Origins & Endings: Chapter Two (Marvel comics)
Where: Wolverine #37 When: February 2006
Why: Daniel Way How: Javier Saltares & Mark Texeira
The story so far...
Wolverine is James Howlett -- And he remembers.
With a past comes further questions and grudges, and for Wolverine the path begins in Japan.
Though at first appearing to attack the Japanese Prime Minister's convoy, Wolverine's true intentions soon become apparent. The Prime Minister's security head is the true target.
A man named Kenuichio Harada.
A man named - The Silver Samurai.
Wolverine (#7): Wolverine has victories over Deathstrike and Lobo, while also having been defeat by the likes of Daredevil and Captain America.
The Silver Samurai: Has not been featured prior.
Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: Wolverine 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Wolverine 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Draw 1 (None)
Well, I guess we're continuing the half-theme of arch-rivalries.
In the past week we've had Namor/Tigershark [Marvel Team-Up #14] and Daredevil/Bullseye [Daredevil #132].
Silver Samurai might not be quite as high profile as a Sabretooth or a Magneto, but is none the less an impressive foe in Wolverine's rogues gallery of enemies.
As the stats note, he's also an incredibly worthy foe, matching Wolverine's skills fairly closely. It is perhaps only Wolverine's mutant penchant for healing that truly sets these two apart.
Perhaps moreso than any hero, Wolverine has the capacity to lose his first encounter with any skilled foe. His healing properties usually allow a writer to freely position him in peril, while also perpetuating a characterization that suggests he's somewhat brash, and willing to throw himself without much thought.
The pay-off, of course, is Wolverine's regular ability to slice through competition like a warm knife through butter.
Silver Samurai is a skilled warrior and master swordsman. He can almost certainly match Wolverine's mastery of combat, and possibly even surpass it on fundamentals. That said, he is just a man, and no matter how many times you stab him in the gut, or punch him in the head, Wolverine keeps coming back.
Ultimately, I would have to acknowledge Wolverine as the likely victor here, but I'd have to say two times out of five, Silver Samurai would get the win there.
Overall: Wolverine 26 (+2)
The Pick: Wolverine
What went down...
This fight's somewhat peculiar in that, for the most part, it's silent.
Rather than the exchange of dialogue we're used to seeing here, Daniel Way writes a nine page fight that's told entirely through visuals and Wolverine's inner monologues/narration.
It actually reads a bit like one of the less boring entries here, to be honest, peppered with characterization and plot, rather than references to Aquaman beating Namor [Curses!].
So, anyway... Wolverine shifts back, smiling as he narrowly avoids decapitation by the swinging blade of the Silver Samurai.
The Samurai is smart enough to recognise his advantage of reach, avoiding close quarters fighting due to Wolverine's fairly clear edge of six skilled adamantium claws. So, credit to Way for writing with a contemporary respect for logic.
The two engage in a series of acrobatics; the Samurai ducks a claw slash, Wolverine jumps a sword swing.
Wolvie manages to get a boot in, but the Silver Samurai is able to recover mid-air, sommersaulting through into a fighting stance. Wolverine enjoys the sport.
At a stalemate, the stakes raise along with what may or may not be an unheard literal conversation between the two. Silver Samurai answers with "a real showstopper."
Silver Samurai closes in, impaling the Wolverine on his blade. Ouch!
Ever the warrior, Wolverine grimaces for a moment, but has the piece of mind to consider exactly how one disarms a samurai. If you don't want to know the answer, scroll down really quickly nnnnn... now!
Wolverine pulls the blade from his gut, and returns it to the kneeling samurai. He leaves him with honor.
Despite taking a sword to the gut, Wolverine takes this one.
One of the perks of a mutant healing factor is probably not going down to mere samurai swords through the liver.
Apparently this is an honorable conclusion.
I don't know the ins and outs of the rules of seppuku, but from what I hear, Silver Samurai shows up in New Avengers sometime soon, so we'll take Wolvie's word for it.
Though only a relatively small percentage of the book, I have to admit, I picked this up solely for a kick ass fight. A fight worth of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths, and it's a good thing too, because on story, it does not really deliver.
I haven't really followed along with the whole origin situation, but what's presented in this and the other issue of this arc I have suggests he's really in no greater position than previously. In fact, reminiscent of scenes from the nineteen nineties, he seems to be following clues for greater understanding, only this time the clues revolve less around the tired Weapon X plotline, and instead relies on something more vague.
Not to rag further on the Wolverine book at this point, but there are very few artistic incentives on offer here, also.
My scans perhaps do an injustice to what is there, but JD Smith's colours and Texeira's inks are not an attractive sight. The artwork is rough, while lacking any kind of balancing artistic approach, resulting in something that at times almost looks rushed.
Likewise, the muddy dark colour palette that's been popular with artists like David Finch, does little to lift the art, or present a striking image.
Which is in unfortunate stark contrast to the sleek, minimalist cover by Kaare Andrews. A cover that makes me wish this prominent storyarc for a franchise-player like Wolverine could've gotten a higher treatment.
The fight is suitable, and as I said, having come from reviewing and indulging in the more cardboard tendencies of the seventies, the logic of this fight is refreshing. It's willing to present the battle in exaggerated, but slightly less superheroic terms. The exchange is presented with some thought paid to strategy and the thought processes of the characters.
It does, however, completely omit any contribution to the story that the exchange between these two characters might have. It's here that perhaps Origins & Endings fails where a similar issue of Enemy of the State, might not.
Great to have a character like Silver Samurai on the site, though!
The Fight: 4 The Issue: 3.5