Wolverine (7th series) #6

Issue Date: 
December 2020
Story Title: 
X of Swords, Chapter 3
Staff: 

Benjamin Percy (writer), Viktor Bogdanovic (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Adam Kubert & Frank Martin (cover artists), Daniel Warren Johnson (variant cover artist), Alex Ross (Timeless variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Jay Bowen & Salena Mahina (production), Lauren Amaro & Chris Robinson (assistant editors), Mark Basso & Jordan D White (editors), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Wolverine accuses Krakoa of wanting the External gate to Otherworld open and boasts that he will find the Muramasa blade and win in this upcoming tournament, but warns Krakoa that he will never trust them again. Wolverine thinks about certain events in his past that identified him in the clues as to who would be Swordbearers of Krakoa. He comes across Silver Samurai at the Quarry, and the two fight, with the Silver Samurai certain that he should have been the one to wield the Muramasa Blade. Wolverine overpowers Silver Samurai, who informs Wolverine that he has heard rumors about the missing blade. Meanwhile, in Arakko, within the Tower of Broken will, two of the First Horsemen, Pestilence and War, make a visit to a prisoner, Solem, who has made himself quite comfortable in his prison, where he has remained since killing War's husband long ago. Pestilence informs Solem that he has been named a Swordbearer for Arakko, and he takes out his Hellblade – but Pestilence informs him that the cards require he possess the Muramasa blade. Solem leaps from his prison, excited by this assignment. Wolverine begins to follow the clues the Silver Samurai gave him, making his way through Tokyo, he attains new information about the blade, which leads him to a temple built into the side of a mountain, where he finds Muramasa, the creator of the blade, tied to a pentagram as if he was part of a ritual, and the temple is soon overrun by ninjas.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine a.k.a. Logan thinks to himself that, for most, “been to Hell and back” is just an expression. But he knows from first-hand experience, this place is the best there is at punishment – by mining the pain already inside you, by accounting for what you owe. Hell is where the past catches up with you – and Wolverine is here because the past has caught up to Krakoa – and now, they are all due for a reckoning.

Wolverine stares up at a large tree which Krakoa has appeared to him as. 'You're the only one whose voice really matters' Wolverine tells Krakoa. 'Even when the kings and queens of the Quiet Council are blowing hot air for hours on end' Wolverine adds. 'Isn't that right, bub? You wanted the External Gate open. That means you wanted war'. Wolverine reminds Krakoa that this was place was supposed to be a fresh start for all of them, yet here Krakoa is, dragging them back in time. 'This ain't the first fight I went into blind. But losing's never been my policy' Wolverine declares. 'Especially now. Because I think we got something here worth fighting for. I really do' Wolverine adds. Wolverine turns and walks away from Krakoa, while announcing that he is going to find the Muramasa blade, and is going to make some #$%& bleed. 'And I'm gonna win' he boasts, while warning Krakoa that he is not going to trust Krakoa.

Wolverine walks through a clearing while recalling Polaris speaking in riddles – there was one which he thought was obviously referring to him. “A soul lost, an edge gained”. He knows that he has three days to secure the Muramasa Blade so that he can take his place in the tournament of swords and settle what amounts to a multidimensional feud over land rights. This dredges up some of his best and worst memories. He remembers Itsu, his wife whom he lost. He thought he had lost his son, Daken, and channeled that loss and rage  into steel – Muramasa. The greatest swordsmith the world has ever known – forged him a blade so that he could kill them all. Muramasa put Logan through the refiner's fire by taking his shattered soul and hammering it into the metal itself – and he wielded it like an angry god.

Wolverine arrives at the Quarry on Krakoa, thinking that part of him is gone to history, just like the blade itself, which was destroyed – and Muramasa, who has gone missing. 'Why you so busy fighting nothing?' Wolverine calls out to Keniuchio Harada the Silver Samurai, who is in the Quarry, training with his sword. 'I am not fighting nothing. I am fighting the future' the Silver Samurai explains, turning to Wolverine. He adds that if he anticipates every slash and feint and thrust today, he will not be surprised by tomorrow. 'Does that mean you're not surprised by me coming here?' Wolverine asks. 'I am not surprised by you' the Silver Samurai responds. He points his sword towards Wolverine, 'You want to know how to find Muramasa' he remarks. 'And you don't want to tell me because you're pissed' Wolverine replies, before dropping down into the Quarry. He walks towards the Silver Samurai. 'Because if there's a dimension shaker of a sword fight, Silver Samurai should be the one to get the call' Wolverine remarks. 'So I guess I'm gonna have to earn your help... by beating it out of you!' Wolverine snarls as he leaps towards the Silver Samurai, claws at the ready.

Logan's claws clang against Silver Samurai's blade as the Silver Samurai remarks that Wolverine has no respect or discipline. 'It should have been me!' he declares. Wolverine leaps over the Silver Samurai, 'Maybe you're right. But it wasn't' he replies. Landing on the Silver Samurai's back, Wolverine points out that there is no reshuffling the deck, and shoves his blades into the Samurai's neck. 'Tell me!' Logan shouts, to which blood spurts upwards and the Silver Samurai claims that he only knows rumors.

Meanwhile, on Arakko, under a brown sky, at the Tower of Broken Will, two large winged beasts fly across the broken, ruined terrain, circling the large tower. The Tower of Broken Will was the first watchtower to fall in the second great war. Riding the two beasts are two of the First Horsemen of Apocalypse – Pestilence, who is a woman wrapped in bandages with a large red globe covering her head, and War, a woman with a fiery face. The two Horsemen are deposited on the tower, and as they approach an entrance, Pestilence asks 'How long has he been in the pit?' to which War reports that it has been one hundred years and a season – not long enough.

The two First Horsemen pass two guards at the entrance, and descend down a flight of stairs, as Pestilence asks 'To break him? No... not long enough'. War states that if it were her choice, he would remain there until the oceans dried up and the stars burned out. But, here they are, humbled. 'He will not be humbled' Pestilence states. 'Then we will humble him' War responds. Pestilence declares that he will not help them, so War tells her that she will make him beg for their help. They carry on down the stairs, towards a dark pit, which War remarks was beyond mercy for him, and that he will not escape it lightly. 'The slayer of my husband does not deserve freedom, unless it finally brings him the death he deserves' War snarls, telling her companion that they are fooling themselves if they think they are here for a warrior – for there will be no warrior in the pit, as time will have broken him, starvation will have thinned him and boredom will have feebled him.

'Ah, old friends!' a voice calls out from within the pit, as War and Pestilence stand on the edge of the pit. Down in the pit, a gray-skinned man with a hood over his head, and chains around his wrists sits on a large cushion. Candles light the pit, books and papers are stacked in front of him. Food is laid out on either side of him, and a guitar-like instrument sits nearby. Holding a goblet, he looks up at the Horsemen and tells them that he assumes they have come seeking favor. 'You've been in a hole for a hundred years... you should be the one seeking our favor' one of the Horsemen replies. The man removes his cowl and stares up at the edge of the pit, his eyes glowing as he replies 'And yet I am not. There is one beauty who sings me songs. There is another who brings me bread. Some bring me books. Others, wine. Or gold and pretty things. I do not mind such companionship. It pleases me. You see, I'm quite comfortable here. I want for nothing' the man responds, before asking War what it is that she wants.

'You were sentenced here to suffer!' War shrieks angrily. 'The citizens of Arakko wouldn't allow it, I'm afraid. You know how they love me so' the man replies. He stands up as War exclaims 'You killed my husband – robbed me of my love and my child of his father'. But the man with gray skin explains that it is not his fault that her husband demanded to fight him for his so-called honor. War raises her flaming blade, while Pestilence holds her back. 'Tell me. Was I supposed to lose to my inferior just to please you?' the man asks, adding that he may be a tenderhearted poet, but that he is also a killing machine. He asks War if she remembers what he told her when she put him in this hole. 'I said that you would come back here one day and beg for my help. Arakko needs her champion' he recalls, before smirking as he asks again whether War is here for a favor – because it won't be easy to convince him to leave this cosy little vacation.

Pestilence steps forward and informs the man that they bring an offering of death, and reveals that the time of reckoning is upon them, for they are at war with Krakoa. 'The witch of Otherworld has drawn her cards and chosen her ten swords. She named you, Solem' Pestilence reveals. Solem smiles and announces that he assumes he will fight Krakoa's greatest warrior then, as nothing else will do. War tells him that they know nothing of the rules or their opponents, but she hopes that it is so. 'And though I will accept nothing but our triumph, I pray for your loss' she declares. One of the Horsemen tells Solem that he will need a sword, to which Solem reports that he already has a dagger, and reaches down to the ground, where he pulls a blade with a slight curve, and several jagged points, a red stone with a pentagram star positioned on the handle. Solem explains that War gave it to him a century ago and states that he hopes it isn't rusty. 'What was it that you said?' he wonders, before remembering: “I offer you this gift, so that you might kill yourself in despair with the blade of the man you killed”.

'Here it is. Sorry I didn't off myself with it' Solem jokes, calling the sword a Hellblade and explaining that he didn't want to damn himself. 'Hell is so uncomfortable, after all' he adds. 'Also... that despair you mentioned? Never felt a drop of it'. But Pestilence explains that the cards require a sword – a blade called Muramasa. Solem asks what a Muramasa is and where he finds it, but Pestilence admits that they have no idea. Solem asks how long he has, and Pestilence informs him that he has three days. Wide-eyed, War asks Solem if he accepts this noble calling, or whether he will wallow forever in his selfish comfort. 'Oh, I accept' Solem replies, breaking the chains around his wrists with ease, he then leaps up out over the pit and lands on the other side of War and Pestilence. 'This sounds like a most delicious assignment' Solem remarks, pulling the shackles from his wrists, he tells the Horsemen that he will see them in the arena.

Then:

Tokoyo, where Wolverine thinks to himself that the process of making a sword in Japan is an art – as is every negotiation. He approaches guards outside a nightclub, and throws one of them into the club, while telling himself that a katana blade is like a business deal, it can take several weeks to finish. But he doesn't have that kind of time, and confronts a crime lord from the Yakuza called Kiyoshi Sato. 

Logan continues to break down the doors that need breaking, arriving at a temple, which he walked quietly through, reading some scrolls and helped by the temple staff. He is here for information – new and old. The translation of one scroll reads “The Hand of the Demon”.

Logan asks for favors of friends and enemies – new and old, including his former lover, Mariko Yashida the Scarlet Samurai. They spend time together, walking over a river and sharing tea. Because when you are up against an enemy that could destroy your whole world – the old wounds don't matter so much anymore.

Logan's quest takes him to a mountain, where he follows the narrow path up the side of the mountain under a dark and stormy sky. He thinks that the future trumps history, and the future of mutantkind depends on him tracking down Muramasa. From what he has learned, the mutants are not the only ones in trouble – something dark had come for Muramasa. As the rain pours down, lightning crackles in the sky. Logan climbs higher up the moutain, up a narrow staircase towards a temple built into the mountain. More lightning crackles, and ninjas wearing dark clothing begin to emerge from the shadows. The something that has come for Muramasa has been buried for a long time.

Now:

Wolverine is in Hell. Lakes of lava spread out as far as the eye can see.

Then:

Wolverine arrives at the temple on Mount Haku and pushes the front door open.

Now:

Adamantium claws connected to an adamantium-laced skeleton burst through the lake of lava.

Then:

Wolverine steps into the temple, which is shrouded in darkness inside.

Now:

'Sometimes, when lightning flashes and thunder follows, folks wonder about the speed of light' Logan thinks to himself as his skull bobs up above the surface of the lava.

Then:

Wolverine comes to room that is lit by several small fires – some sort of blacksmith-type equipment placed on a stand, while he tells himself that he is always thinking about the speed of dark.

Now:

'If it finds the right moment, it can spread fast and strong' Wolverine thinks to himself as he pulls his skeletal form up onto land.

Then:

According to Logan, this was that right moment – while the ninjas stormed the temple, running in from the rain.

There was a breach between Arakko and Krakoa – a breach between Earth and Hell. All the boundaries were getting torn up – and in this mess of shadows and light, past and present, death had come calling for them all.

'Muramasa' Logan utters, as he discovers the swords-master tied up to a pentagram scrawled across the ground.

Now:

Logan's skeleton crawls up onto the shore of the lake of lava, where a withered figure carrying a hammer stands before him – it's Muramasa – and he utters 'Save me, Logan-san'.

Characters Involved: 

Wolverine

 

Silver Samurai

Krakoa

 

Muramasa

 

Pestilence, War (both First Horsemen of Apocalypse)

Solem

 

Guards on Arakko

 

in Wolverine's memory:

Itsu, Daken, Muramasa, Wolverine

 

in flashback images:

Wolverine

Muramasa

 

Guards

Nightclub goers

Kiyoshi Sato the Yakuza crime lord

Temple servants

Scarlet Samurai/Mariko Yashida

Ninjas

 

Story Notes: 

This issue follows X-Factor (4th series) #4 and continues in X-Force (6th series) #13.

The External Gate between the Arakko Point and the Starlight Citadel on Otherworld was opened in Excalibur (4th series) #12.

The Muramasa Blade first appeared in Wolverine (3rd series) #40.

Polaris spoke in riddles, revealing clues as to the sword-bearers in X-Factor (4th series) #4.

Itsu died in Wolverine (3rd series) #40, and in that same issue he sought out Muramasa to make him his blade.

The Muramasa Blade was melted down into bullets in All-New Wolverine #28.

First appearance of Solem.

First appearance of the Hellblade.

This issue contains a text-only extract from the Annals of Arakko, chronicling the Trial of Solem, which gives some background information on Solem, noting the death of Bracken – War's husband and the father of Summoner. There is some text blacked out, referring to a group who were wronged by Solem in some manner.

This issue also contains a text-only page called Whispers of Muramasa, which explores Wolverine's quest to find information on the missing sword-master.

This issue contains a one-page text-only set of information detailing the Crooked Market, a port city within Otherworld which Mad Jim Jaspers apparently rules over.

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