Wolverine (2nd series) #3

Issue Date: 
January 1989
Story Title: 
The Black Blade

Chris Claremont (writer), John Buscema (penciler), Al Williamson (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine, in his Patch identity, is possessed by the Muramasa Sword and, escaping a burning building, he takes Jessica Drew away to be sacrificed. Jessica’s friend, Lindsay McCabe, and the Silver Samurai head over to the Princess Bar, where they find O’Donnell. They need to find out where the sacrifice might take place, and so Lindsay uses her acting skills to force the information from three cultists they have captive. They then head to the cult’s hideaway, and the Samurai asks O’Donnell to remain behind in case they fail to recover Jessica. As Patch prepares to sacrifice Jessica, Lindsay shoots him with a high-powered rifle. Patch falls, and the Silver Samurai takes on the angry cult members by himself. As Lindsay tries to rescue Jessica, Patch recovers due to his incredible healing factor, and grabs her. As he prepares to strike, the Samurai intervenes and the two men battle. Unfortunately, Patch is too much for him and the Samurai is knocked out. As Patch then approaches the two women, he uses all his will power to fight the possession, and finally manages to throw the sword, along with the possession, away. Lindsay is pleased, as is Patch for her bravery. The Samurai, however, tries to take the sword for himself, but nothing happens. He realizes that Patch was the sword’s chosen master. He departs, leaving Patch, Lindsay and Jessica to celebrate.

Full Summary: 

After being possessed by the Muramasa Sword, Wolverine, in his role as Patch, stands atop the burning building, holding the unconscious Jessica Drew in one arm, and wielding the Muramasa Sword in the other. Watching from the jetty, the Silver Samurai and Lindsay McCabe can only guess at what to do next.

Patch informs them that the black blade now has a master worthy of the name and, with Drew’s sacrifice, the bond that has been forged can never be broken. He leaps into the flames, and Lindsay screams. She tries to rush inside, unable to abandon her best friend. However, before she can reach the entrance, an explosion tears the place apart and it collapses in on itself.

The Samurai rushes to her aid, telling her that her loyalty and courage do her more credit than her brains. Her dress is burning, so the Samurai cuts the lower half off and picks her up. As the flames follow, he runs in the opposite direction, much to Lindsay’s frustration at leaving her friend behind.

Tears pour down her cheek, but the Samurai tries to assure her that, if Patch wanted her slain, he’d have done it there and then. He suspects that returning to the fire was no act of suicide, but his way of covering his trail. He may mean to sacrifice Jessica, but they’ve no way of knowing when, or where. Lindsay suddenly perks up. She thinks they may have an ace in the hole.

That night at the Princess Bar, Chief of Police Tai pays a visit to O’Donnell. He remarks that he’d hardly credit that he’s recently been a ‘guest’ of the late, unlamented crimelord, Roche, and his inquisitor. O’Donnell replies that he was rescued, no thanks to him. Tai informs him that he’s come to understand that O’Donnell has taken on a ‘silent partner’ at the Princess Bar. He asks if he would care to elaborate, but O’Donnell isn’t willing to give anything away. Tai continues to mention a fire at the dockland warehouse. This fire came hot on the heels of a pitched battle that leveled the nearby joyhouse. He asks if anyone there would care to assist him with those enquiries.

He is met with silence and decides to depart; hoping that, by tomorrow, O’Donnell or his friends might have some news for him. Lindsay and the Samurai arrive, and Tai kisses her hand graciously. He knows who she is, just as he knows everything that goes on in Madripoor.

He takes his leave, and O’Donnell congratulates them on waltzing in after smashing a fair chunk of Lowtown to bits, just as the chief of police is grilling him for information. The Silver Samurai knows Tai recognized him, and wonders why he didn’t arrest him. He’s wanted the world over. O’Donnell knows that Tai understands that there’s more going on than a simple punch up. He also understands that Tai wants answers, and they’re in for it if they don’t come up with some.

He asks where Patch is. The Samurai replies that the sword has possessed him. He means to sacrifice Jessica Drew. Lindsay says they have to stop him, but O’Donnell replies that Madripoor is a big island. He lives there, and even he doesn’t know where to begin to look. Harada informs him that Lindsay mentioned that he has three cultists prisoner in his cellar. Might they not be persuaded to cooperate? O’Donnell reckons they’re the toughest hardcases he’s ever seen. They’ll die first. Lindsay reckons he hasn’t asked them as nicely as she will.

In an adjoining room, O’Donnell’s three captives are bound to chairs, but not gagged. They wonder what their fate will be. Two of them seem a little blasé, until Lindsay swings open the door. Entering behind her are O’Donnell and the Silver Samurai. She asks, rhetorically, if they remember her. She’s the lady they tried to kidnap. Not one of their finest hours, she adds, giggling slightly and pretending to act drunk. She tells them that she needs their help in finding their friend, but Mei Yin spits at her, replying defiantly that they’ll see her in Hades first. Lindsay pulls out a dagger and grabs Mei Yin, dragging her off the chair. She shoves her into a dark corner of the room and says smart girls like her need to be taught a lesson.

Mei Yin’s two cohorts are clearly concerned about Lindsay’s behavior. Even O’Donnell is surprised by the look on her face. He figures she isn’t fooling. The Samurai feels this is for the better. Perhaps she will be taken seriously. Lindsay approaches Mei Yin in a deranged manner. “This is gonna be sooo much fun.”

O’Donnell steps forward to put a stop to it, but the Samurai extends his sword and blocks his path. He tells him it’s Lindsay’s play, and O’Donnell must trust her. The bellhop and Tsuboro see Lindsay lunge towards Mei Yin hidden in the darkness, followed by the sound of someone taking a real beating. The bellhop presumes Lindsay is beating her to death, and O’Donnell can’t believe what he’s hearing. The Samurai feels this is a revelation. From the darkness comes a blood-curdling scream, before Lindsay emerges from the shadows, hunched over and carrying the dagger, now dripping with blood. She giggles to herself. “That was fun!”

She walks straight past O’Donnell and the Samurai and saunters up to the bellhop, who pushes himself backwards on his chair. Lindsay points the dagger at his face and informs him that Mei Yin wouldn’t tell her what she wanted, and now she can’t. However, she doesn’t mind, as it gives her the chance to play with him. The bellhop is petrified, and screams, “NO! Blessed ancestors, I’ll talk, I’ll talk!” He begs the others to keep Lindsay away from him, and so O’Donnell steps in and removes the dagger from her hand. He says he will handle things from here. “Oh… poo!” she replies in a huff.

Lindsay storms off, warning that she’ll return if they don’t cooperate with O’Donnell. O’Donnell casually lights a cigarette and tells the two captives that if they want to save themselves, they know what to do.

The Samurai follows Lindsay, who is relaxing against a wall. She’s beat. He can’t believe what he’s seen, but she reminds him that he knows her - they don’t. It was all a deception. Some of the slaps were real, but the cries were all Lindsay. She is proud of the fatal scream at the end. “And the blood?” the Samurai asks. Lindsay informs him it’s stage blood from O’Donnell’s make-up stores that his dancers use. Mei Yin isn’t dead, but she’s convinced the other two that she’s a fiend. She reckons that if the producer of ‘Sorority Slasher’ had seen this performance, he’d have cast her in the lead for sure. “His loss,” replies the Samurai, “You were superb.” Darn straight, thinks Lindsay.


Lindsay has changed and descends the staircase to find the Samurai training. He’s out of uniform, but is still an impressive sight. She asks about his sword, and he tells her that compared to the Muramasa Sword, it is nothing. He is simply a mutant whose abilities mean he can generate the cutting energy within his own body and channel it through the sword. For his purposes, pretty much any sword will suffice.

Lindsay asks what makes the black blade so special. The Samurai replies that the creation of a true sword is as much a spiritual act as a physical one. The Smith, he explains, imbues the metal with a piece of his soul, just as the warrior consecrates it with heart and lifesblood. He adds that none before Muramasa ever created such blades, and none after ever wanted to. The sword was the ultimate product of his brilliance. Perhaps he has also been infected with his madness too, he ponders.

The Samurai says that Muramasa sought his whole life to craft the perfect blade, and he asks whether the blade itself might not have a similar dream; to be the perfect weapon, searching through the ages for the warrior worthy to wield it. O’Donnell appears, and informs the Samurai that the blade may well have found its perfect match - in Patch. The Samurai doesn’t like this. The blade masters Patch. This is not how it should be.

(later still)

Night has fallen, as the Samurai, McCabe and O’Donnell approach the cult’s old highland temple in the middle of nowhere. The ceremony is keyed to the full moon, so there is little time to waste. Lindsay scopes the place with her binoculars, but can see no sign of life. O’Donnell volunteers to take point, but the Samurai tells O’Donnell to remain there. He will deal with the cult, and Patch, whilst Lindsay rescues Jessica Drew. He is adamant, and says that O’Donnell is best able to deal with the authorities should they fail in their mission.

O’Donnell hands over his Heckler & Koch rifle to Lindsay, who recognizes it. O’Donnell is impressed that she knows her weapons. She explains that she did a season on ‘Tour of Duty.’ The Vietnam vets loved showing off their expertise whilst advising the actors.

They soon find themselves at the retreat, and watch as a group of cultists make their way to the ceremony. Harada explains that they carry on a tradition established by the sword’s very creation. As the black blade took its first life in the spring, the beginning of the year; so are all the cult’s sacrifices executed at dawn, the beginning of the day.

The Silver Samurai is nervous, and questions whether he can fight through so many to the altar in time to prevent Patch from slaying Jessica. He decides that she must kill Patch, before he kills her friend. “I’m not a killer,” she replies to herself, “but if I don’t…”

She notices that the celebrant is wearing the sword, and figures it must be Patch. He is standing on a dais, surrounded by the cult’s members. Jessica is near him, motionless and seemingly subservient. Lindsay presumes she must be drugged or under some kind of spell.

The incense stinks so thick she can hardly breathe, and the chanting coming from around the dais makes her head hurt. She lies flat on the ground and takes aim at Patch through the rifle’s telescopic lens. She hopes Jessica can snap out of it in time, but she kneels before Patch, dressed in a garish costume, awaiting her execution. Patch raises the Muramasa Sword and gives a speech, telling everyone that with Jessica’s death, as her flesh serves in this world, so shall her spirit in the realm beyond.

Lindsay reckons they’re not satisfied with killing their sport; they want to enslave her ghost as well. She sees Patch raise the sword and knows that he’s possessed just like Jess was. He’s innocent, but does that matter? Either way, she’s taking a life. Patch’s if she acts, Jessica’s if she doesn’t. As the sword is about to be brought down, Lindsay fires. Patch’s mask shatters as the bullet connects. He rocks backwards and falls to the ground as the cultists begin to look around anxiously. Jessica doesn’t move a muscle.

The Cultists head off to find Patch’s slayer, but the Silver Samurai stops them in their tracks. They recognize him, and figure he too is after the black blade. They are prepared to defend it, but soon find that it won’t be easy against someone as skilled as the Samurai. As he tackles wave upon wave of sword-wielding cultists, Lindsay rushes through the crowd to Jessica, still kneeling on the dais. She tries to get through to her, but suddenly finds herself in Patch’s grasp. He isn’t dead after all. He brings the Muramasa Sword down on her but, just as it reaches her neck, the Silver Samurai’s blade intercepts it.

”Thou wouldst challenge me?” asks the possessed Patch. The Samurai has no choice. As the two men enter into battle, they find themselves evenly matched. Lindsay grabs her rifle as after several powerful blows, the Samurai’s sword is shattered into several pieces. Wolverine raises the Muramasa Sword once again, preparing to slay the Samurai, but Lindsay shoots him once again. The distraction only serves to switch Wolverine’s attention to Lindsay and he hurls the sword at her, connecting with the rifle, which falls from her grasp.

Logan approaches Lindsay, menacingly, but the Samurai tackles him from behind. Unfortunately, Logan is much too skilled in hand-to-hand combat, and easily downs his assailant. He then picks up the Muramasa sword and turns his attention to the two ladies once again. As he slowly walks towards them, he suddenly stalls, as his own will begins to fight the sword’s possession. He remembers that Jessica and Lindsay are his friends, and his indomitable will gradually weakens the sword’s nefarious hold over him. He finally tosses away the remaining part of his mask, and hurls the sword into a nearby wall. He then drops to the ground, mentally exhausted and almost unconscious.

Lindsay fears the worst, but Logan soon recovers and asks if they’re okay. Lindsay replies that they’re fine and asks about him. Logan says he’s got beaut of a headache but, thanks to her, he’s not complaining. Lindsay’s glad there are no hard feelings, and tells the Samurai they seem to have arrived at a happy ending.

The Samurai, however, isn’t listening. He walks over to the sword, still stuck in the wall, and removes it. “At last… at last… the Silver Samurai has his blade of destiny.” He raises it, as Wolverine pops his claws, preparing to defend himself against the Samurai. Then, surprisingly, nothing happens. The Samurai presumes that the black blade has finally found its fated master; the warrior chosen for it by karma - and it’s not him. Logan says it figures. A black blade, for a black-hearted rogue.

Harada replies who better to control a demented blade than an equally driven man? He hopes that they will both find salvation and peace. He adds that ‘Patch’ should have remembered that, if a man already possesses a blade, especially one of honor, there is no room in his soul for another. He bids them farewell, taking the sword with him. He hopes they will not meet again.

Logan picks up Jessica and carries her away from the cult hideaway. He congratulates Lindsay on her shot. Lindsay’s glad she missed, and Logan replies that he’s glad that mask was thick, with a thicker skull beneath. It’s been a heckuva night, and he suggests they go home and celebrate.

Characters Involved: 


Jessica Drew
Silver Samurai/Kenuichio Harada

Lindsay McCabe


Chief of Police Tai

Three kidnappers - the bellhop, Mei Yin and Tsuboro

Members of the Cult of the Black Blade

Story Notes: 

O’Donnell was a captive of Roche’s during Marvel Comic Presents #7 - 10.

The three captives attacked Lindsay when she arrived in Madripoor in Wolverine (2nd series) #1.

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