Real Name: James Howlett
Identity/Class: Human mutant cyborg
Occupation: former secret agent, now superhero
Affiliations: former member of Alpha Flight; member of the X-Men; former Canadian government agent; former member of black ops Team X (Sabretooth, Maverick, Silver Fox, Mastodon, Halcon); former member of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen, former member of the Devil's Brigade
Known Relatives: John Howlett (father), Elizabeth (mother), unnamed grandfather, Rancor (potential great great great granddaughter), Wild Thing (potential daughter), Logan (possibly real father), Dog (possibly brother if Logan is his father, Dog may also be the man later known as Sabretooth), Mariko Yashida (fiancee, deceased), Amiko Kobayashi (foster daughter), Viper (ex-wife)
Aliases: Logan; Death, Patch
Base of Operations: X-Men Mansion, Westchester County, New York
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk #180 (1974)
Powers/Abilities: Wolverine has an incredibly powerful regenerative ability. He heals minor injuries in seconds, he ages very slowly, and is able to fight off even the most virulent diseases with ease. His skeleton includes a set of retractable claws sheathed in his forearms. Thanks to his healing factor, he was successfully treated with a bonding process which coated his entire skeleton, including the claws, with an all-but-indestructible metal known as Adamantium. It has been suggested that his healing factor can even affect his memory, wiping out any memory which is too traumatic.
History: Around the late 19th century a sickly child called James was born into the wealthy Howlett family. There was some suggestion that his true father might not be James Howlett Sr, but instead a man called Logan, one of the hired hands who lived on the estate. James grew up alongside Dog, Logan's son, and slightly older girl called Rose who served as his governess. The group's friendship ended when the animalistic Dog attempted to rape Rose. Dog and his father were thrown off the estate. Some time later Logan and Dog returned seeking revenge, murdering James senior and attacking the young boy. Trying to defend himself, young James lashed out...and claws of bone erupted from his knuckles, skewering Logan and badly injuring Dog. Rose took the traumatised James and fled into the night.
They found a Haven in a small mining community in Alberta. When asked the lad's name, Rose said the first one that came into her head - Logan. The newly rechristened boy grew up stronger and healthier now that his mutant abilities had kicked in (not that anyone at that time knew the word mutant), although he was never tall, a legacy of his sickly youth. He appeared to forget the trauma that had driven them there, and Logan found the wilderness appealed to his new abilities. Eventually though, some years later, Dog tracked them down, seeking to kill "Logan" for slaying his father. For the second time Logan displayed his claws, but when Rose tried to intervene in the fight, Logan inadvertently impaled her. After she died, Logan fled into the wilds, where he lived like an animal for several years, forgetting his past, and that he had claws.
The next few decades are unclear - Logan himself seems to be uncertain of what happened to him at this time, in part because of his healing factor seemingly interfering in his memory to protect him from the traumas he had endured, in part because he would later have false memories implanted during his years as a secret agent.
He may have had a relationship with a woman known as Silver Fox around this time, but since the memories of all involved in this recollection are known to have been tampered with, this is not certain. Evidence and accounts of other, hopefully reliable witnesses, suggest he spent some time in Madripoor, making friends with some of the employees of Landau, Luckman and Lake. He apparently encountered the adventurer Puck some time in the 1930's. And he worked as an Allied agent during the Second World War, encountering both Captain America and the youthful Natasha Romanova (Black Widow), as well as possibly being part of the Devil's Brigade. He also spent some time in Japan, where he trained with the ninja Ogun.
Things become cloudier come the 1950s and 60s, when Logan appeared to become involved in espionage. Around this time it seems Logan allowed false memories to be implanted hypnotically in the event that he should be captured and interrogated. Unfortunately later incidents would trigger these false recollections, making Logan increasingly uncertain how much of his memories are real. It seems he did work as a member of a covert group known as Team X, which is probably where he picked up the codename Wolverine for the first time. His fellow teammates were probably Sabertooth, Maverick, Silver Fox, Wraith and Mastodon, but since all of them received memory implants, this can't be guaranteed to be true. It seems that his work with Team X led to Logan being forcibly recruited as a guinea pig for the Weapon X project (recent information suggests this was the "Weapon 10" project, a continuation of the Western powers plans to create a perfect supersoldier, with Captain America, the first supersoldier, being Weapon 1). Logan was kidnapped and subjected to a process which attached Adamantium to his skeleton, but the pain from the procedure seemingly both caused him to display his claws once more, and also to (temporarily) lose his humanity. He escaped, and fled once more into the wilderness.
He was encountered some time later by James MacDonald Hudson and his new wife Heather, who were on their honeymoon in Wood Buffalo National Park. They managed to subdue him when he attacked them, and nursed him back to health, helping him find his humanity once more. Hudson worked for Department H, a section of the Canadian government which was trying to recruit a team of superhumans to defend Canada in the wake of all the other superhuman threats arising around the globe. Logan became a member of Department H, and was tipped to lead the team of superhumans, codenamed Alpha Flight. They gave him the title Weapon X (suggesting someone knew the truth behind the process he had undergone), though the amnesiac Logan preferred to be called Wolverine, apparently subconsciously recalling his former codename. While Alpha Flight was still in formation, Logan was sent out solo to deal with the Hulk, who had strayed into Canada. Wolverine ended up fighting both the Hulk and the Wendigo, and it was likely this scrap which brought him to the attention of Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men.
When the original team of X-Men went missing during a mission, Wolverine was one of a number of mutants Professor X approached with the view to forming a new team, to rescue their predecessors. Eager to be freed from the bureaucratic constraints working for a government imposed, Logan accepted. Although his argumentative personality and animalistic side initially caused problems within the ranks of the team, Wolverine soon became a valued member and good friend of the other X-Men, even being seen as something of a mentor by some of the younger members who later joined. He resisted a couple of forceful attempts by Alpha Flight to retrieve him, before settling his differences with his former employers. During a mission in Japan, Logan met and fell in love with Mariko Yashida, and nearly married her before manipulation by the villain Mastermind caused her to call the wedding off. Although she was later freed from Mastermind's psychic control, Mariko felt she needed to redeem herself before she could once more agree to marry him. The two remained deeply in love though, even adopting a young girl Amiko who was orphaned by an alien monster which attacked Tokyo. Sadly their chance for happiness together was ended when Mariko was poisoned by an assassin, and with no hope of a cure, Logan was forced to kill her to spare her a painful and protracted death.
Wolverine and his teammates finally discovered that his claws were not implants after Magneto used his power over metal to literally rip the Adamantium out of Wolverine's body through the pores. This overloaded Wolverine's healing factor, which initially shut down after saving his life from the injuries Magneto had inflicted, then went into overdrive, turning him even more feral than he had ever been. An attempt by the supervillain Genesis to rebond Adamantium to Wolverine's skeleton backfired, and Wolverine became extremely bestial, guided by instinct and unable to speak. Eventually, his healing factor and help from his friend's restored his humanity once more. Wolverine would however regain his Adamantium bones eventually, when Apocalypse successfully operated on him, and temporarily brainwashed him into becoming the newest incarnation of Death in Apocalypse's Four Horsemen.
Wolverine remains one of the mainstays of the X-Men.
Comments: Created by Len Wein, who needed a Canadian hero to fight the Hulk.
Mike Murphy points out that "As originally planned by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and Romita Sr., Wolvie was meant to be barely into his 20s, superstrong on Spidey's level, really really resistant to injury, and the metal claws were built into the glove/gauntlets."
When Wein was later asked to create a new team of X-Men, he decided to include Wolverine, who might otherwise have been a one-shot character. When Chris Claremont replaced Wein, Wolverine began to develop, but it was when penciller John Byrne, himself a Canadian, came on board, that Wolverine really took off, as Byrne effectively adopted the character, refusing to let him be killed off or sidelined. A knock-on effect of Wolverine's growing prominence was the creation of his former teammates in Alpha Flight, trying to get back their prodigal son - so Wolverine indirectly was responsible for the creation of many of the Canadian characters in Marvel Comics who would later come out of Alpha Flight's own series.
For decades Wolverine's past was kept hidden and mysterious, adding to his mystique and popularity. His true name and origin have only recently been revealed.
Wolverine has turned up in all the different incarnations of the X-Men cartoons to date. He is also one of the main focuses of all four X-Men live action movies, portrayed by the excellent Hugh Jackman.
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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