Wolverine: Debt of Death #1

Issue Date: 
November 2011
Story Title: 
Debt of Death

David Lapham (writer), David Aja (artist), Bettie Brainteaser (colorist), Dave Lanphear (letterer), Lauren Sankovitch (assistant editor), Warren Simons & Alejandro Arbona (editors), Tom Breevort (executive editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief) Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

When Superintendent Nakadai is killed by ninja assassins, Wolverine is called to Japan at the news of his old friend’s death. He meets with Inspector Mori who is investigating the murder. To complicate matters, large robots in whose creation Nakadai was involved long ago have been released and are attacking various locations, and the General’s children are missing. SHIELD officers are sent after the robots, but all of them are killed in combat except for Nick Fury. Logan finds Nakadai’s son and daughter, Kanaye and Kiku, and takes them to Masao-Sensei’s place for safekeeping. Fury launches an investigation into why the robots have been released, and learns that the Hiroshi Murata of the Yakuza could be involved, as he is the main suspect in Nakada’s murder. Wolverine continues to conduct his own investigation, while Kanaye attempts to leave the country, until Wolverine catches up with him after learning that he was target for the assassination. Murata of the Yakuza wants Kanaye dead and sends the robots after him. Logan and Kanaye are picked up by SHIELD and taken to the Helicarrier where Fury and Logan speak, while Kanaye is held elsewhere. Before long, the robots have been locked onto Kanaye and arrive at the Helicarrier. A large-scale battle ensues, while Logan finds Kanaye and they leap off the Helicarrier and onto one of the robots., managing to get to safety in the water below before any of the robots can take them out. Shortly, Logan and Kanaye arrive at Maruta’s place, and Logan tries to negotiate for Murata to stop his quest against Kanaye. It is revealed that Kanaye has been selling information on his father’s investigations to pay gambling debts, and that it was Kanaye who ordered his father’s murder, as the investigations were going to expose the truth. Kanaye was drug-addicted and had many gambling debts. Logan tells Kanaye that he will help him, but the robots are still locked onto his signal, and soon arrive, blowing up Murata’s place with the three of them trapped inside. SHIELD manages to pick up the remaining robots before they could be sold off, while Wolverine, the only survivor of the explosion, visits Kanaye’s sister to tell her the news.

Full Summary: 

US Air Force base at Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan, at 6:12 AM, the sun rises into an orange-colored sky. Soldiers go about their business. One soldier gets into their jet, and, looking up, sees something moving towards the base in the sky. The soldier goes wide-eyed, and starts to fire from his jet, as whatever is approaching from the sky does the same, striking down others on the base. Soldiers move into position, but bombs are dropped on the air force base, and explosions follow. The vessels seen in the sky land - not jets, but giant robots. A siren sounds, and an instant later, the entire army bass is blown up.

Night time, elsewhere, else when Ninjas sneak into a house in the dead of night. Photographs are on the wall, one of a pilot. The ninjas look around, while outside, more scale the house, and others take out police officers who park nearby. In a bedroom, an elderly man rouses, as a ninja enters the room. Elsewhere in the house, a boy climbs down a trapdoor in the floor, when suddenly, someone call out to him, addressing him as Kanaye. He looks up and sees Kiku, and ask her why she is not asleep. ‘I heard you. Where are you going?’ the girl asks.

Back in the bedroom, the old main aims a pistol at the ninjas, ‘Tell Murata this is just another nail in his coffin’, while the woman next to him wakes, ‘Kenichi? What is it…?’ she calls out, before two bullets are fired. Kanaye and Kiku hear the bullets as thy huddle under the floorboards, with Kanaye telling Kiku to shush.

At a busy airport, Wolverine a.k.a. Logan makes his way past the busy people when suddenly, ‘Are you Logan?’ someone calls out. ‘Who wants to know?’ Logan replies, turning to a man in a trench coat who is accompanied by police officers. The man holds up a badge and introduces himself as Inspector Mori, and remarks that Superintendent General Nakadi spoke very highly of Logan. ‘I’m afraid I have bad news’ he then announces.

Soon, the arrive at the home, the bedroom has blood splattered across the walls and on the bed sheets. Inspector Mori informs Logan that they suspect Hioshi Murata, the Yakuza Oyabun. He explains that a trial is going on now against Murata for human trafficking and prostitution, but that several key witnesses were killed. And there went your case’ Logan remarks. ‘Yes, that’s why this makes no sense’ Inspector Mora points out. Logan tells Mora that Nakadi is very purposeful, and analytical, that he does not act emotionally. ‘He thought there was a leak in his inner circle. He wanted my help protecting his witnesses’ Logan adds. Mora looks at his watch and tells Logan that he is sorry he came all this way.

Logan looks at the photographs on the wall and tells Mora that Kenichi was shot down in 1942, spent the rest or the war in some R&D facility “babysitting lab coats”. Logan adds that Kenichi couldn’t wait to retire and take the police inspector’s job. ‘I was pretty wild then -’ Logan recalls, before announcing that there were two others living here. Mora tells him that it was the Superintendent General’s son and daughter, but that they are missing. Once again, Mora tells Logan that he is sorry he came all this way. Logan kneels down and examines the floor, finding the trapdoor, he turns and tells Mora that he will stay and see this through, if he doesn’t mind.

The SHIELD Helicarrier, where several strange pod-like ships are released from the sprawling vessel. ‘My stabilizers are pulling right’ one SHIELD pilot reports. ‘The onboard won’t stop making a beeping sound’ another remarks. ‘That’s your Gameboy, braniac’ another jokes. ‘I got a game. Fifty says I’m high, man’ a fourth declares, while another exclaims that he will take a piece of that action, until Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, tells them to calm down, adding that SHIELD didn’t shell out a hundred million of Uncle Sam’s money for each of these things so that they could lose their pay check.

Shortly, the SHIELD pod-ships arrive at a location where the large robots are still attacking. ‘How many did the eyes say there were?’ Colonel Fury enquires. One of the other officers informs him that there are eight left, as four blew themselves up at Ginowan. Fury tells his officers to keep it tight and watch their backs. The robots destroy everything in sight, while the SHIELD jets fire at them. ‘Those boys down there need us’ Fury tells his men. Suddenly, the large robots take flight. ‘Holy!’ one of the SHIELD officers gasps. ‘They’re fast’ another points out. ‘Watch out guys!’ one of them tells his comrades, while Fury orders his men to hold their formation, as the robots fly close to them.

‘You have one on your tail’ Fury warns one of his men. ‘Break hard and dive toward ten’ he adds, before one of the robots takes out one of the SHIELD pods. Then another, but one of the officers manages to fire on one of the robots. ‘I need help!’ one of the officers calls out. ‘Watch your backs’ Fury tells everyone, before he loses the rest of his men. Two robots remain unaccounted for, and an instant later, the facility below explodes.

Meantime, rain pours down as Kanaye and Kiku sit in a restaurant. Kiku asks her brother why he won’t tell her what is happening, and who would do this to their mother and father. ‘Dammit, Kiku, I said I don’ty know anymore than you do!’ Kanaye replies, before Logan enters and calls out to him. Kanaye spins around, surprised, but Logan tells him to relax and explains that he is an old friend of his father’s. Logan introduces himself, and Kayane remarks that he remembers reading in his father’s journals about Logan, and that his father thought Logan was strong, that he has power. ‘I do okay. Well enough to get whoever did this to your folks’ Logan assures him, taking a seat at the table, as Kayane tells Logan that there was a man father was prosecuting, a Yakuza, Murata. ‘His case had fallen apart’ Logan explains.

Kayane announces that his father had more evidence, that he overheard him on the phone saying something like “We got him”. Sipping a drink, Kayane tells Logan that his father was very excited. ‘I didn’t hear that’ Kiku remarks, to which her brother explains that it was after she went to bed. Logan tells the children that he will take it from here, and suggests that they get the two of them somewhere safe.

Aboard the SHIELD Helicarrier, Fury has returned, and rain pours down outside, as a man in a brown suit tells Fury that the robots are WWII technology. ‘Son, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. There’s nothing that quick today, Giovanni, let alone in the Forties’ Fury points out. ‘There was npthing like the A-Bomb until ‘45, Colonel Fury’ Giovanni replies, pointing to a slide of an explosion. Several other men are seated in the room, as Giovanni remarks ‘Shinpu Okubetsu Kogeki Tai robots. They were called Kamikaze Robots’ and adds that they are programmed to lock on to a target, in the case of this morning’s attack, their air forces, which were devastating the imperial navy. ‘Their gyroscopic system is light years beyond anything we have even now’.

Giovanni announces that according to Japanese intelligence, only a hundred rolled off the line when the war ended and the program was shut down. ‘In the wake of Hiroshima, the robots were locked in an underground facility and forgotten. Hi clicks through some slides which appear on a screen and states that a week ago, the facility was broken into and all the robots are missing. ‘Eleven personnel from the facility are still alive. All have alibis. But there is one man…’

Shortly, Fury, Giovanni and Mora are in the home of Kenichi, as Mora informs Firy and Giovanni that last night, Kenichi and his wife were assassinated and his son and daughter are missing, perhaps kidnapped. ‘Our number one suspect is Hiroshi Murata, a Yakuza’ Mora reveals, before asking Fury if he thinks there is a connection. Fury thanks Inspector Mora and tells him that they will contact his captain. He and Giovanni exit the house, ‘Coincidence?’ Giovanni asks Fury, ‘Not hardly’ Fury remarks, before telling him to look into this Yakuza angle, anything or anybody out of the place, he wants picked up. Fury declares that they have to find these things before the technology is replicated or sold. ‘We’ve seen a dozen of these things at work. I don’t want to know what ten thousand could do’ Fury declares.

Elsewhere, inside a men’s room, ‘Yakuza talk, talk, talk. Drink sake. Talk. Make pee pee. Talk’ a man lying on the floor utters. Three other bodies are scattered about. Mirrors are broken and blood is spilled all across the floor. ‘Recently, no talk. Ryu listen extra real hard. Big things happening’ the one conscious man tells Logan who stands and pours a drink. He adds that Oyabun Murata made a big score and everyone is very scared, but it will be over tomorrow night, and Kyodai, Shatei plan a big party. ‘More sake?’ Logan asks. ‘Thank you’ the man replies, before Wolverine asks him why Murata had Kenichi Nakadai killed. ‘It’s not the Superintendent Murata want dead. It was the other one - the son’ the man reveals. ‘Kanaye’ he declares.

At an apartment, the rain continues to pour down outside, and inside, an elderly man and woman are looking after Kiku. Canary birds fly around the room, as Kiku informs Logan that Kanaye ran out after he left, that he said he would be back. ‘Do you think he went after Oyabun Murata?’ she asks. The elderly man tells Logan that he was prepared to defend with his life the young ones that he brought, but that he never thought the boy would run out. ‘I had not the strength to stop him’ he adds. ‘Unlike you, I am not what I once was’ he points out. Logan calls the man Masao-Sensei and tells him that it isn’t his fault, and adds that there is more going on here than he first thought.

Elsewhere, Kanaye is in a phone booth, someone over the phone tells him that it is all a misunderstanding. ‘I’ve never tried to sell you out, Mr Murata. I never would do that’ Kanaye replies. In his office, Murata agrees that Kanaye has always been forthcoming with him as his father’s unreasonable vendetta. ‘Why would I be upset with you?’ he asks, before announcing that he will send a limo and they will talk. He adds that the redhead that Kanaye likes is here. ‘I am at the gardens’ Kanaye replies. The young man puts the phone down, and races through the rain towards the Tokyo International Airport terminal. Murata turns to his associate, Takashi and tells him that this is a disaster, that he has put his fate in the hands of a junkie. ‘If he is not dead tonight, there will be hell to pay’. Takashi replies that they have been able to modify the system with modern chips and software, facial recognition and satellite feeds. He adds that they can now be programmed with more subtlety, toward specific targets - even individual targets.

A strange craft hovers over the brightly lit city of Tokyo, while the rain continues to pour down. ‘This is Red Eye Oh-Four to Central. We’ve got a hit on Kanaye Nakadai at Narita Airport’ someone reports. ‘Copy, Oh-Four. Units on their way’ comes the response. ‘You may want to send plenty of backup. We’re picking up someone new. Could be a problem…’ the person inside the craft reports.

Down in the airport, Kanaye looks around nervously, while an announcer reports that flight 504 to Hong Kong is now boarding. Logan suddenly grabs Kanaye and pulls him aside, telling him that they have to talk. ‘Logan-san?’ Kanaye gasps, surprised. Logan pushes Kanaye up against a wall and tells him ‘I owe your dad my life. Be straight and I’ll keep you safe. You were the assassins’ target. Why?’ Kanaye remains silent, so Logan leans in closer and warns him not to lie to him, as he will know. Suddenly, ‘Wolverine!’ a voice calls out. Several agents appear behind Wolverine, as one of them informs him that Colonel Fury would like to invite him to the Helicarrier for a drink - both of them. ‘Cripes’ Logan mutters, before asking Kanaye if he likes heights.

Shortly, inside the Helicarrier, Logan has his feet up on a coffee table as he sits across from Fury. Files are spread out on the table, and Fury tells Logan that the boy is bad news, that he has a weakness for coke and girls and he is up to his armpits in debt to every two-bit gangster in Tokyo. ‘I have a debt, too, Fury. I told the kid not to say a word. I know how you government boys work’ Logan responds. Fury rubs his temples and tells Logan that in case he is unaware, they have a situation. ‘Screw your situation’ Logan replies as he sips a drink. ‘Tell that to the four hundred dead soldiers in Okinawa’ Fury declares, explaining that they think the boy helped Murata steal a dangerous weapon that his pal Kenichi helped to develop.

Logan pours himself another drink, and tells Fury to get Kanaye in here and stop wasting time. ‘The kid’s under my protection’ Logan tells Fury, adding that if there is any questioning to be done, he will be the one to do it. ‘Then you’d better get me information I can use, shrimp’ Fury replies, before ordering an associate to bring the kid down, but suddenly, everyone is knocked off balance, as the Helicarrier is tossed about in the air. ‘Sir, it’s the robots…they’ve breached the hull’ a SHIELD officer announces.

Down a corridor, ‘Move! Fall back!’ a SHIELD officer tells his comrades as they fire weapons at some robots who have entered. ‘More coming up this way!’ another calls out as he looks around. Suddenly, someone fires a larger weapon down the corridor, and the robots seemingly explode. It is Fury, who remarks that there is not much room to maneuver in here. ‘Sir…I think you made it mad’ an officer replies as one robot emerges from the flames and lumbers towards them.

Inside a holding room, ‘Let me free!’ Kanaye exclaims, slamming his cuffed fists against the table. Two agents are in the room with him, and they can hear the rapid gunfire outside. ‘I’m a sitting duck here!’ Kanaye adds. ‘Shut up! Just shut up! Here’s two hundred men between you and -’ one of the officers replies, before a robot forces its way into the room, and starts firing, however Kanaye quickly dives under the table - then, there is the familiar SNIKT sound, as Logan appears and slices off the robot’s head. ‘No crying, son. Time to be a man’ Wolverine tells Kanaye, helping him up, while one of the SHIELD officers protests, ‘You can’t -’ he calls out to Wolverine, who replies that if his hunch is right, the sooner he gets this kid out of here, the better off they will all be.

Free of his cuffs, Kanaye rubs his wrists and thanks Logan for coming for him. ‘Don’t thank me, kid. Before we’re through you may be begging for those robots back’ Logan replies as he opens a hatch, and sees robots in the sky, with SHIELD craft defending the Helicarrier. Suddenly, a powerful blast strikes the side of the Helicarrier, and Kanaye falls from the hatch. ‘Help!’ he calls out as Wolverine manages to grab him, then he leaps from the hatch, telling the boy that it is definitely him that they are after. ‘They’ll take down this whole ship to do it. We won’t allow that, will we?’ Logan remarks, while Kanaye just screams as they start to free-fall. Logan pulls Kanaya onto his back, and the robots start to fly towards them. ‘Here they come!’ Kanaye calls out. Logan tells him to hang on tight, as he needs his hands free. He pops his claws, and shoves them into a robot that flies over them. ‘And don’t shout in my ear’ Logan adds. Kanaye slips, but manages to regain his hold. He screams, but Logan tells him to shut up, as the robot starts to make a noise. Logan then starts hacking away at the robot, splitting it in two, just as the lower part of the robot explodes.

Logan is still connected to the top half, as it now plummets downwards. Other robots start to open fire, and Logan tells Kanaye to get ready to bail. ‘Now!’ he exclaims, as they both let go, and fall into the water below, just in time, as the other robots’ gunfire strikes the remains of the first robot, causing it to explode. The robots them leave, and Logan bursts from the water with Kanaye in his arms.

Later, back on the mainland, ‘Takashi! Takashi! The news is reporting the harbor’s on fire! Is this what you call “in control”?’ Murata asks as he storms into a room, only to find Takashi dead on the floor. Logan sits in a seat and Kanaye stands at his side. ‘Who the hell are you?’ Murata asks. ‘I’m a friend of Superintendent Nakada’s’ Logan replies, adding that the word is, the Shinpu Robots are locked onto his friend’s son here, and that he is the one who can make them stop. ‘You think I had anything to do with that? You are crazy’ Murata replies, while suggesting to Wolverine that he run, as an army of his men will be here in seconds.

‘Hypothetically speaking, say you did wire these things to come after Kanaye. And say I told you if that happened I would open you up like a fish. Would you stop them?’ Logan asks. ‘Hypothetically, yes’ Murata replies, folding his arms, adding that he wouldn’t be able to, as once programmed they would act independently until their mission was complete - no remote signal, nothing to trace them back to him. ‘Hypothetically’ he smirks. Logan pops a single claw, and suggests they get on with the fish part. Murata looks nervous and steps back, ‘You blame me for your friend’s death?’ he asks. ‘He is the one responsible’ Murata declares, looking at Kanaye. ‘That’s ridiculous!’ Kanaye exclaims. ‘You believe the word of a junkie?’ Murata asks Logan, explaining that he has been selling information on his father’s investigations for years - to pay gambling debts.

Murata continues, announcing that he knew his father’s witch-hunt was going to reveal him, that he was going to be shamed, disinherited. ‘He comes to me. He wants to hire assassins to kill his own family. Then his secrets are safe, and he inherits everything’ Murata explains, while asking Kanaye how he will pay for this, as he is in debt and assassins are expensive. ‘I have something very valuable, he says. Priceless. A weapon I read about in my father’s journal…’ Murata remarks, quoting Kanaye, who suddenly ducks down, and picks up the fallen Takashi’s gun. ‘LIES!’ he shouts. ‘Liar!’ he declares, aiming the weapon at Murata. ‘Boy’ Logan turns around. Sweat pouring down his face, Kanaye declares that it is not true.

Logan takes the weapon from Kanaye and tells him that he can hear his heart racing, he can smell the sweat on his palms. Kanaye drops to his kneels and starts crying, apologizing, he admits that he was so scared. Logan turns to Murata, ‘You, of course, hired the ninja and kept the robots. They got out of control and attacked the bases. You sent them after Kanaye to cover your tracks’ Logan tells him, while, some figures can be seen flying towards the house. ‘I am a businessman. He killed his own family!’ Murata replies. ‘He’s my friend’s son. I can’t harm him’ Logan points out.

Kanaye gets to his feet and thanks Logan. ‘I told you not to thank me, son. I’ve also lost my taste for protecting you’ Logan replies. Suddenly, a familiar siren-like sound is heard, and Kanaye sees the robots flying towards the house. Kanaye goes wide-eyed with fear, and, and instant later, the robots open fire, and the house explodes.

Later, Fury and Giovanni stand on the edge of the burning remains of the house. Giovanni remarks that he can’t say he is sorry to see Kanaye get it, as two of those suckers were on his tail and just self-destructed. ‘That Logan fellow, though. He saved the Helicarrier, and his tip paid off…Taggart’s team recovered the remaining robots being loaded onto a Chinese freighter’ Giovanni reports, before asking Fury what he wants to put in the report about Wolverine. ‘I mean, nothing could’ve survived that’. Fury smiles and tells Giovanni that he doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about, that by the time he sorts through this mess, Wolverine will be on some beach getting the R&R that slackers like Giovanni only dream about.

But, instead, Wolverine is at Masao-Senei’s home, his head hanging, as the elderly woman sits next to Kiku, who is crying after receiving the news of her brother’s death. Masao-Senesi stands with his hands on his hips, while canaries fly around the room, singing….

Characters Involved: 


Nick Fury

Kanaye & Kiku

Inspector Mora

Kenichi Nakadai and his wife

Masao-Sensei and his wife




SHIELD officers



Story Notes: 

Released on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, this issue comes with a short story by Joe Quesada and Igor Kordey called “Sick Day” which was originally published in 2001 and tells the story of a boy learning of his father’s death during 9/11.

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