New Avengers (1st series) #11

Issue Date: 
November 2005
Story Title: 
Ronin, part one

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Finch (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inkers), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), Tom Valente (Production), Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson (Assistant Editors), Andy Schmidt (Associate Editor), Tom Brevoort (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Captain America meets with Matt Murdock after learning that Kenuichio Harada, the Silver Samurai, escaped from the Raft and was taken by the Hand to Japan the same night. Upon hearing this, Matt suspects that Clan Yashida is responsible, but refuses to join the Avengers as right now he has been outed by the media as Daredevil. Plus, a federal prosecutor is willing to legally release all criminals put behind bars thanks to Daredevil, simply for a federal judgeship. Cap is not pleased to hear Matt’s refusal to join and then relates his own time as Nomad, when he felt he could not represent the United States. Matt then refers Cap to a mysterious ally of his. Cap researches this ally and is not pleased to discover connections to Wilson Fisk, but takes Matt up on his word anyway. The mysterious contact agrees and dons a ninja outfit. The ninja heads to Osaka secretly with the Avengers and sneaks into Yashida fortress, where the ninja discovers a triple allegiance between Clan Yashida, the Hand, and Hydra – including Viper – who want the Samurai back in power to lead the Clan Yashida and retake the Japanese underworld. The mysterious ninja is found by Hand ninjas and is chased back to Stark Tower in Osaka. There, the ninja reveals his or her presence to the other Avengers and tells them of Viper’s presence with the Hand and Yashida. Suddenly, the Hand agents reach the penthouse and attack the Avengers, possibly killing the mysterious ninja.

Full Summary: 

Today – Osaka, Japan:
A mysterious ninja, clad in a black suit, a black and gold vest, and gold and green leg, forearm, and shoulder coverings is surrounded by a group of Clan Yashida thugs in a bar that was trashed a few moments ago. The ninja, with green glowing eyes, attacks the Yashida thugs, armed with guns and swords. The ninja stealthily avoids two thugs with swords trying to slice and dice. The ninja then beats them all with nunchucks. Standing upon the pile of bloody henchmen, the ninja repeats the question asked earlier. Who will tell the ninja what he or she needs to know?

Yesterday – New York City
It is a beautiful day in Central Park, and Matt Murdock, attorney and superhero, takes a walk. However, this is not a leisure walk. As Matt walks, up ahead appears a handsome blonde man in normal street clothes. The man address Murdock, and Matt greets Captain America. Cutting straight to business, Matt tells Captain America that if this is about joining the Avengers, then the answer remains the same. Kenuichio Harada, simply says Captain America. The Silver Samurai, replies the concerned Murdock.

Stern-faced, Steve tells Matt that the Silver Samurai was one of the forty-two criminals who escaped the Raft during the breakout last month. Matt is surprised to hear that forty-two escaped. Steve tells him that he had the same reaction. It never ends, replies Murdock. That is why they have a new Avengers, replies Cap back. Matt speaks up, but Steve asks him to just listen for a moment. Kenuichio Harada was brought to the Raft that day for international crimes involving his cousin, Sunfire. He escaped the Raft during the riot and was spotted boarding a plane to Japan the same night. Whose plan, asks Murdock. A dummy corporation, answers Steve. Hydra, asks Murdock. Cap replies that he was told it was the Hand.

The Hand, asks the confused Murdock. No, it can’t be. It must be the Yakuza. S.H.I.E.L.D. can take care of this. Can’t do that, replies Captain America cryptically. Why, asks Matt. We can’t discuss this here, replies Steve. Matt asks if that is French for Cap doesn’t want to tell him. No, replies Steve. It is English for they can’t talk about it out in the open. That is why Steve is asking him why he thinks a group of ninja assassins would go to the effort of sneaking the Silver Samurai out of the country. Matt, however, is not convinced the Hand would. Their best bet is Clan Yashida. It its day, it ruled the Japanese underworld.

Matt continues to explain that the Yashida brought in ten times more money than Wilson Fisk. The money also had ten times the blood on it. However, the Yashida clan splintered without a clear leader and had has seven leaders in the last two years. However, if someone like the Silver Samurai was in charge as the kingpin of Japan, even as a puppet, well then the Hand has a powerbase. Cap tells Matt that this has to end before it starts. No one knows the Hand or Japanese underworld better than Matt. Wolverine does, replies Matt. Steve replies that Wolverine is not available and they do not know when he will be. He is still an X-Man, asks Matt. He is, replies Steve. And an Avenger, asks the astounded Matt. When he can, says Cap.

“We need Daredevil.”

Today – Osaka, Japan:
The mysterious ninja, now having all the information needed, hitches a ride aboard a bullet train through Osaka. When the bullet train passes by an ancient Japanese fortress, owned by Clan Yashida, the ninja leaps off the train and into the thick vegetation. The ninja then uses a hook and rope to scale the side of the fortress wall, and into the fortress.

Yesterday – New York City:
Annoyed, Matt Murdock tells Captain America that he really can’t believe him. The man cannot take a “no” for an answer, right? Ignoring the griping, Steve tells Matt that the world’s organized crime is in total disarray; the Yashida Clan, Wilson Fisk and even Doctor Doom if you analyze your definition. All three of those empires are in shambles. For the Yashida Clan to make a move to get their name back they have to do something major. Like Matt said… having the Silver Samurai back in Japan would be a start.

Matt cannot believe that Steve is guilt-tripping him into this. Steve tells him that they need to know what the Yashida’s plan is and with who it is with. Of course, getting the Silver Samurai back in jail would be great too. Daredevil cannot join the Avengers, says Matt bluntly. What can he do, Steve retorts.

There has to be a way to make this work. This situation has to be taken care of. Fed up, Matt asks Cap if he understands. He has a target on his back. He has been ousted in the tabloids as Daredevil. Everyone knows his identity. Steve’s government – the United States government – is pursuing him with everything they have. He has six federal task forces assigned to bring him down. They want him in jail even if it means legally letting go of every criminal he put behind bars. The government wants Matt in jail more so than criminals. Why do they do this? This is because the fed that throws him in jail will get a federal judgeship. This is what he is dealing with. He told Steve once before and he will repeat himself now. There is no way that he will put Steve, Peter Parker, Luke Cage and the others in his line of fire. He will not do it.

Even if the Avengers saved the world from an alien invasion or saved every life on Earth in a flurry of heroism not seen since the days of mythology, or even if Jesus himself joined the team – the next day all the of the Avengers would be sucked under a bus just for knowing Matt Murdock and Daredevil.

Cap immediately replies to Matt and tells him that he may not know this but there was a time when the uniform of Captain America wasn’t working well for him. He had trouble representing the US flag and the country. To make a long story short, he stopped being Captain America. He put on another costume and called himself Nomad – representing no country.

Matt pauses and then turns to face Steve. Really, asks Matt. Yes, replies Steve.

Today – Osaka, Japan:
In the fortress of the Clan Yashida, all is dark and silent. The mysterious ninja runs through the darkness of the open gardens and pavilions into the open-air halls of the building. As soon as the ninja ducks into the shadow, a scribe enters the hall and walks down reading a scroll. He passes a few pillars, unaware that he is being watched by the ninja. Suddenly, sensing something amiss, the scribe turns around and looks into the shadows, dissecting them with his eyes. However, he sees nothing and just continues to read his scroll and walk on. As soon as the scribe is gone, the lone ninja emerges from the shadows and proceeds deeper into the fortress.

He comes to the end and opens a door to the outside, looking out into a courtyard where a group of men have met in the middle. In the middle of the cobble path is an ornate chest. On one side is Kenuichio Harada – the Silver Samurai – dressed in robes. On the other side is a representative of the Clan Yashida. Four ninjas of the Hand stand with them.

The mysterious ninja cannot hear what is going on, but watches as Kenuichio greets the Clan Yashida representative, who then opens the chest to reveal the Silver Samurai’s infamous armor.

Yesterday – New York City:
Matt Murdock thinks for a moment, and then tells Cap that here is someone he knows, and this person knows everything that he knows. This person knows everything that the Avengers need from Matt. Really, asks the intrigued Steve. Matt continues and explains that this person can do what Steve needs just as well as Daredevil can. This person has the same training and same fighting styles, as well as the same knowledge as the Hand and the Clan Yashida. Cap asks Matt if he trusts this person. Absolutely, replies Matt. Someone I know, Cap asks. Matt does not think so.

“Who is he?” asks Steve.

Today – Osaka, Japan:
The mysterious ninja continues to watch the dealings occurring in the courtyard. Kenuichio picks up his helmet and smiles. He then pulls his sword from its sheath. Suddenly, he hears something he does not like and turns. The ninja, who did not hear the noise, follows the gaze of Kenuichio and sees a woman with green hair, clad in all green clothing emerge from the domain with two agents of Hydra. It is Madame Hydra, better known today as Viper. Viper approaches Kenuichio and kisses him on the lips. Meanwhile, the mysterious ninja, who is too busy watching, does not notice a large group of Hand ninjas sneaking up from behind.

Yesterday – New York City:
Sometime after his meeting with Matt, Steve meets with Matt’s contact at a highrise restaurant. The contact, who has long black hair, remains silent as Steve sits down. Cap begins to speak immediately and admits that he would rather have met in private, but understands his companions concerns. If he may be blunt, he wasn’t thrilled with what intelligence he could find about him or her. The connections to Wilson Fisk and his associates are questionable at best, but in his life he has learned to not judge people so quickly. If Matt Murdock vouches, then that’s good enough.

They need someone to find Harada, find out who he is in business with, and what the plan is. The Avengers need someone to slip in and out undetected. However, they don’t expect him or her to do this alone. However, no one knows more than him that a fight can come from any direction. So, if, and only if, he or she has to fight his or her way out… please… no killing.

Today – Osaka, Japan:
The mysterious ninja blows a sword with nunchucks and then ducks as another sword is swung. The ninja then punches one ninja in the face, and that ninja’s head snaps back into the head of another. The mysterious ninja leaps over more Hand ninjas and kicks two in the face while in mid-air.

The mysterious ninja escapes the building and runs across the rooftops. The ninja then looks behind and is horrified to see a whole army of Hand ninjas following close behind. The mysterious ninja kicks some away and blocks more attacks, but is soon forced to using a sword and stab the attackers – spilling much blood.

Nearby, as the Stark Enterprises headquarters in Osaka, the mysterious ninja eventually climbs up the side of the building and to the roof patio of Tony Stark. The ninja moans in pain upon reaching the top, and is confronted by the Avengers, who are all in shock. Spider-Man is taken aback, and Spider-Woman asks the ninja if he or she is okay. The ninja tells the Avengers to listen, as there is not much time. The mission to infiltrate the Yoshida fortress was successful. Harada is there. He is with the Hand. Yashida and Hand seem to be back in a partnership. However, the terrorists Hydra are there with Madame Hydra.

“Oy with the Madame Hydra!!” exclaims Spider-Man.

Iron Man speaks up and says that Madame Hydra fell off the grid about two months ago. Confused, Cage turns to Cap and asks who the ninja is. Cap ignores Cage and asks the ninja if he or she is ok. The ninja apologizes for failing. Confused again, Cage tells the ninja that it sounds like the job was successful.

Suddenly, several throwing stars streak through the air and stab the ninja in the back. The mysterious ronin collapses, as a wave of arrows and stars fly through the air. As the Hand ninjas descend on the rooftop to attack the Avengers, the ninja once more apologizes for failure.

Characters Involved: 

Luke Cage, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman I (Avengers)

Mysterious Ninja (Ronin)
Matt Murdock (Daredevil)

Kenuichio Harada/Silver Samurai
Madame Hydra/Viper

Various Hand ninjas
Various Hydra agents
Various Yashida Clan thugs
Yashida Clan representative

Story Notes: 

Six months after Avengers (1st Series) #503, Electro is hired by a mysterious employer to break Karl Lykos out of the Raft, a prison near New York for super-powered criminals. Already on the island were Matt Murdock and his hired bodyguard, Luke Cage, who were there to meet with the mysterious super-hero, the Sentry, who was in jail by his own decision and for also apparently murdering his wife. Spider-Woman, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., also worked at the Raft when Electro attacked. Soon, Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man found themselves at the Raft to help out, and won the impossible battle. Captain America, inspired, asked Iron Man, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, and Daredevil to join him as the new Avengers, though Daredevil rejected the offer. The team discovered that the break was to cover the escape of Sauron, whom the team tracked to the Savage Land and captured with the aid of Wolverine, who was asked to join the team. However, the team secretly discovered that several of the inmates on the Raft were listed as dead and that a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. operation squad was mining for vibranium. Someone, or some group, is harboring illegal material and super villains as weapons, and there are strong indications that S.H.I.E.L.D. and its new director cannot be trusted. Thus, the Avengers were reborn. Worse yet, though, is that Spider-Woman seems to have a triple allegiance, as not only does she still work for S.H.I.E.L.D., but she also works for a secret employer whom she is reporting back on about the activities of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D.

Though unnamed in this entire issue, the mysterious ninja’s codename is Ronin.

Wolverine’s absence may be due to the fallout of House of M, which resulted in millions of mutants losing their powers, in a day labeled by the media as M-Day.

Ronin was first introduced in interviews and preview art much earlier before this arc. A clue was given to the identity of Ronin, which was that the person already was in a hit movie. This clue would later prove to be untrue, but speculation began to pour out, even mentioning of names of people who did not have a movie yet. Suspects for the identity of Ronin include Elektra, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, and Stone. Unfortunately, the identity of Ronin was spoiled in the OHMU: Avengers 2005 a few months prior to this arc.