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Comic Book / Frank Miller's Wolverine

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Wolverine (1982) is the first solo adventure of X-Men Breakout Character Wolverine. A four-issue miniseries written by Chris Claremont with layouts by Frank Miller and pencils by Joe Rubinstein, it is considered one of Wolverine’s defining stories and features some of the most iconic images of the character’s career. The series is mostly referred to as Frank Miller’s Wolverine due to the layout work and Signature Style provided by Miller, who would go on to be one of the defining artists of The '80s.
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The series features Wolverine’s return to Japan to seek out his love Mariko Yashida and features the introduction of several important characters to his mythology such as her father Shingen and the assassin Yukio. The miniseries had been set up over the course of dozens of issues in Uncanny X-Men and appropriately had an immediate follow-up in Issues 172 and 173 of that series. Tropes from the Uncanny issues will be provided on this page as well.

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.

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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.

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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. On the cusp of losing the battle, Viper fired a laser pistol at Wolverine and Mariko — only to have Rogue push them out of the way and use her own body as a human shield, pushing her invulnerability to its limits. The pistol overloaded and exploded, and Viper and the badly injured Samurai retreated, leaving a dying Rogue to be tended to by Wolverine, who risked his own life to let Rogue absorb his healing factor, saving her life. Wolvie's a man who pays his debts, and he reckoned that he owed Rogue one. 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.

This comic had a Sequel Series of a sort in the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine miniseries (published in 1984–1985), which was also set in Japan and featured some of the same characters and themes (such as Wolverine's internal conflict between his animal rage and his samurai honor). 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 provides the following trope examples:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • As always, Logan’s adamantium claws.
    • The Masamune blade, Ancestral Weapon of Clan Yashida. Mariko gifts it to Logan at the end of the miniseries for showing honor in battle with Shingen.
  • 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 Masamune sword, which is said to be 800 years old and has been passed down through Clan Yashida for generations.
  • Annoying Arrows: Hand ninja launch volleys of arrows attached to cables at Logan to try and capture him. He shrugs them off.
    • The hunter’s poisoned arrow that pierces the bear’s skin the Batman Cold Open doesn’t take it down immediately and leads to several deaths as it is driven mad by the toxin.
  • Arranged Marriage: Logan finds that Mariko has been forced into one by her father.
  • Badass Grandpa: Lord Shingen. Though he’s surrounded by sumo bodyguards and has a legion of ninja assassins at his beck-and-call he chooses to face Logan personally and nearly kills him both times. Not too bad for an elderly man with no powers to speak of going up against a berserker with a healing factor and claws that can cut through anything.
  • Badass Normal: Yukio has no powers, but is able to keep up with Logan throughout the miniseries being the greatest assassin of Clan Yashida. She shows Storm a thing or two when the X-Men come to Japan, foreshadowing her imminent power loss and use of only her natural skills while maintaining her position as leader of the X-Men.
  • Bald of Evil: Shingen lacks a single hair on his head.
  • Batman Cold Open: The first couple pages are a classic example about taking down an enraged, homicidal bear... and the hunter who poisoned it.
    Logan: The bear lasted longer... but I let the man live.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Shingen, for the miniseries.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: The Silver Samurai and Viper, for the Uncanny X-Men issues that follow the miniseries.
  • Call-Back: Storm mentions the last appearance of Viper and the Silver Samurai in an X-book, with the duo having recently fought the New Mutants in their book and seemingly killed Karma in the process.
  • 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.
  • Evil Old Folks: Shingen is an elderly crime lord looking to become the Man Behind the Man to the emperor of Japan.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Part of the Uncanny X-Men issues involve Logan accepting Rogue as a member of the X-Men after she left the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, especially since she had recently fought the X-Men and greatly traumatized his good friend Carol Danvers by stealing her powers and memories.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Logan popping his claws straight through Shingen’s face is covered by the SNIKT sound effect.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Yukio starts off working for Shingen.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The Uncanny issues establish this rapport between Storm and Yukio. Though it could be argued they’re not 100% committed to the “heterosexual” part of the trope.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Yukio was Clan Yashida’s top assassin. It turns out she can’t go through with her mission to kill Wolverine and falls in love with him, turning on her masters completely.
  • Honor Before Reason: The characters’ struggle to find balance between honor and reason could be seen as the primary theme of the miniseries, with Logan wondering if he is an honorable man and Mariko staying with an abusive husband for the sake of her father’s honor. Played with thanks to Mastermind’s manipulation of Mariko at the end of the story, with her being tricked into considering Logan to be a dishonorable figure and breaking off their engagement.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Logan dispatches Shingen. Note that he stabs his through the face with his claws to end their duel, making this extra gruesome.
  • Important Haircut: Storm cuts her long hair into a Mohawk prior to the wedding. As she has faced a great deal of change between The Brood Saga, nearly killing Callisto for leadership of the Morlocks and the events of this story she was due for a change before she broke. Kitty handles it...poorly.
  • Japanese Politeness
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The only way to make a Wolverine story better is by putting a katana in his hands.
  • Kiss of Death: Rogue jokes about doing this to Logan when they’re on their own searching for the Yakuza. He tells her he’ll kill her if she even jokes about it again.
    • Logan’s anger at this makes the moment where he kisses her to pass along his healing factor after she takes the bullet for Mariko even more powerful.
  • Love Triangle: Wolverine, Mariko and Yukio. For once, Wolverine is in a love triangle without Jean...
  • Manly Tears: Logan sheds one when Mariko his brainwashed by Mastermind to consider him unworthy and leaves him at the altar.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Storm and Yukio attempt to do this when the former’s lightning accidentally sets off explosives in a factory. They barely make it out above water just as everything ignites.
  • Poisoned Weapons:
    • A hunter dips his arrows in poison and shoots a grizzly bear, causing the animal to go berserk and kill a large number of people. Logan makes him pay dearly for it.
    • Shingen has Logan poisoned by throwing stars to make him groggy and off his game during their first duel.
    • The scent from Shingen’s throwing stars matching Yukio’s knives lets Logan know that she’s working for the crime lord.
  • Ronin: Yukio considers herself to be this after leaving Clan Yashida’s employ. Logan himself would come to personify this archetype, especially after Mariko grants him ownership of the Masamune blade.
  • Runaway Bride: Thanks to Mastermind, Mariko leaves Logan at the altar so that he can return to America with the X-Men.
  • Seppuku: If Wolverine was not around, Mariko would have killed her 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.
  • Shoot the Dog: Logan puts down a crazed grizzly bear that was poisoned by a cruel hunter.
  • Signature Style: For a book written by Chris Claremont, the miniseries has a lot of Frank Miller's writing quirks — Film Noir style Inner Monologue, Ninja, Honor Before Reason, and Deconstruction/Reconstruction of the protagonist. Downplayed in that Claremont had been utilizing these elements in stories involving Wolverine for years in the buildup to this story.
  • Soft Water: Storm and Yukio attempt to escape a factory explosion by leaping into nearby water from several stories. Though they take hits from the explosion and fall they’re none the worse for wear once they reach shore.
  • Taking the Bullet: Rogue takes a bullet meant for Mariko, earning Logan’s loyalty on the spot after he was internally wishing he could tear her heart out earlier that evening.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: The events of the miniseries and subsequent Uncanny issues take place in Tokyo.
  • Translation Convention: Text enclosed in < > is in Japanese, as per Marvel house-style. Since the events are set in Japan and the only “gaijan” is Wolverine (until the X-Men arrive) the majority of spoken dialog is stylized this way, with Logan’s internal dialog being written in the standard format.
  • 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.
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