The Complete History of Wolverine: Cheating Fate
Part 5! The conclusion to Wolverine’s comics history... but the journey has just begun.
Hello again! We took a small break in Madripoor, but now we’re back to give you the final part of Wolverine’s history.
We’ve seen Wolverine as a mercenary, a spy, a covert operative, a Weapon X project, and a (brief) member of Alpha Flight. The last aspect that was discussed in Part 4 was Wolverine becoming an X-Man and falling head over heels with Mariko Yashida. Infinity Comics series LIFE OF WOLVERINE, now on the Marvel Unlimited app, further explores Wolverine’s time as a member of the X-Men, his relationship with Mariko, and his lost memories. There are highs, and many lows, but through it all, he is still Wolverine.
Remember the Hellfire Club? Mentioned back in Part 3? Well, this elite organization isn’t in the background anymore—they’re front and center! When they notice Phoenix (Jean Grey) and her immense power, the Club works overtime to convert her into the Black Queen. Her mind is warped by Mastermind, slowly but surely turning her against the X-Men. Some members are even captured by the evil organization, which includes Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine. The latter is able to escape the hellish club, by accident, when the floor under him collapses in a fight with Harry Leland and drops him into the sewers in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #132. In UNCANNY X-MEN #133, Wolverine returns with a vengeance, knocking out soldiers left and right. He’s almost destroyed by the brainwashed Phoenix in the following issue, but thankfully she breaks from Mastermind’s mind control—giving him a taste of his own medicine at a god-level—and frees the X-Men, only making Wolverine fall for her more. Yeah, about that…
Not too long after the tiff with the Hellfire Club, the X-Men are teleported into space by none other than the Shi’ar Empire in UNCANNY X-MEN #137. Why? Jean, Dark Phoenix at the time, not only destroyed a Shi’ar warship but consumed a populated star called D’Bari. Once the star was gone, so were its five billion inhabitants. Her punishment is death, and of course, Wolverine doesn’t agree with it, noting that “she can’t be held responsible for Phoenix’s actions.” He, along with the other X-Men, fight for Jean’s freedom in a duel against the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. In the midst of the battle, Wolverine traverses through different places, including the one that harbors the Watcher. Whoa! Even with all the effort from the X-Men to keep Jean alive, she decides to sacrifice herself for the greater good. A funeral is held for her in UNCANNY X-MEN #138. Instead of embracing familiar tendencies—rage, for example—Wolverine turns towards a way less destructive path.
TO LOVE AGAIN?
The Hellfire Club isn’t the only blast from Wolverine’s past. Mariko returns into his life in UNCANNY X-MEN #143 to visit him during Christmastime, and he officially refers to her as his lady. It’s also in this issue that Nightcrawler almost faces Wolverine’s unbridled fury when he holds mistletoe over Mariko’s head. Good thing the other X-Men are there to calm him down!
But something horrible happens to this love connection. In the first issue of the WOLVERINE (1982) limited series, Wolverine learns that Mariko has been married off to a crime boss named Noburu-Hideki by her father, Shingen. Duty-bound to her father, Mariko can’t leave with Wolverine, and he decides to return to the United States. Except, he doesn’t make it to the airport. Wolverine is hit with poisoned shuriken, but due to his healing factor, he is knocked out instead of instantly killed. This leads into a duel of wooden swords with Shingen, who sneakily tries to strike certain pressure points to end Wolverine. The claws come out as a response, but Mariko believes that Wolverine is trying to kill her father! The irony. Seeing this, Wolverine loses his will to fight, and Shingen wins. Not long after this fight, Wolverine meets Yukio, an assassin hired by Shingen who is immediately enthralled by Wolverine.
Three issues later, Wolverine gets a rematch against Shingen, this time with actual swords. Well, Shingen uses a sword; Wolverine uses his claws. The outcome is different this time, with Wolverine killing Shingen. Mariko gives Wolverine her family’s honor sword, as he has proven his worth. She also reveals to Wolverine that if he hadn’t killed her father, she would have killed him instead, and then herself. The issue ends with Mariko becoming Wolverine’s fiancée and sending a wedding invitation to the X-Men.
But the story is far from over.
In UNCANNY X-MEN #173, the wedding day has finally arrived. The X-Men are present. Wolverine and Mariko are dressed in traditional Japanese wedding garb. Everything’s going well… until Mariko calls the wedding off! But this announcement isn’t made of Mariko’s own volition. What everyone else doesn’t know is that moments before the ceremony, Mariko is placed under mind control by Mastermind. Mariko then calls Wolverine “unworthy” to marry, disrupting their happiness and promised future.
A DIFFERENT SIDE OF WOLVERINE
While with the X-Men, Wolverine experiences growth. He partners with Rogue during UNCANNY X-MEN #173 to stop the Silver Samurai, Mariko’s half-brother (who is working with Viper, a mercenary trained by Hydra) from becoming the new head of the Yashida Clan. Wolverine is extremely indifferent to Rogue because she stole the power and memories of Ms. Marvel: Carol Danvers (MARVEL SUPER HEROES #11 is where you can find that story) and, as stated in Part 3, one of the few people Logan trusts. But Wolverine’s thoughts on the Southern belle change when Rogue takes an attack meant for Wolverine and Mariko. Wolverine isn’t exactly the “forgive and forget” type, so him accepting Rogue, as an X-Man and an ally, is major.
Not long after, Wolverine takes on the role of a teacher during the KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE (1984) series. Ogun, Wolverine’s old master, has imprinted his psyche on Kitty Pryde (a super advanced brainwashing technique), turning her into his ninja. In issue #4, Wolverine teaches her through various, and extreme, methods the idea of choice—“Live or die, struggle or surrender.” Ogun and Wolverine duel each other in the final issue, and when it seems that Ogun has the upper hand, Wolverine goes into berserk mode. However, he doesn’t kill Ogun; he just removes his mask. There, he teaches Kitty another lesson: don’t kill a man when he’s down. Kitty not striking Ogun with the final blow proves, in Wolverine’s words, that “You needed a real victory, darlin’—irrefutable proof that you were you—this was it.” Ogun, stupidly, tries to sneak attack them, but Wolverine wastes no time ending the duel—permanently.
Sometime after, Wolverine is face-to-face with a different villain, Lady Deathstrike. So what’s her deal with him? Well, her father, Lord Dark Wind, is the one who created the adamantium-bonding process that was used on Wolverine during his Weapon X days. To honor her father, Deathstrike plans to retrieve Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton. He didn’t ask to have adamantium bones, but there’s gotta be a better way to go about it! After being beaten by Wolverine previously and becoming a living weapon thanks to Spiral’s modifications, she goes head-to-head with Wolverine in UNCANNY X-MEN #205. Even with her new upgrades, she is still bested by Wolverine, who is shocked at the lengths she went to be more like him. Ashamed, Deathstrike commands Wolverine to mercy kill her, to “let [her] free,” but he declines, leaving her in the cold. Wolverine has a come a long way from the person he used to be.
Wolverine dies. Again. But he’s not the only one. Let us explain.
The X-Men have been transported to an alternate version of the Vietnam War, one filled with monsters! During UNCANNY X-MEN #227 (“The Fall of the Mutants” crossover), a younger Forge is seen chanting over one of his fallen comrades. Forge uses their spirits—nine of them—to summon an archaic evil named Adversary to avenge their deaths. In the present, Wolverine and the others are trying to figure out how to combat Adversary. They reach the Starlight Citadel, and the X-Men go into a full-out assault, but it’s not enough to stop their enemy. Forge suggests that nine souls must be sacrificed to stop Adversary, as nine souls were used to bring him to Earth. So Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Havok, Rogue, Dazzler, Longshot, Psylocke, and Madelyne Pryor are transformed into a “miniature star,” and the energy effectively seals away Adversary. The X-Men are no more.
For, like, a minute.
Roma, the (former) Omniversal Guardian of Otherworld, revives Wolverine and the X-Men and gives them a choice: she can return them to the very moment they left Earth or start their lives over. They choose the latter, and the X-Men set up their new base of operations in Australia.
Since the X-Men are considered dead, Wolverine strikes out on his own (but is still a member of the team) and travels to one of his favorite places, Madripoor, in the first ten issues of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (1988). Wolverine goes there to find “the Tiger,” more specifically, Tyger Tiger. He is held at gun point, tortured, stabbed by Razor Fist, and tossed into the ocean to die. All at separate times. Of course, he survives it all. After everything that happens, Wolverine decides to stay in Madripoor. At the end of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (1988) #10, he becomes Tyger Tiger’s conscience under the Patch alias.
BETTER TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST — ADAPTED FROM WOLVERINE (1988) #57
Some time has passed since Wolverine and Mariko last saw each other. It’s a shame that it couldn’t be under better circumstances.
Mariko has become a major player in the Japanese criminal underworld. While trying to negotiate with the Hand, Mariko’s home is bombarded by their ninja enclave. Luckily, Wolverine, Gambit, and Silver Samurai are there to help her stave them off. Mariko is embarrassed that she still hasn’t split ties between the Yashida Clan and the underworld, but Wolverine reassures her that things happen. She then gives Wolverine his old yellow and brown costume, and he fights on her behalf. Things get wild as Jubilee, a fellow X-Man, and Yukio are being attacked by a cyborg named Cylla. Wolverine doesn’t want to leave his post, but Gambit tells him that he’ll look after Mariko. One strike away from defeating Cylla, Wolverine hears Mariko screaming.
Logan finds out that Mariko has been poisoned with blowfish toxin. The assassin Reiko gives her a proposition from Matsu'o to free the Yashida Clan, and in return, Mariko must cut off one of her fingers. The latter has no clue that the blade was laced with poison, and the former didn’t know that Mariko was Wolverine’s love. (Reiko was indebted to Wolverine.) Mariko, with her final breath, asks Wolverine to take her into the chapel and to end her agony, while her soul “still sings with my love for you.” A lone SNIKT! is heard.
In X-MEN (1991) #25, Magneto, leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (subtle) and Professor X’s antithesis, has detonated an electromagnetic pulse that has destroyed the lives of thousands on Earth. Of course, the X-Men plan to stop him before he causes any more damage. Professor X, Rogue, Gambit, Jean Grey (yes, she’s back), Quicksilver, and Wolverine travel to Magneto’s space station, Avalon, but their element of surprise is thrown out the window when Magneto attacks first. When the Master of Magnetism tries to end his own son’s life—to be “sacrificed for the good of our people”—Wolverine steps in, and everything goes south fast. Furious, Magneto pulls every bit of adamantium out of Wolverine’s body. It’s gruesome and painful for the X-Men present to watch. Unfortunately, the removal of the adamantium causes a domino effect.
After almost killing Sabretooth in WOLVERINE (1988) #90, Wolverine has a more animalistic appearance in the following issue. He doesn’t live in the X-Mansion and is leaning more into his feral tendencies, preferring “trackin’ and huntin’.” According to Xavier, the adamantium actually put Wolverine’s original mutation in remission. Now that it’s gone, his mutation is changing him again. In WOLVERINE (1988) #100, a man named Genesis, who is working for Apocalypse, plans to turn Wolverine into Apocalypse’s First Horseman by bonding adamantium to his skeleton again. The process fails, and Wolverine has been turned into a monster. This, however, makes him susceptible to outside forces, and, in Jean’s words, “old foes bent on revenge.” Viper, Cyber, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Bloodscream, Onslaught, and Apocalypse, to name a few. It seems that Wolverine will be stuck in this beastly form forever, but with some help and guidance, he eventually returns to his human, but still aggressive, self.
AGENT OF DEATH
Apocalypse hasn’t forgotten about Wolverine and is very much still interested in making him one of his Horsemen. In WOLVERINE (1988) #145, Wolverine is covertly replaced with a Skrull and is forced to duel Sabretooth. Whoever wins becomes the Horseman of Death. Knowing that he could break Apocalypse’s programming, and that giving more power to Sabretooth would be a terrible idea, Wolverine wastes no effort in defeating his perpetual foe. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Once the other X-Men realize that the real Wolverine is Death (and not a Skrull; see UNCANNY X-MEN #375 for that reveal!), they strive to save him in WOLVERINE #146. Archangel, Psylocke, Kitty Pryde, and Jubilee, with varying degrees of success, try to free Wolverine from Apocalypse’s control, and they triumph in bringing their friend back to the X-Men.
Just because Wolverine is back with the X-Men doesn’t deter evil people from wanting to utilize him as their weapon. The Hand and Hydra collaborate to turn Wolverine back into a killing machine in the “Enemy of the State” arc (2003’s WOLVERINE #20-31). And still unbeknownst to him, Romulus is pulling all the strings in the shadows. With each attempt, Wolverine only remembers glimpses of his past. Essentially, he’s a thousand-piece puzzle missing 90% of the pieces.
And then, the HOUSE OF M crossover happens.
Wanda Maximoff, more famously known as the Scarlet Witch, created an alternate reality in which the world is ruled by mutants, and Magneto and his family—the House of M—are sovereign. In this world, the heroes are granted their greatest wish, and Wolverine’s desire is to regain his memories pre-Weapon X. He not only gets his wish, but he’s also one of the few people in this new world who remembers the world before. Wolverine (with help from X-Factor’s Layla Miller) restores his allies’ memories one by one. In the penultimate issue, Wanda utters, “No more mutants.” In HOUSE OF M (2005) #8, the world returns to the way it was before it was warped, but now, most of the population of mutants have been depowered. Wolverine has retained his abilities and his memories, which only means one thing: revenge.
To find the one in charge of everything Wolverine has experienced, he needs some answers first. In the “Origins & Endings” arc (WOLVERINE #36-40), he forces some information out of the Silver Samurai, which puts him on a search to find the Winter Solider, AKA Bucky Barnes. It’s revealed that Bucky, under mind control, was the one who murdered Itsu. Wolverine lets Bucky go, for now, as he has bigger fish to fry. At the end of the arc, Wolverine obtains the Muramasa Blade, which is powerful enough to completely halt his healing factor. This begins, well, a trip into Wolverine's origins.
Wolverine faces various points of his past in series WOLVERINE ORIGINS (2006). They come in the form of Nuke, Omega Red, Cyber, Black Widow, and many others. It’s also in this series that Wolverine not only learns that his unborn child is actually alive, but that the same child, Daken, hates him and wants him dead. Surely not the family reunion Wolverine was expecting. It’s inevitable that the two men eventually fight each other, and in issue #48, Wolverine wins, at the cost of removing his son’s wrist claws.
At long last, Wolverine confronts the man who’s been manipulating him for most of his extended life, Romulus. He is a powerful mutant who stole Daken and raised him to become a weapon, as he tried to do with Wolverine. Like father like son. In Romulus and Wolverine’s first bout, Romulus is defeated but manages to escape by knocking Wolverine out with the Muramasa Blade. The second time, Romulus isn’t so lucky. Cloak teleports Romulus to the Darkforce Dimension, and at Wolverine’s request, later strands him there. Wolverine is finally free from Romulus’s influence. Hopefully.
Wolverine has had an immensely tragic history. War, torture, and a lot of death (those he’s caused and his own). But, there have been some bright spots. He becomes a hero, though some might say otherwise. His legacy continues through the people he has mentored (Kate Pryde and Jubilee) and those he saved (Laura Kinney, also Wolverine, and Amiko Kobayashi). He’s an important pillar to mutantkind on Krakoa, always willing to put his life—lives—on the line to protect the mutant nation as part of the Krakoan X-Force. Probably more shocking, after being alive for centuries, he has a family to call his own, biological and chosen. Although Wolverine has loved many, the fear of who he is and the things he has done keeps his heart guarded. “Every blessing and curse” is what makes Wolverine.
And he is the best at what he does, even if isn’t very nice.
Whoa, what a ride it has been! Wolverine’s timeline has been gone through with a fine-toothed comb, but his story is far from done. Can’t get rid of him that easily, bub. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out the series X LIVES OF WOLVERINE (2022) and X DEATHS OF WOLVERINE (2022) in comic shops, and as always, every comic and series mentioned can be found and read on the Marvel Unlimited app!
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