X-Men: Ronin #1

Issue Date: 
May 2003
Story Title: 
Hajime No Ippo (translated: The First Step)

J. Torres (writer), Makoto Nakatsuka (pencils), Guru eFX (colors), Randy Gentile (letters), Stephanie Moore (assistant editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor), Tommy Ohtsuka & Guru eFX (cover), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Bill Jemas (president)


Brief Description: 

Two members of the evil Hellfire Club organization, Emma Frost and Tessa, hire members of the Shadowcat ninja clan to kidnap a young girl called Jean Grey. Emma wants to use Jean’s telepathic powers for her own gain, so she can assume the mantle of White Queen at the Club. The ninjas locate and trap Jean into a dead-end alley, where the ninjas are ready to complete their mission. Unfortunately for them, all three of the ninjas are attacked by... the X-Men! Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine bravely battle the ninjas and take them all out. They convince Jean to join their ranks and bring her to their home: the X-Mansion. There, Storm reveals more to Jean what the Hellfire Club is all about and how they got founded. To help Jean recover faster, Ororo takes her downtown to Japan Town. There, they buy some drinks and Jean notices they’re being followed by a boy. Storm recognizes Forge, as the boy who always stares at her. Jean walks over to Forge and has him introduce himself to Storm, who blushes. Meanwhile at the Hellfire Club, Emma and Tessa’s mysterious boss is displeased at Emma’s failure to capture Jean, and suggests she moves over to new recruits. Both Emma and Tessa go to a local disco, where young mutants Iceman, Pyro and their friends are sitting at the bar. Emma telepathically takes over their minds and has all of them battle each other. Having seen enough and feeling pleased, Emma tells her new recruits it’s showtime.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in Japan…

A redheaded girl wearing green clothes runs for her life. She rushes into an alley, but unfortunately, it’s a dead end. The girl panics when she sees a wall in front of her and screams, “No!” She turns around, and panics even more when she sees her pursuers have caught up to her. The girl asks the mysterious ninjas who they are and what they want with her.

The female ninjas, all wearing black & red uniforms, introduce themselves as members of the magnificent Shadowcat ninja clan. And their services have been contracted to capture the girl called Jean Grey! Jean gets a headache and again screams, “No!” A powerful blast merges from her head, which besides Jean even brings the ninjas to their knees. Jean tries to focus, but this gives the ninjas enough time to regroup. They stand in front of her again, in full pride, mocking Jean that perhaps she doesn’t have enough juice for all three of them.

However, three mysterious figures coming out of the shadows proudly declare that perhaps they do have what it takes to bring them down. They’ve even brought enough for everyone. Jean stares in shock of her when she sees three costumed individuals standing in front of her: a man with only one eye, a girl with silver hair that can fly and a man wearing a special gauntlet. The ninjas activate their claws, and bionic claws and sais come from it. They obviously came prepared to deal with... the X-Men!

Wolverine snikts out his red, glowing claws as well, which come from his special gauntlet. He jokes that the ninjas could have come prepared, but obviously it is inadequate. One of the ninjas is immediately ready to take Wolverine out. Wolverine snikts out three white claws coming from his other hand and jumps at the ninja. The battle has begun! Both Wolverine and the ninja slice at each other with their claws, but it’s the ninja that bites the dust. Wolverine, with his back turned, stands in triumph.

Another ninja starts throwing several small objects at Cyclops, who takes them all out with the special device on his head. Powerful eyebeams come from it, and when Cyclops fires for the last time, he successfully takes out his adversary as well, who lies defeated on the ground.

Wolverine wants to take out the final ninja, but Storm tells Logan-san to let her do it. The ninja jumps on the roofs above, and Storm declares that she’ll take this one. She lifts her hands in the air, and suddenly lightning bolts appear out of nowhere! Storm flies up into the skies, with Wolverine and Cyclops waiting patiently for the outcome. A short while later, Storm lands back right next to them and smiles: she has won the battle.

The three X-Men all stare at Jean, and Cyclops helps her up. He promises “Jeannie” it’s okay now, as the good guys are there.

Meanwhile, at the Hellfire Club...

Tessa has sensed the defeat of the ninjas. She asks Emma if she sensed it as well, because this means Jean Grey got away from them, and Emma’s hired ninjas have failed. Emma, staring unpleased out of her window, reminds Tessa she can mentally scan as far as she can. There’s no need for the play-by-play. Tessa, making a cup of coffee ready for herself, wonders why Jean chose to associate herself with those “ugly” X-Men anyway. She doesn’t know what’s more perplexing: how the public has come to see the X-Men as heroes despite their freakishness, or that any mutant would waste their time running around saving the lives of some “measly” Homo sapiens.

Emma honestly doesn’t care what the X-Men do with themselves. She’s only interested in Jean Grey and... Tessa interrupts and, as she drinks from her coffee, smiles Emma must meant to conclude getting “made,” as the Italians might put it. Tessa reminds Emma that, if she wants the position of White Queen, she’d better hurry up and find a suitable pledge. Emma telekinetically lifts up a coffee can and pours some coffee for herself, shouting at Emma not to tell her things she already knows.

Tessa suggests that Emma takes some advice from her in that case: she’d better forget about those Shadowcat ninjas. If she must employ lower-end mutants, she has to find someone capable of a simple kidnapping. Emma stares out of the window for a while again, thinking about that possibility. She agrees with Tessa, and says this wannabe capo needs a better crew.

The X-Mansion...

While watching Wolverine and Cyclops train at the Danger Room while fighting simulative images of the Hellfire Club, Jean asks Storm to tell her about their enemies. Storm mentions that’s a subject Jean shouldn’t concern herself about right now. After all, she adds, Jean is still recuperating from the earlier attack and needs to rest. Jean tells Ororo she’s just fine, and she just has a little psychic fatigue, which she already slept off. She just wants to know who the Hellfire Club are.

Storm explains they’re a lot of organizations out there that want to exploit mutants. She’s talking about criminal syndicates, common street gangs, the Army and even the police force. Some of them have... rather aggressive methods of recruiting. The Hellfire Club was formed overseas by former yakuza, who are mutants. It seems they are now setting up shop in the X-Men’s neck of the woods. Hellfire members hold themselves above humans and other mutants. They call themselves “Homo sapiens supreme.” And, Storm is angry to admit, just when the X-Men gained some level of acceptance from the general public, along come these mutant thugs who seek to destroy the respect the X-Men have fought to earn. And what’s more, the Hellfire Club only recruits people with “evolved minds”... like Jean.

Jean stares at the boys training again, and looks doubtful at Wolverine, who lets the beast in him get the upper hand while destroying one of the robots.

The Hellfire Club...

Emma and Tessa sit with their 2 associates on a big table, having dinner. Their mysterious leader, who’s covered in shadows, asks Emma how the recruitment progress is going. Emma doesn’t say anything, which is fine for the bald man. Emma can even block her thoughts if she wants too, because the man has no trouble reading Tessa’s mind, which is like an open book. The man suggests that perhaps Emma can shift focus to another candidate. Cerebra has located some young people with potential... and not as much baggage. The psychic surgery shouldn’t be as complicated.

The recruits are young mutants with open minds who haven’t been “tainted” by the X-Men yet, the man grins. The man suggests that Emma looks these mutants up, and drinks from his red wine. Emma wipes her mouth clean with a napkin, and the man believes that Jean may come around by herself. “Isn’t that right,” the man asks to a sarcastically smiling Cerebra.

Japan Town...

Storm takes Jean into the city. Storm happily rushes through the crowd, but Jean has a hard time staying focused, and her psychic powers distract her. Storm sees that Jean has stayed behind her and calls out to her, reminding her friend to keep up. Storm reminds Jean they almost lost her once already, and doesn’t want to go through it a second time.

Ororo buys a drink, and tells Jean to try this herbal drink she was telling her about earlier. It might even bring Jean back to health to 100%. Plus, it’s quite delicious. Jean, a bit angry, tells Storm she already told her she was fine. All she needs is more time to practice her powers, not some power drink! Jean takes a sip from her drink anyway and turns around, asking Storm if she knows they’re being followed.

Storm panics for a moment, thinking Jean is talking about more Shadowcats. Jean starts to smile, denying Storms fears. She’s talking about a boy standing behind them, who’s more like a tomcat in heat. Storm looks behind Jean and recognizes the boy. Jean wants to know who that cute guy is, who fakes that he wasn’t looking at the two girls and starts to whistle a bit. Storm smiles she has seen the boy around before, and he always... stares at her.

The boy feigns reading a newspaper, but still keeps a close eye on Storm. Jean walks over to him, and tells the boy that her friend’s name is Ororo. She asks the boy’s name as well. Hesitant, the boy claims that his friends call him Forge. Jean smiles that’s an odd name. Jean tells Forge not to just stand there; he has to go introduce himself. He can even get Storm to buy him one of those funky drinks they just had.

Later that night, at the Dazzler’s disco

Sitting at a bar, a man denies it’s his turn, as Drake bought only one round so far. Bobby angrily tells both his friends to shut up. He’s trying to watch the striptease act in front of them. Their female friend calls Drake cheap, and shouts at him it’s his turn to buy her a pint. The other man tells Pyro to stay calm and believes she’s drunk already. Drake angrily asks Pyro to repeat what she just called him. Pyro, drinking from her pint, tells Drake he heard her.

Iceman freezes up and attacks Pyro with his ice-powers, shouting at her that he thinks it’s time she chills out! The other mutant ducks, and the disco visitors stare in shock about what just happened.

Not far behind, sitting in a coach, Tessa sees Emma staring at their three potential recruits and asks Emma what she’s doing. Emma, with her eyes bright and glowing, doesn’t answer.

The ice cube in which Pyro is trapped starts to melt, and not much later, Pyro breaks free, completely on fire!

With the other visitors of the disco running away scared, Tessa is angry with Emma, because she’s ruining the dance act. Emma just smiles. Pyro shouts at Iceman that he’s a wet spot. Emma telepathically enters Drake’s mind, and asks him to tell Pyro to bring it on. Drake does as told, and Emma stands up. Tessa believes Emma’s playing action movie theater again, mocking that the fight scenes were cliché and the dialogue was trite. Emma corrects Tessa she’s just recruiting.

The other mutant activates his powers as well, and his skin turns into stone! Emma quickly takes his mind over as well, and fires blasts at both Pyro and Drake. They all fall down, and Emma brings their minds back to normal. She and Tessa stand in front of the stunned mutants, adding that it’s showtime now.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Cerebra, Emma Frost, Tessa and shadowed member (all Hellfire Club)

Iceman, Pyro and their friend


various Shadowcat ninja clan members (all unnamed)

various residents and visitors in Japan Town (all unnamed)

various people at the Dazzler’s club (all unnamed)

As Danger Room simulation:

various Hellfire Club guards (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

This one-shot issue takes place in the alternate universe called “Marvel Mangaverse.” Here, all of the universes heroes are drawn in Manga-style, the way comics are drawn in Japan. It was decided by Marvel Comics to reintroduce their American characters in a way that makes people think, “What if the X-Men were founded in Japan.”

In this new universe, not Charles Xavier but Wolverine has created the X-Men. Only he, Storm and Cyclops are active members at this time.

This issue marks the first appearance of both the X-Men and Hellfire Club members in the Mangaverse. It’s also the first appearance of Forge, the Shadowcat ninja clan (who are of course named after Kitty Pryde), Iceman, Pyro (who’s female in this universe) and their unnamed friend, who doesn’t have a counterpart at this point in the 616-universe. Hellfire Club member Cerebra doesn’t literally have a counterpart in the 616-universe, but she’s of course named after the real X-Men’s mutant tracking device.

The Dazzler’s disco is of course named after 616-universe X-Men member, Alison Blaire. Alison herself isn’t actually seen in this issue, unless she’s one of the unnamed dancers at the club.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in:

Written By: