Wolverine: The Best There Is #3

Issue Date: 
April 2011
Story Title: 
Contagion chapter three: Someone they can hate

Charlie Huston (writer), Juan Jose Ryp (artist), Andreas Mossa (colorist), VC's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary and Paul Mounts (cover), Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner (assistant editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer) with special thanks to Madison Carter, Jeff Christiansen, Mike Fichera, Rob London, Mike O'Sullivan, Markus Raymond and Stuart Vandal

Brief Description: 

Despite his best efforts, Wolverine is captured by Winsor’s unkillables and chained to a chair. When he wakes up, he finds himself sat opposite Winsor’s son, Flip. He is disfigured - a result of Winsor’s own genetic lineage and his condition is becoming worse by the day. Wolverine’s fists have been positioned so that, if his claws are unleashed, Flip will be killed instantly. Wolverine can either save him or kill him. If he kills Flip, Winsor will release him. If he doesn’t, then his boy will die a painful, hellish death. He places an explosive collar around his son’s neck and warns Logan that it will explode if he doesn’t toe the line. He then proceeds to informs Logan that he himself is a mixture of exotic and unusual contagions. If he bleeds to death it would unleash a vast legion of perverse plagues and pestilences. Logan weighs up his options and decides not to give Winsor what he wants, and so Winsor pulls out a gun to see just how his healing factor works.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine is flanked on both sides by two deranged, crazy, unkillable murderers. Victor Slaughter stands on his left and Suicide to his right, with both raining led into his torso. Wolverine takes it for a moment but then lashes out, eviscerating them both. Bleeding profusely, Wolverine isn’t allowed to recover for long before Scavenger flies at him and sends him flying with a two-fisted punch. Once the X-Man is down, Scavenger pummels him again and again, pausing only to remark that he doesn’t feel a thing. He also finds that he can’t make a fist anymore. Laughing insanely, he raises his right leg to bring it down on Wolverine’s face, only to find his left leg sliced off at the top of his boot.

Logan then stands and wanders along the corridor, groaning in pain. He comes across a beautiful Asian woman, Yi Yang, who offers to help him. She kneels down and holds his cheek, looking into his eyes. “All that pain. Years of it. Decades. Your past. You revel in it,” she says. She tells him that there is so much to live for now. So much pain to live for now. She kisses him, passing on a poisonous compound to which he responds by sinking his claws into her stomach. She stretches backwards and throws her arms behind her head. She thinks a moment like this can relieve the boredom of centuries. If only it wasn’t so fleeting, like the lightest of kisses.

Wolverine growls but he turns and sees Ms. Brink standing behind him. She asks him not to go feral and go with her and then leads him along a corridor, telling him that time is an issue. They’ll need to hurry. Wolverine doesn’t want to, and Ms. Brink knows that, but she asks him to anyway. Her powers of persuasion are impossible to resist. Wolverine manages to recover the power of speech and he tells Ms. Brink that she shouldn’t ride him. He’s just saying he doesn’t like it. Ms. Brink understands. It’s against Logan’s nature to be agreeable… let alone malleable. His psychology is a factor and Jackson Day’s sweat is not a magic potion.

Monitoring a stop watch and speaking into a dictaphone, she points out that his healing factor raises additional concerns. He resisted the test dose well at the club, so somehow they need to counter his mental and physical resistance. Wolverine reckons this sucks. He can't believe he got played like this. Ms. Brink is certain that it does suck, but they need to weaken his healing factor… overtax it, and an intimate application of Day’s sweat (courtesy of Yi Yang’s kiss) has done that. Her solution was to simply paint the bullets with the Corruptor’s compound, but the others prefer more theater. She opens a door and asks him to step inside. As he goes through the door, Ms. Brink asks him to follow one more suggestion and fall asleep. Wolverine replies that he’s not even tired but, as he finishes the sentence, he collapses and falls unconscious.

Ms. Brink is met inside by Winsor. She tells him that it’s good they hurried as the effect lasted 11.3 seconds less than she estimated. He tries not to be condescending but assures her that she was never in any danger. Mortigan Goth approaches and Winsor tells him he should be cross with him. He should let Mr. Slaughter eat some of him. Goth, nursing a hangover, is told by Yi Yang that she could pollute it for him if he likes. Goth thinks not. He’s always pleasantly surprised when it makes an appearance; like seeing an old friend. Ms. Brinks finds it fascinating that his better nature survives the absence of his soul. “A case study that would confound many a Theologian,” adds Winsor.

Victor Slaughter joins them and asks if he heard he could take a bite out of Mr. Hoity-Pants. Mortigan replies that his blood cures vampirism. He wonders how much he could eat before reverting and turning to dust. Slaughter says he ain’t that kind of vampire. Finally, Madcap joins the party as Wolverine slowly begins to regain consciousness, asking if he missed anything. He carries his severed head in his hand. Mortigan tells him he tried to do a good deed and Mephisto tortured him for it. Slaughter adds that he had his head sliced like cheese. Yi Yang tells him she Frenched Wolverine and poisoned him.

“I love this place,” replies Madcap.

Winsor asks about the others. Madcap informs him that Suicide is fishing Sikes’ head out of the pool and Scavenger is looking for his leg. He might have hid it from him… Winsor would like him to go and recover it but Madcap would rather not. He enjoys seeing him crawling around looking for it. Of course, he can fly, but he's too stupid to realize he doesn’t need both legs to fly. Logan groans and Ms. Brinks realizes she’s underestimated him again. She’ll have to adjust several assumptions. Winsor agrees, but in the meantime, he asks Slaughter to get Wolverine settled, Macap to fetch Scavenger’s leg and for Yi Yang to accompany him.


Wolverine is awake. He is chained to a seat with his arms out before him. His clenched fists are aimed at the captive whose head is covered with a sack. Winsor asks if any of this requires explanation. It’s clear on the face of it, but naturally some of it needs to be filled out. Who is he? What does he want? Who are all these strange people and what are their places in his nefarious plot? However, the basic concept doesn’t need any fleshing out. Winsor’s unkillables are all watching proceedings. Wolverine tells him it’s clear enough; he’s gonna kill him. Winsor thinks that would be problematic, but they can address those problems another time. He introduces his henchmen, and points out that the thing they have in common is that they are more or less unkillable. They are also highly motivated by some form of self-interest. Loathsome or sympathetic, and points in between. For his own motivations, he continues, they must delve into a sad mythology of popular culture.

He despises when actors are interviewed about playing villains and their responses mention something about no one thinking of themselves as being evil and how they are all heroes in their own stories. He can assure Wolverine that this is not the case here. He is not interested in conflicted antagonists, nor is anyone else. People want a bad guy that they can hate unequivocally, someone whose brutal demise they can cheer without remorse. Sadly, life seldom treats them to such a luxury. His henchmen are the actors here, trying to muddy things with moral complexity.

#### that, he says. He is not the hero in this story. He is the bad guy! He has no end that justifies his means. There are no skeletons in his closet, no abusive childhood or inciting misery that might expiate his vile behavior. Nor is he insane, he adds. He knows the difference between good and evil and is fully capable of empathizing with the emotional and physical pain of others. He isn’t a sociopath. He simply prefers bad over good, wrong over right - the opposite of what most people feel is correct.

Wolverine tells him that he’s crazy… crazy to believe he can keep himself safe with his freak show pack of unkillables. They chop up just like regular people and he figures Winsor isn’t that much different. Winsor reckons that if Wolverine was at liberty, he might prevail. “You are, after all…” he says. “The best there is at what you do.” His unkillables join in with the sentiment.

Winsor then removes the sack from his captives head and says he’s forgotten to introduce his utterly innocent, mortally ill, son, or to mention the fact that only Wolverine can save him. When the sack is removed, the boy is revealed to be disfigured, with half his face distorted and his enlarged brain on display. Naturally, adds Winsor, as an alternative to saving him, Wolverine could put him out of his misery. “Please,” says the boy, almost begging for Wolverine to unleash his claws. Winsor tells him that one little snikt is all it would take. It’s a package deal, he adds. Once he dies he will have no more need for Wolverine. He will render him unconscious and they will disappear from his life as suddenly as they manifested.

Victor Slaughter says he would do the little ####. Madcap states that in a mad world, what’s the life of one Elephant Kid? Yi Yang says that the memory of killing a child can linger for decades. Scavenger can only imagine what it would feel like for the kid. Suicide tells him that some of them would pay to die any way at all. Mortigan Goth reserves judgment for fear of what it might do to his soul and Ms. Brinks points out that Wolverine’s restraints have been angled to ensure a nearly instantaneous death. Winsor moves in close to Logan and says the boy begs to die. He will have his freedom and no one there will judge him. On the other hand… he could enlist in a struggle to save the fruit of his loins. It’s an endeavor that guarantees to be long, arduous and excruciatingly painful. It’s a struggle that will most likely end in failure and a hellish death for the boy. He pauses to see if Wolverine reacts, but he remains silent. Winsor seems slightly annoyed that it’s a no on the merciful death.

Wolverine asks what the deal is, then. Is he supposed to lead his team of misfits into the jaws of death to recover some formula or amulet that can heal the kid? “Get him,” replies Slaughter. “He thinks he’s in the Dirty Dozen, haw!” Suicide thinks he’s talking more ‘Magnificent Seven.’ The Wild Bunch, reckons Scavenger. “Peewee’s Big Adventure,” adds Madcap. Everyone looks at him with disdain. Madcap asks if they don’t get it. Wolverine is short and this is an adventure. “Is this thing on?” he jokes. Winsor decides to answer Logan’s question. He will not be setting off on a quest. Aside from any other issues, he has no doubt that if he sent him into the field he would kill his minions and then return to wreak his vengeance. So, he will be staying where he is where he can do the most good.

Winsor walks over to a table and picks up a hi-tech collar. He wants it on the record that he never meant to have a child. Apologizing to his son, Flip, for telling him the truth, he says he feels that now he has discovered he has offspring, it is his duty to make some effort to keep him alive. He owes it to his family line - a responsibility he takes seriously. They are very rare, almost never growing to maturity… the sad result of a weak bloodline. He finds inbreeding scandalous but habitual amongst the upper classes of his home. He turns to his son and informs Wolverine that Flip is a scandal. It’s not that he is illegitimate, as Winsor admits he was a bastard himself, but it’s that his mother is of no relation to him at all. He is new blood, and in many ways all the more valuable, but lacking certain qualities… certain resistances.

Winsor leans over and attaches the collar to Flip’s neck. He informs Logan that it is an explosive collar that will blow poor Flip’s head off, should it be fooled with in any manner. It will also explode if Wolverine decides to leave, attack one of his unkillables, withhold his assistance or in any way undermine his efforts to cure his son. Winsor wants Logan to believe that given the choice between allowing him to die in agony from his infection or giving him a sudden and painless death, he’ll blow his #### head off in an instant. Only the slim hope that Wolverine’s involvement hold out will prevent him from killing his son, absent him and that hope, he will be better of explosively decapitated.

Logan asks what he is infected with. Winsor admits that it’s embarrassing, but he’s actually infected with himself. Pustule that he is, he is beyond all scope of genetic viability. He is a stew of exotic and nigh impossible contagions. He is also enormously anemic. He would die from a paper cut, much less from a slashing from one of Wolverine’s claws. If he bled to death, he would release a vast legion of plagues and pestilence with perverse consequences. Thus, he adds, turning to his colleagues, these hearty few are regularly employed as they can endure extended stays in his presence. Their radically varied immune systems offer some hope of isolating antibodies which might cure his son.

He has had no luck with this so far, so perhaps Wolverine’s healing factor will yield answers when peeled back layer by layer. It might reveal a cure for the virulent intelligence with which he has infected his son. Radical cellular and synaptic growth beyond the capacity of his skull means that soon enough, there will be no need for him to use bomb to blow it up.

Winsor concludes by stating that he’s hired all kinds of unkillables - those with healing factors, the unnatural, supernatural, radioactive… He’s bought, harvested and stolen a catalogue of infectious and regenerative genetic materials. He has learned a great deal. Not least of all, he has learned that all self-healers heal differently and that understanding comes from extensive experimentation, varied and exhaustive. He aims a pistol at Wolverine’s face and just before pulling the trigger, says, “But let’s just begin with the basics.”

Characters Involved: 


Contagion (Winsor) and his companions including Marjorie Brink, Immortalis (Mortigan Goth), Madcap, Scavenger (Robert Nicolle), Harold Sikes, Suicide (Christopher Daniels), Victor Slaughter and Yi Yang (all Unkillables)

The Corruptor


Story Notes: 

The people given special thanks in this issue are contributors to the Marvel handbooks, which Charlie Huston has undoubtedly used for this series.

In Winsor's lab, there are jars and tubes containing bodies or parts of bodies. They include a full-size John Wraith and a Skrull. Smaller bottles contain pieces of Deadpool, Gargoyle, Hulk, Man-Thing, Midnight Monster, Moon Knight, Night Raven, Sandman, She-Thing, Steve Rogers, Sabretooth, John Sublime and X-23.

Elephant Man is a 1980 movie starring John Hurt about Joseph Merrick who was born with severe deformities.

The Dirty Dozen is a 1967 war movie with a great cast directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Charles Bronson.

The Magnificent Seven is a classic 1960 western starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson (again). It spawned three sequels.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a successful 1985 comedy with Paul Ruebens and directed by Tim Burton.

The Wild Bunch is a tough 1969 Sam Peckinpah western starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine (again) and Robert Ryan.

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