Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Lenil Francis Yu (penciler), Edgar Tadeo (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas (colors)
Summary: Wolverine notices that the juggling mime has taken the ancient cube Zoe Culloden left in his care. He suddenly remembers the first time he saw it, years earlier in Shanghai. Two Japanese soldiers were chasing an old man and his apprentice, who had allegedly stolen the artifact. Wolverine interrupted the fight, and one of the soldiers was killed by his captain for disgracing his uniform. The captain respected Wolverine’s bravery and offered to train him in the martial arts. In the present, the mime attacks and Wolverine realizes that he’s being possessed by a familiar force. Soon, Phoenix and Storm arrive to visit Wolverine. After they join the fight, the spirit possesses Phoenix. When Wolverine leaps in front of a blade that’s headed for Storm’s chest, the spirit is stunned by his selflessness. Phoenix casts out the spirit, which travels nearby and quickly possesses Wolverine’s new friend Helen Bach. Meanwhile, Damian Hellstorm senses the return of the dangerous artifact.
Creative Differences: There’s an entire page of third person narration describing Helen Bach that’s incorrectly lettered in Wolverine’s distinctive font. This issue is actually filled with third person captions, which Hama has always claimed that he doesn’t write. Mark Powers is the editor by this point, so this would seem to coincide with other writers’ allegations that he was a heavy re-writer.
Review: This issue is significant for introducing Lenil Francis Yu to Marvel’s audience. He’s done work for other companies in the past, but most of his career has been spent at Marvel, and he’s someone the current regime apparently has a lot of faith in. His style here is still evolving, but it is recognizable. He has more of a European influence in the early issues, and seems to enjoy drawing tiny detail lines on every wall, building, and prop in the comic. Some of the poses are a little stiff and a few of the faces are awkward, but it is a strong debut overall. The story is mostly a fight scene that throws in a few hints about the spirit’s identity. Yu’s art makes the visual of Wolverine fighting a mime work better than it probably should, and Hama uses Storm and Phoenix pretty well. There’s an amusing scene where “real woman” Helen Bach spots Storm and Phoenix and offers a meta-commentary on their bombshell appearances (unfortunately, Helen isn’t drawn that differently from the X-femmes, so the execution doesn’t entirely work). Most of this is competently done, but it doesn’t seem like it does enough to advance the storyline.