Monday, May 04, 2009


Back when Wolverine first appeared in the Incredible Hulk, I doubt that anyone would have predicted that he could headline his own movie. During the 1970s, someone at Marvel decided that there were too many heroes concentrated in the USA so they introduced some new national heroes.

The Hulk strayed north of his usual haunts in the American South-West and was fighting a rematch with the Wendigo. The Canadian authorities didn't care for this and sent in "Weapon X" to break up the fight. Weapon X turned out to be Wolverine.

As originally conceived, the character didn't resemble the current incarnation. He had strength and speed similar to Spider-Man and his costume included retractable claws.

The following year (1975) Marvel decided to resurrect the canceled X-Men as a new, multi-national team. The original team, with the exception of Cyclops, had disappeared on a mission so Cyclops and Professor X recruited a new team to save them. Wolverine was one of the recruits.

He didn't have much personality in the early X-Men. Usually he attacked using the "fastball special" - Colossus would hurl him, claws first (this made it into the 3rd X-Men movie). That was about it for characterization. In the second issue of the new X-Men, a character named Thunderbird was killed. It was felt that his powers were redundant. Co-writer, Len Wein could have as easily chosen Wolverine to die instead and no one would have noticed.

Things got a little more interesting when the X-Men were captured by Sentinels (big, anti-mutant robots) in issues 98-100. A scan said that he wasn't exactly a mutant. Shortly after that it was revealed that his claws were part of him, not part of his costume. Even his fellow team-mates didn't know that. After that the character got a lot more interesting.

We finally learned his name was Logan in an issue of Iron Fist. We also found out that he was stalking Jean Grey. While Chris Claremont had been writing the X-Men since the second issue. this was the first time that teamed up with John Byrne on the X-Men.

Not long after that Byrne became the X-Men artist. Like Wolverine, Byrne was Canadian so he decided to make Logan his own personal project. Wolverine's profile jumped as did his acceptance.

In the next year Wolverine's two big secrets were revealed. First a dinosaur bit his arm up to the elbow. You heard the "snict" of his claws popping out and the dinosaur fell. Wolverine's arm wasn't scratched. "I heal fast," he explained.

A few issues later a character who possessed bodies but had an aversion to metal attacked Wolverine and was repelled by his metal skeleton.

At that point it was understood that Wolverine's entire skeleton had been replaced with adamantium. In interviews, Byrne described the horrific process of replacing Wolverine's skeleton, one bone at a time. A couple of alternate timelines showed Wolverine's skeleton as man-made.

Later Claremont revised this, referring to his bones as "laced with adamantium" instead of being replaced.

Slowly it was revealed that Wolverine's healing ability also slowed his aging and that he was at least a generation older than he looked.

The Canadian government decided that they wanted Weapon X back. First they sent Weapon Alpha (later renamed Vindicator) to retrieve him. Later the X-Men fought a Canadian team of superheroes, Alpha Flight. Their goal was to retrieve Wolverine. Along the way we learned that Wolverine had anger issues.

In 1982, Frank Miller and Chris Claremont did a Wolverine mini-series that was the defining version of the character including the line, "I'm the best there is at what I do but what I do isn't very nice."

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