Alpha Flight #33-34
Issue(s): Alpha Flight #33, Alpha Flight #34
...and they mistake her approach for an attack.
As Wolverine says, "She's new at this game... didn't understand that divin' at mutants 'round nightfall" isn't a good idea. But Wolverine takes her off into the wilderness around Xavier's mansion and they reminisce about how Wolverine was first found by Heather and her husband.
It's more detail about Wolverine's backstory than we've seen in X-Men or his mini-series to date, which is fairly surprising considering this is Bill Mantlo writing Alpha Flight. Granted, Alpha Flight have a claim on Wolverine thanks to their first appearances in the X-Men series and the idea that he was originally intended to be part of their group. But you'd still think this kind of information would be coming out in a book written by Claremont, or at least during Byrne's Alpha Flight period. Although considering the Claremont/Byrne rivalry, this story may have been less likely to have been allowed while Byrne was writing.
Still, it's some critical information regarding Wolverine, including the fact that Wolverine has blanks in his memory, something that we haven't explicitly heard before. Although we did see in Daredevil #196 that Wolverine was hunting down a lead on where his adamantium came from, and that's picked up in this story.
The dialogue also makes it sound like Wolverine quit Department H and went to the Canadian Secret Service before joining the X-Men.
I always get this a little muddled, but i didn't think that was the case; i thought Wolverine was still with Department H until he quit to join the X-Men. Not that it makes much of a difference.
We also start to see the pattern of Wolverine's interest in redheads.
In any event, after the origin discussion, Wolverine doesn't get to actually train Heather, because he and Heather find themselves surrounded by ninjas.
The ninjas are led by Lady Deathstrike...
...previously known as Yuriko, the daughter of Dark Wind from the aforementioned Daredevil story, and who is now following in her father's footsteps. She was actually trying to track Bullseye, to get back the adamantium that her father gave him, but her instruments led her to Wolverine instead.
My subscription to Alpha Flight ran out after issue #33, and i didn't get to pick up #34 right away. By the time i was able to seek it out, the prices of these issue had skyrocketed thanks to the information about Wolverine's origin and the first appearance of Yuriko as Lady Deathstrike. Things eventually settled down, though, and thanks to an endless amount of revisions to Wolverine's backstory i'm not even sure if the information here is still considered accurate (although the MCP does list the flashback sequences as part of Wolverine's chronology, so i guess it is). But i've always liked that you could draw a straight line from the end of Barry Windsor-Smith's Weapon X story to the flashback here.
Issue #33 is pretty strong for a Mantlo-era Alpha Flight story. Sal Buscema's art is pretty nice, and the focus on Wolverine's origin and his relationship with Heather is interesting (even though we're subjected to the usual Mantlo hysterical screaming sessions from Heather). Unfortunately for issue #34, Buscema is only "storyteller" with inker Gerry Talaoc getting credit as "finisher", and the art is a little rougher. And the issue begins with Puck having left the rest of Alpha Flight behind to go after Heather alone, and making the really dumb mistake of ramming Alpha's Omniship into Wolverine because he got Lady Deathstrike's electro-magnetic sword confused with Heather's battle-suit and thought that Wolverine was actually fighting Heather.
There's also some real nonsense about Japanese "honor". Lady Deathstrike, who was a reasonable and sympathetic character in the Daredevil story, has decided that the father she rebelled against was right after all, and so now she has to kill Wolverine and take his adamantium, even though she was really looking for Bullseye, because Wolverine's adamantium might also have come from her father. Wolverine accepts this with a "Yeah! Honor! I can understand!" comment, but honor here really just means "the characters have to act stupidly".
Heather also gets increasingly annoying, barraging Wolverine with questions. His response here really should've been, "Heather, shh!".
One interesting idea is that Heather's husband Guardian actually knew about Dark Wind's adamantium bonding process and that Department H might have been responsible for Wolverine's transformation.
Heather becomes more sure that that's the case as the issue goes on, and it's because of this that she takes on the name Vindicator. James MacDonald changed his name from Vindicator to Guardian because he felt that Canada had nothing to vindicate, but Heather now wants to vindicate her husband's actions (i guess? that's not really what vindicate means...).
Despite Puck's bungling, the heroes never really seem to be in danger, and the real effort is in making sure that they don't accidentally kill any of the ninjas (while the art sure makes it look like they are).
The battle ends when Lady Deathstrike's sword shatters against Vindicator's forcefield.
It's not shown what happens to Lady Deathstrike.
Also in these issues we find Marrina, who has gone totally feral, being pursued by the forces of Attuma...
...and she's captured at the end of #34.
And Snowbird has been having terrible pains, so she shows up at Alpha Flight's headquarters hoping that Shaman is there (he isn't; he's still off with the spirit of his grandfather trying to restore his confidence and get his powers back).
The rest of Alpha Flight let Roger Bochs, in his wheelchair, not his Box armor, respond to their HQ's alarm all by himself. Luckily it just turned out to be Snowbird, but it seems like a dumb idea to let him rely on the headquarters' automated defenses when you've got a bunch of people with super-powers in the house and the alarm's going off.
These issues are definitely interesting despite some of the usual Mantlo flaws.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The X-Men appear here between Uncanny X-Men #201-202.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
When the X-Men first show up, their introductory panel is crammed with clunky dialogue spouting out their names. A subsequent letters column asked something like "Would it have killed any of the X-Men to keep quiet in that panel, Bill?"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 3, 2013 5:06 PM
I've added that panel. I didn't think it was that bad. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | November 3, 2013 5:25 PM
The idea was supposed to be that Bullseye had been killed in the Elektra Graphic Novel, and that's why Lady Deathstrike couldn't find him. Unfortunately, that graphic novel didn't come out until 1990(!) and by then it contradicted other stories and was decided to be out of continuity.
Posted by: Michael | November 3, 2013 5:34 PM
Magneto's taking them to see "The Magic Flute"? Probably thinks Papageino was a mutant bird-man, my guess.
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 3, 2013 6:55 PM
It's maybe not so odd that Claremont allowed Wolverine revelations to be made in AF. He was reasonably generous about sharing concepts with Louise Simonson, too: Nanny was apparently his idea (she was going to be the missing Sarah Grey at one point) and Claremont added Apocalypse to Moses Magnum's backstory and would have added him to Wolverine's. Claremont and Mantlo had worked together on X-Men/Micronauts and Uncanny 96, of course, and Mantlo seemingly got to advance Rogue's development a bit in Rom.
What's more, Claremont and Mantlo must have coordinated plans for Deathstrike, who turns up revamped in Uncanny about a month after this.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 3, 2013 10:22 PM
Walter, I'm curious- where did you hear that Nanny was supposed to be Sarah Grey? Because Nanny was usually drawn as considerably shorter than Jean, and Sarah was usually drawn as about the same height as Jean.
Posted by: Michael | November 3, 2013 10:40 PM
It's something I've seen mentioned a few times on forums (from "Dread" here, for example, http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?p=20475607 ), and I feel like I must have seen something from a more authoritative source, but I don't recall ever seeing many details. The impression I got was that the idea for a character named Nanny, maybe with the eventual Nanny's MO, was Claremont's, but this was before the character visually debuted, and the Simonsons seem to have taken the character in a non-Sara Grey direction from her first appearance. We do eventually get a Simonson origin for Nanny that she she was a scientist who developed cyborgs for the Right and was betrayed when they found out she was a mutant.
Claremont has said elsewhere, I believe, that he wanted Sara to have Caliban-like mutant tracking/identifying powers--at one point he proposed Sara as a substitute for Jean in X-Factor. He seems to have had a couple of potential plans for her.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 4, 2013 12:27 AM
Interesting -- the hero of The Magic Flute is initially led to believe he must rescue a kidnapped young woman from an evil sorcerer. He quickly comes to realize the "evil sorcerer" is the wise and benevolent leader of a "brotherhood" that promotes tolerance, understanding, and enlightenment. Parallels with Magneto? With Professor X?
Maybe I'm overthinking, and it's just an opera Mantlo knew.
Mantlo did a lot of that bit with the characters saying each other's names for the reader's benefit...or saying their own ("Suit yourself, Guardian! I, Snowbird, like the cold!"). The first Alpha Flight panel in Contest of Champions was much worse than the one above.
Posted by: Todd | November 4, 2013 6:59 PM
Incidentally, on adamantium; I wonder if during World War II, Kempeitai (the State Shinto Imperialist Militarist intelligence service) or Captain Okada (of the Dragon of Death) managed to capture Captain America a few times, study his shield, and thus started to independently develop Adamantium. That could explain Darkwind's process.
"Lady Deathstrike......has decided that the [State Shinto Imperialist Militarist] father she rebelled against was right after all".
Lady Deathstrike may want to join forces with other Yamato imperialists such as:
Anyone recall any others?
(Lest anyone accuse me of the limited thinking of a dunce by drawing so much attention in this post to Japanese militarism, I stand well aware of the flaws of the Biblical Moses, Jesus, U.S. southerners, etc. See the post at
Posted by: PB210 | November 14, 2013 7:44 AM
Later on, Lady Deathstrike will have Logan san crucified. As a State Shinto Militarist Imperialist, she may have done this in reference to the martyrs of Japan (e.g. Saint Paul Miki) crucified to prevent Japan from turning into a Hispanic nation.
Darkwind's codename stands appropriate, as the kaze in Kamikaze refers to wind. See Savage Tales#7.
Posted by: PB210 | November 14, 2013 3:38 PM
Sal Buscema's Wolverine looks freshly waxed. Usually when he's running around nearly naked (far too often), the artist doesn't skimp on body hair.
Posted by: Todd | December 10, 2013 7:46 AM
A recent Comics Should Be Good article reminded me of the major problem with this story- Avengers 66 implied that Adamantium had been created recently but this story suggests Adamantium had been created decades ago.
Posted by: Michael | February 23, 2015 11:52 PM
I'll suffice to say that I hate these issues and save my real enmity for when I get to X-Men #205.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 7, 2015 8:52 AM
"Would it have killed any of the X-Men to keep quiet in that panel, Bill?"
You could just as easily ask that question of Roy Thomas and The (West Coast) Avengers. (And Infinity Inc. And the Zoo Crew. And...)
Posted by: Oliver_C | May 15, 2016 6:29 AM
There was never a follow-up for this suggestion that Jimmy was involved in Wolverine's origin, was there?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 10, 2016 2:13 PM
Sort of nearly in the godawful Daniel Way run. Better ignored.
X-Men: The Animated Series however ran with the idea that James Hudson was involved in Wolverine's origin though. Season 2 episode Repo Men. Good ep.
Posted by: AF | July 10, 2016 2:21 PM
Also in Alpha Flight 52-53, Bedlam- a telepath who encountered Mac years ago- reveals that Mac wasn't behind Wolverine's adamantium. Although it's weird that he would have read Mac's mind for that information and remembered it all these years later.
Posted by: Michael | July 10, 2016 2:33 PM
Bill Mantlo decided to have Heather trash Mac's memory by making slightly paranoid conclusions and deciding he was a jerk instead of a loving husband. This freed her up for doing Mr. Jefferies in later issues. It also helped that having a battlesuit made it easier to give extrajudicial kill orders so she could vent her repressed rage because of her perceived wrongs done by her husband. Of course, Badlam's information didn't seem to change her attitude by that point.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | July 10, 2016 5:56 PM
What comic issue does "Spiral" infuse Lady Deathstrike with adamantium?
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | March 6, 2017 9:21 PM
"X-Men" #207, or at least that's her first published appearance, already having the adamantium. We see a glimpse of it during "Wolverine" #31-33 [someone correct me if the specific issues are wrong] but she first appeared with adamantium already in her.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 6, 2017 9:30 PM
Almost, but it was a couple issues earlier, in Uncanny X-Men 205:
The character intersection search on the advanced search page is great for finding that kind of thing, since Spiral and Lady Deathstrike have only had one appearance together as far as the project covers.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 6, 2017 9:37 PM
Thank you mighty disciples of the comic cloth! The interaction way back machine might have been handy for Mr. Peabody too!
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | March 6, 2017 9:57 PM
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