Wolverine (2nd series) #158

Issue Date: 
January 2001
Story Title: 

Joe Pruett (writer), Sunny Lee (penciler), Harry Candelario (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Hi-Fi Design (colors), Pete Franco (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Amiko has been kidnapped – again. Upon learning this, Wolverine has a helicopter drop him off at a secluded island in the South China Sea. After landing, he is met by a raptor imported from the Savage Land which he takes out. Entering the complex, he finds Amiko being held in a cell. However, before he can break her out, Zaran appears and shoots him with a dart filled with debilitating poison. To get his honor back, Zaran challenges him to an event, where he is the hunter and Wolverine is the prey. In the woods, Zaran has the upper-hand at first because Wolverine is drugged, but the tide quickly changes and Wolverine takes him out with relative ease. After he does so, a Japanese mob leader by the name of Shinji Kizaki appears with Amiko in tow. After a brief discussion, Wolverine turns to leave but is attacked by Kizaki and his ninjas. In short time, Wolverine is able to take them out and is preparing to take out Kizaki as well but Amiko stops him. Letting him go, Wolverine and Amiko board the helicopter and leave as Kizaki and Zaran begin to plot their revenge.

Full Summary: 

Nighttime – somewhere over the South China Sea, a helicopter carries Wolverine. Coming upon a lone island, the pilot informs him that their designated drop zone is coming up in two minutes. The pilot informs him this is his last chance to turn back and asks if he’s sure he wants to go through with this. It’s a private island down there that most rational people tend to give a wide berth. From what he’s heard, the owner doesn’t take kind to visitors. Wolverine replies that it’s not a problem t’ him. He don’t anticipate the owner bein’ to his likin’ anyway. He then tells him to meet him at the designated pickup spot at first light and to expect company, he ain’t comin’ back alone. The pilot tells him that he copies and adds that they’re coming up on the drop zone.

As Wolverine leaps out of the chopper, he thinks to himself that he’s plenty mad. He can feel the berserker rage comin’ on but that’s not what he needs now. He has to stay in control, if not fer his sake then fer the kid’s – fer Amiko. The kidnappers note Yukio read to him said they wanted him, not the girl. She was just a means to gettin’ his attention. They got it all right; now let’s see if they can handle it.

Floating down in via parachute, he recalls that Yukio wasn’t very happy. He made sure she got left behind because the note said fer him t’ come alone. There was no way he was goin’ to jeopardize the kid’s life by not followin’ instructions to the letter. Yukio’s a big girl, she’ll get over it. Can’t say he blames her though. Amiko means a lot to her an’ she means a lot to the kid. He’d want ta be here come hell or high water if he was in her shoes.

Looking through his binoculars, he sees his target in sight. Seeing a ‘copter landing pad down below, Wolverine remarks that it’s nice of ‘em to give him such a convenient target to land on. Doesn’t look like any guards are posted, hate t’ say he’s disappointed. He was hoping to inflict some pain as quick as he could. He’s sure he’ll get his fill ‘fore the night’s done.

Once he lands on the helicopter pad, Wolverine notices that the wind just shifted downwind givin’ him a scent he sure as heck wasn’t expectin’ in this part o’ the world – a raptor! When it attacks him, Wolverine notices that it wants to take a chuck outta him but adamantium-laced skeleton or not, he ain’t in no hurry to let him. Kicking the raptor off of him, Wolverine can tell that the dino’s a long way from home. It’s got the stink o’ the Savage Land all over him. It’s probably just scared an’ hungry but that’s not his problem. He can tell it’s tensin’, gettin’ ready t’ strike. When it does, Wolverine replies in kind with a slash to it’s neck. Nothin’ personal but it’s survival o’ the fittest in this game. Kneeling by the dead dinosaur, Wolverine says that he doesn’t know what kinda nut case has his own personal dinosaur servin’ as a bodyguard but if a hair’s been harmed on the girl’s head, an army of T-Rex’s ain’t goin’ t’ stop him from takin’ him down.

Entering the building, Wolverine senses that it’s quiet, too quiet. He knows a trap when he smells one an’ even without his hyper-senses, this one stinks to high heaven. Seeing the animal head trophies perched on the wall, Wolverine can tell that it looks like his mystery host considers himself some kind o’ hunter, although he doesn’t think much o’ this kinda huntin’. Ain’t much to killin’ an animal that doesn’t have no weapon t’ fight back with.

Just then, Wolverine catches Amiko’s scent and works on finding out where it leads him. Standing at the top of stairs, he wonders how he knew it would be down. Once he descends the stairs, he sees a number of cells. He ain’t seen this much cell space this side of Rikers Island. Strange though, fer all the accommodations he ain’t catchin’ now whiff o’ anyone else ‘cept Amiko. Reaching her cell, Logan tells her that it’s him and he’s come to get her outta there an’ take her back home. Picking her head up, Amiko asks Logan if it’s really him. Logan tells her ‘course it’s him. She didn’t think he’d leave her there, did she? Popping a claw, he tells her that he’s going to pick the lock an’ he’ll have her outta there before she knows it.

There’s a legendary, almost mythical tribe deep in the heart of the Amazon who outside observers have claimed use magic to render themselves invisible to their prey. The truth of the matter is these huntsmen use a mixture of oils and powders known only to them that mask the pheromones that their bodies chemically transmit thus masking their scents and enabling them to approach their prey. No man alive born outside this sequestered cabal is privy to the secret of this elixir, except one.

Before Logan can pick the lock and free Amiko from her confines, he is shot in the back of the neck with a dart shot from a blow gun. When he falls in a heap, Amiko tells him that he needs to get up. Logan weakly informs her that he can not, his body’s paralyzed. The attacker states potent, is it not? In the rain forests from which it originates, the paralysis serves the function of allowing the hunter to slay his impotent prey. But that is not his ambition for the moment. Even for one with an accelerated healing factor such as himself, the effect should provide them with ample opportunity to conduct their business like civilized men.

He then tells Wolverine that he has a reputation that precedes him, he should be proud of that. Some say that he is the most feared man in this region of the world. He fears no man, he is Zaran. A hunter, a trapper, a master of the art of weaponry but soon he shall be known as the man who killed the Wolverine. When Wolverine tells him “lotsa luck,” Zaran assures him that luck will have nothing to do with it. Once, he was feared throughout the world. The whisper of his name brought ruthless men to the brink of tears, his record was perfect. He had never failed in a mission until a former MI6 agent by the name of Shang-Chi defeated him in battle, the only man ever to do so. After that, contracts dried up as his reputation soured. Even his one-time pupil thought himself better than him and stole his identity from him, until he too was defeated at the hands of Shang-Chi. But no more, he will reclaim all that is his.

Wolverine informs him that he’s a Grade-A psycho. He doesn’t care ‘bout his flamin’ reputation. All he cares ‘bout is this li’l girl he had the nerve to use as a tool t’ get him there. When he grimaces in pain, Zaran remarks that he can see that is body is reacting to the poison now flowing through his veins. And before he asks, yes, it is fatal perhaps even to one such as himself. He has the antidote and will gladly turn it over to him, under one condition. As he already stated, he wants his reputation restored, he wants his name back, and most of all he wants him dead. It’s nothing personal. Normally, he wouldn’t care if he lived or died but he needs him dead. He’s invited the most influential and powerful crime lord in the Far East there. He’ll be watching tonight’s event through the safety of closed circuit television.

Wolverine asks him what kinda event he’s talking about. Zaran says that he thought that was painfully obvious, his death of course. What he proposes is that he will be given a ten minute head start. What that time has elapsed, he will become the hunter and he will become his prey. With such a formidable foe taken down at his hands, his reputation and honor will be returned to him and his services will become even more in demand than before. If by some miracle he survives the night, he will hand over the antidote to the poison and he and the girl will go free.

Wolverine asks him what’s to stop him from just takin’ him out right now. As three ninjas surround Amiko, Zaran tells him that he doesn’t think that he needs to answer that question. Wolverine tells him that he gets it now for him to get this. He’ll play his game but when all is said and done, he’s goin’ to regret he ever saw him. Got it?

Alone in the woods, Wolverine thinks that there comes a time when most every man has t’ fight for what he believes in, for what he loves. Fer him, that time seems t’ come on a more frequent basis than most. He doesn’t like it one bit. Someone’s goin’ to pay big time for puttin’ Amiko in harm’s way again. He then recognizes that it’s quiet, too quiet. That usually means one thing.

Just then, an arrow pierces his arm. Pulling it out, Wolverine knows that he’s careless. Normally, Zaran couldn’t get within a hundred yards o’ him, let alone put an arrow in him. But until his healin’ factor kicks the poison outta his system, he’s gonna have to rely more on his instincts than his senses. At that moment, Wolverine hears Zaran step on a stick and snap it in half. Wolverine sees that as mistake number one. There won’t be a second. While Zaran readies another arrow, Wolverine leaps at him, claws at the ready. As he does, he can feel the animal in him tryin’ to get out. He lets it and proceeds to slash Zaran’s bow into kindling.

Preparing himself for further battle, Wolverine tells Zaran that it’s over, he loses and that his mistake was bringin’ Amiko into all o’ this. For that, he’s going t’ slice him into tiny li’l cutlets. Pulling out knives, Zaran tells him that is an empty boast from one who is about to die. Rushing towards Wolverine, Zaran is able to dodge is claw-swipe and is able to jam a dagger into his side much to Wolverine’s surprise. Removing the dagger, Wolverine tells Zaran that he’s about had it with him an’ his contest. He says they finish this up right now. Looking around, he sees that Zaran is gone and wonders if the game hunter has turned chicken on him. After seeing blood on the ground, Wolverine realizes that he must’ve hurt ‘im worse than he thought. He doesn’t need his hyper-senses now, a cub scout could follow the trail. He then says to get the fat lady ready, ‘cause this games ‘bout over.

Eventually, Wolverine comes to the end of the blood trail. Kneeling down to check on it, Wolverine thinks to himself that Zaran may as well be travelin’ down the yellow brick road, that’s how obvious his path has been, maybe a bit too obvious. Clues point Zaran went this way, but his instincts tellin’ him different. An’ if he’s correct an’ his healin’ factor’s finally cleaned the poison outta his system, then the scent he’s smellin’ behind him is Zaran.

At the last second, Wolverine dodges a spear stab from Zaran. As he does, Zaran tells him that if he surrenders to his fate now, he swears on his honor his death will be painless. Destroying Zaran’s spear with his claws, Wolverine tells Zaran that he’s got a serious problem – an ego that can’t match his ability. If he thinks he’s goin’ to be able to take him down with a stick an’ some ginsu knives, he’s more than delusional, he’s certifiably nuts. Regrouping, Zaran backs up and pulls out his daggers. While he does, Wolverine tells him that he made a big mistake. If he wants some o’ him, fine, it’s his funeral. But when he involves an innocent girl who means quite a bit t’ him, he gets angry and when he gets angry, he ends up in a world o’ hurt.

Rushing at Wolverine, Zaran tells him that his death will be a new beginning for him. Engaging in close combat, Wolverine stabs Zaran and then informs him that the only thing he’ll be beginnin’ is some intensive physical therapy in some hospital somewhere. As Zaran collapses to his knees, Wolverine remarks game an’ match. Leaning down to check on him, Wolverine remarks that he must be gettin’ soft, he’s still breathin’.

Just then, he states that the show is over. He then tells the ninjas not to think he doesn’t know their there. Fear gives off a distinct scent. They ain’t Hand material, they ain’t that good. So odds are they work for the psycho there. He then tells them to listen up an’ listen good. They have two choices. They can either drag this getting-colder-by-the-minute body away or they can join him in becomin’ a bleedin’ mess on the ground. Their call.

The response comes from a man wearing a suit by the name of Shinji Kizaki. He tells Wolverine to have a care gaijin and to not issue threats he is unable to enforce. He is a reasonable man but not one who suffers threats to his person. He cares not if that fool, Zaran, lives or dies. He sought to prove himself worthy to serve in his employment. Needless to say, he failed miserably in that regard. He must commend him, Wolverine, though on a battle well fought. Even though he had to overcome, shall they say obstacles not of his making, he still triumphed. Rather easily at that, he might add.

Wolverine says that’s him, the Helen Keller of mutantkind. He then mentions to Kizaki that he’s Yakuza, Japanese mob. Kizaki tells him that he’s quite perceptive and that he believes the saying in the west is “to the victor go the spoils” and tosses Wolverine the antidote to Zaran’s poison. Wolverine catches it and tells him thanks but no thanks. He doesn’t need it. Nothin’ bothers him fer long. Not poison, not Zaran, an’ not him. Kizaki replies so it would seem. Unlike Zaran he has earned honor in his eyes this day. Knowing his reputation in the east, Zaran foolishly insisted on including him for his demonstration. He correctly thought his judgment was flawed. Zaran fought without honor. He was dead in his eyes regardless of tonight’s outcome. Injecting a poison into his system to hamper his unique abilities, using an innocent child as bait…

Wolverine cuts him off and asks where the child is at. Snapping his fingers, Kizaki calls for Amiko and provides her to Wolverine as a reward for the victor. As they embrace, Amiko tells Logan that she just wants to go home. Logan tells her that he’s going to get her outta there, don’t worry.

As they begin to walk away, Kizaki tells Wolverine that he’s afraid he will be unable to allow that. Even though Zaran’s attempt at impressing him failed, tonight’s events have actually proven useful to him. He has been able to identify a future potential threat. Even though he himself has no quarrel with him at the present, he is sure that it is only a matter of time before circumstances dictate otherwise.

Stopping in his tracks, Wolverine says to Amiko that he was afraid o’ this and asks her if she’s up to this. Amiko tells him to just say the word. At that moment, Kizaki orders his ninjas to kill them both. With that, they unleash a number of arrows in Wolverine and Amiko’s direction. Using his body as a shield, Wolverine blocks the arrows from reaching Amiko. Seeing the arrows hit him, Amiko states that he’s hurt to which Logan tells her that it works worse than it is. He then picks her up and runs off.

As he does, Wolverine thinks to himself that he wishes he felt as strong as he sounds. His healin’ factor’s workin’ but it’s still ‘bout taxed to the limit after fightin’ off the effects o’ the poison. He’s not sure how much it’ll take. First priority is Amiko. Poor girl’s been through the ringer over the last few months. It ain’t right for her t’ keep bein’ a puppet t’ get his attention. It ain’t gonna happen again. Placing her behind a large boulder, Wolverine tells Amiko to stay there and to keep head down no matter what.

Climbing a tree, Wolverine looks down to the forest floor and sees the ninjas looking for him. They’re quiet, he’s gotta give ‘em that but they sure ain’t flamin’ invisible, at least not t’ him. Leaping down from his position, Wolverine proceeds to take them all out with his claws in rather short fashion. Standing over their defeated bodies, he laments that it was mighty disappointin’. He had hoped they could give him a decent fight. Turning his attention to Kizaki, Wolverine grabs him by the collar and tells him that he should have just walked away when he had the chance but he wanted t’ do this the hard way – mistake, big mistake.

Before he can deliver the killing blow, Amiko tells Wolverine to stop. He is an honorable samurai. He is old and defeated, there is no honor in killing what is already dead. She wants to just leave and go home. As he lets Kizaki go, Wolverine remarks that the kid makes sense. No need for killin’ if it ain’t necessary. He then tells Kizaki that he promises that if he ever messes with him or his again, no kid’s going ta save his life for him. Bowing, Kizaki tells Wolverine that his mercy is most generous. On his honor, his family is safe from retribution.

At that moment, Wolverine’s ride arrives and he and Amiko board the helicopter. While it takes off, Kizaki says to Wolverine to enjoy his victory while he can, he assures him it is only temporary. Aiming his rifle at the helicopter, Zaran says that his honor is lost again to him, he’ll see him dead. Before he can fire, Kizaki stops and calls him a fool. Has he no room in his empty head for rational thoughts? Does he truly believe this weapon will kill him? If he shoots him now, they’re both dead. He tells Zaran to let Wolverine have his illusions of victory for now. When next their paths cross, he will know everything there is about this Wolverine – his strengths, his weaknesses, his motivations. At that time, there will be only one acceptable outcome – Wolverine will die.

Characters Involved: 




Shinji Kizaki

Various unnamed ninjas

Wolverine’s helicopter pilot (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Amiko was apprehended last along with Yukio in Wolverine (2nd series) #151-153.

Riker’s Island is a large prison located in New York on an actual island in the East River between the Bronx and Queens.

Zaran was an enemy of Shang-Chi in his Masters of Kung Fu series. His first appearance was in Masters of Kung Fu #77. He was also a member of Batroc’s Brigade. Other members included Batroc the Leaper (leader) and Machete.

“Travelin’ down the yellow brick road” is a reference to the classic story The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion made their way together to see the Wizard.

Helen Keller was a blind and deaf lady born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She was born on June 27, 1880 and died on June 1, 1968. She was a very influential figure in the handicapped community as well as for many other items.

Issue Information: 
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