In the Marvel Universe and the many of the X-Men’s cartoons and movies, the Silver Samurai and Lady Deathstrike are two of Wolverine’s most iconic adversaries. While they’ve fought Logan for decades and share deep personal histories with Marvel’s most famous mutant, they didn’t initially appear as foes of Wolverine or the X-Men.
Instead, both of these villains happened to encounter Daredevil long before they fought Wolverine. Now, we’re taking a closer look at how both of these Wolverine villains debuted by encountering Marvel’s Man Without Fear.
The Silver Samurai first debuted in Steve Gerber and Bob Brown’s Daredevil #111, when. Daredevil was visiting the Commissioner of the San Francisco Police Department to discuss an ongoing investigation into the Black Spectre, an organization that was trying to take over over America by sowing the seeds of anarchy and chaos. Daredevil almost doesn’t survive an assassination attempt from the Black Spectre. As he leaves the Commissioner’s apartment, a well-timed mid-air attack by the Silver Samurai almost causes Daredevil to fall to his death.
Daredevil survives the fall, but he barely survives the subsequent tussle with the Silver Samurai. Clad in impenetrable silver armor, the Silver Samurai attacks Daredevil with a charged katana capable of slicing through steel and concrete. Daredevil is forced to evade the Silver Samurai’s attacks until the Commissioner’s niece, Shanna the She-Devil, and her pet jaguars join the battle. Even after they beat the Silver Samurai, he emerges largely intact and Daredevil is too wounded to pursue him.
Throughout his subsequent criminal career, the Silver Samurai remains a professional criminal serving several organizations and individuals, most notably including Viper. He was working with the Viper when they first meet Wolverine in the Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s Uncanny X-Men #172. Wolverine is about to be married to Mariko, the Daimyo of powerful and influential Clan Yashida. Wolverine recently eliminated the previous leader and Mariko’s father, the villainous Shingen. And as he learns, the Silver Samurai is his illegitimate son. He poisons Wolverine and the X-Men to incapacitate them and lures his half-sister to an abandoned warehouse. When Mariko refuses to give up her seat to a known criminal and exile, the Silver Samurai challenges her to a battle to the death.
Mariko manages to escape with the help of the X-Men and Wolverine hunts the Silver Samurai down. But the Silver Samurai is saved from judgment at Wolverine’s hands by the Viper with a well-placed blast from a ray gun. Since then, the Silver Samurai and Logan have worked together as much as they’ve fought each other, and they’re currently both on the X-Men’s island home Krakoa.
Daredevil first meets the woman who becomes Lady Deathstrike in Dennis O’Neil and Larry Hama’s Daredevil #197. Matt Murdock wants revenge on Bullseye, who escaped after killing Daredevil’s love, Elektra. After shattering his spine while fighting Daredevil, Bullseye escapes onto a ship with the help of the crime lord Kenji Oyama
The ship is headed for Japan, and Daredevil flies there to hunt Bullseye down. While searching for Bullseye, Daredevil finds a woman, Yuriko, chained to a bed in the medical bay. As it turns out, Yuriko is Oyama’s daughter and had ritualistic designs carved into her and her brothers’ faces after her father himself was scarred in a failed kamikaze attack on an American ship during World War II.
Oyama is the creator of the adamantium fusion process that was to create Wolverine’s skeleton and mends Bullseye’s spine using the same technique. As an ultra-nationalist, imperialistic, madman, his actions led to the death of his two sons during an assassination attempt on the Japanese Prime Minister. Undeterred, Oyama wants Bullseye to assassinate the Japanese Trade Minister in New York. However, Yuriko collaborates with Daredevil to seek vengeance on her father and save her lover, Kira, from servitude. She ends up killing her father in the process.
After that story, Yuriko only becomes Lady Deathstrike when she meets Wolverine in Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema’s Alpha Flight #33. Mad with grief after Kira commits seppuku to honor the death of his master, Yuriko embraces her father’s fanaticism and hunts Wolverine down to take his adamantium skeleton back. As the product of research that originally belonged to Oyama, it was originally planned to be used to create an army of invincible warriors and restore honor to Japan. During this issue, Deathstrike is still using a katana as a weapon and is fully human. Later on, Deathstrike was turned into a cyborg and equipped with an adamantium skeleton and claws that she made her the deadly foe that Wolverine knows today.
Long before they met Wolverine or menaced the X-Men, two of Logan's most iconic villains debuted by encountering Marvel's Man Without Fear.