A while back, we noted that when it came to “What If…?” stories, one of the most popular pastimes in those stories was finding a way to kill off the seemingly unkillable Wolverine. Therefore, we featured Wolverine’s best “What If…?” deaths. However, those aren’t the only comics that have featured Wolverine dying over the years. The amount of stories set in the future and on alternate realities are nearly endless.
Here, then, are 15 more times that Wolverine has died in the comics, including one surprisingly permanent death (so far, at least). Note that we’re only counting “no doubt about it, he’s dead” deaths and not instances where Wolverine then regenerated by himself (like the “Civil War” tie-in issue of Wolverine where Nitro explodes him down to a skeleton but then he regenerates. Basically no “Fighting the Angel of Death” stuff).
15. UNCANNY X-MEN #142
Wolverine’s most famous death occurred very early on, in the second part of the classic “Days of Future Past” storyline in “Uncanny X-Men” #142 (by John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin). The storyline involved an adult Kate Pryde being sent back in time to take over her younger body and help the X-Men to prevent the death of Senator Robert Kelly at the hands of the newly-reformed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (now led by Mystique). Kelly’s death led to the implementation of Project: Wideawake, a program that created Sentinels that eventually led to the annihilation of most of the mutant population in the future.
While Kate is trying to change the past to avoid the future, the remaining surviving X-Men in the future are trying to at least make the future more livable. They tried to take down the Sentinels in the future. However, Storm, Colossus and Wolverine do not fare very well in battle with the Sentinels, as they’re wiped out. The panel of Wolverine’s death was redrawn by Terry Austin for the memorable cover of the issue after Byrne’s original cover got lost in the mail.
14. X-MEN ANNUAL #11
“X-Men Annual” #11 (by Chris Claremont, Alan Davis and Paul Neary) opened with Wolverine drunk after commiserating the anniversary of what would have been his wedding date had his fiancee, Mariko, not called the wedding off. His teammates were woken up by his drunken stupor, but then things got sober really quickly when an alien named Horde showed up. He transported the X-Men to a fantastical place where a powerful gem was at the center of a diabolical maze. He made the X-Men get the crystal for him or else he would just kill them on the spot.
As the X-Men went through the maze, one by one they were drawn in by the wonders of the maze, sucked into alternate realities that matched their deepest dreams. In the end, only Wolverine remained (he was able to resist a dream of a life with Mariko) and he got to the gem. However, Horde then showed up and killed Wolverine before he could touch the gem. Horde, though, was shocked when a piece of Wolverine’s blood splattered on to the gem. As it turned out, any part of a person touching the gem was enough for that person to get ultimate power. Wolverine used his to free his friends and bring himself back to life.
13. UNCANNY X-MEN #227
During the “Fall of the Mutants,” the X-Men were drawn to Dallas, Texas, while they were searching for their missing leader, Storm (who had traveled there to go look for the mutant inventor, Forge, who had built the device that had taken her mutant powers away. She was looking to get him to restore her powers). However, once the X-Men arrived, they were met by the government-sponsored mutant team, Freedom Force (which mostly consisted of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) who came to arrest them for not registering with the government according to the Mutant Registration Act.
After they began to fight, things got weird and time and space got all screwy (during this time, Storm and Forge spent a condensed year together and were in love and Forge restored Storm’s powers) as they encountered the magical being known as the Adversary. Wolverine and the X-Men ended up having to sacrifice themselves as part of a spell to stop the Adversary and save the world. Luckily, the magical being known as Roma then restored them to life (only now the world believes them to be dead).
12. PUNISHER KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
Famed comic book writer Garth Ennis is particularly well known for his distaste for superheroes (Ennis prefers war comics, crime and horror comics), so it is only natural that the very first project he ever wrote for Marvel (fresh off of his time writing “Hellblazer” for DC Comics) was a one-shot called “Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.” Drawn by Dougie Braithwaite and a multitude of inkers, the story is set in an alternate reality where instead of mobsters killing Frank Castle’s family, they instead died by accident in a superhero battle.
When Frank Castle arrives at the scene of the crime, Cyclops apologized to him. Castle then shot Cyclops in the head. After shooting a couple of other heroes, Castle was sent to jail for life. He was sprung by an organization of people who had lost friends and family to superhero battles, as well. They hired Castle to kill all super beings. He succeeded and one of the ones he killed along the way was Wolverine, who missed out when the Punisher nuked all of the other X-Men, so he got a more personal death of being tossed onto an electrical panel.
11. ASTONISHING X-MEN #3
In the late 1990s, the X-Men temporarily broke up soon after Shadowcat, Nightcrawler and Colossus finally rejoined the team after being away for years in Excalibur. However, soon after the team broke up, the Mannites showed up looking for help. The Mannites were these artificially created young mutant beings. Professor X had befriended one when he was imprisoned following Onslaught. A rag tag of X-Men had to be thrown together to help the Mannites, and it was about as odd of an X-Men team as you could imagine – Cyclops, Jean Grey, X-Man, Archangel, Cable and Wolverine.
As it turned out, the Mannites were being hunted down by Apocalypse’s newest horseman, Death. The X-Men fought off Death, but in a one-on-one battle, Wolverine was killed by Death. The Mannites luckily escaped. The X-Men brought Wolverine back to the X-Mansion but then Professor X made a shocking discovery: this Wolverine was a Skrull! It turned out that the real Wolverine was actually Death! The X-Men eventually broke the real Wolverine from Apocalypse’s control.
10. EXILES #4
In 2001, Judd Winick, Mike McKone and Mark McKenna launched a new mutant series called “Exiles.” The book starred a team of mutant heroes from different realities within the Multiverse. They were tasked with basically fixing things that had gone wrong in different realities at the behest of a mysterious Timebroker. The early team members were Blink from the Age of Apocalypse, Morph and Mimic from worlds where they were each one of the greatest X-Men, Thunderbird from a world where he had been experimented on by Apocalypse, Nocturne, from a world where she was the daughter of Scarlet Witch and Nightcrawler had a daughter, and Sunfire, from a world where Mariko Yashada had the same fire powers as her cousin, Shiro.
In “Exiles” #4, the team had to make sure that this reality’s Jean Grey died on the moon instead of becoming Dark Phoenix. They were too late, but in the end, the Wolverine of that reality was able to kill Jean, even though he died in the process (along with all of his fellow X-Men). Their reality was saved from destruction, however, so that was a sort of win.
9. NEW X-MEN #154
In Grant Morrison’s final storyline on “New X-Men,” dubbed “Here Comes Tomorrow” (drawn by Marc Silvestri and a bunch of other artists helping Silvestri out), Wolverine is leading a team of X-Men in a dystopic future ruled by the villainous Sublime, who had possessed Hank McCoy years earlier. There is very little resistance left except for Wolverine’s small ragtag group.
Their ultimate mission is to revive Jean Grey, who was set to return to life 150 years after she died, before Sublime could take over her, as well. Wolverine managed to revive Jean and fill her in on what had happened since her death, but then Sublime possessed the Phoenix force and took away Wolverine’s healing power and killed him. Jean Grey, though, soon destroyed Sublime. As Wolverine died, he thought about how the future was now in Jean’s hands (she fixed things by traveling through time with her mind to make Cyclops get together with Emma Frost and not close down the school, thus avoiding the terrible future of “Here Comes Tomorrow”).
8. WOLVERINE #20
Mark Millar came on board “Wolverine” for the epic year-long story, “Enemy of the State,” with issue #20 (with art by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson). The issue opened with Wolverine being enlisted by an old friend in Japan to help deliver a ransom to help get the man’s kidnapped son back. However, as it turned out, it was all a trap laid by the mysterious Hand and their new leader, the Gorgon.
Gorgon killed Wolverine, and as he was dying, also made sure to let them know that they had murdered the kid, as well. Wolverine woke up in a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. It turned out that the Hand had killed Wolverine only so that they could resurrect him and brainwash him into becoming a killing machine for them. Luckily, eventually he broke free from their control and the joined up with S.H.I.E.L.D. to hunt down and kill every single Hand member alive.
7. ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #22
Mark Millar had been one of the earliest writers for the Ultimate Universe, launching both “Ultimate X-Men” and “The Ultimates” and then co-launching “Ultimate Fantastic Four” with Brian Michael Bendis. Millar and Bendis left after the initial storyline on that title, but Millar then returned in “Ultimate Fantastic Four” #21 (working with artists Greg Land and Matt Ryan) for a story that suggested that perhaps the Ultimate Fantastic Four had met the Marvel Universe Fantastic Four.
In reality, the universe that they met was actually one where nearly the entire superhero populace had been transformed into zombies! In “Ultimate Fantastic Four” #22 (by Millar, Land and Ryan), we see the origins of the zombie plague, as a mysterious version of Sentry showed up with the virus and it spread quickly among the heroes. Wolverine was a zombie in no time. The zombie characters went on to have their own hit series of miniseries, with Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips doing the first couple of miniseries.
6. EXILES #86
After serving the Timebroker for many issues (and going through a whole lot of team turmoil, as a number of their teammates died along the way and were replaced by heroes from other dimensions), the Exiles eventually decided that they had enough of their mission once they learned that the “Timebroker” was actually a facade created by the Timebreakers, a group of incompetent aliens who ended up causing so much trouble in the Multiverse that they were forced to create the Exiles. As a result, the Exiles basically quit. In “Exiles” #85 (by Tony Bedard, Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar), we see that the Timebreakers replaced the Exiles with a brand-new team designed to take down a unique villain known as Brother Mutant, a Wolverine who was merged with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
The Timebreakers sent Wolverines from different realities to stop Brother Mutant, but then Brother Mutant kept either recruiting them (using his Mesmero powers) or the Wolverines kept getting killed by one of the Wolverines sent on the mission (the Marvel Zombie Wolverine). Eventually the Exiles agreed to do their job again. However, 17 Wolverines were killed on the mission, including Brother Mutant.
5. YOUNG X-MEN #11
After the mutant population was decimated in “House of M” and then the X-Mansion was destroyed in “Messiah Complex,” Cyclops shut the Xavier Institute down and moved to San Francisco. Ultimately, he formed a new society for mutants in the Bay Area, eventually settling on an island known as Utopia. However, at first, the various young members of the X-Men just went back to their homes with the school closed.
Cyclops then recruited a new team of Young X-Men in the pages of “Young X-Men.” In a shocking twist, it turned out that the Cyclops who formed the group was not actually the real Cyclops, but Donald Pierce (of the Hellfire Club) using a disguise. The new team joined up with the real X-Men anyways. One of the mutants, Dust, was dying as a result of her sand powers. She was saved by one of her teammates, but in the final two issues, we see that Dust eventually went crazy in the future. She murdered the remaining X-Men in the future in “Young X-Men” #11 and #12 (by Marc Guggenheim and Daniel Acuna). She used her sand powers to basically blast Wolverine’s skin off of his body.
4. X-MEN FOREVER ALPHA
Interestingly enough, Mark Millar’s idea for the Hand killing Wolverine and then resurrecting him as a killer was something that Chris Claremont had actually planned to do in the pages of “X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men” had Claremont been allowed to remain on the series. Of course, Claremont was instead removed from the series following the initial storyline on the newly launched “X-Men” series. Years later, though, Marvel came up with the idea of doing a series called “X-Men Forever” (with art by Tom Grummett and Cory Hamscher) where Claremont would tell new stories as if he had never left “X-Men” after “X-Men” #3.
In “X-Men Forever Alpha,” the first three issues (by Claremont, Jim Lee and Scott Williams) were reprinted and then a bridge story leading into the new series. Shockingly enough, in that first issue, before the series even really began properly, Wolverine was killed off! However, since Claremont did not have to worry about corporate interests, he just left Wolverine dead in the series.
3. AGE OF ULTRON #9
In “Age of Ultron,” the maxiseries by Brian Michael Bendis and a number of notable comic book artists (like Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco), Ultron ended up attacking the near past from the distant future and thus transforming the “current” Marvel Universe into a wasteland ruled over by Ultron. There are only a handful of superheroes left alive, including Wolverine and Invisible Woman. The pair end up finding Doctor Doom’s time machine and using it to travel into the past. Wolverine believes the only way to save the day is to kill off Hank Pym before he invented Ultron.
The problem is that things ended up even worse once Pym was killed, as it turned out that he did a whole lot of rather important things that now were never done without his presence (a real “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment showing how Hank Pym mattered a whole lot to the good of the universe). As a result, Wolverine goes back in time once more and stops himself from killing Hank. Now, though, there were two Wolverines, so the slightly older Wolverine asked his slightly younger self to kill him. Luckily, in the end, Hank ended up installing software within Ultron to stop him and save the day.
2. DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #3
Nearly two decades after Punisher got to kill the Marvel Universe, Deadpool got his chance in this four-issue miniseries by Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic. The series opened up from a point in the regular “Deadpool” series where Deadpool was committed. Here, he meets a psychiatrist that is secretly the Psycho-Man in disguise. The Psycho-Man planned on breaking Deadpool down and turning him into a personal assassin for his own twisted purposes. Instead, what the Psycho-Man did was break something inside Deadpool that basically turned him into a vicious killer.
Deadpool even killed the Watcher, who was describing the story! Deadpool nuked the Avengers, but Wolverine somehow managed to regenerate. Wolverine was lured by Deadpool based on a captured Daken and X-23, who Deapdool was torturing. He then fought Wolverine with special Carbonadium swords (a metal that dulls Wolverine’s healing ability) before beheading him (while making a joke about how Wolverine’s real healing power was “popularity”).
1. DEATH OF WOLVERINE #4
In the first volume of Paul Cornell’s “Wolverine,” he introduced a sentient virus that temporarily shut down Wolverine’s healing power. Wolverine defeated the virus, but in the process, the loss was made permanent. In the second volume, Wolverine began wearing a special suit of armor to reflect the fact that he could no longer heal himself.
That series then led into the miniseries “Death of Wolverine” by Charles Soule, Steve McNiven and Jay Leisten. In it, Dr Cornelius, from the Weapon X project, captured Wolverine because he needed Wolverine’s healing power to make a new batch of Weapon X mutants work. Obviously, the trick was on Cornelius, as Wolverine no longer had that power. Cornelius then tried to kill Wolverine by pouring molten adamantium on Wolverine. Wolverine was able to first stab Cornelius to death before he, too, died, suffocated by molten adamantium.
So far, that has been the real death of Wolverine, as that happened over two years ago and there’s no sign of his return (instead, there is an “Old Man Logan” series starring an older Wolverine from an alternate reality).
What is the most memorable Wolverine death that you can recall? Let us know in the comments section!
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