The “Wolverine Goes to Hell” storyline, which has been rambling through recent issues of this title, X-23, Daken: Dark Wolverine and some one-shots, comes to its conclusion in this issue. Wolverine unsurprisingly returns from Hell, with a number of unresolved events from the past few issues that have yet to play out, notably the deaths of a few characters. Puck appears extensively in this issue, resulting in an interesting outcome.
In the previous issue, Puck took charge of an army of murdering badasses to fight a mass of demons scrambling for the Devil’s sword. This weapon, in conflict with literally thousands of years worth of ideas and beliefs regarding the conceptual nature of the Devil and his role in leading the Underworld, has been elevated by writer Jason Aaron to an extreme level: it confers leadership of Hell through its possession. For a brief time, a demon held it in issue #4, only to lose it after a rock hit him, which leads one to believe that it doesn’t actually imbue the wielder with the level of immense power you’d expect a Hell-Lord to maintain.
As Wolverine blabbers on and on with the mysterious stranger who revealed himself last issue as Thomas Logan, Wolverine’s biological father (although even Puck knew he wasn’t who he claimed to be), Puck calls out to Wolverine to join the battle. During the fray, Sabretooth gets his hands on the sword, only have it wrangled away by Wolverine, who uses it to chop him into chunks and eventually tosses it into the scrum.
Wolverine then rallies to Puck in the fight, but they quickly decide to escape Hell by literally climbing up the walls. As they climb, a green hand reaches out from a recess within the walls and grabs Puck, tossing him down into the pit.
Oh, but don’t worry. Shortly after this plunge, Puck obtains the sword, which is absurdly too big for him – at least twice his size as shown in a panel of complete awesome:
Does this mean that Eugene Judd is the new Devil? Over the course of this and the previous issue, there are a few scenes when the sword changes hands and the new owner openly claims leadership. When Wolverine acquires it, everything sort of stops as the demon hordes cry out:
We bow before you, holder of the sword… We bow before the new Lord of Hell…
So, it’s a pretty good bet that the demons acknowledge this scheme even to the point of declaring fealty en masse.
The only question is whether or not this is the true Devil. Earlier in issue #2 when Wolverine’s girlfriend Meilta Garner asks Mystique where Wolverine is, she asks:
So wait a minute. You’re telling me Logan’s in Hell? You mean like Hell Hell? Like a Devil with a pitchfork Hell?
To which Mystique answers with annoyance:
Is there some other kind of Hell I’m not aware of?
The problem is that in the Marvel Universe, there isn’t a true Devil that has ever been portrayed clearly as the commonly recognized single ruler of Hell. There have been a number of Hell-Lords in the Marvel Universe over the years that might be the true Devil, including Mephisto, Lucifer and Satan, but even those characters are generally acknowledged to be one of several. If Jason Aaron really wanted to indicate that this was the true Devil, he ought to have used one of these more established characters. The big purple horned guy introduced in this series who is referred to as “The Devil” is either an overly simplistic representation of the true Devil or just yet another Hell-Lord used for the confined purposes of this story.
So the answer is: Yes, Puck is the new Devil of the Hell as portrayed in this issue.
Besides, we all know who the one true Devil is:
It would have been infinitely better for Puck to have escaped Hell with Wolverine and rejoin his Alpha Flight teammates, who were resurrected recently in the Chaos War: Alpha Flight one shot, but as Puck mentions to Wolverine as they climb the walls, “You still got a body to go back to at least. Mine probably ain’t looking so good right about now.” With no clear mechanism to have Puck escape Hell, Jason Aaron did a great job with this second-best alternative, writing him as a tough, scrappy character, loyal to his friend and ultimately left as a victor.