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Wolverine (2nd series) # 21

Issue Date: February 1990

Story Title: Battleground

Staff: Archie Goodwin (writer), John Byrne (breakdown artist), Klaus Janson (finishing artist), Jim Novak (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description:
In the Australian Outback, Havok, Dazzler, Colossus, and Psylocke are unable to make contact with Wolverine Ė at least not telepathically. In the jungles of Tierra Verde, Geist is leading his followers to track Wolverine, Roughhouse and Sister Salvation. He is not worried about La Bandera, who has happened upon the savages of the land. Further in the jungle, Wolverine has gone insane from the cocaine darts that were shot into him by Geist. Sister Salvation is able to calm him down somewhat, thanks to her touch, but it is short-lived. He goes insane again, this time believing he is in Germany, circa World War II. He is fighting Nazi super-soldiers and a tank. When all is lost, Sister Salvation comes to his rescue and brings him from the brink of his own destruction. As they continue through the jungle, Wolverine goes into another cocaine-induced delerium. In this one, he faces Adolf Hitler and Geist, who turns into a being called Spore. After learning the back-story of how Spore came to be, Wolverine is able to make his way back to reality. He thanks Sister Salvation for saving his life, though she dismisses it as it being just what she does. Suddenly, they are finally found by Geist, Felix Guillermo Caridad, and his followers. They were led to the trio thanks to Sister Salvation dropping her nunís habit. Wolverine asks her why, but the answer is simple: Caridad has her son!!!

Full Synopsis:
Australian Outback:
Havok, Dazzler, and Colossus are all standing around Psylocke, where she is attempting to make telepathic contact with Wolverine. Dazzler is surprised that Psylocke canít seem to make contact, though Havok responds that heís probably out making a beer run and whatever has came up is nothing that they canít handle. He looks for verification on that to Colossus, who confirms that they can. Before he can add to that thought, he is cut off by Dazzler who points out that they just recently lost Storm and, if Psylocke canít contact Logan... She is interrupted by Psylocke who points out that she can put a mental fix on Wolverine. He is still in Central America, at least physically. She canít penetrate his thoughts or his mind. Something strange is going on beyond any of their ability to help!

Tierra Verde:
In a clearing in the jungle, Geist calls President Felix Guillermo Caridad and informs him that his trackers and him have found the helicopter used in the escape. It has crashed and it is now empty. They are in the process of examining the area and, if they have any information so... He is cut off by one of his trackers who advises him that the ones they are chasing appear to have split up after the crash. The girl, La Bandera, led the political prisoners she freed one way but the three others have taken a different direction.

Geist inquires if Caridad has heard of that recent information. Caridad informs Geist that he is not interested in some brat who fights his drug-trafficking by playing revolutionary. He inquires as to who the others are. He wants to know if his wife is one of them. He also wants to know if his guinea pig, Roughhouse, is still alive. That is what he wants to know. That is what will salvage his plan despite the little animal, Wolverine, who led this breakout!! Geist responds that he has some good news then. As he holds up a dart filled with tainted cocaine, signs not only show Sister Salvation and the hulking test subject of their experiments are two of the trio, but that the third, whatever animal he styles himself, is now also a guinea pig.

In the jungle, Wolverine is slashing through the underbrush. Inside him someone is screaming, roaring, raging, like the lowest, maddest worst kind of beast. Much like the side of him that he fears, the same side heíd fight, if only it werenít so far away. He is like a mad animal, slashing away without concern of who or what is around when suddenly, out of nowhere, Roughhouse grabs him in a reverse bear hug. He advises Sister Salvation that he has him, and he thinks he can hold him, but he canít help his pain. He pleads with Sister Salvation that she has the miracles and that she can heal him, much like he did him.

Sister Salvation responds that he kidnapped her. For his sake, she understands but she asks about her sake? She asks if this gift always... She is cut off by Roughhouse who points out that the only thing he knows is that Wolverine is hurting bad, maybe worse than he did. He asks if that matters. Sister Salvation, as she reaches out to Wolverine, responds that it does, in the end.

Upon receiving her touch, Wolverine starts to calm down. Roughhouse comforts him and informs him that itís okay. Sister pulled him back. With his head in his hands, Wolverine is disappointed with himself. He made them stop... he canít do that... they have to keep moving... reach border... before Caridadís army reaches them. Sister Salvation points out that this is madness. The needles they found in his back after the crash were obviously loaded with the same tainted cocaine used to make Roughhouse a raging monster. And now, heís having a stronger reaction. Her touch only slowed whatís happening. She adds that the only way to properly care for him is... surrender.

Wolverine shoots back that is not an alternative. Not after what her husband and that cyborg Nazi calls an aide have already put them through. Roughhouse agrees. He has the strength to keep them going. What they need is more. They need her, helping to control him against killing himself or him, while he is fighting what is inside of him. Sister Salvation responds that itís still madness. Wolverine doesnít disagree but maybe not as much pain. And in the end, that still matters most. With that, the three of them make their way through the jungle.

In another section of the jungle, Geist and his followers are making their way after Wolverine, Sister Salvation and Roughhouse. As they do, Geist receives a call from Caridad; he wants a progress report. Geist points out that there are thousands of vines slashed, tons on jungle vermin crushed underfoot. Cybernetics have prolonged his life, but to work as an advisor, not slogging in some green purgatory! He informs Caridad that nothing has happened yet but overtaking the fugitives is inevitable. He then asks if his presence is superfluous.

From up above in one of the helicopters circling, Caridad points out to Geist that it is still good training. Not to bee too clever, he adds that Geistís scheme to trick the rebels into attacking his medical center brought an escape instead of their defeat. Since he is joining the hunt up there, he recommends that Geist stay below and make certain of the inevitable.

Over on a hill, La Bandera notices the helicopters are not coming after her and her followers. They are moving towards Wolverineís way. With that, she canít let such a sacrifice be in vain. One of the political prisoners question her as to what choice they have. La Bandera replies that they need to continue their war against Caridad. The response she gets is that revolutions are made with armies in the city. Somehow, she inspired others to join her, but the jungle is wild, savage! Even unpursued, there is one thing to inspire in such a place and that is sudden death! As soon as he finishes his statement, La Bandera and her followers happen upon a tribe of savage natives!!

As Geist and his followers begin to trounce through the swampy jungle, Geist is informed that Caridad is growing impatient. He wants another progress report. Geist, beginning to get annoyed, exasperates that they have added swamp to their catalogue of indignities and nothing else. No wife turned sister of mercy, no human test animals for their leaderís project to produce a superhero for Tierra Verde. He takes a look down at the computer on his arm. He concludes that by every computer calculation the cocaine infecting Wolverine from the darts he fired into him during the escape should be raging at itís worst now. Even with the good sisterís help, there is no way he could keep moving. He wonders why they havenít heard his ranting and raving by now. Why havenít they discovered them yet??

Not more than a few hundred feet away from them, Roughhouse, Wolverine and Sister Salvation are hiding under a tree in the water. Roughhouse has his hand over Wolverineís mouth. Wolverine has a wild look in his eyes - the beast is back!! The sounds are muffled, distant, but he knows that itís back. Madder than before!!

(un-reality)
Even though Wolverine knows that the beast is back he wonders where he is?!? He realizes that heís fighting for his life, what else. With that, he jumps out of an exploding building, carrying a bag. Itís some kind of attack, caught him napping. He could of burned with the building. As he runs through the snow-covered streets of a city, soldiers begin to shoot at him. The streets are crawling with them; itís a full-scale invasion!! As he continues to run through the street, grenades are exploding behind him!! He reaches a dead-end. Thereís no time to be clever, theyíre right on his tail. Once the soldiers catch up to where he was, they notice the bag he left behind. They donít know where he is until...

Wolverine, now dressed in his brown and tan costume descends on them. He slashes the soldiers, whom he recognizes as German soldiers, circa World War II. SS troopers, Nazi elite. He wonders how it can be. He doesnít know but he does know theyíre playing his game and heís playing it rough. Once heís started, he canít stop. As he calls out that he knows there has to be more of them. He asks if they think theyíve taken over. Fightís just heating up. As soon as he exits through the cul-de-sac, he gets blasted by a tank cannon!!

Wolverine realizes that that nearly ended this fight. If you take away the all but indestructible adamantium skeleton inside of him and the mutant healing factor already trying to do itís work - heís dead. As it is, despite the pain and the hurt, he can still move, still show them how far short nearly is. He grabs a couple of explosives and heads towards the oncoming tank.

As he charges, some of the machine gun fire misses, most of it doesnít. He goes down because of it. Good news is itís exactly how he wants to. He is able to get underneath the tank where he can slash at the belly of the beast. Even an iron monster has soft spots. The tank comes to an abrupt halt, as Wolverine is able to make his way out from underneath the tank. He realizes that, even with the tank crippled, he has to move fast before they can rally all of their firepower. He leaps on top of the tank and slashes the hatch open. Once that is complete, he tosses the explosives inside of the tank. Wolverine has beat them!! The only problem is the exploding ammo stores beat him! Even though heís in mid-leap, itís not far enough. Shrapnel tears at his body. A hundred more wounds to go with what he already has. More than his healing factor can ever deal with before snow and icy cold beyond the blast deal with him.

Laying face down in the snow, Wolverine mutters that at least the invaders know they had a fight. Sister Salvation responds that that isnít good enough. She informs Wolverine that, right now, he is his healing factor. He has it in him to save himself. Wolverine asks about the snow that is now falling around them. Sister Salvation responds that the falling snow seems to be limiting her ability to help him. Wolverine reaches out to her. All of the snow is too overwhelming for him. He canít. Once he locks hands with Sister Salvation, she retorts that he can. Wolverine tells her that any help she has, he needs. Even just knowing that heís not going through this alone. With that, they lock into an embrace. Sister Salvation pushes him away, she canít. She points to a high building and informs him that he must carry the fight to the invader up there and she canít be with him.

(reality)
Back in the jungle, Roughhouse is rustled from his slumber. He asks Sister Salvation if she said something. She responds that Roughhouse had better take Wolverine now. She believes another violent spell is coming and thereís no way that she can be with him. Roughhouse complies and picks Wolverine up. He points out that theyíre going to need another hiding spot too. He laments that she shouldnít have let him nod off like that. They shouldíve been covering ground while he was calm.

As he starts off through the swamp, he indicates that itís funny how your mind plays tricks on you sometimes. When he was dozing it seemed like he heard her and Wolverine talking and then he thought he heard a kiss. But thatís a stupid thought. With his back turned, Sister Salvation reaches up to touch her lips, remembering the kiss she shared with Wolverine.

(delusional reality)
Back in Germany, Wolverine is shocked to find himself where he is. Somehow the snow, the cold couldnít stop him. Itís unreal. However, everything he is doing seems unreal except for the kiss. Heís still feeling it. Itís firing him, making him go on, against the snow, against Geist!! He suddenly hears voices coming from inside the tower. He recognizes one of them to be Geist. He overhears Geist talking to a stranger that numbers are a problem. Particularly if they suspect where theyíre being led. He then recommends to the stranger that he tell them something of a calming nature. For instance, the prospect of a clean close shave is relaxing. He adds that since women and children are involved, perhaps the notion that they are going for showers is the final solution. He then asks the stranger what he thinks. The stranger is Adolf Hitler!!!

At that very moment, Wolverine runs up the stairs. He screams NOOOO!!!! He asks Geist if he will do anything to please a leader. Wolverine leaps against Hitler, pushing him to the ground. He asks Geist how pleased he will be when he takes that leader out right before his eyes?!? When he slices him to... When Hitler hits the ground he turns into snow. Geist points out that it does seem to be confusing and that Wolverine doesnít quite know what he is fighting. He adds that even though theyíre not dealing in strictest reality, their situation is very much grounded in truth.

Wolverine has had enough. He uses his claws to drive them right through Geistís gut. He tells Geist that heís all micro-circuits and mechanized doodads, maybe he wonít melt!! Maybe if he lays open enough clockwork, heíll see if thereís any humanity left to stand on itís own. Heís betting it rotted long ago and thatís the truth. Geist, with his gut slashed, stammers back up against the wall. As he goes down, he grabs the Nazi flag off the wall and covers himself with it. He tells Wolverine that he still doesnít know what heís fighting. He shouldn't worry though; heís going to show him. With that, he stands to reveal himself as... Spore!!! Geistís form now resembled an amorphous mass of protoplasm, which quickly encases Wolverine within its mass. As he does so, Geist gleefully declares that he grows and the knowledge he imparts is going to consume him.

(reality)
As Roughhouse, Sister Salvation, and Wolverine continue their way through the rain in the jungle, Roughhouse informs Sister Salvation that this fit seems to be killing him. The sudden storm isnít helping anything but the border is not far, according to Wolverineís directions he gave them before all of this came on to him. He asks if there is anything more she can do. Theyíre so close, but heís so bad. Sister Salvation responds that heís not like other men. Sheís not certain anything else can work. As she goes to remove her nunís habit, she tells Roughhouse to let her hold him.

(delusion / flashback)
Wolverine is being consumed by the monster he is fighting. Itís everywhere. His voice is a nasty whisper inside of his brain. The monster, Spore, informs him that this last futile bit of resistance will fade once he understands what heís against. He goes on to tell Wolverine of his story.

He is Spore. He is ancient. Born in prehistory, when two great races warred, the Eternals and his creators, the Deviants. They were masters of technology while mankind still lived in caves, their scientists twisted genetics to give birth to an ultimate weapon against their undying foes. From a human template, he arose, a living disease who could consume, absorb, and grow. These were his powers. This was his glory.

Eternals fell. Their genes for immortality became part of him, and still his hunger swelled until only the gods could cut it short. The Celestials. They who forged Externals and Deviants from the matrix of humanity. They who returned from the stars to judge their experiments and found him to be among their displeasures. Judgment was swift. He was a rogue, preying by now on Deviant as well as human and External. An abomination to be purged from their cosmic scene. Scorched back to the visceral slime from which he grew.

The soil of Central America absorbed him as he had absorbed so many, except he still lived. His stolen immortality, leaving him aware through the eons but without living flesh and blood to absorb, he was trapped until a crop was planted in the earth long barren from his demise. Cocaine, and in this addictive growth, the microscopic particles of his consciousness sensed a pathway into the human blood he needed to truly live. At first it was frustration. Most bodies could not survive the shock of an alien presence raging, growing within them. People like Hammer Cody.

Now he has Wolverine, so driven, so determined, a fighter, and possessed of a factor to keep healing himself. His is a body that can stay alive until he grows. Growing from mere particles in his bloodstream, to ooze from his every pore, consuming his very being and emerging finally, fully free!! Wolverine muses to himself that he was always a loner until the X-Men; always figured he would die alone. Then again, not like this. Shrinking inside some monster. He canít scream, struggle, or do anything except for going stark, raving...

He stops himself, that is what this monster wants. He wants to see what is going on in his own body. He then remembers what Salvation said: he is his healing factor. Heís his healing factor, and heís not alone. With that, he begins to slash away at the monster that is consuming him. He points out that Spore is a living disease, and with any disease, heís going to keep operating until he cuts him out. Before he can grow and spread, they will continue to cut him out, cut him out.

(reality)
Wolverine awakes from his hysteria to feel the night air. Itís cool; he can feel it. Roughhouse is next to Wolverine and lets him know that Salvation wanted him to make sure he had enough sleep to make the final push over the border. Wolverine heads over to Salvation and says to her that she held him during the worst of it; he wasnít alone. He thought he felt it then, smelling her on him made it certain. Salvation, with her head down, tells Wolverine that he shouldnít take it so personal. Anything she did, she did to ease his suffering. She canít abandon anyone while there was a chance.

At that very moment, a voice from the back informs them that they need to stand where they are!! No one is to move, especially Wolverine!! It is Geist, Caridad and his followers. They have surrounded the trio, thanks to Caridadís wife. She dropped her nunís habit, marking the trail they took. Caridad credits her with being a more sensible woman than he ever gave her credit for. Wolverine angrily asks why Salvation would drop that, why after all theyíve been through, saving Roughhouse, saving him, why?? Sister Salvation responds that Wolverine had pain; she couldnít abandon him to it. But Caridad has the one thing which she couldnít abandon for his escape Ė he has her son!!!

Characters:
Wolverine

Roughhouse
Sister Salvation

Geist
Felix Guillermo Caridad (President of Tierra Verde)
President Caridadís men (unnamed)

La Bandera
La Banderaís followers (unnamed)

Havok, Colossus, Dazzler, and Psylocke (all X-Men)

In Wolverineís warped reality:
Wolverine
Nazi soldiers (all unnamed)
Adolf Hitler
Spore

In flashbacks:
Spore
Eternals (all unnamed)
Deviants (all unnamed)
Celestials (all unnamed)
Hammer Cody
Daredevil

Notes:
According to the first page, this issue occurs before the events that took place in Uncanny X-Men #249.

Wolverine was shot with cocaine darts at the tail end of Wolverine (2nd series) #20.

This Issue has been reprinted in:
Wolverine Classic Vol. 4 (Trade Paperback)
Essential Wolverine Vol. 1 (Trade Paperback)

Issue Summary written by: Wendigo (David M.)


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