When he was introduced, Wolverine did not actually technically even have a healing power, exactly. Instead, he was just supposed to be so scrappy that he could take a beating better than heroes twice his size (he was named after an animal that is famous for being able to defeat much larger animals in battle). Once he joined the X-Men, however, and his creator (Len Wein) stopped writing his adventures, Wolverine’s healing power was slowly expanded. He went from not being able to withstand being blasted by a machine gun (during the “Dark Phoenix Saga”) to being able to come back from an explosion that seared all of the flesh off of his body (during “Civil War”).
When you become so well known for having a healing factor, though, writers naturally want to see what happens when you lose that power, so Wolverine has lost his healing powers many times over the years, to varying degrees of internet ballyhoo, and sometimes resulting even in his unlikely (and, let’s be real here, impermanent) death. Here are 15 times (all in-continuity instances) where it happened.
15. A KISS, FREELY GIVEN
Likely the first time that we saw Wolverine’s powers go was in a fight between Wolverine and Rogue in Uncanny X-Men #158 (by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek). However, while Rogue absorbs Wolverine’s powers and knocks him out, we don’t actually see if she got his healing powers or not. She just mentions his enhanced senses. Rogue, though, then ended up joining the X-Men after she couldn’t deal with her powers anymore (she had absorbed Ms. Marvel’s personality and it was driving her mad).
In her first mission with the team, she proved herself to a wary Wolverine while they were fighting Viper and Silver Samurai in Uncanny X-Men #173 (by Claremont, Paul Smith and Wiacek) and Wolverine gave up his healing factor to her to save her life, while also solidifying her place as an accepted member of the X-Men.
14. MORLOCK’S REVENGE
One of the interesting things that Chris Claremont did in the early 1980s was that he tried to make sure that whenever Wolverine had a miniseries, that Wolverine would then be written out of the main series until that miniseries was over. Due to that approach, Wolverine was not present during the X-Men’s famous initial conflict with the Morlocks, where Storm famously defeated Callisto in hand-to-hand combat. Taking Wolverine out of the scenario proved to be very valuable, as it allowed Storm to step up and be the team badass.
However, Wolverine was there for the rematch a year later in Uncanny X-Men #179 (by Claremont, John Romita Jr. and Bob Wiacek), where the Morlocks try to hold Kitty to a promise to marry Caliban. We meet the young Morlock known as Leech, who nullifies people’s powers. Wolverine reminded everyone, though, that his claws still worked.
13. DEATHSTRIKE FATIGUE
After a rough time fighting the Beyonder during Secret Wars II, Wolverine then was hunted down by Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers (cyborg versions of men that Wolverine had maimed in the past) and he was brutalized. Luckily, Katie Power (from Power Pack) helped him escape long enough to get himself into enough a position where he could defeat Deathstrike.
However, while up to this point, it seemed like there was no limit to Wolverine’s healing factor, we discovered that you could overload it and that’s what happened after that fight. Wolverine was not healing like normal because his factor had been taxed too much. SO he had to rest to heal. Wolverine, though, dragged himself out of bed to stop his teammate, Rachel, from killing the villainous Selene. Even if it meant killing Rachel himself (Wolverine teaches weird lessons).
12. POSTCARD FROM GENOSHA
One of the major social metaphors during Chris Claremont’s X-Men run was the island nation of Genosha, where mutants were the vast majority but they were subjugated and controlled by the human minority ruling class. This, of course, was a metaphor for South Africa during the time of Apartheid, where the black majority was subjugated by the white minority. As it turned out, the major way that the humans were able to control the mutants was through their ability to cancel out the mutant powers.
This is what happened to Wolverine and Rogue when they were captured and brought to Genosha in Uncanny X-Men #236 (by Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri and Dan Green). Wolverine soon began to succumb to adamantium poisoning without his healing power to counteract the effects. Rogue (whose body was now controlled by Ms. Marvel) helped her old friend to escape.
11. POST-CRUCIFIXION BLUES
One of the many subplots that Chris Claremont never got a chance to resolve before he was removed as the writer of the X-Men titles was a storyline that involved Wolverine’s healing power no longer functioning correctly. That storyline began with another attack by the Reavers on Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men #251 (by Claremont, Silvestri and Green) where the Reavers take Wolverine by surprise and actually crucify him!
Luckily, a young mutant named Jubilee had been secretly living in the X-Men’s base and she was able to sneak out and rescue Wolverine. However, his healing power did not kick in like normal and he was slower and less effective over the next year and half before Claremont left and then everything just went back to normal (Claremont had been planning to lead to a story where Wolverine was killed and then resurrected by the Hand).
10. OMEGA RED DAWN
In his first storyline as the main writer on X-Men (following Chris Claremont’s departure), Jim Lee introduced a new villain known as Omega Red, as part of a storyline in X-Men where we learned more about Wolverine’s career as a secret agent before he was part of the Weapon X project. We discovered that he and Sabretooth were both secret agents together, alongside another mutant known as Maverick.
Their past caught up to them when some villains resurrected an old foe of theirs known as Omega Red. Omega Red had coils made out of carbonadium, which was an adamantium-like substance that had the additional property of being able to cancel out healing powers. This naturally made Omega Red quite a dangerous foe for Wolverine, as seen in this battle from X-Men #5 (by Lee, Whilce Portacio, John Byrne and Scott Williams).
9. UNWILLING ADAMANTIUM DONOR
After a few years of an uneasy truce with Magneto, the X-Men decided that they had to finally take him out for good after he had wreaked havoc on Earth through a global electromagnetic pulse that knocked out electricity over the planet (including crashing whatever planes that were in the sky at the time). Professor X put together a small strike team to sneak into Magneto’s headquarters and he included Wolverine on the team for his stealth abilities.
However, Magneto discovered their presence and in a battle between the master of magnetism and the X-Men, he unleashed his power in a furious assault on Wolverine where Magneto pulled the adamantium out of Wolverine’s body! The process overloaded Wolverine’s healing power, leaving it ineffective for some time after that. Professor X responded to Magneto’s attack by wiping Magneto’s mind out entirely!
8. TOLERANCE LEVELS AT ZERO
As it turned out, when he wiped out Magneto’s mind, Magneto’s mind ended up merging with Professor X’s and slowly the two minds created an alternate being made out of pure psionic energy known as Onslaught. He was basically the worst parts of Xavier and Magneto’s brains and he tried to destroy the world. When he was defeated, Xavier volunteered to surrender himself into the custody of the United States government to make sure that this did not happen again.
While in custody, the evil Bastion used Xavier’s extensive files on his students to create a group of special Sentinels that could exploit the weaknesses in the X-Men as part of Operation: Zero Tolerance, where the government would try to capture every mutant out there at once. The way to handle Wolverine, naturally, was to cancel out his healing power.
7. EVOLUTIONARY PROBLEMS
The High Evolutionary is perhaps the most disjointed character in the Marvel Universe in terms of characterization. Sometimes he is a kindhearted scientist, other times he is a megalomaniacal tyrant. It was during one of those latter instance when he came up with the idea to wipe out all mutants on Earth through a special ray that he developed with Mister Sinister.
Sinister’s plan was to actually do the opposite, to mutate the entire planet, but before he could do so, the (now de-powered) X-Men managed to team-up and reverse the effects of the ray while also stopping Sinister from enacting his side plot. During the story, Wolverine was slowly dying of adamantium poisoning once again. It was quite a sight seeing him shuffle along, barely keeping himself together, while his teammates are all armed with weapons to replace their missing powers.
6. WE KNOW WHY THE CAGED WOLVERINE DOESN’T SING
In a storyline by Frank Tieri, Sean Chen and Norm Rapmund that ran from Wolverine #162-166, Wolverine and the Beast found themselves suddenly framed for the murder of a Senator. They had to go on the run, but they were eventually captured and sent to a special prison for superhuman criminals known as The Cell.
The Cell has a few particularly notable features, including a mind-wiper when prisoners are released so that they can’t find the prison again if they wanted to help their friends break out and, of course, a power dampener. So Wolverine did not have his healing power and Beast was fur-less. With everyone being powerless, the villains who did not have powers are now suddenly the top dogs on the block (like the Kangaroo). Eventually, Wolverine and Beast find a way out.
5. DEADLY PLOT
A long running plot by Frank Tieri (both in the pages of Wolverine and then into their own series, Weapon X) dealt with the newly-reinstated Weapon X project and all their evil machinations against mutants (while also having a group of mutants working for them). Naturally, Weapon X has files on all the mutants that they know of, including Wolverine. In the three-parter “The Logan Files” (from Wolverine #173-175 by Tieri, Chen and Rapmund), Sabretooth decides to use those files to get his final revenge on Wolverine.
He does so through a machine that Weapon X developed that could wipe out Wolverine’s powers. This led to Wolverine “dying” in Wolverine #175 before being compelled to return to the living by the spirit of his lost love, Rose (this was before Wolverine remembered her — readers knew her from the then-new Wolverine: Origin miniseries).
4. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Civil War was kicked off when the New Warriors tangled with a group of criminals that included Nitro, whose power is to make himself explode. He did so this time, as well, but his powers were increased to the point where he not only killed most of the New Warriors and his fellow supervillains, but also hundreds of people in Stamford, Connecticut (including a bunch of schoolchildren). This led to the passing of the Superhuman Registration Act and a battle between superheroes over whether they should be forced to register or not.
Wolverine, though, was the only hero who thought to actually bring Nitro to justice. Along the way, though, he ran afoul of S.H.I.E.L.D., who captured him and used S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to cancel out his powers. Of course, they didn’t cancel out the claws, so he was able to escape.
3. A COMPLEX SEARCH FOR A MESSIAH
At the end of the House of M crossover, Scarlet Witch used her sweeping powers to essentially rid the world of mutants (in her addled state, she somehow thought that that would solve anything). Doctor Strange was able to counter her powers a bit and keep a thousand mutants from losing their powers but that did nothing for the fact that no new mutants were being born.
That changed, though, in “Messiah Complex,” where a mutant baby was born and suddenly everyone wanted to control and/or kill the infant. Sinister wanted to study her, so he sent the Marauders after the baby. During a battle, the Marauders used a coordinated attack on Wolverine. Scrambler would use his power-canceling abilities to take away Wolverine’s healing power while Scalphunter then shot Wolverine in the head. Luckily, X-23 then sliced Scrambler’s hands off, causing him to drop the effects on Wolverine.
2. FANGS FOR EVERYTHING
In “The Curse of the Mutants,” Dracula’s son, Xarus, took over control of the world’s vampires and he was even more dangerous than his father. To combat Xarus, the X-Men actually resurrected Dracula (while also teaming up with Blade). Xarus turned Jubilee into a vampire, but it turned out to mostly be a trap to get the X-Men to rescue her so that he could turn Wolverine into a vampire!
The X-Men, though, turned the tables on Xarus by letting him capture Wolverine! They had used nanites to cancel out Wolverine’s healing power so that it was even possible for him to become a vampire. Once he was in good with Xarus, they turned the nanites off and Wolverine was back to normal and helped them take Xarus down.
A few years back, Wolverine’s life changed for good when he was attacked by a sentient virus from the Microverse. It canceled out his healing power and basically held Wolverine hostage, forcing him to either work for them or lose his powers for good. In the end, he decided to let his powers go to stop the virus.
He started wearing an armored costume for protection. However, he was also being hunted down by Professor Cornelius, from the Weapon X project, who wanted to use Wolverine to create a whole new batch of Weapon X subjects. His plan involved using Wolverine’s healing factor, but when he discovered that Wolverine no longer had it, he instead killed Wolverine by pouring molten adamantium on to him (Wolverine managed to stab Cornelius to death before the adamantium hardened and killed him).
Do you like Wolverine with a really strong healing factor or with a lower level healing factor? Let us know in the comments section!