Wolverine fights Lord Shingen, the father of his beloved Mariko. He has forced Mariko to marry another Yakuza and humiliated Wolverine in the process. Logan has come looking to get payback for both. He gets it, killing Lord Shingen with his adamantium claws.
Lord Shingen, back in the land of the living, attacks Wolverine as Phaedra looks on. She is the one who brought Shingen back to life; the same woman who, once upon a time, brought Wolverine back to life, too. Years ago, during the First World War, Logan killed a guy who turned out to be the Angel of Death. You get a prize for doing that kind of thing. It’s a chance to free your soul from the afterlife. All he has to do is kill the Angel of Death again and again and again. If you win, you get your body back on Earth, which usually means your soul will be trapped in a corpse. Fortunately, Logan has himself a healing factor.
Over the years, his healing factor has gotten quicker, while the afterlife fighting’s been getting harder. Lately, it’s been getting real hard. It’s hard to the point where each time he and the Angel of Death throw down it’s almost been his last. The fight with Shingen continues as Logan thinks about all of this, yet his fighting instincts take care of defending himself against Lord Shingen.
Logan’s soul has been trapped in the afterlife, courtesy of Shingen and his girlfriend, Phaedra. He came to Tokyo to find out why and how. How’d they know what it would take to kill him? How’d they know that if his heart was broken, as in when Amir was killed, he wouldn’t be able to fight for his soul? Shingen manages to slice Logan across the face with his sword which takes out his right eye. Logan groans in agony, but comes back quickly and places his fist under Shingle’s chin. “Hey bub…” he quips. “Maybe next time, you’ll wear a face mask.” He pops his claws and Shingen drops to the carpet.
Phaedra tells Logan that the answer to how they knew is obvious. Her talent is to rekindle the flame of life - to bring the dead back the living. She doesn’t do that without making the acquaintance of the Angel of Death. Azrael walks up behind her and comes into the light. “Hello James,” he says, coldly. Logan didn’t realize that angels hooked up with mortals. Azrael replies that they do what they must.
Logan starts running towards him, asking why he, out of curiosity, is so flamin’ special. Is it because he’s the only guy to kick his ass? Azrael replies no. He’s not the only man to best him, though angels are not above vengeance. Nor are they immune to envy. He informs Logan that he’s taken too many lives; more than his share. It’s more than any mortal should. Logan crouches as he reaches Azrael and asks if he’s gonna slap his hand. Is that it?
Azrael replies that he told him that their time would come. Logan pushes upwards, hard, and smashes Azrael in the face. “You also told me you couldn’t beat me here on my turf,” says Logan. Azrael responds with an elbow to Wolverine’s face and informs him that it might be true, but that was when Logan was in full possession of his soul. That is no longer the case. Logan rubs his jaw. He would think he’d have an inkling or two if his soul was in trouble. Azrael informs him that he does, and he has, but he hasn’t needed them. He asks if Logan hasn’t wondered why he’s despaired since the Gorgon killed him. Hasn’t he wondered why lately, it’s been so difficult to defeat him? Hasn’t he wondered how it is that he finally defeated him?
Logan guesses that it Phaedra’s doing and he is correct. Azrael explains that when she brought Logan back, the Hand took control of him. As they continue to fight, Logan replies that he got control back, but Azrael tells him that he only thought he did. He thought his friends undid the brainwashing? It’s a concept Azrael scoffs at. He tells Logan that Phaedra kept a piece of his soul. She returned part of it to his mortal coil and kept a fraction for herself. That’s how she retained control. It’s what has made him weak.
As the two men continue their dance, Logan quips that he just thought he was losing a few pounds. What did she do with the piece of his soul, anyway? Shogun appears beside Azrael. “What do you think?” asks Azrael. Logan realizes that shogun is the missing piece of his soul. It must be the part without any fashion sense, he figures. Azrael warns him to stand down. He is outnumbered. “And then what?” Logan replies. Azrael tells him that he will pay the debt to the afterlife that he’s owed since Belgium nearly a century ago. He can take some comfort in knowing that a part of his soul is remaining on Earth.
Logan looks at Phaedra. “As her toy? Don’t think so, bub,” he remarks. Azrael says it’s not a choice. Logan replies that there are two things here. First, there is always a choice. Second, it’s really annoying that he keeps calling him James. “The name’s Logan.” Wolverine pops all six claws and attacks, literally fighting for his life.
The funny thing about fighting, though, is that it’s better than second nature for Logan. It’s first nature. He takes on both Azrael and Shogun, using the instincts and reflexes that years of training have provided him with. This means that while he is fighting, he can think about other things, like why Azrael and Phaedra appear to be on the same side on this. If his killing people ticks Azrael off so much, her bringing him back has to be more of a slap in the face.
Why doesn’t he go after her? He can only think of one possible reason. He can’t. It stands to reason that, if the lady can cheat death, she can keep the Angel of Death at bay. This gives him the opening he needs. He grabs Azrael’s sword out of his hand as his grip loosens for a moment, and swiftly uses it to decapitate and dismember Shogun. His body parts fall to the floor, inert. Standing over the body, Logan asks why they don’t just take a moment. He holds the sword at Phaedra’s throat, and Azrael asks what he is proposing.
Logan says that Azrael can get his soul back together and make him whole, right? He figures it’s not within his power to take Phaedra off the board. Phaedra’s shows concern when she realizes where he might be going with this. Azrael replies that he is correct. Logan tells him that the deal is this. He puts his Humpty-Dumpty Soul back together again, and he’ll take care of the chick who’s been undoing all of his work. Azrael replies that for the magnitude of such a thing to happen, their other arrangement would have to be made moot. Fine, replies Logan. Next time he buys the farm he buys it for keeps. Azrael tells him they have a bargain.
Logan turns to Phaedra and assures her that it’s nothing personal. Well… a little personal. Phaedra asks him to wait. She reminds him that she brought Mariko’s father back. It’s a simple matter to bring Mariko back as well. She can reunite them. He can hold his true love in his arms again. Is there any price he would not pay to do that? Logan pauses before replying, “No there isn’t. But Mariko’s not the kinda person I am. She’s better’n me in every possible way. That’s why I love her. And she’d never want to come back if it meant letting someone like you live. Sorry darlin’.” He plunges the sword into Phaedra, killing her.
Wolverine rushes through the compound. The alarms sounds, and Logan thinks Shingen’s Scimitar buddies sure took their sweet time waking up to the fact that their boss was in trouble. He is soon faced with several armed Scimitar guards. Thanks to Azrael, he’s now playing for all the marbles. No eternal soul. Healing factor’s not what it’s been in years. Higher stakes. Higher risks. This must be why the adrenaline surging through his body makes him feel like he hasn’t for almost a century. As his claws become covered in blood, he smiles to himself. ‘Feels good.’
Lord Shingen slowly awakens next to Shogun’s body. He takes a look at the mess and stands up. He reaches down and picks up the face mask.
“Everything dies, baby. That’s a fact. But, maybe everything that dies, someday comes back.” - Bruce Springsteen.