X-Men: Ronin #5

Issue Date: 
July 2003
Story Title: 
Shima (Translated: Zone of Death)

J. Torres (writer), Makoto Nakatsuka & Hiromi Nakatsuka (pencils), Guru eFX (colors), Dave Sharpe (letters), Stephanie Moore (assistant editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor), Tommy Ohtsuka (cover), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Mitsuko Mitsuoka

Brief Description: 

At the former site of the X-Mansion, police officers discover that all of the Sentinel pilots are dead, including Forge. They report this back to Chief Yoshida. Shiro doesn’t even see this as a setback, and suggests they immediately start rebuilding and start recruiting again. As time goes on, more and more mutants are arrested for so-called “interrogation,” even if they weren’t doing anything wrong. The X-Men and Toad now operate from under the ruins of the former Salem Center station, where they are joined by their friend, Psylocke. Betsy informs the heroes about the current turn of events, and she wants to do something about it. After Toad helps Jean train her powers a bit more, they rush into the city where they see how mutants Sam and Paige Guthrie rescue themselves from attacking cops. While Psylocke brings the two to Sensei Toad’s, Scott and Ororo go rescue the other captured mutants. Wolverine takes Jean with him to do something else. Meanwhile at the Hellfire Club, a party is going on. Xavier welcomes his new partners, Jason Wyngarde and Shiro, at his club. He discusses an agreement with Shiro to help build his new breed of Sentinels. Emma thinks her father won’t include either her or Tessa into his Inner Circle and angrily runs out, despite Tessa’s warnings not to. Emma is found by both Wolverine and Jean. Logan gives Emma the final chance to turn herself in and clear things up again, but she refuses. That’s fine by Logan, who in return kills Emma with his claws! Later at the X-Men’s new underground lair, Cyclops and Wolverine prepare lots of new recruits for the upcoming hard times. Storm gets out, hoping she can convince her friend, Forge, to join their ranks. Storm goes back to the place she and Forge had their first date, unaware of the fact Forge is actually dead.

Full Summary: 

At the ruins of the former X-Mansion…

Several police officers and rescue workers try to search for surviving pilots of the Sentinel robots. One of the pilots finds Forge, but it’s too late... he’s dead.

Later, at the police station...

While staring out of his window, Chief Yoshida asks a captain if he’s certain about his discoveries. The captain confirms that none of their pilots survived the battle. When Shiro asks what about the Sentinels, a nervous captain admits they’re destroyed. Shiro stares quietly at the captain for a while. He concludes in that case, they’ll simply rebuild... and recruit again.

Elsewhere, at the X-Men’s new headquarters...

Deep underground a building that’s carved with an “X,” the X-Men and their sensei, Toad, are busy behind closed doors. Toad tells Jean to do it again, confident she can do it. Sitting on the floor and with the other X-Men observing, Toad explains to Jean that everyone possesses a chi, a life force. In mutants, that energy is powerful and manifests itself in uncanny ways. It shapes them, forms mutant’s beings, gives them superhuman powers. Some mutants, like Wolverine, have learned to focus their chi and concentrate it in a special manner. He asks Jean to concentrate and focus her chi into one area.

Jean gives up. She apologizes but she just can’t do it.

Meanwhile, Downtown...

Some kids are hanging around a redheaded girl’s house. The girl can’t believe what they’re saying about the X-Men... they’re heroes! But the media is reporting them as fugitives now. Another girl interrupts, adding that the media see the X-Men as cop killers now as well. Officers arrive and point a scanner at the redheaded girl. They tell the girl not to move. One of the kids explains to the cops that they weren’t doing anything wrong. Their scanner registers the redheaded girl “positive”. They tell her she’s to come with them for questioning.

The girl panics and transforms herself into a brown-furred werewolf, and runs away! The cops try to stop her but fail, and wonder what’s going on here.

Around the city...

More mutants are arrested. Cops even arrest them at a temple, and round up mutants inside the Dazzler’s disco. Some of them try to fight back, like two certain blue-furred individuals. Other cops burst into people’s home, and take two silver-haired twins out of their home.

At Master Toad’s lair...

While Wolverine is concentrating and Jean and Storm are chatting at a table at the back of the lair, Toad continues to explain that each mutant signature is distinct. The mutant chi is quite discernible from that of a Homo sapien. He knows the difference between the energy it radiates compared to that of someone who is not a mutant. And, he explains to Logan, this energy he is sensing within Jean, it’s neither Homo superior nor Homo sapien in origin.

Pouring some coffee for everyone, Toad gives Logan a cup. Logan asks Toad what the energy is, then. Toad admits he doesn’t know, but senses Jean isn’t controlling it. Cyclops interrupts his sensei, informing him that they’ve got a visitor. Wolverine quickly gets up and snikts his claws open, but Scott already tells his brother he can relax: it’s a friend.

Purple smoke appears in the room, and a woman steps out of it: it’s Psylocke! Toad is happy to see Betsy again, as it has been a long time. Betsy only wishes this reunion were occurring at a happier time. Toad takes it that means Betsy has learned of the plight of the X-Men. He explains to her they have yet to discuss a resolution, but if Betsy has come to help out they’ll be happy to have her on board. Betsy ashamedly reveals to the sensei that the police are rounding up every mutant they can find. They say it’s for questioning, but they’ve yet to release anyone arrested. And any who resist... there are reports of several deaths already.

Later, in the city...

Police officers have surrounded two other mutants, two blond siblings. The brother again explains to the cops it’s like they told them: they are mistaken because they aren’t mutants. The cops explain to the kids that their scanners are telling them differently. One of the cops grabs the sister’s arm, and her flesh starts to come off her body! She asks Sam for help, and Sam fears for Paige’s life.

Sam uses his powers and flies toward the cop, and attacks him. He slams the cop into some garbage cans, and Paige shouts at them to leave them alone. All of the X-Men arrive behind the two, and Wolverine smiles that it looks like these two don’t need their help anymore. Sam recognizes the X-Men and tells them this is all their fault. Wolverine asks Psylocke to take Sam and his sister back to Toad’s. Psylocke gently places her hand on Paige’s shoulder, promising the two kids she’ll explain everything. They can trust her when she says they’ve got to get out of there before more officers arrive.

Cyclops explains that he and Ororo will continue this way, round up whomever they can and meet back below in a couple of hours. Wolverine tells Jean to come with him, as there’s one person who might be able to fix this. Scott holds his brother back, asking what he’ll do if she won’t cooperate. Logan smiles in that case, the woman won’t make it through the night.

The Hellfire Club...

At the Club, a party is taking place. One of the guests compliments the lovely night Charles has chosen for this festivity. Xavier admits the good choice, explaining that Cerebra is... good at predicting the weather and all that.

Emma sees her father talking to someone she has never seen before, and asks Tessa who it is. Tessa introduces Emma to Jason Wyngarde, who’s another criminal “mastermind.” Emma doesn’t like the looks of him. Tessa smiles Jason’s from one of the local families. Emma wants to know if by “family” Tessa means blue-bloods or mutant syndicate. “Both,” Tessa smirks.

A new guest arrives at the Hellfire Club: the Honorable Shiro Yoshida! Emma panics a bit, not believing who has come to sleep with the enemy. Xavier and Shiro respectfully bow to one another, and Charles is glad to meet him. Shiro thanks the professor for the invitation. He just wishes this gathering could have coincided with less... stressed times.

Xavier says he’s certain Shiro has everything under control. He for one is not worried about this... mutant uprising. He smiles that Shiro’s reputation precedes him. Shiro says the same. He moves closer to Xavier’s ear and, with an evil grin, asks if they have things to discuss later. Xavier admits they have, but it will be away from all these prying eyes and pricked-up ears. As Xavier says that, he looks at Emma who overheard them.

Emma runs outside and takes her party clothes off, and gets back into uniform. Tessa follows her sister and asks where she’s going. Emma shouts it’s obvious their father doesn’t want to involve them into any of his business dealings. He even wants to keep them out of the Inner Circle! Tessa doesn’t see what makes Emma say that. Not realizing they’re being watched by Cerebra, who stares at the girl from inside the house out of a window, Emma continues to say that Xavier hasn’t even introduced either of them to his new... associates! She thinks, if they’re to “rule by his side,” they should at least be meeting with these people.

Tessa states that the night is still young. They haven’t even had dinner yet and she wants her to come back inside and have a drink. Emma shouts she won’t, and she’ll go for a walk instead. Tessa angrily watches Emma leave. As she wants to go back inside, she notices Cerebra staring at her, and asks the mysterious person what it is.

A little later...

Emma walks through the city, and is suddenly met up by Jean! Emma panics and does so, even more when Wolverine appears behind her. Emma reminds the two she already told them what she does to freaks who sneak up on her. Wolverine smiles he warned Emma of the same thing. Now, it’s time to see who’s right.

Jean asks Emma what she wants with her, and why she did all this. Emma reveals she only wanted to invite Jean into her little club. She wants to see Jean moving in the right circles. She thinks with Jean associating herself with “lesser-evolved beings” will only lead to her demise. She thinks it’s kind of like natural selection, actually. The humans are afraid of freaks. They will try to kill all the freaks. In the process, they’ll decimate their own ranks. Emma thinks that will leave people like Jean and her... the Homo sapiens supreme... to be the ruling class, as it were.

Wolverine smiles this figures: it always starts with some megalomaniac wanting to be king of the world. Emma corrects that, in her case, she wants to be queen! Emma attacks Logan with a full blast of psychic powers, but this time... it doesn’t even hurt him?! Wolverine explains that this time, he brought his shield. He asks Emma where hers is. He promises she can still stop everything she has set in motion by turning herself over to the cops.

Emma shouts that’ll happen over her dead body! Wolverine snikts out his claws, declaring that can be arranged.

The Hellfire Club, Xavier’s office...

Shiro wants to make sure that he understands the situation. Xavier wants to suggest a kind of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” type of arrangement. Xavier smiles and corrects Shiro that he’s more talking about something “you stay off my back and I’ll stay off yours.” Shiro thinks that’s more of a threat. Xavier denies that, calling it more good advice. It’s for mutants in their current positions.

Tessa wants to enter the room and calls out to her father, but Xavier tells his daughter now is not the time. Tessa thinks something is wrong with Emma, but has the hardest time admitting it. Xavier claims he knows, but doesn’t want to talk about it now. He apologizes to Shiro for the interruption and asks where they were. Shiro thinks they were about to discuss Xavier’s club helping fund his new robotics project.


Wolverine has killed Emma! A sweaty Jean thinks they had better suggest a deal with her, but Logan realizes Emma wouldn’t agree with it. Emma thinks they could have find a way to force her into it, but Logan disagrees again. He had to do it. Jean asks what they are going to do now. Logan explains that the Yakuza have a word for it: Shima. It’s the zone of the death. It’s different from Shaba, the normal world. And, he reminds Jean, they no longer live in a normal world.

At the former, now closed Salem Center Station. Underground...

Cyclops explains to all of the formerly captured mutants around him what the situation is. In the outside world, battle lines are being drawn. On one side, forces that would pit mutant against mutant. Clans formed to divide and conquer mutantkind. People who want mutants to destroy themselves. On the other side, you’ve got... the X-Men. He speeches that the X-Men have always been about helping the week, the powerless, the oppressed. Now it’s time they help themselves and people like them.

Wolverine continues to say that they offer sanctuary and safety there. And strength in numbers. At some point they must strike back at the forces trying to crush them, but for now they recruit and regroup. The X-Men never answered to anyone. They are a masterless clan. They are freedom fighters. They are rebels. They are Ronin! Everyone cheers at the speech, and are ready to join the X-Men.

Toad sees Storm is getting ready to leave and asks where she’s going. Storm says she’s going to invite a friend of hers. His name is Forge. She knows he’s on the other side, but would like to try and bring him back. Toad gets the point and suggests Storm takes someone with her, for her own safety. Storm puts on a hood over her head, smiling she would rather do this alone. She promises she’ll be alright. Toad says that’s fine, and asks her to hurry back. As Storm is gone, Wolverine, Jean and Scott appear behind Toad. He stares at them.

Later, in the city...

Storm sits on the bench where she had her first date with Forge. After looking at her watch, she takes off her hood and smiles. She touches her head and glides the hair of her face, and waits patiently.

Characters Involved: 

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

Cerebra, Emma Frost, Professor Charles Xavier, Tessa (all Hellfire Club)



Shiro Yoshida

Various police officers and medical staff (all unnamed)

Various citizens (all unnamed)

Various party guests at the Hellfire Club (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Though most of them don’t get named: the mutants introduced in this issue clearly are: Aurora, Beast, Cannonball, Chamber, Husk, Jubilee, Leech, Mastermind I, Nightcrawler, Northstar, Psylocke and Wolfsbane.

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