Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Anthony Winn (penciler), Dan Green w/Vince Russell (inkers), Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas (colors)
Summary: After being arrested by the Japanese authorities, Wolverine and Pale Flower sit in prison. A Hand assassin named the Iron Monk arrives to kill Wolverine. During the course of their fight, Pale Flower is freed and actually helps Wolverine against the assassin. A representative of the Yoshida family named Yohei arrives and gives Wolverine the Honor Sword, a gift sent by the Silver Samurai. Wolverine uses it to kill the Iron Monk. After they escape, both Yohei and Pale Flower are impressed by Wolverine’s sense of obligation towards Yukio and Amiko. Pale Flower forgives Wolverine for killing her criminal father, and Yohei decides to go beyond his assigned duties and help Wolverine. Yohei suggests that an informant named the Noodle Vendor knows where to find Amiko. Meanwhile, two of the Hand agents sent to kill the Noodle Vendor return wounded. The Cyber-Ninjas are sent to finish the job, and kill Wolverine.
Continuity Notes: Yohei reveals that the Noodle Vendor has been selling information to all sides of the conflict. From him, Yohei has learned that Pale Flower is actually a mutant, which stuns her. According to the Hand agents sent to kill the Noodle Vendor, he’s been in contact with an American agent of the Mutant Task Force named Daryll Smith.
I Love the ‘90s: Well…Cyber-Ninjas.
Review: The Japan storyline continues with another action-heavy issue. I suspect this storyline was inspired by the over-the-top martial arts movies from the ‘90s that starred Chow Yun-Fat and the like, but I don’t know enough about the genre to say for certain. It’s still fun to read, but the story’s starting to get bogged down by too many characters. Yukio and Amiko are being held hostage, Emi and Sumi are the two female Hand agents assigned to watch them, the Iron Monk is a Hand assassin, Akatora is the Hand superior in charge of the operation, Yohei is the representative of the Clan Yashida, Shirohana, the Pale Flower is the oyabun of the Double Jade Clan, and the Noodle Vendor has been selling information to all sides behind-the-scenes. That’s a lot of characters to keep up with, and at the risk of sounding culturally insensitive, a lot of the names do look alike. On top of this, there’s now a plot element that violates the “show don’t tell” rule of writing. While all of this has been going on, the Noodle Vendor has also been giving information to an unseen American agent named Daryll Smith. He’s considered important enough to be given a name and the physical description that he’s black, but hasn’t actually shown up in the story so far. It’s a strange addition to the plot that comes out of nowhere, but I’m assuming it ties into plans Hama had for Pale Flower at this point. Despite my complaints, I’ve enjoyed rereading these issues. I like the relentless action and ridiculous characters like Yohei, who is a chain-smoking midget in a Blues Brothers suit with hidden martial arts skills. You can’t call these issues boring, at least.