X-Factor (1st series) #64

Issue Date: 
March 1991
Story Title: 
The Price

Louise Simonson (plot / writer), Whilce Portacio (plot / penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Glynis Oliver & Steve Buccelato (colorists), Michael Heisler (letterer), Bob Harras (editor), Tom deFalco (editor-in-chief)

Special thanks to Kimsen Agena

Special assist: Homage studios

Brief Description: 

Though Iceman decides to save Opal without any help, Jean and Mariko intend to quietly follow him. Opal is told her parents’ story by Hiro. She tries to flee, only to be caught by her grandfather, who suspects Hiro’s complicity. The other oyabun rejoice at Hiro’s seeming demotion but, when Tatsu’o gives him one more chance, they decide to kill him. The guards notice Iceman’s entry and the cyberwarriors are to find him. Instead, the other two attack Hiro. He is helped by Iceman, though afterwards Hiro feels honor-bound to attack Iceman. Jean, Mariko and her ninjas have, in the meantime, freed Opal with some help of her mother, who poisoned Tatsu’o. Opal hurries to the men’s side and begs them to stop but they won’t listen. Trying to prove who is the better man, they decide to fight without powers. Hiro is stronger but then Opal points out that he can’t really shut off his powers. Hiro feels honor-bound to lose to Iceman, to prove that he is more than a machine. However, he refuses Opal’s offer to come with them. He is still loyal to his lord.

Full Summary: 

Iceman, Jean and Mariko’s attempt to save the kidnapped Opal Tanaka ended in disaster, with Opal still being a prisoner and the situation far more desperate. Mariko angrily explains that her attack on Tatsu’o was tantamount to a declaration of war between their clans. This will not end till one of them is dead. Iceman equally angrily declares that they tried Mariko’s way and it didn’t work. Now, he’s going into the stronghold alone. Jean tries to calm him down. He can’t fight them all. Bobby tells her to drop the telekinetic and implores that this is something he has to do. Reluctantly, she tells him that she understands and begs him to be careful. Mariko is incredulous but Jean tells her that she has no right to hold him. He won’t be going in there alone, though, whether he knows it or not.

Some time later, at the family graveyard of Tatsu’os’ estate, one of the Cyber-Warriors, Hiro, seeks out Opal. Angrily, she asks him if he has come to torment her even here at her father’s grave. He apologizes and asks her how she knew that her father is buried here. Shizu’ko, her mother, told her. Her grandfather was angry that she revealed that and now Shizu’ko isn’t allowed to speak with her anymore, except in his presence. He must be afraid she will fuel Opal’s defiance, Hiro explains. She must have been much like Opal when she was young. Opal asks him to tell her about her parents.

(Hiro’s tale)

Hiro explains that Opal’s parents were children from warring Yakuza families. Her grandfather was, at the time, an upstart leader, increasingly powerful but still more gangster than lord. He had plans to amass more power trough a marriage alliance with his son. His father ordered his son to obey him or he’d kill his lover. Not wanting to endanger the woman he loved or their unborn child his father didn’t know about, Tasu’o’s son accepted. Shizu’ko returned to her family and time revealed her shame but she refused to reveal the name of her lover. She was sent to the countryside to live with distant cousins and to await there the secret birth of her child. Shizu’ko wanted to save her daughter from the life of a Yakuza woman. She agreed to cease her rebellion and marry a man of her parents’ choice, but her price was that the child be sent away with her cousins, to America. Opal’s father was wed as Tatsu’o required but was soon killed in a battle leaving Tasu’o without an heir.


Hiro explains that Tatsu’o’s been reluctantly grooming his cyborg lieutenants for leadership but he wants blood heirs. When he learned of his granddaughter’s existence – he sent the cyborgs to carry her off, like a sack of rice, Opal angrily shouts. At least he gives her the choice between the three of them who remain, Hiro points out. Compared to his treatment of her father, he is being very indulgent with her.

Opal cannot believe Hiro is defending him. She hates him. What gives him the right to run and ruin the lives of others? What makes her think that a mere woman should have the right to do as she wishes while he cannot, Hiro shoots back. So he never wanted to be mister high-tech ninja man? Opal asks. Hardly; he wanted to be a poet, Hiro replies. His teachers said he was gifted. But he bowed to his father’s wishes to continue the family business. She must choose one of them, he reminds her. Should she choose him? Opal retorts. No way! He’s an inhuman thug. Hiro leaves, dejected. Opal first means to call out and apologize, but then reconsiders. If he really cared for her, he’d let her go. She decides that she can’t wait for Bobby any longer. She has to escape on her own.

Minutes later, Hiro storms into Tatsu’os cybernetics lab. The scientists tell him he may have sustained some damage in their battle against Iceman and Mariko’s ninjas and have him undergo some tests, while they repair his machinery. He wonders if Opal was right: has he become more machine than man? He told her he forfeited his dreams in deference to his father but, in truth, he saw glory in being a yakuza. He dreamed he’d be dangerous as a sword, but with a samurai’s honor. He sees no honor in this thing he’s become.

It is dusk and Opal tries to heft herself over a hidden area of the wall surrounding Tatsu’o’s stronghold. It proves too steep. Suddenly, her grandfather asks her how she managed to give her chaperones the slip. Because they have no more initiative than stupid sheep, she retorts. She berates him for the way he treats her and thinks of women and reminds him that her mother defied him … and she won’t see her sacrifice wasted. Who told her of what her mother did? he demands. It was Hiro, wasn’t it? She must care very little for him, for disobedience will cost him his life. Opal doesn’t want that and quickly she explains that Hiro only told her that story so she’d understand how powerful her grandfather was and that she had no choice but to obey him. Tatsu’o announces that he is out of patience with her. Since she is unable or unwilling to choose, he will choose for her. She will await her marriage incarcerated in a cell.

Later in the lab, Hiro is shackled and helpless at the lord’s command. The two remaining oyabun, Ko’ichi and Toshi, gloat. Tatsu’o will surely have him deactivated and they’ll rise higher in his esteem.

The guard tells them about a perimeter alert. Iceman has breached the exterior wall of the stronghold. The two warriors get into their uniforms and appear before their lord, only to see Hiro there as well Tatsu’o forgives him, since Opal said he had disobeyed him for his sake. He also notices that Opal seems to be fond of Hiro, whom he has always favored. Hence, he will give him one more chance. The other two oyabun are displeased. They say Hiro looks like the old man’s son, one of them whispers. They decide it would be best for Hiro to die in the upcoming battle. Tatsu’o orders the warriors to kill Iceman and then they will go to war with Lady Marko. Shizu’ko hands Tatsu’o a cup of tea and reminds him that his doctors told him not to get overexcited.

Minutes later, the cyborgs fly to the side of the stronghold where Iceman breached the wall.
On the other side of the stronghold, Mariko’s Ninjas enter, courtesy of Jean Grey’s telekinesis. They enter to find a woman running towards them – it’s Shizu’ko. She tells them that she has poisoned Tatsu’o with a cup of tea. Mariko sends her ninjas with her to free Opal.
Outside, Hiro races ahead of the other cyborgs and Toshi tries to kill him with his energy harpoons.

Hiro deflects most of them, but some still hit and the other two warriors are upon him. Toshi tells him that he saw how he didn’t use his chance to kill Iceman during their last battle. So he must be against them and is, therefore, an enemy. Hiro pleads that Iceman spared Fu’se and an honorable foe should no be shot in the back. The others scoff at his sense of honor.

Suddenly, Tosh’s arm is encased in ice and, together, Hiro and Iceman dispatch of the two. Iceman asks Hiro whether they really wanted to kill him, because Hiro didn’t shoot him in the back. So they claimed, Hiro replies, though he believes it’s an excuse. They hated him because Lord Tatsu’o favors him. He thanks Iceman for his intervention but he still is an enemy of his lord and has to die.

Meanwhile, the ninjas and Shizu’ko have freed Opal. Shizu’ko tells Opal what has happened and, after thanking her mother for saving her when she was born, Opal runs to try and save Bobby – and Hiro - if she can. Minutes later, she finds the two poised to fight each other.

Encasing Hiro in ice seems futile, as his laser burns right through Bobby’s ice shields. Opal asks Jean to stop this before either of them dies. Hiro points out that such a battle doesn’t test the man and Iceman ices down and suggests they fight without powers. Hiro quickly agrees and Bobby finds that his foe is both much stronger and faster than him. Hiro believes he is the better fighter and as such the better man. Surely Opal will realize that and choose him.

Opal cries that this is insanity. Jean has to stop it. Jean’s reluctant until Opal shouts that Hiro can’t completely shut off his powers. They are built into his nerves and muscles and bones. He might as well try to stop blood from flowing through his veins. She begs Bobby to back off. Hiro starts to doubt: is Opal right and is he just a machine without choice or control? Iceman’s blows start connecting and Hiro finds that, in honor, he cannot fight back anymore.

Opal rushes to Bobby’s side and he doesn’t understand why, suddenly, Hiro refused to fight back. To prove to Iceman and to himself that he was a man, he replies and urges them to go. Opal asks him to accompany them. He refuses. He has sworn allegiance to her grandfather. Opal tells him good-bye and that she’s sorry. So is he.

Characters Involved: 

Iceman, Marvel Girl (both X-Factor)
Opal Tanaka (Iceman’s girlfriend)

Mariko Yashida

Mariko’s ninjas

Shizu’ko (Opal’s mother)

Lord Tatsu’o (crimelord and Opal’s grandfather)

Hiro, Ko’ichi, Toshi (cyber warriors)

Younger Tatsu’o, Tasu’o’s son, Shizu’ko

Rita and George Tanaka

Tatsu’o’s unnamed daughter-in-law

Shizuko’s unnamed parents and husband

Story Notes: 

Hiro and the other cyber warriors return to haunt Opal and Iceman in Uncanny X-Men # 289-290.

Issue Information: 
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