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Thursday, November 18, 2021

X-amining Wolverine #109

January 1997

In a Nutshell
Wolverine storms Akatora's island to rescue Yukio and Amiko. 

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Anthony Winn
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor: Bob Harras

Wolverine watches as the Cyber-Ninjas hassle the Noodle Vendor, but only agrees to help him after the Noodle Vendor agrees to give him Amiko and Yukio's location. Meanwhile, Akatora's attempts to brainwash Amiko continue, and the girl is convinced the dragon who killed her mother was Wolverine in disguise. Enraged, she is given a dagger laced with blowfish toxin secreted inside a doll. Shortly thereafter, Wolverine, Pale Flower, Yohei, and a reluctant Noodle Vendor charter a ferry and attack Akatora on his island. He is in the midst of filming a monster movie, but all of his actors are ninjas who attack Wolverine. However, Wolverine's allies manage to rescue Yukio and Amiko, and Wolverine defeats Akatora. However, he taunts Wolverine that one of his allies is a sleeper agent. Smelling the blowfish toxin on Yohei's blade, Wolverine quickly kills him, but Akatora escapes in the confusion. Wolverine then departs the island, unaware that Amiko has been turned against him. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue reveals that Akatora is working for the Hand, and that while his effort to kill Wolverine failed, he is confident he'll be rewarded for having succeeded in brainwashing Amiko as a sleeper agent against Wolverine. 

However, like nearly all plotlines involving Amiko, this will go unresolved, and neither Akatora 
nor Amiko being brainwashed are ever mentioned again.  

In other sleeper agent news, it's revealed here that Yohei is actually working for the Hand as well, though Wolverine is largely nonplussed by the news. 

This issue appears without a credits box; the creators listed above are generally considered those involved in its creation, though the colorist remains unknown. 

This is the last of the great black/white/red Adam Kubert covers, ending his involvement with the series (for now). 

A Work in Progress
Wolverine is back to wearing a bandana as part of his costume, but otherwise, continues to look relatively normal (and not especially bestial). 

This issue reveals that not only does Akatora perform as a Godzilla-knockoff named Kojiro, but all of the actors in his studio are his cyber-ninjas, meaning he basically runs a ninja movie studio. 

Wolverine notes that two of Akatora's previous associates (the Noodle Vendor and Plate Flower) are now fighting on Wolverine's side. 

Austin's Analysis
Leave it to Larry Hama to salvage a pretty weak second chapter (and a middling story overall) with a gonzo conclusion, as Wolverine fights a bunch of cybernetic ninjas who are also actors wearing kaiju costumes because they were filming a movie right before Wolverine rode up to rescue his friend and ward. It's a fun throwback to the kind of absurdist elements Hama would pepper into his earlier Wolverine stories (like teaming up with Ernest Hemmingway, or Elsie-Dee), and does a lot to, if not save the story overall, at least let it go out on a high note. Similarly, the reveal that Yohei is a double agent being presented as a non-factor on the final page is either an indication that Hama ran out of space, or he's cleverly subverting expectations, depending on how forgiving you want to be. I'm feeling charitable, and while this story will hardly go down as a masterpiece (or even one of Hama's more notable outings), it was at least entertaining at the end. 

Next Issue
Apocalypse rises in the Rise of Apocalypse miniseries!

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  1. I guess it is probably only coincidental, but Logan and Mariko did fight Amiko recently in the Wolverine: Black, White and Blood series. I had forgotten that she hade been brainwashed in this issue. Honestly, I pretty much always forget about her until a writer remembers that she exists.

    I really miss those Kubert covers as they were definitely striking and provocative. Outside of the aforementioned BW&B series, I'm surprised there aren't more covers/stories like that.

    1. Honestly, I pretty much always forget about her until a writer remembers that she exists.

      Truly, her greatest power is narrative irrelevance. :)


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