As well as possessing his deadly, Adamantium-laced claws, Wolverine is also trained to use a number of handheld weapons. The most prominent of these is the Japanese samurai sword, a weapon Wolverine has been using for over one hundred years. In fact, the very first time he fought Sabretooth, it was with a sword and not his claws. Whilst he wouldn’t understand the true meaning of wielding a samurai sword for many more years, it would become an early indication as to the difference between these two men. One would give in to his animalistic urges and become a savage beast, whilst the other would struggle against them to become something much nobler.
Wolverine’s path would eventually lead him to Japan and introduce him to the concepts of duty and honor. It would be his adherence to these concepts that would truly make him see that he was not the beast he thought he was. He was a man.
Whilst he has used many different swords in his time, there have been three in particular that have stood out. This article details the history of these swords as well as the unique properties each one possesses.
The Honor Sword
The metal used to create the sword came from a lodestone and as such it has magnetic properties. When Wolverine was lost in the Canadian wilderness, he used it like a compass to find north. In its original appearance, it had a silver blade with a gold/red hilt and sheathe. In later appearances, the hilt and sheath would change to a red/brown color and then again to a silver one.
This sword was forged out of meteorite iron by demon swordsmiths in the caves of Kyushu. It had fallen into the hands of some powerful bandit lords in northern Japan but, 800 years ago, it was taken off them by Hoken Yashida, a member of the powerful Yashida clan. He took the sword to a swordsmith known as Masamune and asked him to re-forge it. The swordsmith complied and the Honor Sword was created. The sword was said to represent all that someone was, is and will be, as well as the physical and spiritual perfection that they strive for. It was not supposed to be used by the leader of the clan but rather the samurai who exemplified those qualities.
The sword was passed down the Yashida clan for many generations until it ended up in the possession of Shingen Yashida. One day, Wolverine learned that Shingen had arranged for his daughter Mariko, Wolverine’s former lover, to marry another man. Wolverine travelled to Japan and confronted her father, who forced Wolverine to fight him with a wooden sword in a bid to prove himself worthy for Mariko’s hand. However, Shingen tricked Wolverine into unsheathing his claws and cutting him, thus bringing dishonor to himself. Shamed, Wolverine left and sunk into a depression. He wound up allying himself with Yukio to take on the criminal elements of Shingen’s empire. Eventually, Wolverine worked his way up the chain until he was ready to take on Shingen again. Shingen fought against Wolverine using the Honor Sword but was bested and slain. Wolverine expected Mariko to disown him for killing her father. Instead, she bestowed the Honor Sword to him as he had brought honor back to her family. [Wolverine (1st series) #1-4]
Wolverine and Mariko eventually became engaged, only for her to break it off before they were married. When he found out that she had aligned herself with the Silver Samurai, Wolverine threw the sword down at her feet and left Japan. This was all a mistake, though, as Mariko had been under Mastermind’s manipulations. When the villain was defeated, Mariko sent the sword back to Wolverine. When he received it, he travelled to Japan again to confront Mariko and to give it back. However, her actions under Mastermind’s illusions caused her to become allies with the criminal underworld again. She no longer saw herself fit to wield the Honor Sword, so she convinced Wolverine to hold onto it. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #174-176]
Wolverine kept the sword with him whilst he operated with the X-Men. When he had the adamantium removed out of his body, he decided he needed time alone away from the X-Men. He travelled to Canada and he took the sword along for protection. Sure enough, it came in useful when he was attacked by a wolf in the wilderness. He was later attacked by the vampire Bloodscream but a quick slash of the blade soon dispatched the villain. [Wolverine (2nd series) #78]
Shortly thereafter, Wolverine travelled to Japan and visited an orphan child called Amiko that he had once sworn to protect. She was living in squalor with two guardians who didn’t care for her. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the couple to take better care of her, he decided to take the child away. He struck a deal with the Silver Samurai of the Yashida clan. In return for the clan looking after the child, he would give them back the sword. The Silver Samurai accepted and took the child along with the sword. [Wolverine (2nd series) #82]
Sometime later, Wolverine decided to pay Amiko and her new guardian Yukio a visit. When he arrived at their apartment, he found some Hand ninjas ransacking the place and the two women missing. Wolverine soon found he was surrounded by the local authorities and he realized he had been set up by the Hand. He escaped his pursuers and sought refuge with the Yakuza clan. The leader of the Yakuza clan, Pale Flower, wasn’t so accommodating and tried to poison him. That didn’t work and the two were suddenly ambushed by the local authorities. Both were sent to prison where the Hand sent an assassin to take care of Wolverine. During the fight, a courier sent by the Silver Samurai arrived with the Honor Sword for Wolverine. He used the sword to kill the assassin and then escaped with Pale Flower and the courier. Wolverine and his allies tracked Yukio and Amiko down to a movie studio lot where they were being held captive. They stormed the place and found the two captives. After rescuing them, they made their escape but one of the captors revealed that one of his allies was working for them. Wolverine used his enhanced senses and figured out who it was. He threw the Honor Sword at the courier and impaled him with it before he could kill Amiko. [Wolverine (2nd series) #107-109]
What became of the Honor Sword after this is a mystery. Presumably, he gave it back to the Silver Samurai as Wolverine has not been seen with it since.
The Muramasa Blades
There is actually not one sword known as the “Muramasa blade” but several, all of which obtained their name from the mysterious swordsmith who created them. Little is known about the enigmatic Murasama and what little is known is actually only rumor and legend. It is claimed that he is immortal, a claim given some merit by the established fact that someone by that name has been producing swords of the same skill and quality for centuries. Additionally, Wolverine met him decades after first doing so, with no time seeming to have passed for the man.
Aside from his apparent longevity, Muramasa seemed to possess mystic abilities, which he used in his forge. Within his weapons, it is evident that he has used souls, both his own and those who have commissioned him, to strengthen those blades, giving them unique properties.
While it is most likely that Muramasa created untold number of swords in his mountaintop forge over the course of centuries, two in particular have been cited as those of his creation. Both have been wielded at some point by Wolverine. This article will detail the properties and history of the swords as well as the man who created them.
[Note: Muramasa is actually based on a real life swordsmith called Muramasa Sengo who lived approximately 800 years ago. Like his Marvel counterpart he was known for his madness and violent ways. It is said he imparted some of his madness into the blades he created. Legend has it that the blades would compel the wielder to commit murder and suicide.]
The Black Blade
Named because of its distinctive black color, this sword was imbued with a piece of Muramasa's own soul when the swordsmith forged it centuries ago. Unfortunately for those who would use it, Muramasa had constructed it during a time of madness in his quest to create the perfect blade. Now, the wielder of the blade would also suffer the same fate. When held, the Black Blade would appear to possess a person and change them both mentally and physically for as long as they possessed it. Interestingly, the effect was not always the same, varying per the personality & background of its current wielder. The effect on the mind was just as drastic. The wielder would literally become possessed by the blade and they would talk as if they were the Black Blade itself. The blade appeared to be seeking a true warrior whom it could call master, a person who was just as mad as it was.
The blade itself is made from an unknown metal and appears to be indestructible. When Wolverine slashed it with his claws, it did not break. Whether this indestructibility comes from the metal itself or the process of creating the sword is unknown. The sword is designed much like any other samurai sword with a slightly curved blade complete with a black hilt.
Unlike the next blade this sword doesn’t seem to be able to cut through anything on a molecular level. When the Silver Samurai was fighting Wolverine, the Black Blade was stopped by the Silver Samurai’s sword, as it was unable to cut through it.
Little is known of the history of the Black Blade after it was forged by Muramasa centuries ago. However, it had gained enough reputation to be both feared and revered in equal parts. At some point, a group of fanatics set up the Cult of the Black Blade and, whilst their motivations were shrouded in mystery, they would stop at nothing to possess the sword they worshipped so much.
The Cult had evidently known that the Black Blade had come into the possession of Clan Yashida, a powerful Japanese family. Knowing that it was well guarded, the Cult bided their time, until they learned that it was being transferred from the States to Madripoor. The entire operation came under the attention of Wolverine, who worked to thwart the Cult’s interception and found himself at odds with the Silver Samurai, an exiled member of Clan Yashida who wished to acquire the sword for his own ends. Unfortunately for all involved, the courier, Jessica Drew, found herself possessed by the Black Blade, which transformed her into a powerful, if not crazed, warrior, who killed the Cult members and defeated both Wolverine and the Silver Samurai before escaping.
Recovering first, Wolverine gave chase and ultimately managed to wrest the Black Blade from Jessica’s possession after knocking her out. Without the blade, Jessica’s attire transformed back to her pre-possessed civilian garb. Unfortunately for Wolverine, the blade took immediate possession of him, similarly transforming him. Filled with madness, he declared that the Black Blade at long last had a master worthy of the name and intended to sacrifice Jessica to seal the bond between him and the sword. To that end, the possessed Wolverine departed, joining forces with the surviving members of the Cult to do just that.
Learning of the Cult’s hideout in a jungle outside of Madripoor, Jessica’s friend, Lindsay McCabe, and the Silver Samurai teamed up to retrieve the Black Blade and rescue Jessica. Arriving at the temple undetected, they witnessed the possessed Wolverine prepare for the ceremony. Wearing a ceremonial suit of armor and holding the sword, he stood on a platform surrounded by cultists who were all dressed in robes. Before him was brought a drugged Jessica, who was also dressed in a sacrificial ceremonial outfit. Wolverine was about to decapitate Jessica with the sword but was shot by the reluctant Lindsay. In the ensuing chaos, the Silver Samurai leapt into the fray and engaged Wolverine in battle whilst Lindsay went to save Jessica. Wolverine and the Silver Samurai were equally matched but the Blade-possessed Wolverine gained the upper hand and struck the Samurai to the floor. He was about to kill him and the women but he momentarily gained control over his senses when he realized he was about to kill his friends. He flung the sword away and it embedded in the temple wall. Free of the sword’s influence he started to regain control over himself.
The Silver Samurai saw his chance and took the Black Blade for himself. However, unlike Jessica and Wolverine, he didn’t suffer any adverse effects. He reasoned that the sword had found the master it had been searching for ever since its creation. Who better to control the demented sword than an equally driven man? [Wolverine (2nd series) #1-3]
The sword has not been seen or heard of since. It presumably still belongs to the Silver Samurai, although with his death it remains to be seen whether the sword will seek out a new master.
The Muramasa Blade
The better known of Muramsa's blades, this one was created using a part of Wolverine’s own soul. As a result, it took on aspects linked to Wolverine. Whilst it does not possess the wielder like the Black Blade, it does have the power to severely inhibit the healing ability of anyone it cuts. Wolverine himself was sliced across the chest with it and he noted how the wound didn’t heal as quickly as it should and it became inflamed. When Sabretooth had his arm cut off with the sword, his regenerative abilities no longer allowed him to reattach it.
The blade also is incredibly sharp. Wolverine sliced a SHIVA robot with the blade and cut through it in one stroke. Further inspection showed that the very dense armor of the robot had been spliced on the molecular level. The scientist analyzing the robot theorized that the weapon used to cut the robot did it in a plasmic form. When the Tinkerer analyzed it, he commented on how it wasn’t even made of metal. It was some kind of plasmic form disguising itself as metal.
Perhaps related to this is the blade’s inability to affect things psionic in nature. For instance, it was not able to penetrate the psionic armor of Armor, whose shielding is powered by “the memories of her ancestors.”
The properties of the blade seem to continue even if the blade is broken into pieces, or reworked into other forms. Daken took a shard of the sword and melted it down and coated some of his claws with it. The claws afterward possessed the same abilities of the original sword.
In the 1940s, having already lived a lifetime of violence and strife, Logan sought personal redemption and inner peace. In Japan, he found a legendary sensei named Bando Suboro, who trained him and gave him the peace and calmness he always desired. Whilst living there, he met a woman named Itsu and they fell in love. After a few years together, they were married and soon afterward she revealed she was pregnant. However, Logan’s past caught up with him when Itsu was killed by the Winter Soldier and, in a rage, Logan headed up a nearby mountain to meet a man of legend. At the top of the mountain lived the mad swordsmith Muramasa, who offered to create a weapon for him so that he could exact his revenge. Muramasa literally poured Wolverine’s blood and soul into creating the blade. After performing some mystic rituals, Muramasa dismissed Wolverine and told him to come back when he was ready. Years passed and Muramasa worked on the blade, perfecting it until it had become one of the most deadly weapons to ever exist.
Logan would go on to become involved in the Weapon X program and lose most of his memory to it. That was, until the Scarlet Witch warped reality and inadvertently gave Logan, by now calling himself Wolverine, most of his memories back. Now on a quest of revenge against anyone who had hurt him, one of his first destinations was Muramasa. Still living unchanged after decades, the immortal Muramasa gave Wolverine the finished blade and told him to wield it like an angry god. [Wolverine (3rd series) #38, 40]
Wolverine decided to head to the White House to talk to the US Secretary of State, whom he believed was a mole for a larger organization. Before he could interrogate her, however, a SHIVA unit, robots used to silence rogue agents of the Weapon X program, appeared and incinerated her. Wolverine subsequently used the Muramasa blade to slice the robot in two before it attacked him too.
By now S.H.I.E.L.D. was well aware that Wolverine had his memories back and was concerned as to what he was up to. After the incident at the White House, the U.S. Army decided to step in as well and sent the cyborg Nuke after him. Wolverine had had a direct hand in the creation of Nuke and so when they set Nuke loose on a village in Vietnam Wolverine had no choice but to head there to take him down. Wolverine took the Muramasa Blade with him and, after a heated battle with Nuke, he was about to kill him with the blade when he was stopped by Captain America.
In the brutal battle which ensued, Captain America wrested control of the sword and actually slashed Wolverine across the chest, creating a wound which would not heal quickly. Driven into a feral rage, Wolverine managed to regain the blade and was about to use it on Cap, when Cyclops, Emma Frost and Hellion intervened. Still lost to rage, Wolverine attacked the group, but was soon brought back to his senses by Emma Frost, who revealed to him that she had learned that his son still lived. Immediately realizing who had control over his son, Wolverine made the decision to give the Muramasa Blade to Cyclops for safekeeping. He knew the Blade was the one thing that could take him down and Cyclops wouldn’t hesitate to use it against him should the time come. Mostly, however, he was afraid that he was being manipulated into using the Blade and he didn’t want to have to use it on his son. [Wolverine: Origins #1-5]
After the incident in Vietnam, Wolverine set off to find his son. He was travelling on a ship and had noticed the wound on his chest he got from the blade wasn’t healing properly. It was still red and inflamed and he also appeared to be seasick. It was as if his healing factor hadn’t kicked in. The wound would eventually heal itself but at a much slower rate than normal. [Wolverine: Origins #6]
Wolverine would eventually have reason to use the Muramasa Blade. The man behind almost all of his life’s problems, an immortal mutant named Romulus, had been gathering feral mutants such as Wolfsbane, Feral, Sabretooth and Thornn. However, Sabretooth had become increasingly unstable and he gutted and killed Feral. Wolverine knew that Sabretooth wouldn’t stop there and so he decided to do the only thing he could, which was to put him down for good. He went to Cyclops and asked for the Blade. Cyclops was hesitant to hand it over but, after Emma Frost looked inside Wolverine’s mind and saw the atrocities that Sabretooth had done, he eventually gave him the Blade.
Wolverine travelled to the Canadian wilderness to the cabin he had once shared with his lover, Silver Fox, who had been murdered by Sabretooth. Anticipating that this was where Sabretooth would be waiting to ambush him, Wolverine sat with the Blade waiting for the inevitable attack from Sabretooth. Sure enough, it came and Wolverine wasted no time in using the blade. After Wolverine used the Blade to slice off his arm, Sabretooth was dumbfounded that he his healing factor did not allow him to reattach it. The feral Sabretooth knew what it meant and finally gave up. With that, Wolverine swung the Blade and took his nemesis’ head clean off, ending a life-long bitter rivalry. [Wolverine (3rd series) #55]
Wolverine would eventually track down his son, Daken, but their reunion wasn’t exactly a happy one. They parted ways but Nick Fury brought some information to Wolverine that changed things. Romulus had been manipulating Wolverine and his family for generations. He wanted to create the perfect weapon and he found that in Wolverine. When he discovered Wolverine had a son, Romulus had naturally started manipulating him too. Having discovered about the existence of the Muramasa Blade, he hatched a plan to melt down the blade and coat Daken’s own claws with them. He would then become powerful enough to kill even Wolverine. Daken had recently joined Norman Osborn’s version of the Avengers in the guise of Wolverine. Cyclops knew that it was Daken and also knew the threat he posed, so he set off from San Francisco to New York with a team of X-Men and the Blade to confront Daken. Realizing the X-Men were walking into a trap, Wolverine also headed there. However, despite his intervention, Daken more or less obtained his prize. While he did not escape with the whole Muramasa Blade, he did so with the tip of the sword, which had been broken off during the chaotic battle.
Daken’s next stop was the Tinkerer, who melted down the shard of the Blade and coated some of Daken’s natural claws with them. As protection for Daken himself, he also inserted Adamantium sheaths to contain the claws so that they wouldn’t come into contact with his flesh. Wolverine managed to track the Tinkerer down but was too late and, when he arrived, Daken had undergone the procedure. A fight broke out between the two but Daken resisted stabbing Wolverine with his new claws, even though he had him at his mercy. [Wolverine: Origins #33-36]
Romulus continued his machinations in the shadows and manipulated events so that Wolverine was pitted against many of his old foes. He had already had a hand in sending Nuke, Daken and Sabretooth after Wolverine and now he sent Omega Red after him. Having finally obtaining his long-desired Carbonadium synthesizer to stabilize his powers, Omega Red intended to replace Romulus as head of his organization. However, when Omega Red came to attack Wolverine, it was just after he had recovered a package sent to him by the Black Widow. Scoffing that the package seemed to be a broken sword, Omega Red offered Wolverine a free shot with it. Throwing the blade into Omega Red’s chest, Wolverine killed him with the Muramasa blade.
Just as Omega Red died, Romulus finally showed up and Wolverine immediately engaged him in battle. Wolverine used the blade to begin with but was unable to land a hit, so he tossed it aside and used his claws instead. The battle was brutal and eventually Romulus gained the upper hand. He grabbed the blade but chose not to use it on the unconscious Wolverine. Instead, he left it lying on his chest, telling him to keep it as he would need it. [Wolverine: Origins #37-40]
Wolverine became more proactive in his desire to take down Romulus. He enlisted Cloak into his cause and sought the Silver Samurai to teach him how to handle the Muramasa Blade properly. Romulus was aware of Wolverine’s actions and so he kidnapped Cloak’s ally, Dagger, and had his operatives interrogate her. When they realized Cloak hadn’t told Dagger about his involvement with Wolverine, they had Dagger phone Cloak up. The call was traced and Cloak teleported Wolverine to her location. She was about to be killed by Victor Hudson, a distant relative of Wolverine and an operative of Romulus, but Wolverine used the Muramasa Blade and killed Hudson before he could hurt anyone else. [Wolverine: Origins #42-43]
Wolverine eventually discovered that Romulus’ ultimate plan was to have he and Daken fight each other to the death to decide who would take his place when he died. Wolverine decided to outsmart him and approached Daken so that they could work together to rid themselves of Romulus once and for all. They parted ways with Wolverine telling his son to be prepared for a phone call when he found Romulus. However, a few weeks later in Turkey, Daken tracked down his father and gloated at how he told Romulus everything. Wolverine informed Daken that he knew he would sell him out and that Daken’s betrayal was all part of his plan. With that, he took out the Muramasa Blade and stabbed his son through the chest.
In fact, however, this had not been the Muramasa Blade but a lookalike, and the whole, unexpected situation had been orchestrated by Wolverine to throw off Romulus enough as to expose his very existence. However, the plan backfired and Romulus and Daken escaped, seemingly closer allied than ever. Ever the schemer, this was just a ruse by Daken, who used his third claw, constructed of the metal from the Muramasa sword, to eviscerate Romulus. His healing factor negated by the Muramasa metal, Romulus prepared for the killing blow, only to be ironically rescued by Wolverine and his ally, Cloak, who imprisoned Romulus within his darkforce dimension.
Asking Cloak for one last thing, Wolverine found Daken in Budapest. In the battle that followed, Wolverine uses the Muramasa blade and the training given by the Silver Samurai months before, ultimately besting Daken. Once his son was at his mercy, Wolverine used the Muramasa blade to cut the metal claws from Daken’s wrists, though he left Daken himself alive. Later, Wolverine returned to the Howlett estate and buried the broken Muramasa blade, along with Daken's Muramasa-metal claws. [Wolverine: Origins #47-48, Dark Wolverine #85-86]
Only Wolverine knows where the fragments of the Muramasa Blade are buried. How long it stays hidden away remains to be seen. With Sabretooth resurrected and a legion of other foes always after Wolverine’s blood, it can only be a matter of time before the Blade and its powers are needed again.