With the amount of time that superhero teams spend with each other, you would think that they would have plenty of set strategies in place when they go into battle, but most Avengers and Justice League fights pretty much just seem like free-for-alls, with an occasional bout of strategy from a Cyclops or a Batman (this has been occasionally dealt with in the comics, mostly the "Avengers," by having a field leader appointed to direct the heroes in battle).
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A notable exception to this rule, though, is the "Fastball Special," a maneuver cooked up by the X-Men where the super strong Colossus picks up the smaller Wolverine and throws him, indeed, much like a fastball. This gives the X-Men a range weapon, as Wolverine will often have his claws out during the move, making him a very pointy missile. Also, while not originally intended this way, Wolverine is practically invulnerable, so there is little risk of him being injured when he lands. Here then are the 15 of the greatest fastball specials involving Wolverine and Colossus.
In "X-Men and Micronauts" #1 (by Chris Claremont, Bill Mantlo, Jackson Guice and Bob Wiacek), the evil Baron Korza is called from the Microverse to the regular world due to an evil force imposing its will upon the Microverse (this evil force turned out to be none other than Professor X himself).
Once on our world, Korza found himself faced off against the New Mutants, who were using the Danger Room to train. Despite his small stature, Korza quickly defeated the young X-Men in training. Then the senior X-Men show up, and Colossus and Wolverine execute the fastball special. With Colossus throwing Wolverine at Korza, Logan's adamantium claws managed to shock Korza by actually slicing through his armor! Korza was near defeat when he cleverly switched bodies with Kitty Pryde to continue his attempt to defeat the dark entity (he did not yet know that it was Xavier who was behind it all).
The X-Men celebrated their 200th issue in "Uncanny X-Men" #200 (by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr. and Dan Green). The International Court of Justice was holding a special tribunal to try Magneto for crimes against humanity and Gabrielle Heller and Charles Xavier were there to serve as Magneto's defense counsel (interestingly, the prosecutor was Jim Jaspers, as this was originally intended to tie in to Alan Moore's "Captain Britain" stories, but that never happened). Magneto, Heller and Xavier had years earlier foiled a plot by Baron Strucker, and in this issue, we met his twin mutant children; the duo known as Fenris. They wanted to avenge their father's loss all those years ago by killing Magneto, Heller and Xavier.
The X-Men luckily showed up (following a famous mission to Asgard) and fought off Fenris' armored ground troops. The X-Men then decided to track Fenris back to their home base, where Colossus and Wolverine executed a fastball special. Colossus threw Wolverine into the midst of the armored villains so Wolverine could mix it up with them. Sadly, the X-Men were tricked, and while their henchmen were there, Fenris was actually back at the tribunal! Xavier was severely wounded but Magneto ultimately saved the day. The injured Xavier was taken into outer space by his girlfriend, Lilandra, to try to recover while Xavier asked Magneto to become the new headmaster at Xavier's.
The X-Men celebrated their 500th issue in "Uncanny X-Men" #500 (by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Greg Land, Terry Dodson, Jay Leisten and Rachel Dodson), as the X-Men moved to San Francisco. This was following the events of "House of M," where the Scarlet Witch had used her reality-altering powers to reduce the amount of mutants on Earth from millions down to less than a thousand. The remaining mutants were quarantined at the X-Mansion, guarded by the United States government. Eventually, the X-Men grew sick of this and struck up a deal with the mayor of San Francisco to turn the Bay Area city into a sort of mutant sanctuary.
As the X-Men were celebrating their move to their new city, however, they were attacked by their old foe, Magneto, who was forcing a group of decommissioned mutant-killing robot Sentinels into attacking the X-Men. Emma Frost was about to be crushed by one of the Sentinels when she telepathically called out to Wolverine and Colossus, who let her know that they had taken up a perch atop a nearby building. From there, they executed the fastball special, with Colossus throwing Wolverine into a Sentinel, which Wolverine sliced open, distracting it long enough for Colossus to knock its head off with a car.
In "Astonishing X-Men" #12 (by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday), the X-Men traveled to the ruins of Genosha to confront their own Danger Room (the computer program which operated their famous training arena), which had become sentient and was trying its best to kill the man that it blamed for subjugating it for all these years, Professor Charles Xavier. Xavier was in Genosha trying to help rebuild the mutant nation after Xavier's evil twin sister, Cassandra Nova, wiped out nearly all of the 16 million mutants who once lived there, using giant Sentinels to do so.
Once the X-Men arrived there, "Danger" (the name they came up with for their former Danger Room) attacked them by essentially re-animating the Sentinels as well as the wreckage of the city itself. Kitty Pryde was able to phase all of the X-Men to help them survive the initial attack, but someone had to get up to the giant floating city to take them down, and Wolverine was just the man for the job. With that, Colossus executed the fastball special and threw Wolverine right at Danger.
In "Uncanny X-Men" #159 (by Chris Claremont, Bill Sienkiewicz and Bob Wiacek), the X-Men found themselves in a bit of a pickle when they ended up in a battle with none other than Dracula, king of the vampires! You see, Dracula had bitten Storm and was slowly turning her to his side. The only thing standing between Dracula having a mutant vampire bride was her teammates in the X-Men.
Colossus and Wolverine executed the fastball special against Dracula, but the only problem was that Dracula had the ability to become mist, so Wolverine's attack flew flat on its face. While amusing in its own right, the attack was followed up by an interesting piece of Marvel history regarding vampires. Wolverine extended one claw from each of his hands and used them to form the shape of a cross. This had no effect on Dracula, though, as it turns out that in the Marvel Universe, you have to be a person of faith for a religious symbol to have an effect on a vampire. Nightcrawler then made a sign of the cross out of two sticks and that successfully worked against Dracula, since Nightcrawler was religious (much to his creator Dave Cockrum's chagrin)
"X-Men" #141 (by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin) had two significant pieces in X-Men history. It was the last issue before they officially changed the name of the book to "Uncanny X-Men" (the cover had been saying "Uncanny X-Men" for years, but the indica remained simply "X-Men" until the following issue), and it was the first part of the classic storyline, "Days of Future Past." In it, the consciousness of Kitty Pryde is sent from the future back to the past (our present) to help the X-Men prevent the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly, whose death would set off a chain of events that would end up with the world under the control of Sentinels.
While Kitty Pryde and the X-Men did their best in the past, the X-Men of the future (whoever was left of them) tried to continue to fight against the Sentinels. In one memorable sequence, Colossus and Wolverine execute the fastball special for the first time in years to take down a Sentinel.
In "X-Men Annual" #4 (by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr. and Joe Rubinstein), Nightcrawler was celebrating his birthday with his fellow X-Men when a present sent for him seemingly killed him. Suddenly, Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, showed up and explained to the X-Men that Nightcrawler was not dead, just in suspended animation as someone had stolen his soul and taken it to hell! Strange asks if the X-Men would be willing to go to hell to save their friend, and they agree; with that, Colossus, Wolverine and Storm accompany Strange on a journey to hell.
Once there, they reunite Nightcrawler with his body, but have to then battle their way out of the various circles of hell. At one point, they come up with the idea of just climbing over one of the walls, so Colossus executes the fastball special by throwing Wolverine to the top of the wall. However, they are ultimately repelled and Colossus must then open up a giant gate to get them through to the next level. As it turned out, it was all a plot by Nightcrawler's foster mother, who blamed him for her son's death (as it turned out, her son was evil, so she forgave Nightcrawler for accidentally killing him).
In "X-Men" #101 (by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Frank Chiaramonte), the X-Men were shocked that their friend Jean Grey not only survived the crash landing of their spacecraft, but had actually been seemingly transformed into a powerful being known as the Phoenix! After she transformed into the Phoenix, Jean then collapsed before having to stay in the hospital. Since everyone was just sitting around waiting for Jean to get better, Professor X insisted that the other members use this time to take a vacation. So Banshee, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm went to go visit Banshee's ancestral castle in Ireland.
Once there, though, they were beset by Banshee's evil cousin, Black Tom Cassidy, as well as Tom's good friend, the Juggernaut. In "X-Men" #102 (by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Sam Grainger), the X-Men were having a hard time dealing with Juggernaut, so we saw Wolverine and Colossus execute the fastball special IN REVERSE for the first time, as Wolverine threw Colossus at the Juggernaut. Interestingly, in the following issue (by Claremont, Cockrum and Grainger), the X-Men have to assault the castle and Colossus throws Wolverine on to the castle. However, it comes right after Colossus and Wolverine were arguing over Wolverine calling Storm a "broad," so it is unclear if that counts as an actual fastball special or just an angry throw.
In "Wolverine" #176 (by Frank Tieri, Sean Chen and Norm Rapmund), Wolverine was in a weird semi-dead state following an attack by Weapon X. While in this state, he was visited by a mysterious redheaded woman (he presumed it was Jean), who took him on a sort of tour of his life up until that point. He was given a chance to then just embrace death and be at peace, but some of his former villains (who were also dead), like Ogun, showed up to fight with Wolverine. Being Logan, he couldn't resist fighting them.
Luckily, once he made that decision, he was met by his recently deceased friend, Colossus (who turned out not to be actually dead, but that's neither here nor there). They teamed up to fight Wolverine's enemies and, since this was a sort of dream-like reality, Wolverine was able to execute the fastball special in reverse, throwing Colossus at the villains, as Wolverine returned to the living. By the way, before he left, the mysterious redhead revealed that she was not Jean. Of course, readers of the then-recent "Origin" storyline knew that she was Rose, who Wolverine knew when he was a boy.
During the X-Men's 30th Anniversary in "Uncanny X-Men" #304, Colossus decided to betray the X-Men and join up with Magneto. A couple of years later, as Marvel celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the All-New, All-Different X-Men in "Uncanny X-Men" #325 (by Scott Lobdell, Joe Madureira, Tim Townsend and Matthew Ryan), Colossus came back into the X-Men's lives to ask for their help in stopping a young group of radicalized Morlocks (who had grown to young adulthood in an alternate dimension after being brought there by Colossus' brother, Mikhail).
The whole time that they were on this mission together, Wolverine kept giving Colossus crap about leaving the team. Ultimately, after confronting the young terrorists, the only way that they could figure to end things relatively peacefully was for Storm to once against fight a Morlock leader to the death. This time, it was Marrow, who had the ability to pull sharp bones from her own body. Early in the knife fight, Marrow pulled out a bone to use as a second knife. Colossus wanted to step in, but Wolverine explained that this type of cheating was okay. But then someone else stepped in and tried to alter the fight, so Wolverine had Colossus execute the fastball special to keep the fight as fair as it could be (as it turned out, Storm would stab Marrow's heart out -- luckily, Marrow has more than one heart).
The debut of the fastball special came in "X-Men" #100 (by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum). The X-Men had only been together as an official team since "X-Men" #94, but they had been seen training together in the Danger Room. So it was not that much of a surprise to see Colossus and Wolverine break out a specialized maneuver. The real surprise, of course, was who they were fighting!
After being kidnapped in "X-Men" #98, the new X-Men found themselves face to face with the original X-Men, so the new had to fight the old... to the death! Luckily, as it would turn out, the original X-Men were just robot duplicates of the original X-Men and not the actual mutants. Interestingly, after Cockrum has Wolverine sent flying at Angel, we never actually see what happened to Wolverine and Angel. That part of the battle is never really followed up on, and the next time we see Wolverine, he has sneakily gone over to who the X-Men think is Professor X and threatened to kill him (this Xavier was also a robot).
The very first time that John Byrne and Terry Austin drew the fastball special came in "X-Men" #114 (by Chris Claremont, Byrne and Austin), as the X-Men survived their battle against Magneto in to the antarctic by ending up in the mysterious Savage Land. This story arc would eventually turn out to be a very important one for Wolverine.
It was during this arc that we first see (well, not literally) Wolverine actually kill another person, and it is also the first time that we learned that Wolverine had some sort of healing factor. His general willingness to kill was at display in his fastball special in this issue, as Colossus throws him at a pterodactyl that had Banshee in its grips. Wolverine is quickly slicing and dicing at the dinosaur with no regard for the fact that he was forcing the pterodactyl to go in for a crash landing.
"X-Men" #137 (by John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin) was the final part of the famous "Dark Phoenix Saga" and it involved the X-Men agreeing to fight the entire Shi'ar Imperial Guard for the right to protect their friend, Jean Grey, from the Shi'ar. The alien empire wanted to lobotomize her because the Phoenix has turned into the DARK Phoenix and had destroyed at least one planet already (with billions of people on it). Professor X had been able to place a block on Jean's mind so that she could control the Dark Phoenix, so her friends decided that they had to defend her against the Shi'ar.
The X-Men fought valiantly, but it looked pretty bad for their chances of winning. That changed when Jean began to transform into the Dark Phoenix again. The battle with the Imperial Guard had been on the surface of the moon. Wolverine used the moon's lack of gravitational force to allow him to to execute a reverse fastball special, as he threw Colossus at Jean, with Colossus expected to kill her. At the last moment, he pulled his punch as he just was not ready yet to kill his friend. In the end, Jean made the decision for them and killed herself rather than possibly becoming the Dark Phoenix again.
In the second half of "Days of Future Past", John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin continued to show the future team of X-Men try to take down the Sentinels in the future (just in case Kitty Pryde failed in her mission to go back in time into her own younger body and get the X-Men to stop Senator Robert Kelly from being assassinated by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, now led by Mystique).
However, while the fastball special worked for them in the previous issue, it turned out to not work so well this time around. After Colossus threw Wolverine, the Sentinel basically vaporized him. John Byrne had drawn a cover for the issue that Marvel had never received, so inker Terry Austin was given the chance to do the cover for this issue and he basically just blew up the panel where Wolverine was fried. It has since become one of the most famous "X-Men" covers of all-time!
In "Astonishing X-Men" #6 (by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday), Colossus had just recently been revealed to be alive after his seeming death a few years earlier. He was being held captive by the mysterious alien villain known as Ord. The X-Men rescued Colossus, but in the end, after taking a hostage, it looked like Ord was going to escape from Earth in his space ship.
However, the X-Men were not about to let that happen, especially not Colossus, who stated "He does not get away." Wolverine asks Colossus if he was as strong as ever and after Colossus confirmed that he was, Wolverine told him that he had just two words for him. That's when Cassaday showed off the epic two-page splash of Wolverine being sent headlong in a fastball special, hurtling through the air until he lands on Ord's spacecraft. Wolverine then breaks in and captures Ord before he can get away. This was such an epic sequence by Whedon and Cassaday.
What was your favorite fastball special involving Wolverine and Colossus? Let us know in the comments section!