Wolverine (2nd series) #103

Issue Date: 
July 1996
Story Title: 
Top of the World, Ma!

Larry Hama (writer), Val Semeiks (penciler), Chad Hunt (inker), Joe Rosas (colors), Malibu (enhancement), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Bob Harras (editor & chief)

Brief Description: 

On the roof of one of the Twin Towers, Elektra challenges Logan to be more than a beast; to be a man. Hanging a scroll before him, Logan notices that it has forest and wind written on it, but a third item is missing. After a brief fight, Elektra tells Logan that she plans on bringing him back to human by bringing the martial artist out of him. Pulling her sword out of its sheath, she tosses it in front of Logan and then leads him further into a building. When she gets him into position, Elektra locks Logan in a cooler as his last test. As Logan pounds his fist, Elektra understands his pain. After losing her mother and father, she sought solace in the martial arts and searched for the man Stick. She was deemed unworthy by him and eventually gained access to the Hand to prove herself. That was her undoing. Inside the cooler, Logan remembers what Ogun taught him many years ago and makes his way out of the cooler. Grabbing the sword, he meets up with Elektra at the location that has the missing item, mountain, written on it. After a tussle, Logan is able to pass the final test by putting the sword back into the sheath located on Elektra’s back.

Full Summary: 

Stick told me to set him back on the path again. Stick never told me where I could find him, how to put him back on the path or even who he was. All I know is that I am on a mission of redemption. But who is the redeemer? And who is the redeemed?

When Logan reaches the very top of one of the twin towers, he tells Elektra that he climbed it. No pistons, no rope, no claws – just him. Elektra replies “so it speaks” and asks if it has a name. Logan informs her it is Wolverine. Elektra tells him that a wolverine is a beast. Turning away from him, she asks him if it was the man or the beast who climbed the mountain. With no warning, she turns and slashes Logan with her sai and says that, if it was the man, he let his guard down. Once she slashes him, Logan growls angrily and pops his claws. He then watches Elektra calmly walk away from him towards a doorway.

Inside the doorway, Elektra tells Logan this was once a place where tourists fed their bodies while admiring the view. They shall remake it as a dojo, a place to feed their souls while strengthening their bodies. She is going to bring him back to the path. To the way of the righteous warrior. The righteous warrior has obligations and a sense of duty, and when he fulfills his obligations and carries out his duties, then he has honor. Hanging up a scroll with Chinese writing on it, she tells him that obligation, duty and honor are the attributes of the righteous warrior and that is what sets him apart from all others. That is what puts him above the beasts and the savages.

Studying the scroll, Logan mentions that the writing is id-e-o-grams f-for forest and wind – something is missing. Elektra tells him never mind that, now he will bow to her. As Logan does so, he asks if he should call her sensei, sifu or master. Elektra replies by smacking him across his face with the butt of her sai and tells him that Elektra will do for now. With that, she leaps over Logan as he goes to slash her. While she does, she says now begins the tempering of the flawed iron. Now is the once-great blade returned to polished glory. Challenging Logan, she asks him didn’t his nemesis Shingen himself tell him. Did he not say that the sword remembers?

As they do battle, the sword does remember but the memory is deep and buried. What is boiling at the surface is a red animal rage. “Red of tooth and claw.” The animal in him remembers the pain and the hurt and the animal is quick to unleash a dark and mindless fury. It is a fury that must be hammered out like impurities in the forge. It is a lengthy process but the result is a calm like the eye of a storm.

As Logan and Elektra sit Indian-style across from each other, Elektra tells him that the animal in him wants to rip and tear with claws. The trained martial artist in him will use the weapon at hand that is appropriate for the opponent. The reasoning and thinking warrior will take the logical advantage. Logan looks at her quizzically and utters a “rrrrr?” Elektra informs him that it is her belief that if she is able to bring the martial artist back, the man will follow. The Zen martial artist has trained his body to be one with his mind. If she makes the body remember, will not the mind? Just as the sword remembers.

Standing, she pulls her sword out its sheath behind her back. She tells Logan that he is like a naked sword. What the warrior sage Sun Tzu calls “an instrument of ill omen, glittering with a fell light.” The killing tool that flies too easily from its sheath. The butcher’s blade, the slaughterer’s glaive – they are the workaday implements of mindless blood-letting. Tossing the sword, it lands and sticks into the ground perpendicularly. Elektra says that the very best sword, the art blades, the toledos and the damascenes – they never leave their sheathes.

Elektra then begins to leave the room and tells Logan to come. When he asks why, the answer is that it is the final test. Logan asks test while Elektra leads Logan into a cooler. Logan asks if they are going to be fighting in there. Elektra tells him no fighting, an animal can be trained to fight. She then leaps over Logan again and tells him this is a test of a different order. With that, she locks him inside the cooler.

As Logan angrily bangs his fists against the wall of the cooler, Elektra tells him that she really does understand his rage. She understands his loss. She lost her mother at an early age. She thought she had found true love and happiness, with a blind man, of all people. Then, her father was killed, and her world was shattered. She sought to lose herself in the martial arts, but it was not enough to ease the pain, the emptiness and the anger. So, she climbed the impossible mountain because her old sensei told her to seek out the one called Stick and his acolytes. But she was unworthy, she was unclean. She thought she could prove herself by fighting the enemies of Stick, the cult of assassins known as the Hand. To gain access to the Hand, she had to join them and that was her undoing. But she came back. She returned from a place more dread, more forbidding than even the bleak Coventry of the soul to which he, Logan, has been consigned.

Inside the walk-in cooler, Logan growls out Elektra’s name. When he realizes she is gone, he sits to meditate and recalls that she said… it was… a test. He has to think, he has to remember. Suddenly, it hits him – the scroll. Leaping to his feet, he heads towards the locked door and slices it open with his claws. Free of the cooler, he heads to the roof and grabs the sword. Logan says the scroll and the sword and wonders what was it about the scroll – forest and wind and a blank space. He knows he’s seen those ideograms before and the third place wasn’t blank. It was in the dojo of Ogun. Ogun, the demon-masked! Ogun, who taught him the samurai arts. Ogun, who died by his hand. He remembers Ogun telling him forest, wind and mountain. According to Sun Tzu, these are the attributes of the superior warrior. Majestic as the forest, swift as the wind, immovable as the mountain.

At that, Logan leaps down to an area where Elektra stands before a water tower with the Chinese symbol for mountain painted on it. Seeing Logan, Elektra tells him very good. He has solved the riddle of the scroll, has he solved the riddle of the sword. Holding the sword in front of him, Logan asks her what does she think. Preparing to defend herself Elektra replies that what she thinks doesn’t matter, he has to prove it. Logan tells her that she’s a tough cookie and maybe the ol’ canucklehead don’t wanna play no more. Elektra informs him it’s not a game. Logan says, “No darlin’, it sure ain’t.” With that, he leaps at Elektra, ready to bring his sword down onto her. Elektra deftly blocks it and tells him that is not a particularly profitable opening move, especially when it results in the loss of the sword.

As Logan flies over her, his sword goes another way and sticks into an air vent. Instinctively, before Logan is knocked off of the building, he grabs hold of the side and flips to his feet, ready to do battle again. This time, he pops his claws. Elektra looks at him and asks, “So, the animal wins out over the scientific warrior.” Logan growls and retracts his claws. When he does, Elektra leaps at him and says that the man, the complex thinker, allows pride to put him at a disadvantage. When she proceeds to kick him in the face she asks where the balance is between the brute and the schemer. Unmercifully, Elektra pummels Logan as he is unable to do anything.

During the battle, Logan grabs hold of Elektra’s sais with his hands, but she manages to flip over and fling him away with her feet. When she does, she says to Logan that she thought he was made of better stuff. The force of her kick makes Logan head over to the other side of the rooftop where he lands next to where the sword is sticking out. Elektra gives him no time to breathe, as she leaps towards him again. She says, “So, the animal is in ascension” and that, if he’s going to snarl like a beast, then he had better die like a beast. Pulling the sword out of it’s resting place, Logan tells her that the animal don’t plan his moves out in advance, the animal don’t pretend to be dumber than he looks. Leaping towards each other, Logan informs Elektra that she’s been outfoxed.

Landing on his feet, Logan tells her that she walked right into a checkmate. Looking back at her sword in the sheath, Elektra says that she knew full well what the outcome would be. Just as he knew that it is much harder to sheath a sword than to draw it. Smiling, Logan tells her sometimes it’s easier to move the mountain, darlin’.

Characters Involved: 



In Elektra’s memories:

Stick and his associates

Members of the Hand

In Logan’s memories:


Story Notes: 

Elektra started on the path to find Logan back in Wolverine (2nd series) #100 on recommendation by Stick. In this issue, she is successful on leading him back to humanity.

The blind man Elektra fell in love with is, of course, Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil.

Wolverine killed Ogun back in Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #6.

Sun Tzu was the author of “The Art of War,” an ancient though still influential Chinese book on military strategy.

Issue Information: 
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