Wolverine (2nd series) #60

Issue Date: 
September 1992
Story Title: 
Counting Coup

Larry Hama (script), Dave Hoover (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Pat Brosseau (lettering), Kevin Tinsley (coloring), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In Madison Square Garden in New York, Sabretooth is attacked by a Shiva. After a battle in which Shiva prompts Sabretooth memories of a time when he was Wolverine’s father, he is assisted in destroying Shiva by John Wraith, a teammate from his Team X days. In Tokyo, Wolverine mourns the loss of the love of his life, Mariko Yashida. He then remembers back when he was in Berlin and working in Team X with Sabretooth, Maverick and John Wraith. Later, as they are leaving Tokyo, he catches up with Matsuo Tsurayaba. After dispensing of his ninja bodyguards with ease, he slashes off Matsuo’s hand and then slashes his face. He tells Matsuo that he will be back and every time he will slash off another of his body parts.

Full Summary: 

In Tokyo, Wolverine sits shirtless in front of a gravestone and meditates, rain pouring down around him. He figured that, if he sat there long enough, the pain would just wash out o’ him. Like he wouldn’t feel the hard rain peltin’ down on him in the old Yashida Clan cemetery in Tokyo. Like the cold emptiness would go away if he just kept starin’ at that memorial tablet inscribed with Mariko’s Buddhist name.

Watching over him are Jubilee, Gambit, and Yukio. Gambit mentions to Yukio that this is not good. He’s been sitting like that for days, even the jeune-fille Jubilee can’t get through to him. He mentions to Yukio that now is the time when Wolverine could use an old friend. Yukio informs him that she doesn’t want to try to fill Mariko’s shoes. If she is to win his heart, this is not the time and place. With that, she walks away.

Jubilee kneels down and wraps her arms around Wolverine. Continuing to sit there, Wolverine thinks to himself that there’s all these different parts o’ him runnin’ ‘round in circles. One sayin’ surrender to the grief, another wantin’ to tear apart everything in sight, and still another pickin’ through the memories and stoppin’ at the snapshots where everyone is smilin’. Memories. He thought he had some good ones, and they turned out to be implants, jus’ lil’ staged skits acted out in a warehouse in Ontario and plugged right into his brain but Mariko was real, her love was real.

In his mind, Logan is with Mariko and they are about to be married. Just then, Silver Fox appears and tells Mariko to get her hands off of him, he belongs to her. They begin a tug-of-war with Wolverine. Silver Fox telling him that he swore he’d always love him. Mariko telling him that he is her betrothed. The images of Silver Fox and Mariko then turn into skeletons. Silver Fox tells him to remember their cabin in the woods; he carved their names in the door. Mariko tells him that the emperor sent out their wedding invitations and that he has shamed her in front of all her ancestors. Wolverine calls out no! He never meant to hurt either of them, and now they’re both dead. They’re tearin’ his heart apart, the pain, real pain. Stabbin’, poundin’, burnin’ pain. His bones are burnin’ white-hot inside him and a scream tearin’ through his brain like a wild animal blockin’ out all the other things. Things like memories of when he was an experiment at the Weapon X facility. Burnin’Howlin’Rippin’Tearin’!

Snapped out of his memories, Wolverine he slices at the air with his claws and turns to growl at Jubilee. She tells him that he needs to get a grip. He tells her that he’s been tryin’. He’s been sortin’ through his feelin’s and memories, tryin’ to come to terms but there’s big numb patches in his feelin’s and gapin’ holes in his memories, an’ if he stares real hard into those black empty places, there’s a pair o’ red feral eyes starin’ back and he knows that’s the beast inside o’ him, and he wants to HOWWWWWWL!

Meanwhile, in New York City, Sabretooth attends a wrestling match. The lady sitting next to him asks if he is a professional wrestler too. Sabretooth tells her no, he is too good-lookin’. He then mentions to one of the wrestlers that some o’ them look like they been beat up all night with the ugly stick. The wrestler growls at him, baring his teeth. Sabretooth asks him if he’s proud of those teeth and if he wants to see them fly. As he kicks the wrestler in the teeth, the crowd’s attention is turned elsewhere, to a figure that appears behind them.

Oblivious to this, one of the wrestlers in the ring tells Sabretooth that he can’t do that to his partner. Sabretooth asks him who’s going to stop him. At that point, he is tapped on the shoulder by a metal hand. Sabretooth turns around and asks the newcomer if he’s got a problem, ‘cuz if he don’t get his meat-hook off’n his Giorgio Armani, he’s gonna turn around rip him out a new one. The figure behind him tells him that he, Sabretooth, is the problem and Shiva is the solution. Sabretooth asks that he’s going to solve him and asks what that means. Shiva informs him that it means termination of his life functions, it means death.

Leaping towards Shiva, Sabretooth tells him that he “kinda figgered” that was what he meant. He challenges Shiva to see who’s gonna do the dyin’ around there. He is able to connect with a slash, but Shiva is unfazed. Shiva strikes back and knocks Sabretooth into the ring. While it does, it tells him that “Shiva” is a program. Programs don’t die unlike puny humans. Immediately, the wrestlers vacate the ring while the crowd cheers in appreciation.

One subway station away from the arena, on the A train, a group of thugs begin to hassle a middle-aged African American male sitting by himself, engrossed in a book. They tell him just to let them “hold five dollars.” One of the thugs points to the others out that he doesn’t hear him. Still another says that he does, he just thinks he’s too good to answer. He has on that bad Wall Street suit, cowboy kicks, and a redneck hat – he must think that guys like them belong in the gutter. They asks him if that’s true, if he thinks that he’s better than them just because he ain’t never seen no hard times.

Finally speaking up though not raising his eyes, the man tells them that he’s seen harder times than they could imagine in their worst nightmares. The thugs tell him that they’re gonna give him a hard time like he’s never seen. The man just tells them not to do it, it’ll hurt. At the next station, 34th street, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, a group of Nazi skinheads get on the train. As they do, they mention that they got kicked outta the Garden, just before the stompin’ started. They want to do some stompin’ of their own and decide to start on the thugs before them. They mention that the man in the cowboy hat must be their vic’. The leader of the group says they will stomp him to.

Just then, the man in the cowboy hat flicks a bullet at the skinhead’s chest. The skinhead asks him why he threw a bullet at him. The man replies that it isn’t just any bullet, it’s a hot-load .45 ACP with an alloy jacket around a depleted uranium core, swimming in mercury. It makes an exit wound the size of a deep dish chicken pot pie. As he opens his jacket, revealing a gun, he tells them that the next one comes at them a lot faster. Realizing the situation, the skinhead informs his crew to leave the car, he doesn’t like the smell of it. The remaining thugs turn around to thank the man for saving their life but they find that he has disappeared.

In Tokyo, Matsuo Tsurayaba faces off against Wolverine. He tells him that he took his hand and, in return, he gave Mariko Yashida a truly horrible death. He knows that Wolverine, now, has come seeking the final revenge. Matsuo tells him that he is weaponless no more. The finest sword-smith in Japan has crafted five blades of laminated steel; strong, yet sharp; pliable, yet unyielding; soft of spine, yet hard of edge – set into a prosthetic hand, crafted by the Mandarin’s personal armorer. With that, he slashes off Wolverine’s left arm and right arm cleanly. He adds that the blades are mounted on articulating cams, actuated by miniature hydraulic pistons to snap with inexorable force at the apex of every slash. The results are very satisfying. He then slashes off Wolverine’s head.

As he leans down to look at the head on the ground, he laments that it’s too bad he is facing only a mannequin. At that moment, he is called by some of his ninjas. When they find Matsuo, they implore him that it is not possible to protect him effectively there in Tokyo. They tell him that the mutant Wolverine is in a crazed state and the island fortress is much more secure. Matsuo asks them if they are suggesting that he flees. He tells them don’t be ridiculous. If the Hand cannot protect him there in his own penthouse, they are not worthy of the title ninja.

At the gravesite of Mariko, Sunfire arrives and mentions to Gambit and Jubilee that he sees that Wolverine is still wallowing in his grief. Gambit replies c’est une petite cochon noir – a thought unworthy of him. Another man’s sorrow is his own universe. Jubilee adds that that’s just a polite way of telling him that he is totally rude. She asks if he is there to check up on them, making sure they don’t spray graffiti on the tombstones. Sunfire answers that he knows they are not vandals, but the Japanese government is concerned that Wolverine might take it upon himself to administer his own form of justice – this is unacceptable. A prompt and uneventful departure is cordially requested.

Gambit tells him that Matsuo killed his woman, he can’t expect him to… Sunfire cuts him off and tells him that he forgets Mariko was his cousin. As for Logan, he can expect him to behave like a man. This is not how a warrior grieves. He asks what he has turned into - some sort of self-pitying wraith of his former self.

Wolverine overhears him and thinks about the name “Wraith.” He thinks back to the plasma wraiths he faced but says that wasn’t it; it was a name, a name from his past. He remembers that, back in Berlin, thirty years ago he was with North (Maverick) and Creed (Sabretooth).

He was holding a lady by the name of Janice in his arms. Creed told him to leave her – she’s dead, and she wasn’t included in the extraction scenario. North tells him that she’s hard evidence, and asks that he wouldn’t leave a shell-casing on a job site, would he? Creed tells him to butt out o’ this. Mastodon is only expecting three of them. Logan notices a jeep arriving and asks if that is their ride. When the jeep arrives, Creed asks the driver of the jeep, Wraith, an African American male, where Mastodon is. Wraith tells him that he got pulled for a heavy removal across the pond in Indian territory. He tells them to hop in before the polizei come cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Creed tells him that they have some heat on their tails. Wraith tells him that that’s why they sent an expediter. He tells Sabretooth to take the wheel and asks if that’s what he’s going by this time out or if it is El Tigre. As Creed gets in the drivers seat he tells him that it’s Creed and asks him if he was briefed. While Wraith readies the gun in the back he tells Creed to just ditch the jeep in the Havel River and do the backstroke down to Potsdam. Barrington snagged a chopper for the final exfiltration.

North asks him if he’s coming with them. Wraith tells him no, he’s got a new toy that shoots armor-piercing toasters and he doesn’t want the rest of them playing with it. Logan tells him to forget all that hero jazz. Whatever is back there has got tentacles and a streak o’ mean that goes clean to the bone. He doesn’t wanna mess with it. He adds that they have the carbonadium, they just need to go. Wraith tells him that it’s his job to stay behind. He’s an expediter, he gets things done. North tells him that this is different. Wraith replies that nothing’s so different that it can’t get done by a large quantity of high explosives. As he begins to fire his weapon, he tells them to get moving before they get caught in his back-blast.

When the jeep starts to take off, Logan tells Creed that they can’t just leave Wraith. North agrees and adds that that thing will tear him apart and that he isn’t even wearing body armor like they are. Creed asks why he should care about one o’ them? Besides, ol’ John Wraith has got himself a real talent for disappearin’.

In New York, in Madison Square Garden, Shiva continues his attack. When he delivers a slash to Sabretooth, he tells him that termination is inevitable. Continued resistance only prolongs suffering and pain. Sabretooth responds that pain is an old friend o’ his, that don’t mean spit to him. Fighting back, he knocks Shiva down. He tells him that he just wishes he wasn’t a robot so he could feel this choice whuppin’ he’s layin’ on him. He then jumps on Shiva’s shoulders and starts to tug at his head. He informs Shiva that he doesn’t even care that he ain’t got no pain receptors, he’s gonna rip his head off for just the fun of it.

After some time, he finally rips Shiva’s head off and asks him what that was he was sayin’ about termination bein’ inevitable. Shiva’s head tells him that the Shiva enforcement module’s head unit contains the pulse transmitter for the memory triggers – a direct simulation of the cerebral cortex that initiates a cataclysmic memory backlash. All the worst times of his life, all the physical pain and mental distress, every second of humiliation, all the horrible moments that are suppressed by both natural and artificial means. With that, the head blasts Sabretooth and tells him to live them again with awful clarity. Sabretooth grabs his head and calls out “No!” He doesn’t want to remember this!!!

At that moment, his memories flash back to years ago when he was at a log cabin. Walking out of the cabin with an alcohol jug in his hand he calls out to his boy that he don’t hear him choppin’ no firewood. He asks that he knows all about idle hands, don’t he? He adds that he sure hopes he don’t have to tire himself out beatin’ the laziness outta him.

He then asks him what he’s been doin’ back there all this time. A young Logan tells him nothin’. Sabretooth replies “in a pig’s eye” and mentions that he sure hopes he wasn’t lollygaggin’ around with that squaw brat from off the reservation. He then asks Logan what he has hidin’ behind his back and pulls his belt off and swings it at him. He tells him to give it up and that he better not hold back nothin’ from his pa. Logan tells him that he’s not his… Sabretooth tells him not to sass him or he’ll strap him raw. Picking up a pouch from the ground, he notices that it is a Blackfoot medicine pouch. He mentions that Injuns don’t give away stuff like this on no casual basis. That little squaw-brat Silver Fox is turnin’ him into a low-down injun-lover, he’ll break her neck. Logan tells him not to touch her, you… Sabretooth angrily asks he doesn’t do what? He tells Logan that he’s gonna get a hidin’ the likes of which…

As he starts to bring down the belt, his arm is grabbed by someone who tells him that’s not going to accomplish anything, “friend.” Sabretooth asks friend? He ain’t got no friends – especially not any like him. He tells Wraith to get his filthy hands off him before he… Wraith informs him that belt’s not going to stop Shiva. Sabretooth asks Shiva – he just yanked the head off that thing.

Back in reality, Wraith tells Sabretooth that he didn’t do it to this one. Shiva is the program and there’s a small army of the enforcer robots. The Shiva program has a separate memory cache. Each succeeding robot benefits from the mistakes of the previous ones. Sabretooth asks that means you can’t defeat two the same way? Wraith replies that, lucky for them, Shiva doesn’t know about shaped charges.

With that, he places a charge on Shiva’s chest and takes off. As Shiva blows up, Sabretooth tells Wraith that he knows him – he’s the Expediter! Wraith replies “give the man a cigar” and informs Sabretooth that it’s time to hat up and get scarce. Heading up the stairs, Sabretooth asks Wraith that he wouldn’t have a jeep waiting for them outside, would he? Wraith, carrying the Shiva head, answers that, with the defense budget slashes, he’s lucky to get reimbursed for subway tokens.

In Matsuo’s estate, he laments that it is truly a curse to be an artist. One must strive continually for perfection, but how is one expected to contrive an elegant and exquisite criminal event while low-born bumblers and big-nosed mutants persist in meddling? He salvages what he can, but the deaths of minor players are such small satisfactions. Down below, Jubilee mentions to Gambit that at least Sunfire was nice enough to get them this totally excellent limo to take them to the airport. Gambit tells her that he was jus’ making sure they left. Jubilee says that the excellent quotient on the ride would go up about ten notches if Wolvie would let them close the sun-roof to keep the weather out. Wolverine tells her that he needs the air. Jubilee asks “air?” All he’s getting is water. She reminds him that they’re gonna have to sit next to him on the plane and he’s going to be smelling like a wet Terrier. Wolverine tells her that it’s closer to a Doberman than a Terr…

He stops in mid-sentence when he catches a scent. Gambit notices this and asks him if he caught something in the air. At that moment, Wolverine jumps out of the limo though the sun-roof to the dismay of Jubilee.

Up in Matsuo’s penthouse, Matsuo mentions that he loves it when the air is electric. It fills him with such rapturous confidence. He explains that he shall possess the c-synthesizer some day; he knows it. These latest setbacks are merely temporary. Perhaps he shall unravel the secret of adamantium. That would be…

Just then, the lights in his estate go out. He deduces that the storm must have blown out the fuses. Turning around, he comes face to face with Wolverine – and asks who had the mannequin replaced with a whole one. He wanted to admire his handiwork, he wanted to… When he touches it, however, he realizes that this is no dummy. Wolverine, in his blue and yellow costume, informs him that nobody ever said he was no Einstein but he sure is on the money about him not bein’ a dummy. Popping his claws he says kon-ban-wa Tsurayaba Matsuo – good night and rest in pieces.

Matsuo is in utter and complete shock. Just then, a bunch of ninjas converge on Wolverine. Wolverine tells Matsuo that he shouldn’t have sicced his bad boys on him. It’s just a waste of good ninjas. He then makes short work of them and turns his attention to Matsuo. Matsuo tells him that he’s ready for him this time. Technology has given him a weapon to equal those created by his genetic deviation. Wolverine, unimpressed, slices his hand off and corners him up against the wall. He informs him that it’s time to pay the piper and he’s run up quite a tab. Matsuo replies that he warns him, if he dies…

Wolverine tells him that he ain’t killin’ him; he’s not makin’ it that easy on him. He’s decided that for what he did, he’s gonna pay for a long time. He’s gonna keep comin’ back an’ each time, he comes back, he’s gonna cut just a little more offa him. In between visits, he’s gonna sit and wonder which part he’s gonna slice off next. He then slices Matsuo across the face and leaves him on the ground in a heap. As he leaves he tells him that he’ll be seein’ him around.

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Jubilee, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Tsurayaba Matsuo
Various members of the Hand (all unnamed)


John Wraith


Various residents of New York (all unnamed)

In Wolverine’s memories:
Plasma wraith
North (Maverick)
Creed (Sabretooth)
John Wraith

In Sabretooth’s memories:
Creed, as Logan’s father
A young Logan as Creed’s son

Story Notes: 

This story takes place before the story in Wolverine (2nd series) #58-59.

Mariko Yashida died back in Wolverine (2nd series) #57.

Wolverine’s memories back in Berlin are of the aftermath of when he and the rest of Team X stole the carbonadium synthesizer. The thing with the tentacles he references is none other than Omega Red.

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