Wolverine (2nd series) #148

Issue Date: 
March 2000
Story Title: 
Same As It Never Was

Erik Larsen (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Andy Owens and Scott Koblish (inkers), Wilson Ramos (colorist), RS / Comicraft’s Saida ‘n‘ Oscar (letters), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In the Ages of Apocalypse, Wolverine, Hulk, Spiderman and the Ghost Rider are the new Fantastic Four. As they attempt to place the Harpy, Betty Banner and the Hulk’s wife, into the Negative Zone, Blastaar and Annihilus emerge and a brief tussle ensues. After some time, the Fantastic Four emerge victorious. With the threat neutralized, the members of the Fantastic Four decide to take in some downtime. During such, Ghost Rider is kidnapped unbeknownst to his teammates. After discovering that President Kelly has been assassinated by Dr. Doom, the remaining three members travel to the White House. Once there, they are attacked by Doombots and then Dr. Doom himself. During the battle they discover that Doom isn’t really Doom but a replica created by Arnim Zola. Freeing Ghost Rider and damaging Zola, the Fantastic Four escapes right before a bomb explodes, destroying the White House. Once outside, they discover that Graydon Creed has been elected president, much to their collective dismay.

Full Summary: 

In New York City in the near future, Annihilus and Blastaar burst through the portal in the Negative Zone. When they do, Annihilus explains to Blastaar that they have only mere seconds to act before their presence is known. Blastaar warns him not to order him around and adds that he is a willing participant only inasmuch as it serves his ends. Annihilus tells him to act as he will, because their moment of triumph is at hand. The time has come to destroy the Fantastic Four! Before them stand the all new Fantastic Four – Wolverine, Spiderman, Ghost Rider and the Hulk.

Turning around, Wolverine points out that their new foes were waitin’ for them t’ open th’ flamin’ portal. He then remarks that first Banner’s wife, the high-flyin’ Harpy comes calling and now this. Can’t this flamin’ team do something right f’r a change? Peter Parker (Spider-Man) reminds Logan that pitching the Harpy into the Negative Zone was Banner’s idea. He thought it would be cruel to keep her locked up there. Still, if he’s got a better idea, he’d love to hear it, sometime after they’re done dealing with this deadly duo.

Just then, Mary Jane Parker calls out to Peter to stop May, their daughter, from crawling the ceiling towards Blastaar and Annihilus. Immediately, Peter jumps up, grabs May and delivers her into her mother’s waiting arms. When he gets there, Mary Jane asks Peter what the new villains want. Peter tells her who knows, they’re foes of the original Fantastic Four, it’s not like they’ve done anything to put a twist in their knickers. Penciling in the word “domination” is usually a safe-bet however.

As Logan slashes away at Blastaar, one of his energy blasts goes awry and hits the Hulk directly in the face, freeing the Harpy in the process. Enraged, the Hulk turns from smart Hulk to savage Hulk and with a massive blow, knocks Blastaar back through the portal.

From the other side of the room, Peter mentions that it sounds like “smart-as-Banner” Hulk has turned into “dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers” Hulk, thanks to that shot to his chops. Still, old Jade-Jaws came through for them; he knocked Blastaar back home through the Negative Zone portal. Now it’s up to him to stop the Harpy from escaping like so. With that, Peter snares the Harpy in his webbing much to her dismay. Knocking down Ghost Rider, Annihilus tells them that the original FF were no match for him and they dare to hope they could do better?

After knocking Blastaar out of the battle, the Hulk turns his attention to his teammate Logan. He snarls that he remembers him, he is little man. Hulk hates little man, Hulk will smash puny little man! Logan tells him to take it easy; they’re on the same side now. In his mind, Logan thinks to himself this is not good. Lately the Hulk’s been shifting back and forth between his different personas and more times than not that works out just dandy. Problem is this version has a grudge against him truly the size o’ Texas. Before the two teammates come to blows, Peter tells Wolvy to watch out; he’s going to give the Hulkmeister a shot from a gamma gun. A handy gizmo ol’ Lettuce-Lips himself whipped up when he was still in his right mind.

As soon as Peter shoots the Hulk with the gamma gun, the Hulk exclaims that Hulk hates guns, Hulk will… Peter finishes his sentence and says change back to Dr. Banner if he knows what’s good for him. Now Dr. Bruce Banner, he looks up and proceeds to ask Peter if he caused all of the destruction. Turning his attention to Wolverine, Annihilus asks him if they have forgotten about him, he who stands to triumph this day. Logan tells him not to worry, they’re not leaving him out, they’re just savin’ the best for last – and slashes him across the face.

As they continue to battle in front of the Negative Zone portal, Annihilus calls Logan an ignorant savage and tells him that he is nothing before his might. He is the living embodiment of power; he is the death that walks. Logan tells him to save it for his resume; he ain’t impressed. At that moment, Peter yells out to the canuckle-head to get down. When he does, Peter flings the webbed up Harpy directly at Annihilus. The force knocks them both into the Negative Zone. Logan tells the Web-Crawler nice pitch and that if he can close off the flamin’ portal, he thinks that might just be the game. After Banner closes the portal, Ghost Rider seals it shut with a blast of flame.

Holding up Banner, Logan points out that the strain o’ changin’ back into his human form must’ve been too much for him, he’s passin’ out. Talking to MJ, Peter asks how little May is handling all of the action that just occurred. MJ informs him remarkably well, all things considered. She thinks daddy’s little girl is getting used to all the insanity. She for one is glad this is finally over. Ghost Rider points out that maybe it is finished for them, but what of Bruce’s wife, what of Betty Banner? Will it ever be over for her? Gamma poisoning has turned her into the Harpy once more and changing her back could kill her. It’s ironic that a woman who was so devoted to the man cursed to become a monster would end up forever trapped in the form of a monster herself.

Peter states that if there’s some solace to be had from her fate, he supposes it’s that she can at least fly free until they can find a safe cure for her condition. He knows Bruce won’t stop searching and he’ll do everything in his power to help as well if he gets the chance to. He openly wonders what they were all thinking when they agreed to replace the original Fantastic Four. In addition to the enemies they’ve made individually, now they’ve got to deal with all of their old foes as well. It’s a wonder they don’t all collapse from exhaustion. Bruce remarks that the world would be a worse place if they did. The FF sacrificed themselves to save them all from the threat of the High Lord, it’s up to them to keep the world safe in their absence. Peter agrees and offers to help Bruce on running some tests since they have the time. MJ starts to protest but Logan tells her to save her breath. She’ll be lucky if she can pry those two away from their test-tubes by dinnertime.

Logan then turns his attention to Ghost Rider and says to him that he doesn’t reckon he wants to zap back into Danny Ketch and knock back a few. Ghost Rider tells him perhaps another time. If they are in fact free to go, he has… other matters to attend to. Logan says that he figured as much and says that, if it’s another poker game with Nick Fury, tell him he still owes him fifty bucks from the last time. In any case, he owes his lady friend Stacey a visit so he guesses it’s just as well.

Taking off into the sky on his motorcycle, Ghost Rider wonders to himself how Wolverine can seem so calm, so peaceful in the wake of such calamity. Even though they haven’t been allowed a moment to catch their collective breath, the world surrounding Four Freedoms Plaza remains a portrait of chaos with burning buildings all over. Banner said that it was their duty to protect the world in the absence of the heroes who fell defying the High Lord but are they in truth doing all they can? The world below is fetid and rank, it’s become a festering cesspool over the last few years and they’ve done precious little to halt its decline, to halt the decay. So much has been happening lately, it seems none of them even have time to think. Or perhaps the others have come to grips with their new roles more easily than he.

Even after all this time, he feels like an outsider amongst the others. Bruce, Logan and Peter seem so close, they clearly relish the opportunity they’ve been given as the new Fantastic Four. But as much as they try to be the heroes that Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, and Reed and Susan Richards were, they can never truly fill their shoes. The shape of the world around them is proof enough of that. Caught up in his own thoughts, Ghost Rider doesn’t even realize that he is being targeted and subsequently fired upon.

At a local diner, Logan tells the waitress, his girlfriend, Stacey, that sometimes he just feels outta place standin’ alongside the rest o’ the guys. The rest o’ them really seem like they’ve got it together. He… Stacey cuts him off and tells him that he’s being too hard on himself. Besides, she thought this was what he wanted to do. Logan admits that it was his idea on account o’ the fact the four of them had filled in for the FF once before and he’s honor-bound to stick with it now but what good is his word when he ran out on the X-Men when they needed him the most? Putting her hand up to Logan’s face, Stacey asks him if that is what this is all about. She adds that he can’t go blaming himself for what happened, he has to let himself move…

Before she can finish that thought, she sees the Fantasti-Flare on the other side of the city. Logan remarks ain’t that just his luck; his burger ain’t even up yet. As he gives Stacey a kiss, they tell each other that they love them.

Over at Freedom Fours Plaza, Logan walks in and tells them that this’d better be good. An’ he means Galactus knockin’ at the door with a flamin’ bib on. Bruce informs him that he wishes he could say it was nothing as serious as that, but unfortunately he can’t. They just found out themselves that President Kelly has been assassinated. Logan asks what? How did it happen? Who? Bruce tells him that it was Doom. He’s made his move at long last. He saw the state of disarray their country had fallen into and knew he could take advantage of the situation. Washington is in flames, the White House under siege. He was hoping that Ghost Rider would be with him but they’ve got to go.

Logan states wait a minute, that doesn’t make a lick o’ sense. Doctor Doom has been dead for years. Just then, a bunch of Doombots crash through the wall, intent on eliminating the Fantastic Four. When they do, Peter points out that it looks like somebody forgot to tell them. Turning into the Mr. Fix-It, Bruce points out that he thinks they all know from past experience that Doom is as adept at cheating death as he is at creating unbridled mayhem. And speaking of which, what do they say to helping him nail these suckers to the walls? Shooting his webs at the oncoming Doombots, Peter remarks no offense, but they have got to find a way of regulating which Hulk he turns into. It would be handy as all heck to know which one of him was showing up for the shindig. In the meantime catch!

With that, he flings his snared Doombots in the Hulk’s direction. The Hulk tells him that he’ll do better than that. He tells Peter to take a good long look at him; it’s what he’ll look like if he calls him “Bruce” again and proceeds to smash the Doombot into a million pieces. Slashing away at the remaining Doombots, Logan tells Fix-It to lay off the kid. Mistake like that, it’s way too easy to make with him these days. It’s hard to tell who he is from one minute to the next. ‘Course, this particular version being gray helps a bit.

Once all of the Doombots have been destroyed, MJ cradles May and tells him that this is horrible and asks what’s going to happen next. Peter replies that he wish he knew. Logan states that it’s like Banner said, they gotta hightail it to the capital and yank Doom outta that tin suit o’ his, preferably through the eye holes. MJ then tells Peter that she’s going with them then, she couldn’t bear staying there alone, waiting to hear if…

Peter tells her no way, it’s too dangerous. Lurch, their giant Sentinel, will protect her and May in the event that anything else happens. He’ll be home in time for dinner, he promises. MJ tells him that she’s heard promises from him before and that she has a really bad feeling about this. Peter replies than she’s definitely staying put, she’ll be safer there.

Boarding the Fantasti-Car, Logan tells Peter that his wife ain’t the only one with her ends on end about this. Ghost Rider’s usually the first to show up when the flare goes up, and there they are goin’ into battle without him – somethin’ ain’t right. In the air, the Hulk says that’s an understatement if he ever heard one, things haven’t been right for years. Logan replies maybe but this is different. If Doom really is back in business, why attack them now? Doom stood alongside some o’ Earth’s mightiest heroes to defeat X-Man after he defeated Apocalypse and became the High Lord. Near as anyone figured, Doom was killed in the heroes’ final conflict with him, same as the original Fantastic Four, most o’ the Avengers and the X-Men. The Hulk tells him that he sees where he’s getting at shrimp. Magneto annexed Latveria in Doom’s absence and transformed it into a mutant state but there’s no chance that Doom would stand for it if he was still drawing breath – interesting. At that moment, their vehicle is targeted and thusly shot down.

Plummeting to the ground, Peter grabs Logan and swings him to safety. While he does, Logan asks what the flamin’ heck that was all about. Crashing into the ground, the Hulk says that it looks like whoever’s drivin’ the welcome wagon has an itchy trigger finger. He can’t say that he particularly cares for that. Swinging into action, Peter remarks that it looks like whoever is running the show has the place stocked well with Doombots.

Attacking the Doombots that are placed in front of the White House, Peter asks if anybody else gets the feeling that someone is expecting them. Logan tells him expectin’ them to slow down for these walkin’ battle tanks is more like it. The Doombots are just a diversion; they need to get inside if they want to get to the bottom of this.

After making short work of the Doombots, the Hulk smashes a hole through the building’s wall and they find Ghost Rider strapped to a bomb. When Ghost Rider informs them that it is a trap, Doctor Doom arrives and says of course it is a trap. Who but he could have orchestrated it? Their country’s leader is no more, their pathetic excuse for a government dismantled. After years of waiting and careful planning, it is he who reigns there now. All that is left is for them to die.

With that, he unleashes a blast towards Peter that he is able to dodge. Taking the opportunity, the Hulk proceeds to punch him across the room. When he does, he tells Doom to save the speeches or as his usual sparring partner used to say – it’s clobberin’ time! Immediately, Logan heads over to Ghost Rider and tells him to hang on. A couple more snips and he’ll be… Ghost Rider tells him that he doesn’t understand, his bonds are connected to a timing device. Looking down, Logan sees that the timer on it is quite low.

Coming back into the room, Doctor Doom unleashes a hand blast and calls the Fantastic Four contemptible fools and asks them if they think his plans can be undone so easily? They’ve not even begun to taste his might. Dodging the blast, Peter remarks that he’s tasted enough to know he makes him sick to his stomach. Ghost Rider then tells the Hulk that Wolverine could use some help. Logan says that Skull-face is right; Doom’s rigged the place to blow. The need to disarm the bomb pronto or President Kelly ain’t gonna be the only one eyeballin’ interns in that great oval office in the sky.

Grabbing hold of the bomb, the Hulk says that he didn’t become the man he is by disarming bombs. He then tells him to stand back and let a real man show him how it’s done. As he rips the bomb out of its holding area, the roof starts to collapse. After seeing what is transpiring, Logan thinks to himself great, the whole joint is comin’ down around their ears givin’ Doom the perfect opportunity to pull another vanishing act if that’s his game. And something tells him he’d better see to it that it isn’t.

With that, Logan lunges himself in Doom’s direction, telling him to hold it right there rivet-head, he’s not going anywhere. On the other side of the room, the Hulk tells him good thinking shorty. Keep that tin-plated tyrant where he has him while he puts the firecracker of his into orbit. As he tosses it through the roof, he sees more Doombots heading his way.

While Logan continues his assault on Doom, Doom tells him to unhand him and calls him a brainless savage. The person of Doom shall not be sullied by so base an affront. Grabbing hold of Doom’s mask, Logan says if he’s right this armor is where he and the man called Doom part ways. Ripping of the mask, Logan sees a robotic face and states that he knew somethin’ fishy was goin’ on around there. He should learn t’ pay more attention to his senses. He doesn’t know who he is, but he sure knows what he ain’t, he ain’t Doom.

Standing nearby, a man with a camera for a head and his face on his chest says to Wolverine that surely he’s to take but one look at “Doctor Doom” to realize his “fingerprints” are all over this endeavor. Or has he so soon forgotten what Arnim Zola, the bio-fanatic is capable of creating in his “Freak Factory?” Obviously the creature who lies at his feet isn’t Doom, but one of his “Uglies Unlimited” a kind of “bootleg” copy of the real article, created from tissue samples left over from a clone Doom created of himself some time ago. With “Doom” as his public face, he hoped to succeed where the self-styled High Lord failed and take control of the world. They were his first targets because they were the strongest of Earth’s last remaining heroes and, because he, Wolverine, has long been a nasty thorn in his side.

At that moment, Peter yells out to Logan that his spider-sense just kicked into overdrive – they’re in great danger! Looking up at Zola, Logan remarks to him that the Hulk already took care o’ one o’ his bombs, what else does he have up his sleeve – aw crud, the Doom clone. Arnim Zola tells him that his instincts are uncanny. He’s right of course. The moment he unmasked the clone, he initiated a self-destruct sequence within its armor. Laughing maniacally, he states that victory will be his yet. Slashing Zola across the chest and breaking the glass, Logan tells him not if he can help it. With Zola blinded, Logan tells him that he hopes he knows a good cable guy, it looks like his reception’s on the fritz. Peter then tells Logan to come on, they have to go.

With that, the Fantastic Four escapes the building. Once they have left, Arnim says out loud that the fools think him beaten but it was he who set this trap. And so, too, can he undo what has been set in motion. Eventually, he reaches “Doctor Doom.” When he does, it explodes and destroys the White House.

Safe outside, the Hulk mentions to his fellow Fantastic Four members that he guesses that’s it then – the White House, Zola, the Doombots. They’ll be nothing more than ash and memories when the smoke clears. Logan points out the White House maybe but who knows if that’s the last they’ve heard o’ Zola. Given that wing nut’s track record, there’s no real way o’ knowin’ for sure if that was even really him. And he doesn’t even wanna speculate on how many Doom clones that freak might o’ been holding in reserve.

Looking behind them, they witness Graydon Creed being sworn in as president. Logan remarks out o’ the fryin’ pan and into the fire. He then remarks that Creed has been anglin’ fer the top spot ever since he mysteriously reappeared – makes Kelly look like the picture o’ moderation. Asking the other members of the Fantastic Four, Logan asks them what now. What now?

Characters Involved: 

Logan/Wolverine, Bruce Banner/Incredible Hulk, Daniel Ketch/Ghost Rider, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (all Fantastic Four)

Mary Jane Parker and May Parker (Peter’s wife and daughter)

Stacey (Logan’s girlfriend and a waitress at a local diner)

Lurch (Sentinel under the control of the Fantastic Four)

Blastaar, Annihilus, Betty Banner/Harpy

“Doctor Doom”

Arnim Zola

Various Doombots

Graydon Creed (president of the United States)

Various patrons at a local diner (all unnamed)

Various residents of Washington, D.C. (all unnamed)

In memories:

X-Man (High Lord after he defeated Apocalypse)

Story Notes: 

This issue is a part of the Ages of Apocalypse storyline. Other issues include:

Part 1 – Uncanny X-Men #378

Part 2 – Cable (1st series) #77

Part 3 – Wolverine (2nd series) #148

Part 4 – X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #26

Part 5 – X-Men (2nd series) #98

Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spiderman and Wolverine briefly replaced the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four (1st series) #347-349.

Stacey, the waitress at the diner and Logan’s girlfriend, was Cable’s girlfriend in normal reality.

Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Wolverine battled the actual Fantastic Four (Invisible Woman, Thing, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch) back in Fantastic Four (1st series) #374. They were attempting to subdue the Human Torch for accidentally burning up an Empire State University campus building back in Fantastic Four (1st series) #372. In #374, Wolverine went into a bestial rage, slashed the Thing’s face and disfigured him.

Doctor Doom, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers all “perished” while battling Onslaught in Onslaught: Marvel Universe in the normal Marvel Universe. In actuality, they were all reborn in a pocket universe (Heroes Reborn). They would eventually return to the normal Marvel Universe after some time had passed (Heroes Return).

“It’s clobberin’ time” is a trademarked statement of Ben Grimm, the Thing.

Doctor Doom created a clone of himself back in Fantastic Four (1st series) #199-200.

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