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During the Fatal Attractions crossover, X-Factor discovered a top-secret program named "Project: Wideawake", created by the government to produce mass quantities of mutant hunting sentinels. [X-Factor (1st series) #93] - Submitted by Charade007


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Runaways



Wolverine Annual 1996

Issue Date: 1996

Story Title: The Last Ronin

Staff:
1st Story:
Jeph Loeb (plot), Ralph Macchio (script), Ed McGuinness (pencils), Nathan Massengill with Norman Lee (inks), RS & Comicraft (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Malibu (enhancements), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

2nd Story:
Joseph Kelly (writer), Tommy Lee Edwards (penciler), Rich Case (inker), John Workman (letterer), Paul Becton (colorist), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description:
1st Story:
In Japan, Logan is approached by the Silver Samurai, who informs him that Sunfire has been taken into government custody after he temporarily lost control of his powers. Meanwhile, Bastion holds a meeting with high-ranking government officials and the need to use giant robot called Red Ronin to halt the mutant menace. After breaking Sunfire out of prison, Wolverine, Samurai and Sunfire come up with a plan to take down Red Ronin at Fujikawa Industries. There, Logan is met by Yukio, who has an interest in what happens to the Red Ronin as well. The Hand also has an interest and shows up. After taking out the members of the Hand, the Red Ronin begins to move. Thanks to Sunfire, Logan is able to make his way into the Red Ronin and takes out a number of component boxes, which takes Ronin out of commission. Having been is pinned by one of Ronin’s arms during the battle, Sunfire frees himself but almost loses control over his powers in the process. However, he is calmed down by Logan, who then takes him away to Canada where James and Heather Hudson can help him with controlling his powers. Simultaneously, one of the generals executes Red Ronin’s controller and tells him that nothing must deter the course of the Fujikawa Corporation and the government from taking control of the mutant problem. 2nd Story:
In Japan, Yukio and Logan learn that Amiko has run away from her babysitter’s care to find the Golden Temple. In disguise, Logan dresses up as a beggar and eventually accompanies Amiko on her quest. Along the way, he is saved by Amiko when he gets his foot stuck in a train track and they fend off some thugs. Upon reaching the temple, Amiko is disappointed. At that point, Logan reveals himself to Amiko and tells her that this journey was a lesson about life. Take the bad things and face them, because they’re going to be there. Hand in hand, they begin to make their way home.

Full Synopsis:
1st Story:
In Japan, a plain-clothed Logan kneels before Mariko Yashida’s gravestone. While he does, he thinks to himself that in a lotta ways he feels more at home there in Japan than when he was wanderin’ around the Canadian woods after the government got done experimentin’ on him years ago tryin’ to turn him into some kind o’ weapon for their own purposes. But over there, the beast in him found peace in Mariko’s arms. An’ now she’s gone an’ there’s nothin’ he can do about it. Looking up at her grave, he tells Mariko that he loved her, and to rest easy.

Just then, Logan picks up a familiar scent. He knows it ain’t the time or place but… Popping his claws, he leaps towards a plain-clothes Silver Samurai and tells him that if he’s spoilin’ fer a fight, he ain’t gonna find the ol’ canucklehead nappin’. Samurai tells him to wait. He did not come to honor the grave of his half-sister Mariko by bringing bloodshed to it. They have clashed in the past but he’s there not as the leader of the Clan Yashida, but as a brother coming to mourn a departed sibling. Pulling out his sword, Samurai tells Logan not to force a confrontation. His blade, powered by his mutant abilities, is more than a match for his now adamantium-less claws. Let them not dishonor his half-sister’s memory.

Logan angrily tells him not to lecture him, he don’t ever remember them bein’ that cozy anyway. After all, Mariko bought it by tryin’ to bring somethin’ decent to the bunch o’ criminals called Clan Yashida. She was poisoned fer her troubles. An’ now the whole ball o’ wax is his. He then asks what he is doin’ to make it legit. Samurai replies that they, he and Mariko, saw things differently. They must look to the future. The world hates and fears mutantkind more than ever. Not even Charles Xavier, the leader of the outlaw band of mutants, the X-Men, was able to effect true change.

Withdrawing his claws, Logan tells him yeah, but at least Chuck an’ the X-Men were always in there pitchin’, tryin’ to make peaceful coexistence between man and mutant a reality, not whinin’ about it. Or usin’ an outsider status as an excuse to strike back at humanity like a couple o’ guys an’ groups he could name. Samurai informs Logan that they in Japan have watched with great interest the recent… troubles in New York. Logan snarls that he don’t know the half of it. They came as close to the breach as he ever wants to come fightin’ off Onslaught. Lotsa folks didn’t make it either. Samurai states that they may have won the battle, but the war continues. Surely, he knows what this government has done with the adventurer called Sunfire. His interest piqued, Logan asks what about Sunfire…

Elsewhere in Japan, the being known as Bastion gives a presentation to a group of gathered Japanese officials. His goal is a very simple one – end the threat of mutants everywhere. As he sees it, their very existence, with their explosive and often uncontrollable powers, is a mortal danger to every human on earth. He addresses the group of officials and tells them that they are fighting a war, a war for the very safety of the planet. His organization, which is multi-national in scope, requests their government’s cooperation in the neutralization of the mutant threat. He did not come by his beliefs lightly.

With the snap of his fingers, Bastion shows them hard evidence of mutant-caused destruction in America during the recent “Onslaught” debacle. One of the officials asks that this is a hologram image of New York City post-Onslaught – disturbing. Bastion adds that surely no one would wish this upon their homeland. Japan is no stranger to this sort of catastrophe – the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the earthquake in Osaka… But what occurred in Manhattan could have been preventable with the full cooperation of their Operation: Zero Tolerance. The recent incident with Sunfire, once the very symbol of Japanese power, is merely the first hint of what they can expect.

One of the officials replies that they handled that problem, as Japan handles all its own problems – without interference from the west. One of the generals states that it was a miracle no one was hurt in that incident but if it were to happen again, there is little that a gaijin could offer to their people that the Japanese government could not provide. He then moves for the meeting to be adjourned. Bastion asks “our people?” There is no longer such a concept, even in so segregated a society as Japan. There is only Homo sapien and Homo superior. And with a little help, they can survive. The general says that they are more than prepared for every eventuality.

Bastion remarks that he is referring to the fact that he has at his disposal a great and powerful weapon – one which in the wrong hands, as they have already learned, is a force of great destruction. Looking up, the general asks him what he is speaking of. Bastion states that he is speaking of the weapon code-named Red Ronin. Smirking, he tells the general that as he can see, their intelligence is very thorough.

At Fujikawa electronics, a global firm headquartered in Japan… Currently, this high security area is a repository for one of the most technologically advanced weapons on the planet. Perched on an elevator, three engineers travel upwards next to a very large robot. One of them states that surely they have not spent all this time and effort merely to have the government assume control of the project. They have been ordered to turn over all material on this construct to officials. Fujikawa must know the immense value of what is in this compound. He cannot believe they will willingly part with it.

Another says that they have been with the company for fifteen years. Never have they seen an executive decision made that ultimately did not benefit Fujikawa. The first one says true, but never has the company been so deeply involved with something of such power. After all, its release could be cause for worldwide panic. The second individual says not if it is carefully controlled. Then, it would be a magnificent awakening, a cause for national celebration. The first one replies that he disagrees. If this object is of no concern to their government, then it must be turned over to them. For what place does mere enterprise have when they speak of such grave matters? They live in Japan and obey her laws. Without them, they are simply savages.

The third says that he is correct, this is no research project. They add that it is interesting. They have been closer than any to this undertaking. And while they toil to create the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence, it is something easy to forget what it is they are reconstructing. Yes, they have their own small, assigned tasks and functions. And he must remind himself they are breathing new life into the mammoth figure of the Red Ronin. The second individual points out that it is a cybernetic construct nearly one hundred meters tall, designed by Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi and built at Stark International in America years ago. The Ronin’s purpose was to safeguard the world against the attacks of a time-lost dinosaur but time and again the robot’s control was usurped by the wrong people.

The third individual says that it was first usurped by Takiguchi’s young grandson Robert. Then Stark International’s own Dr. Earl Cowan, who was mentally unstable, seized control until the Avengers stopped him. The first states that eventually the construct was taken by the U.S. espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. and there, its full potential never realized. But they must not forget that a Ronin is a samurai without a master and that, perhaps a weapon of this magnitude cannot be mastered.

As they talk, unbeknownst to them, Yukio is outside Fujikawa listening in on their conversation. While she does, she says to herself that all that mumbo jumbo isn’t going to mount to anything. Not when there are those who would gladly pay to have this mechanic behemoth appropriated. Leaping away, she adds that she is going to get a cut of that action. Although stealing a hundred foot robot has its difficulties. It probably won’t fit in a purse. Looking out the window, an individual wonders if someone was just spying on them. They reply no matter, for their power base will continue to grow and no one will be able to interfere with that.

That evening, at a major military installation just outside Tokyo, Wolverine and the Silver Samurai are standing outside the barbed wire gate in full uniform. Samurai informs Wolverine that this is where Sunfire has been incarcerated since the accident in which his mutant powers flared so unexpectedly and on such a scale that it was feared they would consume him and endanger others. Wolverine replies that if his powers have really become a danger, he knows a bunch o’ people who specialize in helpin’ mutants control their power. Samurai says “ah yes, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men.” The very people who have helped him curb the feral impulses that accompany his mutant powers. He then asks how Xavier is. Wolverine tells him that he doesn’t want to go there, trust him. He says that it’s time to quit yakkin’ an’ get inside before they get spotted. It ain’t like they been invited. With that, Wolverine slices a hole in the fence and they’re in.

Inside… At one time, Sunfire believed himself to be a national hero. A young man who represented all that was noble and proud in the Japanese people. Now, Shiro Yoshida, the mutant known as Sunfire, is a prisoner in a heavily-guarded, heat-resistant cell. His chance of escape seems near zero because of the specially-designed inhibitor collar that prevents him from using his solar-derived powers. Such humiliation, he thinks, because of one incident, one uncontrollable release of his blazing plasma energy. The only theory the scientists could come up with was that it was caused by an outside force. Namely, a massive electromagnetic pulse released by the one-time villain called Magneto. Nobody was hurt, but it was enough to engender fear in those who had once trusted him. Because for a Japanese government that has already seen its people and cities suffer mass destruction the thought of a man with the shattering force of a nuclear bomb boiling within is simply too big a risk.

As Wolverine and the Silver Samurai enter the complex, they encounter a number of guards. When they do, Wolverine greets them and apologizes for droppin’ in unannounced but they ain’t plannin’ on a long visit. He then takes out the pesky little video monitors ‘cause he’s shy about appearin’ on camera. In little time, Wolverine sniffs a nearby vent and tells Samurai this is the place, he has Sunfire’s scent. He then tells Samurai that he’s gonna stand back and watch him make himself useful. It looks like a real chunk o’ titanium steel there. Is he sure he can cut through it? Readying his sword, Samurai asks him if that final comment was meant to, as the westerners say, “get a rise” from him? It has failed.

Wolverine tells him to just make sure he doesn’t and points towards the door. Slicing the door with relative ease, Samurai tells Wolverine even a titanium-reinforced door becomes no more than a veil before the power of the Silver Samurai. As Wolverine rushes in, Samurai warns him to wait – he could be… Wolverine tells him to forget it, the kid’s scared – he can smell it on him. Making his way over to Sunfire, Wolverine tells him that the flamin’ cavalry is there for him. They’re gonna bust him out just like he sprung him once. Just don’t move while he rips off this lousy inhibitor collar they put on him. He’s seen enough of ‘em.

With that, Wolverine slices off the collar from around Sunfire’s neck. Once he does, Sunfire informs him that, according to his keepers, he may be unleashing something that cannot be controlled. Smiling, Wolverine tells him that it wouldn’t be the first time bub. Sunfire asks Harada what foul agenda brings him there. He warns him, if he seeks to involve him in the criminal affairs of Clan Yashida, he will regret it. Powering up, he then asks him if he would like to see the power that once was in the service of their homeland. Once again, he feels the stirring of solar energies; they begin to course through his body, filling him with that radiance that seeks its blinding release like water that bursts a dam. Once again, he is Sunfire!

Shielding his eyes, Samurai pleads with Yoshida that they are aware of his mutant abilities and now is not the time. Is it so difficult to believe his motives are noble? Wolverine then tells Sunfire to take it easy. He ain’t exactly full o’ trust for the Samurai either. They need to just get outta there, he left his suntan oil on the dresser. They’ll question his motives later. In his mind, Wolverine can tell that Sunfire’s changed since they last tangled, maybe not for the better. An’ ever since Magneto pulled the adamantium right out of his body, he ain’t exactly the same lovable ol’ Logan either. As Sunfire powers down, Wolverine asks him why they have him in there. Sunfire replies foolishness and fear and he can think of no reason to be detained any longer.

Momentarily, Sunfire bursts out of the complex with Wolverine and the Silver Samurai in tow. Reaching a clearing, Sunfire lands and states that he would just as soon have stayed and destroyed the compound but he did not want any innocents there hurt by his actions. Logan tells him that he admires his restraint an’ he ain’t fer hurtin’ innocents either. He then tells him not to be naïve an’ think anybody at that lousy compound gives a rat’s whiskers about him.

At that moment, Samurai informs them that Clan Yashida has learned that the Japanese government plans on activating the Red Ronin as a first line of defense against the possibility of a mutant problem arising. Logan asks Samurai since when is he concerned about the welfare of mutants, what’s his angle. Samurai answers that he’s a mutant and he does not wish to be hunted like a dog any more than he does. Besides, such a weapon cannot be allowed to remain in the grasp of Clan Yashida’s enemy. Sunfire proceeds to ask his cousin what he it is he suggests.

Removing his mask, Samurai tells Yoshida that he has a confession to make. Since Logan came to Japan, he has been followed. The meeting between them at Mariko’s grave was not by chance. He needed Wolverine to free him, Sunfire. Japan needs its heroes now more than ever. His informants tell him that a move will be made on the Ronin project this night by the Hand. They must find a way to take possession of the robot or destroy it. Logan informs him that they ain’t doin’ anything. ‘Cause even though that’s a nice yarn he spun, it don’t exactly fill him full a’ confidence. So he’s goin’ to check on this and find out what, if any of it is the truth.

Later, outside the Fujikawa installation, Logan is on the roof by himself. As he searches, he thinks to himself that somethin’ about this whole set-up is startin’ to stink. It’s all been a little too pat up til now. Getting Sunfire out, now they’re supposed to go after the Red Ronin, an’ all on Silver Samurai’s say-so. The head of a big criminal outfit who’s been known to talk outta two sides o’ his mouth. He’s gettin’ to the bottom o’ things before…

Just then, Logan senses a figure moving in the shadows an’ a familiar one at that. When he goes to check it out, the figure in the shadows flips him onto his back with relative ease. Standing above him, Yukio tells him that he should know better than to try and sneak up on her. They’ve gone a few fast falls in the past; she knows his moves as well as anyone. Logan tells her to not go pattin’ herself on the back yet. ‘Cause he had her scent a mile back. Leaning in to him, Yukio says sure he did and then points out that he’s different, she can sense it. The animal in him is closer to the surface, he’s fighting to hold it back, come to terms with it like never before – very sexy.

Logan admits that he’s been goin’ through some personal stuff. He then tells her that she gives great insight like always but all he wants to know is what in blazes she’s doin’ there an’ she better give him a straight answer. Yukio tells him that he knows that’s not his style, lover, and to catch her if he can. With that, Yukio begins to run off. Giving chase, Logan thinks to himself that Yukio is up to somethin’. He then begins to wonder what he was thinkin’ when he left her with the responsibility he did last time they were together. He should o’ had his head ex…

Just then, Logan stops in his tracks when he sees figures in shadow over on a nearby roof – ninjas. Hiding behind some smoke stacks, Yukio whispers to him to be quiet. Those are members of the mystical Japanese sect called the Hand. Her sources told her that they were going to make a move against Fujikawa. The government, the Hand, even Clan Yashida wants the Ronin project. All she’s trying to do is get a piece of the action and keep tabs on the competition.

At that moment, the Hand ninjas leap into the complex to get to the Red Ronin. Down below, the guards see them and alert security. Yukio informs Logan that the Hand is the worst of them. If they get control of the Red Ronin, the whole world will pay. Logan tells her that it sounds a little melodramatic to him. But any excuse fer a good tussle suits him. Leaping down to take on the ninjas, Logan asks them that they are the Hand, nice pajamas they’re wearing.

As Logan engages the ninjas in battle, he thinks to himself that they’re good, real good. All of ‘em descended on him at once, goin’ strictly fer the vital areas. One wrong move an’ he’s a shish kebob. Just then, the Red Ronin begins to stir and make noise. Logan tells Yukio not to look now but he thinks the oversized tinker toy’s startin’ to come to life. Yukio asks but how, the Hand could not possibly have activated him so fast.

Within the mechanical behemoth, circuits hum to cybernetic life. Power units that had lain dormant for months charge with awesome atomic energies. Propulsion systems that had been stilled by inactivity now move metallic limbs the size of ten story buildings and the gargantuan construct steps forward. RED RONIN LIVES!!

The architect of the giant’s sudden sentience is the humble cyberneticist Tsu Fwon, who argued so fervently the government’s case with his fellows. He states that the Ronin is performing admirably. For the first time, it does not require an in-the-cockpit pilot because of the remote interface system he has painstakingly installed over the previous months. It is a unique “learning” chip allowing the Ronin to react to a continually evolving series of computer suggestions.

Just then, General Hirito radios in and asks Fwon for a status report. Fwon informs him that the robot is operational. It has arisen and is leaving the facility under his command. Hirito replies excellent and orders Fwon to proceed as per his instructions. He then tells him that he has done a great service for his government and his country. Those efforts will not go unrewarded. Cutting off the transmission, Hirito thinks to himself that with the power of Ronin, no one will doubt Japan’s commitment and individual right to handle her own affairs.

At that moment, an explosion rocks Fujikawa Industries. Emerging from the smoke strides a robotic monstrosity which in appearance harkens back to an ancient era but whose innards are constructed of the most advanced microprocessors on the planet. As he holds on to the robot’s giant arms, Logan thinks the way stumbo is swingin’ his arms, he’s havin’ trouble holdin’ on, he’s startin’ to slip an’ it’s twenty stories to the street. Logan then calls down to Yukio and asks if she’s all right. Yukio, hanging on via a rope, tells her lover not to worry about her, she’s holding on for dear life.

Just then, Logan loses his grip and begins to plummet to the ground. Before he does, however, he is saved by Sunfire who catches him during his descent. Logan proceeds to tell Sunfire that he sure waited long enough. He was beginnin’ to wonder which team he was on. He then tells him that he’s dealt with enough Sentinels to know ya have to get him up to the Ronin’s control room which should be inside the head. If he can get inside, he can shut this baby down. Flying behind Ronin, Sunfire drops Logan off onto its shoulder. When he lands, Logan sees that he’s gotta be on his toes. Ronin’s head is swivelin’ so it must be aware o’ his movements. Maybe he won’t figure he’s enough of a threat to do anything. He does wish he knew where Sunfire was headin’. Logan then tells Ronin not to give him that look, he’s just another oversized tin can to him.

Using his mutant powers, Sunfire proceeds to blast a hole through the gigantic robot. When he does, he is surprised. He has used his ionic powers to burn a hole clear through Red Ronin from behind yet the giant seems unfazed. It’s circuiting is already re-stitching itself and now it detaches its very arm from its body grabbing him in mid-air and pinning his arms to his sides. He should be able to blast out of its grip. But dare he risk such a generation of his power? If he loses control again, what would happen?

Peering into the hole that was made, Logan mentions that by burnin’ through, Sunfire gave him an openin’, literally. He’s sure the bozo’s got a million failsafe systems but he has a better chance o’ helpin’ Sunfire from inside. Now, before he gets flicked off his chest like a bug, he has to make his way in an’ do some serious damage. Once inside, Logan thinks to himself that he never would o’ realized this oversized doohickey’s got circuitry and hi-tech stuff goin’ up and down forty stories. He then decides that he ain’t gettin’ anywhere admirin’ this junk, time to start pullin’ wires till he rips out the distributor cap. He doesn’t know whose bright idea Ronin was but if they don’t stop him, he’ll cause more harm than any mutant.

When he takes a step, Logan immediately realizes that he tripped somethin’, he can hear it. Just then, Logan gets caught in a laser crossfire. Unfortunately for him, he can’t avoid all of them at once and gets hit. Thanks to his healin’ factor, the wounds begin to cauterize. At that moment, Logan sees a Japanese letter on the large circuit board in front of him. He speaks the language an’ knows that symbol is important. It means the heart. He bets if he knocks it outta commission, maybe Red Ronin’ll start feelin’ it upstairs. Come to think of it, he sees component boxes just like it at about hundred foot intervals. If he can avoid gettin’ zapped an’ take out enough of ‘em, he just might give chrome dome a real bad case o’ indigestion and mix up his signals but good. An’ that’s plenty while he still has enough strength an’ speed left to stay two steps ahead o’ the laser blasts.

Taking out another component box, Logan decides that’s enough before he pushes his luck too far. Now, he needs to get back outside an’ see what kind o’ damage this did an’ if Sunfire’s free.

Outside, Yukio continues to hang from the gigantic robot. She is then shocked to see that Ronin was about to stomp on a bus full of people when its foot halted in mid-air. She wonders what could have stopped it. Stepping out of the robot, Logan says to her that if she hadda ask, then she ain’t been payin’ attention. Upon seeing him, Yukio asks Logan what he did. Logan says to her nothin’ much. He just snipped a couple o’ wires here an’ there. An’ he don’t charge union rates. He then tells her to quit hangin’ around an’ get down from there ‘fore she slips. He’ll find junior, they need to get outta there before the Japanese military gets…

Turning around, Logan sees Sunfire pinned to a nearby building by Ronin’s detached hand. Sunfire states that he can endure the pressure no longer, he’s being crushed. Even at the risk of losing control of his solar energies and appearing the menace they take him for, he must burst free. Using his mutant power, Sunfire blasts himself free from his bonds.

Descending upon Sunfire, Logan noticed that the detached arm was crushin’ the kid even after he shut Ronin down. It’s programming must be able to be re-routed, almost like creating separate constructs. What’s important now is stoppin’ Sunfire from goin’ nuclear. From that look on his face, he’s fightin’ a losin’ battle. Even though Logan is burnin’ up from the heat, he tells Sunfire to listen to him. There’s innocent people down there; he needs to power down. The threat o’ Red Ronin’s over. He gave him the openin’ to take him down and they won. But it’s all gonna be fer nothin’ if he can’t get it together now.

Sunfire tells Wolverine to let go and save himself, it’s too late for him Sunfire. Logan replies that it’s never too late. He knows what it’s like to lose control o’ yourself. Ya gotta fight back till ya got it licked. He again tells Sunfire to listen to him and fight back! Using what is left of his strength, Sunfire does it and proceeds to pass out. Holding the unconscious Japanese mutant in his arms, Logan knows that it’s over. He didn’t think they were gonna make it there fer a second but Sunfire got it under control. His eyes got that look in ‘em an’ he knew he’d turned it around in his head. The whole city might o’ been reduced to a cinder if this kid wasn’t made o’ the right stuff. Even so, the way things are, the G-Men are sure to wanna take ‘im in again. An’ the ol’ canucklehead ain’t lettin’ that happen. He’s goin’ to take him away and make it his business to see he’s someplace safe. He’s gotta get another chance.

Later, a Japanese news anchor reports that a full investigation was announced today by the Japanese government as to the entire Ronin affair and the partial responsibility of the Fujikawa Corporation. In his safe-house, the Silver Samurai prays before the altar of the Yashida blade for strength and for guidance. The news anchor continues that the once –honored hero of Japan called Sunfire has apparently left the country in the wake of the second known incident involving his mutant powers.

On a plane, Logan informs Sunfire that he has some friends in Canada, name o’ Heather and James, that can help him out. They’ll get him through this. The news anchor reports that speculation has been raised that once again, as it was in New York, mutants were somehow involved in the damage done to Tokyo. Standing over a now dead Tsu Fwon, General Hirito tells him that he is quite sorry but their mutual benefactor deemed his elimination necessary. This must all soon be forgotten. Nothing will deter the course of his Fujikawa Corporation and nothing must stop their government from taking control of the mutant problem.

2nd Story:
I have waited too long to make this pilgrimage. Even though the sun forges diamonds from dew drops to honor my quest, it also brings shadows to life to scold me for wasting precious time.

As the ancient samurai, dressed in full regalia, is surrounded by its enemies, one of them tells the samurai to turn back “Ronin dog.” This land is beyond the light of their province and they will not see the temple while blood feeds their heart. The samurai tells them to leave them in peace and that brutal organ may yet grow fat and corrupt like those of their dark masters. The samurai dispatches two of the warlings without lifting a finger by ducking and having them collide. Their benefactors neglected to teach them discipline or stealth.

Chopping down the throwing discs with its sword, the samurai knows that luckily they were more competently educated by the most revered warrior in Japan – the Golden Samurai. They’ve always been a good student. After taking out the ninjas, one remains. The samurai proceeds to tell them that they would not soil this hallowed ground with their sub-human blood – yield and live. The ninja calls the samurai an imprudent wretch and threatens to flay the skin from their bones. The samurai replies that it’s a pity; it was such a beautiful path.

After killing the ninja, the samurai removes their mask. As they do, they know that someday a flower bed will grow over its remains, a living testament to the skill of Lady Amiko, warrior princess. Removing her white kabuki mask, a young Amiko stands alone near some train tracks holding her wooden sword. She states that it was another honorable battle fought and won. Anyone else who wants to mess with her ‘cause nothing’s gonna stop her from finding the good samurai – nothing! With that, Amiko continues on her quest.

In downtown Tokyo, Yukio asks Mr. and Mrs. Kuan how long Amiko has been missing, her phone message was difficult to understand. Mrs. Kuan replies that ever since she dropped her off last night, Amiko seemed even more restless than usual. She’s had a hard time adjusting since… well, since Yukio took her in. Amiko cares deeply for her but she’s still affected greatly by her mother’s death. Yukio says to her to tell her about it, her school disciplinary file is thicker than her arm – mostly fights.

As a tear begins to fall from her eyes, Mrs. Kuan states that children can be so mean at this age and so distant. Whenever she leaves her with them, when she goes out on “assignment” they’ve tried to get her to open up. When she excuses herself, Mr. Kuan tells Yukio that this is especially difficult for them; they waited so long to have a child. They consider it a privilege to take care of Amiko for a night or two now and then – for this to happen while she was with them…

Yukio tells Mr. Kuan that she understands and asks to take a look at Amiko’s room. There might be a clue as to why she left there. Walking through the house, Yukio is amazed by the size of the house. The place she and Amiko live in could fit in there twice. Why would a kid leave a place like this? Mr. Kuan tells Yukio that this is tearing them apart. His wife and he love Amiko as if she were their own. Yukio tells him that she knows. That’s why she chose them to be her… babysitters, for a lack of a better word.

As she takes a look at Amiko’s drawings, Yukio tells Mr. Kuan that she doesn’t make a mistake where Amiko is concerned. Entering the room, Mrs. Kuan asks Yukio if she has found anything. Yukio replies only that their girl has a penchant for samurais and ninjas – that’s nothing new. Mrs. Kuan informs Yukio that Amiko loves action figures. All of her fantasy stories are about warriors and knights. She told her that a Golden Samurai saved her from a dragon that took her mother – a beautiful story. As she talks, Yukio thinks to herself that she doesn’t know the half of it.

Mrs. Kuan adds that more than once, she’s threatened to leave in search of her “good samurai.” She should have listened. Looking out the window and seeing Logan perched in a tree; Yukio tells Mrs. Kuan that it’s clear to her that none of this is her fault. They’ve both been generous to Amiko and she’s sure that her patron in the states will agree with her. They’ll find her before she gets into any real trouble. Amiko’s benefactor is not without his resources. If anyone can find her, he can.

As she naps, Amiko recalls that every year her mother and she would take a special trip. She would say “to know where you’re going, you should know where you’ve been.” She had never been to the Golden Temple before but when she brought her there, it felt like home. When she asked her mother who lived in it, she simply smiled. She never gave her an answer. Waking up, Amiko witnesses a homeless man with his face covered going through her bag.

He utters dolls, trinkets, baubles, what is he supposed t’ do wit’ this worthless junk? Amiko yells at him and tells him to put her bag down. The man asks her bag? He found it just sittin’ on the grass. There in his house, anythin’ he finds, he owns. Amiko again defiantly tells him to put it down. The man asks her or what, is she gonna cry squirt? Pulling out her wooden sword, Amiko replies not exactly and smacks the man in the shin with it. As she does, she tells the man that she’s gonna make him put it down.

When the man falls to the ground, Amiko points her sword at him and tells him to put all her stuff back in the bag exactly as he found it or she’ll really get rough with him. The man tells her that he was just jokin’, he wasn’t gonna take her stuff, can’t sell the junk anyways. Putting the stuff back in the bag, the man complains about stinkin’ rugrats beatin’ on old beggars with swords, got no respect. He then asks Amiko isn’t she supposed to be in school? Amiko tells him that she quit school. School stinks. She’s on a quest. The beggar asks a quest and states that too much TV has rottin’ her soda-drowned brains.

Taking her bag back from the beggar, Amiko tells him that it isn’t any of his business but she’s looking for a Golden Temple. The beggar says a golden temple, the Golden Temple? As he begins to laugh, he tells her Golden Temple – please child, he’s a sick man. It hurts to laugh. Starting to walk away, Amiko calls him a jerk and tells him he can laugh all he wants but she is going to find the Golden Temple and she’s going to live there forever. The beggar calls out to her that if she’s fixin’ to settle down, she might want to head in the right direction.

Turning around, Amiko asks ‘excuse me?’ The beggar informs her there’s nothin’ that way but a Seven ‘leven with a pagoda roof. If she’s serious about gettin’ to the temple, he can get her there. Amiko says a second ago he was making fun of her, like everyone else. Looking at the necklace around her neck, the beggar says that a second ago, he didn’t notice it and asks if it’s real gold. As they walk off together, the beggar offers that if he gets her from point A t’ point B, perhaps they can make an exchange. Amiko says maybe, they’ll discuss it when she sees the temple. She then tells him to be warned. If he tries to cross Lady Amiko, the penalties will be severe. The beggar says penalties… severe… got it, kid.

They walk along the trail blazed by an ancient dragon (train tracks). The beggar proceeds to ask Amiko if she is gonna tell him why she left home. When Amiko tells him no, the beggar asks what’s in the locket. Amiko tells him no again. Amiko fears her guide may wake the beast, her totally annoying obnoxious guide. When the beggar goes to ask her another question, Amiko tells him “no, no, no!” She’s not telling him anything. She then tells him to stop talking and start walking for real and maybe they’ll get there by…

Just then, a train whistle is heard. The dragon bears down on them. It’s too big to fight, they break for cover. Amiko makes it over the tracks, but the beggar trips and gets his foot stuck in the rails. Amiko is well-hidden when she suddenly realizes he didn’t make it. Rushing back towards the beggar, Amiko knows this isn’t a game anymore. The bullet train from Tokyo travels almost at the speed of sound and it doesn’t stop for anything, least of all some homeless bum. So Amiko thinks of what the good samurai would do and she thinks he tells her to stay back but she doesn’t hear anything but the train and her heartbeat.

At the last second, Amiko is able to free the beggar as the train whizzes by. After the train passes, Amiko can still hear the other (her heartbeat) and she thinks that’s good. The beggar then thanks Amiko for saving him and tells her that she’s one tough customer.

They hardly speak a word until they set up camp. Amiko mentions to the beggar that she doesn’t remember where they are from the last time. The beggar tells her that things change but not to worry. Everything she’s lookin’ for is over the next ridge. First thing, in the morning, she gets her temple an’ he gets that locket like she promised. Tossing it over to the beggar, Amiko tells him to take it, she doesn’t want it anymore.

Picking it up, the beggar asks her if it has something to do with the past she’s runnin’ from. Amiko says that she’s not running from anything, she’s starting a new life. The beggar replies that he knows that story. She wants t’ roam free, a Ronin, go where the wind blows. He knew a guy once, feisty like her. Life handed him a few bum cards an’ he got angry. All he wanted was to run an’ fight his way beyond the pain. He fought his way clear ‘cross the world. But finally, he realized he was runnin’ from the good things in his life too.

Opening up the locket and seeing a picture of Amiko and her mother, the beggar proceeds to tell Amiko that she’s got to face up to the hurt so the healin’ can follow. The joy an’ the pain’s what makes them human an’ what makes life worth livin’. Amiko asks how she can face it when it hurts so bad.

Just then, a group of thugs arrive. One of them says awww, isn’t this a Kodak moment. They then tell the duo that it’s the wrong night to get close to nature. They then tell the beggar to give them whatever they got and maybe they won’t hurt the girl. The beggar tells Amiko to be easy, these guys are serious. The beggar tells the thugs that if they don’t want their face to get any uglier, step away and leave them alone. Amiko pulls out her sword and stands defiantly. She didn’t come all this way to get robbed by a bunch of chumps. Brandishing a knife, one of the thugs asks chumps? He then tells Amiko that if she’s looking for adventure, they got plenty to spare. He says to forget what he said about not hurting the girl, he changed his mind.

Amiko tells the beggar to run, she’ll try to hold them off. The beggar thinks to himself that the kid’s got the chops to stand up to this trash no prob. Sometimes though, that ain’t enough. ‘Course, that’s a lesson for another time. With that, the beggar (in actuality Logan) pops the claws on his right hand unbeknownst to Amiko. After seeing the claws, the thugs run off into the night. As they do, Amiko calls out to them that’s right. Run for the hills ‘cause next time they meet Lady Amiko, she won’t let them off so easy. Logan thinks to himself that tonight is about believin’ in yourself and findin’ out you were right in doin’ so.

Turning her attention to the beggar, Amiko tells him that they won’t be back, he has her word. The beggar replies that he reckons he does Lady Amiko. Amiko then tells the beggar to rest up for tomorrow they finish this. The beggar says one way or another, she’ll find what she seeks.

The next morning, Amiko rushes off in the direction of the temple, the sun beating a path to her memories as if a light has been cast on her dreams. The beggar calls out to her to wait but Amiko tells him there is no time for slow-pokes, the temple is on the other side of the hill. The beggar asks her why the temple is so special to her. Amiko tells her that the Golden Temple is the home of…

Seeing the dilapidated temple, Amiko is disappointed. Her dream turns it a nightmare in an instant. Entering the temple, the beggar asks Amiko that it’s not quite the place she remembers, is it. Amiko says no, it’s not, it doesn’t make any sense. The beggar asks her why not, paint flakes, wood rots, things die. As a tear begins to roll down her face, Amiko exclaims not here. Her mother told her that this was the most special place in the world. He has to live there. Removing his jacket, the beggar asks who? Amiko tells him the good samurai and turns around. Upon seeing Logan, Amiko is shocked and asks that it was him.

Logan informs her that he couldn’t tell her sooner. She had to make it there on her own an’ know she’s starin’ one of life’s toughest lessons in the face. He tells her that life means change and sometimes it’s for the worse. Question is, do you run from the bad stuff or master it. A decrepit building becomes a Golden Temple ‘cause you can make it so. The ol’ canucklehead becomes a noble samurai because you let him be. Giving her locket back to her, Logan continues that her mother can still be with her because she has the courage to keep her memory alive.

Amiko says but nothing’s right anymore, nothing’s the same. How can she go on like this? Logan tells her to take the pain the world throws her and face it. Stand up to the hurt and make it something beautiful. He’s seen her do it on this trip, seen her courage, seen her honor. He could learn a thing or two from her about taking control of his life, hands down. Giving her a hug, Logan tells her that she may come there looking for her samurai but she found herself. Amiko thanks her samurai and tells him that she understands. She feels her mother inside her, alive. She’s with her as long as she keeps her close and so is he. Taking Logan’s hand as they walk out of the temple, Amiko tells him that she’s ready to go home now. Logan replies that he thinks they both are.

Characters:
1st Story:
Wolverine
Silver Samurai
Sunfire
Yukio

Bastion
Red Ronin
Tsu Fwon (Red Ronin’s architect)
General Hirito and other various unnamed Japanese officials

Various unnamed ninjas of the Hand

Various unnamed guards at the military installation where Sunfire is being held
Various unnamed guards at Fujikawa Industries
Various unnamed residents of Tokyo
2nd story:
Wolverine
Amiko
Yukio
Mr. and Mrs. Kuan (Amiko’s babysitters)
Various unnamed thugs

In Amiko’s imagination:
Unnamed samurai trained by the Golden Samurai
Various unnamed ninjas

Notes:
At her request, Logan killed Mariko Yashida after she had been poisoned by blowfish toxin – Wolverine (2nd series) #57.

Wolverine lost his adamantium in X-Men (2nd series) #25 after it was ripped out of him by Magneto. It was discovered in Wolverine (2nd series) #75 that we first learned he possessed bone claws.

Wolverine, along with the X-Men and a number of heroes faced off against Onslaught in Onslaught: Marvel Universe. In that issue, Black Panther, Bruce Banner, Captain America, Crystal, Dr. Doom, Falcon, Giant-Man, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Namor, Scarlet Witch, Thing, Thor, Vision and Wasp all “perished.” In actuality, they were reborn in a pocket universe – Heroes Reborn. They would eventually return to Earth – Heroes Return.

Nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American forces back in August 6 and 9, 1945 near the end of World War II.

The Great Hanshin/Kobe earthquake struck Osaka back on January 17, 1995 and measured a 6.8.

Sunfire lost control of his powers after he was hit with an electro-magnetic pulse wave that was triggered by Magneto back in X-Men (2nd series) #25. After that incident, the Japanese government locked him up in a military station, his powers held in check with an inhibitor collar.

The Avengers faced Red Ronin back in Avengers (1st series) 198-199.

Sunfire busted Wolverine out of prison back in Wolverine (2nd series) #56.

The last time Logan saw Yukio, he left Amiko in her care as seen in Wolverine (2nd series) #82.

Sunfire’s attempt at controlling his powers is followed up on in Alpha Flight (2nd series).

Amiko’s mother was crushed by a falling building that was toppled by a giant dragon back in Uncanny X-Men #181. Logan took custody of her after he promised her mother that he would.

Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, who would later go on to become a founding member of the Beast’s science-based “X-Club,” originally built Red Ronin to fight Godzilla in the 1970s Marvel Comics series. For lapsed licensing reasons, Godzilla is never mentioned by name.

Issue Summary written by: Wendigo (David M.)


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