Wolverine (2nd series) #31

Issue Date: 
September 1990
Story Title: 
Killing Zone

Larry Hama (writer), Marc Silvestri (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Inside the Princess Bar, Wolverine, in his Madripoor disguise of Patch, is enjoying a drink with Archie Corrigan when they are interrupted by members of the Yakuza. They are there to deal with the man known as Logan, so Patch advises Archie to take off before the trouble starts. Outside the bar, Archie meets up with two individuals, Reiko and Goro, who almost kill him, though they ultimately decide to him live, and he takes off to find some help. Inside the bar, the leader, Dragonhead, and two of his henchmen, Seven and Eleven, leave the bar so their henchmen can deal with Patch. Once they leave, the thugs open up fire on Patch, though he is able to get out of the line of their fire and then starts to go berserk, taking them out as quick as they converge on him. In the ensuing battle, half of the Princess Bar comes crashing down around their ears. Meanwhile, in the palace of the prince of Madripoor, Dai-Kumo and his associate Doctor Malheur inform General Coy, Tyger Tiger, and the prince of Madripoor that they have discovered a cure for cancer. The catalyst for this drug comes from the brains of Madripoor spider-monkeys. This drug can bring all of them great riches. General Coy and the prince are glad to hear about this, but Tyger is unsure. She tries to convince the prince that she is uneasy with Dai-Kumo, but the prince blows her off. Sometime later, Goro arrives and informs Dai-Kumo that Patch has been taken care of. As Tyger leaves, Dai-Kumo does not trust her and puts Goro in charge of following her. Back at the Princess Bar, Dragonhead, Seven, and Eleven learn that their henchmen did not get the job done. They each take a drug that is in the shape of thunderbolts and lose grip on reality. They enter the bar and attack Patch, however he is able to kill Seven and Eleven as the battle goes out to the docks. There, Dragonhead pulls out two grenades and tackles Patch into the shark infested water. At that moment, Archie and Tyger arrive to witness two explosions in the water, after which Patch drags himself onto the docks and informs them that he has taken care of the yakuza and the sharks. He also indicates to Archie that his healing factor is going to take a while to heal itself. Archie informs him that he and Tyger are going to take him to a safe house. From another car on the docks, Goro and Reiko witness the events. Reiko informs Goro that Patch is alive and that he was the one who told Dai-Kumo he was taken care of. Goro responds that he will take care of Patch himself!!

Full Summary: 

“That ol’ rhyme-slinger, Bobby Frost said that “The fog creeps in on little cat feet.” In my book, trouble always comes stompin’ in the front door, sportin’ size twelve brogans. Especially in Madripoor’s low-town, and doubly especially in water-front hangouts like the Princess Bar.”

In the Princess Bar, Archie Corrigan and Wolverine, disguised as Patch, are sitting at the bar having a drink. As Patch sips his drink, he tells Archie that what he’s drinking isn’t half-bad. Even if it does taste like charcoal briquettes. Archie informs him that what he’s drinking is ten-year Islay malt and it’s supposed to taste like... trouble!! Patch inquisitively repeats that it’s supposed to taste like trouble??

Just then, a gang of men enter the Princess Bar from the rainy streets of Madripoor. Some of them are armed with guns while two of the other hooligans have a pair of dice tattooed on their foreheads apiece. Archie informs Patch that the yakuza just entered the bar. Yakuza are Japanese gangsters. A whole bus-load of them are standing behind Patch and the one in the front is staring at Patch’s back as if he dated his sister and left her tied to a tree. Patch replies that he smelled them a block away. It’s one of the advantages of being a mutant - heightened senses. He had caught whiff of the gun oil, the squid ink from their tattoos, and the pickled “daikon” radish on their breaths. Now, he can hear the rapid heartbeats and sense the adrenaline rush of men who are about to commit dangerous and violent deeds.

Patch tells his friend that he better get scarce, and Archie heeds his warning and takes off. Once he does, the leader of the group asks the man sitting at the bar if he is the hairy barbarian sometimes known as Patch and sometimes known as Ro-gan. Wolverine snickers at the man calling him Ro-gan for in Japanese, “ro” can mean old age and dissipation and “gan” can mean cancer. He turns around and finishes his thought. If you put them together, they add up to death and, if they’re looking for death, they have come to the right place!

Outside the bar, Archie is thinking aloud to himself that all he needs to do is back out the rear door of the bar real slow, so not to disturb any itchy trigger fingers, then he will hightail it out to his plane where he will grab his trusty double barrel twelve-gauge shotgun and... Before he can finish his thought, he backs up into a man who informs him that he thinks that he will not be doing that. Archie asks him if he is the yakuza that keeps people from slipping out the back door. Must also grow them big where he comes from. Archie is only as tall as the man’s chest-plate.

The man informs his female associate, Reiko, that the little man thinks he’s amusing. He pulls out a sword and quips that he should be twice as amusing in two pieces. His sword strike is blocked by his associate, Reiko, who orders him, Goro, to let him go. Archie is a pilot and their boss may have uses for him. Goro complies and tells Archie to leave. Kwannon, goddess of mercy, has smiled upon him tonight. As Archie takes off he informs Goro that if he were him, he would run for the hills. Patch is going to mess him up after he finishes inside. Goro responds that Patch can try – for the only thing that can kill him is a blade wielded by a dead man. Reiko then informs Goro that it is time to return to the palace.

In the Princess Bar, the leader of the yakuza orders the rest of the gang, the ones with the machine guns that their boss will want proof and orders them to bring the head of the low-born dog out to his limo when they are done. He then leaves the bar with two of his henchmen, whom he calls seven and eleven. Their henchmen will do the rest. Eleven turns and informs the rest of the gang that they heard their leader, Dragonhead, kill the barbarian!! With that command, the rest of the gang opens up fire on where Wolverine is sitting. When the smoke clears, they are shocked. Their target is gone! Nothing human could have moved that fast! They decide to spread out and find out where he is and that they better hurry. They don’t want Dragonhead coming back in to check up on them.

On the other side of the bar, Wolverine is hiding. He laments that his suit is ruined. Brand new custom-tailored, shantung silk and it’s ruined. He knew he should have stuck to Long Island Ice Teas. That fancy single malt threw off his timing. One of the gang, Makoto, is told to go look behind the bar and if he is back there bleeding and whimpering, to finish him. But he is not to damage the head. Makoto instructs them to not tell him how to do his business. He’s killed more people than they have kissed. As he leans over the bar, he asks the gaijin if he is down there, for it is time to die! Wolverine responds that he is right, but it’s time for him to die and not him. With that, he pops his claws through the bar and into Makoto’s neck, killing him. The rest of the gang are trying to figure out what kind of blade can slice through a mahogany bar top like it was tofutti. They’re about to find out, the hard and painful way! At that very moment, Wolverine leaps from behind the bar, both sets of claws extended.

In the palace, the home of the prince is where deals are made. This night, the prince of Madripoor, General Coy, Tyger Tiger, Dai-Kumo and Dr. Malheur are having a discussion. Dai-Kumo, a crime boss with a spider tattoo on his forehead, is informing those present that the hypothalamic fluid that is extracted from the brains of Madripoorian spider-monkeys provides the protein catalyst in a complex chemical process that yields a serum that has been found to arrest carcinoma in human test subjects.

Tyger Tiger does not believe that this could be a cure for cancer. She accuses Dai-Kumo of testing their credibility. Dai-Kumo points out to Dr. Malheur that Tyger is doubting his findings. Dr. Malheur tosses down the dead monkey that he just drained of its hypothalamic fluid and indicates that the data is irrefutable and open to her perusal. Tyger recognizes that the monkeys do not survive the extraction procedure. Dr. Malheur asks why that should matter. They’re just monkeys, beasts that his employer Dai-Kumo, seeks to market a serum that can save countless lives. Lives of wealthy people, who would pay fabulous sums to any who could prolong their corporeal existence.

General Coy, unimpressed, asks what concern is this to them. The prince recommends that the general have patience. Dai-Kumo informs Coy that the spider monkey in question is native only to Madripoor and that it is a protected species as well as being an object of revering in local superstitions. Dai-Kumo continues with that he requires a suspension of government restrictions, a humanitarian gesture already agreed to by the prince. Coy’s opium harvesters are already up in the mountains where the monkeys live. They will simply switch to harvesting a different drug source. Tyger’s established net of smugglers shall provide shipping to Japan, where the processing will take place...

The prince finishes the thought with that that will avoid tariffs and time-consuming government inspections! Coy adds that those are all factors that would otherwise eat into profits! He then asks if they would all be principals with guaranteed percentages. The prince answers absolutely!! Tyger informs them all that the mountain tribesmen will be furious. Conservationists will be up in arms and, if the general population were to discover that the mega-rich were monopolizing a cancer cure... She adds that these are all formidable obstacles even for a man who wears the tattoo of a Yakuza clan so brazenly on his face! Dai-Kumo answers that those are not obstacles; they are mere trifles. There is only one possible stumbling block in the path of all the good fortune - a rather obstreperous resident of low town known as Patch.

In the Princess Bar, Wolverine is thinking to himself that he should hate himself when he gets like this. When everything goes red and he doesn’t even know if he’s talking or if he’s just howling. It’s like every molecule of him is pumped up from sheer berserker exultation. The beast in him rejoicing in his own power. Ecstatic in knowing he is the best at what he does. The beast is feeling no pain. The beast is free. Free to rip and tear.

As the members of the yakuza gang are converging on Wolverine, he is hacking and slashing without care. One of them comes up behind him and smacks him with a chair. It has no effect on him and goes back to hacking and slashing them as soon as they converge on him again. He gave the killers their warning. They could’ve walked back out the way they came. It’s their choice. Living and dying. You’d think it would have been easy.

One of them cuts loose with a burp gun from behind a pillar. He underestimated his speed and strength. Wolverine is able to duck out of the way, and one of the gang members is taken out by friendly fire. He also underestimated the fact that Wolverine has razor edges of he nearly indestructible adamantium claws. Wolverine slices the pillar and in the process kills the shooter. There is a horrible sound and then one of the gang members recognizes that that pillar was of a structural variety. As the ceiling begins to collapse, and Wolverine starts to make his way out of the bar, he thinks to himself that bringing half the house down sure has a way of evenin’ up the odds. Too bad for O’Donnell it’s his half.

Pinned underneath some rubble, one of the gang members calls out that he will take the demon, Wolverine, with him straight to h... With his last dying might, he unloads his gun directly into the back of Wolverine. When he is hit, Wolverine thinks to himself that he might. The pain is like a blast from the fiery pit. First it’s a blinding whiteness and then blackness as Wolverine collapses.

Out on the streets of Madripoor, Archie reaches some officers sitting in their car. He informs them that there is big trouble going down at the Princess Bar. A whole gang of Yakuza thugs with guns and swords and... He is cut off by one of the officers, who retorts that there is always big trouble in Low Town and, according to their brand new gold Rolex watches, they are about to go off duty. Archie asks if they can at least call into headquarters and notify the next shift. The other officer informs him that they are off duty as well.

As they drive away, Archie thinks aloud that every cop in Low Town is off duty as far as the Princess Bar is concerned and he is sure to be that they’re all sporting expensive new timepieces. He decides to call in old markers. From a payphone he calls the home of Tyger Tiger. Her maid answers the phone and informs Archie that she is not here - she is at the palace. She recommends that if Archie has any push with the prince, he may want to call there. She then ends the call abruptly.

Back at the Princess Bar, the thugs converge on the body of Wolverine. They think him to be dead - he has to be. To be safe they send Kenzo and his sword to make certain. Kenzo drives his sword in between the shoulder blades of Wolverine. That shot wakes him up and he howls. As he raises, he snaps the sword at its base. As he pulls the sword out of his chest, he informs the thug that he is going to have to do better than that to put him down for the count. He has survived a sword-cut form the great Shingen himself and this little back-stabber is nowhere near a match for him!!

He turns and flings the sword into the thug that stabbed him. Apparently, he can’t catch. Wolverine stands defiantly in front of the remaining members of the gang. He is impressed; he has to hand it to this crew. They don’t give up and they have his mutant healing ability working overtime. He’s fast approaching his damage overload limit. He can hear stuff sloshing inside of him, trying to knit itself back together. He can feel the bullets scraping his adamantium laced bones as his body tries to expel them. He also knows that he should run and hide, give the old body time to renew itself. That isn’t his style. Not his style at all.

The thugs unleash their artillery where Wolverine was standing. Luckily, he was able to leap out of the way at the last possible second. One of the thugs points out that he saw him that time. He jumped up through the hole in the ceiling. One of the others points out that he is slowing down, so it is possible to hurt him! He must be up there creeping through the crawlspace. They decide to unload into the roof so they can finish him off good. Once they have finished, they figure that they got him that time! They must have hit him a couple of dozen times! Just then, an enraged Wolverine comes crashing through the ceiling down onto them!!

In the palace, Tyger Tiger indicates to the prince that taking any action against the man known as “Patch” would be rash and precipitous. There is a fragile balance to be maintained there in Madripoor and that Patch is the crucial counterweight. She asks for forgiveness from the prince but she suspects that this spurious “cancer serum” is but a blind to distract them from Dai-Kumo’s real intentions.

Goro enters the palace and informs Dai-Kumo that he left Dragonhead and twenty men at the Princess Bar. They should be finished by now. Dai-Kumo asks about the head. Goro informs him that they were told to bring it. Dai-Kumo then indicates to Tyger that his intentions are but to insure windfall profits for all concerned and that the matter of “Patch” is quite moot. It has already been dealt with. After hearing that, Tyger asks the prince who exactly is in charge around there. The prince recommends to her that she would do well to keep a civil tongue among her betters. He then tells her that there has been a previous arrangement made.

Back at the Princess Bar, one of the thugs comes flying out the glass window and lands face first into the limo parked outside. Inside the limo, Dragonhead indicates that the underlings have disgraced themselves. Seven points out that Dai-Kumo will be displeased with the results. Eleven mentions that these wrongs must be redressed. Dragonhead answers that it is time for raiden - the drug Malheur concocts from the brains of the monkeys. He opens a case that houses three pills that are shaped like thunderbolts. As they each pop one into their mouths they exclaim that it is time to ride the thunderbolt!! It is time to go where no man has gone before - to the far border of sanity and beyond. Energy crackles above them as their eyes turn blood-red. They will have no pain! No fear! No conscience! This drug doesn’t need to cure cancer - it does better than that - it cures life!!!

Back at the palace, Tyger is escorted out to her car by one of the prince’s assistants. She mentions to him that it is all too cut and dried and that she doesn’t believe for a minute that mere Yakuza thugs could “neutralize” one such as Patch. As they make it out to her car, she asks if this is another insult from the prince, leaving her Ferrari out in the rain. The assistant informs her that the royal carports were full and that there have been some recent additions to his highness’s automotive stable.

Inside her car, Tyger sees one of the prince’s new additions and realizes to herself that this explains the prince’s eagerness to please Dai-Kumo. Solid gold additions she sees. From up above in the prince’s quarters, Dai-Kumo points out that Tyger is beautiful but as dangerous as her name implies. She will also need some watching and gives that task to Goro. Goro asks if he is only to watch her and nothing more. Dai-Kumo answers that is all for now.

In the Princess Bar, Wolverine is standing above a pile of dead thugs. He notices that “Larry, Moe and Curly” have arrived and they are just in time. He’s almost done with their goons. Dragonhead, Seven and Eleven turn their backs to him. Wolverine asks why they are doing so - he hopes it’s not his breath. Dragonhead answers that this is the way of the Yakuza - to display their tattoos to formidable foes. As they stand side by side, each of their back tattoos make up one larger tattoo. That of the dragon Ryu. He rises out of the east, bearing madness before him. Wolverine indicates that he is not impressed. He used to know a sailor who could make the hula-girl on his bicep do the hootchy koo.

Dragonhead turns and yells at him to not mock!!! The others were nothing. They feared death and had hopes. They are riding the thunderbolt and they are beyond all of that!! At that moment, Seven and Eleven charge Wolverine. As he impales both of them with his claws, he asks why they are laughing. He is informed that now that his claws are trapped - they are useless and he is left open for the killing stroke!! With that, Dragonhead brings his sword down on Wolverine’s shoulder. As he drives his sword deeper, he informs Seven and Eleven to make way, he needs to step in deep to get the leverage to take Wolverine’s head off!! Wolverine informs him that the sword is going to stop as soon as it hits an adamantium laced bone and that Dragonhead has made a real big mistake getting this close to him.

Minutes later, Tyger pulls up outside the Princess Bar and notices Archie. She asks him if Patch is... Before she can finish, Archie informs her that he just got back from fetching his shotgun. They enter the building and find two large guys (Seven and Eleven) dead. They wonder what happened to them and why they have insane grins on their faces. Archie points out that it looks like something was imbedded in them and sawed its way out. They also notice a blood trail leading out the back, into the alley, and down to the docks.

On the docks, Wolverine is facing off against Dragonhead. He admits to him that he is giving as good as he is taking but, in the end, the old hairy mutant has the advantage. Dragonhead tosses down his sword and indicates that he has some advantages of his own. He then mentions to Wolverine that he doesn’t know how he survived getting shot and cut up, but that thinks that even he would have hard time surviving getting blown apart by grenades!! He pulls the pins out of two grenades and rushes Wolverine, laughing maniacally. They land in the ocean below as Archie and Tyger arrive on the scene.

In the water, Dragonhead has a death grip on Wolverine and won’t let go. Even under the water, the crazy laughter doesn’t stop. Tyger mentions to Archie that it was a raving lunatic with two grenades!!! Archie points out that the worst is yet to come! Sharks are coming!! They are homing in on the blood like lawyers on a train wreck. Tyger asks Archie to which Archie responds that he won’t be jumping in that!! He likes the little dude, but he isn’t his mom!!

At that very moment, two explosions erupt in the water!!! Archie notices that the sharks’ heads are blown off but wonders what happened to... He is abruptly cut off when Wolverine reaches out and grabs a hold of Tyger’s ankle. Tyger asks him how and Patch replies that the sharks were hungry so he fed them the Yakuza - grenades and all. As Archie pulls him up onto the dock, Patch informs him that he is in a world of hurt and that he’s been messed up pretty bad. It may take a bit longer than usual to heal up. Archie informs him that he and Tyger will get him to a safe hidey-hole and there he will fix him up with a shot of single malt. Patch replies thanks, but no thanks.

Inside a car parked at the docks, Reiko mentions to Goro that he is alive and that he was the one who told Dai-Kumo he was taken care of. Goro responds that he will be - he will take care of him himself!!

Characters Involved: 

Wolverine (in his Madripoor disguise of Patch)

Archie Corrigan

Dragonhead, Seven, Eleven, Goro, Reiko, Dai-Kumo (all members of the Yakuza)
Dr. Malheur
Various foot-soldiers of the Yakuza gang (Makoto and Kenzo are only named)

Prince Baran (Prince of Madripoor)
General Coy
Tyger Tiger

Various patrons of the Princess Bar (unnamed)
Various residents of Madripoor (unnamed)
Madripoor police officers (unnamed)
Tyger Tiger’s maid (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The Yakuza are members of traditional organized crime groups in Japan. Today, the yakuza are one of the largest organized crime phenomena in the world.

Wolverine took a sword strike from Shingen back in Wolverine 1st series #4.

Long Island Ice Tea is a cocktail mixed with equal parts of vodka, gin, tequila, rum and, occasionally triple sec, along with 1 ½ parts sour mix and a dash of cola or actual ice tea.

Islay is a type of whisky made on the isle of Islay, one of the Scottish islands.

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