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Wolverine (comics)

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Wolverine, as depicted on the cover of New Avengers #5 (March 2005)
Art by David Finch
Character name = Wolverine
Real name = James Howlett
Species = Human Mutant
Publisher = Marvel Comics
Debut=The Incredible Hulk #180 (Oct. 1974)
Creators = Len Wein
John Romita, Sr.
Alliances = X-Men
New Avengers
Horsemen of Apocalypse
Alpha Flight
Weapon X
Weapon Plus
Department H
The Hand
New Fantastic Four
Aliases = Logan, Patch, The Ol' Canucklehead, Canada, Weapon X, Weapon Ten, Death, Mutate #9601, Emilio Garra, Weapon Chi, Experiment X, Agent Ten, Peter Richards, Mai' keth, Wolvie
Powers = Regenerative healing factor
Superhuman senses, strength, agility, stamina, and reflexes
Adamantium-laced skeletal structure with retractable claws
Expert martial artist

Wolverine is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Incredible Hulk #180 (October 1974) and was created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita Sr., who designed the character, and was first drawn for publication by Herb Trimpe. Wolverine later joined the X-Men's "All New, All Different" roster in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). In May 2008, Wolverine was ranked # 1 out of "Wizard Magazine's Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time". X-Men writer Chris Claremont played a significant role in the character's subsequent development as well as artist/writer John Byrne, who insisted on making the character older than the other X-Men. Frank Miller also helped to revise the character in the early 1980s with the eponymous limited series in which Wolverine's catch phrase, "I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice", was first written.

Born James Howlett and commonly known as Logan, Wolverine is a mutant, possessing animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, retracting bone claws, and a healing factor that allows him to quickly recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin. This healing ability enabled the supersoldier program Weapon X to bond the near indestructible metal alloy adamantium to his skeleton and claws. Wolverine was typical of the many tough anti-authority anti-heroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War; his willingness to use deadly force and his brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book anti-heroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became the clear favorite for fans of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise. Wolverine has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988 and has been a central character in every X-Men adaptation, including animated television series, video games, and the live action 20th Century Fox X-Men film series, in which he is played by Hugh Jackman.


Publication history

Wolverine made his debut in a battle against the Hulk. The Incredible Hulk #181 (Nov 1974). Art by Herb Trimpe.

Wolverine first appeared in the final "teaser" panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (cover date October 1974) written by Len Wein and penciled by Herb Trimpe. The character then appeared in a number of advertisements in various Marvel Comics publications in early July (cover date November) before making his first major appearance in Hulk #181 (cover date November 1974) again by Wein and Trimpe. John Romita, Sr. designed Wolverine's yellow-and-blue costume. The character's introduction was ambiguous, revealing little beyond his being a superhuman agent of the Canadian government. In these appearances, he does not retract his claws, although Len Wein stated they had always been envisioned as retractable. He appears briefly in the finale to this story in Hulk #182.

Wolverine's next appearance was in 1975's Giant-Size X-Men #1, written by Wein and penciled by Dave Cockrum, in which Wolverine is recruited for a new squad. Gil Kane, who drew the cover of the comic, accidentally drew Wolverine's mask wrong, with larger headpieces. Dave Cockrum liked Kane's alteration (believing it to be similar to Batman's mask) and decided to incorporate it into his own artwork for the actual story. Cockrum was also the first artist to draw Wolverine without his mask, and the distinctive hairstyle became a trademark of the character.

A revival of X-Men followed, beginning with Uncanny X-Men #94 (August 1975), drawn by Cockrum and written by Chris Claremont. In Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine is initially overshadowed by the other characters, although he does create tension in the team as he has a crush on Cyclops' girlfriend, Jean Grey. As the series progressed, Claremont and Cockrum (who preferred Nightcrawler) considered dropping Wolverine from the series; Cockrum's successor, artist John Byrne, championed the character, later explaining, as a Canadian himself, he did not want to see a Canadian character dropped. Byrne created Alpha Flight, a group of Canadian superheroes who try to recapture Wolverine due to the expense their government incurred training him. Later stories gradually establish Wolverine's murky past and unstable nature, which he battles to keep in check. Byrne also designed a new brown-and-tan costume for Wolverine, but retained the distinctive Cockrum cowl.

Following Byrne's departure, Wolverine remained in X-Men. The character's growing popularity led to a solo, four-issue limited series, Wolverine (Sept.-December 1982), by Claremont and Frank Miller, followed by the six-issue Kitty Pryde and Wolverine by Claremont and Al Milgrom (November 1984 - April 1985). Marvel launched an ongoing solo book written by Claremont with art by John Buscema in November 1988. It ran for 189 issues. Larry Hama later took over the series and had an extensive run. Other writers who wrote for the two Wolverine ongoing series include Peter David, Archie Goodwin, Erik Larsen, Frank Tieri, Greg Rucka, and Mark Millar. Many popular artists have also worked on the series, including John Byrne, Marc Silvestri, Mark Texeira, Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Rob Liefeld, Sean Chen, Darick Robertson, John Romita, Jr., and Humberto Ramos. During the 1990s, the character was revealed to have bone claws, after his adamantium is ripped out by Magneto in X-Men #25, which was inspired by a passing joke of Peter David's.

In addition to the Wolverine series and appearances in the various X-Men series, two other storylines expand upon the character's past: "Weapon X", by writer-artist Barry Windsor-Smith, serialized in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 (1991); and Origin, a six-issue limited series by co-writers Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins, and Bill Jemas and artist Andy Kubert (November 2001 - July 2002). A second solo series, Wolverine: Origins, written by Daniel Way with art by Steve Dillon, spun out of and runs concurrently with the second Wolverine solo series.

Wolverine's first intended origin

Co-creator Len Wein originally intended for Logan to be a mutated wolverine cub, evolved to humanoid form by the High Evolutionary. In X-Men #98, a biological analysis of Wolverine suggests that he was in some way different from the other X-Men, and in X-Men #103, Wolverine says he doesn't believe in leprechauns, to which the leprechaun replies, "Maybe leprechauns don't believe in talkin' wolverines, either." In a reprint of Hulk #180-181, titled Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, an interview with Cockrum supports the claim that Wolverine was intended to be a mutated wolverine. Cockrum said he considered having the High Evolutionary play a vital role in making Wolverine a human. He wanted Wolverine to be the age of a young adult, with superhuman strength and agility similar to Spider-Man. This changed when Cockrum saw John Romita Sr. draw a mask-less Wolverine as a hairy 40-year-old. Creator Len Wein originally intended the claws to be retractable and part of Wolverine's gloves, and both gloves and claws would be made of adamantium. This idea was later nixed by Claremont because he believed anyone could then become Wolverine by wearing the gloves. The claws are first revealed to be part of Wolverine's anatomy in X-Men #98.

Wolverine's second intended origin

Byrne said (as stated in interviews and on his website) that he drew a possible face for Wolverine - but then learned that John Romita Sr. had already drawn one for him (Wolverine's face, drawn by Cockrum, can be seen in Uncanny X-Men #98, long before Byrne started). Later, Byrne used the drawing for Sabretooth's face (an enemy of Iron Fist, who Claremont was also currently writing). Byrne then came up with the idea of Sabretooth being Wolverine's father (they both had similar healing abilities and raging tempers). Together, Byrne and Claremont came up with Wolverine being around 60 and having served in World War II after escaping from Sabretooth (who was around 120 years old and had been abusing him for decades - explaining his rages). The plan had been for Wolverine to have been almost crushed in an accident; at which point he would discover (when attempting to stand for the first time after recovering) that his healing factor does not work on bones - his legs immediately break. He then spends over a decade in a hospital bed, almost going mad (another reason for his berserker rages) when the Canadian Government approaches him with the idea of replacing his skeleton one bone at a time with solid adamantium - the claws being an extra surprise. This origin too was never used.

Fictional character biography

James Howlett in Origin #2.

Born in 19th century Canada to rich plantation owners, James Howlett grows into manhood on a mining colony in Northern Alberta, adopting the name "Logan", which is the last name of the plantation groundskeeper, Thomas Logan and his son Dog. Logan leaves the colony and lives for a time in the wilderness among wolves, until returning to civilization, residing with the Blackfoot Indians. Following the death of his Blackfoot paramour, Silver Fox, he is ushered into a Canadian military unit. Logan then spends some time in Madripoor, developing his "Patch" persona; before settling in Japan, where he marries and has a son.

During World War II, Logan teams with Captain America versus HYDRA, and continues a career as a soldier-of-fortune/adventurer. Logan works for the First Canadian Parachute Battalion and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before being recruited for Team X.

As a member of Team X, Logan is given false memory implants. He continues on the team, until he is able to break free of the mental control and joins the Canadian Defense Ministry. Logan is subsequently kidnapped by Weapon X, where he remains captive and experimented on, until his rescue by the Winter Soldier, after which he returns to the Canadian wilderness.

Logan is eventually discovered by James and Heather Hudson, who help him recover his humanity. Following his recovery, Logan, this time under the supervision of Department H, once again works for Canadian Intelligence. Logan becomes Wolverine, one of Canada's first superheroes. In his first mission, he is dispatched to stop the destruction caused by a brawl between the Hulk and the Wendigo.

Professor X recruits Wolverine to a new team of X-Men. Disillusioned with his Canadian intelligence work and intrigued by Xavier's offer, Logan resigns from Department H. Logan continues to adventure as a superhero, eventually recovering his memories.

In X-Men #25 (1993), at the culmination of the "Fatal Attractions" crossover, the supervillain Magneto forcibly removes the adamantium from Wolverine's skeleton. This massive trauma causes his healing factor to burn out and also leads to the discovery that his claws are actually bone. Wolverine leaves the X-Men for a time, embarking on a series of adventures during which his healing factor returns, greatly increased in speed and efficiency. After his return to the X-Men, Cable's son Genesis kidnaps Wolverine and attempts to re-bond adamantium to his skeleton. This is unsuccessful and causes Wolverine's mutation to accelerate out of control. He is temporarily changed into a semi-sentient beast-like form in which he gains greater physical power than ever before, at the price of part of his humanity; he kills Genesis shortly after this occurs. Finally, the villain Apocalypse captures Wolverine, brainwashes him, and has the adamantium re-bonded to his skeleton successfully. Wolverine overcomes Apocalypse's programming and returns to the X-Men.

Powers and abilities

Wolverine is a mutant with a number of both natural and artificial improvements to his physiology. His primary mutant power is an accelerated healing process, typically referred to as his mutant healing factor, that regenerates damaged or destroyed areas of his body far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human. This renders him virtually immune to nearly all toxins and diseases. However, he still suffers the immediate effects of such substances; he has been shown to become intoxicated after significant dosages of alcoholic beverages, and has been incapacitated on several occasions with drugs and poisons. Although his body heals, the healing factor doesn't supress the pain he endures while injured.

Depictions of the speed and extent of injury to which Wolverine can heal vary. Originally, this was portrayed as accelerated healing of minor wounds, but writers have steadily increased this ability over the years. After several years, Wolverine's healing factor was depicted as healing severe wounds within a matter of days or hours. Other writers went on to increase Wolverine's healing factor the point that it could fully regenerate nearly any damaged or destroyed bodily tissues. One of the more extreme examples of Wolverine's healing factor shows the total regeneration of his soft body tissue, within a matter of minutes, after having it incinerated from his skeleton. Wolverine survives the explosion due to the protection his adamantium-laced skull provides to his brain. It has been stated in the Xavier Protocols, a series of profiles created by Xavier that lists the strengths and weaknesses of the X-Men, that Wolverine's healing factor is increased to "incredible levels" and that the only way to stop him is to decapitate him and remove his head from the vicinity of his body. It was also noted that the only thing that was able to slow his healing ability was carbonadium. His healing factor also dramatically slows his aging process; despite being born in the late 1800s, he has the appearance and vitality of a man in his physical prime. Though he now has all of his memories, his healing abilities can provide increased recovery from psychological trauma by suppressing memories in which he experiences profound duress.

Wolverine's mutation also consists of animal-like adaptations of his body, including pronounced canines and three retractable claws housed within each forearm. While originally depicted as bionic implants created by the Weapon X program, the claws are later revealed to be a natural part of his body. The claws are not made of keratin, as claws tend to be in the animal kingdom, but extremely dense bone, and can cut substances as durable as most metals, wood, and some varieties of stone. Wolverine's hands do not have openings for the claws to move through: they cut through his flesh every time he extrudes them.

Wolverine's entire skeleton, including his claws, is molecularly infused with adamantium, rendering it practically indestructible. Due to their adamantium coating, his claws can cut almost any known solid material. The only known exceptions are adamantium itself and Captain America's shield, which is composed of the only substance in the Marvel Universe known to be even more durable than adamantium. Wolverine's ability to slice completely through a substance depends upon both the amount of force he can exert and the thickness of the substance. The adamantium also weights his blows, dramatically increasing the effectiveness of his offensive capabilities.

Wolverine's healing factor also affects a number of his physical attributes by increasing them to superhuman levels. His stamina is sufficiently heightened to the point he can exert himself for numerous hours, even after exposure to powerful tranquilizers. Wolverine's agility and reflexes are also enhanced to levels that are beyond the physical limits of the finest human athlete. Due to his healing factor's constant regenerative qualities, he can push his muscles beyond the limits of the human body without injury. This, coupled by the constant demand placed on his muscles by over one hundred pounds of adamantium, grants him some degree of superhuman strength. Since the presence of the adamantium negates the natural structural limits of his bones, he can lift or move weight that would otherwise damage a human skeleton. He has been depicted breaking steel chains, lifting several men above his head with one arm and throwing them through a wall and lifting Ursa Major over his head before tossing him across a room.

Wolverine's senses of sight, smell, and hearing are all superhumanly acute. He can see with perfect clarity at greater distances than an ordinary human, even in near-total darkness. His hearing is enhanced in a similar manner, allowing him to both hear sounds ordinary humans can't and also hear to greater distances. Wolverine is able to use his sense of smell to track targets by scent, even if the scent has been eroded somewhat over time by natural factors. This sense also allows him to identify shapeshifting mutants despite other forms they may take.

Due to high level psionic shields implanted by Professor Charles Xavier, Wolverine's mind is highly resistant to telepathic assault and probing. Wolverine's mind also possesses what he refers to as "psychic scar tissue" created by so many traumatic events over the course of his life. It acts as a type of natural defense, even against a telepath as powerful as Emma Frost.

Skills and personality

During his time in Japan and other countries, Wolverine becomes an expert of virtually all forms of martial arts and is familiar with and experienced in virtually every fighting style on Earth. He is proficient with most weaponry, including firearms, though he is partial to bladed weapons. He has demonstrated sufficient skills to defeat the likes of Shang-Chi and Captain America in single combat. He also has a wide knowledge of the body and pressure points. He is also an accomplished pilot and highly skilled in the field of espionage and covert operations.

Wolverine will sometimes lapse into a "berserker rage" while in close combat. In this state he lashes out with the intensity and aggression of an enraged animal and is even more resistant to psionic attack. Though he loathes it, he acknowledges that it has saved his life many times. Despite his apparent ease at taking lives, he does not enjoy killing or giving into his berserker rages. Logan adheres to a firm code of personal honor and morality.

In contrast to his brutish nature, Wolverine is actually extremely intelligent. Due to his increased lifespan, he has traveled the world and amassed extensive knowledge of foreign languages and cultures. He can speak English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Spanish, Arabic, and Lakota; he also has some knowledge of French, Thai, Vietnamese, German, Italian and Portuguese. When Forge monitors Wolverine's vitals during a Danger Room training session, he calls Logan's physical and mental state "equivalent of an Olympic-level gymnast performing a gold medal routine while simultaneously beating four chess computers in his head."

Wolverine is frequently depicted as a gruff loner, often taking leave from the X-Men to deal with personal issues or problems. He is often irreverent and rebellious towards authority figures, though he is a reliable ally and capable leader. He has been a mentor and father figure to several younger women, especially Jubilee and Kitty Pryde, and has had romantic relationships with numerous women (most notably Mariko Yashida), as well as a mutual but unrequited attraction to Jean Grey, leading to jealous run-ins with her boyfriend (later husband), Scott Summers.

Though he is a skilled combatant, Wolverine is frequently depicted entering combat situations in which he willingly allows himself to sustain injuries that would permanently cripple or kill those without sufficiently enhanced healing capabilities. In such situations, he relies on his healing factor and adamantium skeleton to handle the damage. He is also depicted on occasion deliberately injuring himself or allowing himself to be injured for varying reasons including freeing himself from capture, intimidation, strategy, or simply indulging his feral nature. Despite having an almost superhuman pain tolerance, he does not enjoy being hurt and sometimes has to work himself up for situations where extreme pain is certain.

Other versions

As one of Marvel's flagship characters, Wolverine has seen many adaptations and re-imaginings. For example, an issue of Exiles featured a planet of Wolverines. In the Marvel Mangaverse, Wolverine is even the founder of the X-Men. In Marvel Zombies, Wolverine appears zombified alongside Marvel's other major players. The Ultimate Marvel line of comics sought to ingrain Wolverine into its Ultimate X-Men title from the onset. The latest alternate version is seen in the Old Man Logan storyline set in an alternate timeline 50 years into the future where the world's superhuman heroes are dead. In this timeline, Wolverine has aged considerably and has become a pacifist. The story is currently ongoing.

In other media

Wolverine is the only X-Men character to be included in every media adaptation of the X-Men franchise, including film, television, computer and video games, and is the only one to have starred in his own video games (e.g., X2: Wolverine's Revenge).

Marvel Studios recently announced that an X-Men spin-off movie based on Wolverine, titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is currently in production and will have Hugh Jackman reprise his role as Wolverine. Gavin Hood will be directing the film, which will be released worldwide on May 1, 2009. Troye Mellet will play the young Wolverine. In the game Marvel Ultimate Alliance Wolverine stars as one of the four main heroes, with the others being Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor respectively. He is also a playable character in the games X-Men Legends I & II.



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