The word is out and it’s not good for Wolverine. July could be the beginning of the end for one of the most popular characters in Marvel Comics. A story arc entitled “Killable”, beginning with Wolverine #8 from Paul Cornell and Alan Davis, will have Logan losing his healing factor. The question is, does this mean the end of our anti-hero, or is it just another plot twist to explore new story lines?
First appearing in The Incredible Hulk #180, Wolverine was created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita, Sr. as an unwitting sparring partner for the Hulk. In some ways the feral aspects of Wolverine’s personality mirrored the Hulk’s gamma-powered, rage fueled mind-set. He was also a very different opponent than the normal Hulk fare due to his diminutive size and unknown (at the time) skill set. Wolverine’s personality, as we know it today, was developed by Chris Claremont when he wrote the character into The X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). It was then that he became the tortured soul who struggled between his animal side and his desire to do the right thing. Claremont’s run on The Uncanny X-Men helped usher the Wolverine character to his current popularity, and to some degree the “anti-hero”, in general, to the forefront of the comics industry.
There are long lists of stories over the years in which writers attempted to make Wolverine more “killable” to enhance the reader’s suspense. One of the greatest examples was the ”Fatal Attractions“ crossover that concluded in X-Men #25 (1993) with Magneto forcibly removing the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton, starting a whole new era of stories for a weakened, more feral Wolverine.
As we all know Wolverine’s adamantium is restored eventually and I think we’ll see the same ultimate conclusion here. Wolverine may die, or just be put through events that could only be challenging to someone who couldn’t quickly recover from any wound. Either way, it’s all just part of what makes him Wolverine. Death is rarely, if ever, permanent in comics. Does anyone remember the death of Captain America in Captain America vol. 5, #25 (April 2007)? His demise was even reported in the mainstream media, and still didn’t stick. Wolverine’s death, were it to happen, would likely just spawn stories of his adventures in the afterlife, wherever that would take him. The character won’t just end, he’s too popular, fun to write, and even more fun to read. Wherever Cornell and Davis take this story, I’ll be along for the ride. After all, Wolverine is still the best there is at what he does, he’ll just need a better health plan!