I am an unabashed Wolverine fan, I’ll admit it and no I’m not ashamed. I think the tale of a character who is constantly battling his animal nature with his sense of honor has been fascinating over the years. We’ve seen him lose people he loves, while he cannot die. He’s failed to protect people, lost his mind, his humanity, his adamantium, and a host of friends. Recently, the loss of his healing factor has led Logan down a line of self-doubt, questioning his ability to head up the new Jean Grey school and protect the students. Now, with the final issue of The Death of Wolverine, the old canuk is facing death for the last time.
The story has been building up for over a year now, from the time Wolverine lost his healing factor, and setting the stage for Logan to examine his life in a new way. He’s been beaten and in a way allowed to grow old before he dies. The last four issues were mixed for me. The art and writing were great. Covers were eye-catching, detailed, and poignant. Each of the first three issues gives teasing lead-ins to the next, without giving away too much. My only beef honestly, was that the last issue was too fast. I know that they’ve been building up to this for awhile now, and the death story-line took four whole issues, but the last one still seemed to go by way too fast.
As for the end, trapped in adamantium, killed by one of his biggest assets, I don’t know if I believe it is as permanent as they want us to believe. Besides superheroes not really staying dead, they are already teasing an Old Man Logan series next year, and we’ve seen these in the past. We know that Wolverine exists in the future, but will it be this Wolverine? We’ve seen the Jean Grey of the past be brought into the present, and then coming back from a future which is confusing as hells. Of course, I believe he’ll be back and yes I’m aware this was a gimmick to make money. That doesn’t mean the story wasn’t interesting. So, anyway, go buy the mini-series if you haven’t, take a read and enjoy, while we take a look back at our favorite runt.
Created in 1974 by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita Jr., Wolverine burst onto the scene in an already popular comic series at the time, The Incredible Hulk. His first appearance, as a cameo, came in issue 180, but the iconic issue that everyone remembers is 181. Wolverine gets himself in the middle of a fight between Wendigo and the Hulk, first taking on the green giant, and then the furry shapeshifter. After taking down Wendigo together, Wolverine and the Hulk fight a couple more times before parting ways. It’s an iconic battle between two titans, both truly unable to stop the other. It’s a fight that will play out again in various stories throughout Logan’s tenure in the pages of Marvel Comics, but none will have the same impact on the future of the Marvel universe.
Our next introduction to Wolverine was in Giant X-Men #1, tying him to the team he would be most recognizable in for his entire existence in comics. He’s been on quite a few other teams, most notably Alpha Flight, and various Avengers teams, but it would always be the X-Men and various spin-off X-Titles where he would be most prominent. Wolverine would also become one of the most, if not the most successful solo character to come out of a team at Marvel. Starting in September of 1982 with Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, there was hardly a time where newsstands weren’t graced with a Wolverine title and as far as I can tell few characters that got their start as part of a larger team have seen that sort of following or success on their own.
From his vague, and debated origin to his final brush with the Reaper, Logan has been through a lot of trials and tribulations. I can’t think of any character who has lost as many friends, lovers, and family than Wolverine. Early on Logan faces the murder of his ‘father’, the man who raised him, and kills his real father, the grounds keeper that murdered the man Logan believed to be his dad. His next tragedy comes when he accidentally kills his childhood companion and first love, Rose. These events, though depicted later in Wolverine publications, set the tone for how his life will be. Is it the old adage that God never gives someone more than they can handle, or Wolverine getting torn apart all the time because we, the readers, know he will bounce back. His body and mind heals, so the writer can do just about anything to him and he’ll just keep coming back to do what he does. Some people think this makes Wolverine boring, but to me the story of a man who can’t be killed and watches his life be torn apart over and over is a fascinating one.
So we’ve come to the end of the road, for now, for Wolverine. He’s encased in the very metal that has been one of his greatest weapons. It’s hard to say how long it will last, but I’m sure it won’t be forever. Most authors that work on shared worlds, like Comics, will tell you that killing off a character is always temporary for one specific reason, they’re a business asset. Killing off Wolverine, and leaving him dead, would be like Chevy discontinuing the Corvette. It’s not just a matter of good story and drama, it’s a matter of brands, assets, and money. It seems a little cold to put it like that but in this case it’s true, comic books aren’t the sole property of any one author, so they can’t permanently get rid of Wolverine unless he’s no longer worth the money to write him. That makes this a gimmick, sure, a planned event to make money but honestly what should that matter? If Marvel doesn’t make money they don’t make books for us to read. Personally, I look forward to what’s next. How will this all work out, how will they explain Old Man Logan next year, and the future incarnations of Logan we’ve already seen.