Wolverine as a character is a testament to just how marvelous Marvel Comics can be. His endless popularity has resulted in hundreds of thousands of loyal followers over the years. Wolverine is indeed a character of characters – a truly fascinating depiction of man’s most basic and primal instincts taking over into one very vengeful wolf-like man.
Name: Wolverine; James Howlett (previous); Logan (current)
Appearance: Blue eyes, black hair, Wolf-like characteristics
Abilities: Regenerative healing, superhuman senses, speed and agility, retractable adamantium claws of near indestructible strength, martial arts proficiency
Creators: Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita, Snr; November 1974
A tragic childhood
Young James Howlett was an ailing and unhealthy young boy, even though his parents were extremely wealthy. While his childhood was marred by sickliness and a broken home, James soon found that he was able to heal his body from open wounds. When his father, John Howlett, became ill and unable to care for his family, James was left on their Canadian estate with his mother and older brother John (contrary to the first origins film, James’ brother was not Sabertooth). It was alluded that Thomas Logan, (the estate groundkeeper) was a former lover of James’ mother (which resulted in rumours of James’ true parentage), and in a drunken rage he attempted to take Elizabeth Howlett from the estate, a tragic day which resulted in Logan shooting John Howlett, James’ older brother. James entered the room at this stage, and in a fit of rage, claws of bone erupted from his hands and he attacked Logan (as well as his son Dog, who was a budding sociopath and was left with unsightly scars across his face). Elizabeth Howlett, mourning the loss of her oldest son, took Logan’s gun and shot herself. James left the estate that day with his childhood friend and sweetheart Rose, leaving a vengeful Dog in his wake.
A love turned fatal
Wolverine and Rose fell in love during their travels, but were tracked down by Dog. For the first time in public, James unleashed his bone claws and as he was about to deal Dog the death blow, Rose launched in front of him and James impaled her. She died in his arms. In a fit of rage and remorse, James ran into the forest where he was not heard from or seen for a very long time. When he emerged, he was no longer James Howlett but had become the Wolverine, a ferocious and vengeful beast.
Once the Wolverine emerged from the forest, he was a different man in so many ways. He began travelling around the world in search of something more. He assumed the name Logan and shed the last vestiges of his former life. It was then that he encountered and was taken away by a Dr Cornelius, who was working on a programme for the military named Weapon X. Naturally, Wolverine’s ability to heal from any injury provided the resistance needed for the test subject of Weapon X to actually survive the procedure. It was during this very painful and traumatic procedure that the adamantium was planted into his skeleton, transforming his bone claws into the most resilient alloy known to man. Once this had been completed, Wolverine was brainwashed into becoming an assassin for Weapon X, though over the years he began to fight it. His first mission, however, was to go after the Hulk (not always a good idea, no matter how strong your bones are), and was soon after approached by Charles Xavier who was on a mission of his own to release his students (Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters) who had been captured and were trapped on an island. So began his long relationship with Professor X and his Xmen, which he alternated with his travels in hopes of regaining the memories he lost during the trauma of the Weapon X project.
Contrary to popular belief, Wolverine’s original appearance in the Marvel Universe was not in Xmen, but rather in the Incredible Hulk #180 of 1974. Just imagine these two primal and headstrong heroes butting heads. It was only during the 2001 series of origins that Wolverine’s true origins were established for readers.
Recent (and hopefully very untrue) speculation has emerged that Marvel intends to “kill off” the Wolverine in 2014. All I can say is: Don’t do it! Whatever becomes of Wolverine in the future, his fascinating past always has readers rapt and wanting more.