He’s the best in the world at blah blah blah you know the rest. Wolverine is one of the most popular characters in comic book history and many different creative teams have had their take on him and his world. Let’s have a look at the best of the best then shall we. All my opinion of course.
26.And Now….The Wolverine-1974
Why not start at the beginning eh? Wolverine actually made his official debut in the previous issue on the last page but this is the proper debut. Still mysterious obviously as he’s brand new, Wolvie jumps Hulk and they have a barn burner until The Wendigo (very underused character) wanders into the scene and Logan turns his attention to him. A confused Hulk tags up with him and beat the crap out of the immortal monster. It’s a fun issue with a story thrown in about soul transferring which is a bit out there but whatever, it’s the great Len Wein writing and it began the world’s love affair with Wolverine.
25. Wolverine:Manifest Destiny-2008-2009
A love letter to 70s wushu kung fu movie from writer Jason Aaron and artist Stephen Segovia (with help from John Rauch). Being a massive fan of the genre myself since I was a kid this 4 issue throwaway spinoff makes this illustrious list and it was bloody difficult cutting it down to this length. Aaron is clearly a massive kung fu fan which is shown with all sorts of easter eggs and references thrown in and the use of characters from the Marvel series from the 70s “Masters Of Kung Fu”. Set during the time the X-Men moved to San Francisco after House Of M and Logan heads to Chinatown to settle a score from 50 years previous. Fun stuff.
24.Wolverine And Jubilee-2010
I remember when I heard that the latest in an endless stream of X-Men crossover events had Jubilee turn into a vampire. It certainly had me raising an eyebrow and I avoided it as because like most old miserable pricks I hate change. I was later told it was the kind of thing I like, a fun wee throwaway story that doesn’t require you to read a million other comics to understand what the hell is going on so I gave it a try. It was a blast!. I liked Jubilation Lee back in the day, she was seen as a poor substitute for Kitty Pryde and I always like backing an underdog (as my inexplicable Gambit love proves). Wolverine as the big brother character to a wee girl is always a dynamic I’ve been fond of so it’s funny to see him donating his blood to keep her appetite for human claret at bay and he’s always looking after her. Kathryn Immonen’s dialogue is sharp and witty and Phil Noto’s art is on form as always. Much better than the actual Curse Of The Mutants event.
Part of the “we get it Garth Ennis you hate superheroes” collection but in all seriousness this was pretty funny. The Punisher and Wolverine cross paths when taking on a vicious mob of little people (don’t ask) and end up scrapping themselves. Punisher hits him in the nuts with a baseball bat, blows his face off with a shotgun (which doesn’t heal by the end of the story) shoots him in the baws and then runs him over with a steamroller. Not Wolverine’s strongest moment….but funny.
A weird murder mystery type story se when Loagan was working in Canada as a special agent and teaming up with Carol Danvers. Sabretooth has killed Logan’s partner and the following investigation reveals a conspiracy that goes deeper than they would have expected. It’s just a wee short story and there’s nothing earth shattering about it but it’s a great read and it’s stayed with me for years as something different for the character.
21.Kitty Pryde And Wolverine-1984-1985
A fan favourite tale from legendary X-writer Chris Claremont with art from Al Milgrom. I’ve never been the biggest Kitty Pryde fan but I always enjoyed her in this as there’s a lot more pathos and she’s not just a bratty teen. The Wolverine/teenage girl dynamic is back again and seeing this savage character becoming so protective and acting like a big brother opens so many doors for a writer. Obviously the whole brother sister thing can be played for emotion and surprise but it also leads to comedy with this grizzled old monster having to listen to teenage girls’ problems. Wolverine going to Japan is always a good adventure and it’s no different here.
Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men is….certainly interesting and has great moments but it’s taken me a long time to fully appreciate it. There are still things that wind me up about it (like a lot of his work) but the payoff in Planet X is astounding. From the Shyamlaan-like return of Magneto the touching moment where Wolverine mercy kills Jean Grey as the hurtle towards the the sun on an asteroid (weird sentence). It’s an emotional scene as Wolvie refuses to let Jean go through the agonizing pain of burning up so quickly impales her only for the Phoenix force to kick in and save them both.
It had been clear since around the time of Mutant Massacre that Wolverine and Sabretooth had history and Chris Claremont flesh that out more here whilst still adding more intrigue. It’s Logan’s birthday and we see flashbacks to past birthdays and find out that Sabretooth always shows up to give him a wee present, the main one being the murder of Silver st Fox, a former flame of Wolverine. This issue really set things in motion for future writers to come in and confuse things further creating a monstrously convoluted back stories to the feud but it can’t be blamed for that. It’s a lot of fun and certainly adds a little more to the Sabretooth character as well as some pathos to Wolverine.
Part of the hugely successful series of team ups between writer Jeph Loeb and Artist Tim Sale without the immense popularity of most of their other work. Look it’s no classic and a lot of people don’t like it but there’s something I really enjoy about it. There are problematic parts of the script and Sale’s art isn’t as identifiable or expressive as it has been before or after and it exemplifies the “grimdark” 90s where everything was trying to be gritty and bite off Frank Miller’s style. That said, I’m a huge Gambit fan and it’s blast seeing a superstar creative team take him on in his height of popularity. Arcade is the villain too and ever since buying the insanely crap snes game Spiderman and X-Men Arcade’s Revenge as a kid I’d wanted to see him in stories. Problems aside it’s a fun read in a cheesy movie kind of way which makes sense as Loeb wrote the script for Arnie classic Commando.
17-From The Cradle To The Grave-2012
I talked about this issue in more detail in my “Most Emotional Moments” list so head over there if you want to cry. This is the issue where Wolverine kills his newly discovered son Daken after finding out a diabolical scheme that would kills a lot of innocents during Rick Remender’s excellent Uncanny X-Force run. The scene where he gets the upper hand and Daken explains to him what tortures he went through without his father their to help him is horrible to read and is made far worse by the pseudo flashbacks Logan experiences showing what might have been had he been there to give his son a normal life. Daken was the son of Logan and Itsu, the Japanese villager he fell in love with and who was killed by the Winter Soldier….not the most functional of families.
A strangely touching 4 parter from the incredibly unique Sam Kieth. Wolverine and Hulk have shared quite the history with numerous fights what with being two of the most badarse characters in the Marvel universe but unlike most of them this isn’t just one massive fight without any meat. They meet a strange wee girl called Po (po po popozao) with a connection to Bruce Banner who asks the pair for help as she and her father had been involved in a plane crash. Kieth’s exaggerated and fascinating art style has always been hugely appealing to me and it makes this such an entertaining read.
15.Under The Skin-1991
Want to make me hate a character? Have him torture animals. That’s what we get here as a frustrated Wolverine dives out of the S.H.I.E.L.D helicopter and heads to the zoo to get in touch with his animalistic side. There he finds a serial killer (posing as the janitor he just killed) abusing the caged animals so Wolverine swiftly hands him his arse and sends him packing. Meanwhile Lady Deathstrike and Sabretooth are hunting for Logan. It’s a filler issue in almost every sense, acting as something of an bridge between two arcs but it was one of the earliest comics I ever read and it stuck with me. It’s a fun read.
A decade after the success of Origin in the early 00s (despite a very divisive critical reception) Marvel decided to add a little more to the missing years in Logan’s memory. Many thought of this as pointless and unnecessary and I can understand that, it takes more of the mystique away from the character but let’s be honest he’s been completely overexposed since the 90s and I don’t see any harm in a little sequel to Origin. It’s written by new UK superstar on the block Kieron Gillen (who used to work for Amiga Power yaaass) and drawn by Adam Kubert, brother Of Andy who did the original. This story deals with his capture by a travelling circus who make him their main attraction and introduces us to Nethaniel Essex (who would become Mr Sinister) and a member of the Creed family and is set at the turn of the 20th century. I really enjoyed this, a really fast flowing and fun read.
13.Not Dead Yet-1997-1998
Warren Ellis deliver with essentially a Hong Kong action flick in comic book form and not just because it’s set partly in Hong Kong. From a crazy Scottish assassin to scores of Chines triads, girlfriends, crashes, explosions and all sorts of other shenanigans it’s a hell of a fun 4 part story from Essex’ finest. Big dumb revenge filled fun with exciting pencils from Lenin Francis Yu.
12.Death In The Family-1992
Ahhh Mariko, poor poor Mariko. One of Logan’s loves was always a tragic figure as she was reluctantly part of a Yakuza family and married off by her father in an attempt to solidify her father in the criminal underground. So of course being a tragic figure (and a beautiful Japanese girl) Wolverine fell hard for her. It all came to an end here as Wolverine, Mariko, Silver Samurai (her half brother) and Gambit are in Japan on the run from The Hand ninjas when they retreat into her booby trapped house. Mariko is given an offer for all of the Yakuza issues to end if she cute a finger off as is tradition, she accepts but the blade is poisoned and she faces an agonizing and slow death. In what seems like an endless series of kicks to the balls for Logan, Mariko begs for him to end her suffering. He does so and a piece of his heart dies with her. Loves killing his lasses.
A three issue collaboration between Brian K Vaughn whose excellent series Saga is one of the best series currently running and the excellent artist Eduardo Risso of 100 Bullets fame. It drew some heat for basing itself in world war 2 Japan, in particular the day the atomic bomb dropped, and having Wolverine survive it and become the hero. Taking one of the more despicable acts in humanity and playing around with it is definitely controversial but I never really understood the heat as I don’t think Vaughn was in any way saying that Hiroshima was anything other than a horrendous event in history. Anyway the story revolves around Logan getting his memories back and heading to Japan to deal with unfinished business from his past.
The first few issues in the Chris Claremont written first ongoing series for the character is a cracker and it’s the first time Wolverine started using the alias “Patch” and wore…well, an eye patch….because he’s definitely not recognisable now good job!. Set in the fictional Asian island of Madripoor where he often spends his off times but always ends up getting himself into trouble. Possessed samurai swords and sometimes enemy sometimes ally Silver Samurai make for a hell of a fun read. I’m a fan of the big silver fella so any story that has him involved is fine by me.
A weapon x style story drawn by legendary Conan artist Barry Windsor Smith in which we see the creation of Lady Deathstrke (As we know her today) who is an incredibly formidable foe of Wolverine. Katie Power of the Power Pack helps an injured and confused Wolverine throughout the issue as Deathstrike is on the hunt. There’s a great fight between them with Wolvie getting the better of her but it wouldn’t be the last we saw of her. Not by a long shot.
A very cool highlights package of Wolverine’s history as the issue mostly deals with flashbacks, mainly his debut where he fought Hulk and the Wendigo. Obviously because of this it’s not exactly groundbreaking or anything but the real star of the show is Mike Deodato’s art which is stunning. It’s always fun to see different artists take on scenes we already know off by heart and even thouh there are inconsistencies in costumes etc I don’t really care about that. Some people flip their lid over that stuff…..settle doon.
Black Panther asks Wolverine to go to the African country of Zwartheid to retrieve a package and get it out of the country. When Logan gets their he discovers the package is actually the baby of Zwartheid president Mayamba who is under attack from a rebel group trying to take control of the country. With a baby strapped to his chest and no chance of being able to use his berserk attacks he has to think smart to protect the child. It’s fantastic stuff from Stuart Moore and C.P Smith.
6.Enemy Of The State-2005
Mark Millar (Scotland represent) is a master of cinematic comic book storytelling. High concept action fests that leave you beaming from ear to ear and that’s exactly what we get here. Logan is captured by Gorgon and Hydra brainwash him into becoming their agent. The inner monologue comes from two voices, one is brainwashed Wolverine and one is the regular Logan fighting to get out. I’m not usually a John Romita jr fan but here his style suits the story perfectly and tells a story in itself.
Highly controversial at the time and still to this day, Paul Jenkins and drawn by Andy Kubert shocked the comic book world in the early 00s by bringing a backstory to a character who famously had none. Going all the way back to his childhood and providing shock after shock that like I say, angered some but entertained many more. The relationship between Logan and Rose was covered in my most emotional moments list so that’s worth a look as it’s really the corner stone of the story. Kubert’s pencils are mostly great as usual too.
The story of how Wolverine got his adamantium skeleton written and drawn by aforementioned legend Barry Windsor-Smith. Set when Logan was working for Canadian intelligence and captured by the weapon x program. The horrific torture and experiments forced upon Logan really drive home the sympathy factor and it gives you an understanding of how he’s the angry, grumpy fella we know today. Windsor-Smith is a legend in the comic book community for his art but the lad can tell a hell of a story with his words as well. An all round classic.
3.Prisoner Number Zero-2005
When I talked earlier about Brian K Vaughn setting his story during the bombs dropping on Japan I actually forgot this was coming up later….eeessh. Mark Millar (Scotland represent) sets this one in a concentration camp…….yea. It’s a horror story much like the old EC comics in which a Polish death camp leader has committed suicide and a new head comes to take over. It’s here we find that Logan is being kept here and he’s killed for not working. That night he comes back and terrifies the new camp leader who kills him again….but he keeps coming back. After many attempts and tortures the leader goes insane and ends up dead. The issue ends with yet another leader coming to no doubt face the same fate. It’s brilliantly written.
Chris Claremont did what he was known for when he defined an X-Men related character in a way that every writer following him would take from up until this day. Up and coming superstar Frank Miller was his artist in crime and he also put his stamp on the character in particular with his legendary covers in this 4 part miniseries. From fighting ninjas to trying to earn the love of Mariko Yashida and introduces us to characters like Yukio and Shingen. It’s a stone cold classic and doesn’t fall into the trap that a lot of Claremont’s work did in which he overly explains what’s going on instead of letting the art do the work. The perfect place to start for a fan looking to get into the comics.
2. The Brotherhood/Coyote Crossing-2003-2004
The first two arcs in Greg Rucka’s run on Wolverine were ace and up there with a lot of his highly regarded work. He really has a knack for believable dialogue and gritty murder mysteries. Which takes us to Brotherhood where a young girl asking Logan to protect her dies that night. Wolverine vows to find her killers and deal with them in a way only he can. Coyote Crossing is about him dealing with a Mexican gang leader. They’re both excellent and deserve to be lumped together for the 2nd place on the list.
1.Old Man Logan-2008-2009
Well here it is. No doubt this will be controversial as although it’s a well liked story you’re meant to put an older classic at the top of these lists right?. Well I’ve always said I’d be honest and this is my favourite Wolverine story. It’s fast paced, it’s hyper violent, gory, fun, it’s a western, a horror and a Hong Kong action flick mixed into one massive stir fry. Mark Millar and Steve McNiven had previously teamed up for Civil War which was a monster success and the latter’s art is just an absolute joy to behold as he revels in the visceral bloodbath. Millar’s pacing is excellent too as an aging Wolverine has lived through the death of superheroes and has gone into retirement for a reason that is revealed toward the end. It’s just an absolute blast from start to finish and rightfully sits atop my list.
So there we go. Another list down and a difficult one at that. Hope you enjoyed it and as always if you fancy a list done then just hit me up @swing_kinker and I’ll see you later lovies. Byeeeee x. ….I never know how to end these.