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 a battered and broken but very much alive Wolverine, and while the hows and whys of his return are yet to be revealed, one distinctive aspect of his character has made a comeback with him: His iconic yellow and blue costume.
Wolverine first wore the yellow and blue outfit ever since his debut in Incredible Hulk #180/181, and while he’s worn many different outfits over the years, somehow this costume is his most memorable. A question that’s lingered over Wolverine for years now, however, is why he chose yellow and blue as a design choice. In this week’s Return of Wolverine #1, we may finally get the answer.
Arguably, it’s something that didn’t really need answering; this is comics, after all, and superheroes wear brightly colored costumes all the time. However, with even the movie version making a joke out of this look, what has made the yellow and blue outfit as iconic and long-lasting as it has been? Soule and McNiven’s choice to show Logan in this costume from the very first page of Return of Wolverine #1 onward may very well hold a narrative weight later in the story (after all, he wasn’t wearing this outfit when he died), but it’s also a conscious design choice to present readers with the character in his most popular costume in a way that seems to suggest to the audience that yes: this is your favorite Wolverine, and he is most certainly back.
As the issue progresses, Logan — attempting to escape the labs of Soteira while rescuing as many people as he can in the process — comes across a worker who takes him to a place of safety and patches up his wounds. While there, Wolverine admits to her that he has no memories of who he is, and she proceeds to tell him the first of three stories she knows to be absolutely true. The story, she reveals, is about why he chooses to wear a brightly colored costume, and it involves a battle he fought against a terrorist in a mech suit.
It’s not revealed where the city was, but a man “lost to anger” had donned a mech suit, not unlike the one Ripley wore in Aliens, and decided to attack a local hospital. The worker claims that she was there to witness Wolverine’s heroism, and recounts how the famous mutant jumped in front of the terrorist, blocking the barrage of bullets with his own body and killing the man. She calls him a hero, but not because he kills people — because he saves people.
She then talks about a bird in her country called the Weaver bird, whose brightly colored plumage is so captivating you can’t take your eyes off it. The bright yellow feathers remind this woman of Wolverine, and she relays her theory about why he wears that costume, and why it’s similar to that of the bird. By choosing to wear colors so bright and prominent, Wolverine distracts his enemies, drawing their attention to him and him alone, thus protecting those around him and further helping to save lives.
It’s by no means a given fact that this is why Wolverine wears his iconic yellow and blue costume. After all, Logan currently has no memories of his friends or previous lives, and is therefore in no position to confirm or deny the claim. But it would certainly explain why a trained samurai with metal claws and a healing factor would choose to wear something so bright and colorful.
It’s also an interesting contradiction to then see Wolverine put on a brand new costume, one that’s mostly black, implying that now that he’s going after the mysterious Soteira corporation and its twisted leader Persephone in Return of Wolverine #2, he doesn’t want to be seen at all.
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