TOP

Abandoned Love: So Is Sabretooth Wolverine’s Dad or What?

by  in Comic News Comment

Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without explaining that the previous story was retconned away. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Inspired by a few commenters (namely Laurence S. and Gokitalo) who noted some lines of dialogue alluding to this storyline during my spotlight on the bizarrely awesome Elsie Dee, I figured I’d feature this unique edition of Abandoned Love, in the sense that technically, the same writer who abandons the plot is the same writer who INTRODUCED the plot, but in this instance, the introduction of the plot was in response to a longstanding belief among fans (and, at one point in time, the intention of Sabretooth’s creators, Chris Claremont and John Byrne) that Sabretooth was Wolverine’s father,,,

Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced Sabretooth in the pages of Iron Fist, but even back then, Claremont and Byrne were thinking that this new character was tied to the character Claremont was then writing in the pages of X-Men (and who Byrne would soon be drawing on a regular basis), Wolverine. In fact, as noted in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed, Byrne gave Sabretooth the face that he initially had come up with for Wolverine when Wolverine had not yet been shown without his mask (in between Byrne sending to Claremont his idea for what Wolverine looked like, Dave Cockrum ended up revealing Wolverine’s actual face in an issue of X-Men).

A few years later, when both men were plotting X-Men together (as related in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed), they actually came up with a plotline where Sabretooth is revealed as Wolverine’s dad. The idea of the story is that Wolverine has been tortured by Sabretooth his whole life, and Sabretooth always got the upper hand. However, after killing Wolverine’s girlfriend, Mariko, this drives Wolverine basically nuts, and he is able to successfully defeat (and kill) his father. Byrne left Uncanny X-Men before the storyline could come about, and Claremont went in a different direction with new artist/co-plotter, Dave Cockrum.

In the Wolverine mini-series, though, that Claremont did with Frank Miller in 1982, roughly a year after when he and Byrne were planning on revealing Sabretooth as Wolverine’s father, Claremont has Wolverine note that he DOES know who his father is, something we never knew until that point and a bit that no one would ever actually explicitly return to…


However, Claremont then used the baaaaaasic plot that he and Byrne had come up with for Uncanny X-Men for a memorable issue of Wolverine’s ongoing series, Claremont’s last issue as the writer on the series, Wolverine #10 (with artists John Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz), where we discover that Sabretooth tortures Wolverine ever year on Wolverine’s birthday. The story is intercut between Wolverine working on a case in the present day and the story of the day in the past when Sabretooth killed Wolverine’s girlfriend just to mess with him…



We see that Sabretooth is clearly trying to teach Wolerine SOME sort of twisted lesson…


And it comes to a head later in the issue in the flashback….




Wolverine ends up sort of defeating Sabretooth for the first time by, in effect, trying to kill both of them by jumping off of the mountain with Sabretooth in tow. This obviously led to a change in their relatonship, as Wolverine finally showed him something.

However, in the present day, we see that Sabretooth is still keeping an eye out on Wolverine…


This take on Sabretooth didn’t necessarily work well with the character as then-presented in stories like Mutant Massacre, which is why Claremont also intended (as established in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed) to reveal that Wolverine #10 was the first appearance of the REAL Sabretooth, and all those other Sabretooth appearances were by inferior clone versions of Sabretooth created by Mister Sinister, which is how Wolverine was able to defeat Sabretooth so easily in Mutant Massacre and Inferno (and why Black Cat was able to defeat Sabretooth and why Rogue got her ass kicked by him…okay, that last part doesn’t make sense no matter what).

However, that take on Sabretooth also seems to pretty clearly indicate SOME special relationship between the two, right? Claremont certainly seemed to be on the way towards establishing that Sabretooth was, indeed, Wolverine’s father (particularly whan coupled with the bit he wrote in the Wolverine mini-series about Wolverine knowing his father). Claremont, though, around the beginning of the 1990s, stopped being the driving force behind the character of Wolverine (or any X-Men character, really), as X-Office Editor Bob Harras began to take on that role a bit more.

Thus, we got Wolverine #41-42. Go to the next page to see how it all went down…

Wolverine #41 (by Larry Hama, Marc Silvestri and Dan Green) was right smack middle in the aforementioned storyline introducing the little walking lisping mutant bomb known as Elsie Dee. Wolverine ends up in the New York sewers along with Elsie Dee and Cable (Cable would just pop up in the strangest places back in the early 1990s), where Wolverine accidentally encounters Sabretooth, who had been crippled by Caliban recently and left for dead in the sewers. Sabretooth heals just in time to mess with Wolverine. Hama here decides to explicitly go after the subtext of Wolverine #10…




So they tangle with each other for the rest of the issue, and that carries over into Wolverine #42…


Eventually Wolverine, Sabretooth, Cable and Elsie Dee all get carried away by some flooding in the sewer and it’s hilariously madcap, with lots of bizarre father jokes mixed in with the action…



Finally, after SHIELD shows up to save them and Sabretooth and Elise Dee fall out of a helicopter (with Elsie Dee saving Wolverine’s life from Sabretooth – really, just read the I Love Ya But You’re Strange writeup on Elsie Dee, it’s simpler), Hama resolves the whole “Is Sabretooth Wolverine’s dad?” storyline once and for all, and he promptly abandons the idea…



As we all know, the one person you can ALWAYS trust is some nameless SHIELD lab tech. Plus, Nick Fury has never been known to lie to people for his own weird reasons, right? However, for whatever reason, this answer has been accepted as definitive ever since.

Okay, that’s it for this edition of Abdandoned Love! Feel free to write in to bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any ideas for notable dropped comic book plots for future editions of the column!