's first solo adventure was a four-issue miniseries, written in 1982 by Chris Claremont
and pencilled by Frank Miller
. The story continues through Uncanny X-Men #172 and #173, when the rest of the team arrive in Japan.
In earlier X-Men issues, Wolverine had met Mariko Yashida, a Japanese woman, from the powerful Yashida family. They had a romance, and now Wolverine goes to Japan for her. He met an old friend, the agent Asano Kimura, who informed him that Mariko was married. It was an arranged marriage, ordered by Mariko's father, Lord Shingen. Her husband was violent with her, but she refused Wolverine's help: it was a duty of family honor. Shingen captured Wolverine and defied him to a duel for Mariko. Wolverine lost, and was taken out of the mansion.
When he woke up in the street, he was attacked by The Hand, and rescued by the ronin Yukio. Yukio fell in love with Wolverine, but he still wanted Mariko. Even worse, she was an agent of Shingen, instructed to seduce Wolverine, but she fell in love with him for real. Considering that he was done with Wolverine, he arranged a meeting with Katsuyori, head of a rival cartel, and ordered Yukio to kill him. She told Wolverine that Katsuyori was who sent The Hand against them, and they follow them to a Kabuki play. Katsuyori expected one of the actors to jump from the stage and attack Mariko and Shingen, but Wolverine intervened and saved them. But in the fight, Mariko saw Wolverine's savage fury for the first time, and left horrified.
Yukio left Wolverine when he calls her "Mariko" while being drunk. He follows her to ask for forgiving, but finds Asano killed in his apartment, by one of Yukio's daggers. And by a smell, he finds out that she was working for Shingen all the time. He chased her, and they were both attacked by The Hand. Wolverine decided to take down the criminal empire of Shingen, and Yukio attempted to redeem herself by killing him. But she was captured and defeated in a duel with him. But she redeemed herself in another way: she killed Mariko's husband when he was about to kill her. For Wolverine, it was a tie, so he let her leave. He had a second duel with Shingen, and killed him. He thought that Mariko would have to swore vengeance against him for that, and that the only options were to kill her or to let her kill him... but no. Mariko thought that Shingen had brought dishonor to the Yashida family, so she should kill him, and then suicide to regain such honor, but Wolverine's duel allowed her to escape that destiny. And so, they organized their wedding.
The X-Men were invited to the wedding, including their newest member, Rogue. Wolverine still hated her for her fight with Carol Danvers when she absorbed her memories and powers. But things had not ended yet, and the criminal ties laid by Shingen were not very easy to break. The Silver Samurai requested an interview with Mariko, and she accepted, refusing any help from the X-Men. Still, she has to take it, when they are attacked. Mariko, Yukio and Storm defeated the Silver Samurai, and Wolverine and Rogue joined the fight in the hospital. Everything was going to end well... but Mariko stopped the wedding, and rejected Wolverine because he was not worthy. It was revealed in later issues that she was under Mastermind's control when she rejected him, but refused to get married with Wolverine until she could clean her family from criminal links.
Many elements of the original four-issue series were later used in the Wolverine
anime, including Yukio, Shingen, Mariko, and Logan's buddy on the Japanese Secret Service. It also ends up incorporating many later facets of the Wolverine
ongoing, like Madripoor. The 2013 film The Wolverine
also includes characters and concepts from this limited series.
Wolverine contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Yukio. To the point that she would have sex with Wolverine on the rails of the supersonic train, just for the thrill of the risk.
- Ancestral Weapon: The sword of the Yashida clan.
- Badass Grandpa: Lord Shingen. A mere common man with no super powers and no special weapons (and an old man, for that matter), capable to defeat Wolverine on hand-to-hand combat, is not something we see very often.
- Batman Gambit: The first duel of Shingen and Wolverine. Unknown to Mariko, the attacks were deadly attacks, forcing Wolverine to toss the wood sword and fight with his claws... and lose his honor in front of Mariko, as it would seem as if he was the one who was going for blood.
- Billing Displacement: Remembered overwhelmingly for Frank Miller's involvement, despite the fact that he principally did layouts, with inker Joe Rubinstein doing the finishes. And of course the plot was a culmination of Claremont's storylines that had been ongoing for some years.
- Darker and Edgier: During this adventure, and after working with Yukio, Storm changed her classic outfit to the punk outfit she used during the 80's.
- Diabolus ex Machina: Mastermind has recovered from his coma, and has started manipulating the X-Men again, including convincing Mariko to call off the wedding.
- Distressed Damsel: Averted. Mariko Yashida is a Distressed Damsel, but refuses to be rescued: for Japanese honor, she must face her problems on her own.
- Heel-Face Turn: Yukio starts off working for Shingen.
- Honor Before Reason: Staying with an abusing husband, just because of honor?
- Japanese Politeness
- Love Triangle: Wolverine, Mariko and Yukio. For once, Wolverine is in a love triangle without Jean...
- Runaway Bride: As if someone like Wolverine would really end married.
- Seppuku: If Wolverine was not around, Mariko would have killed his father, for bringing dishonor to the family, and then suicide (or die trying to kill her father). In any case, she would not live in dishonor. But Wolverine did it first, saving her from that dilemma.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Many 80's adventures of the X-Men took place in Japan, but this one is the greatest.
- Translation Convention: Text enclosed in < > is in Japanese. Well, they are in Japan, the only "gaijin" is Wolverine, who speaks Japanese without problem... so, it's < > basically the whole time, except for Wolverine's internal monologue.
- Villainous Rescue: Yukio rescued Wolverine from The Hand, but only to seduce him, gain his confidence, and kill him as Shingen instructed. That she actually fell in love with him for real, and refused to continue that plan, does not deny why did she rescue him in the first place.