Despite coming from rather humble beginnings as a simple one-off antagonist for the Hulk, within 10 years of his first appearance, Wolverine was one of Marvel’s most popular characters, especially following his breakout 1982 miniseries by Chris Claremont, Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein. However, no one could quite guess just how popular the character would get in the following decade, following a major speculator boom and an extremely popular “X-Men” animated series.
Whenever someone is that popular, it usually means they will ultimately make so many appearances that some are bound to be embarrassing. It’s just simple odds. So don’t feel bad, Wolverine; yes, you’ve had a number of embarrassing appearances over the years, but you’ve also made so many, that your embarrassing-to-not ratio is probably quite high! That being said, here are some of his most puzzling moves.
15. SUPER UNSANITARY
Beginning in the early 1990s, one of the oddest expansions of Marvel’s publishing line was doing annual swimsuit specials. These issues soon became very popular, with multiple comic book companies putting out their own swimsuit specials (we here at CBR previously counted down the weirdest comic book swimsuit specials here). These specials were mostly excuses for artists to draw scantily clad female characters, but the male characters also got in on the action. That part is fine by us, of course, but what is bizarre is how often Wolverine is drawn in these swimsuit specials using his claws to cook hot dogs! It was a go-to drawing idea for artists at the time. For example…
Has anyone ever seen Wolverine actually clean his claws (other than in that “Logan” trailer)? He’s stabbing bad guys all the time! Who knows what kinds of stuff he has on those things? You don’t want him preparing food with them! “Here’s your hot dog, Jubilee, complete with a side of Hepatitis C!”
14. ODD TEACHERS
The superhero team made up of a group of young brothers and sisters known as Power Pack debuted in their own series in 1984, written by Louise Simonson and drawn by June Brigman. Simonson was the longtime editor of “X-Men” and “New Mutants” and later took over “New Mutants” from Chris Claremont himself, so Claremont made it a point to have the Power children show up in the much more popular “Uncanny X-Men” comic a number of times. The youngest member of Power Pack, Katie Power, had an especially memorable team-up with Wolverine when she ran into him on a Christmas field trip while he was being hunted by Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers.
In 2009, Marc Sumerak and Scott Koblish continued a series of “Power Pack” miniseries that Marvel was doing at the time that saw them teaming up with major Marvel heroes. In “Wolverine-Power Pack,” Sumerak came up with four issues’ worth of team-ups for the unlikely pairings, with the silliest being when Jack Power and Franklin Richards go back in time and befriend a young James Howlett, and actually end up teaching him how to be a hero (as young James was a bit of a scaredy cat).
13. TEAM-UP PIGGY BACK
When Wolverine was killed in 2014’s aptly-titled “Death of Wolverine,” it was the conclusion of a long process that carried over between two separate series written by Paul Cornell. In the first volume, he revealed that Wolverine had lost his healing factor. Therefore, in the second volume, the now healing power-less Wolverine had to make sure to protect himself better, so he began wearing an armored costume (sort of like how Captain America was decked out in armor when his Super Soldier Serum turned on him in 1994). Eventually, his lack of healing power led to his death.
Before he got to that point, though, this weakened Wolverine was highlighted in a great crossover with the then-new Ms. Marvel in “Ms. Marvel” #7, by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt and Ian Herring. Both heroes were investigating some villainy in the sewers of New Jersey and Wolverine ultimately needed the young hero to carry him piggy-back style at times.
12. THE FINAL FRONTIER OF BEAT DOWNS
In one of the more outrageous team-ups of the 1990s (in a good way), Marvel made great use of their short-lived license of the “Star Trek” line of books by having a crossover between the X-Men and the crew of the starship Enterprise in 1996’s “Star Trek/X-Men” #1 (by Scott Lobdell, Marc Silvestri and about 17 other artists). The X-Men entered into this other dimension through a psionic portal and sneaking up on to the Enterprise. However, when they were discovered, Wolverine was surprised to learn that Mister Spock was a far more formidable crossover foe than, say, Lobo. Spock took Wolverine out quickly with a Vulcan nerve pinch.
Later, when the X-Men and the Starfleet officers teamed up to take down a shared threat, all of the group must pour on their powers in one final attack. This is adding insult to injury for Wolverine, because while the Enterprise crew have phasers, Cyclops has his eye blasts, Storm has her lightning and even Gambit has his exploding throwing cards, Wolverine just has his bone claws, so he has to just snarl at the bad guy from a distance while doing nothing else useful.
11. DIRECT EXPRESS TO BOSTON
After bringing the Punisher back to Earth after an ill-fated stint as an actual angel working for Heaven, Marvel had Garth Ennis try to take his wonderful year-long “Welcome Back, Frank” storyline to an ongoing “Punisher” series. Ennis complied, but by the end of the series, you could tell that Ennis was growing tired of the more comedic approach to the character. He soon launched the more serious MAX version of “Punisher” that was a great success. One of the key aspects of Ennis’ MAX “Punisher” was that it did not have superheroes in it. Ennis is famously not the biggest fan of superheroes.
Therefore, in the final arc of his previous series, he got all of that superhero frustration out of the way by showing Wolverine, Spider-Man and Daredevil team-up to try to take down the Punisher and fail in miserable fashion. When it seems like they might finally have him corralled, we learn that the Punisher had kidnapped Bruce Banner, and thus unleashed the Hulk on them! Wolverine literally gets punched to Boston. When he takes a train back to the fight, he accidentally boards a train to Philadelphia instead and misses the rest of the story arc entirely!
10. HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
After his success with “Kindom Come” for DC Comics, where he and Mark Waid told a sweeping story set in the future with re-designed heroes and villains, “Wizard” magazine approached Ross and asked if he wouldn’t mind coming up with a basic idea for a similar approach to Marvel Comics. So, Ross designed some characters and wrote some notes about the concept. It was so popular that Marvel ultimately decided to turn those notes into an actual series. Writer Jim Krueger and artist John Paul Leon adapted Ross’ ideas into “Earth X,” a 12-issue maxiseries (that was later followed up by “Universe X” and “Paradise X”).
Ross is famous for liking a very specific era of comic books, mostly the stuff he read when he was a kid. He does not dislike the stuff that came after that, but nor does he have a particular affinity for it. That showed with how Wolverine was handled in “Earth X,” as he is just a couch potato married to Jean Grey, who avoids all of the fights in the series (“Jean” also later reveals that she is actually Madelyne Pryor).
9. X, X, BABY
After making his debut on the “Longshot” miniseries with writer Ann Nocenti that introduced the interdimensional villain Mojo to the Marvel Universe. Mojo was obsessed with entertainment, and actually ruled over his dimension as if it were a film studio; the toils and travails of his people were his stories. Art Adams was in an interesting spot in his career. He was not the type of guy who could do a monthly book, but he was too good of an artist for Marvel not to use as much as they could, so their solution was to have him draw a bunch of annuals and specials for Marvel starring their most popular characters, the X-Men.
In “X-Men Annual” #10 (by Chris Claremont and Art Adams), the X-Men ran afoul of Mojo and actually get turned into little kid versions of themselves, dubbed the X-Babies. The New Mutants had to temporarily graduate into becoming full-fledged X-Men to save their mentors. After the X-Men turned back to normal, Mojo later came up with cloned versions of the X-Men to keep the X-Babies franchise going. It definitely was not Wolverine’s most glorious moment.
8. FANTASY ISLAND
In 2010, Jason Aaron (hot off of a previous Wolverine series, “Wolverine: Weapon X”) launched a new “Wolverine” series that opened with Wolverine at the mercy of the mysterious new villain group known as the Red Right Hand, who turned out to be a group of people who had lost family members to Wolverine at some point in the past. Their plot involved sending Wolverine to hell while letting a demon possess his body and make him do awful things.
The X-Men ultimately had to get involved to bring the possessed Wolverine down without killing him. The way they did so was for Emma Frost to lead Wolverine’s closest friends (Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Rogue and Wolverine’s then-girlfriend, Melita Garner) into Wolverine’s mind so that they could free his soul and let it take control of the body again. While there, they gained access to Wolverine’s darkest secrets, including his sexual fantasies, which likely should not have included the teenaged Squirrel Girl. Awww-kward.
7. INJURY TO INSULT
As noted earlier, the final arc of Garth Ennis’ first “Punisher” ongoing series involved Wolverine joining forces with Spider-Man and Daredevil to take the Punisher down. The reason those heroes were specifically involved is because they each had a negative experience with the Punisher earlier in Ennis’ “Punisher” stories. The Daredevil bit even made it into the Netflix series, with the Punisher forcing Daredevil to either shoot him or let him shoot a bad guy.
In Wolverine’s case, he and Punisher were both chasing down the same gangsters when Punisher took him out of the equation in “Punisher” #17 (in a story drawn by Darick Robertson), where the Punisher first blasts Wolverine’s face off with a shotgun blast, then shreds Wolverine’s genitals with another shotgun blast and then rolls him over with a steamroller. All the while, he calls him “Pine Marten” instead of Wolverine. That’s why Wolverine wanted revenge later on!
6. INSULT TO INJURY
After that storyline, the then-writer of “Wolverine,” Frank Tieri, naturally wanted some “revenge” for Wolverine. Tieri was in the middle of a storyline where Wolverine was infiltrating the mafia, so in “Wolverine” #186 (art by Terry and Rachel Dodson), that was the basic set-up for Punisher and Wolverine clashing, as the Punisher doesn’t trust Wolverine to work his angle the correct way.
Wolverine gets to give a big speech to the Punisher about how the world isn’t as black and white as Castle treats it, and how Wolverine is doing this because the mob can’t be outright “punished,” but they possibly can be controlled. He does this after tossing the Punisher to the ground through a window, so the Punisher is in a daze. That is all well and good and if that was the answer to how Ennis had the Punisher embarrass Wolverine, then fair enough. But no. Wolverine then noticed that there was a bunch of “muscle men” magazines in the Punisher’s bag, so he basically makes a gay joke as the Punisher whimpers the excuse, “No, they’re suspects.” It was an embarrassing side of Wolverine’s character.
5. THAT EYE PATCH
When the Fantastic Four debuted, they were famously open with their identities. However, Stan Lee then wanted to give the Human Torch his own feature in “Strange Tales.” The approach that Lee and his co-writer, Larry Lieber (Stan’s younger brother), took was that the Human Torch moved into the Long Island suburbs and has a more traditional superhero experience, complete with a secret identity. You can probably see the problem already. How can he have a secret identity when his identity had already been so public? That was just glossed over, until later in the series, when we learned that the people in the town were just humoring Johnny Storm by pretending to not know he was the Torch.
That approach was used years later by Peter David when he took over from Chris Claremont on writing duties on the “Wolverine” ongoing series. When Claremont launched the book, Wolverine was working in Madripoor using the alias “Patch,” which was just Wolverine with an eye patch on; and yet, everyone acted like he was this new guy. In “Wolverine” #15 (by David, John Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz), Wolverine learns that everyone was just pretending to not know who he was because they didn’t want to get stabbed. Wolverine felt pretty dumb.
4. SEPARATION ANXIETY
It was a big coup for Marvel when they got “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof to write a miniseries featuring Ultimate Wolverine vs. Ultimate Hulk at the height of the popularity of “Lost.” The problem was that Lindelof apparently bit off a bit more than he could chew, and the series, launched in late 2005, did not finish until early 2009! This was especially painful for Wolverine, as that meant that he spent three years split into two pieces!
The concept of the series (which was drawn by Leinil Francis Yu) was that Ultimate Nick Fury gave Wolverine the assignment of eliminating the threat of Hulk once and for all. Wolverine tracked Bruce Banner to a secluded spot in Tibet, and when their fight broke out, Hulk literally just tore Wolverine in half and threw the two parts on to different sides of a mountain. Wolverine’s torso had to crawl down an entire mountain before he could get back together and try another approach against the Hulk.
3. … AND WHAT I DO IS PRETTY
In the third story arc on “Astonishing X-Men,” Joss Whedon and John Cassaday seemingly brought the Hellfire Club back together, including at least one member, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who clearly died in the Sentinel attack on Genosha back in the start of Grant Morrison’s “New X-Men” run. As it turned out, they were all manifestations by Emma Frost, who was being manipulated by Casandra Nova to free her mind, which Emma Frost had trapped back during Morrison’s run (but obviously a little piece of Nova got into Emma’s mind).
Emma’s vast telepathic powers were used on her X-Men teammates during this arc, taking away Cyclops’ optic blasts, reverting the Beast to, well, a Beast and in the case of Wolverine, turning his mind back to the fanciful little boy he was at the start of “Wolverine: Origin.” Seeing Wolverine run scared out of his mind by a bestial Beast was a striking visual by John Cassaday. In the end, Emma Frost managed to fight off Nova’s influence (at least it appeared as much).
2. WHAT HE DOES ISN’T NICE… IT’S SALES
In the early 1990s, Marvel, as a company, went public. This really helped, in part, to drive the speculator boom of this era, as they had to constantly try to make more revenue to help their stock price. An amusing side effect of having a comic book company go public is that you are bound to have creative Annual Reports for the stockholders and Marvel was no exception.
The most amusing one is likely the 1994 edition, which looked back at the 1993 fiscal year in the “Marvel 1993 Annual Report,” where Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine (stars of Marvel’s three animated programs of the time) teamed up with other heroes to stop Arcade, who had brought the heroes into a virtual world where they could learn all about Marvel’s business. The various heroes would have to describe different parts of the company, with perhaps the most embarrassing being Wolverine, of all characters, explaining the virtues of a deal Marvel had with Gerber for various baby-related products. In the end, Arcade tried to destroy the information as Marvel was just too impressive, but luckily Iron Man saved it all in his armor and presented it as that year’s Annual Report.
1. GOT YOUR NOSE!
One of the most difficult things that Wolverine had to go through in the 1990s was when Magneto tore all of the adamantium out of his body. Wolverine learned that he had bone claws, rather than just having had adamantium claws given to him. His healing power was thrown out of whack, but as time went by, Logan discovered that the adamantium had, in fact, been retarding the mutation in his body.
Without the adamantium, Wolverine began to devolve into a sort of feral creature. After a number of issues of him worrying about this, the process actually accelerated when he turned down an offer from Apocalypse to get new adamantium. He was now so feral that artists started to draw Wolverine as if he did not even have a nose! Then Elektra guest-starred and she helped Wolverine re-embrace his humanity. Thereafter, the mutation just sort of petered out and he eventually went back to normal and got his nose back with no explanation. Wolverine might have many more embarrassing moments in his life (if he ever comes back), but nothing will likely beat him licking an injured Cyclops to wake him up….
That’s a very special brand of weird.
What do you think is Wolverine’s most embarrassing moment? Let us know in the comments section!
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