Comic Book Legends Revealed #586

Welcome to the five hundred and eighty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven't been able to update it in a while). This week, why did Wolverine REALLY stab his own teammate, Rachel? Was Magneto originally going to die in the first X-Men vs. Avengers mini-series? Was Peter David's first Star Trek: The Next Generation novel originally a story for the Star Trek comic book series?

Let's begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There's a little "next" button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Chris Claremont revealed the REAL reason Wolverine stabbed Rachel Summers four years after the stabbing.

STATUS: Basically True

Recently, I wrote an article for the main CBR site about superheroes who killed (or intended to kill) a fellow superhero for "the greater good." One of the examples I gave was Uncanny X-Men #207 (by Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr. and Dan Green).

In that story, Rachel Summers attempted to gain revenge upon Selene, the evil Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. Rachel was the daughter of Jean Grey from an alternate future and she encountered Selene when the evil mutant murdered a man who was friendly to Rachel at a time when she was still adjusting to living in the present. Following the events of "Secret Wars II" (where Rachel used her Phoenix-level powers to take some of the life essence of her X-Men teammates to help her destroy the Beyonder -- and the universe itself), Rachel was once again at odds with the world. She decided now was the time to kill Selene.

However, her thoughts were exposed to Wolverine through a connection created when she took some of his life essence...

and he kept popping up in her dreams, killing her for her "evil" thoughts...

Finally, Wolverine used that connection to track her down and told her that she could not kill Selene, as that would be cold-blooded murder. When she countered that the only way he could stop her was to kill her, he popped his claws right into her.

The only reason it didn't kill her is because she managed to use her telekinesis to keep herself alive long enough to be healed by Mojo's Body Shoppe.

For years, that moment has puzzled fans. "Killing is wrong, so I must kill you!" Even if you sort of kind of get where Wolverine's coming from, it's still a bit odd.

Well, reader Lance M. wrote in after reading the aforementioned CBR article and he asked if I knew that Chris Claremont years later gave Wolverine's "real" motivation for stabbing Rachel. I did not know that.

Anyhow, as it turns out, Claremont confirmed in a 1991 Comics Interview interview that Wolverine was afraid that killing Selene would trigger Rachel turning into Dark Phoenix, and thus he felt that he had to kill her to avoid the much worse fate of Rachel becoming Dark Phoenix. That honestly makes a lot of sense. It's not in the actual comic, but it DOES make a lot of sense.

Good to know! And now the rest of you know! Thanks for the suggestion, Lance!

EDITED TO ADD: Commenter Michael noted that Claremont had actually first given the "Dark Phoenix" explanation a year earlier in the 1990 Uncanny X-Men Annual, where Wolverine encountered Rachel for the first time since the stabbing (she was there with Franklin Richards from the future)...

Not quite as explicit as the interview, but pretty darn close. Still, it was four years after the fact, which is still very odd. Anyhow, thanks, Michael!

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On the next page, was Magneto originally going to die in the first X-Men vs. Avengers?

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