Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus #1, by Ethan Sacks, Diogenes Neves, Adriano di Benedetto, Federico Blee and Joe Sabino, on sale now.
Much like Wolverine's memory, the history of the Weapon X Program has been plagued by rumors, falsehoods and a fog of overall uncertainty for years.
Even though he spent most of the '90s trying to untangle his origins, Logan didn't even know that the Weapon X Program was part of the larger Weapon Plus Program that started with the creation of Captain America until Grant Morrison and Chris Bachalo's early-00s run on New X-Men.
However, both Wolverine and Captain America got a major history lesson as they began to uncover the massive scope of Weapon Plus' actions around the Marvel Universe in Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus #1.
Guided by a recording from the late Weapon Plus alum Fantomex, Captain America and Logan learned that Weapon Plus ran numerous projects concurrently, including some that were still ongoing. While investigating an old Weapon Plus lab, they two heroes found a chalkboard that seemingly filled in several gaps in the program's history and implicated several other Marvel characters like Luke Cage, Nick Fury and Agent Venom.
Before this issue, only a handful of early Weapon Plus projects has been explicitly named. Captain America and the African-American soldier Isaiah Bradley, were both given super-soldier serums by Project: Rebirth during World War II.
As Rebirth morphed into Weapon Plus, that project was retroactively dubbed Weapon I. Harry Pizer, a mutant with elastic skin, was part of Weapon III, and the Daredevil villain Nuke was the only pill-popping survivor Weapon VII, the Vietnam War era's unhinged answer to Captain America.
Logan was part of the tenth incarnation of Weapon Plus, Weapon X, which was a joint operation between the United States and Canada that evolved into its own massive undertaking. The chalkboard that the heroes find in this issue subtly identifies several Weapon Plus projects between Project: Rebirth and Weapon X.
While Weapon II was known to have experimented on animals and created a Wolverine-esque squirrel, this issue makes Brute Force, a short-lived team of environmentalist anthropomorphic animal heroes from the early '90s, into part of Weapon II. Captain America and Logan find the creatures, who were augmented by Doctor Randall Pierce, in stasis and briefly fight the Brute Force member Bear.
The chalkboard identifies the mystical Marvel monster Man-Thing as part of Weapon IV. As part of Project: Sulfur, Doctor Ted Sallis developed SO-2 serum to protect soldiers from bio-weapons and as a potential basis for a new super-soldier serum. After Sallis injected himself with a modified version of the SO-2 serum near a mystical Nexus of All Realities in part of the Florida Everglades, he transformed into Man-Thing, who went on off his own mind-bending adventures.
Weapon Plus' next effort was Weapon V, which focused on bonding alien symbiotes to wounded soldiers. Also known as Project: Venom or the Sym-Soldier Program, this operation was overseen by Nick Fury and was detailed last year in Donny Cates and Juanan Ramirez's Web of Venom: Ve'Nam #1.
During the Vietnam War, the Tyrannosaurus symbiote was bonded to Rex Strickland and impersonated its host after Rex's death. Years later, this program was revived, apparently by Weapon Plus, as Project Rebirth 2.0, which bonded the Venom symbiote to Flash Thompson to create the heroic Agent Venom.
The next Weapon Plus project, Weapon VI, was known to have experimented on prison inmates, and one of those experiments turned Carl Lucas into Luke Cage. Dubbed Project: Power, this effort was an attempt to replicate the super-soldier serum was led by Doctor Noah Burstein. After being exposed to Burstein's Electro-Biochemical System, Cage developed his trademark unbreakable skin and super-strength and took the name Power Man. Burstein also turned Mitchell Tanner into the minor villain Warhawk with this process.
After identifying Nuke as Weapon VII, the chalkboard identifies Weapon IX as Project: Psyche, which was led by "M. Hunt." In all likelihood, this is a reference to Doctor Michael Hunt, a psychiatrist who worked with Typhoid Mary, a telekinetic and pyrokinetic mutant villain with a dissociative identity disorder in Marvel Comics Presents #150, by Ann Nocenti and Steve Lightle. While developing a method to let Mary control her personas, Hunt began an inappropriate relationship with her evil persona that ultimately left him discredited.
Despite that, Project: Psyche's research apparently continued. In the wake of Marvel's Civil War, Mary was recruited into the government-run Initiative, where she temporarily developed the heroic Mutant Zero persona before returning to villainy.
While Weapon X focused on mutant experiments and morphed into the semi-independent Weapon X Program, Weapon Plus developed several projects that were previously explored during writer Grant Morrison's tenure on New X-Men.
Weapon XII was the Huntsman, which drew its foes into its hive mind. Fantomex, the psychic thief and X-Man with a sentient nervous system was Weapon XIII. Weapon XIV created the Stepford Cuckoos, the cloned daughters of of Emma Frost who were designed to collectively wield the Phoenix Force though their telepathic hive mind. Weapon XIV was the Super-Sentinel Ultimation, and Weapon XVI, Allgod, was essentially a weaponized form of religion.
While this only leaves Weapon VIII and Weapon XI unaccounted for, Wolverine and Captain America also learn of the existence of Weapon XXX, which suggests over a dozen additional Weapon Plus projects in this issue. At this point, it's unclear what Weapon XXX is, or if other recent attempts to create a new super-soldiers like American Kaiju or Weapon H could retroactively become part of Weapon Plus.
Even if those characters don't become part of Weapon Plus, this issue weaves the program deep into the tissue of the Marvel Universe.
Where the scope of Weapon X was once limited to Logan and his associates like Sabretooth and Maverick, the introduction of the Weapon Plus concept linked it to Captain America and the characters he directly inspired. These new revelations about Weapon Plus take that idea to its logical extreme and touch characters from every corner of the Marvel Universe. While it's not quite clear where this story will continue, there's no telling how many characters Weapon Plus will have touched by the time it's through.