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Feb 5

The Incomplete Wolverine – 2009

Posted on Sunday, February 5, 2023 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 | 1981 | 1982
 | 1983 | 1984 1985
1986 | 1987 | 1988
 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991
1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997
1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003
2004 |2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008

We’re just past Secret Invasion, and in the early days of “Dark Reign”. The Wolverine solo title is in the middle of “Old Man Logan” right now, but that takes place in an alternate timeline and doesn’t feature on our list.

X-FORCE vol 3 #11
“Who the Hell is Eli Bard?”
by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Alina Urusov & Clayton Crain
January 2009

Warpath recounts Eli Bard’s origin story to his teammates.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #506
by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson & Justin Ponsor
February 2009

Wolverine attends a briefing on Simon Trask’s anti-mutant activities, and the X-Men give sanctuary to various ex-mutants (despite Wolverine pointing out that they don’t have the facilities.

by Mike Benson, Roland Oschi & Dan Brown
November 2008

Wolverine fights organ harvesters. Perfectly competent, but basically just a noir which takes advantage of Logan’s healing powers for the plot.

by Joseph Clark & Das Pastoras
January 2009

Marvel were churning out Wolverine one-shots at this point; it’s close to being a de facto monthly book at this point. Logan deals with small town police officer Sheriff Macreedy, a serial killer who has been sabotaging a dangerous mountain bend and keeping the bodies. The art is gorgeous.

“Punching Bag”
by Gregg Hurwitz, Juan Doe & Dave Lanphear
January 2009

Logan rescues a girl from three weird guys in a cave, gets beaten up a bit while doing so, and then promptly stumbles straight into a carjacking. Basically an art showcase, though it’s before Doe got really interesting.

NEW AVENGERS vol 1 #49
by Brian Michael Bendis, Bily Tan, Matt Banning & Paul Mounts
January 2009

Luke Cage recovers his missing baby daughter Danielle. Most of the team, including Wolverine, only appears in the epilogue, where they congratulate Luke. Then they watch the news coverage of Norman Osborn announcing his new Avengers team, which is basically an exercise in gimmick theft and trolling the real heroes: Iron Patriot (Osborn himself), Marvel Boy, the Sentry, Ms Marvel (Karla Sofen, formerly Moonstone), Wolverine (Daken) and Hawkeye (the Daredevil villain Bullseye). This team is the Dark Avengers, though they’re never actually called that in story for obvious reasons.

NEW AVENGERS vol 1 #50
by Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan, Matt Banning, Justin Ponsor and various
February 2009

The New Avengers quickly figure out who the Dark Avengers really are. Wolverine’s teammates are amazed when he tells them about Daken, and even more surprised when he shows no interest in rescuing his son from Osborn’s orbit. Wolverine thinks Daken is a grown man who can look after himself – although he’d still like to talk to Daken about it. This sits oddly with Wolverine’s normal preoccupation around this time with rehabilitating Daken – but maybe he thinks Norman is still a step up from Romulus.

The New Avengers try to lure the Dark Avengers into a trap, but Osborn sees right through it and sends the Hood and his army of villains along instead. The bad guys win – despite including such bozos as the Scarecrow (Ebenezer Laughton), the Answer (Aaron Nicholson) and the Brothers Grimm (Wolverine’s met one of them before, and he meets the other one here).

All the Avengers get a page to narrate the fight from their own perspective; Wolverine’s page is just him thinking about killing people. It’s a straightforward take on the character, shall we say.

“Weapon XI”
by Daniel Way, Doug Braithwaite, Bill Reinhold, Matt Milla & Andy Troy
February to May 2009

This entry also covers the epilogue of issue #32 (which was mostly covered in the 2008 post). We’re still on the day of the Dark Avengers’ debut.

Nick Fury tells Wolverine that Romulus was behind the Weapon X Project. According to Fury, Romulus has always had an interest in the Hudson family for some reason, including Logan’s mother Elizabeth Hudson, the Professor (real name Truett Hudson), Victor Hudson (a blind mute child who apparently vanished after his mother’s suicide) and James Hudson (from Alpha Flight). Fury theorises that later versions of Weapon X haven’t been able to replicate the original’s achievements without Romulus’s involvement, and that Romulus’s main goal was to upgrade Wolverine so that he could hold his own in the new world of superheroes. When Wolverine actually became a superhero, Romulus changed tack and focused on Daken instead. Fury’s theory, which fills most of an issue, is that Romulus plans to use the Muramasa Blade to make new claws for Daken, turning him into an even greater super-soldier.

Meanwhile, Cyclops leads the X-Men after Daken, taking the Muramasa Blade with him, all without bothering to tell Wolverine. Wolverine and Fury intervene in the fight, and Daken escapes with a sliver of the Blade. Cyclops orders Wolverine to track down and kill Daken on the grounds that he’s irredeemable, but Wolverine insists that Daken is fundamentally the same as him. Cyclops argues that Wolverine is just trying to convince himself so that he can believe in the possibility of his own redemption.

Eventually Wolverine does agree to tail Daken. The trail leads him to the Tinkerer (Phineas Mason), who is indeed trying to add the Blade material to Daken’s claws, and Victor Hudson, who is apparently acting as a bodyguard. Wolverine chooses to focus on his son and passes up the chance to go after Romulus. Daken is just deeply irritated by all this, and stabs his father, but leaves him alive.

At this point we have to splice in another batch of stories before returning for the epilogue of issue #36.

“The Way Things Are…”
by Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Cheung, Mark Morales & John Rauch
March 2009

The New Avengers and the Dark Avengers reluctantly team up against Ymir. Some of the Dark Avengers try to attack the heroes on sight, but Osborn and Ares insist on dealing with the actual crisis. The Dark Avengers try again to arrest the heroes afterwards, but Osborn backs down when Thor shows up.

MIGHTY AVENGERS vol 1 #21 and #23
“Earth’s Mightiest, parts 1 and 3”
by Dan Slott, Khoi Pham, Allen Martinez, Danny Miki, Jason Keith & Guru eFX
February and March 2009

The New Avengers have a cameo in issue #21 among the heroes dealing with freak events around the world. They also appear in a single panel of issue #23, reacting as Hank Pym – now the new Wasp – gets credit for saving the day with his own version of the Avengers. This bunch are the Mighty Avengers, though once again, in universe they’re just another group claiming to be “the Avengers”.

AGENTS OF ATLAS vol 2 #4-5
“The Dragon’s Corridor, part 3” / “Taking the Fall”
#4 by Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman & Elizabeth Dismang
#5 by Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz & Jana Schirmer
May 2009

The New Avengers lean that the Atlas Foundation are selling munitions to Norman Osborn, and vow to bring them down. That leads to the obligatory fight with the current Agents of Atlas – Jimmy Woo, Gorilla Man, Human Robot, Temugin, Namora and Venus – until the Avengers figure out that the Agents are just posing as villains. There’s a brief fight anyway, because the Human Robot attacks Wolverine over an unresolved mission from 1958, but Venus calms everyone down and the teams go their separate ways.

The epilogue of Wolverine: Origins #36 goes here. “Five days” after the main story, Wolverine is in Russia tailing Victor Hudson.

by Daniel Way, Scot Eaton, Andrew Hennessy & Andy Troy
June to September 2009

Four days after that, Wolverine tries to throw Romulus off his tail by spreading word that he’s been spotted in various ex-Soviet cities. As part of this byzantine scheme, he kills an ally of the Russian defence minister for no readily apparent reason, but that’s Origins for you.

Meanwhile, the trail of Victor Hudson and Romulus leads Wolverine into a trap: a prison where Omega Red has been set free and given the carbonadium synthesizer to control his powers. Since Omega Red has been powered up by draining life force from all the other prisoners, which is apparently how his powers work this week, Wolverine tries to lure him away by stealing the C-synth. But he collapses from his injuries and gets captured by another of Romulus’s agents, Wild Child.

Wild Child takes Wolverine to an ironworks which, according to the narrator, is “Hughesovska Ironworks #5” in “central Russia”. The unlikely sounding Hughesovska is real – it was a company mining town founded by a Welshman in the 19th century – but it’s modern-day Donetsk, which is in Ukraine, not Russia. Anyway… Wild Child is trying to kill all the other potential heirs to Romulus’s throne, so he can claim it himself. This, apparently, is some sort of contest promoted by Romulus, which Wild Child knows about, but Wolverine has never heard of. Even so, Wolverine quickly decides that all the people he’s fought over the course of this series were actually rival claimants on Romulus’ throne, and that Romulus has manipulated him into participating in the tournament anyway.

Omega Red shows up looking for the C-synth, and promptly gets into a fight with Wild Child, allowing Wolverine to escape. Omega Red then kills Wild Child. Wolverine heads to St Petersburg, where Black Widow has dropped off the Muramasa Blade for him. Omega Red, who also knew nothing about this tournament but has decided to enter it anyway, gives chase. At first, Wolverine tries at first to talk his way out of the fight by pointing out that he has no interest whatsoever in being Romulus’ heir. But then he realises that Omega Red will still go after Daken, so he just kills Red anyway.

Finally, Romulus himself shows up – speaking in the feral font that was once used for devolved Wolverine, which is a nice touch. Wolverine promptly flies into a berserker rage, but Romulus is unimpressed. He declares Wolverine unworthy, but also claims to have forged Wolverine in his own image, so that “I am what you will become” – an attempt to explain away the random slogans in Jeph Loeb’s “Evolution” arc. In response, Wolverine argues that Romulus’ whole act is just about image – even his claws are artificial – and that he (Wolverine) is the real feral warrior that Romulus has always pretended to be. Romulus claims to be engineering a situation in which either Wolverine or Daken will kill him and take his place.

Wolverine defeats Romulus but decides to let him live, presumably to avoid doing what Romulus wants – it’s kind of vague. Romulus then escapes.

If nothing else, Daniel Way is at least trying to make something coherent out of Romulus’s agenda here: he wants to secure his legacy by forcing someone to become an heir whose own individuality has been subsumed beneath Romulus’s influence.  Weird, but at least vaguely coherent.

YOUNG X-MEN #11-12
“Ashes to Ashes”
by Marc Guggenheim, Rafa Sandoval, Roger Bonet, Ulises Arreola & Daniel Acuna
February & March 2009

The Young X-Men – now including Cipher (Alisa Tager) – fight Donald Pierce when he tries to escape the X-Men’s custody. Wolverine is among the X-Men who also show up, and he gets to give Rockslide the usual pep talk about not killing the bad guys because he’ll have to live with it for the rest of his life.

4-issue miniseries
by CB Cebulski, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jesse Delperdang & Marte Gracia
January to March 2009

When Magik shows up in the X-Men’s HQ to reclaim her Soulsword from Pixie, Wolverine is among the team who travel to Limbo to investigate. (Pixie uses her magic to get them there.) There, they get involve in a fight for control of Limbo between Magik on the one hand, and Belasco’s daughter Witchfire on the other. The heroes defeat Witchfire, stop her from summoning the Elder Gods, and persuade Magik to return to Earth with them. By the standard of CB Cebulski books, this actually isn’t bad – the story is functional and the art is pretty good.

WOLVERINE vol 3 #73
“A Mile in my Moccasins, part 1”
by Jason Aaron, Adam Kubert, Mark Farmer & Justin Ponsor
May 2009

Issues #73-74 are unusual – they effectively contain two one-shot stories, but split them both across the two issues. On top of that, the first part of this story is mostly an extended montage. The Marvel Chronology Project interweaves it among the following stories – but for ease of reading I’ll just cover it all here. Basically, it’s Wolverine doing unrelenting Wolverine things, with occasional pauses for drinking, poker and a single panel of mediation. In the final scene (which the MCP places just before Astonishing Tales below), Yukio takes the exhausted Wolverine to bed, and warns him that he is driving himself to a nervous breakdown through overwork. It’s a meta riff on Wolverine’s ubiquity.

“Sense Memory”
by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Paco Diaz Luque & Dave Sharpe
April 2009

Rampaging Wolverine is a one-shot black and white anthology in mock-1970s magazine format. This story is a framing sequence for a flashback tale in which Logan spends some time living with a family until they’re betrayed by Duck-Hwan. Having finally got his memories back, Logan returns to kill Duck-Hwan, and takes revenge on him even though he’s otherwise led a relatively decent life in the intervening decades. Logan doesn’t really believe in atonement, which I guess plays into how he feels about his own past.

RAMPAGING WOLVERINE #1, second story
“Unconfirmed Kill”
by Chris Yost & Mateus Santolouco
April 2009

This is good. A cocky HYDRA sniper who considers himself the best at what he does narrates the story, and gets increasingly alarmed as Wolverine (whom he doesn’t recognise) keeps miraculously surviving, eventually reaching him and killing him. Wolverine takes over the narration for the final page: “I’m the best there is at what I do. But this asshole was pretty damn good.”

“Kiss, Kiss”
by Robin Furth and Nelson
April 2009

This is a text story linked to the previous entry (despite the different writers). The sniper’s carbonadium-coated bullets cause Wolverine to have hallucinations of Jean Grey and a giant psychotropic spider. Later, he has dreams in which Jean appears to him as a spider, and he lets her eat him. There’s an idea in here somewhere, but it doesn’t click.

by William Harms, Jefte Palo & Lee Loughridge
April 2009

Yes, the cover just says Wolverine. How helpful.

Logan fights plane hijackers from the Holy War Brigade, then tracks down and kills their boss. Basic, but well executed, and it has some great art.

by Jonathan Maberry, Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman
April 2009

Logan wakes from a dream about Mariko in order to fight off some random ninjas. His narration reflects on whether his life of permanent conflict is his own hell, and on the fact that he and Mariko would be reunited in death if he didn’t keep winning.

by CB Cebulski, Kenneth Rocafort & IroBot
February to July 2009

The Punisher comes to Madripoor to investigate biotech weapons being sold to Viper by Kimura (X-23’s old handler). Viper sets a Predator X on him and Wolverine, having gained the knowhow to reprogram the creatures to go after non-mutants. The antiheroes force her to back off by threatening to use a blood sample to send one of the creatures after her.

It’s a Wolverine/Punisher team-up story from a short-lived anthology title. The plot is mediocre, and the art has some eye-rolling T&A tendencies. It doesn’t understand the Wolverine/Viper relationship, it gets Tyger Tiger’s real name wrong… it’s not good.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #508
“Sisterhood, part 1”
by Matt Fraction, Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Justin Ponsor
April 2009

Wolverine is outraged when the Sisterhood of Mutants – specifically Chimera, Spiral and Lady Deathstrike – steal Kwannon’s body from the private graveyard he maintains in Tokyo “with memorials for friends and loved ones that fell”. Later on, Wolverine recruits Northstar back into the X-Men, and meets his boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in the process.

“If the Fates Allow”
by Jim McCann, Todd Nauck & Christopher Sotomayor
October 2009

Wolverine cameos, greeting Storm when she visits the X-Men for Christmas.

by Jay Faerber, Michael Ryan & Chris Sotomayor

A Nightcrawler story. The other X-Men show up to help him rescue a child from some kidnappers.

“Swallowed the Spider”
by Gregg Hurwitz, Jerome Opeña, John Lucas & Michelle Madsen
December 2008

New Year’s Eve – I assume this is here in order to try and keep it close to the Christmas stories above (and minimise the number of Christmases in Marvel history). Logan seems to get drawn into an escalating bar fight where he wipes out the Road Dawgs biker gang, but it turns out he’s deliberately come there after reading about a second grader killed in the crossfire of the gang’s drug war. This story is very excessive in terms of the level of casual violence, compared to everything around it.

“Birthday Boy”
by Zeb Wells & Paolo Rivera
January 2009

Another very good story. Logan takes Spider-Man on a pub crawl around New York, dragging him into various drunken brawls. Spider-Man refuses to drink, and disapproves of the whole thing. Without ever fully explaining, Logan eventually says that he wanted a drinking buddy for his birthday – and that he likes Spider-Man’s company because Spider-Man is naive enough to believe that he’s a hero.

by Greg Pak, Dan Panosian, Adam Street & Kelsey Shannon
May 2009

A single panel cameo, watching news coverage of the Hulk’s son Skaar.

TIMESTORM: 2009-2099
Timestorm: 2009-2099 #1-4 by Brian Reed, Eric Battle & Bruno Hang
Timestorm: 2009-2099 – X-Men by Brian Reed, Frazer Irving & Dave Sharpe
April to August 2009

Punisher 2099 (Jake Gallows) travels back to the present on a religious crusade to alter history by eliminating dangerous heroes, but his gun actually transports Wolverine to the 2099 timeline. This version is one of many  reboots of the 2099 universe, making its first appearance here – if you’re into numbers, it’s Earth 96099.

Anyway, Wolverine finds himself in a fight between Hulk-like gamma mutates in the ruins of Washington DC, but gets rescued by Ghost Rider 2099 (Zero Cochrane). Ghost Rider drops him off with the X-Men 2099 – in this case, Wolverine 2099 (Logan himself, depicted as a balding man in normal clothes with one arm), Meanstreak (Henri Huang), Junkpile, Krystalin and Bloodhawk. Wolverine and Ghost Rider break into a hidden vault in the Smithsonian and find Dr Doom 2099, who has apparently spent his life holding back a timestorm which will destroy the world, but is now nearing death. Doom explains that he brought Wolverine and (in another plot thread) Spider-Man to 2099 so that they could avert this catastrophe. Doom directs Wolverine and Ghost Rider to a girl called Shakti, at which point the timestorm sends them back to the present day, and Wolverine drops out of the story. It’s never very clear what he was doing in it in the first place.

A flashback in World War Hulks: Wolverine & Captain America #1 is placed here by the MCP – it’s a seemingly random shot of Wolverine fighting alongside Captain America (Bucky Barnes) on a space station, so essentially an untold New Avengers story.

MS MARVEL vol 2 #40-43
“War of the Marvels”
#40 by Brian Reed, Sana Takeda, Luke Ross & Rob Schwager
#41 by Brian Reed, Sergio Ariño & Emily Warren
#42 by Brian Reed & Sana Takeda
#43 by Brian Reed, Sergio Ariño & Ikari Studios
June to August 2009

The New Avengers make multiple cameos (and a slightly more extended appearance in issue #41) as part of a storyline in which Ms Marvel is split into multiple energy beings for a bit. Wolverine gets to meet twelve baby MODOK clones collectively known as Storyteller 2.0, and AIM leader Monica Rappaccini.

“Days Gone By”
by Ed Brubaker, Luke Ross, Rick Magyar & Frank D’Armata
May 2009

The New Avengers have a brief cameo at Captain America’s surprise birthday party.

DARK REIGN: ELEKTRA #4 and #5 (pages 1-4)
5-issue miniseries
by Zeb Wells, Clay Mann, Mark Pennington & Matt Hollingsowrth
June & August 2009

Wolverine rescues Elektra, first from H.A.M.M.E.R., Norman Osborn’s replacement for S.H.I.E.L.D., and then from Carmine, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who wants revenge on her for things that were actually done by her Skrull impostor. The story picks up again several weeks later, and we’ll come back to that.

WOLVERINE vol 3 #73-74 (back-up strips)
by Daniel Way & Tommy Lee Edwards
May & June 2009

Logan catches up with his old friend Horrorshow (Henry McLaury), an ageing biker gang leader. His estranged son Junior has got into drugs and joined a rival gang. Logan gets involved when Junior makes a deal with Horrorshow’s leadership rival Ram to start a gang war that will hopefully force Horrorshow out of power. Seeing the parallels with Daken, Logan helps drive out Junior but gives him the chance to start a new life.

WOLVERINE vol 3 #74
“A Mile in my Moccasins, part 2 of 2”
by Jason Aaron, Adam Kubert, Mark Farmer, Edgar Delgado, Morry Hollowell & Paul Mounts
June 2009

After some more montage, Spider-Man corners Wolverine and presses him on why he’s working himself into the ground. Following a diversion to beat up some random criminals, Wolverine basically says that he is keeping himself permanently busy so that he doesn’t have to stop and reflect on all the terrible things that he’s done, and that he’s determined to atone for. Spider-Man tries to take Wolverine for sushi, but instead Wolverine races off to answer a call from Cyclops. It’s a nice attempt to rationalise Logan’s overexposure but a bit too meta to really convince.

This is effectively the end of Wolverine vol 3, which becomes a Daken series and changes its name to Dark Wolverine with issue #75.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #509-511
“Sisterhood, parts 2 to 4”
by Matt Fraction, Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Justin Ponsor
April to June 2009

The Humanity Now! Coalition‘s proposal to sterilise everyone with an X-gene is to be put to a referendum. The Sisterhood – now with the psychic presence of Madelyne Pryor as the Red Queen – break into the X-Men’s base and force Wolverine to fight a brainwashed Psylocke (whom they resurrected in the previous issue). This creates a distraction that lets Red Queen steal a lock of Jean Grey’s hair from Wolverine’s room, something he obviously feels very strongly about. The X-Men theorise that the Red Queen is planning to clone herself a new body, and the revelation that Wolverine was holding on to the lock of hair puts more tension between him and Scott. The Sisterhood are defeated, and Psylocke is freed from their control, through assorted convolutions that need not concern us. The Fraction/Land run is at least refreshingly upbeat in a grimdark period, but it suffers badly from the plastic quality of Land’s art, and the clumsy sex positivism wears thin.

ETERNALS vol 4 #7-9
“Manifest Destiny”
by Charles Knauf, Daniel Knauf, Eric Nguyen & Andy Troy
January to March 2009

The X-Men team with Ikaris to fight fellow Eternals Druig, Pixie, Pannix, Vampiro, Legba, Akpaxa and Eramis, until the Horde show up and the Eternals rush off to fight them instead. These are the final three issues of Eternals vol 4. The X-Men’s appearance seems to have been a last ditch attempt to boost sales – which then winds up getting shoved aside because the space is needed to resolve storylines.

RUNAWAYS vol 3 #10
“Mollifest Destiny”
by Chris Yost, Sara Pichelli & Christina Strain
May 2009

Molly Hayes visits the X-Men, and Wolverine has to show her round. She doesn’t much like him, and he soon loses patience with her too, yelling that mutants are on the verge of extinction and he has better things to do than indulge her rainbows-and-unicorns stuff. So she punches him through the wall. The rest of the Runaways come looking for Molly, and Wolverine ends up saving them from an unnamed villain who wants revenge for his treatment at the hands of Molly’s supervillain parents. Afterwards, Wolverine tells Molly that her parents couldn’t have been all bad if they raised a kid as good as her.

by Frank Tieri, Paco Diaz & Ulises Arreola
March 2010

Desperate to get his win back, Mr X obsessively trains to deal with savage opponents. Once ready, he takes a hostage to make Wolverine fight him once again. Wolverine shows up for the challenge but breaks Mr X’s spirit by simply refusing to fight him. Soon after, the villain gets recruited into the Thunderbolts. A bit trite but not bad.

by Victor Gischler & Das Pastoras
June 2009

Logan infiltrates a bizarre underground casino which bets on games of Russian Roulette. There’s a demon involved. It’s of no wider importance, but the art is beautiful and striking, and it’s worth a look.

The remainder of Dark Reign: Elektra #5 is placed here: Logan visits Elektra in the remote hut where she’s recuperating, and figures out that he had been dealing with the Skrull impostor for longer than he thought.

“Doom’s Master, part 4 of 4”
by Mark Millar, Joe Ahearne, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, Scott Hanna & Paul Mounts
July 2009

Wolverine is among the numerous heroes conjured up by Clyde Wyndham to battle the Marquis of Death (Wyndham’s own counterpart from the Old Man Logan timeline). He also shows up in the epilogue as a guest at the abortive wedding of the Thing and Deborah Green.

“American Son, part 1 of 5”
by Joe Kelly, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning & Chris Chuckry
May 2009

Spider-Man is desperate to bring down Norman Osborn. In a clever piece of role reversal, Wolverine figures out that Spider-Man isn’t sure whether he wants Norman out of power or just plain dead, and offers some sage advice. Violence may work against your regular thugs, he says, but patience and the long game are the way to go with “establishment guys” like Norman. Spider-Man should bide his time and wait until Norman slips up. And then kill him.

NEW AVENGERS vol 1 #51-54
“Dark Reign”
#51-52 by Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan, Matt Banning, Justin Ponsor, Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend & Antonio Fabela
#53-54 by Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan, Matt Banning & Justin Ponsor
March to June 2009

The New Avengers appoint Ronin as team leader, with Ms Marvel as second in command, and Spider-Man unmasks to his teammates. Then the Avengers fight the Hood and Dormammu, as part of a magical squabble to become the new Sorcerer Supreme. Wolverine’s role in the whole thing is marginal.

“Last Legs”
by Dan Slott, John Romita Jr, Klaus Janson & Dean White
July 2009

Dr Octopus hijacks every machine in Manhattan to create a “smart city” bent on attacking Spider-Man. The New Avengers help deal with the chaos.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN vol 1 #601 (second story)
“The Best Version of Myself”
by Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada & Morry Hollowell
August 2009

Spider-Man and Jessica Jones discuss their high school days, and the other New Avengers have a cameo at the end.

“Spider-Woman, Agent of S.W.O.R.D., part 7”
by Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev
March 2010

The New Avengers team with Spider-Woman against some Skrulls. Wolverine encourages her to come back to her friends and family once she’s got her issues sorted.

INCREDIBLE HULK vol 2 #601-603
“Banner’s Back” / “Playdate” / “Smash Meets Snikt”
by Greg Pak & Ariel Olivetti
August to October 2009

Issue #601 is just a cameo among a large number of heroes who show up to meet a depowered Bruce Banner.

In issues #602-603, Banner takes Skaar under his wing. When Skaar beats up the Juggernaut, Wolverine shows up to confront him. Skaar quickly despatches Wolverine, and heads off to deal with Daken, in a conflict that Banner has engineered. Banner keeps Wolverine at bay while their sons battle – but in fact, Skaar and Daken soon calm down and start talking, and Daken tries to recruit Skaar into the Dark Avengers.

Banner’s theory is that Skaar, who wants to kill the Hulk persona, can learn from seeing Daken, who has at least stopped obsessively trying to kill his father. Well, it’s a plan, I suppose. Wolverine accepts the logic, which is very generous of him, but complains that Banner is treating people like machines. When Daken seems to betray Skaar, Banner throws Wolverine into the fight to calm it down, and everyone ends up parting on awkward terms. The whole thing feels like a forced attempt to find a parallel with the random guest star.

ASTONISHING X-MEN vol 3 #31-35
by Warren Ellis, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning & Frank D’Armata
October 2009 to August 2010

The X-Men and Abigail Brand fight Kaga, who has reanimated dead mutants as organic Sentinels (one of whom is Paradigm of the New Hellions). Kaga claims that his assorted radiation-linked birth defects make him a mutant too, and he’s bitter about the X-Men’s popularity. I’m not sure Warren Ellis entirely understood the premise of the X-Men.

Unusually, Wolverine claims in issue #32 that his healing factor “comes with some pain reduction”, presumably because Ellis thinks that’s more plausible than him having an insane pain threshold or being in a permanent state of shock. He tends to write Wolverine as Cyclops’s sounding board or near-equal, but doesn’t give him much to do. The delays on this arc were indefensible, particularly given its slight plot – nine months passed between chapters 3 and 4. And much the same applies to…

5-issue miniseries
by Warren Ellis, Kaare Andrews & Frank D’Armata
May 2010 to February 2011

The X-Men investigate a spate of supposed mutant births in the African nation of Mbangawi, and meet its ruler Dr Crocodile (Joshua N’Dingi, an old Captain Britain character). The mutants turn out to be Warpies, distorted by exposure to Ghost Box radiation. The story also involved alternate reality versions of Jim Jaspers and the Furies; the X-Men trick the Furies into thinking that they’ve already destroyed Jaspers, so that they go home, and Crocodile quietly kills Jaspers later on.

Again, Ellis’s grasp of basic X-Men concepts is shaky – Beast claims that the newborns can’t be mutants because mutant powers only emerge at puberty, something which hasn’t been true since the 1970s. Issue #1 has Wolverine giving a weird speech that hasn’t aged well to the effect that there are no saints in Africa, all African leaders are dodgy, and even Nelson Mandela was a self-proclaimed terrorist – and then Storm chips in to say she agrees. Mind you, Dr Crocodile does get to respond in issue #3, arguing that Logan’s cynicism is just a way of justifying to himself his own participation in CIA-sponsored coups.

by Stuart Moore, Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman
December 2009

I’ve placed this out of publication order to avoid clashing with Logan’s relationship status. Logan revisits Casino Alexandria in Atlantic City, where he vaguely remembers an encounter with mafia underboss Phil DeBlasio 40 years ago. His return turns out to have been engineered by Phil’s daughter Amber DeBlasio (with whom Logan has a one-night stand), who wanted to bring Logan and old flame Katrina McCann back together, in the hope of unearthing information about her missing father. Logan fights off Amber and her men and lets them go; later, he meets an old man who may be the long-disappeared Phil.

3-issue miniseries
by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Gabriele Dell’otto
July to September 2010

This was a stop-gap miniseries between X-Force and Uncanny X-Force, but since the X-Force roster disband at the end of their volume, it has to take place earlier. It’s also probably best placed before Wolveirne meets Melita Garner.

The Assassins Guild want revenge on Domino for failing to fulfil a contract – she bailed in order to rescue some trafficking victims, but also stole a lost of money from them. Wolverine helps her fight assorted Assassins Guild thugs, including Bushwacker (who wants revenge on Wolverine too, for scarring his face way back in Daredevil #249), Nakh and Black Mamba (Tanya Sealy). The Guild eventually back off after being threatened by X-Force, and Domino gives most of the money to charity. By the standards of Kyle and Yost’s X-Force, this is a romp, and it’s a backdrop to random sexual tension between Wolverine and Domino.

“The Adamantium Men”
by Jason Aaron, Ron Garney & Jason Keith
April to August 2009

Wolverine: Weapon X was supposed to be the relaunched Wolverine solo title, but Marvel were too clever for their own good and failed to make that clear at the time. The result was something of a disaster, as Wolverine: Weapon X never recovered from an initial perception as a C-title, while sales on Wolverine also fell off a cliff when it became Dark Wolverine. This is the point where Wolverine stops being a sales juggernaut, not that you’d notice from the volume of appearances that he keeps making in the subsequent years. Wolverine: Weapon X only lasted sixteen issues before being rebooted again in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

The actual story is good. Logan draws the attention of journalist Melita Garner when he rescues her from muggers on the San Francisco subway. Meanwhile, he investigates Blackguard, a private military contractor (obviously a reference to Blackwater, who were topical at the time). Blackguard have acquired the Weapon X files on the black market, and have turned twelve of their own men into nanite-enhanced super-soldiers with energy claws. This group is Strikeforce X, led by Klein. Wolverine takes most of them out, but his narration implies that he sees them basically as victims who have been turned into weapons in the same way as him, even though they appear to have genuinely consented to the process.

He then starts hunting down Blackguard officials, leading to a fight with Klein. Klein has met Wolverine before while serving in Afghanistan and admires him; generally, Klein is portrayed as a broadly honest mercenary whose only real failing is his choice of employer. Logan and Klein fight each other to a standstill, after which Logan is arrested by H.A.M.M.E.R. agent Gertrude Jacks, who is also Maverick’s ex. She quietly lets him go, and gets arrested herself for her trouble.

Wolverine winds up marooning Strikeforce X and the Blackguard CEO on a desert island. Meanwhile, Melita exposes Blackguard and destroys their business thanks to a secret informant who turns out to be Wolverine himself. The dangling plot thread about the island is resolved in Wolverine #304 when a couple of the survivors are rescued by Kade Killgore; the same issue also establishes that Wolverine got Gertrude released after “Dark Reign” was over.

NEW AVENGERS vol 1 #55
by Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger & Dave McCaig
July 2009

A single panel of Wolverine asleep. After that, he returns to San Francisco to deal with X-Men business, and misses the rest of the arc.

Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia by Matt Fraction, Marc Silvestri, Joe Weems & Frank D’Armata
Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #514 by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Doson & Justin Ponsor
Dark Avengers vol 1 #8 by Matt Fraction, Luke Ross, Rick Magyar, Mark Pennington & Dean White
Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Exodus by Matt Fraction, Mike Deodato, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Justin Ponsor & Christina Strain
June to September 2009

Wolverine is marginal in this crossover – he only appears in four parts. After a fight between younger mutants and the Humanity Now! Coalition turns into a riot, Norman Osborn sends in the Dark Avengers, and enlists a reluctant Emma Frost to lead his own version of the X-Men –  the Dark X-Men, though they obviously don’t go by that name on the page. The team consists of Emma as the Black Queen, Namor, Daken as “Wolverine”, the Mimic, Michael Pointer as Omega, Cloak, Dagger and the Dark Beast. Wolverine spends most of the arc just trying to get back into San Francisco. Once he does, X-Force fight the Dark Avengers.

The X-Men raise Asteroid M from the bay, to become the new mutant micronation of Utopia, and the mutants relocate there. They repel another assault from the Dark Avengers, during which Wolverine gets to defeat Pointer and avenge Alpha Flight, who are still meant to be dead at this point. A single panel of that fight also appears in Dark X-Men: The Confession.

This begins the Utopia era, the first version of the “all the mutants together in an island nation” concept – though the “nation” consists of fewer than two hundred people on a salvaged rock.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #515 and #516 (part 1)
“Nation X, parts 1-2”
by Matt Fraction, Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Justin Ponsor
September & October 2009

Just background appearances – as a mourner at the funeral of Yuriko Takiguchi in issue #515, and watching Magneto arrive and argue Cyclops and Professor X in issue #516. We’ll come back to the rest of #516 quite some way down the line.

X-MEN LEGACY ANNUAL #1 and vol 1 #228-229
“Devil at the Crossroads”
by Mike Carey & Daniel Acuña
September to November 2009

More background cameos, as (mostly) other X-Men fight Emplate.

DEADPOOL vol 4 #16-18
“Want You To Want Me”
by Daniel Way, Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco & Marte Gracia
October to December 2009

The X-Men reject Deadpool’s application for membership, but Wolverine argues that he should have been let in – if only to keep an eye on him. Deadpool tries to help the X-Men by murdering Mercury’s father Ellis Kincaid, who has been giving hostile interviews about his efforts to gain access to his daughter. Wolverine saves Ellis from Deadpool, and Ellis publicly reveals that he was paid off by Norman Osborn. Afterwards, Wolverine argues that Deadpool has engineered a situation where the X-Men got to be heroes, and Cyclops rather implausibly thanks Deadpool for doing so.

by Matt Fraction, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Nathan Fairbairn
September 2009

Basically a Namor story, but Wolverine is among the X-Men who fight Marrina (in sea monster form) when Osborn sends her to attack Utopia.

In a flashback in the third story in Nation X #3, Wolverine appears in one panel of an X-Men meeting.

HULK vol 2 #14-17
“Code Red”
by Jeph Loeb, Ian Churchill, Mark Farmer & Peter Steigerwald
August to November 2009

When Domino sees the Red Hulk (Thunderbolt Ross, but that’s still a secret at this point) transforming into his human form, he assembles an unlikely team to hunt her down: Deadpool, the Punisher, Elektra, the Crimson Dynamo (Boris Turgenov) and Thundra. X-Force defend Domino and Wolverine fights the Red Hulk. (This fight is also seen in flashback in Fall of the Hulks: Red Hulk #2.) Wolverine blinds the Red Hulk, but gets attacked by the debuting Red She-Hulk (Betty Ross, which is also a secret for now). Eventually, the Red Hulk agrees not to expose X-Force’s existence in exchange for Domino promising to keep his identity secret, and X-Force handing over Domino’s employer Silver Sable. All rather chaotic.

4-issue miniseries
by Chris Yost, Harvey Tolibao, Paul Neary & Ulises Arreola
November 2009 to February 2010

Psylocke takes her original body back to Japan for burial. Wolverine tags along before departing for his regular annual attack on Matsu’o Tsurayaba. But when Wolverine shows up, Matsu’o is already in battle with Psylocke, Yukio and local superhuman Jinn, whose wife was killed by Matsu’o. Matsu’o has engineered this whole thing in the hope that Psylocke will kill him and free him from Wolverine’s annual torment. Wolverine perversely steps in to save Matsu’o’s life so that he can continue to suffer, but Psylocke decides that Wolverine has to be saved from this bizarre vendetta and made to realise how out of character it is. Eventually Wolverine relents and allows Psylocke to mercy-kill Matsu’o.

This is better than I remembered – it actually has a good reason for guest starring Wolverine, and he doesn’t overshadow the primary objective of rehabbing Psylocke as a viable character. Instead, it treats the baffling annual attacks concept as something weirdly out of character and makes that into a virtue, drawing a parallel with Psylocke’s own issues, and having the pointless vendetta as an obstacle in Psylocke’s own arc.

“The Ghost of Asteroid M”
by Simon Spurrier, Leonard Kirk & Jay David Ramos
December 2009

Just a one-panel cameo as some mutant kids tell the X-Men about a supposed ghost.

by Peter David Valentine de Landro, Pat Davidson & Jeromy Cox
January 2010

More cameos. Wolverine bets Cyclops that X-Factor Investigations will decline the invitation to visit Utopia (he’s wrong), and then helps to fight Crone.

X-FORCE vol 3 #12-#13
“Suicide Leper”
by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Clayton Crain
February & March 2009

We now hit a run of X-Force stories with no break in the action, which will take us all the way through to the end of the series.

When Beautiful Dreamer’s powers flare out of control and kill everyone at an anti-mutant rally, Cyclops suspects that Bastion has re-released the Legacy Virus. X-Force split up to attend three different rallies where they suspect the next bomb could go off – Wolverine goes to the wrong one, and thus misses the explosive demise of Fever Pitch.

The scheme turns out to be the work of the Leper Queen, who has also kidnapped Hellion, Surge and Boom-Boom. X-Force are sent to rescue them – but at the same time, Cyclops has nearly located Cable and Hope in the timestream and warns that rescuing Hope has to take priority. Naturally, just as X-Force are about to rescue the teenagers, Cyclops remotely transports the whole team to the far future, and so this storyline gets interrupted by…

X-Force / Cable: Messiah War Prologue #1 by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Mike Choi and Sonia Oback
Cable vol 2 #13-15 by Duane Swierczynski & Ariel Olivetti
X-Force vol 3 #14-16 by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Clayton Crain
March to June 2009

An exasperated X-Force find themselves in the ruined New York of 2973. Specifically, this is Earth-80521, the apocalyptic future timeline where Hope was raised by Cable. X-Force’s time travel technology means that have a time limit for returning home, otherwise they die – but Stryfe’s technology prevents them from jumping back.

X-Force team up with Cable and Earth-80521 Deadpool to fight Stryfe, whose time-jamming technology turns out to be an enslaved Earth-80521 Kiden Nixon (the time-freezing mutant from NYX). Earth-80521 Apocalypse also shows up, but that’s mainly an Archangel subplot. Eventually Stryfe is defeated, X-Force return home at the last minute, and Cable and Hope escape further into the future.

This is very boring, on top of which I don’t much care for the art on either book. It’s mainly a Cable story with X-Force contributing very little, other than to drive something of a wedge between Cable and Hope for their own next arc.

X-FORCE vol 3 #17-20
“Not Forgotten”
by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, Mike Choi & Sonia Oback
July to October 2009

X-Force return to their Leper Queen storyline in progress; the villain is quickly defeated, but X-23 is arrested and handed back to her creators, the Facility. Wolverine spends most of the arc trying to find X-23, and telling Domino how guilty he feels about dragging her back into black ops and away from the normal life that he had planned to deprogram her with. As a result, he’s more determined than ever to get her back on track. In the event, X-23 escapes with the aid of H.A.M.M.E.R. agent Ali Morales before her teammates get near her.

X-Necrosha #1 and X-Force vol 3 #21-25
by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Clayton Crain
October 2009 to March 2010

X-23 is debriefed by Cyclops, Wolverine and Dr Nemesis (James Bradley, who doesn’t seem to have met Wolverine on panel before), but refuses to explain what happened to her. Cyclops and Wolverine argue about whether she should be on X-Force at all, but that gets interrupted when Utopia comes under attack from Selene’s zombie mutants.

Among the zombies are several Hellions that Wolverine hasn’t met before: Bevatron (Fabian Marechal-Julbin), Jetstream (Haroun ibn Sallah al-Rashid), Tarot (Marie-Ange Colbert), Beef (Buford Wilson), and Catseye (Sharon Smith). Selene’s henchmen also include Wither (Kevin Ford), Blink (Clarice Ferguson) and Mortis (Lois London). Oh, and Diamond Lil (Lilian Crawley) gets killed in action.

Selene’s ultimate plan is to reap the souls of the resurrected mutants and turn herself into a goddess. X-Force are sent to Genosha to carry out a suicidal full-frontal attack on Selene. Somehow or other, they defeat her entire army thanks to Warpath suggesting some magical facepaint. Selene is blown up.

Afterwards, X-Force disband – Warpath, Elixir and Wolfsbane all quit, and Wolverine insists that X-23 leaves too. Cyclops immediately insists that a new team will have to be formed. There’s very little in this crossover to concern Wolverine, beyond the subplots with X-23.

NATION X #3 (third story)
by Chris Yost, Karl Moline & John Rauch
February 2010

Logan attends Diamond Lil’s funeral.

“My Hero, part 4”
by Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu, Stephen Segovia, Paco Diaz Luque, Sandu Florea, Guillermo Ortego, Jay Leisten, Marte Gracia & Antonio Fabela
November 2009

Logan watches news footage of Daken’s semi-staged exploits as a supposedly heroic “Wolverine”.

“Seven the Hard Way”
by Daniel Way, Doug Braithwaite, Bill Reinhold & Andy Troy
October 2009 to March 2010

This is one of those “the plot makes no sense, but ah, that’s actually because it’s all a terribly clever scheme” stories.

Wolverine decides to wrong-foot Romulus by bringing in outsiders that Romulus won’t have planned for. So he enlists the aid of Bruce Banner and Skaar, then gets the Silver Samurai to bring his swordfighting training up to speed. (Some of this training also appears in a flashback in issue #48.)

Romulus kidnaps Dagger, but Wolverine and Cloak rescue her. In the process, Wolverine kills Victor Hudson, even though the poor guy was actually protecting her from Romulus’s men. Next, Wolverine and Skaar break obscure villain Ruby Thursday out of jail; Ruby’s daughter is also apparently in Romulus’s orbit somewhere, so she quickly turns on Wolverine, and he dumps her back in jail.

It turns out that Wolverine got this whole plan from the Answer, who wasn’t trying to defeat Romulus at all, but mainly wanted to get Ruby out of jail. But wait, there’s another twist! Wolverine never expected the Answer’s plan to work, and the whole thing was just meant to confuse Romulus as part of a wider plan which was actually conceived by the demented Deadpool. I… guess that makes some sense?

It’s actually one of the better Origins arcs, because it’s just trying to be a romp and mostly succeeds.

by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Tom Palmer & Matthew Wilson
October 2009

Wolverine teams up with Marvel Boy and Fantomex to stop Norman Osborn from taking over the World (as in, the time bubble environment where Fantomex was created).

From our standpoint, the most notable thing in this issue is a sequence where Wolverine and the World’s inhabitants fall under the influence of Weapon XVI, described as a “living religion” which “attacks the faith reserves”. Fantomex and Marvel Boy are apparently immune because they’re atheists, the clear implication being that Jason Aaron thinks Wolverine has found god. Not a direction I much care for, but it’s something he keeps coming back to and trying to establish throughout his tenure.

2-issue miniseries
by Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz & Wil Quintana
October & November 2009

The Agents of Atlas (including the Uranian (Bob Grayson)) steal Cerebra in order to use it to find their missing teammate Venus, and have the obligatory fight with the X-Men before teaming up to fight the Atlas Empire. Since the X-Men would have loaned them Cerebra anyway, the whole thing is a bit pointless. Wolverine meets the Atlas dragon Mr Lao here too.

NATION X #1 (third story)
“Cold Shoulder”
by Chris Yost, Michele Bertilorenzi & Antonio Fabela
December 2009

Just a couple of cameos in the background of X-Men meetings.

UNCANNY X-MEN vol 1 #516 (part 2), #517 and #520-522
“Nation X”
#516-521 by Matt Fraction, Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Justin Ponsor
#522 by Matt Fraction, Whilce Portacio, Ed Tadeo & Justin Ponsor
October 2009 to March 2010

In issues #516-517, Wolverine is among the many mutants who fight some Predator Xs that are dumped on Utopia. This turns out to be a ruse to infect Utopia with nanites that are sending data on the mutants to New York.

In issues #520-521, Wolverine is among the X-Men who trace the signal to the actual villains, Lobe and his henchmen Burst, Verre, Bouncing Betty and Thug. Lobe runs a kind of corporate version of the U-Men, and he wants to sell mutant powers for profit. The villains escape in the ensuing fight.

In issue #522, Wolverine is among the X-Men present for Kitty Pryde’s return to Earth, though she remains stuck in phased form for the moment.

NATION X #1 (second story)
“Road Trip!”
by James Asmur, Michael Allred & Laura Allrd
December 2009

Nightcrawler and Wolverine discuss whether the X-Men are doing the right thing by segregating themselves from humanity. Wolverine supports Cyclops’ decision, on the basis that the only objective at this stage is survival. We’re supposed to be amazed that Wolverine is showing respect to Cyclops.

NATION X #2 (fourth story)
“Cajun Justice”
by Becky Cloonan
January 2010

A brief cameo in a Gambit story, snarkily telling Remy that the reason he can’t sleep is probably because he used to be a Marauder. Remarkably, Gambit interprets this as Logan “mean[ing] well”.

NATION X #4 (fourth story)
“The King and Queen of Utopia”
by Joe Caramagna & Nino Henrichon
March 2010

Another cameo. Wolverine congratulates Namor on bringing the Utopians a giant fish to eat.

“Insane in the Brain”
by Jason Aaron, Yanick Paquette, Michel LaCombe & Nathan Fairbairn
October 2009 to January 2010

Genuinely bizarre horror arc, which starts off with Wolverine as a straitjacketed patient in the suspiciously run-down Dunwich Sanatorium, where he is told that his memories appear to be delusions, is tormented by superficially well-meaning but blatantly fake staff, and encounters such bizarre fellow inmates as Charlie Chainsaws, the Biter, the Widow and the Dwarves. “Dunwich” is an HP Lovecraft reference (as is Arkham Asylum).  Part of the joke is that Logan’s attempts to recount his actual back story are treated as evidence that he’s plainly mad.

Logan remains confused and baffled for most of the arc, but we eventually establish that he’s been investigating a serial killer who somehow got released from the Sanatorium. The previous hospital manager, Dr Marshall Swinson, was cynically turning his inmates into disposable assassins for use by the mob, but one of the patients has seized control of the asylum – Dr Rot (Bentley Newton, or “Algernon Rottwell”). Aside from being deranged, Rot has a plan to build a telepathic machine using extracted human brains, which remarkably seems to work. Fortunately, Rot can’t extract Wolverine’s brain because of his adamantium skull, and his attempts to read Wolverine’s memory allow him to send a brief psychic message to Melita. Psylocke duly shows up disarm Rot’s device, but the villain escapes, claiming to be embedded in Wolverine’s mind. In an epilogue, Rot apparently does manage to give Logan a trigger word that makes him go and cut out a victim’s brain, leaving Wolverine with no knowledge.

This isn’t necessarily what most people are looking for in their Wolverine stories, but it’s genuinely weird and disturbing. The subplot about Rot’s trigger word does get resolved, but not until 2012.

Next time, the end of Dark Reign, the end of “no more mutants”, the end of Wolverine: Origins and yet another relaunch for Wolverine’s solo title.

Bring on the comments

  1. Dave O'Neill says:

    There’s a lot of guys doing amazing art who just upped and vanished when Cebulski took power.

  2. Ryan T says:

    On the Holiday Nightcrawler story: isn’t he dead in continuity at this point? It’d have to be a flashback, then, right?

    Maybe I’m missing something?

  3. JD says:

    Beast claims that the newborns can’t be mutants because mutant powers only emerge at puberty, something which hasn’t been true since the 1970s.

    Even worse, this blatantly contradicts Beast’s own Silver Age origin story !

    @Ryan T : Nightcrawler will die in 2010’s Second Coming crossover, and is thus technically still up and around (although he wasn’t up to much during the Utopia era).

  4. Thom H. says:

    Random thoughts:

    Being a Wolverine completist at this time must have been very expensive. Even if you weren’t collecting his cameo appearances, that’s a lot of issues.

    I completely missed the memo that Wolverine and James Hudson are related now. Also, that’s a dumb idea.

    Marrina is on my official list of Eighties Heroines What Got Done Wrong. Poor Marrina.

    This was Warren Ellis’ second (third?) attempt at writing something X-related, but he never quite wrangled the characters into his preferred story structures, did he? The mischaracterizations are so jarring.

  5. PsychoAndy says:

    I had opened a comic shop in December of 2008, which had lots of downtime during the weekdays. I ended up reading most of these issues as they were coming out, along with basically everything Marvel and DC were putting out, to try and be knowledgeable about what was going on. I definitely recognize all of the covers, but I don’t remember any of the details of most of the issues. I’m not sure if that’s due to poor writing or me just overloading my brain with comics content at the time.

    I do, however, remember enjoying the first arc of Wolverine: Weapon X, but thinking the insane asylum arc was WAYYY off the mark for a Wolverine story.

    The three years of running the store sort of blend together and events overlap, but this was also around the time that Dick Grayson was Batman and Damian had initially become Robin. And say what you will about Geoff Johns now, but Green Lantern: Blackest Night was the hottest thing going at the time.

    Oh, and All Hail Megatron was closer to what I was expecting from IDW’s run than Simon Furman’s “-ation” stories had been.

    Ah, and the Watchmen movie happened.

  6. Jenny says:

    Up until about 2 years ago I would have said that the speech Wolverine gives about African leaders was the most tone-deaf thing Warren Ellis ever wrote.

  7. Daibhid C says:

    Issue #1 has Wolverine giving a weird speech that hasn’t aged well to the effect that there are no saints in Africa, all African leaders are dodgy, and even Nelson Mandela was a self-proclaimed terrorist

    I’m not sure about “aged”, as such; I feel like this would probably have been a “Really, Ellis?” moment twelve or thirteen years ago.

  8. Chris V says:

    Thom-It was his fifth X-title, depending on what you want to count.

    -Storm mini-series
    -Wolverine story-arc
    -Counter X revamp

    Excalibur was quite enjoyable.

  9. Rob says:

    Excellent reading as usual, Paul.

    Just two small things. In Messiah War, I think you meant to write that Cable and Hope or Cable and Bishop escape to the further future, not Cable and Stryfe (doesn’t he end up possessed by Apocalypse at the end?).

    And the Nation X arc of Uncanny ended in 2010, not 2020. 🙂

    Also, holy moly, James Hudson and Wolverine are cousins?? That whole throuple situation just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

  10. yrzhe says:

    So, is that “Wolverine’s mother, the Weapon-X professor, and Alpha Flight’s Guardian are all related” bit ever mentioned again?

  11. Nu-D says:

    That’s a tremendous amount of content. It will be interesting at the end of this to see which year(s) were heaviest on Wolverine content. A line graph might be fun.

  12. Paul says:

    Thanks, Rob – I’ve fixed those.

    @yrzhe: The usual rule of thumb is that nothing in Wolverine: Origins is ever mentioned again, except for the back story of Daken.

  13. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I miss Melita Garner, she was great.

  14. Nu-D says:

    This begins the Utopia era, the first version of the mutant nation concept – though the “nation” consists of fewer than two hundred people on a salvaged rock.

    Come again? Genosha was set up as a mutant nation after the end of X-Tinction Agenda, again under Magneto in the late 1990’s, and yet again during Decimation.

    And all the way back in the Claremont/Cockrum run, Magneto was declaring Asteroid M to be a sovereign mutant nation, although admittedly he was the only resident until the Acolytes came along in 1991.

    Utopia is the first time the mutant nation was the central setting for a book (unless you count Excalibur v.2), but the concept of a mutant nation has been around a long time.

  15. Gareth says:

    I remember enjoying the first arc of Wolverine: Weapon X too. But Maverick was in it and I’ve always had an inexplicable fondness for him.

    I liked the look of the laser-claws on the villains too.

  16. Ryan T says:

    For whatever reason I thought Nightcrawler ate it in Messiah Complex and not Second Coming, don’t mind me

  17. Thom H. says:

    Thanks, Chris — I knew I was forgetting something important. Weird that he could tone down his usual style at least a little bit for Excalibur but went full bore with Astonishing. I remember seeing that he wrote Forge as one of his stock insane-because-technology characters, and I was no longer interested.

  18. wwk5d says:

    “Logan doesn’t really believe in atonement, which I guess plays into how he feels about his own past.”

    Unless you are his son?

    “The usual rule of thumb is that nothing in Wolverine: Origins is ever mentioned again, except for the back story of Daken.”

    And we should all be thankful for that.

    “Genosha was set up as a mutant nation after the end of X-Tinction Agenda”

    No it wasn’t.

    “And all the way back in the Claremont/Cockrum run, Magneto was declaring Asteroid M to be a sovereign mutant nation”

    Not during the first run. Not even during the second run, I think, though he might have mentioned it during Uncanny #150?

  19. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    That’s a lot of mediocre Wolverine content for one year.

    As for Aaron’s Wolverine: Weapon X – I’m pretty cold on that book. The one thing I’ll say about the Doctor Rot story is that it was memorable. But other than that… I liked Melita Garner and I loved the ‘Love and the Wolverine’ issue – it was perfect – but the rest of the series is something of a blur.

    As for Ellis – at the time I thought him one of the best things that ever happened to the medium… and even for the me of 2009 his Astonishing run was a dud.

  20. Paul says:

    @Nu-D – That’s a fair point, I’ll rephrase it. It’s the first version of the “all the mutants joining together” nation concept. Magneto’s Genosha is a mutant nation, but it still has a minority human population, and very few of the regular cast actually go to live there – there’s supposedly a vast number of mutants living there, but from the reader’s point of view they’re almost all faceless.

  21. Chris V says:

    Magneto keeps creating strongholds.

  22. Chris says:

    Magneto needs an island or an asteroid.

    As for Geoff Johns… everything I say about Geoff Johns now is what I was saying BEFORE “Blackest Night”

    His tics, habit, and formulae do not seem to ever change.

    The Adamantium Men was an awesome story and I thought the “gaslight the protagonist in an insane asylum” wasn’t new when it possibly happened to the Batman in LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT. The telepathy machine built from multiple human brains was clever and I enjoyed that idea though.

  23. Nu-D says:

    Re: Genosha, I stand corrected. It wasn’t until Magneto took over that it became an explicitly mutant nation. After X-Tinction Agenda it was supposed to be a post-apartheid state.

    Re: Asteroid M, it’s certainly referred to as a “sovereign mutant nation” by 1991, and I believe that refers back to #148-150ish, around when the Russians fired missiles at Magneto.

    On the other hand, I would note that all the way back in X-Men #4, Magneto conquered Santo Marco as a first step in conquering the world on behalf of mutants. He imposes a mutant supremacy, with humans as slaves. Admittedly, the only mutants were Magneto, Toad, Mastermind and the Maximoff twins, and it only lasts one issue, but it’s still the first time a “mutant nation” appears in the comics.

    I guess my guess not point is even when reading those late Claremont Genosha stories, the idea of establishing a mutant nation didn’t feel fresh. It felt like a story which had been dabbled, but hadn’t really been done in full yet, and Genosha was the obvious setting. By the time Utopia came around it felt somewhat stale as a concept. My thought was, they tried this already, can they actually make it work this time?

  24. No-D says:

    In Avengers #47-49, Magneto addresses the UN to demand the establishment of a “mutant nation.”

    He also tries to create a mutant society in the Savage Land during the Roy Thomas run.

    My point here is that the idea was always part of the X-Men canon, particularly with regards to Magneto. Genosha was the first nearly successful attempt, though we never saw much of it on the page. Utopia was the first time we saw it from the inside in any detail, because it was the first time the X-Men were insiders in the project.

  25. MasterMahan says:

    I recall Astonishing X-Men going from Joss Whedon to Warren Ellis having some real tonal whiplash. Up until two years ago, I might have said they didn’t have anything in common.

    I actually liked how Mister X was used in Thunderbolts. That role was getting his ass kicked by people figuring out various ways to get past his power, but considering he considering he was a smug sociopath seemingly designed to be as punchable as possible, it was satisfying.

  26. >Issue #1 has Wolverine giving a weird speech that hasn’t aged well to the effect that there are no saints in Africa, all African leaders are dodgy, and even Nelson Mandela was a self-proclaimed terrorist – and then Storm chips in to say she agrees.

    And this was just a few years after Mandela himself attended her wedding to an African leader.

    What, did Mandela bring a really lousy gift?

  27. Dave says:

    To be fair, that Eternals story dealt with the Dreaming Celestial in San Francisco, right? That gave it an X link at the time.

    I remember being baffled by that Sisterhood arc choosing to use so much of the more convoluted X continuity in one story – Psylocke/Kwannon, (non-)resurrections, Madelyne’s whole status at the time.

    As the supposed middle part of the Messiah trilogy, Messiah War was easily the worst of the 3, and quite skippable. Probably the low point of that version of X-Force, which I generally really enjoyed.
    Necrosha would have been a good final story for Selene.

    I think that Anniversary one-shot just having WOLVERINE on the cover is responsible for me only now learning of its existence, when I’d read everything else here except for the 2099 thing.

  28. Chris V says:

    Is the cover included here from the Marvel digital edition? It looks like they may have removed “The Anniversary” from the cover of the digital version for no discernible reason. I had also never heard of the comic and on a whim decided to look it up. MyComicShop shows the cover title as reading “Wolverine: The Anniversary”, as (it seems) does every other print copy reproduced online.

  29. Andrew says:

    This was such a weird time to be reading the X-Books and particularly the Wolverine stuff.

    The main action with Marvel was of course Dark Reign which permeated pretty much everything. With hindsight, Bendis should have left the Avengers books after Siege. More or less everything from the Heroic Age feels very paint-by-numbers and anti-climatic.

    But the main take-away from this article is the absolutely monstrous amount of Wolverine content, much of which isn’t good or is entirely forgotten. I know part of it was that his movie was coming out that year (which is a largely terrible film) but wow, there’s so much.

    But also, as Paul notes, there are just so many failed reboots/direction changes which just don’t work or last an incredibly short period.

    Wolverine: Weapon X I remember liking its first arc but dropping it in frustration during the Insane storyline.

    The Ellis Astonishing X-Men run was one I’d forgotten about too but wow, what a disaster. The chronic delays and the terrible storylines just left that book absolutely dead on arrival, despite all the pre-release hype.

    As I recall, other writers were unimpressed with what he did with Forge and almost immediately undid it.

    I remember really liking Exodus and the Nation X stuff but in retrospect, you can see why it didn’t quite work in comparison to what was later done with Krakoa and all that.

    The Matt Fraction run is really strange in retrospect too. I’ve never entirely known what to make of it beyond not liking it particularly. The Land artwork didn’t help and his propensity to introduce lots of villains who have little to do beyond say their name was very early 2000s Claremont.

  30. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I don’t know if three years is ‘almost immediately’ – AFAIK Forge didn’t appear at all between Ellis’s Astonishing and Hopeless’s Cable and X-Force.

    Re: Land’s artwork. I love that Uncanny X-Men cover with Psylocke and Kwannon split in the middle. Remember kids, one of these women is East Asian. Clearly. Plain as day.

  31. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    This was a dark period in collecting X-comics. It literally infuriated me that Marvel kept paying money to guys like Greg Land and Daniel Way or thought anyone wanted a Daken centric on-going. All this on the heels of Frank Tieri and Chuck Austen, and right before Victor Gischler kicks off a new X-Men on-going with a vampire story (?), or Jeph Loeb takes a massive dump on the Ultimates universe. I felt like Marvel had just set out to personally insult me.

    Yeah, the 2000s definitely cured me of being an X-Men completionist and sent me desperately searching for stuff from other publishers (which I guess worked out for the best).

  32. PsychoAndy says:

    >As for Geoff Johns… everything I say about Geoff Johns now is what I was saying BEFORE “Blackest Night”

    >His tics, habit, and formulae do not seem to ever change.

    Fair enough! With the benefit if hindsight, I totally see all of the criticisms against Geoff Johns.

    But, from a retailer perspective, the two things I kept selling out of during the 2009-2010 time period were BLACKEST NIGHT and DARK AVENGERS. That’s all I meant to say. 🙂

  33. Andrew says:

    @ Krzysiek Ceran

    Wow, was it that long? Those few years totally blur together for me.


    Yes absolutely, Blackest Night was absolutely gigantic, as was pretty much all of Johns’ Green Lantern run.

    His success on reviving that book and turning it into a genuine critical and commercial hit is still a huge feather in his cap.

    The Sinestro Corp War was a great storyline and it (along with Morrison’S Batman) certainly stood out compared to the several disastrous attempts to relaunch Superman during that era (the Geoff Johns/Kurt Busiek runs which were both crushed by chronic delays) and the whole New Krypton thing.

    Looking back on the X-Books of this era,the whole San Francisco move seems even weirder given the gigantic push Marvel put into it in mid-2008 – The core books and the mini-series etc – and the attempts to set up new supporting casts, new locations and new storylines only to abandon it by mid-late 2009.

  34. wwk5d says:

    “But the main take-away from this article is the absolutely monstrous amount of Wolverine content, much of which isn’t good or is entirely forgotten. I know part of it was that his movie was coming out that year (which is a largely terrible film) but wow, there’s so much.”

    It feels like anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of these entries are 2 page or less cameos. And he doesn’t seem to be doing all that much in the Avengers titles. And much of the other stuff he appears in, especially the miniseries or the one shots, isn’t exactly a good story or all the memorable.

    Which is kind of true for many other years as well.

    “The usual rule of thumb is that nothing in Wolverine: Origins is ever mentioned again, except for the back story of Daken.”

    And we should all be super grateful for that.

  35. Mike Loughlin says:

    Daniel Way, Frank Tieri, and Jeph Loeb were the writers to avoid during this period. For me, Kyle & Yost were in that category as well. Yes, they are better writers than the other three I’ve mentioned. Still, I didn’t like anything I read by them. Most of it came off as bland, with ultraviolence thrown in for good measure. No thanks.

  36. PsychoAndy says:


    But at least Superman got to take a walk to clear his head after all those less-than-successful relaunched, eh?

    The whole X-Men in San Francisco thing never really worked for me. I appreciate the idea of spreading out the superheroes so they aren’t all just up in New York. But something about this particular story didn’t work. Maybe because it wasn’t given enough time to coalesce between annual Universe-spanning events.

    Kind of the inherent problem with trying to establish a status quo when there’s only a few months between a new 8-issue “status quo shake-up.”

  37. Maxwell's Hammer says:


    That’s one of the things I like about the Krakoa era. For all its faults, it feels meaningful, and not just a New Status Quo! blip. I worry so much that instead of it evolving naturally into whatever’s next, they’ll just have the island blow up or something and everybody go their separate ways into various new teams that behave more or less like they all did pre-Krakoa.

    And that they’ll get Chuck Austen to write it!!!!

  38. Andrew says:

    @ PsychoAndy

    Oh god I’d forgotten about the JMS Superman goes for a walk 12-parter.

    That thing was hyped to high heaven too and it was terrible.

    The San Francisco stuff reads even weirder in hindsight as Brubaker hands off the book to Fraction and the whole era effectively is 14-15 issues (the last several of which are the Utopia crossover).

    It’s full of set-up, new locations (remember the X-Men’s giant new headquarters?), sub-plots, Prominent new characters (Sadie the Mayor and Pixie) and storylines which go nowhere and are largely abandoned the following year.

    It reminds me a lot of the Seagle/Kelly era which similarly sets up a lot of things and then goes absolutely nowhere before ending prematurely.

    Utopia, Nation X and Second Coming I recall really liking when they happened because it felt like the books suddenly had some urgency and direction but it then pivoted into Schism and the big relaunch of the line, which also got largely ditched within a few months for Avengers Vs X-Men.

    These various directions (as well as all the others up until Krakoa) never lasted long enough for them to even feel like a status quo, let alone lived-in, in any kind of way.

  39. Mark Coale says:

    I just recently praised JMS (for the Ghostbusters cartoon) and I still felt bad about that.

  40. Josie says:

    “And say what you will about Geoff Johns now, but Green Lantern: Blackest Night was the hottest thing going at the time.”

    I still like Blackest Night a whole lot. The main series was good. The GL and GLC tie-ins were good. And a few other books, like the Flash and Wonder Woman miniseries and some of the one-shots, were good. This is a story I still enjoy rereading.

    Part of the benefit of Johns going from Sinestro Corps War into Secret Origin (which was, honestly, a waste of time itself) is that he only had about a year to set up Blackest Night. On one hand, I think there was three years’ worth of material he could’ve squeezed in there. On the other hand, that means by the time we got to Blackest Night, there was a lot of untapped potential that Blackest Night got to first.

    It also had the effect of making Green Lantern a much better balanced book. Hal Jordan was, from start to finish, the dullest thing about Johns’s run, but at the time of Blackest Night, Johns started adding all the other-colored lantern characters to the cast, which rounded things out tremendously. Sinestro was pretty much a co-lead for the remaining three years and possibly single-handedly kept the book interesting.

  41. Josie says:

    “I just recently praised JMS (for the Ghostbusters cartoon) and I still felt bad about that.”

    Does that show (at least the early seasons) still hold up? I only have nostalgia goggles to go on, haven’t seen it in decades, but I imagine it can’t be too bad to watch today.

  42. Josie says:

    “The San Francisco stuff reads even weirder in hindsight as Brubaker hands off the book to Fraction and the whole era effectively is 14-15 issues (the last several of which are the Utopia crossover).”

    And then Fraction hands things off to Gillen, right? I’m rereading Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery these days, and I was thinking that Uncanny must have been the first collaboration between Fraction and Gillen. Thor and JIM were pretty tightly plotted at the time, I think, although JIM is kind of in perpetual crossover mode for its entire run. The first seven (!!!) issues are all Fear Itself tie-ins.

  43. Mark Coale says:

    I think the show is still mostly watchable. It’s prob one of the better Sat morning shows of that era, before WB raises the bar of quality with BTAS, Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, TazMania and the rest.

  44. Chris says:

    Geoff Johns’ untapped potential is called “Alan Moore”

  45. @wwk5d, in (un)fairness, *no one* did all that much in Bendis’ Avengers titles.

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