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X-Men (1st series) # 35

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What if...? (2nd series) # 50

Issue Date: June 1993

Story Title: What if Hulk killed Wolverine?

Staff: John Arcudi (writer), Armando Gil (artist), Gina Going (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description:
The X-Men are on their way to Dallas to look for their lost leader, Storm, when Wolverine gets into a fight with the Hulk, which in this reality ends with Wolverine’s death. The Hulk leaves for Dallas and finds that, in the new magical chaos the Adversary has created, sunlight doesn’t harm him. After killing a few dinosaurs, he finds himself worshiped by a tribe of primitive natives from the past. The Adversary uses the chaos created by the Hulk and attacks the X-Men directly, killing Dazzler and Madelyne. The X-Men decide to work together with Freedom Force but Rogue has vowed revenge and directly attacks the Hulk. The two teams join her and the attacks become costly as several mutants die. Mystique tries to calm the Hulk by pretending she is his friend, Rick Jones. When she is about to be successful, the Adversary again interferes directly and kills her. Realizing he’s being played, the Hulk attacks the Adversary. Due to his momentary weakness, Storm and Forge manage to free themselves and join the battle. Forge creates a portal to banish the Adversary but, lacking nine souls to banish him forever, he instead sacrifices his own soul and life force to banish the Adversary for long enough for Roma to do the rest. The world is restored, but many members of the X-Men and Freedom Force are dead. And Bruce Banner is arrested for murder…

Full Synopsis:
“What if the Hulk killed Wolverine?” the Watcher asks and points towards a reality where this is not a question, but history.

Wolverine, mindful of his new responsibilities as leader of the X-Men, attempts to avoid conflict with the Hulk. The Hulk goads Wolverine, who turns away. When the Hulk calls him a spineless wimp looking for reasons to stay outta his way, Wolverine turns around, goaded into the fight.

The X-Men had come to Dallas, Texas, to find their former leader, Storm, who disappeared under ominous circumstances with the mutant Forge. When they arrived there, a path of deadly destruction led Wolverine to the Hulk, a recently changed, more belligerent creature, who would not allow the X-Man to walk away from a fight.

Wolverine attacks, slashing the Hulk in the back. He turns around to leave, believing the Hulk dead. However, the Hulk’s recuperative abilities save him. Wholly revived by rage, he attacks Wolverine, beats him and finally dislodges a single Adamantium vertebra, severing Wolverine’s spinal cord.

Triumphantly, the Hulk howls over Wolverine’s corpse. The next moment, he is hit by an energy ray, courtesy of Colonel Quartermain, his companion along with Rick Jones who is horrified at Wolverine’s death.

The effects of this event are felt immediately. In Roma’s starlight citadel, a delicate balance has been disrupted. Wolverine was to have been a principal player in a grand cosmic game. The Adversary imprisons Roma and the returned Forge and Storm.

On Earth, the X-Men mourn the loss of Wolverine.

The Adversary uses their momentary weakness to attack and kills Dazzler, Longshot and Madelyne Pryor, injuring Colossus and Rogue. Afterwards, he transforms Dallas into the first outpost of his new kingdom.

Miles away, the Hulk tries to convince himself that the murder of Wolverine doesn’t bother him. However, he is disturbed by his lack of control. That was the old Hulk. He can’t let himself revert to the big green idiot. He has to head back and maybe Rick and Quartermain can help him figure out what happened. He jumps off.

The Adversary watches him in his scrying pool, intent on using him against the X-Men. Gloating, he turns to his prisoners Roma, Forge and Storm. Forge vows that he will stop him. Grinning, the Adversary hints that Forge more than any mortal is responsible for his ascension. But, even if he had the opportunity to turn his words into action, does he have the heart?

The Hulk is surprised when he lands in Dallas and sees the hole in the sky that lets sunshine in, despite the nighttime. He doesn’t want to go there, afraid he will turn into Bruce Banner. However, he figures, if it is night, it cannot be the sun and therefore it cannot hurt him. Carefully, he steps into the night and finds nothing happened, and in the middle of Dallas there is a tropical jungle.

Just when he figures things cannot get any weirder, a dinosaur attacks him. Angrily, the Hulk battles him off and beats the animal. He notices he has an audience: a party of Native American warriors from the past. He warns them to stay out of his way. Instead of turning against him, though, they praise him. And suddenly the Hulk finds this strange new realm to his liking.

Elsewhere in the city, the surviving X-Men and Freedom Force have started an alliance and paramedics treat the wounded X-Men. Mystique criticizes that they should never have tackled that shaman on their own. Rogue retorts that he attacked them when their defenses were down. They must face him together. It is the only chance of defeating that sorcerer.

Is she nuts? the Blob protests. If the guy is behind what has been done to the city they don’t stand a prayer! And even if he ain’t, he can trounce the likes of Rogue and Colossus and waste four X-Men in the process! Three, Rogue corrects him. Logan was not killed by him. That fight she will attend to herself, if they live through this.

Colossus reminds Blob that it is Freedom Force’s job to protect the people. Mystique gets between them, reminding them that more is at stake. They are going to need help and the other members of Freedom Force are out trying to contact that help. Rogue insists they can’t waste any more time.

Suddenly, a weakened Spiral teleports in. As she sinks down, she weakly announces that, two miles east, she saw a gray giant slay a dinosaur… perhaps he can help them. Rogue recognizes the Hulk from her description. She intends to go after Wolverine’s killer. Mystique tries to dissuade her, but Rogue refuses. This is one battle where she doesn’t need any help. She flies off.

Elsewhere, the Hulk enjoys being worshipped by the tribe and the food they brought him. Rogue comes flying in at low speed. She flies up again, gathers speed and hits him as hard as she can. She flies upward to repeat the move while the Hulk’s Indian friends flee.

When Rogue has reached him, the Hulk grabs her and tosses her into a wall. Angrily, he asks who she is. He’s never seen her before and she comes along, beating on him like a drum! All the costumed clowns are the same, jumping him for no reason! It’s like they are begging him to kill them! If that’s what she wants, that’s how it’s gonna be. He runs towards her.

Rogue realizes she didn’t even scratch him. Time for a new approach, she figures. She meets his attack but, at the last moment, kisses him to absorb his power. Due to his immense power, the process is a long one, long enough for the Hulk to tear Rogue away. Angrily, he throws a stone slab on her again and again.

Luckily, at that moment, he is hit by Havok’s blast of cosmic energy. Both the X-Men and Freedom Force have arrived. The Hulk screams in fury.

Mystique orders Avalanche to create a wave of rock and earth to bury the Hulk. But the Hulk’s anger is greater than it has ever been and the wave cannot stop him. He walks towards Avalanche and crushes his skull, then shouts out again in fury as every shred of humanity is expelled from his brain, supplanted by anarchic ferocity.

The mutants attack together. Pyro uses his flames, which hurt even the Hulk. The Hulk, in turn, uses the Blob as a shield, then throws him at Pyro.

It begins to dawn on the mutants how powerful their foe is but they don’t realize that their constant attacks fuel that power. The Hulk takes down the two strongmen Colossus and Stonewall. Only Psylocke understands and tries to telepathically soothe his anger. The Hulk’s unchecked fury blocks Psylocke’s efforts and assaults her mind much the way a physical blow would strike her body. She falls unconscious.

The speedster Supersabre figures he should get her out of here, hoping he can evade the behemoth. But with one blow, the Hulk kills him.

In minutes, only two figures still stand: Colossus and Stonewall. As he begins to walk towards them, Rick Jones suddenly appears and pleads with the Hulk to stop. Remembering his friend, the Hulk unclenches his fists.

In Roma’s starlight citadel, the Adversary observes the events, praising the clever move, although it is still useless.

Storm whispers to Forge, asking what he knows about stopping the Adversary. Forge makes apologies, unwilling to admit to her that he is to blame for bringing the Adversary into this world when he sacrificed the soul of nine fallen comrades to seek revenge. Nor will he seek the nine souls to banish him once more.

Having eavesdropped, the Adversary dares him to tell her. There are no secrets from him. He turns back to the Hulk problem.

On Earth, Rick tries to talk sense into the Hulk, who is listening attentively when Wolverine suddenly shows up, telling the Hulk these freaks don’t want to help him. Wolverine tells Rick that his healing factor saved him, then kills “Rick,” who turns out to be Mystique.

“Wolverine” tells the Hulk it’s all lies. Rick Jones is miles from here looking for him. All lies, the Hulk agrees, hitting “Wolverine” in the head. “Wolverine” grins. He isn’t as stupid as he looks. Turning into the shape of the shaman Naze, he calls him a worthy pawn. But he no longer needs pawns. He blasts at the Hulk, then kills Psylocke and Destiny with two more energy blasts. Havok tries to sneak up on him and is the next victim.

The Hulk throws a lamppost at the Adversary. Since it is made from iron, it is the only substance that can harm the trickster.

Due to his weakened condition, the Adversary cannot maintain his hold on the trapped Forge and Storm in the starlight citadel. However, they are unable to free Roma. Forge decides he must cast the Adversary out. Storm flies the two of them to the battle.

In Dallas, the Adversary has been forced to assume his true form. He tells the heroes their efforts are for naught. Nothing can hurt him now. Liar! Forge shouts as they arrive. He can do more than hurt him.

He begins to cast his spell, aided by Storm’s lightning. Together, they create the gateway needed to banish the Adversary. However, the Adversary gloats that Forge has no means to force him through the gate.

Spiral’s magic buys them some grace, but the Adversary gloats that Forge cannot banish him forever without nine human souls freely given. Forge finds the solution… that he only needs to banish him for long enough for Roma to regain control. Then she will exile him as she sees fit. Forge uses his own life force and soul to drive the Adversary back.

The portal is closed, and Roma is freed, the old order restored. Additionally, in the sunlight, the Hulk turns once more to Bruce Banner, who doesn’t recall what happened.

Stonewall arrests him for the murder of Freedom Force agents Blob, Super Sabre, Pyro and Avalanche. What has he done? Bruce moans while the few surviving X-Men Storm, Colossus and Rogue mourn for their lost friends and loves.

Characters:
Hulk

Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Longshot, Rogue, Psylocke, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Madelyne Pryor
Forge

Avalanche, Blob, Crimson Commando, Destiny, Mystique, Spiral, Stonewall, Supersabre (all Freedom Force)

Clay Quartermain, Rick Jones

Roma
Adversary

Notes:
The story is based on Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #340 and Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #225-227.

Actually, a plot point in the original story was that Forge couldn’t use his own soul, as he had to cast the spell.

Issue Summary written by: Ruth


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