Friday, February 24, 2017

Wounded Wolf (Marvel)
Uncanny X-Men #205 When: May 1986
Why: Chris Claremont How: Barry Windsor-Smith

The Story So Far...
When Yuriko Oyama killed her father, she inherited more than the ample estate of his industrial fortune. The legacy of Lord Dark Wind passed to her as well, and although she hated her father, she was honor bound to defend the family name. This is how a burdened daughter became Lady Deathstrike!

Travelling to America to collect on her father's debts, she inadvertently discovered the mutant Wolverine. Her father's process had been used to fuse unbreakable adamantium metal to his mutant bones, but this was not done honorably. The unique method was stolen by Weapon X by Oyama!

So Lady Deathstrike fought the Wolverine, intent on cutting the ill gotten metal from his body. Even with an army and highly advanced katana, she could not defeat the skilled X-Man. So she went away to remake herself an augmented warrior like him. Now Deathstrike is deadlier than ever before - and her revenge will be a dish best served in the New York winter!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Lady Deathstrike 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Wolverine 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Lady Deathstrike 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Wolverine 6 (Generator)
Agility: Lady Deathstrike 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Wolverine 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Reavers 4 (Arsenal)

At last we weave the strands of a tangled history! Wolverine has defeated each of today's opponents before, but the legacy of his brutal victories is their unlikely union -- and the extremes they'll undertake to have their revenge!

Lady Deathstrike used to be Yuriko Oyama: daughter of a fanatical Japanese industrialist who discovered a method for bonding adamantium to human bone. She hated her father, Lord Dark Wind, but after killing him, accepted the burden of his tainted honor, and personal army.

Honor should have led Deathstrike to a bloodfeud with her father's assassin Bullseye. Instead, attempts to track the stolen metal of his bones led to the mutant Wolverine. In Alpha Flight #34, Deathstrike recognized the X-Man's skeleton as a product of stolen knowledge. She attempted to reclaim Weapon X's handiwork, and her father's honor, by cutting it from Wolverine's living body! Heather Hudson helped ensure Deathstrike and her samurai army left unsatisfied, but the defeat only intensified Oyama's obsession.

Her father's hi-tech katana and samurai clan had failed, so Lady Deathstrike submitted herself to Spiral and The Body Shop. There, she was stripped of her humanity to be rebuilt with cyber-organic enhancements. Her fingers became long bladed talons as she was remade into a living weapon!

To go with her new metallic body, Deathstrike was connected with a new army of mercenaries who themselves are cyborgs. The Reavers are: Murray Reese, Wade Cole & Angelo Macon.

The trio were almost killed as Hellfire Club Guardsmen fighting Wolverine in X-Men #133. Their life threatening injuries made them perfect recipients for cybernetic enhancement supplied by Donald Pierce. They remained closely affiliated with The Inner Circle for a time, before joining other Reavers in Australia, under the command of Pierce and Lady Deathstrike.

History favors Wolverine in combat against these four foes, but this is the first time he's faced Lady Deathstrike as a cyborg! Will her transformation into a killing machine finally bring her revenge? Let's see what happened...

History: Wolverine (2-0-0)
The Tape: Wolverine Ranking: Wolverine (#4)

What Went Down...
Winter in Manhattan's Lower East Side becomes a blanket of snow as the street succumbs to a sudden blizzard. Lost in the downpour and gusting winds, a baby sitter could be forgiven for mistaking the zip of ammunition for the stinging cold.

The city is no place for a lost little girl - but Katie Power is no ordinary child! She staggers through the snow searching for her sitter, Miss Randolph, but comes upon another familiar face instead: "Mr. Logan" -- The Wolverine!

Already suffering wounds from an earlier beginning to the attack; Wolverine is reduced to a bleeding, shirtless savage. Words fail when concerned police arrive on the scene. He can only clutch the child and growl, unable to warn them of the danger stalking through the snow. He runs.

Frightened and confused by her adult friend's state, Katie uses the powers of Energizer to stop them in their tracks! Her energy ball blasts Wolverine onto his back, and  frees her from his grip. She takes the time to recharge her powers and figure out her next move. Afraid to lose him, she hoists Wolverine over her tiny shoulders, and searches for a phone to contact Power Pack or the X-Men.

A taxicab with an accommodating driver offers relief for the child's burden. A story about her uncle and some thugs falls short when a hail of high-powered gunfire rips through the cab!

The Reavers mean to bring death upon them all, but Wolverine has the wherewithal to hurl the driver and child clear before the car explodes! He keeps running, scooping the terrified little girl in his arms as fire engulfs the street!

Gunshots chase them as Wolverine vaults over a wooden fence. They fall wildly into a sunken, snow covered work yard. Katie feels blood at her nose and lashes out with angry words. She takes them back and is rewarded with Logan's first coherent speech of the siege. He recognizes the girl better than he does himself. She cannot understand his Japanese dialect, but his brain is almost healed.

The super-powered girl switches from uniform to warm clothes, offering Logan her choir robe. Broken English signals his returning faculties. They huddle together, but a shining light warns of the arrival of The Reavers!

The heroes run for cover. Wolverine orders his temporary ward to trust that he's healed enough to handle the fight. He dissuades her from a lethal path and orders her exit. Then he uses the terrain to his advantage and lies in wait.

Wade Cole closes in on Wolverine's proximity - unaware his target is lurking right beneath him! Obscured by the cover of slats, Wolverine thrusts his clawed arm into the unsuspecting torso of the cyborg above!

Lady Deathstrike orders the last mercenary standing to find Katie Power and take her hostage. Murray Reese has been at it long enough to know it's never that easy. Wolverine is on him in an instant, so he whips around an unloads his hi-tech weapon at point blank. Against the healing mutant - it's no good.

If radio silence didn't tell Lady Deathstrike of Reese's fate, Wolverine emerges to confirm it. In her soul, she knew it would end this way. A crossing of inhuman swords in one final bloody showdown. It begins.

The newly made cyborg slashes her claws across Wolverine's face! He questions the honor of continuing her father's legacy. She will accept no alternative.

They swing and stretch limbs like dancers. A lunge pushes Deathstrike's bundled claws across the outer edge of Wolverine's exposed torso. A swing of her other hand swats back across his waiting face. He jerks forward once again as claws bury in his gut. She takes full advantage - driving the other set into his back!

She boldly proclaims the end of Wolverine's life -- but he rejects it! He knocks her away, summoning the energy of his own choice to live or die!

This time adamantium claws cut through Deathstrike's gut. They slash at her chest and slice at thighs. Cutting and hacking at a complex network of wires and microchips, Wolverine unmakes what was recently made.

The warrior's fa├žade broken and tattered, Lady Deathstrike's soul is laid bare -- and even Wolverine is shocked by what he sees!

Adamantium bones, claws and a mutant healing factor were all thrust upon the man called Wolverine, but the inhuman monster before him was a creation of choice. In her obsession, Yuriko Oyama has truly succeeded Lord Dark Wind.

Defeated, Deathstrike asks her nemesis to complete her failure with death. Though tortured by her role in reducing him back to a savage state he thought he'd left behind -- Wolverine refuses. Neither man nor animal could justify such a kill. She begs for mercy. He tells her to earn it. The fight is over.

The Hammer...
I like to think Secret Wars on Infinite Earths has something to offer as an information resource, but the fact of the matter is, you're only getting a window into the complete reading experience. I'll always encourage an interested reader to pursue and seek out the complete story themselves.

That may never be more true than with Uncanny X-Men #205 -- an issue that mere panels & text cannot do justice!

The images featured in today's entry may hint at the basic blows in isolation, but it's the complete composition of page layouts by Barry Windsor-Smith that make this issue a bona fide X-Men Classic!

With the turn of every page comes the temptation to squint. Such is the effective way in which snow whips across the page in every panel!

Winter is only part of the story. It's not the cold that draws me in when I read this issue. It's the danger! The hazy silhouettes stalking on the periphery. The light flare of their gun barrels. The darkly determined forms marching through a veil of snow.

There's actually no real mystery to who these shadowy hunters are. We're given a full glimpse of Lady Deathstrike and her minions in the opening pages. It's the emergence of a freshly built cyborg. The human villain of Alpha Flight #34, driven by obsession to remake herself in Spiral's Body Shop.

Deathstrike seeks assurances that the procedure can be reversed, but Spiral knows it's a lie. This will become the definitive vision for Lady Deathstrike moving forward. A woman who discarded her humanity in order to become one of Wolverine's deadliest enemies.

The other cyborg mercenaries were well known to readers at the time, but it's the first time they teamed with Deathstrike. Collectively they'll come to be known as Reavers. That's a name you might recognize if you're seeing Logan in theatres - in wide release March 3rd.

Sadly, Lady Deathstrike doesn't seem to be among the cadre of cyborg villains (led by Donald Pierce) in the highly anticipated cinematic finale. A dash of arch-nemesis that might've been welcomed in the dusty ode to Old Man Logan.

We've already lamented the disappointment of Bryan Singer's vision for the character in X-Men 2. If your only frame of reference for the character is the pristine beauty of Kelly Hu as silent henchwoman - you're missing out.

In many ways, the film version was the antithesis of the villain: stripped of her passion, conflict, and the choice of self-inflicted bodyhorror it led her to. Lady Deathstrike is ultimately a very Japanese high-concept, channeled through an American aesthetic. More Tetsuo than Iron Man, but also more Christmas lights & plastic chips than the slick, cyberpunk futurism of manga's best in the '80s.

It strikes me that it's a little bit punk that the fight is already under way when it begins. If you were wondering where Angelo Macon was in the recap, he's already a casualty when we catch up to the action. That's also why Wolvie's in such rough shape when we first bump into him.

Our entry point -- Energizer (Katie Power) -- is one of the members of Power Pack: a rainbow swirl of super-powered tykes right out of the most bubblegum '80s Saturday mornings! Don't worry, though. Wolverine made her promise to cover her ears and eyes while he gutted the nasty cyborgs! (That's a little bit punk and a little bit manga!)

That's just about all we have time for this week, but it's worth noting that we're folding in the off-page action into a continuum. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you'll find rankings updates for Macon and the assist for Energizer.

I have to imagine we'll find our way back to Power Pack some time in the future. I certainly hope we'll be back to talk more Lady Deathstrike. In the mean time, if you want to discover more from those characters, or many other topics, be sure to follow links littered throughout this post!

You can also dive into the full Secret Archive to browse ever featured fight by publisher, series and issue number! If you're looking for a little spontaneity, be sure to follow on Facebook or Twitter to get daily links inspired by the day's topics! An easy-breezy like and share will help support the site!

If you want to go the extra mile, or are just looking to get a first-hand look at the issue featured today, take advantage of the Amazon purchase link provided [right]! Doing so helps keep the Wars Infinite at no extra charge! Mmm! That's good schpiel!

Winner: Wolverine (w/ Energizer)
#4 (--) Wolverine
#515 (new) Energizer [+1 assist]
#834 (-510) Murray Reese
#835 (-513) Wade Cole
#836 (-513) Angelo Macon
#859 (-23) Lady Deathstrike

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