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Thursday, August 19, 2021

X-amining Wolverine #107

"Once Upon a Time in Little Tokyo"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
Wolverine returns to Japan and is targeted for revenge. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Anthony Winn
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Gloria Vasquez 
Separations: D. Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Wolverine returns to Japan, intending to visit Amiko and Yukio. But when he arrives at their apartment, he finds it filled with Hand ninjas. He fights them off, only to discover the building has been surrounded by members of the military, forcing him to flee on a stolen motorcycle. Elsewhere, actor Akatora, who has kidnapped Yukio & Amiko, receives a report on Wolverine's whereabouts from his informant, a noodle vendor. Wolverine arrives at a Yakuza gambling hall and claims sanctuary, citing his ties to Clan Yashida. A woman named Pale Flower, oyabun of the Double Jade clan, grants it. Meanwhile, Akatora taunts Yukio, while his associates continue to pamper Amiko, subtlety brainwashing her. He orders the noodle vendor to alert the military to Wolverine's location. Back at the gambling hall, Pale Flower tries to poison Wolverine, telling him she is the daughter of Dai-Kumo, a crime lord he once killed. His healing factor easily handles the toxin, but just then, the military arrives outside the club. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue kicks off a three part story that is a spiritual sequel of sorts to Larry Hama's first Wolverine story in issues #31-33, in which Wolverine battles (and ultimately kills) the crime lord Dai-Kumo. Here, his daughter, Pale Flower, attempts to get revenge on Wolverine for his actions in that story. 

Anthony Winn comes aboard as the series new regular penciller, though like Val Semeiks, his short run feels more like a stopgap between Adam Kubert's run and the arrival of Leinil Francis Yu in issue #113. 

This issue introduces Akatora, an actor who plays a Godzilla-like character who is the new leader of the Death Touch Cult (the organization previously helmed by Matsu'o Tsurayaba), who has kidnapped Yukio and Amiko and is trying to turn Amiko against Wolverine. 

Wolverine, who looks more like his usual self this issue, is said to be using an image inducer to cover up his still-animalistic appearance. Though this reads very much like narration covering for the art, he is considered to be using the image inducer for the next half dozen or so issues, until his devolution (re-evolution?) stops. 

Adam Kubert continues his series of excellent black-and-white (and red) covers this issue. 

A Work in Progress
Akatora exclaims "thank Kwannon" at one point, most likely a reference to the Japanese goddess of mercy and not the former assassin whose body Psylocke currently inhabits. 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Akatora extolls the virtue of practical effects vs. computer generated ones. 

The Best There is at What He Does
Wolverine receives enough blowfish toxin to kill 20 men, but is able to overcome it thanks to his healing factor. 

Austin's Analysis
This isn't the start of Larry Hama's final Wolverine story, but you would be forgiven for thinking it might be, given that it is a sequel of sorts to his first Wolverine story, and involves a return to a number of the character's greatest hits: fighting ninjas and gangsters in a noir-ish Japan told via first-person tough-guy narrative captions. That first story from Hama & Silvestri isn't necessarily the best - it's more about establishing a tone for the series than anything - but revisiting it in some fashion isn't the worst idea, either. The actual execution here is bit more of mixed bag: Hama, of course, has no problems nailing Wolverine inner voice, and there is something refreshing in seeing a "back to basics" Wolverine story after a few months of noseless animal Wolverine and parables involving Elektra. But Anthony Winn is no Marc Silvestri (he says, obviously) and while nothing here is technically wrong, Winn fails to capture some of the more noir-ish and horror vibes Silvestri brought to the original story. A warmed over rehash story, then, but for now, at least, the return to something "normal" is enough to carry it. 

Next Issue
Next week: X-Factor goes on the hunt in X-Factor #128 and Cable teams up with Kane in Cable #37! 

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  1. Wolverine sure gets poisoned a lot in Japan.

  2. While this story is enjoyable I thought Amiko should have been adopted out long ago. Every time she appears it's usually because someone is using her to get to Wolverine. Mostly it just paints Wolverine as a terrible guardian.

    I can't wait for the upcoming Lenil Yu run. His art was love at first sight for me.

  3. Hey! The original, unstretched, normal-sized logo is back! Let's find a cover gallery online to see how long it sticks around!


    Huh. Just for this one issue, then. All righty.

  4. Amiko was a bad Claremont’s idea. I think he wanted to give Wolverine and Mariko a connection without going through “Wolverine is now a father because Mariko is pregnant”. But the writer simply forgot about her immediately afterwards. In fact, he forgot about her and Mariko.

    I wonder how upset Larry Hama became seeing all artists repeatedly ignoring his nose-less version of Wolverine. It must have been frustrating. But I’m amazed that he didn’t pick the clue and realize that his idea was awful from the start and tried to revert it immediately.


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