Wolverine (2nd series) #33

Issue Date: 
November 1990
Story Title: 
Grave Undertakings

Larry Hama (script), Marc Silvestri (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Pat Brosseau (lettering), Glynis Oliver (coloring), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine, Tyger Tiger and Archie Corrigan arrive at the Osaka airport in Japan. Only Wolverine is in a coffin - dead!!! Tyger and Archie are not allowed to stay with the body on the orders of Dai-Kumo. Dai-Kumo allows the body of Wolverine to stay - he wants him buried in his own personal cemetery lot and he tasks Goro with doing so. As Tyger and Archie leave, they talk about the plan that just went awry. Tyger had provided Wolverine with a drug that gives the look of being dead and he should be awake by midnight. Now they have to regroup and come up with a new plan. When Goro and Reiko head off to bury Wolverine, Goro accuses Reiko of not being loyal to him. At Dai-Kumo’s mansion, he and Dr. Malheur are discussing their invention of zap and thunderbolt. Dr. Malheur adds the remaining portion of the catalyst to the mix. Once that is done, Dai-Kumo invites him to a celebration. Out at the graveyard, Reiko is asking the grave of Wolverine why he didn’t save her when he had the chance. Six feet below, Wolverine begins to stir and realizes that he is in a coffin, buried deep!! He panics and slashes his way out of his grave and encounters Reiko. He does not kill her, just asks her where Dai-Kumo is. Reiko informs him of his whereabouts and Wolverine makes his way there. When he arrives, he begins to take out Dai-Kumo’s followers and is finally able to corner Dr. Malheur. Malheur is able to bait Wolverine into falling into a trap he had for him. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t work as Wolverine grabs his leg and pulls him down into the vat with him. When they land, Wolverine is able to claw his way out of the vat, ruining the drug that had been created. Malheur is dead. He then faces off against Goro. In the brief struggle they have, Wolverine is able to slice him in the stomach and leaves. Even though Goro wants him to fulfill the prophecy, Wolverine neglects to kill him. When he makes it back to where Dai-Kumo was, he finds him dead by Reiko’s umbrella sword. He hopes that she has made her way out. At that very moment, Tyger and Archie arrive. Later that evening, they all climb aboard Archie’s plane and head back to Madripoor. Wolverine and Tyger have a discussion about being trapped in a bad situation and not being able to get out. Tyger points out that not everybody gets stuck, sometimes somebody gets out. As the plane leaves, Reiko is standing alone. She is now free!

Full Summary: 

In the Osaka airport located in Japan, a coffin is on the freight apron going through a customs checkpoint. In the coffin is... Wolverine!?!

One of the guards holds his mouth and declares that the manifest said “one corpse.” Another adds that it neglected to say that it was mangled!! Another points out that there is no hidden contraband and that there is no question this being is dead! No human could survive that much damage! One of the guards asks Tyger Tiger to confirm that the name of the deceased is Mr. Logan W. Patch, formerly of low-town Madripoor. The bereaved is one Jessica Hoan - correct? Tyger responds that for the tenth time, it’s all on the manifest. The air transport is South East Asia Airways - Archibald Corrigan, president. The guard informs her that they must deny her cargo entry. Archie Corrigan asks them to cut them some slack. After all, they’ve kept them dangling there for hours. Why can’t they just let them bury the man in peace??

At that very moment, Dai-Kumo arrives on the scene and tells them it’s because he said so. That and he runs all criminal activities in this town, including the customs agents. He informs them that General Coy had warned him that Tyger Tiger might show up seeking revenge for the demise of Patch. Luckily, he was aware of Tyger’s former name. Tyger immediately recognizes him. Archie adds that his little pals - Reiko and Goro are with him as well.

Dai-Kumo leans down over the coffin and looks at the body of Wolverine. He comments that this is the great and mysterious Patch. He was a worthy foe that sent twenty strong fighters to the pure land. It is tradition among the yakuza to show respect for valiant enemies and he wants Patch buried in his own personal lot. He orders Goro to see to it immediately! Goro replies that it will be his pleasure to do so. Besides, there’s nothing more satisfying than burying his own victims! Tyger tries to interject but is cut off by Goro. He informs her that Dai-Kumo has spoken! She must depart at once or he will have their pet policeman arrest her.

As Archie and Tyger return to their plane, they look back to see Patch’s coffin being loaded into a van. Archie points out that Murphy’s Law seems to be operating in full swing today. Their plan is totally messed up now. He offers that they need to rush them and get Patch back, or they’re actually going to plant him!! Tyger replies that, if they did that, they would be cut down in seconds. If they are going to save Patch, they must survive to plot anew.

On the plane, Archie indicates that this seemed like the perfect way to get Patch into Japan. He then asks Tyger what will happen if the drug she gave him wears off before they can find him and dig him up. Tyger holds up a vial and replies that the drug is a curare derivative that induces a state of catatonia so death-like it fools doctors. Because of Patch’s amazing resistance, he took a triple dosage. It’s estimated that he will be out until midnight. As the plane starts to take off, Archie indicates that he doesn’t like this at all. They’ve just been kicked out of the country!! How are they going to get back to help Patch?? Tyger informs him that they will fly across the bay to Kobe. She has some smuggling contacts there. She’ll radio ahead to get a forged landing permit and a car. Finishing the thought, Archie reminds her not to forget the shovels!

In a cemetery in Osaka, Goro, Reiko, and some of their men are in the process of burying Patch. Goro laments that sometimes Dai-Kumo can be a sentimental fool! He wonders aloud why he would waste space on outlander trash! Reiko replies that even though he is evil and greedy, he still has human feelings. As the coffin is dropped in the hole, Goro accuses Reiko of saying that he doesn’t. Reiko removes the flower from her hair and tosses it on top of the coffin. She replies to Goro that she didn’t say that.

Goro angrily grabs her face and tells her that is what she meant. He asks her if she was hoping for Patch to have killed him back in Madripoor. He was her last hope!! Goro tells her that he couldn’t have killed him because he wasn’t dead yet - he can only be slain by a dead man. Now he’s dead but he’s six feet underground. He sarcastically points out to Reiko that life just isn’t fair.

At Dai-Kumo’s mansion, Dai-Kumo is led into a vault where Dr. Malheur is working on his concoction. He informs Dai-Kumo that this is the culmination of all their planning and work! The product of all the hypothalamic fluid they extracted from the brains of all of those Madripoorian spider monkeys! That is the catalyst that synthesizes the super-drug “Raiden the Thunderbolt” from common peanut shells, sugar, and vinegar. The Madripoorian spider monkey is now extinct. Dai-Kumo replies that it is all very tidy. He asks Malheur if the pile of catalyst is all there is and all there ever will be. Malheur assures him that it is the case. Dai-Kumo replies that he shall control it all!!

This is a momentous time, he continues. If this was a kabuki drama, this would be a frozen moment, a dramatic high-point to be savored. Malheur asks him if he should add the catalyst to the mix now. Dai-Kumo calls him a philistine, and gives the okay for him to proceed. Malheur pushes a button and the catalyst is added. Dai-Kumo is pleased that it is done, now is the time for celebration!! He leads Malheur into a room where he is throwing a party. He informs him that soon, they will have a monopoly on the most revolutionary drug of the century!!

At midnight at the cemetery, Reiko is standing above Patch’s grave. She asks why he didn’t kill Goro and free her. She sensed he had the power - why??

In the coffin, Wolverine is asking himself why as well - why send all the yakuza thugs to kill him? Why? A voice informs him that it is because he stood in the way of the thunderbolt. Those who ride the thunderbolt feel no pain, have no fear and are like unto dragons, rising out of the east, bearing madness before them! Wolverine answers that he doesn’t believe in dragons and their thunderbolt is just another stinking drug. Another blasted poison for the body and soul. He wants them to bring on the dragons, he’ll slice them into sushi!

The voice informs him that his bane is not the dragon - it is a man who can only die at the hands of a dead man and that he can only be saved by a woman who was once dead herself!! Wolverine thinks back to when he was stabbed and killed by Goro, and when Jean was his savior.

At that moment, Wolverine wakes up. He starts to call out to Jean. He then remembers that that was a dream. No, it was a dream about a dream. He then wonders where Archie and Tyger are and begins to bang both fists on the lid of his coffin. He calls to them to let him out. He then realizes that it sounds too solid. He smells earth, rocks and a flower and realizes that he’s buried - deep!!!! He begins to panic and starts to slice his way out of the coffin. Up above, Reiko falls over from the trembling in the ground. She prays to Kwannon- goddess of mercy to protect her.

As she starts to scoot away, she sees Wolverine escaping from his grave. She shouts that the dead man - he rises!!! Once escape from his grave, Wolverine indicates that someone is going to pay!!! He leaps at Reiko, both claws bared. Reiko cowers and asks that he not kill her. Wolverine sniffs her and smells the flower. He asks her if it was she. Reiko informs him that, yes, she was the one who left the flower. She then asks him what he wants. Wolverine replies that he wants to know where her boss is - where’s Dai-Kumo!!! Reiko informs him that he is at his mansion - throwing a party.

Over at the mansion, Dai-Kumo is addressing all those in attendance at his celebration. He welcomes them and encourages them to thank Dr. Malheur for his brilliant work in developing zap and thunderbolt. Zap creates a growing dependency and a craving which can ultimately only be satisfied by it’s ultra-refined version - thunderbolt! Thunderbolt induces the ultimate euphoria, accompanied by super-human strength, endurance and absolute pain blockage. Fortunately, it also results in the death of the user, freeing society of the burden of another useless drug addict. A wondrous symmetry is achieved. The user gets what he wants, society gets what it wants and they will make windfall profits! Now, however is time for the entertainment!

Dai-Kumo orders for a large pit in the middle of the floor to be opened. He explains that a mere recounting of the attributes of thunderbolt hardly conveys the full impact of its amazing qualities - a demonstration is in order!! When the pit finally opens, it is revealed to contain three tigers that have been starved and abused to the edge of madness!! Their opponent - a single wolf!?! It seems unfair until Dai-Kumo feeds the wolf a thunderbolt tablet. This tablet awakens the dragon within him. Now they shall see how unfair the contest really is.

As soon as the wolf ingests the tablet, it goes insane. Growling, it leaps into the pit where the tigers are being kept. The onlookers view the carnage in horror as they witness the wolf ripping the tigers to pieces!! Dr. Malheur is pleased. The wolf is in the throes of a killing rapture! There is something primal at work here... Dai-Kumo asks if it is indeed rapture. Perhaps it is the despair of a creature standing on the brink of the void. At that very moment, Goro looks down at his watch and wonders where Reiko is.

Suddenly, Wolverine bursts through the front door!! He apologizes for interrupting their little shindig, but he has a bone to pick with their boss-man and a couple of his pals. Goro is in absolute shock!! He point to Wolverine and indicates that he’s supposed to be dead!! After all, he buried him himself!! Dai-Kumo snaps his fingers and asks if somebody would rid him of his nuisance!! The attendees at Dai-Kumo’s party jump to the challenge, pulling out swords and guns. They inform him that they will present him with his head, gift-wrapped in his entrails! He is nothing but an insignificant hairy barbarian!!

Wolverine pops his claws and corrects them as he lunges full force into them. He is an insignificant hairy barbarian mutant. With a mutant healing factor, adamantium laced bones, razor-sharp adamantium claws and he is also the best at what he does. As he hacks his way through the crowd, one of the followers tumbles back and starts to fall into the pit. At the last second, he is able to grab a hold of the edge. He begs for help and reminds the crowd of the wolf!! At that exact instant, the wolf jumps up and climbs up his back - he is loose!!!

Wolverine sees the wolf and asks him where he came from. He also recognizes that they put him through the ringer. Asks if they hopped him up on thunderbolt pills. Wolverine remembers that that stuff can knock out the pain, zap up the adrenaline level and push the mean-meter to red-line but it can’t take away the natural instincts of a wild beast! The natural instincts that lets a critter know that he’s facing one of his own! After a brief stare-down, the wolf heads out the door. Wolverine bids him farewell and points out that at least something here is smart enough to walk away from this brouhaha.

Just then, Wolverine is shot in the shoulder with a .44 magnum!! The shooter - Dr. Malheur. He informs Wolverine that he won’t let him stop his greatest achievement. Wolverine retorts that he’s the chemist and the psycho that came up with thunderbolt. That hand-cannon don’t mean diddly if he can’t hit him!! Malheur panics and takes off. As he does, he informs the followers to finish him off, he has to attend to complex chemical processes... Wolverine indicates that him and Malheur have to talk and his yakuza buddies aren’t stopping him!!

Wolverine hacks and slashes his way through the rest of the followers until he has cornered Malheur inside of his processing plant. He asks him that he created that poison and was ready to put it on the street just to make money!?! What wet rock did he crawl out from under?? Malheur replies that it isn’t his fault if people want to take thunderbolt - he’s not forcing them. Wolverine responds that nobody forces anybody to drink and drive either but he still worries about the little kids in the other cars!!

Malheur calls him a self-righteous fool and reaches for the control panel. He points out to Wolverine that the followed him right out onto the catwalk just as he wanted him to. Now he can take a swim in concentrated liquid thunderbolt!!! Just then, a portion of the catwalk gives way and Wolverine starts to fall towards the vat below!! At the very last second, he grabs a hold of Malheur’s leg and pulls him down with him. While doing so, he tells Malheur that it isn’t safe to go swimming alone - you should always take a buddy!! With that, they both fall into the vat!!!

From the other side of the plant, Goro calls out to Malheur and Patch. He then begins to hear what sounds like blades scraping along the inside of the vat!! All of a sudden, the vat is pierced and Wolverine emerges!! He is alive, but Malheur is dead. Wolverine points out that it appears that his pal Malheur has a funny look in his eye. It’s because he’s been staring at that white light you see when your brain cells explode!! He adds that he could chug-a-lug that stuff all day and it won’t change a thing - he’s already as strong and mean as he can get!

He then asks Goro if they are ready for a little one-on-one, or what? Goro replies that the blind seer Mongaku told him that he could only be killed by a blade wielded by a dead man - he asks Wolverine if he is the dead man in the prophecy. Wolverine responds that he doesn’t go for that mumbo-jumbo. Goro replies that it doesn’t matter - he can see the future in Wolverine’s eyes. He indicates that it is time to ride the thunderbolt and proceeds to pop one into his mouth!! It is time to take the roller-coaster to the end of consciousness and fly off into oblivion!! It is time to die!!!!

With that, he rushes at Wolverine, sword drawn high. As he reaches Wolverine, the meet and Wolverine slashes him in the stomach. Goro falls as Wolverine still stands. As Wolverine walks away, Goro calls out to him that he needs to come back and finish it!! He needs to fulfill the prophecy!! Wolverine informs him that he already told him - he doesn’t go for that mumbo-jumbo.

Wolverine makes his way back to the main room and calls out to Dai-Kumo that it’s over. He’s shutting down his nasty business for keeps and... He then notices Dai-Kumo, killed by Reiko’s umbrella sword. She must have been right behind him, watching his back. He hopes she got away, hopes she finds a new life. At that moment, Tyger Tiger and Archie arrive armed for bear. Wolverine mentions to them that it’s about time they showed up - he was beginning to suspect they cashed in his insurance and went to Disney World.

Later that evening, Tyger, Wolverine, and Archie all pile into Archie’s plane to head back to Madripoor. Tyger indicates to Wolverine that they were surprised when they finally got to the cemetery and found the empty grave! They figured that he had to be heading for Dai-Kumo’s house and that was pretty easy to track down and... She cuts off the story and mentions to Wolverine that he’s not listening and that there seems to be something on his mind. Wolverine replies that he was just thinking. Thinking about being trapped in a bad situation and not being able to get out. Tyger replies that not everybody gets stuck, sometimes somebody gets out. Wolverine agrees that they do, that they do. As the plane gets smaller, Reiko watches it alone. She is now free!

Characters Involved: 

Wolverine / Patch

Tyger Tiger

Archie Corrigan

Goro, Reiko, Dai-Kumo (all members of the yakuza)

Dr. Malheur

Various foot-soldiers of the Yakuza gang (unnamed)

Customs agents at Osaka airport (unnamed)

In dream sequences:

Visions of Dragonhead, Seven and Eleven.

Visions of Jean Grey

Story Notes: 

The name Logan W. Patch is obviously a reference to all of Wolverine’s aliases. Logan (his actual name), W. (for Wolverine), and Patch (his alias while in Madripoor).

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

Wolverine took on the busload of yakuza gang members back in Wolverine (2nd series) #31.

Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan with a population of 2.7 million. It is located in the Kansai region of the main island of Honshu, at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay.

Murphy's Law, also called Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives, is known as "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." The saying was inspired by Edward A. Murphy, Jr, a US Airforce engineer who worked on the rocket sleds in 1949, designed to test human endurance tolerances. His actual axiom was "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it." This original version is also referred to as "Sod's Law." Even though it was entered into Webster's Dictionary in 1958, the saying continued to evolve into the phrase more commonly known today. The Finagle version was popularised by the science-fiction author, Larry Niven, in a series of stories about asteroid miners. The miners followed a religion where they worshiped the dread god Finagle and his mad prophet Murphy.

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