"Dissolve and Combine": In the early morning, John has breakfast with Yuko and Master Kobo. Kobo knows that something is bothering John, and John tells him about his tattoos and how he can feel them speaking to him. Kobo warns him of "opening a door" and the dangers of
- Is this the best you can do, old man? You don't have any idea... what you did to me, Tattooed Man. I'm a work of art!
Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man #4 is an issue of the series Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man (Volume 1) with a cover date of October, 1993.
Appearing in "Dissolve and Combine"
- Master Kobo (Final appearance; dies)
- Abel Tarrant, the Tattooed Man
- Mizoguchi Kenji (Final appearance) (Apparent Death)
- Shintaro (Final appearance)
- Yuka (Final appearance; dies)
- Wakayama (Single appearance)
Synopsis for "Dissolve and Combine"
In the early morning, John has breakfast with Yuko and Master Kobo. Kobo knows that something is bothering John, and John tells him about his tattoos and how he can feel them speaking to him. Kobo warns him of "opening a door" and the dangers of not being able to determine who will walk through it.
The three then go into town and Yuko has a strange encounter with a young boy. The boy surreptitiously passes her a note and Yuko tells her grandfather and John that she must leave. Master Kobo eyes her suspiciously.
Yuko goes to the home of her father, Yakuza leader Mizoguchi Kenji. Kenji shows her that the former Oyabun has died and he has filled the vacuum of power left behind by his passing. Kenji has also removed the old Oyabun's tattoos and added them to a patchwork skin suit of varying patterns and designs. However, he is still missing one critical centerpiece for his collection – the delivery of Abel Tarrant's longstanding commission – the body of John Oakes.
Back at the Kobo school, Master Kobo warns John about Mizoguchi. He tells him that his old student craves the power of John's tattoos and feels that they will open a doorway that will allow him to save his own mind.
Soon after, Kenji, the Tattooed Man and a horde of Yakuza assassins break into the school. John is ready for them and opens the channel for his tattoo magic to flow. A black energy field envelops him like before, but Kenji still presses his attack The doorway is opened, but it is Master Kobo who enters the portal. By touching John, Kobo's essence is absorbed into the ink work of his body, effectively making him one with John Oakes. The merging of souls distracts John long enough for Kenzi to get the drop on him and knock him out.
He awakens to find Kenji, the Tattooed Man and Yuko standing over him at a private dojo. John learns that Kenji is Yuko's father and understands why she betrayed him. John calls upon his power, but with greater control than he has demonstrated in the past. The Tattooed Man tries to fight him, but the student has now surpassed the teacher. John overwhelms Tarrant, stripping him of all his tattoos save one; the "Born to Lose" tattoo that was once on John's arm. Kenzi attempts to kill John by hurling a dagger, but the dagger passes through John's field, striking Yuko instead, killing her.
The spirit of Master Kobo guides John, urging him to kill his own son. John unleashes his power against Kenzi, ultimately killing him.
- Final issue
- Cover model and tattoo artist for this issue is Jonathan Shaw.
- An Oyabun is the name attributed to the highest ranking member of an organized criminal cartel; in this case, the Yakuza.
- Discuss Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man Vol 1 4 on the forums
- Cover gallery for the Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man series