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Yukio (Marvel Comics) (Wolverine ally) by Steve Skroce

Yukio the wild one

(Part 1)


Context

Yukio the Wild One first appeared in the 1982 Wolverine limited series by Claremont and Miller.

This was a key step in developing Wolverine (James Howlett) as a character. And particularly his relationship with Japan. Or at least Japan as imagined by 1980s American japanophiles.

Yukio remained one of the main friends of Wolverine in Japan. She also developed ties with his fellow X-Men member Storm (Ororo Munroe).

She is a mix of nutty, rebellious Tōkyō alternative scene wild girl – and elite, acrobatic ninja agent.

This profile covers everything from 1982 to 2010. That makes it 5% longer than our “read in one sitting” threshold, so it’s presented in two halves. .


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed. Her actual given name seems to be Yukiko.
  • Other Aliases: The Wild One, “Ninja Mother” (occasional nickname from Amiko).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Amiko Kobayashi (foster daughter), James Howlett (aka Wolverine, aka Logan, adoptive father of Amiko).
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of Xavier’s Mutant Underground.
  • Base Of Operations: Tōkyō.
  • Height: 5’3” Weight: 100 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black.
  • Other distinguishing features: Dragon tattoo across her back and buttocks.
  • Note: Officially, Yukio is 5’9” and 130 lbs.. The above values are instead based on how she’s usually drawn.


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Powers and Abilities

The Wild One is extremely fast and agile. She’s a superb acrobat and fighter.

Her training is in traditional Japanese martial arts. Her two main forms being seem to be :

  1. Jujitsu. These are pragmatic close-combat techniques for warriors.
  2. Shurikenjutsu. These are techniques for thrown small blades, historically taught at jujitsu schools.

She also seems trained in kenjutsu (swordswomanship) and knows some ni-to-kenjutsu (paired swords).

Ninjette combat

Her fighting style is highly acrobatic and evasive. On the offence, it favours :

  • Low kicks.
  • Fast, precisely-placed shuriken. She reliably can kill three men surrounding her by hurling three blades in a single motion.

The Wild One is known for consistently pulling off reckless tactics. A typical move was vaulting over an opponent and throwing herself off a mountain, gambling that the high winds would blow her back. It worked, allowing her to attack her surprised foe from behind.

Yukio operates at a cinematic but not super-heroic level. She will dominate goons under most circumstances, especially if she has throwing blades. But an entire squad of Hand genin, or a master like Ogun or Shingen, is clearly too much for her. Psylocke (Elizabeth Braddock) is also a significantly better fighter than she is, though not by a huge margin.


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The operative

Yukio’s intrusion skills include :

  • Stealth.
  • Weapons concealment.
  • Demolitions.
  • Escape artistry.
  • Climbing over difficult surfaces.

She’s pretty good at those, especially stealth, but doesn’t seem to have B&E skills such as lockpicking or security systems expertise.

She is highly knowledgeable about Japanese martial arts lore. She also knows a lot about about the Hand – its history, factions and politics. Much of her information about the Hand came from defector Goro the Poisoner (since deceased), but she clearly has some sort of network keeping tabs on Hand activities.

Yukio also evidenced immunity to some specific toxins used by ninja assassins.

Wild gear

Yukio’s flat will usually have a hidden crate with about 100 kilos of bladed weaponry, climbing gear and other field equipment. She will also often have a tanto or sai on her, but those never actually get used.

What she does use is her arsenal of throwing blades – shuriken, bo-shaken, numerous types of throwing knives, etc.. These are usually hurled in volleys. When expecting to face Hand footsoldiers or similar opponents, she will sometimes get a katana from her stash.

Yukio hugging Wolverine

She also uses sophisticated, but not cutting edge, surveillance equipment. Mostly audio equipment and night vision goggles. Combined with her stealth and daring, this is normally sufficient to run surveillance on even highly secure areas.

She will normally have a trendy keitai , of course.

On rare occasions, to take down high-value targets, Yukio has used throwing blades coated with powerful poisons or sedatives. This seems more driven by plot considerations than being a normal part of her arsenal, though.

The big bad Canadian badger dude

In her earliest appearance, Yukio was able to stay hidden from Wolverine (who has animalistic super-senses). She then fell him with a single poisoned blade. These are impressive feats, but she never performs again on that level.

Though the game stats partially take these achievements into account, they are toned down since :

  • 1982 Wolverine was still being defined. He also was less powerful than he would eventually become.
  • It likely was an instance of neglecting the characters’ capabilities to expedite the plot.

Soundtrack

Yukio’s debut is contemporary of the debut album from BOØWY, an important Japanese rock band with glam and punk influences. How convenient.

A few things from BOØWY are available for download on Amazon .


Wild logistics

Yukio usually operates from a near-derelict, unfurnished studio apartment in a Tōkyō slum. One small problem is that there are no such areas in Tōkyō, even back in 1982.

If you want to keep that aspect, our no-Prize  explanation is that there is a subculture of Tōkyōites living in parts of the town that were razed by giant monster attacks. These are kept cordoned off while the radioactivity dies down.

Everybody ignores these rag-tag houses. Until the time come for rebuilding and these kaiju -enabled squatters have to move away.

Ninja moolah

Despite living in a hovel, Yukio has no problems taking international flights and partying in exclusive night clubs. Wolverine implies that Yukio living in poverty is a choice rather than the results of financial constraints. Perhaps she seeks to emulate medieval ronin  aesthetics.

Yukio and Wolverine closeup

In the Wolverine animé , Yukio has a safehouse at at Shinjuku 8 chōme, though the only furnishing is a couch. This suggests that the flats seen in the comics are but boltholes, not living places. There are plenty of cheap place to spend the night or day in Tōkyō especially if you have connections.

The area mentioned — 8 chōme — is pretty upscale, but also heavily under construction. It’s also within walking distance of Kabukichō, one of the seediest areas in Tōkyō with plenty of clubs and mobbed-up businesses to keep things interesting. Yukio would most likely be a regular.

In 2000, to raise Amiko, Yukio moves to a huge (by Tōkyō standards) and luxurious flat. It may be in an area such as Roppongi or Shinjuku. She implies that it was made possible by a windfall (a huge one, given Tōkyō prices), making her wealth even more difficult to assess.


History (part 1)

“Yukio”, aka the Wild One, is a woman without a past. She is an enigmatic ronin drifter and masterless outlaw living in Japan.

Her actual first name seems to be Yukiko (“fortunate girl”). However she always goes by Yukio (“fortunate man”). She refuses to discuss why, even with her close friend and occasional lover Wolverine (James Howlett).

Shady lady

Wolverine indicated that Yukio took a man’s name when she also started wearing her hair in a more masculine cut. These minor bits of gender-bending contribute to her fame among the Japanese underworld.

Yukio face closeup

Yukio may have had ties with the Hand, given how much she knows about them. She was once described as a “half-ninja”. This may have been about her ancestry or her original training, but the remark was too random to hazard hypotheses.

In the past she was an international thief who occasionally clashed with Remy Lebeau, the future Gambit. Once, in London, Yukio informed the police about Lebeau to facilitate her own operations. But her rival outmanoeuvred her and she was arrested by the Met.

They also clashed in Singapore and Milan.

If you are not using a sliding timeline, these clashes occurred during the 1970s.

Wolverine

In 1982, Yukio was working for the Yashida clan. These are a mainstay in Japanese politics, industry and crime.

Yukio in black and green, over a white background

The clan had recently returned under the leadership of the dreaded Lord Shingen. He married off his daughter Mariko to cement a political alliance. The marriage took place against Ms. Yashida’s will, and her new husband was beating her.

Shingen knew that a romance had been developing between his daughter and a Westerner named Logan (James Howlett, aka Wolverine). Correctly assuming that Logan would come to Japan and cause trouble, Shingen-san had Yukio shadow Mariko.

When Logan came, the mercenary took him down with a throwing spike lacquered with poison. The gaijin only survived his subsequent honour duel against Yashida Shingen thanks to his mutant healing factor .

Under cover of the night

Intrigued by Wolverine, Yukio convinced Shingen-san to let her keep tabs on the foreigner by becoming his friend.

The manipulation worked, especially after Shingen had a squad of Hand killers attack and nearly kill Yukio to bolster the credibilities of the lies she told Wolverine.

Fixated on Mariko, Logan turned down Yukio’s advances. But Shingen manipulated him into going berserker before Mariko’s horrified eyes. Fearing that Mariko would never love him again after seeing his animalistic rage, Wolverine became Yukio’s lover.

The Japanese’s wild, near-suicidal temper nearly killed them when she insisted on having sex in the path of a bullet train .

He’s the best there is at what he does

Now in love with Wolverine, Yukio betrayed Shingen. She killed the Yashida agents who were to murder Logan in his sleep. However, Logan mumbled Mariko’s name in his sleep. Yukio ran off in tears, wanting to commit suicide.

Yukio and Amiko

During her preparations to have a spectacular death, she accidentally ran into and killed a friend of Wolverine, an intelligence officer named Asano. This led to Wolverine realising that Yukio had been a Shingen agent all along, and the Wild One fled again.

Yukio attempted to convince Shingen that she had never betrayed him. She used Asano’s death as a “proof”. While it briefly seemed successful, Shingen wasn’t fooled. He was killing Yukio when Wolverine returned and invaded the Yashida compound.

During the subsequent battle, Mariko’s husband attempted to take his wife hostage to stall off Wolverine. The Wild One killed him. Owing her for Mariko’s life but unable to forgive the death of Asano, Logan let Yukio leave after she tearfully kissed him goodbye.


History (part 2)

Wolverine later returned to Japan to marry Mariko. As she was spying on him, Yukio spotted the Silver Samurai (Kenuichio Harada). She attacked before he could ambush Wolverine and the X-Men.

During the fight Yukio met Storm (Ororo Munroe), and the two became instant friends.

As Yukio and Ororo were investigating the Samurai’s handler the Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian), Storm was badly wounded. Yukio saved her life by rushing her to an hospital.

By this point Storm had been experiencing a mounting malaise about her identity. As she recovered from her wounds, she decided to change her style to be more like Yukio.

The pair made up a new punk leather look for Storm, complete with a mohawk.

Storm and shadow

A mind-controlled Mariko rejected Wolverine, cancelling the marriage. To Yukio’s frustration, Logan was unable to get over Mariko.

Yukio vs Hand ninja, by Frank Miller

In 1985, Wolverine returned to Japan to find his missing teammate Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat). Yukio attacked him for thrills. She then helped him investigate the Shigematsu yakuza clan, who seemed behind Pryde’s disappearance.

The Wild One was instrumental in recovering Pryde, and in breaking the mystical domination that ninja master Ogun exerted over Kitty. She also twice fought the renegade sumotori Shumai, who was planning to take over the Shigematsu clan.

Later bits of dialogue imply that, during this time frame, Storm and Yukio had undocumented adventures.

Techno-ninja and techno-aliens

In 1992, Yukio prevented the Death Touch Cult (a Hand splinter led by Matsuo Tsurayaba) from killing Jubilee (Jubilation Lee), a friend of Wolverine.

She even evaded the deadly cyborg Cylla (Cylla Markham).

Gambit (Remy Lebeau), now a member of the X-Men, later contacted Yukio. He wanted her to help Wolverine out of a depression after the Hand murdered Mariko Yashida, but she refused. Presumably, she feared becoming a disposable rebound romance.

Yukio face closeup by Frank Miller

Two years later, killer aliens called the Phalanx tried to manipulate Yukio to lead them to the X-Men. Sensing that something was amiss, Yukio only met with Storm in a Manhattan nightclub. Three Phalanx agents attacked, but narrowly failed.

To Yukio’s annoyance, Gambit came in to help, and saved her from drowning. The Phalanx hunters were then destroyed using teamwork.

Battle without honour

Yukio later realised that Wolverine was doing an annual pilgrimage to Japan. He’d go to the temple where he and Mariko had planned to meet. She determined that others had learned of this and came in to prevent an ambush.

Tsurayaba’s killers were already on site. They might have killed Wolverine, who was weakened by the removal of the Adamantium  in his body.

However, Yukio bluffed them. She pointed at Wolverine’s bone claws and weak healing factor to convince them that this was a ringer.

Sugar and everything nice

Fearing that he would soon die or lose his mind, Logan reunited with Yukio. They apparently became lovers again.

He handed over to her his two Japanese responsibilities — the Yashida clan honour blade, and his adoptive daughter Amiko.

The sacred katana was later handed over to the Silver Samurai, but Amiko-chan stuck with Yukio.


Kobayashi Amiko

Amiko’s parents were killed during a kaiju rampage. Her dying mother asked Wolverine to take care of her daughter.

Using clan Yashida resources, the Canadian arranged for he and Mariko to be declared Amiko’s foster parents. After Mariko’s murder, Wolverine set up a trust fund via Landau, Luckman & Lake to compensate a new foster family.

The foster agency bungled the case. The new foster parents were atrocious if not outright abusive. Wolverine forcibly removed Amiko from her wards. He then made the strange choice of having the famously irresponsible Yukio raise Amiko.

Oddly enough, it worked. Yukio took good care of Amiko. She also used the trust fund to have a local couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kuan, handle the parts she couldn’t. The Kuans may have been paedopsychiatrists, since they played an important role in helping Amiko get over her childhood traumas.

Wolverine visited when he could, which was seldom. As to Yukio, once Amiko was in her early teens, she did the normal and usual thing. She started training Amiko-chan in stealth, athletics and the martial arts.


History (part 3)

During the mid 1990s, Yukio rescued American government agent Havok (Alex Summers) from the assassin Fatale.

Yukio on the phone with Wolverine

She also nearly stole the giant Red Ronin robot for a joyride. Before she could do so it was accidentally activated by Wolverine and Sunfire (Shiro Yashida).

Yukio also allied with Elektra (Elektra Natchios) after the Silver Samurai pointed the Greek assassin toward the Wild One for intelligence about current Hand operations. Yukio and Elektra killed a Hand officer. Though they didn’t find their actual target, the super-ninja Kuroyama, Yukio found leads that allowed Elektra to continue her mission of vengeance.

Keeping brains clean

Some months before, Tsurayaba and his Death Touch Cult had kidnapped Yukio and Amiko to gain revenge on Wolverine. Though Wolverine and allies narrowly rescued them, nobody realised that Amiko had been brainwashed by the Hand. They convinced the kid that Wolverine had killed her mother.

Before she left, Elektra pointed out that there logically had to exist a Hand informer close to Yukio. Since there had been clear leaks about her mission. That Amiko had been brainwashed was thus established… and never mentioned again.

Our No-Prize Hypothesis is that Yukio simply called Storm to have a X-Men telepath remove the conditioning.

Some months later it was Yukio’s turn to be brainwashed. This was part of a revenge attempt against Wolverine, led by the Viper. The case was closed when Wolverine agreed to honour his old promise, and married the Viper.

Parental figures

As Amiko became a young teen, Yukio renounced her dirt-poor ronin lifestyle. She moved to an affluent part of Tōkyō.

Amiko-chan abandoned her unhealthy childhood fixation on medieval Japan, but now tended to imitate her foster mother. She hung out in bad parts of town, had an attitude and used the skills Yukio taught her to beat up bullies.

Wolverine’s visits to his foster daughter and his apparent lover became more frequent. And after a lengthy absence (caused by mind control making him a Horseman of Apocalypse), he realised how much Amiko-chan resented his absences.

Mongol attack

In 2002 the feared Kaishek clan, a Mongolia-based international criminal organisation, came to Japan to carve out turf.

Yukio kicks the Silver Samurai

The Silver Samurai requested that Yukio and Wolverine assist the Yashida clan, and they agreed. However, Yukio was then attacked by Kaishek soldiers. Though she killed three attackers, she was forced to surrender when they threatened Amiko.

The Kaishek leveraged the captive Yukio and Amiko to force Wolverine to become their agent. Not only did that fail, but Yukio and Amiko narrowly escaped after killing their guards.

Yukio then embarked on vengeance against the Kaishek in Outer Mongolia.

Wolverine tracked her down and found her as she was about to kill the last Kaishek chief. He requested that he let her do the deed so he would be the one to bear the blood debt. The distraction resulted in Yukio getting shot, but Amiko (who had been accompanying Wolverine so he could protect her) intervened and saved the Wild One.

The Kaishek stronghold then burned to the ground.

Continued !

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By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe (chiefly Wolverine and X-Men titles).

Helper(s): Chris Cottingham, Frank Murdock, Pufnstuff, Tom Eilers, Darci.

Writeup updated on the 22nd of December, 2013.

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