First appearing as a super-powered operative of the Canadian government in 1974’s “Incredible Hulk” #180, Wolverine was created by Len Wein and John Romita Sr. He later became a long-standing member of the X-Men, evolving from a rage-fueled berserker into a respected mentor and leader. Originally a mutant with a mysterious past complicated by extensive brainwashing and false memory implants, Wolverine’s backstory stretches back over 100 years and encompasses adventures set in numerous historical eras and alternate timelines.
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Over the years, there have been several alternate versions of Wolverine, each of them exploring a different take on the classic Canucklehead. From embittered tragic heroes of dystopian futures to would-be world conquerors, for better or worse, Wolverine’s adventures have carved his legend across Marvel’s multiverse. Here, then, is a list of our favorite members of the Logan Corps. Time to pop your claws and drop your jaws for this multiversal Fastball Special!
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories published by Marvel Comics.
15. DARK CLAW
Back in 1996, DC and Marvel set aside their differences for a comics event unlike any other. Created by the Living Tribunal and the Spectre, the Amalgam Universe was a short-lived shared universe that combined aspects of existing characters from each publisher to create all-new heroes. Among these was Dark Claw, an amalgamation of Wolverine and Batman, a “metamutant” dark knight detective, whose parents were murdered in front of him as a child. After moving to Canada, Logan Wayne joined the Air Force and, along with Creed H. Quinn, was eventually transferred to the Weapon X program.
Although he gained an adamantium-laced skeleton and increased strength from the painful experiments, Logan retained a conscience and was deemed a failure as a super-soldier. He returned to New Gotham City and took up the identity of Dark Claw, fighting crime and corruption alongside Sparrow (a Jubilee-Robin mash-up) and Huntress (a Carol Danvers-Huntress amalgam). His arch-nemesis was his former colleague Quinn, now a raving lunatic killing machine called the Hyena. One of the more visually-striking amalgams to come out of the event, Dark Claw’s war on crime came to an end with the last issue of the core limited series.
14. EARTH X
In a dystopian future of the Marvel Universe created by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, Wolverine is much-changed. In this reality, Logan was never a mutant and was adopted as a child by the Howletts from a secret offshoot of true humanity called the Moon Tribe. Descended from the classic Jack Kirby character, Moon Boy, Wolverine wasn’t a mutant, but rather a member of the Wolf Clan, who like the rest of the Moon Tribe avoided the Celestials’ genetic manipulation that eventually resulted in the emergence of Homo Superior.
Nevertheless, Wolverine still joined the X-Men in this reality, but retired to a sedentary life of television and beer-swilling, married to long-time paramour Jean Grey. Overweight and under-motivated, Wolverine refuses to help Captain America fight the Skull after he attacks New York City, insisting his days as a hero are over. Much later, during the “Paradise X: Heralds” tie-in miniseries, X-51 recruited the Logan from “Days of Future Past” as his first Herald, thankfully bringing a more likeable (and faithful) version of the hero into this rather bleak take on Marvel’s archetypal champions.
Marvel’s MC2 imprint exploded out of 1998’s now-classic “What If” #105, an issue which postulated a universe set in the present day, where the publisher’s franchise heroes all debuted approximately 15 years prior. As such, May “Mayday” Parker was the Amazing Spider-Girl, Franklin Richards led the Fantastic Five as Psi-Lord and Rina Logan was Wild Thing, daughter of none other than Wolverine. In this universe, Wolverine shacked up with Elektra, former lover of Daredevil and onetime assassin of the Hand.
While most of the Marvel Universe’s franchise heroes have either died or retired, Wolverine appears relatively unchanged, thanks to the longevity granted by his infamous healing factor. What makes the MC2 version of Wolverine so special is that he represents one of the few times the character was allowed to have a relatively happy ending. It’s almost strange to see Wolverine as a doting father, picking up his daughter after school on his motorcycle. As Wild Thing, Rina is almost as formidable a warrior as her old man, boasting his enhanced senses, healing factor and a set of psi-claws she learned to create thanks to her godmother Psylocke. We know this universe’s Logan couldn’t be more proud.
12. AGE OF X
In this universe, created by reality-warping powers of Legion, Wolverine is a pale shadow of his former self, after ingesting several doses of a so-called “mutant cure” in the hopes his healing factor would destroy it and prevent mutantkind’s extinction. Although the plan works, eliminating this particular threat to his people, it came at the cost of his healing factor, which is overwhelmed by a one-two punch of the mutant cure and chronic adamantium poisoning. Unable to even pop his iconic claws for fear of the resulting infection, Wolverine runs the Rat Run bar at Fortress X, the last mutant stronghold.
Despite his new shortcomings, Logan remains true to his core traits, refusing to back down from the threat of Dani Moonstar’s militaristic cadre of soldiers, protecting this reality’s version of Rogue, in the process. A hostile world created by Legion as a reaction to Doctor Nemesis attempting to surgically cure his insanity, “Age of X” was erased from continuity by the powerful telepath after it became evident it was a false reality.
11. MARVEL MANGAVERSE
Marvel Mangaverse was a cycle of comic book stories published in the early to mid-2000s that stylistically embraced the look and feel of traditional Japanese manga and applied it to the iconic heroes of the Marvel Universe. In this drastically altered version of the 616, it is an older, wiser, more grizzled Wolverine who forms the mutant X-Men, not Charles Xavier. Furthermore, in this reality, Wolverine and Cyclops are brothers with a violent, troubling past that cost the former a hand and the latter an eye. Equipped with a mechanical replacement that generates three energy claws, Wolverine leads his X-Men, including Cyclops, Mirage, Jean Grey and Storm against the forces of Charles Xavier and his Hellfire Club.
In a later sequel series called “New Mangaverse: Rings of Fate,” it is revealed that the Hand massacred virtually all of the world’s superhumans and now armed with the Mandarin’s arsenal of rings, wish to finish the job. Wolverine joins a new Captain America (Carol Danvers), Spider-Man and Iron Man, among others, in a new version of the Avengers, who ultimately defeat the Hand. Although the Mangaverse hasn’t been seen since this final series, the plot was left open-ended, leaving the door open for more adventures.
10. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Before the modern version of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” captured the popular imagination thanks to 2014’s blockbuster live action film, the team enjoyed a healthy run in early ‘90s, guided by future Image Comics founder Jim Valentino. Praised by fans and critics alike, Valentino’s tenure on the book starred the original Guardians: Charlie 27, Martinex, Starhawk (and Aleta), Vance Astro, Yondu and Nikki. Although Valentino left the series after issue #29, he set the stage for further adventures by laying the foundation for several possible future interpretations of established Marvel heroes.
Among these was Rancor, a female descendent of Wolverine, who led her own colony of mutants on the planet Haven. Defeated by the Guardians during their initial encounter, she was later recruited by Doctor Doom, but turned on him. Doom revealed that he possessed her ancestor’s adamantium skeleton and used it to seriously injure her before she was rescued by her rivals in the Guardians. It was also hinted that Wolverine may be alive in this distant future, which would seem to beg several different questions, but the storyline was never resolved before the series ended.
9. WOLVERINE: THE END
“Wolverine: The End” was one of a series of titles exploring possible timelines that witnessed the final adventures of Marvel’s most popular heroes. Written by Paul Jenkins, who revealed Wolverine’s long-guarded history in “Origins,” Logan’s final adventure revolves around his faulty memories and notorious longevity. When the series opens, we find that Wolverine has been living a solitary life in the Canadian wilderness, after a tragic incident involving the original X-Men. Boasting long white hair and mangled claws further complicated by painful arthritis, it seems this geriatric version of Logan has seen better days.
After receiving a mysterious letter informing him of Sabretooth’s passing, Logan embarks on a journey to investigate the possible return of Weapon X. What he finds instead is a long-lost older brother who claims to have been watching him for over a century and offers him a chance to learn the truth about his lost past. However, Wolverine discovers his brother only wants his help in nuking Las Vegas, so he instead sets about preventing the impending catastrophe. The two estranged siblings duke it out and Wolverine’s so-called final battle ends with him cradling his dead brother, leaving the question of his “ending” still very much up in the air.
8. WOLVERINE NOIR
Marvel Noir was a publishing initiative that allowed creators to re-imagine Marvel’s franchise characters within the classic tropes of film noir and pulp fiction popular during the early part of the 20th century. In the limited series “Wolverine Noir,” Stuart Moore and C.P. Smith recast Wolverine as a down-on-his-luck private eye in New York’s Bowery, who is hired by Mariko Yashida to investigate a gang of men preventing her from starting up her father’s business in the city. In this reality, there are no mutants, so Jim Logan, as he is known, is a normal human, albeit with an extraordinary talent for Japanese knife fighting.
Exceedingly bleak and brimming with unredeemable characters, including a patently unlikeable protagonist in Jim Logan, “Wolverine Noir” excelled in presenting an alternate version of the character that placed his ongoing quest for honor and redemption against a seedy backdrop of rampant betrayal and vice. Ultimately, the series offers no closure for Jim Logan, only more pain; leaving the emotionally destitute P.I. to wonder if he’s damned himself to such a barren existence.
7. HOUSE OF M
“House of M” was a company-wide crossover that saw the entirety of the 616 universe replaced by a reality created by the Scarlet Witch, who upon a suggestion from her selfish brother Quicksilver, attempted to build a world in which everyone realized their heart’s desire. In this reality, Wolverine is the field leader of the Red Guard, a S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team of mutant operatives who report to Director Sebastian Shaw. Essentially a mutant police force created to offset the destruction of the Sentinels, Red Guard also includes Rogue, Toad, Nightcrawler and Mystique, with whom Wolverine is having an affair.
When he wakes with memories of the previous reality, Wolverine abandons his post and runs into Luke Cage, leader of the human resistance, who is also aware of the existence of a false reality. Ultimately, everything is set back to normal when Layla Miller reveals the truth to Magneto, prompting him to beat Quicksilver nearly to death and the Scarlet Witch to reactivate the mainstream 616 universe, albeit with far fewer mutants. Wolverine is one of the few heroes involved who remember the House of M reality.
6. X-MEN FOREVER
When legendary comics scribe Chris Claremont departed the X-Men franchise after 16 years as its creative guru, it truly signaled the end of an era and set Marvel’s Merry Mutants on a much different path full of darkness and adversity. Published in 2009, Claremont’s “X-Men Forever” was originally meant to continue unresolved plot lines from his historic run on the franchise’s flagship titles. While this trend didn’t last, several major events occurred in the first handful of issues that lived up to its initial billing.
Although he was killed off early in the new series, Wolverine’s ghost haunted the title and it was revealed he and Jean Grey were secretly engaged in a psychic love affair. Claremont also addressed the rumored connection between Wolverine and Sabretooth, revealing Victor Creed was in fact Logan’s estranged and abusive father. Although the series liberated Claremont from corporate interference, some of the curveballs he threw at fans were somewhat baffling. Take Storm, for example. She suddenly kills Wolverine with a lightning strike, revealing she’s been working for a mysterious organization called the Consortium. Yup, nobody would’ve seen that coming in established continuity. And for good reason.
5. GENERAL JAMES HOWLETT
This alternate version of Wolverine was created by Greg Pak and Mike McKone and debuted in 2012’s “Astonishing X-Men” #35. Inspired by the larger-than-life exploits of a young Teddy Roosevelt, this version of Wolverine is the Governor General of Canada and Viceroy of the British Empire’s expedition to find Shangri-La. What sets this Wolverine apart from the rest of our entries is his relationship with fellow hero Hercules. As the world’s greatest heroes, not only have they shared many adventures, they’ve also shared a bed.
Forced to keep their intimacy a secret from both the Greek Gods, who forbade relationships with mortals and the British Empire, which simply forbade homosexuality, their secret was eventually brought to light and the pair had to spend four years fighting their way out of Tartarus as punishment for their indiscretion. In this reality, it’s interesting to note that Howlett’s skeleton is laced with a golden-hued mythological metal called Adamantine rather than the usual adamantium—a gift from his godly lover-in-arms.
4. AGE OF APOCALYPSE
“Age of Apocalypse” was originally a mid-‘90s crossover event that was published across all of the titles in the “X-Men” franchise. It was later retconned as occurring in an alternate universe, allowing characters from both realities to interact. In this universe, after Legion inadvertently kills his father Charles Xavier, allowing the powerful mutant Apocalypse to take over North America. The Wolverine in this reality is a reluctant X-Man, who after a run-in with Cyclops (who is loyal to Apocalypse at the time) is missing a hand. Here, he is known as Weapon X and is the lover of Jean Grey.
Although Bishop successfully travelled through time to prevent Xavier’s death resulting in the Age of Apocalypse’s erasure from continuity, subsequent titles revisited the timeline, repositioning it as an alternate universe. In this new setting, Weapon X becomes Weapon Omega after sacrificing himself to prevent the world’s destruction by the Celestials but becomes a tyrant far worse than Apocalypse. Thankfully, Jean Grey thwarts his efforts to remake her as his new Horseman of Death ridding him of the Death Seed influencing his mind.
3. ULTIMATE WOLVERINE
Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics was an imprint designed to streamline its comic book universe, while making it more accessible to a new generation of readers. It was a popular endeavor, debuting refreshing new heroes with familiar faces, if in a slightly different setting. In the Ultimate Universe, mutants aren’t an evolutionary offshoot of humanity but a man-made attempt to replicate the super-soldier process that created Captain America. As such, Wolverine is the first mutant created by Weapon X, whose mutant gene was activated by their experiments.
In this reality, Wolverine doesn’t simply possess an accelerated healing factor but more properly boasts a survival factor, allowing him to recuperate from catastrophic damage that would kill his 616 counterparts. He’s survived being torn in half by an enrage Hulk and the detonation of a nuclear bomb. In spite of this, Wolverine couldn’t survive having all of his flesh incinerated and the adamantium ripped from his skeleton by Magneto during “Ultimatum.” Go figure.
2. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
A classic storyline that continues to influence plots in comics and films decades after its release, “Days of Future Past” is a cautionary tale set in a world where the mutant race is hunted to the brink of extinction by normal humans using Sentinel technology. The brainchild of legendary X-Men collaborators Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the plot of “DoFP” revolves around a time-displaced Kitty Pryde’s attempts to prevent the dystopian future from ever occurring by preventing the assassination of anti-mutant advocate Senator Robert Kelly.
The story provided the backdrop for the 2014 feature film of the same name, substituting Wolverine for the adult Kate Pryde. In the comics version, Wolverine is one of the last remaining X-Men, along with Storm, Colossus and Kate. He ultimately falls in battle, killed when a Sentinel blasts the skin right off of his adamantium skeleton. However, this being comics, it wasn’t the last we saw of this version of Logan. He returned as one of X-51’s multiversal heralds in the Earth X universe, his body regenerated thanks to his adamantium skull preserving the genetic material of his brain.
1. OLD MAN LOGAN
Arguably even more resonant than our last entry, the alternate reality of the displaced hero known as Old Man Logan features a humbled protagonist with a tragic past, in a world overrun by supervillains and tormented heroes. In this reality, Wolverine is a family man trying to escape a tragic past in which he was inadvertently responsible for the deaths of the X-Men. Needing rent money to hold off the sadistic Hulk Gang, who owns his land, Logan travels cross-country with a blinded Hawkeye to deliver a package. The package is revealed to be enough super-soldier serum to kickstart a new team of Avengers, but they are betrayed, setting up a final showdown between the Red Skull and Logan, who decapitates him with Captain America’s shield.
He returns home to find his family murdered by the Hulk Gang and immediately sets out for revenge. He finds the original Hulk and after a brief battle, is consumed by the gargantuan beast. But Logan gets the last laugh, regenerating in the Hulk’s belly and carving his way free from the inside out. After the events of “Secret Wars,” he reappears in the remade mainstream Marvel Universe and rejoins the X-Men, once again looking for a little redemption.
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