Nobody truly stays dead in mainstream superhero comics. Some way, somehow, from the Punisher to Jean Grey, they always come back. That's why most fans rolled their eyes at the Death of Wolverine truly being the end for Logan in the fall 2014. However, we were without his presence for nearly three years before he first reappeared more than a year ago in Marvel Legacy #1.
Now, Marvel is finally offering up some answers: It's just released Return of Wolverine #5 and Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1, which finally explain how and why Wolverine is alive.
It’s taken nearly 18 months to deliver some of those answers, but readers are now getting an explanation for his return in the pages of the five-issue miniseries Return of Wolverine #5, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Steve McNieven, and Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1, by Gerry Duggan and Andy MacDonald, which both just hit stores late last week. (Spoiler warning: Key plot details from the issues are revealed below.)
In Wolverine: Infinity Watch, Marvel finally breaks down Wolverine’s convoluted situation by dropping a major revelation: There have actually been two Wolverines traveling around the 616 Marvel Universe.
(Along the way, Wolverine has mysteriously popped up in a variety of titles that featured many of his fellow Avengers, including Invincible Iron Man #598, Marvel Two-in-One #3, Avengers #680, Amazing Spider-Man #794, The Mighty Thor #703, and Captain America #697, among others.)
Wolverine died back in 2014, but fans will remember that in The Hunt for Wolverine, it was revealed the villain Persephone and her company Soteira stole his corpse from his grave. Now, in Return of Wolverine #5, we learn she brought him back to life and forced him to do black ops. (She did this previously with Omega Red and Logan's son, Daken.)
Additionally, we discover that Logan was able to escape, and he found his way back to Charles Xavier’s School for the Gifted. Unfortunately, it was destroyed. (That, of course, happened in the 10-part weekly event story X-Men Disassembled.)
So where did he end up traveling to? Logan turned out to be inside an illusion created by Loki, who then finds himself with Wolverine — and then another Wolverine arrives, claiming to be the person who stole the Space Stone and give it to Black Widow for safe keeping (which occurred back in Marvel Legacy #1).
This other Wolverine is also the last host of the Phoenix Force, known as “Old Man Phoenix,” and has traveled time and space through the cosmos, killing off dying stars and burning out black holes. Old Man Phoenix traveled back under Loki's orders to ensure the God of Mischief doesn't end up with the Infinity Stones. So, he's to blame for Gamora eventually becoming Requiem, killing Thanos, and powering up the stones herself.
(This also fills in the gap for Old Man Phoenix's appearance in the future-set story of Thor #5, in which he tussles with an older King Thor, who went against natural order and brought life back to Earth. It turns out Logan was ready for the world to end, because he'd done his duty to Loki and wanted to see it all fade to black.)
So, when all is said and done, it appears that now we are back to just one Wolverine in the present day, no longer under the influence of Persephone, as he tells her: "I'm back and I'm Wolverine and that's the way it's gonna be." We've reached the end of the mystery surrounding his return. In other words, we can just get back to him going berserk.