X-Men (2nd series) #176

Issue Date: 
December 2005
Story Title: 
Wild Kingdom - part 3: The Apes of Wrath

Peter Milligan (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki & Allen Martinez (Inkers), Liquid! (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer), Sean Ryan (Assistant Editor), Nick Lowe (Associate Editor), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

The Black Panther is rescued by his female bodyguards, which upsets Storm as she thinks there is something going on between them. While they search for a creature that has been kidnapping the locals, Storm and the Black Panther argue, before discovering the beast and destroying it. The White Queen contacts Storm telepathically, informing her that the other X-Men are in trouble, so Storm goes to help them, despite T’Challa not wanting her to. The Red Ghost explains his plans to turn Niganda into a socialist Simian society. However, that conflicts with Dr. Paine’s money-making plans. Paine displays the captured X-Men - Wolverine, Havok, Polaris, Iceman, Rogue and Gambit - to Kragoff, and explains his plans to turn them into practically zombies. Kragoff leaves and the X-Men are soon let out of their stasis chambers, where Paine blackmails them into helping him stop Kragoff, by keeping Lorna a prisoner and having her drip-fed snake venom. The X-Men are torn about what to do, when Storm arrives. Meanwhile, the intelligent apes plot against the humans that transformed on them, and the Black Panther finally arrives at the complex.

Full Summary: 

A large gorilla holds T’Challa, also known as the Black Panther, tight in his arms, while a baboon attempts to hypnotise him, telling T’Challa that he is getting very sleepy. The King of Wakanda tries to resist, but as the baboon begins to countdown, he gets confused, not being able to remember what number comes before “three“. ‘Two!’ shouts one of the two women who enter the room and kick the baboon in the head. ‘As in T’Challa’s two Dora Milajae’. The fierce looking woman exclaims that she doesn’t think further introductions will be necessary, and both women leap into action, attacking the apes.

One of the women asks their master if he is hurt, to which T’Challa claims that he was just lulling the apes into a false sense of security, before he shoves his elbow into the gorillas neck. T’Challa tells the women that he doesn’t mean to sound ungrateful, ‘but what are you women doing here?’ he asks. One of them replies that they are doing the very thing that pleases them the most, serving him. T’Challa remarks that he doesn’t remember ordering them to follow him to Niganda, to which one of them points out that she doesn’t remember him ordering them not to follow.

Nearby, the senior member of the Uncanny X-Men, Ororo Munroe, otherwise known as Storm, is searching the facility for the Black Panther. Calling out to T’Challa, she prays that she isn’t too late - but as she rounds a corner into another room, she sees T’Challa and the two women resting on the bodies of the apes. Hands on her hips, Storm declares that she came to see if he needed any help, before pointing out that it is obviously clear he has everything he needs. With that, Storm turns and leaves the room. T’Challa tells her to wait and informs her that the women are his personal body guards, to which Storm snaps back ‘I can see exactly what they are, T’Challa’.

Outside, driving through the city of Niganda, one vehicle consists of a gorilla, an orang-utan, and a man called Ivan Kragoff, also known as... the Red Ghost! The balding Russian man motions to the rioting and remarks that devastation has visited Niganda since the downfall of the capitalist tyrant M’Butu, carnage, looting murder, ‘the whole ball of wax, as the American’s say’. He addresses the gorilla who is driving the car as comrade Mikhlo and orders him to pull over. He asks the apes how they think this state of affairs makes his sensitive Russian soul feel. ‘Comrade master sick?’ asks the orang-utan. ‘Your soul weeps like water of Volga?’ suggests Mikhlo, the gorilla.

The Red Ghost tells the orang-utan, whose name is Peotor, that it was a quick question, before adding that he doesn’t have a soul, Russian or otherwise. Stepping out of the car, Ivan remarks that souls are a fabrication of a decadent bourgeois society, ‘Perhaps you should be sent back to Moscow for retraining?’ he asks. Mikhlo tells Ivan that it wouldn’t do much good, as there is a Nike sports store where the Marxist training school used to be. ‘Right next to the Taco Bell!’ exclaims Peotor.

Kragoff remarks that he will send them to China then, although he has never been a fan of Mao and the cultural revolution was a lot of hot air in his opinion. Peotor tells Kragoff that China doesn’t want to offend its Western trading partners by being associated with them, adding that all the old Eastern Bloc countries go the same way. ‘Admit it, Red Ghost, the dream’s over’. Kragoff goes over to Peotor and smacks him across the face.

Kragoff declares that the dream is hardly over, it just requires a new arena in which to flourish. ‘A new country, ripe for communist rule!’ Kragoff exclaims that it will be a country on its knees, riven with strife and anarchy - a country where a new form of Marxist-Leninist socialism can grow based on the purity of the ape world, and built around a strong leader with an unshakable belief in dialectical materialism. Mikhlo and Peotor just look at each other.

Meanwhile, ‘Imbecile baboon!’ shouts Dr. Paine, slapping the baboon across the face, reminding it that is orders were to detain the Black Panther, adding that he gave him the power by teaching him how to hypnotize, the wondrous gift of mesmerism. Paine wonders if he overestimated the baboon, for he didn’t realize how far down the evolutionary ladder baboons are. ‘I should have given the job to the lobotomized sloth!’ he exclaims. The baboon, with blood pouring from its nose, tells Paine that it isn’t his fault he wasn’t taught better numeracy skills. ‘If anyone’s the imbecile around here it walks on two legs and shaves its ugly mug every day!’

The next morning, Storm and T’Challa are walking across the countryside. ‘You big ape! I told you before... you are not going to break my heart a second time, T’Challa,’ Ororo declares. The Black Panther replies that he has no intention to, before asking Storm what they are looking for. Storm explains that a strange beast has been attacking the local refugee camp, carrying people away at night, and this is where it takes them to. ‘A “strange beast“?’ the Black Panther asks.

Storm tells T’Challa that she is sorry he doesn’t find this important enough, because she knows he usually deals with loftier matters of national importance. T’Challa asks Storm if she is sore about those girls. ‘Women,’ Ororo corrects him. ‘Whatever,’ he replies. Storm declares that she is not sore, to which T’Challa explains that they are his bodyguards, to which Storm reveals that she has heard all about his Dora Milajae. ‘What is it they’re called? Your ‘Wives in Waiting’?’ she asks.

T’Challa replies that it is a purely ceremonial title that he would never - suddenly, before he can finish his sentence, a huge grotesque creature rushes towards them. Storm reminds T’Challa that he was looking for a way to turn these creatures off, to which the Black Panther replies he had no luck - meaning they will have to deal with them one by one.

As he dodges a lunge from the beast, T’Challa asks Storm where her friends are. ‘Posing for publicity shots?’ Ororo leaps into action, declaring that the X-Men are not like that, before telling T’Challa to take the back while she gets the front. ‘Most of them aren’t anyway’ Storm remarks, correcting herself. As they stand side by side, T’Challa comments that the two of them standing side by side feels right. Jumping onto the creature’s back, he remarks that it is a goddess’ prerogative. Storm tells T’Challa that she forgot how much he liked to talk, to which the Black Panther replies ‘Only when I’m having fun!’

Kragoff has met up with Paine and with Peotor and Mikhlo, they stand before the baboon, who is chained to a wall. Kragoff asks Paine why the baboon is wearing an eye patch, to which Pain explains that it is a precaution, that the baboon cannot hypnotize him with only one eye. ‘But why is our brother all chained up?’ asks Peotor. Paine yanks one of the chains, declaring that he is being punished for insubordination, remarking to Kragoff that you have to remind these animals who is boss.

Paine starts to leave the room, and Kragoff follows him, nudging Mikhlo and Peotor along. Heading towards another part of the facility, Paine declares that if the baboon doesn’t get his act together soon, he might have to sell him to a medical research center. ‘Those places pay good money for simians’. Paine remarks that, speaking of money, he declares that they need to renegotiate the price they discussed for his “special items“, explaining that he can get more for them if he puts them on the open market.

‘Your gross capitalism pains me, Paine,’ Kragoff remarks, before declaring that he has decided to nationalize Paine’s factory, meaning everything created here will be used for the common good. Paine asks who decides what the common good is, to which Kragoff replies ‘I do, naturally’. Paine asks how he is to get paid and where he gets his money from. Kragoff explains that in the New Socialist Simian Republic of Niganda, there will be no money. ‘Don’t worry doctor, you’ll get used to the idea’. Kragoff turns to Paine and tells him that he has no option, before declaring that he hasn’t come to argue with him, but that he has come to view his merchandise!

In another part of the complex, six member of the Uncanny X-Men are being held captive in some stasis chambers. Alex “Havok“ Summers, Lorna “Polaris“ Dane, Logan a.k.a. Wolverine, Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman, Rogue and Remy “Gambit“ LeBeau. Kragoff looks at the X-Men and remarks that with the “mutant beings“ on the side of the revolution, their victory is assured. However, he points out that they don’t appear to be breathing and asks Paine if he is sure they are still alive.

Dr. Paine explains that they are alive, but in a state of deep unconsciousness, where they will remain, until after he operates on their brains. Kragoff asks if they will still have their mutant abilities once he has finished with them, to which Paine explains that the pieces of their brains which he will be removing do not affect their powers. He takes a red marker and draws some lines across the beautiful Polaris’ face, boasting that by the time he has finished with the X-Men, they will be sub-human automations, too stupid to do anything but obey Kragoff’s very command. ‘Not unlike those apes that follow you around’.

Kragoff, Peotor and Mikhlo all frown, and Kragoff remarks that he can see Dr. Pain is in need of a little political re-education, before ordering Peotor and Mikhlo to come along. However, no one sees Lorna open her eyes... .

Back at the countryside, the beast has been defeated, and Storm’s teammate Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen, is telepathically contacting her from the X-Mansion. Emma explains that she is worried, for she is only picking up the faintest thought patterns from the other X-Men, and Cerebra is giving her some very peculiar signals. Storm asks Emma if she means “peculiar“ as in the others are hurt, but Emma replies that she doesn’t know.

Emma informs Storm that she wants her to go to the factory, which Storm re-tells to T’Challa, who just asks Storm to tell Emma that she is busy. ‘In fact, tell her you’re helping T’Challa in a highly-dangerous operation of national importance’. Storm frowns and informs Emma that she will be right there. Storm begins to walk away from T’Challa, who tells her that they have enough on their hands already, suggesting that the X-Men can take care of themselves. ‘You forget that I am an X-Man, your highness. And I’m not asking you to come with me’ Storm snaps back.

‘Good, because I’m not!’ the Black Panther declares, before telling Storm that her friends blundered in where they didn’t belong and made everything worse. Ororo points out that they thought he was beating up on that little man, to which T’Challa reminds her that little man turned out to be an evil genius. ‘They didn’t know that!’ Storm shouts, to which T’Challa tells her that he doesn’t know why she wastes her time with those fools. Taking to the air and flying off, Storm remarks ‘Funny, that’s what I used to say to myself about you’.

Back at the facility, Paine releases the X-Men from the stasis chambers, informing them that they are going to help him. He explains that, soon, the Red Ghost will be arriving. He calls the Red Ghost a filthy communist who plans to nationalize this place and turn Niganda into a socialist state. He tells the X-Men that it is their duty as freedom-loving mutants to fight him. ‘If John Wayne had mutant powers, that’s what he would do’. The handsome Havok warns Paine not to tell them what their duty is, as Bobby tells him to leave John Wayne out of this.

Wolverine points his claws at Paine, telling him that he has some answering to do. Paine remarks that he had hoped to enlist their help voluntarily, before unleashing a powerful surge of ice upon them. ‘Ice? That’s my thing!’ exclaims Bobby. Paine then declares he sees that a degree of manipulation will be necessary, and using solar powers, he blasts upwards, where planks of wood fall, revealing a cage, hanging above the X-Men - with Polaris lying trapped inside it. Bobby calls out to his girlfriend as Paine reveals that she is being drip-fed mutated snake-venom, and he controls the apparatus.

Paine explains that the dose will increase unless they help him. Her organs will close down one by one, leading to blindness, paralysis and ultimately, death. Leaving the room, Paine tells the X-Men to think about it, warning them not to try and release her, or else her veins will automatically fill with snake-juice. The X-Men remain silent for a moment, before Logan asks who this Red Ghost character is.

Elsewhere in the complex, the Red Ghost tells Peotor and Mikhlo that he doesn’t trust Paine, for his love of money runs deep. He then orders the apes to go and make an inventory of the factory. The apes rush off in a different direction from Kragoff, and go to the room where the baboon is being held captive. The chained baboon exclaims that he knew his brothers would come back and asks them to release him from the chains. Mikhlo remarks that comrade Red Ghost might not like them to do that. ‘Right, he’s kinda partial to bondage’ remarks Peotor. The baboon tells them to forget about Red Ghost and Paine, and all the other human tormentors, revealing to his brothers that he has been working on something that will do away with the ‘nasty perpendicular lot of them!’

Back in the room where the X-Men are being held, Havok proclaims that he is pretty sure he could blow the apparatus off Lorna before any more poison gets into her system, but Bobby exclaims that it is too risky. ‘And helping the mad scientist isn’t?’ Alex remarks. Bobby points out that all Paine wants them to do is fight a commie-super villain. ‘Is that so terrible?’ he asks, remarking that people get medals for that kind of stuff. Rogue asks what he will make them do after that, to which Logan agrees, declaring that they cannot be Paine’s slaves. ‘We can’t be whose slaves?’ asks Storm as she enters the room, before asking what is wrong with Polaris.

Watching from a monitor, Paine is glad that Storm has joined in, telling the small monkey sitting on his shoulder called “Cuddle-Face“ that they like Storm. ‘Any port in a storm, any port in a storm,’ mumbles the small monkey.

Mikhlo, Peotor and the baboon are ransacking an office as the baboon explains he has been working secretly on this device since Paine operated on him - ever since that human dragged him up from his perfectly happy baboonish existence and cursed him with reason. He reveals that it is a meta-virus, developed to affect humans, but to leave simians unharmed, and there is enough of it to spread across Niganda. Peotor smiles and tells the baboon that he is real smart. Mikhlo asks where the virus is, to which the baboon exclaims that he knows it is around here somewhere, all he has to do is find it. ‘And you wonder why Stalin never worked with baboons’ Peotor mumbles.

Back in his monitor room, Paine sees the Black Panther enter the complex, and tells Cuddle-Face that the Panther will be harder to manipulate than the others, adding that he never liked him, for he thinks he is so big and regal and handsome. ‘Makes us feel very small, very inadequate’ remarks Cuddle-Face. Paine tells Cuddle-Face that it is enough, for he may be big and strong, but that there is always someone bigger... and stronger. With that, Paine presses a large button, and the Black Panther hears a creak - and looks shocked at whatever it is that is approaching him...

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Polaris, Rogue, Storm, White Queen, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Black Panther

Dora Milajae

Red Ghost / Ivan Kragoff

Dr. Paine

Mikhlo, Peotor, the baboon, "Cuddle-Face" and other mutant apes

Giant creature

Story Notes: 

This storyline continues from Black Panther (4th series) #8, and concludes in Black Panther (4th series) #9.

Issue Information: 

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