Wolverine: First Class #14

Issue Date: 
June 2009
Story Title: 
Demon with a Crass Hand

Peter David (writer), Ronan Cliquet (artist), Ulises Arreola (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer and production), Williams & Quintana (cover artists), Chris Eliopoulos (variant cover artist), Ralph Macchio (consulting), Nathan Cosby (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine and Elektra stash Keli Saga inside her safe-room before heading outside to prevent the Hand from obtaining the demon mask, which Elektra reveals is not a mask of a demon—but a demon in mask form. Luckily for them, Kitty Pryde is in possession of the mask, until an explosion nearly kills her and knocks it from her hands. Her friend Sarah picks it up and, after some temptation, sets it on her face and transforms into a demon Shinigami. Wolverine, Daredevil and Elektra battle the demon, but it is Kitty who defeats it by phasing through the back of its head and knocking the mask from its face. After the battle, Wolverine and Kitty Pryde take the befuddled Sarah home, but Wolverine has the feeling he forgot something—that something being Mrs. Saga, who remains hopelessly locked in her safe-room.

Full Summary: 

In the hallway outside her office at the American Japanese Institute, Keli Saga, the institute’s owner, and Wolverine, her de facto bodyguard, face off against Elektra, one of the most formidable and deadly assassins to walk the Earth. Elektra and Wolverine lock eyes. He lunges at her with his claws extended. Elektra charges at him with her sai and the two lock blades. “Looking good, ‘Lektra,” Logan says to her.

“Not you. You’ve gained weight. The cushy life at your little school ill-suits you.”

“Fine, I take it back,” Logan replies. “Ya look like garbage.” Elektra tells him this isn’t true. He agrees and admits to his bluff. Mrs. Saga, meanwhile, is astounded; these two know each other? More surprisingly, Wolverine is friends with an assassin? In Wolverine’s eyes, the enemy of his enemy is his friend—and Elektra has no love for the Hand.

Saga asks how Elektra knows of the Hand. Elektra explains she used to be one of them. Getting to the point, Logan asks his old friend why the Hand wants Saga-san dead, and who hired them. Elektra reveals it isn’t Saga they want dead—it’s Logan. They wanted to make sure he wouldn’t interfere. When he asks what it is they don’t want him to interfere in, Elektra explains they are after the mask—the same mask currently in Kitty Pryde’s possession.

Down below in the gallery, Kitty runs through the darkened hallways with the mystical demon mask clutched tightly to her chest. Two red-clad ninjas of the Hand leap out from around the corner, brandishing their swords. Kitty phases just in time to slip through what would have been a lethal attack. This special ability of Kitty’s surprises the two ninjas, naturally, who try in vain to grab her as she flees.

Back upstairs, Wolverine asks Elektra what the ninjas want with the mask. It’s a valuable piece of art, Saga begins to say. Elektra interrupts her; the commercial value of their target bears no relevance. Mrs. Saga may have no idea what the mask is, Elektra says, but Saga’s late husband certainly knew. Why else would he have kept it locked away in an impenetrable safe?

Two ninjas of the Hand appear from around the corners at the end of the hallway. As Elektra engages them in close combat, she scolds Saga for ever deciding to put the mask on display. Keli doesn’t understand; it’s nothing but a demon mask, she says. “No,” Elektra corrects. “It is a demon in mask form.” She explains that the Hand worships this demon, and anyone who willingly wears the mask under the light of a full moon will manifest this demon. Wolverine, leaping into battle alongside Elektra, asks what will happen should the demon manifest. Elektra simply says it would not go well for all concerned. As Wolverine tosses a disarmed ninja into his Hand allies, he advises they ensure the demon manifestation doesn’t happen.

A few floors down, meanwhile, Daredevil crosses samurai swords with Akuma, one of the towering ninjas of the Hand. Akuma commends his opponent’s skill in battle; his master trained him well. “Taught me everything I know,” Daredevil replies through gritted teeth.

“Indeed,” Akuma says, “but not everything I know.” Their blades separate. Akuma slices at Daredevil’s torso, but the agile superhero leaps over the attack. Again, Akuma commends his opponent’s athleticism. Had Daredevil been any slower, he adds, he would have lost his knees. Tragically, as fast as he is, he is not fast enough—at least according to Akuma, who grabs him by the ankle and smashes him into the ground. Daredevil slinks over and clings to the ninja’s ankle. Akuma begins mocking him, saying he isn’t worthy of wasting any more of his time, when Daredevil leaps backward, unleashes his billy club, and whips it around Akuma’s ankle. He drags the ninja assassin screaming to the ground.

As he hoists Akuma through the air, Daredevil apologizes for not giving him enough of a challenge. Then again, if Akuma had paid attention to him as he tied his billy club around his ankle instead of bragging about his own fabulousness, he would have saved both of them some time. He sends Akuma crashing into a display case.

Back upstairs, Wolverine, Elektra and Mrs. Saga approach Saga’s safe-room. Keli places her hand on the security palm-reader and opens the door. After sniffing its interior, Wolverine declares the safe-room free of ninjas and tells Saga to get inside—and stay there until he tells her she can leave. Keli asks how he knew that based on smell alone. He tells her to trust him on this one. As Keli enters the room, she turns to Wolverine and asks what he intends to do about the ninjas. “What I do best,” Wolverine says, unsheathing his claws. The door slams shut.

Outside the gallery, Kitty continues to flee with the mask in hand. Her mind racing frantically, she stops in her tracks when a small disc resembling a hockey puck slides across the floor and stops at her feet. She stops to wonder who might be playing hockey. Before she can complete that thought, however, the puck explodes.

Outside, six seconds ago…

Sarah looks at her watch. The situation is getting ridiculous, she thinks. Her mother is going to kill her when she gets home. She can just hear it now: “Sarah, I don’t like you hanging out with Kitty Pryde. There’s something about her that just bothers me,” Sarah imagines. Man, when I get home, she’s gonna blow up—

An explosion rocks the ground floor of the American Japanese Institute. As Sarah shields her face from the debris, shrapnel and shattered glass, she can only come to one conclusion: terrorists!

Kitty, meanwhile, copes with the aftermath of the explosion. She picks herself up from the smoking wreckage, grateful to be alive, but angry about her own naivety.Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid, she tells herself. She let herself get caught totally flatfooted. If she hadn’t phased at the last microsecond, she would be unconscious—or worse. When she finally regains her senses, she immediately looks around for the mask, but realizes she cannot find it.

“Kitty!” a voice cries. Kitty looks up to see her friend Sarah holding the demon mask in her right hand. She frantically asks Kitty if she is okay, what she was doing with the mask and what caused that explosion. Kitty tells her it’s complicated as she gets up off the ground and rubs her head. “So, I’m supposed to—what? Wait for the Cliff’s Notes version?” Sarah asks. Up above their heads, Daredevil crashes through a window and falls backward toward the street. “And who’s that?” Sarah asks. “Kitty, what’s going on?” Kitty doesn’t know; it’s not like the red guy came with her!

After Daredevil hits the ground, Akuma leaps out of the window with his sword in his hands. He target’s Daredevil’s chest as he plummets to the street. He claims the end has come. Elektra appears out of nowhere and agrees with Akuma’s statement as she kicks him in the back.

Standing nearby, Sarah clutches the mask to her chest, clenches her eyes, and begs to know what is happening. To her surprise, a voice speaks inside her head and tells her understanding can be hers—but only if she places the mask on her face. The voice surprises Sarah. As she looks into the mask’s red, glowing eyes, however, she listens to it speak and begins believing its message. It swears all will be made clear to her and she will never fear anything ever again—neither strange beings nor her mother’s scolding—if she would only place the mask on her face.

Up above, the full moon shines.

Wolverine emerges from a hole in the building just in time to see Sarah staring longingly into the mask. Drop the mask, he shouts! Likewise, Akuma watches Sarah lift the mask to her face, and curses his bad luck. The mask is not meant for one such as her! Unfortunately for him, his current battle with Elektra keeps him occupied. He can do nothing to stop what happens next.

Sarah places the laughing mask on her face, and in that moment, undergoes a frightening transformation. Her body fills with so much demonic energy that light pours out of every orifice of her body. Out of her mouth and eyes comes a vibrant white light, while the rest of her emits an evenly distributed aura of red energy. The demon shouts with glee. It can now live, breathe and feel the cool air upon his body! It can feel his heart pumping blood in the heat of combat! Now, it says, the world will feel the wrath of Shinigami! Where Sarah once stood now stands a winged, horned, crimson-skinned demon bearing samurai armor and a massive sword.

Kitty gasps; what can they do? Wolverine votes they undo the demon before it undoes them. Kitty asks what they will do about Sarah, though; that demon is in possession of her body! “Bad luck for her,” Logan says. Kitty grabs hold of him to prevent him from rushing into battle. She won’t let him kill her friend, she says. Wolverine tells the kid she doesn’t get to say no to him. Kitty reminds him she is not a kid: she is thirteen-and-a-half. Unfortunately for her, Wolverine doesn’t care if she hits the big thirteen-point-seven-five—that monster there is no longer her friend.

Meanwhile, Akuma approaches Shinigami, kneels before it and introduces himself. Shinigami interrupts him. He knows who Akuma is. He knows he tried to unleash him, but not in the name of Shinigami’s glory. No, Akuma wanted to usurp the demon’s immense power for his own ends, and for that, he must pay. “What fools these mortals be,” Shinigami says as he knocks Akuma away with the flat of his blade.

Shinigami, his smile perpetually plastered on his face, watches as Akuma soars over the rooftop. He asks whose life ends next. Elektra and Daredevil leap at him in unison, while Elektra gives the order to destroy the mask; it’s their only chance. If that’s the case, Shinigami says, they have no chance. The demon claims no mere metal weapon can destroy it, nor can it be removed by any means—except from being peeled from the skull after decapitation. Shinigami would never let his foes get close enough for that to happen anyway. It leaps into the sky, mocking its opponents as it goes, and takes off flying.

Before Shinigami can get too far, however, Daredevil snares him with his billy club. To Daredevil’s surprise, his weight alone is not enough to pull the demon back down to the ground. He asks for a little help from his friends. Wolverine and Elektra rush to his side and add their strength to his. Together, they manage to pull Shinigami back to the ground. “Oooooof! You…dare!” Shinigami groans.

“When they call you Daredevil you kind of have to live up to the name,” Murdock says. As Shinigami stands up, he tells Daredevil that living up to anything will no longer be a concern of his—or any of theirs.

At that moment, Kitty Pryde emerges from beneath the asphalt directly behind Shinigami. As she phases up to the demon’s level, she urges herself to time this perfectly—lest her friend is no more. She phases her fist through the back of Shinigami’s head and hardens it just enough to knock the mask free. Shinigami is shocked to see the mask fly from his face, revealing his skeletal face. How dare she, it says!

“Y’think that’s bad? Here’s worse news,” Wolverine says as the mask soars in his direction. “My claws may be metal weapons—but they ain’t no mere.” With one swift motion, he slices through the aerial demon mask, separating it into four pieces. Suddenly, Shinigami explodes in a burst of white light, screaming as he vanishes from that plane of existence.

With the battle over, Kitty approaches her unconscious friend and nudges her awake. She tells her a gas main exploded, causing Sarah to pass out from the excitement. Sarah seems to believe it—although she swears she saw some people in costumes. “Nope. Nobody like that here,” Kitty says as she hoists her off the ground. Sarah asks if she’s positive. “Abso-tootly,” Kitty answers. Sarah asks if they can go home now. Kitty consents.

As Sarah walks ahead, Logan and Kitty hang back a few steps. He tells his protégé it was certainly gutsy how she stood up to him earlier. Kitty thanks him. Wolverine tells her not to make a habit of it. Yes sir, Kitty agrees.

They look ahead at Sarah and Kitty cannot help but wonder if she will remember any of it. She won’t if they’re lucky, Logan says. Then again, there is no way to predict how the memory will work. For instance, he keeps thinking he forgot something important. However, he brushes this off, assuming it will come to him with time.

Meanwhile, back in the institute, the thing Logan forgot—Keli Saga—bangs on the interior door of her safe room. “Logan? Elektra? Is it safe to come out yet?” she asks from inside the pitch-black room. “Hello?”

Characters Involved: 

Sprite, Wolverine (X-Men)



Keli Saga

Sarah (Sprite’s friend)

Shinigami (samurai demon)

Akuma (the Hand)

Various ninjas of the Hand

Story Notes: 

Elektra joined the Hand while studying martial arts in China. She eventually broke flee of its influence and fled to Japan.

Cliff’s Notes is a series of study guides that breaks down literature into easily read summaries and analyses.

Due to a lettering error in the final panel on page 13, Kitty and Sarah appear to be speaking each other’s dialogue.

“Shinigami” is a term for the personification of death in Japanese, and more generally, is a name used for any generic death deity.

“What fools these mortals be” is a line spoken by Puck in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The title is a pun on Demon with a Glass Hand. An Outer Limits episode based on a script by Harlan Ellison.

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