Friday, February 13, 2009

WOLVERINE #109 – January 1997

Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Anthony Winn (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas (colors)

Summary: Wolverine aids the Noodle Vendor against the Cyber-Ninjas, and after intimidating him, he learns where his ward Amiko is being held. On Akatora’s island, Amiko is brainwashed into believing that Wolverine killed her mother. Wolverine arrives on the island with Pale Flower, Yohei, and the Noodle Vendor. They crash Akatora’s movie set and defeat more cybernetically enhanced ninjas. Wolverine fights Akatora to the ground, as his companions rescue Yukio and Amiko. Akatora brags that one of his friends is a Hand sleeper agent; not expecting Wolverine to use his enhances senses to detect the scent of blowfish toxin on one of their swords. Wolverine throws the Honor Sword into Yohei’s chest and he dissolves, exposing him as the Hand agent. Akatora escapes, and Wolverine leaves with Amiko. Akatora brags to his aides that the real assassin, Amiko, is now in place.

Production Note: A production error caused the lettering on the first page of this issue to disappear. This means that the issue has no credits or title.

Continuity Notes: This issue reveals that Akatora created a series of Godzilla-style movies, which he produces on his private island. His production company is actually a front for the Hand’s criminal activities. Akatora claims that he doesn’t even know why the Hand wants Wolverine dead, but he hopes to learn one day. The mystery introduced last issue involving Pale Flower's emergence as a mutant and the missing government agent is totally ignored.

Review: This is the conclusion to the latest “Wolverine fights ninjas in Japan” arc, which is probably memorable only for introducing the bizarre “Wolverine’s young daughter is brainwashed as a Hand sleeper agent” plot. I know that the next time Amiko shows up in Wolverine #150 (in Steve Skroce’s impressive debut as a writer) this subplot is ignored, and I imagine it’s stayed that way. I have no idea where Hama was going with this, unless he wanted to do a comedy story about Wolverine fighting a nine-year-old. Aside from that odd element, this is a straightforward action story that’s not very different from the previous two issues. It’s fun, but obviously not very deep. I like the revelation that Yohei is a double agent, but the delivery is too rushed to really work. Wolverine’s reunion with Yukio and Amiko also feels hurried, and lacks any real sentiment. That’s unfortunate, since Hama normally handles the “softer side” of Wolverine very well.

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