Subject 16: Lady Deathstrike AKA Yuriko Oyama
Lady Deathstrike probably needs no introduction at this point. Funny thing is she actually did, which is why she appears in Alpha Flight #33 and #34. Yuriko Oyama started out as a woman Daredevil found hiding under a blanket in his pursuit of a wounded Bullseye. No crystal ball could have predicted what she'd become.
I've found when researching books and characters, the best way to legitimize a book is to set out to debunk it. The deeper you dig and the more focused you are on shooting holes in it, the harder it will be to deny its legitimacy. That's been my mission with Lady Deathstrike's Alpha Flight appearances. I've finally come to the conclusion Uncanny X-Men #205 doesn't really make a lick of sense without at least Alpha Flight #34…but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.
Daredevil #197 Yuriko Oyama's first appearance is a full appearance and is also a cover appearance. She appears throughout the story arc that ends in Daredevil #199. This arc starts in Daredevil #196 but Yuriko doesn't show up until #197 when Daredevil finds her hiding on a ship. She helps Daredevil and eventually saves his life in DD#199.
Alpha Flight #33 is the first time a woman calling herself Lady Deathstrike makes a comic appearance. It's a cameo. One panel showing her and stating her name. She's also in a crowd shot on the last panel of the last page. To be honest, the only way you know it's her on the last panel is because she's colored different than the rest of the crowd of generic samurai.
Alpha Flight #34 is first cover appearance of Lady Deathstrike. The issue ties into the backstory from Daredevil #196-199. Her father's sword is destroyed and we learn why she hates Wolverine. Which still doesn't make a lot of sense, but I'll get to that a little further down.
Uncanny X-Men #205 First Lady Deathstrike as she's most commonly known. This issue is strange. It's the first time we see the cyborg Lady Deathstrike with the finger claw hands. It was released the same month as Alpha Flight #34. In my opinion, nothing in Alpha Flight #34 happens to warrant her taking a trip to the Body Shop. I mean her sword breaks; ok, fine. But it's not like Wolverine carves her up so bad she needs to be turned into a cyborg. The new claw hands are cool, but the full cyborg makeover seems a bit extreme. I guess she wanted the scar on her face removed and ended up getting the full body treatment.
Cole, Reese, and Macon are the former Hellfire Club goons Wolverine dispatches way back in Uncanny X-Men #133. They have been fixed up and join Deathstrike to hunt down Wolverine.
For those that don't know, Uncanny #205 is what's referred to as an inventory story. Stories like this are good to give the regular artist a break between story arcs. UXM #205 was drawn by legendary artist Barry Windsor-Smith, who at the time was not working on a monthly title. Since he did all the art chores on the book (including the coloring), who knows how long it took to produce this issue. Or how long it might have sat in a drawer waiting to be published.
While it's unknown, my supposition has been things went down something like this: we've got this inventory story…but it makes absolutely no sense and there's no context. Why is this woman after Wolverine? Does anyone even remember she was in those Daredevil comics? What happened to land her in Spiral and Mojo's Body Shop? Quick! See if someone can write something in another book to help set this up. Hence Alpha Flight #34 and a cameo in #33.
Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema were the go-to-bang-it-out-quick team in those days. So with them doing the Alpha Flight book at the time, this seems like a logical bet that's how this all went down.
Now I'm going to level with you. Why she hates Wolverine still doesn't make any sense. She's the one who kills her father. Why does she care that the Canadians stole adamantium from him? Why bother trying to take back Wolverine's bones to honor the father she literally stabbed in the back?
After Uncanny X-Men #205, what's next for Lady Deathstrike? With over 100 appearance in Marvel comics, here's a few to get you started.
Uncanny X-Men #247-252. The Reavers first appear in UXM #229. However, Lady Deathstrike, Cole, Reese, and Macon don't officially join up with them until #248. Lady Deathstrike is with Pierce in a cameo on the last page of issue #247 but there's no mention of “joining” the Reavers. Uncanny X-Men #248 is the first time all the members of what we know as the Reavers are finally assembled for the very first time. It's also the first time Jim Lee draws an issue of Uncanny X-Men making #248 an issue worth owning and most definitely key. Jim Lee wasn't the superstar we know today at the time. There's no reason to assume this issue has a higher print run than any other X-Men issue from this time.
Wolverine #30-41. Lady Deathstrike appears pretty regularly throughout this portion of the run. She also appears in a couple of other issues later in this volume.
Punisher #33-34. She appears with the Reavers in the two issues.
Rogue #7-12. Lady Deathstrike appears throughout the Forget-Me-Not story arc.
Domino Vol 1. #1-3. She appears as the main antagonist in this mini series.
X-Men #205. Part 5 of the Messiah Complex; she appears throughout this story line.
New X-Men #45 X-23 vs Lady Deathstrike. I've talked about this issue at length before in my first article for CBSI. X-23 and Lady Deathstrike claw each other to shreds and it's awesome.
Uncanny X-Force #5.1 Lady Deathstrike stabs Wolverine in the face which is pretty cool.
X-Men #7-9. Terry Dodson art with an upgraded Día de Muertos look for her and a “ghost in the machine” type story arc make these 3 issues pretty underrated in my opinion.
Wolverines #1-20. She appears throughout this series…except issues #3 and a couple of others I think.
Logan Legacy #4. Pretty much a solo Lady Deathstrike story. I'm not sure if she appeared in other issues or not.
So that should get you started at least. If I missed something you think is key, let me know in the comments below.
Make sure you check back next week for the disambiguation of Rose Wilson, AKA Ravager! See you then!