In media res, bitches! Wolverine is running for his life through some kind of bizarre alien jungle, with a trio of Brood hunters right behind him. There are shades here of the Wolverine miniseries I lavished such praise on not too long ago. The first-person "I'm the best there is..." narrative and general vibe of weary violence are pretty similar, certainly. The overall effect is somewhat less impressive, though; it's amazing what a difference a lack of Miller's evocative pencils and the shadowy backstreets of Tokyo can make.
Not that this setting has nothing to recommend it. The alien jungle itself seems like the standard off-the-shelf weird alien setting you might find in any sci-fi story, but the pull-back on pages 6 and 7 reveal that said arboreal setting, along with a nearby Brood city, is nested within the carcass of one of the impossibly big space creatures the Brood use as their starships, "its "ribs reachin' above the breathable planetary atmosphere." That's a great image, and a pleasingly unsettling location, especially since it ties in with one of the story's narrative strands - creatures inside other creatures that really shouldn't be there.
In Wolverine's case, there's a developing Brood queen somewhere inside him, causing him agonising pain, and has a Brood hunting party hot on his heels. He manages to ditch his pursuers by the rather unorthodox aim of falling into a web of some local creature so voracious the Brood haven't the chitin-wrapped balls to go in after him. Unfortunately for Wolverine, he doesn't have time to dispatch the oncoming flesh-hungry horrors before he's overcome by a flashback. Presumably this is a side-effect of Brood implantation; the embryo keeps forcing you to relive the point at which you were impregnated, so as to repeatedly drive home how utterly screwed you are. Of course, it's also quite useful to us, since we have no idea exactly what Logan is doing here in the first place.
We're back aboard Lilandra's royal yacht, the Z'reee Shar (how does a xenolinguist decide how many "e"s to put in that name anyway?), once again watching the X-Men knocked out by Deathbird's bomb. When Wolverine awakes, he and his fellows are surrounded by Brood warriors, but he's the only one who can see them. Everyone else is convinced they're visiting the Shi'ar homeworld, and have seemingly forgotten Deathbird's sudden arrival. The non-mutant Carol Danvers is taken away for "study", and the rest of our heroes are brought before an alien dignitary, who even Wolverine thinks is humanoid until she begins injecting eggs into each of the X-Men.
Wolverine wakes from his flashback for long enough to fight against his captors, racking up enough kills to persuade the web-spinners that it's more sensible to leave the mutant alone and feast on those he's already chopped up, and Logan can make good his escape. The combined toll of his escape, his original flight, and whatever is wriggling away within his body finally catch up, though, and he collapses with exhaustion.
Another vision is triggered (man, this Brood queen larva is a real bitch, huh?), forcing Wolverine to recall waking up inside the Brood city, after implantation. Storm is with him, but refuses to listen to his concerns, so he heads off alone, just in time to watch Fang, a former Imperial Guardsman and now a flunky of Deathbird, succumb to a Brood egg. Apparently the Brood didn't even wait until Deathbird had delivered the mutants to betray her, or maybe Fang's alien metabolism allowed the egg to develop faster. Either way we get our first indication of how the process works: the Brood don't burst out of you Alien style, but burn half your flesh and skin away, and warp the other half to form its own casing.
If anything, that's worse than the results of getting French kissed by a facehugger, but f I were forced to choose, I'd definitely be wanting advice from Sophie.
His mind back in the present, Logan spots Fang-Brood out on its first flight, testing its wings as it flies through the jungle. He jumps it, and demands it carries him back to the city, but another attack leaves him temporarily helpless, and his unwilling mount throws him into a throng of "sleazoids." Wolverine kills them all, obviously, but the strain brings on the metamorphosis.
This particular Brood queenlet may have bitten off more than her milk-fangs can chew, though. Wolverine not only has a powerful healing factor, but his skeleton is adamantium, which is difficult to turn into internal organs. Indeed, by the following morning, the queen is dead, and Wolverine triumphant, though the transformation has left his skin looking a bit more like the Thing's than he's presumably happy with.
Still, he's alive, and free of the Brood's influence. Next on the to-do list: slaughter the X-Men before they suffer the same fate as Fang...
The timeline for this story is tricky to work out, what with the X-Men now being on an alien world. Wolverine's flight from the Brood begins in darkness and continues past sunrise, but what exactly does that mean on this particular celestial sphere?
Still, Wolverine describes his awakening in the Brood city as taking place "last night", and since he doesn't note anything particularly off about the passage of the night on this world, we can assume it has a day that's at least roughly the same as our own. If we assume the mutants were implanted the day after the ambush on the Z'reee Shar, we can assume Wolverine beats the Brood egg's effects on him somewhere around three days after the X-Men first left Earth.
Sunday 19th to Monday 20th of May, 1983.
1 Marvel year = 3.72 standard years.
(Colossus is 25 years old).
|"It is a hard reality to face."|
"That egg has now reached maturity. It is 'hatching'. It will consume you, Fang, transform you. And in the process, absorb the totality... of your memories, your abilities, your genetic potential."
So, a few questions. What did the Brood use as hosts before they got out into the stars? Were they even sentient? Indeed, were the Brood sentient? Or did they just luck out one day, implant some passing Kree, and suddenly understand what a warp drive was? It was mentioned at some point in the previous issues that there's only one Brood queen. Was that always true? Or is there only one left now because she was the one lucky enough to work out the advantages of gunpowder and the wheel? Sort of like MorningLightMountain, for those who get the reference.
Gods, how depressing would it have been to spend generations having to absorb the memories of their world's equivalent of cows, or dung beetles? No wonder they're always so bad-tempered.