|Wolverine (2nd series) # 44|| || |
Issue Date: Late August 1991
Story Title: Babes at Sea
Staff: Conceived by: Peter David (writer), Larry Stroman (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief), Marc Silvestri (page 1)
As Wolverine thinks back on his recent altercation with Sabretooth, his mind wanders back to when he faced another creature. It stared out with him having nightmares about a baby being chased by a monstrous creature. By fate, he was brought to the same ship in his dreams. When he boarded the ship, the nightmares continued. Eventually, he meets three pregnant ladies, Gretchen, Rachel, and Brenda. Shortly upon meeting them, Rachel is killed in the pool by the creature. Wolverine takes it upon himself to protect the ladies and find the creature responsible. However, later that night, Brenda is killed in the elevator by the same creature. Wolverine faces the creature again but loses track of him. He then comes to the realization that the creature is after one of the ladies babies, he just doesn’t know which one. In her room, Gretchen is attacked by the creature as well. Wolverine makes the save and after an altercation, drives the creature into the ship’s propellers, killing it. Later, Wolverine visits Gretchen and tells her that he thinks her baby will be bigger than either one of them. Gretchen agrees.
In the middle of the night, Wolverine is perched on a rock located in Central Park overlooking a pond. Even though Wolverine thinks it is a nice pond, he knows that he and water don’t mix. It’s given him more than his share of surprises. The last time he went for a swim he found Sabretooth. He also remembers another time, another surprise…
A dream: an unborn baby is calling out to Wolverine to help him, to save them, to save them all. As the baby floats towards an open mouth filled with sharp teeth it asks Wolverine to not leave them alone in the dark. As Wolverine floats towards the baby, he sees a cruise ship below him. He tries to scream, but all of a sudden, he wakes up.
The dream happens again and again and again. A baby is screaming in his head. Huge, flashing teeth, and water, and images of a ship are also a part of the dream. His lungs always fill up with liquid and he can’t even scream. Then he wakes up, every night, for a week, the same thing. Except this time, there’s one little difference. This time, he’s waking up in a cramped, dark cabin. All because three days ago, he just had to walk past the harbor, and see a cruise ship preparing to set sail. A cruise ship matching the one in his dream, all the way down to the registry number. Naturally, he had to book passage. Now he’s three days into a weeklong cruise to nowhere and he keeps waiting for somebody to tell him what the heck he’s doing there. He can’t shake the feeling that somebody’s trying to.
On the deck of the ship, a plain-clothed Wolverine thinks to himself that it’s a perfect morning. The sun is glowing down, nursing the waves, the birth of a new day. He then stops himself in mid-thought: he’s got babies on the brain. All of a sudden, Wolverine spins around and looks up. Seeing nothing, he walks away confused. He thought he saw something up on the stack. He figures he must be losing it. However, something is up there, unbeknownst to him. Something with sharp teeth.
As he continues to walk down the deck, he passes by three ladies that are discussing the naming of children. One of the ladies tells the others that they can’t name their child Sherlock, for he’ll never live it down. One of the other ladies replies that she thinks it’s a great name. The third chimes in that she’s going to name hers something simple; life is difficult enough. The second lady says to the others that they should ask an impartial observer and proceed to ask Wolverine what he thinks of Sherlock as a name for a boy. Wolverine replies that it depends. Do they have something against boys? The third lady points out to the others that she was right.
Wolverine takes another look at the ladies and asks them if they are preggers, for they don’t look like it. One of the ladies informs him that none of them do, yet all of them are. They have the same obstetrician. That’s where they met and, since they all had vacation time coming, they figured they should take it while they still look good in bathing suits. Wolverine extends his hand and introduces himself to the three ladies as Logan. When he asks them their names he is told that they are Brenda, Rachel and Gretchen. Logan asks them if their husbands mind them just taking off? However, when Gretchen extends her hand to shake, Logan notices that they aren’t wearing any wedding rings. They respond that that goes along with not being married. Logan mentions that three single moms-to-be, it’s the modern world.
As Logan goes to leave, he tells the ladies to take care and get tanned. At that point, Rachel tells the other ladies that she’s going to get wet and asks them if they want to join her. Brenda asks if she means going swimming and get her suit wet? She can forget it.
Suddenly, Wolverine realizes that something is wrong, there was something up on the stack. His senses can’t be tricked. Before he can finish his thought, however, he hears screams coming from the pool. As he makes his way over to the pool, one of the travelers screams out that the pool water is all red! Another traveler points out that somebody is down there and drowning. He mentions that he’s going in. Wolverine tells him no he’s not; he is. When he jumps into the pool, he realizes that the water isn’t just red, it’s blood red. And the person isn’t just drowning; she’s dead. He also notices that the thing that did it is crouching at the bottom of the pool. He can’t see its form, except in the shape in which it’s displacing water. It has the shape of a very large creature.
The very large creature comes at him, slicing through the water like a shark. Wolverine pops his claws and attempts to respond in kind, but he’s moving in slow motion, like a dream. Then, the creature grabs his wrist and it feels like the heated pool water has just dropped down to freezing. Before it manages to get a solid grip, he’s able to slip loose and shoot towards the victim. There’s just enough time for it to register that it’s Rachel and then the creature is right on top of him. Wolverine ignores the sharp teeth that are coming at him and takes a swipe at the creature’s chest. It’s not his best shot, but it’s good enough. The creature connects with a punch and leaves. When it does, a baby’s voice tells him that the creature wants him and that he’s trying to find him. He begs Logan to stop him.
With the creature gone for now, Wolverine grabs a hold of Rachel’s body and pulls it out of the pool. When he reaches the surface, he asks the onlookers where it went and if any of them saw it. When all of the onlookers ask him what they should have seen, Wolverine tells them to forget it. As Wolverine lays Rachel on the deck of the ship, Brenda calls out for somebody to help her, to give her CPR. Logan informs her that CPR doesn’t do much good when your jugular has been severed.
As the ship’s crew attends to the deceased, Logan takes care of the living, Brenda and Gretchen. They sob on his shoulder and tell him they appreciate him trying to help their friend. All he can do is nod and screen them out completely while extending his senses to the maximum, making sure nothing is lurking in the hallway. Just as he’ll check their cabins to make sure they’re safe too. He then informs both of the ladies that he wants them to stay in their cabins and not come out until they’ve caught whoever did this. Brenda asks him how it happened for she doesn’t understand any of this. Logan replies that neither does he, but he plans on expanding his understanding.
For most of the day, Wolverine lurked around Brenda and Gretchen’s cabins, just in case the thing is thinking of making a play for them. Now with night having fallen, they’ll have to see if the two resident ship’s prowlers can come to terms. After he has changed into his brown and tan costume he checks the engine room, the hold and the lower deck to no avail. He has heard idle chat among the crew while he has been looking around. The way they’re painting it, Rachel slit her own throat in the pool. They couldn’t find the razor, but suicide makes it easier for them to continue their good time than murder. He then decides to double check on Brenda and Gretchen – it’s one of his gut hunches.
When Wolverine makes his way to Brenda and Gretchen’s cabin, he finds Gretchen standing outside of it calling out for Brenda. She stops calling to ask where she is when she sees Wolverine coming down the hallway. She tells him not to hurt her. Wolverine replies that if was going to hurt her, she’d be dead. Gretchen recognizes him as one of those mutants… Wolverine informs her his name and asks where her friend is. Gretchen tells him that he doesn’t know. She didn’t answer her knock and she had a spare key to her cabin. She doesn’t know where she is.
Over in another area of the ship, Brenda is getting on an elevator. As she does, she thinks to herself that she couldn’t stand being cooped up in that cabin anymore – it got to feel like a coffin. All of the scuttlebutt that Rachel killed herself may be true. It’s not like she knew her all that well. Besides, it makes more sense than that some unseen “thing” killed her. Even if that were true, there’s plenty of people up in the dining hall. She’ll be safer there than sitting in her cabin. In horror films, people only get killed when they’re alone.
No sooner does she finish that thought as a giant hand crashes through the roof of the elevator and grabs her, pulling her towards his gigantic teeth. Brenda can only scream.
When Wolverine hears the screams, he heads in the direction from where they are coming from. As he runs past the other passengers, they wonder what the scream was and who is this nut coming down the hallway. When Wolverine reaches the elevator doors, he thinks to himself that some people stand around asking pointless questions while others find the answers. Once he gets the doors pried open, he catches a scent. It is one that he knows as well as his own. It is the smell of death; death with teeth. He then notices the hole in the roof of the elevator and leaps up into it. As he does, he knows that he’s going into the jaws of death.
When he gets up there, he is in shock. He finds the dead body of Brenda. This time, he didn’t just kill her; he gutted her. Maybe to play it safe, maybe he was hungry, maybe he just enjoyed it. Suddenly, the answers don’t matter, just her blood and the blood of the thing that’s going for a ride atop another elevator car. As Wolverine climbs the elevator cables and enters the pit of the monster, he stepped in Brenda’s blood. When he leaves, he’s going to be bathed in his.
On top of the elevator, Wolverine recognizes that the creature is big and quick. As soon as he gets close enough, the monster high-tails it to another passing elevator car. Giving chase, Wolverine is determined to not give up. The monster can run from one side of the ship to the other if he wants. He can run all the way to hell but he’ll still have him on his tail. When Wolverine lands on the next car, it jolts it to a stop, much to the chagrin of the passengers inside. On top of that elevator, Wolverine faces off against his nemesis. His senses paint a picture of him for him, his nose gives him his stench. His ears give him the gurgling, ugly laugh but his eyes still tell him nothing. Even though he continues to nail the creature cleanly, he can tell that he can be hurt. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be trying to avoid his claws.
Just then, the monster grabs Wolverine’s arm and uses his claws to slice the elevator cable. Instinctively, Wolverine grabs hold of the severed cable above him and the cable connected to the elevator below him. At this point, he can’t tell which is screaming louder, his muscles or the people in the elevator car. He then realizes that now will be the moment that his saw-toothed friend will probably… He isn’t able to finish his thought, as the creature connects with a slash to Wolverine’s face. This causes him to let go of the cable above him, dragging him to the bottom of the elevator shaft. As he falls, he knows that this is going to hurt.
When the elevator reaches the bottom, Wolverine hears the shipboard security raising a ruckus but all he can hear is that floating ghost baby again. At that point, two things become clear to him. First, one of the three pregnant women he met has someone in her belly his sparring partner wants to stop from being born, except he doesn’t know which one it is, so he’s knocking them all off. Second, floating ghost babies really get on his nerves after a while.
When the ship’s security pries open the door, they discover the gruesome sight of two dead people in the elevator car, killed in the crash. As Wolverine jumps off of the elevator car and starts to make his way down the hall, he informs them that there’s one more dead person hanging in the shaft. He recommends that they send someone with a strong stomach to get her. He then adds that two of their three elevator cars are broken. He finishes with, other than that, it’s been a great day. The security guards grab a hold of him and tell him to stop. Wolverine pushes them away with ease and tells them that he doesn’t have time for this. That thing’s already nailed two women and he’s not going to get the third.
In her cabin, Gretchen is looking out of her window. She notices that there appears to be a storm coming up. She thinks to herself that it suits the night. People running up and down the hall, screaming, shouting. She hopes Brenda is okay. She adds that she knows she won’t be getting any sleep toni… She stops her thought as she sees something reflected in the mirror. Just then, the creature burst through the cabin wall. Gretchen attempts to run away from it and offers to give him anything. The creature tells her to give him her child. No sooner does the creature finish saying that, as Wolverine crashes through the cabin door.
Facing the creature, Wolverine mentions to it that he heard him talk, he didn’t talk before. The creature asks what was there to say? As Wolverine leaps towards the creature, he says how about goodbye? When Wolverine attaches himself to the creature, it tells him that he has no idea what he’s fighting. This is a battle that’s been going on since the dawn of time. Others have tried to kill him. Some even succeeded but only for a few paltry decades at a time. It adds that victories are transient, whereas he is eternal.
Eventually, Wolverine and his nemesis fall off the ship and into the ocean below. As Wolverine continues to fight, he thinks to himself that he had enough time to take a deep breath before going under. He assumes that the monster he is fighting doesn’t have that problem. All of the creature’s talk of being immortal and ages old doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care if he’s fighting something as old as the Hyborian Hills or even one of C’Thulu’s pals. All that matters is that the creature is still retreating from his claws which means that he can be cut, which means he can die, which means he can kill him. That is the good new. The bad news is, he’s running out of air and time. He knows that if the teeth or the air doesn’t get him, the backwash and the propellers will.
At that moment, Wolverine remembers the props, the ship’s screws. Its blades make his look like cheap Ginsu knives. Wolverine knows that, if he doesn’t like his claws, he’ll just adore the screws. With that, Wolverine delivers a blow to the creature that sends him into the ship’s propellers. As the creature is chopped to pieces, Wolverine swims away. While he does, he thinks to himself that he likes it: Some creature out of a horror novel, going after children gets chopped to pieces by a turn of the screw.
The next morning, Wolverine, dressed in plainclothes, visits Gretchen in her cabin. When he does, he asks her how she is holding up and how the baby is. Gretchen replies that she is doing okay and that the baby is alive and kicking. In fact, she felt him kick for the first time when Logan entered the room. She then starts to tell him that she heard that Brenda and Rachel were… Logan stops her and confirms her fears but tells her that it’s over now. Gretchen asks him how he knows, to which Logan replies that he just does. He then tells her that he is one of those guys who has a real, firsthand idea of just how big the universe is. He adds that he has a feeling that the baby she’s carrying in her is going to be bigger than both of them. Gretchen, smiling, tells him that she thinks he is right.
Brenda, Rachel, and Gretchen
Various people on a cruise (all unnamed)
Various members of the ships’ crew (all unnamed)
C’Thulu is a fictional being created by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
Essential Wolverine Vol. 2 (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Wendigo (David M.)