Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Adam Kubert (penciler), Mark Farmer & Dan Green (inkers), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist)
Wolverine is left alone in the mansion with Sabretooth. Sabretooth pressures him to give in to his darker instincts and fight, but Wolverine refuses. Sabretooth taunts Wolverine by trying to jump out of his cell’s containment field, but he can’t break through. After watching news footage of the capture of a serial killer, Wolverine remembers a comment made by a psychologist earlier on the broadcast. She claimed that the auto-flagellant killer was conditioning himself for his upcoming punishment by inuring himself to pain. Wolverine connects this to Sabretooth’s painful attempts earlier to jump through his containment field. He returns to Sabretooth’s cell in time to see him finally break through the field. Wolverine defends himself from Sabretooth’s attacks, resisting the urge to fight on his level, hoping to respect the X-Men’s wishes and only keep Sabretooth contained. When Sabretooth threatens to kill everyone close to him, including Kitty Pryde and Jubilee, Wolverine pops two claws in his face. When Sabretooth repeats his threat, daring Wolverine to kill him, Wolverine finally releases his third claw. Suddenly, reality crystallizes and shatters.
Much of the pages in this issue are gatefold, pull-out pages. This creates thirty pages of content rather than the normal twenty-two. Surprisingly, the cover price isn’t increased.
I Love the ‘90s
As Sabretooth watches TV, we’re given references to the ATF disaster in Waco, Roseanne’s divorce from Tom Arnold, and David Letterman’s departure from NBC.
This is one of the better Wolverine/Sabretooth fights, mainly because it builds up the anticipation for the fight while giving Wolverine an ethical dilemma. Hama creates a nice contrast between Wolverine’s desire to respect the wishes of his teammates, and his own urges to cut Sabretooth’s throat out. The scenes where Wolverine works out and watches news reports could’ve just been filler, but Hama is able to use them to build the tension and advance the plot. Wolverine’s sympathy for the position the police are put in when dealing with the violent serial killer is nice foreshadowing for the ending of this issue. Kubert does a solid job on the artwork, alternating between a realistic style and an exaggerated cartoonish look. His page layouts and storytelling also look great, taking nice advantage of the special gatefold pages. I’ve always liked this issue, so it’s too bad that it became the starting point for one of the dumbest things ever done to Wolverine (which we’ll get to once the AoA event is over).