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Aug 16

The Incomplete Wolverine, Part 5

Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2020 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II
Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939
Part 4: World War II

We’ve reached the postwar era. We’re not quite at Team X just yet, but we’re certainly getting back into some better known parts of Wolverine’s back story.

According to Logan: Path of the Warlord – and we’ll get to that story shortly – after World War II, Logan returns to Madripoor in search of easy money. There, he gets involved with the mysterious firm of Landau, Luckman & Lake, who specialise in “all kinds of shady stuff”. As one of their agents, he visits Japan again and fights Kimora, an alien warlord who’s been brought to Earth through a portal opened by a Dr Carling. Why Logan’s fighting alien warlords, even vaguely samurai-ish ones, at this stage of his career… well, he just is. But more of Kimora in a bit.

Landau, Luckman & Lake were introduced by Chris Claremont in Wolverine vol 2 #5, which shows a photograph of Logan with his LLL contact Chang. That photo is described as a 19th century tintype, which might have been intended to imply that Logan was an adult in the 1800s – if so, that obviously can’t survive Origin. But the same story shows that Chang is around in the present day, and LLL are generally hinted to be a bit weird right from the off, so it’s equally possible that Claremont was thinking of time travel or dimension hopping.

LLL seem not to be outright stooges of Romulus, but presumably he has some connection with them, at least by using them as intermediaries to engage Logan.

The earliest outright flashback to Logan’s LLL stint is in Wolverine vol 2 #97, although that scene doesn’t fit well with anything else. Logan shows up at Chang’s office (in mid-brawl) to collect a package which he’s deposited with LLL, along with $50,000 in cash. None of that’s really explained; the important bit is that Logan sees Chang go through a warp chamber and return 30 seconds later after apparently having been time travelling. Hence, he discovers that LLL is involved in that sort of thing. Logan’s described in this scene as a high-maintenance client of LLL, rather than an agent – but if he’s technically a freelancer, he can be both at once.

A few other random events take place at around this time. In Wolverine: First Class #15, Wolverine claims that he helped Thor Heyerdahl to build the Kon-Tiki raft. If he’s serious, then that happened in Peru in 1947. Whether the First Class books are canon is a hazy area, but we’ll get to that in a future instalment.

And in Blade vol 4 #5, there’s a brief flashback where a passing Logan saves young Blade from a random vampire (so that Blade can owe him a favour in the main story). The location isn’t given, but the signage in the background suggests it’s America, in which case Blade is already a vampire hunter by this point – he’s just having a bad day.

Flashback in RAMPAGING WOLVERINE #1
“Sense Memory” by Joshua Hale Fialkov & Paco Diaz
June 2009

Another minor anthology story. Madripoor is terrorised by pirates using abandoned Japanese warships, and Logan sets out to stop them (the implication is that he’s just feeling heroic, but it could have been a job for LLL). He winds up stranded on a Korean island, where he spends some blissfully happy time living peacefully with a local fishing couple and their hired hand Duck-Hwan. Duck-Hwan betrays the family to a local land baron, who kills the couple to try and get their land. Logan defeats the land baron, then defeats the pirates, and then goes back to whatever he was doing before. (In the framing sequence, he returns for revenge on Duck-Hwan. The story claims the flashback was “fifty years ago”, which would be 1959, at time of publication – but Logan had long since left Asia for his secret agent phase by then, so I’m taking that rather loosely.)

LOGAN: PATH OF THE WARLORD
by Howard Mackie, John Paul Leon & Shawn Martinbrough
February 1996

A mid-90s one-shot which was originally notable mainly for its art, but which has become more important thanks to Wolverine: Origins. In the prologue, LLL send Logan to pick up Dr Carling (the guy who summoned Kimora) and his daughter Rose Carling, both of whom want to join LLL. This leads to another fight with Kimora, in which Kimora tells Logan that LLL are keeping secrets from him about his past; presumably this should now be read as a reference to LLL’s ties to Romulus. Carling seemingly kills Kimora before he can explain further, and Chang advises Logan to forget about what Kimora said. Instead, Logan takes the warning seriously and quits LLL – let’s assume he was already having doubts.

Logan heads to Jasmsine Falls, to train with sensei Bando Suboro (as recommended by Ogun, back in the 1930s). Suboro is training a whole village of ex-ninjas who now seek a better, less violent way of life. Logan’s arrival in Jasmine Falls is shown in a flashback in Wolverine vol 3 #40; he also meets a woman called Itsu, and is immediately smitten.

Returning to Path of the Warlord, Logan spends five years living peacefully at Jasmine Falls – an unusually protracted period of peace and calm in Logan’s life, which is why Daniel Way seizes on it. No other stories have been set during this period because… well, the whole point is that nothing much is happening. Logan appears to be out of Romulus’s reach throughout this time, and generally sees himself as more human and less animalistic – though he still has a tendency to lose his temper in training sessions.

Several years into this period of his life, a lapse in self-control leads to him being restricted to wooden training swords. While Logan is sulking about that, LLL call him out of retirement to fight Kimora again. Along with Chang and Rose, Logan defeats Kimora in his homeworld (so yes, he’s off visiting other worlds this early). As usual in stories about Logan’s struggle for self-control, he resists the urge to kill Kimora, and traps him in an interdimensional rift instead. Because that’s better, apparently.

Rose becomes an operative of LLL, and Logan agrees to think about her becoming her partner. But… he doesn’t actually do that just yet.

Instead, he marries Itsu, and she becomes pregnant with his child. Flashbacks in Wolverine vol 3 #40 and Wolverine: Origins #27 show us the wedding, and a ceremony where Logan is meant to prove himself to the other students. The idea is for him to demonstrate his self-discipline by dodging their attacks without striking back. Unfortunately, an explosion goes off nearby, and he instinctively pops his claws, injuring another student. Logan considers this a disgraceful, humiliating failure.

Suboro tells Logan that the explosion was caused by Muramasa, a powerful madman who uses men’s souls to create weapons. One day, Suboro says, Logan will face Muramasa in his final test. Daniel Way seems to have been thinking here of Wolverine vol 2 #1-3, which involves a Muramasa Blade that’s said to consume people’s souls – but that sword is meant to be ancient, because Chris Claremont was thinking of a genuine historical swordsmith. Apparently we’re meant to take it that this is the same Muramasa, still messing about with magical swords hundreds of years later.

Logan decides to leave Jasmine Falls, and to return only when he has proved himself worthy of Itsu. The narration tries its best to make clear that Logan isn’t abandoning his pregnant wife, but rather getting out of her way so that the child can be raised by worthier villagers. When he goes to say goodbye to her, he finds her dead. Although Logan won’t find this out for years, she’s been killed by the Winter Soldier (formerly Bucky), who is now a brainwashed Soviet agent on loan to Romulus. Romulus, in turn, is trying to lure Logan away from Jasmine Falls and back into the fold.

Also unknown to Logan, Itsu’s baby survives and is spirited away by Romulus to become Daken – as seen in flashback in Wolverine: Origins #5, though Logan doesn’t appear in that scene. And that’s why the Jasmine Falls stuff is now very important, post-Origins.

But back to Logan. He confronts Muramasa, who offers to take his negative emotions and use them to forge a new sword. As you do. The result is the Muramasa Blade, which will become a major plot point in Wolverine: Origins. Muramasa spends a month or so magically extracting Logan’s rage and using it to forge a sword – shown in flashback in Wolverine: Origins #35. Once Logan has served his purpose, Muramasa has his men dump him in the wilderness, as shown in flashbacks in Wolverine vol 3 #38 and #40 – the Winter Soldier shows up briefly here to take out Muramasa’s men and stop Logan from outright dying. A few hours later, Logan is “extracted”, presumably by Romulus’s men, and falls back under Romulus’s influence yet again.

Despite this, what actually follows is a stint of further freelancing, presumably with a lot of Logan’s missions coming from Romulus. Basically, there are some stories that don’t really fit in the Team X period and have to be shoved in before or after, which gives us another scattershot phase. First up, Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #257 has a photograph of Logan and Rose Carling in front of a sci-fi city. Since it doesn’t make sense for Logan to have a string of further LLL missions in the middle of his Jasmine Falls stint, we probably have to take it that Romulus steers him back to LLL and he spends more time with Rose. None of their other missions together have ever been told as stories.

And now, at long last… Logan becomes a secret agent. We’ve never been shown on panel when this happened, but it’s probably an outgrowth of his role with Landau Luckman & Lake. It’s also evidently something that Romulus steers him towards, because…

Flashbacks in WOLVERINE: ORIGINS #3
“Born in Blood, part 3” by Daniel Way & Steve Dillon
August 2006

Dayton, Ohio. 1953. Logan is an outright villain in this story, sos he’s presumably in one of his more heavily brainwashed or confused phases. He’s working for an early incarnation of the Weapon X Project, which is looking for a lucky subject to become Weapon VII. For whatever reason, they settle on young suburbanite Frank Simpson. Logan helps them to ruin Frank’s life by posing as a police officer and driving Frank’s father to suicide. Another agent gets Frank to kill his mother. It’s all hopelessly grimdark. At the end, Logan delivers Frank into the hands of the Weapon X Project – he’ll eventually resurface in the modern era as Nuke.

In a flashback in Wolverine vol 4 #10, Logan easily fends off three assassination attempts by the anonymous man who will go on to found the Red Right Hand. And in a flashback in Wolverine vol 4 #11, Logan assassinates a former OSS official who’s investigating the conspiracies that surround Logan. Although Logan burns down the family home, he does rescue the man’s daughter. Understandably unimpressed by this gesture of mercy, she’ll go on to join the Red Right Hand.

WOLVERINE: AGENT OF ATLAS #1-3
by Jeff Parker & Benton Jew
December 2008 to February 2009

An early digital exclusive, with the whole thing clocking in at about the length of a normal issue. It’s 3 May 1958, and Logan is apparently working for the CIA. Presumably most of Logan’s missions for regular spy agencies are genuine, with Romulus calling on his services from time to time via corrupt insiders.

Logan is investigating the Cuban revolution, and the disappearance of an earlier CIA team. It turns out that they’ve fallen foul of mind-control insects created by the Yellow Claw. Logan teams up with three of the Agents of Atlas – specifically, Jimmy Woo, Gorilla Man and the Human Robot – to defeat the Claw’s agent and destroy the insects. Logan escapes before the Agents can find out who he works for. Despite the title, he never actually becomes an Agent of Atlas.

Flashbacks in WOLVERINE: MANIFEST DESTINY #2-4
by Jason Aaron and Stephen Segovia
January to March 2009

“Fifty years ago” – so around 1959. The story is a bit vague about what Logan’s up to generally, but he’s wearing dogtags and seems to be claiming to be a soldier of some sort. Passing through San Francisco’s Chinatown, he meets a girl called Lin, and helps her to fight off the protection racket of the Black Dragon’s Tong. Then he decides to stay and bring down the Tong, uniting a bunch of local fighting schools under his leadership. When Logan personally beheads the Black Dragon, it turns out that this makes him the new Black Dragon, master of the Chinatown triads. He horrifies everyone by turning the job down. Lin explains that not only is this an unforgiveable insult, it also leaves a power vacuum which guarantees a gang war. But Logan leaves anyway – and, I suppose, walking away from the CIA / Romulus is easier said than done. Lin declares herself the new Black Dragon and warns him never to return to Chinatown. (Needless to say, that’s exactly what he does in the present-day parts of the story, which are part of the Manifest Destiny event about the X-Men’s relocation to San Francisco.)

In a flashback in Savage Wolverine #13, Logan makes one of his annual visits to his favourite herd of elephants (remember them from part 3?) and drives off hunters Sergei and Sasha Kravinoff, though only after they kill two of the elephants. Sergei will go on to become Kraven the Hunter “in a few decades”. That’s about as specific as the placement clues get, but this is as good a place as any.

SAVAGE WOLVERINE #18
“That One Fella, He’s Trouble…” by Jen van Meter & Rich Ellis
May 2014

California, November 1963. Passing through a small town, Logan gets caught up in a fight between civil rights protestors who want to travel to Sacramento for a rally, and racist locals who want to stop them getting on the train. The racists back down when Logan intimidates them with his claws. Meanwhile, JFK is assassinated. That contradicts some Larry Hama flashbacks which seemed to show that Logan was on a Team X mission when JFK died. But all of Logan’s Team X flashbacks are somewhat unreliable, and besides, once we reach Team X we’re getting into stories that are arguably being dragged forward with Marvel’s sliding timeline. (This is pretty much the last instalment where I’ll be taking the dates at face value.)

Next time, the convoluted world of Team X.

Bring on the comments

  1. […] Next time, the post-war era – Landau, Luckman & Lake, and Jasmine Falls. […]

  2. Thom H. says:

    I didn’t realize Daken was Wolverine’s natural born son. I assumed he was just another clone. Educational!

  3. Nick Hill says:

    Thank you for putting this together. I have enjoyed reading it a great deal and eagerly look forward to each installment.

  4. Mr. K says:

    Interesting that he meets Kraven the Hunter then. Wonder how that fits with AVENGERS 1959, which has Sabretooth & Kraven working for Nick Fury.

  5. Paul says:

    Well, I’ve placed that entry more or less arbitrarily, since the only timeline indication is that it’s “a few decades” before the Silver Age. If it causes problems with Kraven’s continuity elsewhere it can easily be moved to pretty much anywhere else before Weapon X.

  6. Josie says:

    Shoutout to Joe Kelly for actually doing something coherent and worthwhile with LL&L(&L!) in the 1997 Deadpool series.

  7. Voord 99 says:

    Given the apparently rather large amount of time that Wolverine has spent mucking about with swords — did anyone do the obvious gag where an opponent disarms him and sighs in relief at the fight being over, whereupon there’s a panel with nothing but “Snikt””?

  8. […] Part 1: Origin to Origin IIPart 2: 1907 to 1914Part 3: 1914 to 1939Part 4: World War IIPart 5: The postwar era […]

  9. […] in Wolverine vol 3 #38 and #40 and Wolverine: Origins #27 and #35. For a fuller discussion, see part 5 of my Wolverine readthrough. Suffice to say that there’s nothing new here. Logan married a woman called Itsu, who was […]

  10. […] 1: Origin to Origin IIPart 2: 1907 to 1914Part 3: 1914 to 1939Part 4: World War IIPart 5: The postwar eraPart 6: Team XPart 7: Post Team […]

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