Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Wolverine (a.k.a. Logan; birth name James Howlett) is a Marvel Comics superhero, best known as a member of the X-Men. He first appeared in Incredible Hulk #181 (1974). Since the 1990s, he has been the most popular Marvel character other than Spider-Man.
A mutant, Wolverine possesses enhanced senses and the ability to heal rapidly. But his most impressive features are likely his six retractable claws, which extend from the back of each hand. The foot-long claws are laced in an unbreakable metal alloy adamantium, a metal bonded to his entire skeleton.
A gruff and often vicious character, Wolverine helped forge the mold for comic book anti-heroes. His willingness to kill, his efforts to come to terms with his shady past and his angst-filled inner conflicts have become standard for anti-heroes.
Wolverine was created by Len Wein and John Romita Sr., although Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the creative team behind the heyday of Uncanny X-Men, are more responsible for developing his character. Wolverine has been a part of the X-Men since 1975 and has been featured in his own solo series since 1988. He has also been a central part of X-Men animated series and films.
Wolverine first appeared in Incredible Hulk #180 (October 1974), albeit only in the final panel of the issue, which was written by Len Wein and illustrated by Herb Trimpe . His full appearance in the next issue, #181 (November 1974), is considered by some to be his true first appearance. Wolverine wore a yellow-and-blue costume, which didn't particularly resemble a true wolverine, and was designed by John Romita, Sr., and sported foot-long metal claws. His first story left his nature somewhat ambiguous: he was an agent of the Canadian government with superhuman powers, but later basic facts about the character - his lack of knowledge about his personal history, or his claws being a part of his body rather than part of his gloves - had not been established.
Wolverine next appeared in Giant-Sized X-Men #1 (1975), a special in which he joined the "All-New, All-Different" X-Men. Written by Wein and drawn by Dave Cockrum (who changed the headgear in Wolverine's costume somewhat), the issue was successful enough to revive the then-defunct X-Men comic book series, starting with #94 (August 1975), drawn by Cockrum but written by Chris Claremont. Although a part of the team from the start, Wolverine was initially overshadowed by the other characters, and Claremont considered dropping the character later early in the series.
Cockrum's departure from X-Men and replacement by John Byrne resulted in Wolverine's character being better fleshed-out. Himself a Canadian, Byrne balked at the suggestion of dropping a Canadian character from the book and instead offered various story ideas that took advantage of this character. One of them involved creating Alpha Flight, a group of Canadian superheroes, who tried to recapture Wolverine due to the expense the Canadian government incurred in training him. Wolverine's murky past was gradually fleshed out, as was his essentially unstable nature, which he tried to keep in check. He and team leader Cyclops often clashed, and Wolverine had a crush on Cyclops' then-true love, Jean Grey. Byrne also designed a new, brown-and-tan costume for Wolverine, though keeping the distinctive Cockrum-designed headgear. These elements were successful and the readers' interest in the character began to climb significantly. Following Byrne's departure, Wolverine remained a member of the X-Men, his destiny controlled by Claremont. By this point he was becoming one of the most popular characters in comics, and appeared in his own mini-series Wolverine (#1-4 by Claremont and Frank Miller, September - December 1982) and in Kitty Pryde and Wolverine (#1-6 by Claremont and Al Milgrom , November 1984 - April 1985).
Wolverine finally graduated to his own ongoing series with Wolverine #1 (by Claremont and John Buscema, November 1988). Since then he has remained an active member of the X-Men, has appeared in his own series, and in several side series. Most notable of the side stories are Weapon X (by Barry Windsor-Smith in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84, 1991), and Origin #1-6 (by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins and Adam Kubert , 2002), both of which filled in significant portions of his past.
Many Wolverine stories - with and without the X-Men - have been collected as standalone graphic novels.
Wolverine first appeared as a Canadian superhero fighting the monsters The Incredible Hulk and the Wendigo, as an agent of the government attempting to stop the rampage of both creatures. Small, strong, and vicious, Wolverine was able to fight both creatures to a standstill.
Soon after that adventure he was recruited by Professor X to join the second incarnation of the X-Men, resigning from his position in Canada over his superiors' objections. Over the following year Wolverine was revealed to be a mutant whose skeleton had been laced with the unbreakable metal adamantium. With his strong, passionate, and volatile personality, Wolverine often clashed with the X-Men's leader Cyclops. Given to berserker rages in combat, he slowly learned how to control his animalistic tendencies. He is, however, more willing to kill his enemies than the other X-Men.
Wolverine was gradually revealed as a man who had forgotten his past: He had been transformed by a project called Weapon X, which had added the adamantium to his body. He had then been adopted by James and Heather Hudson into their project which eventually became Alpha Flight. Intended to eventually lead that team, when he departed to join the X-Men he precipitated James Hudson's adoption of the identity of Weapon Alpha (later Vindicator and then Guardian), and a lengthy and often hostile effort where Alpha Flight tried to bring Wolverine back to Canada, while Wolverine attempted to retain his freedom. Wolverine would eventually make peace with Hudson and Alpha Flight, while remaining a member of the X-Men.
Bits of Wolverine's nature surfaced over time: He could read and speak Japanese, he had a strong sense of personal honor, he became close friends with his teammate Nightcrawler, despite their many differences. He went by the name "Logan", without a surname, but it was unclear whether this was his real name. Wolverine became romantically interested in Cyclops' true love, Jean Grey, but the interest was never truly reciprocated. He later met and became engaged to Lady Mariko Yashida of a Japanese crime family. He was forced to kill her father in a duel and single-handedly destroyed his crime cartel. Mariko and Logan became estranged due to the strange honor customs of her family, and the manipulations of the villain Mastermind. Once they were finally reunited she was poisoned by Reiko, an assassin for the Yakuza. She begged Wolverine to end her life quickly rather than let her die a slow and painful death from the toxin, and he obeyed by using his claws to end her life. This changed Wolverine's character significantly, making him more disciplined and emotionally distant.
At some point in the 1990s the adamantium in Wolverine's skeleton was forcibly removed by the supervillain Magneto, who had retaliated in response to Wolverine's attempt to kill him. Following this, Genesis kidnapped Wolverine and attempted to re-bond the metal to his skeleton. This was unsuccessful and caused Wolverine's mutation to accelerate out of control. He was temporarily changed into a semi-sentient beast-like form. In this form Wolverine was physically more powerful than he had ever been before, and far less stable, killing Genesis in the process. Finally, the villain Apocalypse kidnapped Wolverine, brainwashed him, and had the adamantium rebonded to his skeleton successfully. Wolverine overcame Apocalypse's brainwashing and returned to the X-Men.
Wolverine's early life has been revealed gradually over time. His time as a captive and subject of the Weapon X project has been revealed as a time when he was entirely at the mercy of his dark, savage side. Finally, the story of his childhood was told in the miniseries Wolverine: Origin. He was born James Howlett, the son of a wealthy Canadian. When his mutant powers - particularly his claws - developed, he was exiled by his grandfather and became a nomad. It is unclear how much Wolverine recalls about his past, as his memories have been extensively tampered with.
Today, Wolverine remains an integral part of the X-Men, He is also an officer of the mutant law enforcement agency the X-Treme Sanctions Executive (XSE), and a member of The New Avengers alongside other famous Marvel Comics heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man.
A Skrull working for Apocalypse briefly replaced the real Wolverine to allow the real one to be kidnapped and brainwashed. Due to mental programming to allow him to take the place of the real Wolverine without alerting the X-Men's telepaths, he believed himself to actually be Wolverine.
The Skrull imposter of Wolverine was initially created as part of a program initiated by the Skrulls to impersonate Earth's heroes en masse, at the cost of the shapeshifting abilities of those used - instead they would be physically locked into the forms they were imitating, in addition to mental programming designed to make them believe they were the hero in question. Due to the limitations of the process and their technology, however, they could not duplicate most of the abilities in question (e.g., the fake "Nightcrawler" could only pretend to teleport by becoming invisible). After the Skrull homeworld was destroyed by Galactus, Apocalypse found some skrulls and put them to use, including using this process on one of them to cover while they kidnapped the real Wolverine. The limitations meant, however, that "Skrullverine" had no "healing factor" or enhanced senses.
The mental programming was so good that the Skrull took on Wolverine's heroic qualities and died saving several members of the X-Men and the Mannites (super powered children) from being eliminated by Apocalypse's acolyte of Death. The Skrull impostor was killed in mortal combat with Death (who ironically turned out to be the real Wolverine who had also been brainwashed). The development that the Skrull impostor would successfully defend the X-Men was probably contrary to the design of Apocalypse. Although the Skrull impostor was initially a plant, his actions while a member of the group do not really qualify him as a traitor. His death was noble and heroic.
Wolverine is a mutant with a number of both natural and artificial enhancements to his physiology. He regenerates and heals hundreds of times faster than a normal human. Thanks to this superhumanly regenerative "healing factor," he has proven able to completely heal from injuries that result in massive tissue loss, such as severe burns, within moments. Wolverine's healing abilities allow him to recover from practically any type of injury. Over the course of his life, Wolverine's ability to heal himself has developed to much higher levels than when it first emerged, enabling him to not only heal from much more devestating injuries, but to enable him to heal at a much faster pace. Wolverine has demonstrated the ability to regenerate missing organs in the past, such as his eyes. It's been theorized he could regenerate missing or severed limbs, such as arms or legs(and has been hinted at in recent years in some comic book appearances). However, there is no solid evidence to suggest he can, but there is also no solid evidence that he can't.
Other benefits of the healing factor include an immunity to most toxins (except in massive doses) or diseases and greatly improved stamina (he can exert himself at peak levels for days before feeling fatigue). His healing factor retards his aging process to an unknown degree. It is strongly implied that he is well over 100 years old and yet his appearance and physique are unchanged since the peak years of his life (apparently over a century ago). However, the healing factor has also been hypothesized as the cause of his amnesia.
Wolverine also possesses superhumanly acute senses that are comparable to those of certain animals, enabling him to see and hear distant objects more clearly than a normal human, and identify and track someone purely by scent. Although this may be seen as a separate ability, the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, an encyclopedia that was first produced by Marvel Comics in the 1980's, indicates that these heightened senses, which are only slightly less developed than those of Daredevil, are actually a result of his cellular regeneration .
Wolverine's physical appearance also displays number of animal - like mutations, most notably, two canine teeth among his others, and six retractable claws housed within his forearms, which he can release from behind his knuckles (causing bleeding that is rapidly healed by his healing factor). Although claws in the animal kingdom are made of keratin, Wolverine's are made of bone, (which may have been a scientific error on the part of the writer who first established this fact in the 1990's).
Wolverine's skeleton has been molecularly laced with nigh-indestructable metal Adamantium, including the claws housed in his forearms. Due to the adamantium coating (which also maintains the cutting edge), the limiting factor on what he can cut through is based upon his own strength, rather than the resiliency of the claws. The adamantium in his skeleton interferes with his bones' ability to produce red blood cells, but is compensated by his accelerated cellular regeneration. The enhanced tensile strength of his skeleton combined with his constant cellular regeneration, and natural physical strength, grant Wolverine some measure of superhuman strength(probably at least 1 ton). His blows are weighted (similar to using brass knuckles) due to the presence of this metal.
Wolverine possesses some degree of superhuman agility and reflexes as well. He's demonstrated the ability to perform complex feats of body coordination, such as flips and aerial bodily movements, with a degree of ease greater than that of even a highly conditioned athlete, although not as enhanced as someone such as his fellow X-Man, Nightcrawler.
Ultimate Marvel Version
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Wolverine entered the story of Ultimate X-Men as a villain and an assassin who worked for Magneto. Unlike the original Wolverine, he made very quick, very seductive, advances toward Jean Grey, and originally was under orders to kill Charles Xavier. He eventually left a romantic involvement with Jean Grey to allow for Scott ( Cyclops) and Jean, to express genuine endearment toward one another.
Just like the original Wolverine, he possessed keen senses and rapid, almost instant, cellular regeneration. But it seems that numerous criminals had in mind to obtain his adamantium for their own purposes, since that is virtually the only protection from Wolverine's claws, unlike the otherwise rare and expensive formula developed by the government.
The Ultimate Marvel version of Wolverine's archnemesis, Sabretooth, was identical, except that in addition to his sharp nails and teeth, he possessed eight adamantium claws, four that retracted from the back of each hand, just like Wolverine. Sabretooth also was openly proud of his psychotic tendencies, and was Weapon X's only apparent voluntary mutant military officer. Wolverine also ended the terror of Sabretooth quite quickly, by decapitating him in Magneto's arctic headquarters, not relatively long after their initial encounter.
Wolverine also appeared to have an alternate origin as well. According to Captain America's account, he was James Howlett, an officer and a commando for the Canadian military during World War II. It is also claimed by Sabretooth that he had a wife and child, and Sabretooth proudly claimed responsibility for killing them, unlike the original Wolverine, who lived as a single man, (except in a possible future, where he married and had a child with Elektra).
Wolverine has extraordinary hand to hand combat ability, and, alongside individuals like Captain America and The Taskmaster, is considered one of the finest combatants on Earth. He is fluent in English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Lakota, and Spanish. It is also known that he has knowledge of several other foreign languages. He is also an accomplished pilot and extremely well trained in espionage and covert operations. In more recent stories it has been revealed that Wolverine has some skills at computer hacking.
Television and film
His voice was provided by Cathal J. Dodd in the X-Men animated television series, and in a series of video games through the 1990s. In the animated television series X-Men: Evolution, his voice was provided by Scott McNeil.
In the movie tie-in computer game X2: Wolverine's Revenge, his voice was provided by Mark Hamill.
A handful of Wolverine's more notable and colorful foes:
- Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
- Dog Logan
- The Hand
- The Hellfire Club
- Lady Deathstrike
- Mister X
- Omega Red
- The Reavers
- Roughhouse and Bloodscream
- Shingen Harada
- Silver Samurai
- Thomas Logan
- Weapon X
- Wolverine & Rogue movieverse website with official stills
- Wolverine's official page at Marvel Comics
- An Unofficial chronology of his life based on various stories
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