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Wolverine's New Healing Factor Has One Mysterious Limitation

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Return of Wolverine #1, by Charles Soule, Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten, Laura Martin and VC's Joe Sabino, out now. 

Return of Wolverine #1 shows us the immediate aftermath of Logan’s return from the dead, but we’ll have to keep reading the miniseries if we want to find out exactly how he has thwarted the afterlife once again. When we first see Wolverine, however, there are some interesting aspects to him that demand explanation, such as his costume, his powers and a strange wound on his side.

The issue opens with a screaming Wolverine, on his knees and clearly recovering from some major trauma. Straight away, however, there are differences in his appearance from the last time we saw him. First off, he’s wearing his classic yellow and blue costume, which he wasn’t wearing when he died -- and hadn’t worn for some time before his death in 2014. Secondly, and perhaps more prominently, his claws are glowing white hot, which is obviously not something they have ever done before.

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As the issue progresses, we discover that Wolverine has no memory of who he is, but that his return has something to do with the mysterious Soteira corporation, run by the enigmatic Persephone. As he comforts a scientist dying nearby, he finds out that the lab he has awoken in specialized in de-extinction and cloning, which would explain the saber-tooth cat and the woolly mammoth that are roaming the area.

Later, as he comes to the rescue of more lab workers caught up in what looks like a planned extraction of Soteira, a canteen worker pulls him to his feet and helps him get himself back together. It’s by this point -- after an explosion, a fight with a tiger and a motorcycle crash -- that Wolverine discovers that, when he gets hurt, he heals up fast. Logan’s accelerated healing factor has been a part of the character since his first appearance, but he lost his healing factor permanently shortly before he died, making this newly-returned Wolverine different once again.

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His healing factor has returned, but there’s one wound that just won’t heal. A large, deep cut on Wolverine’s right side refuses to heal, leading to it being cleaned and stapled by the woman who pulls him to safety. It looks like her handiwork helps, as fairly soon Wolverine is suiting up into his new costume and ready to take the fight to Persephone. But what exactly is this wound on his side, where did it come from and why won’t it heal?

It’s interesting to note that we’ve seen this type of wound at least twice before in Wolverine’s recent past, although none of which were suffered by this version of Logan. The first is in the final pages of Death of Wolverine #4, when Wolverine sliced through molten Adamantium tubes and fatally coated himself in the poisonous metal. Weapon X scientist Abraham Cornelius tried to escape to a helicopter pad on the roof, but collapsed shortly before making his exit due to a large shard of glass that had pierced him on his right side. Could this matching, unhealable wound on Wolverine’s side be in any way related?

The other interesting, almost certainly unrelated incident is in the final moments of the 2017 movie Logan, when the old man that is Wolverine was killed by being skewered on a tree stump, one of the shattered branches of which pierced Logan through his right side. While unrelated, it’s interesting that this type of wound is a recurring motif in scenes involving Wolverine’s death across media. There are many mysteries still left to solve surrounding the Return of Wolverine, but the strange, unhealable wound on his right side may be one of the most mysterious.

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