Wolverine is one tough customer. He’s been through childhood trauma, has seen the horrors of war, experienced the existential nightmare of outliving loved ones, and has sustained some of the most vicious injuries a man could ever experience. But still he marches on -- even the end itself couldn’t hold down ol’ Canucklehead. The recent return of Wolverine from his adamantium tomb has us reflecting back on some of the moments in which Logan’s infamous healing factor took things too far in terms of the sheer ridiculousness factor. Comic books are full of “jump the shark” moments and have a very long history of bending rules or completely rewriting them. But when it comes to Wolverine, those rules are not just rewritten, they are often smashed with a sledgehammer and tossed into an incinerator.
Luckily, Logan has the benefit of having a murky past to make up for some of the out of nowhere choices comic creators have made over the last few decades. So much about Wolverine has been retconned and redacted and retold, it’s hard to tell just what exactly his is and isn’t capable of. The one constant of course, is his healing factor, because of how important it is when discussing his powerset (that and his keen senses). But the part that moves on a sliding scale is just how effective it is. What can his healing factor really repair? Well, it would seem the answer is just about anything...
We are willing to stretch our disbelief when it comes to Wolverine but sometimes what he can sustain is simply ridiculous and no, we’re not talking about being able to drink anyone under the table. While we know Wolverine can withstand extreme heat, as in he can be burnt to a crisp and keep on trekking, his healing factor acts as somewhat of a source of internal climate control.
Wolverine can withstand extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum. During the “Planet X” storyline in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, he tells Jean his power allows him to withstand rising temperatures as if his blood is Freon. The same goes for withstanding extremely cold climates as well, and not because he’s Canadian.
Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force is often considered one of the best X-Force stories ever told. It was known for its brutal subject matter and the team of morally ambiguous mutants who were not afraid to get their hands dirty. Early on, Wolverine and his team face off against the new Horsemen of Apocalypse, and quickly got in over their heads.
During the battle, Wolverine faced off against the new version of Death, who had the ability to infect his victims with every disease and virus known to man -- and Death didn’t pull any punches. He filled Wolverine’s body with cancer and myriad other diseases, but thankfully Logan’s healing factor staved it all off. Good thing carbonadium wasn’t in Death’s arsenal.
It is easy to look at Wolverine’s healing factor and examine it through a scientific lens. The very notion of mutations and evolution is based on real world research, so it only makes sense. Now, Logan’s ability to withstand physical turmoil can simply be seen as the logical extension of his evolution. This is his gift and that gift is grounded in science -- it’s as simple as that. Or is it?
Apparently Wolverine’s healing factor reaches beyond the realm of science and can actually cure magical curses. That’s right. In Wolverine: First Class #10, Logan’s healing factor is able to fight off lycanthropy, which is, as far as we know, a curse. Yeesh, at least vampirism is grounded in blood diseases.
The Punisher is a character who isn’t known for his subtlety. While he is certainly quick at taking out criminals with extreme prejudice, Frank Castle is a man who will use whatever means are at his disposal to eliminate any perceived threats. And those means usually end with someone turning into red mist. But how does the Punisher handle opposing forces who have regenerative healing factors?
The answer is simple: him ‘em where it hurts. In a confrontation with Wolverine, Castle not only delivers a couple obscenely well-placed shotgun blasts he also runs him over with a steamroller. We’re not certain if Frank knew Logan would come back from that (he did, of course), but it didn’t stop him from taking extreme measures.
The Brood are gross. They are also a complete rip off of the Xenomorph from the 1979 film Alien right down to the insectoid features, ridiculously large head, and aggressive breeding process. The Brood expand their ranks by impregnating a host with an egg which eventually takes over the host body.
Now for most characters, this would mean the end for them but not for Wolverine. Logan’s healing factor treats the Brood impregnation like any sort of foreign matter that could have negative effects on his body. It’s a bit strange however and also muddies the water in terms of how his healing ability works. But honestly, it’s not the weirdest.
The relationship between Logan and Jean Grey is complicated to say the least. No one wants to be stuck in a weird love triangle with a woman who has a tendency to perish and has a lover who can blast raw energy from his eyes, but that’s who Wolverine has to work with. It makes us wonder why the guy just can’t get over Jean. After all he’s been through, is she really worth it? Well, she kind of is…
But the gauntlet Logan has gone through to prove his love for Jean has been rough and has even taken him to the sun, where even after being scorched by galactic radiation, his healing factor was able to repair him. The things he does for love…
The Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610) was designed to give us updated versions of classic Marvel characters for a modern audience. The heroes and villains who existed on the page in comics like Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates were grittier and grounded in our current social climate. But with this came a level of dark and often surprising situations for some iconic character -- and no one may have gotten as bad as Wolverine.
In the miniseries Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, the titular green rage monster decided two Wolverines were better than one and proceeded to tear Logan in half. Thankfully, Wolverine’s healing factor was able to repair the damage done… at least physically.
Both on-screen and in the comics, Wolverine has survived the impact of a nuclear bomb going off. Now, one could argue that perhaps the distance of the bomb exploding in relation to where Logan was may be a factor, but when these bombs are dropped, they almost land right on his head.
The temperature under which adamantium takes to melt is certainly questionable, but we’re pretty sure 10,830 degrees Fahrenheit (or 6,000 degrees Celsius) would get the job done. But apparently Logan’s healing factor didn’t get the memo and Logan miraculously survived the event in every medium… and oddly enough, so did his pants.
Wolverine’s longevity should never be underestimated. His ability to go days without sleep, food, water, or any other needs is astounding (and often a little scary). Once, Logan was even tossed in somewhat of a 127 Hours situation but being trapped lasted much, much longer… about six months to be exact.
In New X-Men 148, Logan tells a story to Jean Grey in which he was trapped beneath a glacier. Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, he managed to survive by eating his own arm (seriously), which, of course, grew back to replenish his ghastly food stock. Now while this is by no means a sustainable way to live, it is a bit much, even for a character with such a strong healing factor.
X-Men becoming vampires is nothing new. We’ve seen characters like Bloodstorm come from being turned into creatures of the night, and Jubilee spent far too much time among the ranks of the sun-hating undead, but Wolverine is an interesting case. In issues of Marvel Comics series What if…?, Logan was in fact Lord of the Vampires, and retained his vampirism despite his healing factor.
However, in the primary Marvel Universe (Earth-616) continuity, vampiric infections don’t have much of a lasting effect. Wolverine’s healing factor pretty much scrubs any of the cursed blood from his system and reverts him to just having your average, run-of-the-mill bloodlust.
Adamantium is bad stuff…or at least, so we are led to believe. Now, the fact Logan was able to withstand the bonding process of adamantium being grafted to his entire skeleton (except for his teeth for some weird reason), is a testament to his mutant healing factor. The sheer trauma inflicted on the body from such a process would end just about anyone.
Besides the initial process, it has been hinted at that Wolverine’s adamantium implants are actually poisoning. In recent comics this notion has been somewhat brushed aside. But the idea of Wolverine’s healing factor basically working overtime, all the time, is pretty nuts especially since at one point he took meds to help stave off the effects.
If you thought getting pulled apart like a wishbone was bad, well we have news for you: things get a lot worse for Logan in the miniseries Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. When we say things go from bad to worse, we mean they go from half to… oh, we’ll say about a sixteenth.
After the events of struggling to find his lower half on the side of a snowy mountain, Wolverine eventually wakes up as nothing but a head on a platter where he has to listen to Nick Fury explain some of the creepy experiments he had conducted. Fury even suggest that Wolverine breathes through his skin, because comics are weird. But of course, breathing skin or not, Logan eventually got all his parts back.
One of the biggest stress tests to Wolverine’s healing factor occurred in what has become one of the most defining moments of ‘90s X-Men comics. During the mutant crossover event “Fatal Attractions,” Magneto dispatched Logan in a brutal manner fans had been scared of ever seeing.
Why would a guy with metal-laced bones ever try to fight the Master of Magnetism? These two icons have had several skirmishes before, but what unfolded in the pages of X-Men Vol. 2 #25 and Wolverine Vol 2. #75 was something we could never forget. The haunting image of adamantium being pulled from every pore of Wolverine’s skin is brunt into our memories forever and proves this stout mutant hairball is nigh impossible to get rid of.
The Marvel Comics crossover event “Civil War” was a transformative moment for the publisher. Characters drew lines in the sand and stood against heroes they once considered friends (and even family). The whole ordeal was traumatic for so many, but no one felt the brunt of it like Wolverine.
Nitro, the character who caused the inciting incident in the main miniseries Civil War, possess the power to explode and rebuild himself. Well, before he can be apprehended by Wolverine, he does his little trick again and the blast is strong and hot enough to reduce Logan to a skeleton. But despite not having any squishy bits left, Logan’s healing factor brought him back from the brink and it was as ridiculous as it was disgusting.
We all know Wolverine’s healing factor is constantly being redefined. New rules are set and limits are pushed farther and farther out. But nothing has quite been as ridiculous as what occurs after Wolverine has his heart pulled from his chest by the awful X-Men villain Horde. Now, surviving his heart being removed is strangely not the weirdest thing Wolverine has survived, but what came next was (especially since he technically didn’t come back from the initial act).
A single drop of Wolverine’s blood landed on a McGuffin known as the Crystal of Ultimate Vision and Logan was reborn, bit by bit. One could chalk this up to mystic craziness, but Logan explains that his healing factor is in each one of his cells.