’ Hercules confirms. ‘Hmn’ Wolverine remarks. ‘What’ Hercules asks him. ‘Nothing. Just that…’ Logan begins, before launching into his own story.
Years ago, ca. World War II, narrated by Wolverine:
As it turns out Wolverine and Hercules sort of crossed paths before either of them thought they did. For as Strucker and his robot began devastating Paris, a Nazi officer watched with a smile on his face from the balcony of a nearby building - until someone crept up behind him and slashed his throat open with a knife. The Nazi fell to the balcony floor, as Logan wiped the blood off the knife. He had a Nazi emblem on his shirt as he posed as a Nazi supporter.
“Present” (actually some years ago) continued:
‘You don’t say…’ Hercules remarks after Logan finishes his story. ‘And here I was thanking Namor all these years for that distraction’ Wolverine reveals as he drinks more beer, while Hercules points out that, knowing Namor, he would have been more than willing to take the credit. ‘Pfft. You ain’t kidding’ Logan agrees, before Hercules motions to the bar around them and reminds Wolverine that this is the place where they first “officially” met, and where their glorious friendship began. ‘Yeah…though I wouldn’t say our “glorious friendship” got off to such a great start, if ya remember’ Logan remarks.
Hercules replies that he remembers, and recalls that it was over a woman. ‘Yeah, some red-head. Ya know me and red-heads’ Logan mutters, to which Hercules smiles and leans towards Wolverine ‘I’ll let you in on a little secret, old friend…me and that woman…the next night? You know what I’m saying…’ he reveals. ‘Good for you!’ Logan exclaims, before he lets Hercules in on a little secret: ‘Me and that woman…that night. You know what I’m saying’. ‘Liar!’ Hercules exclaims. ‘You wish’ Logan replies casually, before knocking back another beer, and remarking ‘Regardless, me and you - the Canadian Wildman and the Greek God - drinking buddies since then. Some pair we make, huh?’
Hercules slaps Wolverine on the back and points out that it is not all that surprising really. ‘After all, how can two men have so many things in common and not be friends?’ he asks. Looking towards two women sitting at a table nearby, Hercules remarks ‘Our love of the fairer sex, for instance’ and holds up his glass of beer, ‘Or of the occasional cocktail’ he points out, before clenching his fists and declaring ‘Not to mention our enjoyment of a bit of roughhousing from time to time’. Logan looks at Hercules and tells him that he forgets the most important thing they have in common - the fact that they are immortals. ‘Well, I’m immortal. The jury’s out on what you are’ Hercules replies. Logan hangs his head and reveals that he has been thinking about his mortality lately, or rather, his lack of it. ‘Is this why you called me for a drink?’ Hercules asks.
As an image of a gray-haired Wolverine standing over the grave stones of his friends flashes through Logan’s head, he replies ‘Sort of. It’s been weighing on my mind lately. My friends…the X-Men. I’m gonna have to bury all of ‘em, ain’t I?’ Somewhat surprised, Hercules stutters: ‘I…er, that is to say…’ before asking why they are talking about such things. ‘What is this all about?’ he ask Logan. Hanging his head, Wolverine reveals that this is all about the fact that on this day, several years ago, he once had to do that - bury someone he cared about a great deal.
‘And now, after tonight…I’m gonna bury her for good’ Wolverine declares, while remembering how he held the poisoned Mariko in his arms, and ending her pain by shoving his claws through her stomach. Wolverine informs Hercules that Matsu’o Tsurayaba took Mariko away from him, and because of it, he has taken Matsu’o - year by year - bit by bit - and Wolverine remembers instances of this, slicing off Matsu’o’s arm one year, and an ear another year - and shoving his claws through Matsu’o another year. ‘But after tonight…I want it all’ Logan declares.
At that moment, in his apartment, Matsu’o holds up a note that reads: It ends tonight – Logan. ‘Come, Logan. I welcome your arrival’ the warrior declares, before dropping the note to the floor as he stands up, announcing that he tires of the battles, and tires of the pain, but mostly he tires of the dreaded anticipation for Logan’s annual arrival. ‘Yes, tonight I welcome the end to all this…but I will not welcome it quietly’ he declares, taking a sword. A ninja approaches Matsu’o and announces that his agents have been dispatched. ‘They will fail’ Matsu’o replies. ‘My lord?’ the ninja asks, confused. Matsu’o replies that he commands but one division left in the Hand, it is what he has left, so it was what he threw at Wolverine. ‘But make not mistake about it, it will not be enough. Wolverine will becoming’ he declares.
Back at the bar, ‘Friends of yours?’ Hercules asks as he and Wolverine find themselves under attack by a contingent of ninja. Wolverine doesn’t respond, he just slices his way through the ninjas, while Hercules remarks that they do not present him with much of a problem, and declares that in the old days, before his invulnerability they might have. ‘I remember when I sacked Troy before the war, I was cornered by a legion of -’ Hercules begins, but Logan tells him to shut up. ‘Excuse me?’ Hercules replies as he takes a drink of beer. ‘Just shut up and fight!’ Logan exclaims as he continues to battle the ninja.
Elsewhere, a high-rise apartment towers over the city below, a man with a ring through his nose and carrying a wooden box approaches an door, where a large man stands in front of it. ‘Can I help you?’ the large man asks. The man with the ring in his nose explains that he is here to see Matsu’I, but the thug replies that Matsu’o is not seeing anybody right now - especially strange men with boxes. The man with the ring through his nose gets annoyed, and tells the thug not to worry about what is in his box. ‘Now are you letting me in or not?’ he demands. ‘Not’ the thug replies, pushing the man back. ‘Arrogant, mortal idiot!’ the man with the ring through is nose declares, taking the thugs arm, he breaks it with ease. Several other thugs race into the corridor: ‘Just before you get hurt, my friend’ one of them remarks, ‘Let’s not get into something we don’t have to’ another suggests. ‘No. LET’S!’ the man with the ring through his nose exclaims, as he snaps the lower part of the arm from the first thug.
Back at the bar, the ninjas lie defeated on the floor, while Hercules picks one of them up and orders him to talk. ‘Who sent you?’ Hercules demands. But Wolverine tells him not to bother, for one thing the ninjas are not going to be around long enough to cooperate. ‘Zounds!’ Hercules gasps as the men ninjas all vanish in a glow of green energy. ‘For another, I already know who sent ‘em. A dead man!’ Logan declares as he knocks back another drink and unsheathes his claws.
Back at the apartment, ‘My lord!’ the ninja exclaims as he approaches Matsu’o. ‘That commotion…it’s him, isn’t it?’ Matsu’o exclaims, before ordering the inja to send him in so they can get this over with. ‘My lord, you’re not understanding…it’s not Logan!’ the ninja exclaims - ‘It’s a minotaur!’ he declares, as standing over the bloodied bodies of the thugs, the man with the ring through his nose has indeed been transformed into a minotaur, with one horn sliced neatly off, he still carries the box. The minotaur approaches the ninja, and bonks him on the head, ‘Minotaur? How dare you mistake me for that basket case? I’ll have you know I am Achelous. God of the Rivers themselves!’ he declares.
‘Minotaur, River god, whatever you are, do not come any closer’ Matsu’o warns him, holding his sword up. Achelous returns to his human guise and tells Matsu’o to put the sword down. ‘I know you were prepared to die this night…but it won’t be by my hand. And if you listen to me, it won’t happen at all’ Achelous remarks, before Matsu’o realizes that he recognizes his “guest” from television. ‘I’m afraid that’s most likely the case. A reality show…’ Achelous begins, before launching into his story:
Illustrative images, narrated by Achelous:
Achelous explains that he and the great King Eurtheus of Mycae attempted to destroy their mutual enemy Hercules by having him perform his legendary twelve labours, only updated for the modern era. ‘The result was…disappointing, to say the least’.
Matsu’o declares that he does not have time for this. ‘You don’t know what I’m facing -’ he begins, but Achelous interrupts, ‘Oh, but of course I do’ he replies.
Illustrative images, narrated by Achelous:
Achelous remarks that Wolverine is a warrior of such renown that his name is whispered even in the halls of Olympus. “Surely he must be a lost child of the hated Gorgons” Acehlous reveals that the Olympians say. He declares that they know that is not the case, as Gorgons are the old mythology - the mythology of centaurs and oracles and cyclopses. ‘And Wolverine? He’s part of the mythology that’s replaced it. The “new” mythology of mutants and mad scientists and super-soldiers’.
Achelous places the box down on a table, and remarks that he can be called nostalgic, but feels that it is time for out with the new and in with the old. ‘What are you talking about’ Matsu’o asks. Achelous grabs the sword from Matsu’o and declares that he is talking about uncovering the grave sites of the ancient world’s most fearsome myths, where Matsu’o’s Hand organization can bring them back to life, putting them against Wolverine and Hercules. ‘You…would be avle to do such a thing?’ Matsu’o asks, intrigued. ‘No’ Achelous replies, as he slices the lock open on the box. Suddenly, a voice from within the box exclaims ‘Not him. ME!’ - Achelous and a surprised Matsu’o look into the box and see the severed head of Eurytheus!