|X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #48|| || |
Issue Date: July 2003
untitled (1st story)
Control (2nd story)
First Story: Bruce Jones (writer), Richard Isanove (painter)
Second Story: Chuck Austen (writer), Chris Cross (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist)
Virtual Calligraphy‘s Randy Gentile (letterer), Stephanie Moore (assistant editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)
Wolverine goes to the Savage Land to help his friend Dr. MacKenzie and Shanna the She-Devil find out what is killing the plants and animals of the Savage Land, and after the two argue about various things including Shanna and her husband Ka-Zar’s recent marital spat, they discover it is not a new type of Raptor responsible for the disease, like they at first suspected. When the doctor and Shanna succumb to the disease too, Wolverine discovers that only he, Shanna’s wolf Sheba and MacKenzie’s dog Bingo remain. He deduces that Sheba is in season and when the animals bred, Bingo’s flea crossed over to the wolf, creating a new species carrying the disease. Being the parents to it, both animals were immune to it, and Logan was too, thanks to his healing factor.
After restoring Shanna’s health with a serum derived from Sheba’s blood, Logan and Shanna make up and he returns to America, suggesting she call Ka-Zar and sort out their problems.
Currently in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Mystique is visited by Nick Fury who comes to her with an interesting proposition. She regains her freedom is she accepts to undergo a dangerous mission for them. She is to get near the sadistic leader of an Arab country, replace him and expose his schemes in front of the United Nations. Mystique accepts and to make sure she does as told, is forced to swallow a capsule that attaches to her intestinal wall and will kill her within a week unless it is removed. Mystique gets the dictator’s attention in the guise of a beautiful female, and after killing him in his sleep takes his place. Everything works according to plan, but she doesn’t return to S.H.I.E.L.D. for having the capsule removed. Not trusting them, and fearing to be locked away again, Mystique performs the operation on her stomach herself, despite the incredible pain it causes. Ironically though, Fury was bluffing and the capsule would have dissolved harmlessly.
A helicopter lands in a snow-covered gully, and leaves just as it came, after dropping off Logan, the X-Man also known as Wolverine. Logan makes his way through the snow, and recalls the urgent message he received. The message was from a Doctor James MacKenzie, who told Logan that he requires his assistance urgently, that the Savage Land is in grave danger, and that it is crucial Logan joins him as soon as he can. The Doctor reveals that there is a plague, and if it cannot be stopped, all of his scientific work and perhaps the Savage Land itself may be lost. Logan comes to a clearing, where the snow becomes jungle, and surveys the beauty that is the Savage Land, a prehistoric world today, before him.
Later, at the camp of Doctor MacKenzie, the doctor is petting his dog, Bingo, while explaining to Wolverine that he doesn’t know what is killing the Savage Land. MacKenzie tells Logan that at first he thought the disease to be a variant of the Dutch Elm disease, but none of his antidotes have proven effective. As the Doctor goes to his makeshift laboratory, Wolverine tells him that he is not a botanist, but MacKenzie cuts Logan off, and explains that the animals are dying as quickly as the plants, and that last week he found a footprint. MacKenzie picks something off the table and holds it up to Logan - it’s a cast he made of the footprint.
Wolverine asks if it is a raptor print, and MacKenzie tells him that it is none like he has seen before, though it is plausible that it is a new species, carrying this new disease which is unknown to them. The Doctor tells Logan that eco-systems are a delicate balance, that when larger species decline, the smaller ones run rampant, causing defoliation, which means that a weakened plant system is open to other diseases too. Looking at the raptor print, Logan asks Doctor MacKenzie if he wants him to track the creature and kill it? The Doctor frowns slightly, and tells Logan that he can kill the raptor if he must, but they need a sample of its blood to test, as the answer could be right under their noses. The Doctor casually tells Logan that he will need a trained ecologist to go with him, and to try the tent next door. He suggests Logan introduce himself, as he has to keep an eye on a Petrie dish.
Wolverine complies and pulls apart the opening to one of the nearby tents, asking if anyone is in. Suddenly, a large white wolf leaps out of the tent, startling Logan. Wolverine unsheathes his claws and turns to face the wolf. Talking to no one in particular, he asks if they have a thing for German Shepards here. Wolverine is kicked in the head by someone who tells the animal, calling it Sheba, to heel, before telling Logan that she is a Dire Wolf. Logan sits on the ground and looks at the minimalist dressed animal skin wearing woman standing before him. Hands on hips, the elegant jungle woman tells Logan that Sheba has saved her life on repeated occasions. Wolverine says he doesn’t blame the wolf, then starts to introduce himself. With a slight sting in her voice, Shanna tells Logan she knows who he is.
With Bingo at his side, Doctor MacKenzie tells Shanna to meet her hunting partner – “Mr. Logan”. Walking towards the Doctor, Shanna complains that Logan smells like the city, and adds that ‘he doesn’t look all that bright’. MacKenzie proclaims that Logan is the best tracker alive ‘…next to you of course’ he adds as to not upset Shanna further, and tells the duo he thinks they will get along ‘just famously!’ Jokingly, Logan asks the Doctor if he has had his eyes checked lately, and mocking Logan, Shanna says ‘C’mon, Badger or Muskrat or whatever it is you’re called, time is wasting’.
Leaving the campsite, with Sheba, Wolverine says to Shanna ‘So where’s the famous Mister Shanna today?’ Shanna tells Wolverine assuming he is referring to her husband, Ka-Zar, he is away in New York at the moment. Wolverine asks her if they had a marital spat, and mocking her, says ‘He smell like the city too at present?’ Before the woman sometimes known as the She-Devil can reply, a medium sized dinosaur leaps out from above them, screeching as it goes.
Logan unsheathes his claws, and pops a set through the dinosaurs’ mouth. Shanna grabs Logan by the shoulder and tells him that he didn’t have to kill it. Wolverine reminds her that the dinosaur was going to eat her, and asks what she wanted him to do – ‘yell at it?’ Shanna announces that the dinosaur is actually a female, and that it is starving, like the rest of the wildlife, before reminding Logan that they are trying to save the fauna, not add to the deficit. Shanna supposes that the dinosaur’s mate will be around somewhere, and as the dinosaur in question approaches Shanna, Logan asks her how she would have handled the situation.
Knowing the dinosaur is approaching, Shanna grabs a vine an leaps onto the back of the approaching dinosaur. Logan tells her that where he comes from, what she just did is known as ‘catching the tiger by the tail’. Shanna tells him that the dinosaur is only interested in being with its mate. With the dinosaur in her control, Logan tells Shanna that it is only interested in eating its mate. ‘So speaketh the trained zoologist, Logan’ Shanna mocks. Wolverine puts his face close up to the jaws of the dinosaur and makes a bet with Shanna, for fifty cents, that the dinosaur eats is mate. Logan taunts her to let go, unless she is afraid…Shanna lets the vine go, and the dinosaur rushes over to its mate and devours her. Shanna strides off ahead of Logan and says ‘Sorry. I don’t carry loose change!’ Wolverine tells her that he noticed, but would be glad to help search!
An insect feeds off some fruit. A small dinosaur extends its long tongue, latching onto the fly-like insect. A claw goes through the fruit, and through the neck of the dinosaur. The fly’s wings are pulled off by the dinosaur who pulls back his tongue. Logan extends the dinosaur and fruit on his claw to Shanna, and she just asks him what he thinks he is doing. Wolverine tells her it is lunch, reminding her they haven’t eaten all day, and jokingly asks her if she wants fries with hers.
Logan and Shanna sit across from each other on large tree roots, with a small campfire in between them. Logan holds up his lizard lunch and calling Shanna ‘Babe’ tells her not to worry, as they will find the creature soon. In a sardonic tone, Shanna asks Logan how he deduces that, and with a mouthful of food, Logan tells Shanna that he can smell him. Shanna does not seem to impressed and asks Logan how he can differentiate a species which no one else has even seen yet. Her response from Logan is that he doesn’t smell like the others. Exasperated, Shanna looks up and sarcastically says ‘Thank God you’ve got a nose’. She tells Logan they should get moving, as this is not a place to be when the sun goes down.
Logan asks Shanna what she means by that, and Shanna tells him, as if he were a school child, that the Earth rotates every – Wolverine cuts her off and tells her he is talking about the joke about his nose. He asks her if she means, “Thank God you got a nose, ‘cause you sure ain’t got much brains”? Shanna walks off ahead of Logan and tells him that he said it, not her. Wolverine calls Shanna “Miss Playmate of the Jungle” and starts to say something, but Shanna puts a finger up to his face and tells Logan that he should listen, and tells him to put his nose where his mouth it.
Logan sniffs a couple of times and announces that he has discovered the dinosaur they are looking for on the other side of this bush. Shanna sees it and calls it magnificent, Wolverine sarcastically says it is adorable. Sheba starts to growl and leaps over the thicket running towards the raptor. Shanna calls after her pet, to no avail, and the red and green dinosaur rushes towards what it hopes will be its next meal. Logan unsheathes his claws and leaps ahead of Sheba, running straight towards the raptor, when he reaches it, Logan spears his claws through the dinosaur. Shanna calls out to him, telling him not to kill it, but it is too late. Shanna runs over to Logan and highly mad she tells him that he just killed an uncatalogued variety, perhaps even the first of its kind. Wolverine adds that it would be the first to destroy all the other species, along with the jungle.
Shanna starts waving a finger at Wolverine and tells him that they don’t know that, and reminds him they came to test a theory, not kill it. She starts blurting out things and asking Logan if he has any idea of the enormity of his stupidity, while she is still blabbering Logan, never one to let a strong red-headed female get away from him, pulls Shanna towards him and kisses her mouth. Shanna is surprised to say the least, and after pulling away from the X-Man she wipes her mouth and tells him that if he tries it again she will kill him. Logan tells her that a simple slap would have done. Shanna asks him what he thinks he is doing and, shredding his already torn shirt, Logan tells her he is testing a theory, and reminds Shanna that it is late, suggesting she get back to her patient.
(twenty minutes later)
Logan and Sheba the wolf sit watching the fiery sky become night, while Shanna sits with her eyes to a microscope. She proclaims that the sample of the raptor blood Wolverine extracted from the dinosaur is clean. She asks Logan if he is listening to her, and looking up at the sky, Logan just tells her that it eliminates Doctor MacKenzie’s theory. He wonders what is killing the jungle, and Shanna says ‘Besides yourself you mean?’ Shanna the She-Devil walks over to Logan and Sheba and tells Logan that she is going to report the incident to Doctor MacKenzie in detail, which will mean Logan will be on the first plane back to New York.
Logan turns to Shanna and says ‘Like Ka-Zar?’ Shanna asks him what he is talking about, and Logan tells Shanna that he is supposed to be on a tracking assignment, not a sabbatical for the female psyche. In her usual dry tone of voice Shanna asks Wolverine what he is getting it, and cutting her off, Logan tells Shanna that when a woman like she is grabbed roughly and kissed she usually kisses back, Logan adds, unless she feeling guilty about slapping someone else recently…. Shanna has got up from the ground and started to walk away angrily, and Wolverine asks her if she is letting her personal life color her scientific detachment, or better still, her judgment. Shanna shouts back to Logan that she doesn’t know what he is talking about, and tells him he is out of his depth. He tells her that he isn’t the one drowning.
Later at the campsite, Logan, Shanna and Sheba run in when they see Doctor MacKenzie sprawled out over the ground, with his makeshift laboratory strewn around him. Shanna and Wolverine get the Doctor into a bed, and after examining him, Shanna tells Logan that it isn’t the Doctor’s heart, but that the disease has finally spread to humans. Wolverine is playing with Sheba and Bingo, while Shanna, looking into a microscope again proclaims that it is the biggest catastrophe since the Black Plague, and that they have no solutions.
Suddenly, Shanna starts to stumble, and breathlessly says that there must be an answer somewhere, before falling of her chair and hitting the ground. Logan rushes over to her, and kneeling over her, Shanna tells him to tell Ka-Zar that she loves him. Logan tells her she can tell him herself, that she is going to be fine. Shanna narrows her eyes and either mockingly or with a hint of resentment in her voice, she says to Wolverine ‘Poor little mutant…all alone now…all alone…’
Bingo the dog is tied up and trying to reach Sheba. Wolverine is getting it the dog some food, and tells it that only they remain. Wolverine puts it down to him being a mutant, but wonders what the animals’ excuses are. Logan can see the way Bingo is trying to get to Sheba, and tells Bingo to ‘forget it, she’ll go right for your crotch. Exactly like most broads’. Suddenly, Logan thinks he may be onto something, remembering that Shanna said it was the biggest catastrophe since the Black Plague, and Doctor MacKenzie said the answer is probably right under their noses. Logan searches Bingo’s fur, and then looks into the microscope. He figures Bingo and Sheba have not been trying to kill each other, because Sheba is in season! Wolverine sees what he was looking for – a flea from Bingo!
(twenty-four hours later)
Wolverine and Shanna are walking side by side through the campsite. She tells Logan that that was very lateral thinking he did, and asks him how he managed. Logan says ‘You mean how did a “stupid mutant” manage?’ Shanna starts to apologize, and Wolverine interrupts, saying that Bingo and Sheba were the only animals not affected by the disease, and he couldn’t work out why.
Wolverine tells Shanna that she mentioned the Black Plague, and he remembers reading somewhere that it wasn’t caused by rats, but the fleas they carried. He tells her that Doctor MacKenzie’s dog supplied the flea from America, which then infected Sheba. When the two dogs bred, they produced a new species of wolf-dog puppies…Shanna understands what Wolverine is getting at, and carries on for him, saying that the puppies in turn produced a new species of mutated flea, that they blindly let lose on the Savage Land. She adds that since the dog and wolf were the parents, they had a natural immunity to the flea virus. Shanna guesses that Logan drew blood from Sheba, and Wolverine tells Shanna that he then injected her and the Doctor with the wolf’s immunity. Shanna tells Logan that it was a brilliant idea, a hell of a dangerous long shot at that too. Jokingly, Logan tells her that if she starts howling at the moon, they will know he screwed up. Doctor MacKenzie walks out of his tent and tells Logan that his helicopter is on the way.
Later, Wolverine and Shanna the She-Devil are traipsing through the arctic that borders on the Savage Land. Talking about the fight she had with her husband, Shanna tells Logan that it was trivial, like all marital fights, but regrets that she slapped him. As the helicopter nears, Shanna adds that she should not have let the guilt of her actions blind her during her professional work. She tells Logan she was careless and stupid, and apologizes.
Logan tells her she is forgiven and adds that Ka-Zar has probably already done the same, and suggests to Shanna that she call him when she gets back to the campsite. The chopper lands and Shanna thanks Logan for his help, and he tells her that it has been educational. Before Logan turns and walks away, Shanna tells him she has one more thing - and slaps him hard. Logan rubs his cheek and says ‘Now that’s the old Shanna I heard about!’ Shanna stands sometime, until Logan’s helicopter fades from view.
Nick Fury stares ahead of him, out of his one good eye, the other covered by a patch with the American eagle on it. He says ‘So you’re a mutant’. ‘That’s the rumor’ is the answer he gets from the beautiful blue skinned woman in question…Mystique. Fury states that Raven is a shapeshifter and can morph into anyone she likes, an exact copy. Mystique says it is like looking in a mirror. The two haven’t blinked at all during this interrogation, and Fury tells Mystique to show him. Mystique smiles and complies, saying that clothing is tough to do, so she will just do the eye patch, and once fully morphed into the burly S.H.I.E.L.D. leader, she mocks him, saying ‘Of course, mine is still an eye, which makes me a better version of you.’
Fury, along with several other S.H.I.E.L.D. officers just looks at the replica of himself through the high-tech security window of Mystique’s prison cell. He grits his teeth and tells Mystique that pushing buttons and manipulation is her thing, playing that she is the one in control – even when she is not. Mystique, still looking like Fury looks away. The real Fury asks Mystique if she wants control, freedom to manipulate people again. He tells the shapeshifter that he is prepared to give her that – for a price. Mystique shifts back into her most recognizable blue form, and hands still cuffed, tells Fury she is listening.
In a private room later on, Fury tells Mystique that there is a regime he wants toppled. Mystique asks if he wants her to take out the leader. Fury tells her that if it were that easy he wouldn’t need her help. Instead, he wants her to become the leader of said regime. Mystique says that it will not be a problem, and asks Fury how she will get close to him. The Commander tells her that that is the easy part, as all she needs to do is be attractive, and willing. Raven asks what the hard part is, and Fury tells her that her assignment will get progressively tougher. He says that he doesn’t care if she actually seduces the leader or not – Mystique cuts in, saying that she doesn’t mind that part. Fury replies he had heard that might be the case, and warns Mystique that if she does go that route to be careful as the man is the worst kind of sadist. Mystique says bluntly that she can deal with that.
Mystique is in the country of this leader Fury wants removed. As the leader parades down the street surrounded by his guards a woman in the crowd uncovers her face from behind her burka. She smiles, and catches the eye of the leader. The two end up in bed, and the woman, Mystique in disguise, holds a whip, a cat of nine tails, above the sleeping leader…
Back in the room, Fury tells Mystique he had heard about “that” about Mystique too. He tells Raven to keep in mind that many of the leaders’ mistresses end up in garbage heaps with no blood left in them. Mystique grins wickedly and asks Fury if he is trying to scare her. Fury looks out of his one eye sternly and tells Raven that he doesn’t kid himself into thinking she can be frightened, that’s why, he continues telling Mystique, that she wont be the least bit nervous when he tells her to take this. He holds up a capsule to Mystique. Still cuffed, Raven reaches for the pill and asks what it is. Fury tells her that it is his guarantee she will do the job.
Mystique’s pupil-less eyes look at the pill, as Fury tells her that it will imbed itself in her intestinal wall. He tells Mystique that if she does not come back within a week to have it properly irradiated it will dissolve and enter her bloodstream, which will lead to a rather slow and painful death. Fury smiles and tells Raven it is just a guarantee that she will actually do the job once he sets her free. Mystique asks Fury what the job is, and he says that they want her to replace the leader of the regime, becoming him completely. Mystique says ‘Handsome, for me…that’s the easy part!’ and Fury says ‘Fine. Let’s get to the hard part’. He says that the leader of the regime is going to make a speech at the gathering of UN delegates and weapons inspectors, imitating the leader, Fury suggests some of the things the leader will say.
Mystique is in bed, with the leader whipped to death, covered in blood and lacerations to his body. Mystiques’ form shifts, from a woman into the leader himself. Disguised as the leader, Mystique goes to the UN meeting.
Back in America, Fury is watching the surveillance with his S.H.I.E.L.D. associates, and joking about how great it would be if “the leader” got up in front of all those people on television and said “ ‘Yeah, I’m building nuclear bombs in the garage…”’ and other things to that effect. Standing on the podium, Mystique as the leader welcomes the people of the UN, and asking them to take their seats so “he” can get right to this. Someone in the crowd whispers to the man next to him that they may only get two hours of “How great I am” instead of five before he gets to the point. Watching the scene from the video feed, Fury says to Mystique, whether she can hear him or not, to make it convincing and not rush into things. At his side, Dum-Dum Dugan asks Fury if they are even sure it is Mystique.
Posing as the leader, Mystique tells those listening that “he” spoke with God this morning about the destiny of their great nation. The man in the crowd complains, and “the leader” tells the crowd that God surprised him with his answer, by saying that he will return our nation to greatness, not by leading, but by exposing those who would bring their holy land to ruin. The man in the crowd rolls his eyes and says “America the great Satan” mocking the leader. The “leader” extends his arm pointing to his second in command, and exposes him for murder. The second in command is as shocked as the man in the crowd, while Fury smiles, and tells Raven to get to the juicy stuff.
Mystique as the leader still, tells the crowd that there are videos of his second in command presiding over the massacres at Mundawi, which are currently being delivered to all the major new networks. The second in command looks shocked and tells the leader that he cant, reminding him that he is in some of those tapes. “The leader” says that it is all by the will of God, for the betterment of their holy nation. “He” adds that in his hand he has a detailed list of nuclear and biological weapons facilities they have refused the UN access to.
The second in command points his gun at “the leader” angrily saying he will not allow it. Mystique adds that there are also items of interest concerning “his” son and other members of the cabinet, and as the second in command unleashes gunfire, Mystique, still in the form of the leader, dodges out of the way, and pulls out a weapon of her own, firing back, killing several guards nearby. Winking at the camera “the leader” says ‘By the holy god and the power he invested in me, I hereby end this conference. Thank you so much for attending’.
With that, “the leader” leaps over the crowd, and the second in command, incapacitated on the stage still, unleashes fire, ordering everyone able to kill him. Mystique safely dodges the bullets before ending up in the crowd, and gives the man from the crowd earlier a package, before sprinting out, and being shot at from all directions. On the way out, Mystique grabs two men and with them, leaps out of a window, all three plummet to the ground. A crowd gathers below, and from above, someone yells out to them to stop the person in the cloak. A security person taps a cloaked figure on the shoulder and pulls her around. The woman shows her shock, before being let go, and disappearing amongst the crowd.
Afterwards, it turns out that the man in the crowd that Mystique gave a package to was her contact, and she jumped out of the window with him so he could escape too and get back to Fury. Fury asks the man if Raven managed to get out, and he tells Fury that he is sure of it, that the soldiers were looking for a man, and she had already transformed. Fury asks why then she didn’t make it back to the EVAC, and the other man suggests she decided to take her chances in the “big bad world”.
Fury says she wouldn’t have with that pill inside her, as it isn’t the kind of chance Mystique likes to take. The other man suggests Mystique thought Fury was bluffing, and Fury says she may have figured on it, but never counted on it. The other man says there is no doctor within a hundred miles who would – Fury cuts him off and says it doesn’t matter because Mystique likes better odds, she has more control, and that some way, she will find a way to beat him on this one.
Elsewhere, Mystique rubs her stomach with a desinfective, and pulls out a scalpel. Nervous, she puts it to her stomach, and cries from the pain as she opens her own stomach up. It doesn’t matter though, she finds the capsule, and blood covered, she smiles and pulls it out.
Shanna, the She-Devil / Shanna O’Hara Plunder
Dr. James MacKenzie
Sheba, Shanna’s pet wolf
Bingo, Dr. MacKenzie’s pet dog
Dum-Dum Dugan, Nick Fury and other S.H.I.E.L.D. personal
leader of a foreign regime
his second in command
miscellaneous security and military personal
members of the UN
The story is in memory of J.P Isanove, 1942-2003.
Shanna first appeared in her own self titled mini-series, before marrying Ka-Zar and becoming a mainstay supporting character of his own books. Despite the X-Men having been to the Savage Land several times, Logan has never met Shanna before.
This story possible takes place between Uncanny X-Men #406, where Mystique was sucked into Abyss‘ inner void, and Mystique #1, where she was again working as a free agent.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
X-Men Legends Vol. 4: Hated & Feared (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)