Publication Date: 21st Dec 2022
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.

BIOGRAPHY - page 1

Born in Agarashima, Japan, Kenuichio Harada is the only son of Lord Shingen. Shingen was the head of Clan Yashida, one of the most influential families in Japan, with direct ties to the emperor, and Kenuichio grew up in his father’s shadow. Under unrevealed circumstances, Shingen entered self-imposed exile when Harada was a young man. His disappearance was so sudden and inexplicable that the general public believed him dead, including his own daughter, Harada’s half-sister Mariko. In fact, Shingen was building a fearsome reputation for himself in the Japanese criminal underworld, an effort that took many years.

Harada apparently accompanied his father in his exile, learning at his feet as Shingen’s only male heir. He devoted himself at an early age to the study of the ancient samurai code. He mastered the arts of physical combat and trained with a katana blade until he and the blade could move as one. Although he lived a life most would recognize as criminal, Harada lived by a code to respect his opponents and honor his superiors unto death, if necessary. Eventually assuming the identity of the Silver Samurai, Harada acted as his father’s enforcer and representative in many dealings. Shingen told his son they would one day return to the public eye and merge the house of Clan Yashida with Shingen’s criminal empire, a lasting legacy of power that would be passed from father to son. [Wolverine (1st series) #1, New Mutants (1st series) #6]

Even in exile, Shingen upheld his Clan’s ancient position as Keeper of the Secrets of the Old World, many of which Kenuichio learned while acting as his father’s second. They knew the secrets of Muramasa, a mystical blacksmith who forged blades from the distilled rage of the wielder. [Wolverine: Origins #2] Kenuichio and Harada were also keepers of The Box, a relic of an obscure age that held a legacy of death and madness. At the request of Shoji Soma, Grandmaster of the Hand, they allowed him to hide an alien power source in the box, knowing that honor required they never open the box again for anyone, even the Grandmaster. [Secret Warriors (1st series) #26] During his time in exile, Kenuichio fathered a son by an unknown woman. He named the boy Shingen after his own father, although business kept him from spending much time with his son as he grew of age. [Wolverine (2nd series) #300]

Under unknown circumstances, Lord Shingen became indebted to the mutant revolutionary known as the Mandrill. When he was captured by the authorities in Africa, Mandrill sent word to Shingen that it was time for repayment of the debt, and Shingen sent Harada on his behalf. Operating as the Silver Samurai for the first time outside of Japan, Harada rescued Mandrill from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and swore himself into the mutant’s service. The Silver Samurai became an agent of the Mandrill’s private army, Black Spectre, as they prepared to overthrow the United States government. He may also have been responsible for the murder of Gerald O’Hara, whose diamond mines were needed to finance the revolution (and whose daughter, Shanna the She-Devil, had previously opposed the Mandrill).

In Manhattan, the Silver Samurai confronted Shanna O’Hara and her ally Daredevil, as they looked into Black Spectre’s activities. Working with Mandrill’s priestess Nekra, the Silver Samurai captured Shanna and led an attack on the television tower atop the Empire State Building. Black Spectre planned to cripple the nation’s communications as part of their revolution against the American government. Daredevil attempted to stop the Samurai’s forces, but the hero could barely even slow Harada, thanks to his power and protective armor. The antenna tower fell, and Black Spectre marched onwards to Washington. As he promised before the raid on the Empire State Building, the Mandrill honored his relationship with Shingen and freed the Silver Samurai of his obligations after the successful raid. With the debt fulfilled, Harada left the Mandrill’s employ before his final (and ultimately failed) strike on the White House. [Daredevil (1st series) #111]

The Silver Samurai next entered the employ of the Viper, a terrorist associated with another of his father’s contacts, Ishiro Tagara of the Japanese Red Army. Viper was interested in creating a teleportation matrix for her personal use, and she sent the Silver Samurai to Manhattan to steal the cavourite crystal from a S.H.I.E.L.D. safehouse. Through a chance encounter, Harada was opposed by Spider-Man and the Black Widow. They eventually overpowered him, and Harada was taken into custody. [Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #57]

The Samurai escaped with the help of the Viper, and orchestrated the creation of a new teleportation matrix, housed inside an ornate ring. The ring was lost in the mail en route to Harada’s courier, however, and delivered to the cast of Saturday Night Live. During a live performance, the Silver Samurai and a band of thugs attempted to covertly search the cast and their offices to locate the ring. Harada’s luck soured, though, when Peter Parker arrived to see the show on a date with Mary Jane Watson. Spider-Man ended up joining forces with the cast of SNL to fend off the Silver Samurai’s goons. Eventually, Harada recovered the ring and activated it, teleporting away to safety in the midst of the battle. [Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #74]

The Viper’s schemes continued when she and Harada used their teleportation ring to plant a hypno-beam inside the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, slowly gaining control of most of the crew. Viper planned a kamikaze strike, dropping the Helicarrier on top of Congress while the president was addressing the representatives, wiping out the American government. The Black Widow learned of Viper’s activities while investigating Harada’s earlier attack on S.H.I.E.L.D., and brought the plot to the attention of other heroes. Harada and the mercenary Boomerang defended the captured Helicarrier from the Black Widow, Spider-Man, Nick Fury and Shang-Chi. The Samurai was eager to redeem himself in personal combat against Spider-Man after their past encounters, but the web-slinger eventually outsmarted Harada and knocked him cold. [Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #83-85]

Although the struggle against S.H.I.E.L.D. failed, the Silver Samurai and Viper formed an enduring partnership. Harada committed himself to the Viper and her cause full time, acting as her champion in all things. Whatever the debt between them, the Silver Samurai appeared content to work solely as the Viper’s agent, until such a time as Lord Shingen was prepared to reclaim Clan Yashida for the two of them. For her part, Viper respected Harada as much as she did any other person alive, and they began a personal relationship on top of their professional dealings.

The Silver Samurai was close enough to Viper that he looked out for her better interests even when she didn’t ask. During their hunt for the Judas Man, the pair crossed paths with Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman. At the time, Viper believed she was Jessica’s mother and, although she didn’t mention her conflicted feelings to Harada when ordering her death, he noticed the resemblance too. When Spider-Woman became their prisoner, the Silver Samurai refused to kill her outright. Instead, he challenged her to a test of personal combat, claiming she had earned the right to die an honorable death. The duel created a suitable cover for Harada to surreptitiously allow Jessica to escape confinement. Furthermore, the Samurai had dressed Jessica in one of Viper’s costumes, ostensibly because it contained power-dampening circuitry to make their fight “even,” but it also allowed Jessica to use her resemblance to Viper to bluff her way past their guards and escape the installation entirely. A complicated maneuver by Harada, but it was the only way to honor Viper’s private wishes without openly disobeying her direct commands as well. [Spider-Woman (1st series) #42-43]

On another mission, Silver Samurai and Viper intended to manipulate the mutant gestalt team called the Team America into stealing some equipment for them from AIM. Professor Xavier and the New Mutants became involved, however, and stopped Viper’s schemes. Teleporting away, Harada and Viper set off a series of explosions in their base, apparently killing the New Mutant named Karma in their escape. During the caper, Harada learned that his father Shingen was dead, killed by a gaijin named Logan. Shingen had been in the process of reestablishing his legitimate credentials as head of Clan Yashida while asserting his full control over the Japanese underworld. Logan, the X-Man known as Wolverine, killed Shingen because of his love for Harada’s half-sister, Mariko Yashida. Worse for Harada, Mariko declared Shingen’s actions were dishonorable, and claimed control of Clan Yashida to purge it of all criminal ties. Furious and shamed over the loss of his birthright, Kenuichio wished to return to Japan and Viper agreed to support him however he desired. [New Mutants (1st series) #5-6]

The Silver Samurai’s first frontal assault on Mariko and her champion was delayed by the arrival of the X-Men for Logan and Mariko’s wedding, as well as the interference of Yukio, the Wild One. Their second assault was more successful, as Viper poisoned Wolverine and the X-Men while Mariko was lured to a mediation with Harada for control of Clan Yashida. Both Harada’s mediator and Mariko turned out to be imposters, though, and the meeting ended violently when Storm of the X-Men struck the pier with enormous amounts of lightning.

Mariko was injured at the docks and ended up in the hospital with the recuperating X-Men. The Silver Samurai and Viper struck there, as Harada intended to slay his half-sister in order to claim his birthright. He faced off against Wolverine, his father’s killer, in the hospital hallways. Their duel was a brutal one, and the Samurai learned that Logan’s adamantium bones were strong enough to withstand the deconstructive force of his blade. As fiercely as he fought, Harada was outmatched and fell in battle against the X-Man. Viper arrived in time to teleport him to safety before Wolverine delivered the killing blow. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #172-173]

Luckily for Harada, the separate machinations of the X-Men’s enemy Mastermind worked out in his favor. As part of a long plot to unbalance the X-Men and gain revenge, the evil mutant mentally manipulated Mariko into calling off her wedding to Logan. He then pushed her into naming the Silver Samurai as her heir, and cementing Shingen’s efforts to tie Clan Yashida to the criminal underworld. Although Mariko eventually shrugged off Mastermind’s influence, she remained apart from Logan until she managed to undo her mistakes and reclaim her honor and the honor of Clan Yashida by separating them once again from the Japanese crime lords. Although Mariko retained Kenuichio as her heir, she gave the honor sword of the Yashida to her true champion, Wolverine, as a promise they would eventually marry when she redeemed her clan. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #174, 176]

After a period of time, Silver Samurai and Viper had a falling out. According to Harada, she was “as one dead” to him. The details of their split remain undisclosed. [Wolverine (2nd series) #2] The Silver Samurai dedicated himself to Clan Yashida business afterwards, looking for the opportunity to claim his full birthright from Mariko. At one point, he assaulted his sister from behind and threatened to cut her throat and take the role of oyabun by force. Mariko’s response was laced with steel, as she calmly told him to do what he must. Impressed by her courage, Harada relented. Although he still sought control of Clan Yashida, he was no longer willing to kill Mariko for it. [Wolverine (2nd series) #150]

When a clan attaché named Noburo Kojima was killed while arranging the transport of the fabled Black Blade of Muramasa, the Silver Samurai sought to secure the blade before Muramasa cultists intercepted it. He located the couriers on the island of Madripoor, but the Muramasa blade had already claimed the soul of one of them. Unexpectedly, the couriers were his old adversaries, Jessica Drew and her partner Lindsey McCabe. Logan was also hunting for the Black Blade, after hearing of Kojima’s death. The X-Men were allegedly dead at the time, and so Logan was operating in Madripoor under his flimsy disguise as “Patch.” The Silver Samurai, Patch and Lindsey struggled against the possessed Jessica for control of the blade, but their fighting literally brought the house down.

The Silver Samurai was trapped under falling beams, and left at the mercy of Lindsey McCabe. She considered killing him for the trouble he put Jessica through in the past, and the injuries Lindsey suffered at Viper’s hands, but eventually chose to free him instead. Jessica had lost the Muramasa blade to “Patch,” who was now possessed by the blade’s spirit and kidnapped Jessica to serve as a sacrifice. Together, Harada and Lindsey interrogated some cultists and located the site of Muramasa’s ritual. As the Silver Samurai fought his way through the cultists, Lindsey acted as a sniper and cut down Patch before he could kill Jessica. When Patch eventually managed to reject the sword’s spell and cast it aside, Harada took the opportunity to claim the blade for himself. He bonded with the blade properly so that he and the sword became one, instead of one controlling the other. Patch commented on how the black-hearted rogue was suited for the black-hearted blade, but Harada retorted that once a warrior carried a sword in his heart, there was no room for another. This aside was clearly a reference to Wolverine’s possession of Clan Yashida’s honor sword, an indication that the Silver Samurai was not fooled by “Patch” and his disguise. [Wolverine (2nd series) #1-3]

The Silver Samurai and Logan soon met again on Clan business. A thousand year old archer from the Clan Yashida emerged from the wilderness of Thailand seeking aid. He claimed their clan was engaged in a struggle with a rival clan at the temple of Tangkor Marat centuries past, over the summoning of an extra-dimensional being known as the Doombringer. A ritual cast by the rival clan had frozen all parties in the midst of combat, until a recent earthquake shook the archer free from the localized effect. He sought aid from both Mariko Yashida and the Silver Samurai at Agarashima, but neither of them saw need to interfere on circumstances that apparently prevented Armageddon a thousand years prior. Instead, the archer found twenty clansmen interested in profit and traveled with them to Tangkor Marat.

Silver Samurai wanted to pursue his disobedient clansmen, and Mariko summoned Logan from Madripoor for his assistance in determining the extent of Clan Yashida’s ancient dishonor. Logan and Harada became reluctant allies for the venture, and Logan’s pilot friend Archie Corrigan flew them into Thailand. They reached Tangkor Marat just as the renegade clansmen found a way to undo the time-spell, reanimating the two armies in the midst of their battle. The ravages of time quickly caught up to the ancient warriors, causing them to wither away into dust, and leaving Harada and Wolverine to face off against the Clan Yashida soldiers. Although his former subordinates were armed with automatic weapons, the Silver Samurai faced them with nothing more than his honor and his blade. Together, the Samurai and Wolverine killed their attackers, but three bullets got through Harada’s armor, forcing Logan to go on to face the Doombringer alone. Despite his injuries, Harada managed to crawl his way into the temple, and used his sword to seriously wound the Doombringer from behind, giving Wolverine the chance to finish it. Logan then carried Harada back to Corrigan’s plane, and got him the necessary medical attention. [Wolverine: Doombringer]