When you look at the most popular comic book characters of all-time, they tend to be instant successes. Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man – they were all hits as soon as they were introduced. That was not the case with Wolverine. He was well-received enough in his debut story in “Incredible Hulk” #181 to be added to the All-New, All-Different X-Men in “Giant-Size X-Men” #1, but in the early years, Wolverine was just part of the gang, as it were.
It was not until artist John Byrne joined “X-Men” and began pushing for more Wolverine spotlights that the character became a featured character in the series. Then when he got his first mini-series in the early 1980s by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, it was clear, this character was a star. Wolverine’s growing fame meant that he would appear in a ton of titles as a guest-star and that people would come up with their own versions of him. Here, then, are 16 characters (in chronological order) that were based on Wolverine.
Dave Sim’s classic series, “Cerebus,” began as a satire of “Conan the Barbarian,” with Cerebus, a talking aardvark, taking the role of the barbarian warrior. It slowly became a more and more elaborate satire of politics and religion. Even as it moved on from parodying other superheroes in general, Sim still continued to occasionally parody superheroes within the book itself. One particularly prominent example is when Sim introduced the Cockroach. The Cockroach was a fellow who had multiple-personality disorder and would take on the identities of famous comic book characters like Captain America (Captain Cockroach), Moon Knight (Moon Roach) and, most famously, Wolveroach.
Sim decided to make fun at Marvel’s over-saturation of their Wolverine character (and Sim was making fun of this in the early 1980s, when Wolverine had only gotten a single mini-series so far!) by placing Wolveroach on the cover of “Cerebus” #54-56, prominently parodying Frank Miller’s distinctive art style. Amusingly enough, Wolveroach was unconscious inside of the comic for the duration of the cover shtick. Marvel sent Sim a cease-and-desist letter, not for the use of the character itself, but for the prominent cover usage. Sim ultimately came to agree with Marvel’s position and didn’t use the cover bit in the future.
15. Wild Child
When John Byrne created the original lineup of Alpha Flight to join the previously created Vindicator (then re-named Guardian) in trying to take Wolverine into custody in “X-Men” #120, he only barely sketched out each of the characters. It is interesting to note, then, that Byrne would do much of the same thing in “Alpha Flight” #1, where he spent a couple of panels depicting a bunch of characters in the Alpha Flight training program called Gamma Flight. One of these characters had blonde hair, but we would not really meet him until he joined up with the villainous Omega Flight in “Alpha Flight” and we learned that he was a feral killing machine known as Wild Child.
As the resident Wolverine-inspired character, Wild Child was a popular character and he slowly evolved from a low-level villain to a regular member of the team, although there was always the possibility of him going feral lying in the back of everyone’s head. That’s ultimately what happened to him after he left Alpha Flight and joined X-Factor in the mid-90s (a popular, more feral version of Wild Child, had appeared in “Age of Apocalypse,” which is what drove Wild Child to be added to “X-Factor” in the first place). Writer Jeph Loeb later acknowledged that characters like Wild Child were all part of a special mutant group of wolf-like creatures. Sadly, Wild Child died in that storyline.
Wildside was introduced in “New Mutants” #86 as a member of the Mutant Liberation Front, an organization that he ended up serving through many different iterations over the years. In fact, likely by virtue of being one of the few members to stick around the entire time, he even ended up leading the team at one point. Wildside had unique powers, as he could send out a psychic aura that would cause people in his general vicinity to hallucinate. However, he rarely used his powers, as he instead liked to just attack people directly with his razor sharp nails and teeth. He was a highly agile and athletic villain. He was effectively what Wolverine would be if he embraced his berserker rages.
Later on, Wildside was taken in by the Weapon X project and they gave him upgrades that made him even more of a Wolverine knockoff, as he was given special retractable metal claws that he could extend through his fingertips.
In the 1991 graphic novel, “Wolverine: Bloody Choices,” by Tom DeFalco and John Buscema, Wolverine faced two very difficult decisions. He discovered that a prominent drug dealer in the area was also engaging in pedophilia (and then likely murdering the young boys afterwards). However, Nick Fury asked Wolverine to step aside momentarily and let S.H.I.E.L.D. finish an operation to take the villain down for his drug business. Once they did that, then they could address the pedophilia. Wolverine begrudgingly agreed, but then the drug dealer cut a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. to help them take down a bigger drug dealer in exchange for Fury offering him protection. Wolverine could not stand for that, so he and Fury had to battle each other when Wolverine attempted to kill the drug dealer.
The drug dealer’s chief enforcer was a man named Shiv who randomly looked a lot like Wolverine. We once asked DeFalco if he planned on revealing an actual connection between Shiv and Wolverine, and he told us that he always created back-stories for every new character he introduced, but his notes on what Shiv’s was are long gone, so he did not recall what his ultimate plan was for Shiv.
Feral was introduced as a member of the Morlocks late in Rob Liefeld’s “New Mutants” run. She split from the group and asked Cable for protection. He agreed, on the condition that she serve on his newly formed mutant strike force, dubbed X-Force. Feral’s name aptly described her, as her teammates would never know where they stood with her, as she would often just get overly excited and go into a berserker rage and attack, like early on in “X-Force” when she gutted Cannonball during a training mission.
Later, it was revealed that Feral had actually committed multiple murders when she was younger, as once again she flew into a berserker rage and killed her step-father (who had been molesting her and her sister) but then also her drug-addicted mother and accidentally, her youngest sister. Feral went to prison for her crimes, but ultimately got out and fought X-Force a couple of times before reforming and serving in Professor X’s X-Corps. She lost her powers on M-Day and when she tried to get them back, she was murdered by Sabretooth.
It’s one thing to have a knockoff of Wolverine, but “X-Force” went a step further, by introducing Feral’s sister, Thornn, who is a knockoff of a Wolverine knockoff. When Feral broke from the Morlocks, Thornn stayed behind and in “X-Force” #6, she joined up with Toad’s newly formed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to attack X-Force’s headquarters. After that battle, Thornn remained with the Morlocks and was one of the few Morlocks to survive a second attempt to wipe the group out (when Mikhail Rasputin flooded the Morlock tunnels).
As it turned out, Thornn was actually the more stable of the two sisters, and she helped X-Force take her sister in when it became clear that Feral had murdered their mother, step-father and younger sister. However, Thornn also worked with her sister later on when they were both in the X-Corps together. Thornn lost her powers on M-Day, but she and Feral were kidnapped by the evil Romulus, who seemingly restored them. We say “seemingly” because, after Sabretooth attacked them, it was clear that their powers were still gone and Romulus had just returned their lupine appearance. Thornn has not been seen since her sister was murdered (although Feral was later resurrected by Selene).
In the early 1990s, “New Titans” had seen a bit of a sales slump, so editor Jonathan Peterson came up with a big event that would reshape the team going forward. Called “Titans Hunt,” it had the evil Wildebeest group kidnap the entire then-current Titans team, while also killing an old member of the team, Golden Eagle, and almost killing a second old member, Aqualad. Only Nightwing remained free, so in order to save his friends, he had to team up with Deathstroke, who agreed because his son, Jericho, was one of the Titans who were seemingly kidnapped.
Along the way, Nightwing teamed up with some new heroes. One of them was Pantha, who stepped right out of Wolverine central casting. She had claws, a mysterious past that she could not remember, was prone to bursting into berserker rages, and she even had a similar way of speaking as Wolverine. When the Titans were mostly rescued (sadly, it turned out that Jericho had been the villain the whole time, as he was possessed by a demon), Pantha remained with the team. She formed a maternal relationship with a mutate Wildebeest created by the Wildebeests, and later she, Baby Wildebeest and teammate, Red Star, left the Titans to be a little family together. Tragically, during “Infinite Crisis,” both Pantha and Baby Wildebeest were murdered by Superboy-Prime.
Wolverina first appeared in “What The…?” #9, in a story by Peter David and Rurik Tyler making fun of how over-exposed Wolverine was at the time. Wolverine eventually tried to confront Marvel about it, but they explained to him that he was just so unique and they would never jeopardize that. However, just as the Marvel employee said that, we meet Wolverina, Wolverine’s long-lost cousin. This was a parody of how Superman’s uniqueness was diluted over the years by introducing his long-lost cousin, Supergirl.
Wolverina was given an origin by Scott Lobdell and Rurik Tyler a couple of issues later, where we see that she was a waitress at a bar that catered to superheroes. When Mister Hyde tried to blow it up, she kicked into action as Wolverina, but the bomb still went off. Luckily, it was New Year’s Eve and Death was partying as well, who had no interest in collecting all of these dead souls and therefore let everyone survive. Wolverina then learned that she was the daughter of the bar’s owner and they became partners together.
When Image Comics debuted, there was a decidedly “X-Men”-centric bent to the first two teams introduced by the former X-Book artists, Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri. In the case of Jim Lee’s “WildC.A.T.s,” his Wolverine character was Warblade, a young artist with green hair named Reno Bryce, who actually had been given his powers by CyberData, which explained his power similarities with the next character on this list (in the early days, Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri shared Homage Studios, and there was a good deal of continuity shared between their respective titles).
Warblade served as a member of WildC.A.T.s with great distinction until the team broke up. He ultimately entered a state of depression following the murder of his girlfriend and the eventual loss of his powers. He eventually recovered and regained his abilities, which were part of his half-alien heritage (most of the WildC.A.T.s were at least part-alien).
In the case of Marc Silvestri’s “Cyberforce,” he had actually initially intended for the book to be an X-Men spin-off, and you can’t help but wonder if some of the characters (most notably Cyblade) were originally meant to be existing “X-Men” characters (Psylocke could have easily stepped into Cyblade’s shoes). In Silvestri’s book, his Wolverine character was Ripclaw, who also gained his powers from CyberData.
Ripclaw was Robert Bearclaw, a Native American who already had the ability to transform parts of his body into animal parts, like giving himself the sharp claws of a bear. However, Cyberdata took those powers a whole step further by replacing his hands with special cybernetic ones capable of creating giant metal claws that he could control, enlarge and reduce in size. He also had a healing factor, because, well, come on, Wolverine stand-in here. Ripclaw became one of the most popular members of Cyberforce, and even had his own solo title a few times over the years.
Deadlock was a vicious terrorist who was driven by his vampire-like tendencies (hence his sharp teeth). He was eventually killed in a battle with Youngblood, but the government had a special program called “Project Born Again,” that could be used to bring people back from the dead. These operatives would work under the leadership of Cabbot, whose brother, Battlestone, was the leader of the superhero team known as Brigade. Early on, Rob Liefeld had a very ambitious attempt to have two series, “Bloodstrike” and “Brigade,” each led by brothers Cabbot and Battlestone (who both looked like Cable), and both books would interact with each other frequently. So stories that began in “Bloodstrike” would continue into “Brigade” and vice versa.
When he was revived, Deadlock was less of a sociopath and was now more of a general “hates authority” rebel. He now served with distinction with Bloodstrike, but eventually his bloodlust returned and he began killing again. He was killed in battle, but revived again. Then the Bloodstrike program collapsed and it is unknown what happened to Deadlock, exactly.
Marc and Alex Barros grew up with a respected marine biologist for a father. They would often go on undersea expeditions with their father, but on one of them, tragedy struck: their father’s submarine was destroyed and their father was killed. Namor-stand-in Roman (yes, his name was literally just Namor spelled backwards) saved the lives of Marc and Alex and gave them superpowers. When they returned to land, they were now superheroes and they were also rich, since they inherited their father’s fortune. Battlestone recruited them for Brigade because he needed their money.
Alex became the hero known as Coldsnap while Marc became Seahawk. Seahawk had enhanced strength, agility and, of course, a healing power. He could also breathe underwater. Sadly, Coldsnap’s powers deteriorated and he eventually went insane and was killed. The shock of his brother’s death calmed Seahawk down a bit and he ultimately formed his own, much more traditionally heroic incarnation of Brigade.
4. Wild Thing
After the successful introduction of Spider-Girl in one of the final issues of “What If…?”, Marvel decided to introduce “Marvel Comics 2,” abbreviated as MC2, a line of comics set in the future and starring the children of famous Marvel characters. The initial three titles in the launch of the line were “Spider-Girl” (naturally, as she was the inspiration for the whole line), “A-Next” (starring the current version of the Avengers, led by an adult Jubilee) and “J2,” starring the son of the Juggernaut.
“A-Next” and “J2” were canceled after a year’s worth of issues came out, and were each replaced by a new series, “Fantastic Five” (showing the current version of what was once the Fantastic Four, with Johnny Storm as the veteran leader) and “Wild Thing,” which starred the daughter of Elektra and Wolverine. She had her father’s healing powers, enhanced strength and agility, and was trained by her mother in how to fight. She also was taught by Psylocke how to create “Psi-Claws,” like Psylocke’s famous psychic knife.
It feels wrong including X-23 on a list of Wolverine “knockoffs,” since she has become such a great character. However, since she is literally a copy of Wolverine, it is hard to come up with a reason not to include her. Laura Kinney was created as a clone of Wolverine. The only genetic material that the cloning program had to work with was damaged, so they decided to stop attempting to make a male clone and instead go with a female genetic twin of the original. After 22 tries, the 23rd attempt was a success, hence X-23’s name.
She was then trained as an assassin, complete with trigger scents that would send her into a berserker rage. Ultimately, she manage to break free from their control and sought help from the X-Men. Unlike Wolverine, who did not remember his past, Laura’s problem was that all she could do was remember the murders she committed and it was driving her nuts. Over time, she grew to deal with her issues and became a prominent hero in her own right. When Wolverine was killed, Laura eventually took on his name and is now the current All-New Wolverine.
Logan had been living a peaceful existence in Japan, complete with a pregnant wife, when the Winter Soldier was sent to kill Logan’s wife. What Logan did not know was that, due to the healing power inherited from Logan, Logan’s son survived the murder of his mother. The son grew up to become the villainous Daken. When Daken met his father in the present day, he enjoyed torturing his father with the fact that he was outside Logan’s influence, and thus he was evil while his father was good.
Daken joined Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers as their Wolverine, even further embarrassing his father by becoming the public face of Wolverine to the world. Later, Daken formed his own sort of revenge squad to attack Wolverine and X-Force. Wolverine was forced to murder his own son by drowning him, one of the only ways to clearly kill someone with a healing power. Daken was resurrected by the Apocalypse Twins and has now had a great deal of difficult adjusting to his return to the living.
Romulus was introduced in the pages of “Wolverine: Origins,” as Wolverine dealt with all of the memories that he recovered following “House of M.” As it turned out, Romulus had been heavily involved in nearly every step of Wolverine’s life the past century, including being the man behind Weapon X and the bonding of adamantium to Wolverine’s skeleton. Romulus’ origins might go back millennia, although it is hard to tell with a guy as mysterious as he.
Romulus believed that there was a sub-set of mutants who evolved from canines instead of humans and he believed that Wolverine, Sabretooth and most of the above mentioned Wolverine knockoffs were part of this class of mutant. Romulus has great healing powers and claws, and he is also an expert in genetics, as he helped run the Weapon X program. He later claimed that Wolverine had actually ordered Romulus to do it, but, well, that seems unlikely, doesn’t it?
Who is your favorite Wolverine knockoff? Let us know in the comments section!
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