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Wolverine (2nd series) #136

Issue Date: March 1999

Story Title: Trust

Staff: Erik Larsen (story), Eric Larsen & Eric Stephenson (script), Jeff Matsuda (pencils), Jonathan Sibal (inks), Jason Wright (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description:
Aboard Prison World, Logan and Aria are taken to a prisoner holding area and confronted by Torgo. After some tense interaction, Aria is taken to another location, while Torgo tells Logan about the time he spent with the Thing while they were prisoners of the Skrulls. Taking Logan back to the holding area, he leaves him alone with the rest of the inmates. Once there, the inmates don’t take kindly to Logan and proceed to attack him, until one of the aliens recognizes him as a member of the X-Men. From there, Logan unites them and they work on a plan to escape. In another section, Aria’s mind is transplanted back into her body and she is fitted with a power inhibitor. In the Collector’s chamber, he is informed of the situation by his assistant, a large electrical alien, and Torgo and he is not pleased. From up above, in their cell, Corsair and the Starjammers hear what is going on below them and determine that the Collector’s cause is just and that they must stop Wolverine if he tries to interfere with it.

Full Synopsis:
Far beyond the boundaries of our galaxy, there lies a world known only to those who call it home. A world so ingeniously crafted by its mortal makers that its nigh-impenetrable shields make it virtually impossible to find amidst the vastness of space. Though technically a world without a name, its inhabitants long ago christened the tiny orb Prison World. It’s there, in a small energy cell, that Christopher Summers, aka Corsair, and his fellow Starjammers ponder their fate.

Cuddling up next to Corsair, Hepzibah says to him that Raza has been gone a long time and she is getting worried. Corsair admits to her that he is getting worried too but they’ve been in worse binds than this one. They can’t… Ch’od cuts him off and tells him to hold that thought because someone’s coming. Entering the Collector’s chambers, his guards toss Raza on the ground and tell the Collector that they have concluded their tests on him. The Collector tells them very good and orders them to place him back with the others. He believes their illustrious guests have been somewhat distressed by his absence.

Seeing Raza groggy down below, Ch’od bangs on the cell, only to be shocked with electrical volts. When Raza finally does make it up to the holding cell with the rest of his fellow Starjammers, Corsair asks him if he’s okay. Raza informs him that his mind does reel from their battery of tests but he is well. He adds that he fears he has returned from his excursion no more informed about the dire place ‘ere he left. The guards seem to have some knowledge of what this place is and why they are being held there, but their talk of it is scant. This he knows – something is amiss within the facility. The Collector’s elite patrol the corridors in force as though they are seeking something or someone.

I’m the best there is at what I do. That little saying has been run inta the ground on my behalf over the years. If you haven’t heard it, well you’re one o’ the lucky few ‘cause what I do isn’t particularly nice. As an X-Man, I use my hyper-senses and retractable claws to fight the good fight. Sometimes that involves hunting an’ worse. Doin’ those things has earned me a reputation in even the most remote parts of the Earth or, as this case would have it, the universe. This alien gal named Aria got wind o’ me an’ figured I’d be just th’ guy to give her an’ a few hundred thousand pals o’ hers a helpin’ hand. This prison planet has a mess o’ captives, none o’ whom had committed any crime, plan was to journey to this place and free the lot of ‘em. But it seems there’s no shortage of others anxious to keep them here. I have to wonder why… It’s a question my body-snatchin’ tour guide doesn’t have a good answer to. But I’ve got other concerns at this moment, like this oversized tin man.

As Torgo stares menacingly down at Logan, Logan tells him, rivet-head, that he can save threatenin’ poses for someone who cares. He’s mixed it up with more than his share o’ wind-up toys an’ lived to talk about it. All he’s doin’ is getting’ oil on his best fightin’ togs; he’s not scarin’ him a bit. Torgo says perhaps but it is him that stands before him now. He was bred for battle, he exists to fight. Controlling a lean, green alien, Aria tells Wolverine to stand down, he gains nothing by challenging him now. Torgo tells her nor does she by attempting to persist with her charade. He sees her for who she truly is as do the Sidrian hunters.

As they converge behind Logan, he asks Torgo to tell the Sidrian hunters to back off or does he need to start carvin’ them up. Torgo replies that provided he listens to reason, that is entirely unnecessary. He’ll make no further trouble as long as he retracts his claws. Putting his claws away, Logan tells him that’s a wise choice he just made. Torgo says, on the contrary, it is he who has chosen wisely. It’s better they speak about why he’s come there now before Aria has further opportunities to lead him astray.

At that moment, Aria angrily shoots Torgo in the chest and calls him a liar. Unfazed by her attack, Torgo tells her that after all this time, it seems she would realize that firing weapons at him only succeeds in making him angry. How can it be that she still has so little idea what she’s up against. He tells her that it’s time she ceases her pointless struggle, the Collector means her no harm. It’s in all of their best interests to do his bidding. Logan remembers the name of the Collector. He gave the Avengers a whole lotta grief more than a couple times. If Torgo’s tryin’ t’ get him an’ Aria t’ roll over an’ take it, he’s not gonna get far with him tossin’ that name around. Aria tells Torgo to save his breath. She’s long been immune to his icy rhetoric. It might be okay for him, but she refuses to be programmed like some unfeeling computer. Torgo says as ever, he finds that terribly unfortunate.

Just then, one of the Sidrian hunters blast Aria in the back. When Logan goes to help her, Torgo smacks him away like a fly and tells him that she’s not of his concern now. He adds that Aria has been merely rendered unconscious to prevent her from causing further harm to this facility and to herself. Logan says that he’s gotten more convincin’ yarns from zealots at th’ airport. He understands Aria better’n he might think. She inhabited his body back on Earth and, while she was knockin’ around in his head, he got a pretty good sense o’ what things are like on this prison planet o’ his.

Torgo tells him perhaps, but surely he’d be willing to concede that he was only privy to Aria’s understanding of the situation. Despite her efforts to the contrary, she has really learned next to nothing about what is truly going on there. Torgo then tells the Sidrian hunters to take the guard’s body to the cell holding Aria’s true form. One of the others will deal with her there. He then tells Logan that he can follow him. Upon hearing that, Logan asks what, no shackles or cuffs. That’s awfully brave o’ him. Torgo informs him there is no need for restraints so long as he cooperates.

In a command center, one of the controllers asks the Collector’s head assistant if they just saw that flash of light coming towards them. The short range scanners show an incoming vessel. The assistant replies that it’s not a ship and tells the controller to create a passage through the shields. This is urgent. They’ve been expecting news from a nearby quadrant and this is it. When the large electrified being lands, it tells the assistant that they were almost too weak to make it back. They desperately need to regain their strength and renew their electrical vitality. Watching the interaction between the electrical creature and the Collector’s assistant, the controller thinks to himself that she said she was expecting news. From her tone, they would suspect she’s anticipating something bad. If only he could hear what they’re saying, he… Seeing the way that the electrical creature begins to sob, how she covers her face with her hands, their greatest fears must have just been confirmed.

In Prison World’s corridors, Torgo tells Logan that humans are a courageous species. Logan replies don’t go writin’ a book on the lot of them just ‘cause he stood up to him. Torgo replies that’s far from the casel; he’s not the first Earthling he’s encountered. He tells Logan that he’s a brave man, yes, but his admiration for his kind comes from prior experience. Logan ask how that is. Torgo begins to tell Logan the tale of how he was enslaved on the planet Kral by a race of shape-shifters called the Skrulls, and forced to participate in gladiatorial games against rivals from other worlds. His final combatant was an Earthling, but one most unlike him. He was called the Thing and no more valiant a foe has he faced before or since. When he defeated him in battle, he found himself unable to kill him such was his nobility. As a result, they launched a full-scale rebellion against the Skrulls and, aided by his human partners, the Fantastic Four, their enslavers were ultimately defeated.

Logan replies that he appreciates the walk down memory lane almost as much as the guided tour, but what’s that got to do with this prison world o’ his. Taking him back to the cell, Torgo tells him that he merely wished to make it clear that he knows something about him and his kind and that he learned a lot about oppression from the Skrulls during that experience. The combatants in the great games were treated with little to no respect, and their lives were inconsequential, their home-worlds under a constant threat of annihilation should they not obey their masters.

Logan says so he’s basically sayin’ he’s not as bad as a bunch o’ bloodthirsty Skrulls. He gets his point but just because he doesn’t have everyone gagged and bound there doesn’t mean they don’t wanna go home. Torgo begins to speak but is interrupted by the Collector’s assistant who tells him that the master has requested his presence immediately. As Torgo goes to leave, he tells Logan that he should learn all he needs to about their “prison world” by mingling there with its inhabitants. He’ll be back for him later.

Turning to face his fellow inmates, Logan thinks to himself later… right. Walking over to a smaller, younger looking alien, he realizes that he pretty much walked right inta this one and judgin’ from the looks on everyone’s faces, he’s not the only one aware o’ that. The little fluff nugget he’s walking over to seems particularly agitated. Leaning down, Logan tells the alien that he doesn’t bite and maybe if he tells him what’s wrong, he’ll…

Behind the smaller alien, a larger alien tells Logan that he, the smaller alien, doesn’t like him and neither does he. With that, the larger alien punches Logan across the room. Landing in a heap, a female alien comes over to him and tells him to get up; he is in big trouble, he needs to defend himself. She adds that he should have left with friend, his kind not welcome there. Logan asks his kind, and tells her that Torgo’s not his friend, he’s as much a prisoner there as…

Before he can finish his thought, the larger alien cracks him again. Picking himself up off the ground, Logan thinks to himself that he’s really gonna have to thank Aria for gettin’ him into this. As the inmates converge on him, Logan also thinks to himself wait’ll he gets his mitts on Torgo, he knew that tin-plated double talker was sellin’ him a line. Continuing to dodge the alien’s blows, Logan figures this is gonna be tricky. He doesn’t wanna get too rough with any o’ the locals, so he can’t use his flamin’ claws. And hard and heavy as their blows are rainin’ down on him, he really doesn’t want to hurt any of ‘em. At least, not yet…

Just then, the inmates dog-pile Logan and proceed to beat him up.

In another location, a small alien with a large head tells his parasitic friend, Aria, to relax. This will only take a moment. Whereas Aria’s race, the Zennans, have perfected the art of possession, they (Ovoids) have long possessed the secret of switching bodies. Originally, this unique knowledge was utilized merely to lengthen their life spans, making all Ovoids virtually immortal but through time, they also uncovered a method of switching the minds of others into bodies not their own. Rejoining Aria’s mind with her original form will be an act of utter simplicity. Once he’s fitted her with a specially-designed energy collar, she’ll be unable to transfer her consciousness into another form again.

Telling his assistant to stand back, the alien scientist flips a switch and transfers Aria’s mind from the skinny, green alien she had inhabited to that of her own body. Once it is done, the scientist states that the Collector should be pleased, Aria is completely harmless now. In her cell, Aria wonders what they have done to her. The restraint on her neck makes it so hard for her to think. Beginning to sob, she realizes that she’s failed yet again. She can only pray that Wolverine hasn’t succumbed to Torgo’s lies, because now, more than ever, he’s their only hope for freedom.

Inside the inmate holding location, Logan continues to get beaten up by his fellow inmates. That all stops when one of the inmates yells out and calls him a villain fiend. Did he think he’d sneak in there unrecognized? He is one of the accursed X-Men responsible for the creation of Dark Phoenix, ravager of worlds. Destroyer of their world! With that revelation, the rest of the inmates cease their assault on Logan and stand in shock. Logan tells the alien that spoke up that he’s faced some tough rooms before but they’re a pretty hard lot to figure out. Apart from the fact that he had absolutely zip to do with what Dark Phoenix did to him and his people…

He is cut off by the alien who knocks away one of his alien attackers, calls him a callow fool and asks him if he realizes what he’s done. Logan thanks the alien and states that now, he’s really confused. One minute, they’re tryin’ to have a stitch in his hid, the next, he doesn’t get it. A Kree warrior pipes up and says this has all been a misunderstanding. The alien that initially spoke up states that they didn’t realize who he was, that he was one of Earth’s fabled X-Men. Logan asks fabled, maybe that’s the way the story goes out there, but they’re more like hated and feared back home. The Kree warrior says that they all had assumed he was in league with Torgo and their oppressors. Logan tells them that if they’d had let him explain, he came there to help them all break out of there. But the woman who brought him there, Aria, was captured. As far as that bucket o’ bolts Torgo goes…

He is interrupted by an alien who yells at him and tells him not to insult them by repeating his words. He is but one of the many pawns of the Collector. One of the so-called Elders of the Universe who spends his every waking hour collecting and cataloguing representatives of various intergalactic species for reasons known only to himself. Logan informs him that he knows about the Collector bum already. A real nut job from all indications, a group o’ good guys from earth called the Avengers ran afoul of him more than once from what he understands.

At that moment, a female alien asks Logan if he thinks they have a chance of escape. Logan tells her know that he knows what’s really goin’ on, he thinks so. What he needs to do now is learn as much as he can about what makes the place tick as soon as possible. Then he can figure out exactly how to go about pullin’ the plug an’ pullin’ it off. Walking over to one of his attackers, he states that he’s gonna need everybody’s help. When he asks the alien if he is with him, the alien replies by putting his hand on Logan’s shoulder. Logan tells him that he takes that as a yes as the smaller alien he tried to talk to earlier looks on.

Inside the Collector’s chambers, the Collector is flanked by his assistant, the energy creature and Torgo. He asks if they are certain that they have told him everything. If their protective shields are to be put to their ultimate test, it is imperative that he possesses all the facts; there can be no room for hypothetical situations. His assistant tells him they understand and that they have told him all that they know. The Collector states that it is most discouraging but still, it’s what they’ve been preparing for. He then asks Torgo if the threat posed by the Zennan woman has been neutralized. Torgo tells him that it has and that the earthling Wolverine has been left to fend for himself in the holding pens. The Collector replies wonderful, it will be a miracle if he makes it through the night. He then states that he’d almost think Torgo had a sense of humor.

Up in their cell, Corsair states that he can’t believe it, he’d never imagined. Almost as unbelievable is the fact that Wolverine, one of the X-Men, is involved in this whole affair. Hepzibah asks that, if involved he truly is, should they believe all they hear. Corsair asks why would they concoct such a story, especially based on what they’ve heard about Aria and her escape to Earth? Raza says that Corsair is right, Wolverine was clearly recruited to challenge the Collector, but with the knowledge they now have… Corsair tells him he’s right, he can’t be allowed to succeed. As much as he hates to say it, the Collector’s cause is just and they have no choice but to help him. And heaven help Wolverine if he stands in their way.

Characters:
Wolverine
Ch’od, Corsair, Hepzibah, and Raza (all Starjammers)

The Collector
Aria (alien with the ability to jump bodies)
Torgo
Various members of the Sidri alien race
Various aliens aboard Prison World (Ovoids, Kree and various other unidentifiable races)

Notes:
Wolverine took on much of New York’s heroes while under Aria’s control in Wolverine (2nd series) #134. She took control of him at the end of Wolverine (2nd series) #133.

The Collector has faced the Avengers in Avengers (1st series) #28, 51, 119, and 334-339.

Torgo met the Thing and the Fantastic Four back in Fantastic Four (1st series) #91-93. This storyline was reprinted in Marvel’s Greatest Comics #72-75.

The Dark Phoenix storyline ran from X-Men (1st series) #129-137.

Issue Summary written by: Wendigo (David M.)


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