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Feb 14

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1982

Posted on Sunday, February 14, 2021 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 |

1982 is the year when Wolverine comes to the foreground as a lead character. I’m taking Uncanny X-Men as the cut-off points, and so we won’t reach the first Wolverine miniseries until 1983 (which is when it fits into continuity, despite having cover dates from the end of 1982). But he gets his moment in the sun in the main title, and he gets to tour some more of the Marvel Universe in guest appearances.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #153
“Kitty’s Fairy Tale”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Josef Rubinstein & Glynis Wein
January 1982

Kitty tells Illyana a bedtime story in which all the characters are obvious stand-ins for the X-Men. Wolverine, in Claremont’s self-parody, is an animalistic “fiend with no name”, who says “I’m mean” and eats cans of beer – all of which pretty much nails the tropes of the mysterious antihero role that he’s now drifted into. But now Logan finds all this just as charming as the rest of the team do – a few years ago, he would have gone ballistic about somebody making fun of him. (Oddly, the plot of Kitty’s story involves Logan and Scott’s rivalry over Jean, which happened before she joined the team.)

Meanwhile, the X-Men Mansion is an economic write-off following the battle with the Hellfire Club in the previous issue. That’ll lead to the X-Men decamping to Island M next issue – and so a bunch of other 1982 appearances need to happen first.

MICRONAUTS vol 1 #37
“There’s a Reason They Call It… The Danger Room!”
by Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen, Danny Bulanadi & Bob Sharen
January 1982

Nightcrawler guest stars, and the rest of the X-Men make a cameo. According to this issue, Wolverine has seen Raiders of the Lost Ark thirteen times and is planning to see it again.

“The Death of Captain Marvel”
by Jim Starlin & Steve Oliff
February 1982

The X-Men join most of the major Marvel heroes of the time, to gather at the deathbed of the cancer-stricken Captain Marvel. It’s a trivial cameo, but for those of you keeping track of who Wolverine’s met, he ticks a whole bunch of names off his list here: Starfox, Rick Jones, Wonder Man (Simon Williams), the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff), the Vision, Yellowjacket (Hank Pym), Tigra (Greer Nelson), the Black Panther (T’Challa), the Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Power Man (Luke Cage), Moondragon (Heather Douglas), Drax the Destroyer (Arthur Douglas) and the Defenders, who currently consist of Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Clea, Devil-Slayer (Eric Payne), Gargoyle (Isaac Christians), Hellcat (Patsy Walker), Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond), the Valkyrie (Brunnhilde) and Namor the Sub-Mariner.

Mar-Vell’s funeral is shown in flashback in Silver Surfer Annual #6. Most of the mourners are in shadow, but since the X-Men bothered to show up for his death, presumably they went to the funeral (unless they were tied up in another adventure at the time).

MARVEL TEAM-UP vol 1 #117-118
“Scents and Senses! / “Meeting of the Minds”
by J Marc DeMatteis, Herb Trimpe, Mike Esposito & Bob Sharen
May and June 1982

Wolverine and Spider-Man stumble upon a quasi-Roman Empire setting in upstate New York, where Professor Anthony Power is trying to test superheroes. They escape Power’s traps and return to the X-Men Mansion where, in keeping with Team-Up‘s format, Wolverine tags out to the next issue’s guest star, Professor X. It’s Wolverine’s first outing as a solo guest star, but that’s the only really notable thing about it. Surprisingly, it isn’t on Marvel Unlimited.

X-MEN UNLIMITED vol 1 #29 (backup)
“Tempered Steel”
by Cully Hamner & Marie Javins
December 2000

Colossus feels guilty for failing to save a girl; Wolverine tells him to pull himself together. The X-Men are still at the Mansion and Illyana is still a child, so this is the latest available gap for it.

Also suitable for the gap between X-Men #153-154 are the epilogues of Avengers Annual #10 (the Avengers visit the Mansion to catch up with Carol Danvers) and Marvel Fanfare vol 1 #3 (Professor X pronounces Karl Lykos cured); the X-Men cameo in both stories.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #154-157
“Reunion” / “First Blood” / “Pursuit!” / “Hide-‘n’-Seek!”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Bob Wiacek and various
February to May 1982

The X-Men finally give up on repairing the Mansion, and relocate to Magneto’s former base on Island M (taking Illyana Rasputin and Carol Danvers with them). Logan and Carol talk about their pre-X-Men adventures together – the first mention of something that becomes established history. Unfortunately Carol is recovering from being mindwiped by Rogue in Avengers Annual #10, so she doesn’t remember any of it. Nonetheless, Wolverine is the most supportive X-Man to Carol, since he still regards her as an established friend.

The main plot sees the X-Men team up with the Starjammers and (rather randomly) Tigra to rescue Lilandra Neramani from a rebel terrorist faction, before the Shi’ar can take revenge by destroying Earth. Wolverine doesn’t get all that much to do in this story. The main focus is on Cyclops learning that Corsair is his father, and Kitty getting to save the day, plus the introduction of a bunch of new villains who’ll be important in coming months. The rebels include Lilandra’s estranged sister Deathbird (a rival claimant to the throne), the Shi’ar traitorous acting leader Lord Samedar, and two alien races: the Brood and the Sidri

Wolverine is the most aggressive X-Man when it comes to dealing with the ever-unreasonable Shi’ar, but by this point his teammates have no real difficulty calming him down. He gets frustrated about being marginal to the plot. And in what now feels like a throwback to a previous version of the character, he persists in winding up Professor X by calling him “Charley” – despite being told directly to knock it off. He’s immediately impressed by the Brood as fighters, and he gets to be protective about an injured Colossus, but that’s about it for him in this arc.

He also ticks a few more names off the list of people he’s met: Lilandra’s loyal aide Chancellor Araki (who gets murdered, but he’ll show up as a clone in later stories); the Starjammers’ medic Sikorsky; their ship’s computer Waldo; and the Avengers’ butler Edwin Jarvis.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #158
“The Life that Late I Led…”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Bob Wiacek & Glynis Wein
June 1982

A week has passed, and Professor X is still comatose. With Senator Kelly claiming that mutants are a threat to national security, the X-Men decide to destroy the government’s files on the team. So Wolverine, Storm and Carol infiltrate in the Pentagon, planning to erase the files using a super sci-fi computer virus supplied by the Starjammers. (Look, it’s 1982, we don’t do off-site hacking yet. WarGames won’t come out till next year.) The plan goes awry when they stumble into Rogue. Eventually, the X-Men fight Rogue, while Carol gets past Mystique to upload the virus – and she adds her own details to it, symbolically erasing her own past life and moving on from her mindwipe.

Wolverine is somewhat resigned to the existence of people like Kelly. He regards fearing the other as human nature, and sees bigotry as an immutable fact of life. Of course, it also fits Wolverine’s persona for him to be the man of the world who affects to be unsurprised by bad stuff.

He claims to be completely unimpressed by Rogue, but then again he only lasts seven panels against her before she knocks him out with her powers. Somehow, once he recovers, Wolverine manages to punch her through a wall – we still haven’t quite figured out what his powers are. By the way, at this point he’s claiming that his bones are “laced with adamantium” and only “virtually unbreakable” – which is a bit of a backtrack from what we saw when his future self was incinerated in Days of Futures Past, leaving a complete metal skeleton.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #159
“Night Screams”
by Chris Claremont, Bill Wienkiewicz & Bob Wiacek
July 1982

While on a visit to New York, the X-Men fight Dracula, who nearly turns Storm into a vampire. Oh, and they also drop in to Misty Knight’s apartment to meet Misty’s flatmate Harmony Young. This is mainly a Storm and Kitty story, but it’s Logan who takes the lead when Storm is out of the picture – his role is noticeably shifting. The story also spells out that Wolverine is an atheist – hence, he can’t use a cross against vampires. 

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #160
“Chutes & Ladders”
by Chris Claremont, Brent Anderson & Bob Wiacek
August 1982

The X-Men and Illyana are abducted to Limbo, where they fight its demonic ruler Belasco and his sidekick S’ym. The heroes escape, but Illyana gets separated at the last moment. She follows seconds later from the X-Men’s point of view, but thanks to Limbo’s strange laws of time, she spends an extra seven years there and returns as 13-year-old Illyana Rasputin. Since a younger Illyana eventually gets rescued in “Inferno”, presumably there’s a divergence in the timeline here, but it doesn’t really matter which one is “real”. An important story for Illyana, not so much for Wolverine.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #161
“Gold Rush”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum & Bob Wiacek
September 1982

To the X-Men’s relief, Professor X finally wakes up from his coma. This is mainly a flashback story set twenty years earlier, in which the future Professor X and Magneto team up against Baron Strucker.

In the epilogue, the X-Men attend a banquet aboard Lilandra’s starship, only to be attacked by Deathbird and the Brood and hauled off into outer space. This leads into the Brood arc, which will take up the rest of the year. However, several other stories have to be shoehorned into the gap before the epilogue, for reasons too tiresomely fiddly to go into – basically, they either show the X-Men at a fully repaired Mansion, or they show an X-Men roster that includes all four of Professor X, Sprite, Cyclops and Wolverine, which turns out to be remarkably hard to accommodate in the action of Uncanny X-Men.

by Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, Steven Grant, John Romita Jr, Pablo Marco & various colourists
3-issue miniseries
June to August 1982

Contest of Champions is completely inconsequential in plot terms, but a publishing watershed. It’s the first miniseries to draw together all the Marvel Universe superheroes, and thus a dry run for all event comics to come.  

The Grandmaster and an unknown other – who turns out to be Death – enlist Earth’s superheroes into teams and pit them in a contest to find the four quarters of the Golden Globe of Life. The plot is notoriously botched: the four contest segments are a 2-2 tie, but the series blissfully ignores that and proceeds as if the Grandmaster had won 3-1. As his prize, he sacrifices his own life in order to resurrect his brother, the Collector.

Vast swathes of heroes are gathered up in issue #1, and it’d be silly to claim Wolverine had “met” all of them – they seem to fill a football pitch. But the increasingly popular Wolverine does get selected for Grandmaster’s team, alongside Captain America, Darkstar, Sasquatch, Daredevil, the Thing, the She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters), Captain Britain (Brian Braddock), Talisman (an unnamed Australian), Defensor (Gabriel Sepulveda), Le Peregrine (Alain Racine) and the deeply unfortunate Blitzkrieg (Franz Mittelstaedt). On the other side are Storm, the Angel, Sunfire, Iron Man, Iron Fist, the Invisible Woman, Vanguard, the Black Panther (T’Challa), the Arabian Knight (Abdul Qamar), the Collective Man (the Tao-Yu quintuplets, who apparently count as one choice) and Shamrock (Molly Fitzgerlad). All these international heroes are a hangover from the book’s original conception as an Olympics tie-in.

In issue #3, Wolverine, Thing and Peregrine get to fight Angel, Black Panther and Vanguard. This is actually worth a look, since it has Wolverine and Black Panther facing off with Romita art. It turns out that from the Grandmaster’s point of view, Wolverine was an excellent choice – not only does he have powers that are useful for tracking, but he’s so macho that he actually cares about winning even though he’s been pressganged into this and has no idea what’s at stake. It’s something of a throwback depiction of Wolverine, who’s so competitive that he’s willing to use his claws in a contest against his fellow heroes. The Panther couldn’t care less who wins and just wants to get the whole thing over with, and Wolverine’s own teammates are irritated by his overenthusiasm. 

INCREDIBLE HULK vol 2 #278-279
“Amnesty!” / “Acceptance”
#278 by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, Joe Sinnott & Bob Sharen
#279 by Bill Mantlo, Mark Gruenwald, Greg Larocque & Bob Sharen
December 1982 and January 1983

The X-Men join a ton of other superheroes in petitioning for a pardon for the Hulk (who now has Bruce Banner’s mind at all times). The assembled heroes fight off an alien invasion, which is actually a scheme orchestrated by the Leader (Samuel Sterns). In the next issue, the various heroes attend a parade in the Hulk’s honour in New York City.

After that, we get the epilogue to Uncanny X-Men #161, which leads into the epic…

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #162-166
“Beyond the Farthest Star” / “Rescue Mission” / “Binary Star!” / “Transfigurations!” / “Live Free or Die!”
#162-164 by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Bob Wiacek & Glynis Wein
#165-166 by Chris Claremont, Paul Smith, Bob Wiacek & L Varley
October 1982 to February 1983

This is the epic Brood arc – five issues, one of them double-sized. The X-Men and Carol Danvers hallucinate that they’re still guests of the Shi’ar, but in reality they’re prisoners of the Brood, and implanted with eggs by the Brood Queen. Wolverine is first to see through it. Thanks to his adamantium skeleton and healing factor, he fights off his Brood transformation, though it does turn him slightly reptilian for a couple of issues. He vows to either rescue his teammates, or kill them to stop the transformation. In fact, he does rescue the X-Men, but he doesn’t immediately tell them about the Brood eggs. Thanks to the Brood’s experiments, Carol develops new superpowers and becomes Binary.

Once Wolverine reveals the truth about the Brood eggs, the X-Men decide to go out as heroes by freeing the “racial soul” of the Brood’s slaves, the Acanti. Apparently, this “soul” is essential to the survival of their race. During that last stand, Sprite also encounters a little alien dragon, which will eventually follow her to Earth and be named Lockheed. The X-Men defeat the Brood and free the soul. Wouldn’t you know it, the soul repays the favour by curing the heroes. But the X-Men also learn that there’s one more Brood egg on Earth, and Wolverine points out that it must be implanted in Professor X.

This is a major arc for Wolverine, not so much for the details of the encounter with the Brood, but because he’s clearly emerging as a rival moral compass and leader figure. At the same time, the Brood contrast with the usual concern that Logan is just an animal. Against the monstrous Brood, his willingness to use lethal force seems positively reasonable, and his penchant for secrecy is recast as heroically bearing the burden of something his teammates don’t need to know (though he also has a degree of survivor’s guilt over the fact that he seems to be the only one who’ll live). Plus, for once he’s forced into being a loner; he does try to enlist the X-Men before going off to face the Brood alone for the first time. Playing into that is a subplot where Wolverine and Cyclops start squabbling again, but this time the fault is on Cyclops (thanks to his Brood egg infestation) – they’ve swapped roles, with the implication that Wolverine is starting to mature into the role of a leader. The arc inverts his usual role by making sure that he’s the most trustworthy member of the team.

On the other hand, he still doesn’t quite have the classically heroic tendencies of his teammates – he shares their never-say-die attitude, but they’re the ones who press to go out on a positive note by rescuing the Acanti, instead of just avenging themselves against the Brood. A major theme of the story is the rest of the team wondering whether Wolverine is right and this really is the time for lethal force. Ultimately the story is clearly on their side in saying that the answer is “no”, with Claremont’s usual argument that as heroes, the X-Men need to stand for something purer. Still, Wolverine’s attitude is presented as well within the bounds of reasonable opinion.

The first Wolverine miniseries is also cover dated September to December 1982, though Uncanny X-Men doesn’t reach it until mid-1983. Still, the Brood arc dovetails nicely with Logan’s redemption arc in his own series. A hallucination sequence in issue #162 has Mariko telling him that he has “the soul and inner grace of a true samurai”.

Issue #165 includes an exchange between Wolverine and Kurt about religion. Logan says that “I never figured you for the religious type”, which is a blatant continuity error – at the very least, Kurt’s religion was central to the plot of Annual #4. At any rate, as in issue #159, Wolverine says outright that he’s an atheist and always has been, believing only in the physical world. Oddly, he says that he tried prayer in the army and it was “a mistake”, something that never gets followed up. Kurt sees all this as very lonely, and Wolverine replies that he has his teammates. Of course, Wolverine’s slowness to bond with them, and gradual lowering of his guard, has been part of his character development throughout Claremont’s run.

This arc also includes the change from Dave Cockrum to Paul Smith as penciller, and it’s night and day. Cockrum is a great artist, but his style is very much of the 70s; Paul Smith’s first issue is a leap forward into the next decade. His run is brief – he’s gone by the end of next year – but it’s striking.

Next time, the X-Men stories of 1983, including the first Wolverine miniseries and its aftermath.

Bring on the comments

  1. Andrew says:

    You’re spot on about Paul Smith. His artwork is absolutely fantastic it’s such a change of pace from Cockrum’s work. His run is short but much like that of Jim Lee (who actually didn’t do that many issues of Uncanny either), it’s a run which stands out from those around it.

  2. SanityOrMadness says:

    What the hell is going on with that MTU #117 cover? (Bigger version: )

    I mean, there’s foreshortening and there’s… whatever the hell that is meant to be. Spider-Man is a bit off, but Wolverine is… just… wut?!

  3. Luis Dantas says:

    Indeed, this is classic recipe Wolverine that perdures to this day.

    The Designated Protagonist, famous for being famous. 100% calories-free. All bombast, no substance.

  4. Thom H. says:

    “What the hell is going on with that MTU #117 cover?”

    Thank you. Wolverine’s left leg must be as big as a tree trunk. And the spatial relationship between the two characters is insane.

    On a slightly different note, what is going on with Rogue’s costume in UXM #158? I realize she’s a villain here, but jodhpurs? Wolverine hair? Gloves made from a tablecloth? I assume we have Paul Smith to thank for returning her to her costume from Avengers Annual #10 and rescuing her hair.

  5. ASV says:

    Also odd on that MTU cover is the Wolverine logo – that’s only four months before the miniseries would debut, but rather than that logo it uses something that looks derived from the Werewolf By Night logo.

  6. partisan says:

    What about Annual #6? Doesn’t it happen just in the break in XMEN#161 (the New Mutants aren’t around, it isn’t winter, and Wolverine and Cyclops both leave shortly after XMEN#167

  7. Paul says:

    Annual #6 is placed between issues #167-168. The New Mutants aren’t seen but there’s nothing to clearly indicate that they’re absent. Kitty appears prominently but the plot doesn’t involve her being a member of the team.

  8. David Goldfarb says:

    The Wolverine solo issue in the Brood saga is notable for being the first appearance of “I’m the best there is at what I do…and what I do isn’t very nice”.

  9. Paul says:

    So it is. I’ll add that when I get a chance.

  10. Kian says:

    Assuming typo “Bill Wienkiewicz”

  11. Sol says:

    This year was the first year I bought X-men comics when they were new on the shelves, starting with #153. Most of these books I read, and most of them I read at least 5 times, because it’s not like I had any other comics to read. (On a pre-teen’s budget I could only afford to get one comic a month, a fact that caused trouble when the New Mutants debuted.)

    I had absolutely no idea there was a Micronauts crossover. I checked the comics database, and I totally recognize the two previous Micronauts issues as ones I had, but not #37. May have just switched from reading Micronauts to X-men. Sad that I missed a Keith Giffen issue in the process. (I also missed the Bill Sienkiewicz X-men issue here — ironic because by 1989 or so those two would be probably my favorite comics artists.)

  12. Adam says:

    Concerning repeated phrases like “I’m the best there is…”: I reread a few of these issues last night and never noticed before Logan’s tendency to say “Nope.” when asked if he wanted to rumble by a far more powerful opponent. Was this considered a running joke at the time? Because if so, I like it.

    Also, man, Paul Smith deserved more work than he got. When I read through these issues i enjoyed his art more than Cockrum’s before him or JRJr’s after him.

  13. heartstone says:

    “This arc also includes the change from Dave Cockrum to Paul Smith as penciller,”
    Shouldn’t this be Brent Anderson? Cockrum’s run was before John Byrne’s.

  14. Paul says:

    Cockrum returns for a second run after Byrne leaves – issues #145-164, with a few fill-in artists interspersed.

  15. Ben Kimball says:

    This was also my first year of regularly buying X-Men comics, though I started around #163. I was also occasionally buying Micronauts (Michael Golden was the proto Arthur Adams) and was lucky enough for issue #37 to be one of my introductions to Nightcrawler, along with MTU #89 and the just-plain-FUN X-Men Annual #4. Anyway, I too was enamored with Paul Smith’s incredible art, and recently gushed about it here in an Amazon review of the 2019 Starjammers trade:

    I guess that’s not really relevant to the ongoing Wolverine project, but still. Can’t miss an opportunity to praise the contributions of Paul Smith. The upcoming cover of issue #173 is an all-time classic.

  16. Nu-D says:

    One of the things that always bothered me about this run was how disconnected the individual stories and arcs felt. During the Claremont-Byrne run, each issue seemed to follow naturally from the last. But in this run, the stories often seem to open randomly, with no clear explanation of how we got here from the prior issue/story. We go from Shi’ar to the Brotherhood, to Dracula to Limbo to a flashback and back to space without any of it really tied together or following up on what came before.

  17. Ben Kimball says:

    Nu-D, that’s a great point. It’s like Claremont had been dying to do standalone vampire, alternate timeline, and Nazi-fighting stories, and figured this was the best place to shoehorn them in. Like X-Files Monster of the Week episodes between the big myth-arc ones; not bad, just disconnected.

    In fairness, though, it doesn’t get better. Issues 176-205 are all OVER the place, with a few mini-arcs here and there. Subplots started and quietly abandoned left and right. It’s also the start of the character-piece era, where, for example, Nightcrawler is suddenly alone in Murderworld with very little connection to any larger X-Men storyline. I blame Secret Wars, and especially Secret Wars II, for much of the lurching effect.

  18. Chris V says:

    The vampire and Limbo story both featured full-in art. Claremont was known to tailor his plots to the artists with which he was working.
    So, he decided to go with a more overt horror story and then a more fantasy-oriented story.
    The flashback story did feature the regular creative team. It did end up as an important story.
    The only explanation I can come up with though is that Claremont might have gone to see Raiders of the Lost Ark before he had to write the script. I’m not totally sure if that is accurate.
    Claremont’s artists and editors have mentioned that Claremont would often get very excited after watching a movie he enjoyed and would want to do his own version.

  19. Chris V says:

    featured *fill-in art, not “full-in”.

  20. Jaosn says:

    Jim Shooter probably gets some of the credit for the done-in-one type stuff that happened in the era from 176-205. It’s on the record that somewhere around that time, Shooter was insisting that done-in-one stories be the rule for all Marvel comics. (Seems hypocritical that this was at the same time that Shooter was forcing everyone to participate in the 213-part “Secret Wars II” but there you go.)

  21. […] to Astonish presents Wolverine’s 1982 diary, as the hirsute hero begins his stomp into the spotlight, changing the world (of superhero […]

  22. […] Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914 Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age 1974-1975  1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 […]

  23. […] 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914 Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X Part 7: Post […]

  24. […] 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914 Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X Part 7: Post […]

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