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Logan, Patch, Weapon X, Death, Agent Ten, Black Dragon, Captain Canada, and James Howlett. With more than 40 years of experience fighting in the pages of Marvel Comics, Wolverine has racked up as many aliases as he has starring books. Of course, that's an exaggeration, since there have been dozens of Wolverine stories, issues, mini-series and arcs within the Marvel Universe over the years. He's died, gone to hell, had his adamantium ripped out and been resurrected more than once, but Wolverine, for all intents and purposes, is forever.
Created by Roy Thomas (the initial concept), Len Wein (the writer), John Romita Sr. (the designer) and Herb Trimpe (the artist), Wolverine made his debut in 1974 in the pages of the Incredible Hulk #180 and #181. According to Thomas, who created the character as a way to lure Canadian readers to Marvel Comics, he only came up with the basics: Wolverine's name, his Canadian heritage, his short stature and that the character should have a truly fierce nature.
"It was Len who came up with the great idea of making his claws of Adamantium (which I liked, naturally, since I'd invented that metal), who did the actual script," Thomas told SYFY WIRE. "John Romita designed the look/costume pretty much independent of Len and me. But certainly, Len did a great job. I knew he would. That's why I had him do the first story rather than someone else. At any rate, in the long run, the most important writer of Wolverine was Chris Claremont, not Len or me... but we were there first."
This week, Wolverine Vol. 7 kicks off with Benjamin Percy and Viktor Bogdanovic taking on the old canucklehead. To mark the occasion, we asked a handful of Marvel creators to pick their favorite Wolverine story, issue or arc. Here's what Matthew Rosenberg, Frank Tieri, Roy Thomas, Axel Alonso, Anne Nocenti, Robbie Thompson, Nick Lowe, Gerry Duggan and Fabian Nicieza had to say.
"WOUNDED WOLF" (UNCANNY X-MEN #205)
Written by Chris Claremont, Art by Barry Windsor Smith
"The first story that popped to mind was a solo Wolverine tale in X-Men. Wolverine has forgotten who he is, and runs into a little girl, Katie Power of Power Pack. That bit, with the tension of the possibly feral Wolverine with his humanity suppressed, and the fear he will hurt the little girl, was a great bit. It reminds me of that moment in the Frankenstein film, when he's with a little girl at a water well — a great monster moment.
Anyway, it's a Chris Claremont story, drawn by Barry Windsor Smith at the top of his game. The story was set in a blizzard and Barry drew these amazing fat snowflakes falling, and he did a complex refracted color scheme. I was the editor of the book, and it was the most detailed coloring I'd ever seen, and I remember being nervous that the color separators would balk at so much extra work, but they did a beautiful job. I guess maybe they got inspired by the challenge Barry gave them!"
- Anne Nocenti (Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil)
ULTIMATE X-MEN #41
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils by David Finch, Inks by Art Thibert, Colors by Frank D'Armata
"My favorite Wolverine issue is Ultimate X-Men #41. I'm sure everyone who's read it remembers it well. It's the story of Wolverine sent into a cave to deal with a young mutant boy whose powers have manifested in tragic and dangerous ways. I don't want to spoil the issue, but for me, this is one of the most heartbreaking and honest visions of not just what it might be like to be a mutant, but also what it means for Wolverine to be who he is.
It's a tense and haunting mix of David Lynch, David Mamet, and Akira Kurosawa, all filtered through the gorgeous art of Finch and unparalleled storytelling of Bendis. It's among the best X-Men comics of all time, the best Marvel comics of all time, and one of my all-time favorite stories."
- Matthew Rosenberg (Uncanny X-Men, Hawkeye: Freefall)
"WEAPON X" (MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #72 - 84)
Written by Barry Windsor Smith, Art by Barry Windsor Smith
"When it comes to Wolverine, there's really nothing I like better than stories involving his mysterious past... and for me, nothing does that better than Barry Windsor Smith's 'Weapon X.' Before that story, comic book readers had only gotten some crumbs when it came to Logan's history... but here 'Weapon X' came along and gave us a whole big bite. A lot of us have done stories involving Wolverine's past, including myself, but to me, we're only just playing catch up to BWS's masterpiece.
And strangely enough, when I was writing Wolverine, I had him facing off with a new version of Weapon X and none other than Barry Windsor Smith himself ended up doing a sequence that called back to his storyline. I'm really not a guy who fanboys much at all but even I had to admit that was really really cool. I mean, I can say Barry Windor f***in' Smith worked on a Weapon X story with me. How cool is that? Still one of the highlights of my career.
- Frank Tieri (Wolverine Vol. 2, Weapon X Vol. 2)
WOLVERINE VOL. 1
Written by Chris Claremont, Pencils by Frank Miller, Inks by Josef Rubinstein, Colors by Glynis Wein
"My favorite Wolverine story is probably the original Claremont/Miller limited series. I thought it was a beautiful combination of a writer and artist peaking together on the perfect character. It beautifully expounded and expanded on Wolverine's character.
- Fabian Nicieza (X-Force, Wolverine vs. Deadpool)
"It wasn't a superhero story. It was a Samurai tale. That's why. "
- Axel Alonso (Former Marvel editor-in-chief)
WOLVERINE #75 (VOL. 2)
Written by Larry Hama, Pencils by Adam Kubert, Inks by Mark Farmer, Dan Green and Mark Pennington, Colors by Steve Buccellato
"This is so hard to pick! There are so many great ones. One that sticks out in my mind is from Wolverine #75 after Wolverine was stripped of the adamantium by Magneto. He barely lived through it and he's Wolverine. Earlier in the issue, we learned that he had bone claws (quite the revelation) but toward the end he's talking to Jubilee and he pops his bone claws and it's painful and she asks if it's always like this. He says something to the effect of 'Every damn time.' I was stunned by the idea that something I'd seen Wolverine do hundreds of times was something that was incredibly painful, but he bore it and hid it the whole time so that he could help people."
- Nick Lowe (Marvel Editor)
UNCANNY X-MEN #133
Written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Pencils by John Byrne, Inks by Terry Austin, Colors by Glynis Wein
"Uncanny X-Men #133. Wolverine fights alone taking on the Hellfire Club. Amazing one-two punch of a cover and a splash page. The rest of the X-Men were flat on their ass, and the guy that was hucked into a sewer and left for dead crawled out of the much to throw a surprise stabbing party. What's not to love?"
- Gerry Duggan (Marauders, Deadpool)
WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #1
Written by Jason Aaron, Art and Colors by Chris Bachalo, Inks by Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza and Al Vey
"The Claremont/Miller Wolverine, and Barry Windsor-Smith's 'Weapon X,' are both favorites and huge influences, but one of my all-time favorite Wolverine stories/arcs is Wolverine & the X-Men, from Jason Aaron/Chris Bachalo. Wolverine being 'the best at what he does' usually is about what a murder-machine he can be, but I've always loved that there's humanity and empathy at his core as well. It's always been a part of his character, and this series gives that aspect room to shine. And it's built off previous Marvel history, we've seen him mentor younger characters, from Kitty Pryde to Jubilee.
In Wolverine & the X-Men, however, he takes it to the next level. Wolverine is now the headmaster of the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. And his former mentee Kitty is a co-headmaster. It's like Harry Potter, but with Mutants, and Wolverine and Kitty are Dumbledore and McGonagall. The first issue is packed with incredible ideas along with legacy X-Men coming back to teach a whole new generation of fantastic characters. It's a series, and a first issue, that I go back to a lot for inspiration. The lesson of a lot of '80s comics was that things need to be 'dark' to be interesting. And I love dark stories! But comics can be both dark and fun, and Aaron, Bachalo and the rest of the crew infuse the series with fun, anchoring it with Wolverine, a monster always on the hunt not just for his prey, but for redemption.
- Robbie Thompson (Meet the Skrulls, Spider-Man/Deadpool)
SECRET DEFENDERS #1
Written by Roy Thomas, Pencils by Andre Coates, Inks by Don Hudson, Colors by John Kalisz
"My favorite Wolverine story would probably be the first story arc in Secret Defenders circa 1993, especially #1. I don't recall if it was the editor's idea or mine to include Wolverine as one of the first crew Dr. Strange assembled, but I was happy to finally write the character. I'll admit, though (as I've done before), that the main reason Secret Defenders #1 is in some ways my favorite among the comic book issues I ever wrote is that it came out at the height of the speculative boom, not long before it collapsed. I wasn't the first choice as writer for the series, I don't think, and the artist was a newcomer, but the print run was about 750,000.
Anyway, the main thing I remember is that Dann and I came back from some little trip somewhere and opened an envelope from Marvel and found there a check for that issue and two or three others including Fantastic Four Unlimited #1. The check was for $43,000 and change. We did a double take. A few thousand of that was for the other comics, but some $38,000 was for Secret Defenders #1. I never got another comic book royalty that was anything like as large, but that was okay.
Sorry if this makes me sound crass. I loved writing Conan, The Avengers, The Invaders, X-Men (when Neal Adams was drawing it), and All-Star Squadron and most of the other stuff I wrote, in descending order, but I never had a bigger thrill than reading that check. Professional writers will understand. You write for a living so, at least up to a point, the more money you make at it, the better you feel you're doing (not that that's anything like 100 percent true, but it's a temptation to feel that way, certainly). Hence my soft spot for Secret Defenders #1 — starring Wolverine, the long-mother version of Spider-Woman whom I liked doing so much, Dr. Strange, et al. And that, for better and for worse, is my favorite Wolverine story."
- Roy Thomas (Former Marvel EIC, Avengers, X-Men), via John Cimino