‘The Wolverine': Get To Know Yukio

by Brett White

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Yukio nearly stole the show from Wolverine in the film’s teaser. The fuchsia-haired assassin that made short work of a bunch of dudes in the “Wolverine” teaser is played by Rila Fukushima, a model turned actress making her feature film debut in this summer’s “The Wolverine.” From the few photos we’ve seen and the brief glimpses of Fukushima in action, she seems poised to be a breakout character. Cosplayers, purchase your hair dye now! And if you want to know a little bit more about Yukio before you commit to traipsing around San Diego Comic-Con with a big ol’ stick, then these facts are for you!

She was created by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller

Yukio first appeared in Wolverine’s first mini-series, which also marked the first time he’d headlined a book on his own. Miller was nearing the finish of his landmark first run on “Daredevil” when Claremont approached him to handle the art duties on “Wolverine” in 1982. Miller latched onto Claremont’s idea of Wolverine as a failed samurai, a man who hides a deep sense of honor under layers of rage. The mini-series was a hit and cemented Wolverine as a bankable leading man, and Yukio was right by his side.

Yukio was originally an assassin for the crime boss Shingen Yashida sent to kill Wolverine. But when Yukio, a self-described ronin, realized Wolverine was a kindred spirit, she turned on Shingen and became his permanent ally. (“Wolverine” #1-4, 1982)

She’s the reason Storm got a mohawk

When the X-Men flew to Japan for Wolverine’s wedding to Mariko Yashida, Wolverine’s worlds collided. Japan-Ninja-Fighter Wolverine came face to face with Mutant-Superhero Wolverine, and Yukio from the former world and Storm from the latter world became fast friends. Storm was already reeling after being pushed to the edge of her morality in a skirmish with the underground-dwelling Morlocks, and Yukio’s free-spirit and reckless behavior provided a much needed release. After a night of cutting loose, Storm returned to her teammates sporting a punk rock look and a mohawk. (“Uncanny X-Men” #172-173, 1983)

She’s fought aliens

While this isn’t that remarkable for most of Marvel’s heroes, Yukio isn’t a superhero, nor does she have any powers. The only thing she has remotely resembling a superpower is her ability to survive a friendship with Wolverine. But after being recruited into Professor X’s Mutant Underground movement, she was targeted by the alien race known as the Phalanx. Yukio fought the invaders off alongside her old friends Storm and Gambit (yep, she has a history with Gambit too). (“Uncanny X-Men” #311-313, 1994)

She raised Wolverine’s daughter

So that headline is incredibly misleading, but it got you to keep reading. Amiko Kobayashi isn’t really Wolverine’s daughter; she was orphaned during a battle between the X-Men and a dragon in Japan. Wolverine promised her dying mother that he would raise her as his own… and then immediately realized that was a horrible idea and gave her to his ex, Mariko. She bounced from home to home for a while until finally ending up with Yukio, at Wolverine’s request. (“Wolverine” v2 #82, 1994)

She’s now paralyzed

Yukio lost the use of her legs during a battle with Lady Deathstrike, who stabbed her in the back and left her for dead. Even from a wheelchair, Yukio proved to be more than a match for any bad guy sent her way. She played a big role in Wolverine’s battle to stop the combined forces of Sabretooth, Mystique and Lady Deathstrike. (“Wolverine” v2 #173-174, 2002; “Wolverine” v2 #300-303, 2012)

Did we miss any of your favorite Yukio moments? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!