When you look at the most popular comic book characters of all-time, they tend to be instant successes. Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man - they were all hits as soon as they were introduced. That was not the case with Wolverine. He was well-received enough in his debut story in "Incredible Hulk" #181 to be added to the All-New, All-Different X-Men in "Giant-Size X-Men" #1, but in the early years, Wolverine was just part of the gang, as it were.
It was not until artist John Byrne joined "X-Men" and began pushing for more Wolverine spotlights that the character became a featured character in the series. Then when he got his first mini-series in the early 1980s by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, it was clear, this character was a star. Wolverine's growing fame meant that he would appear in a ton of titles as a guest-star and that people would come up with their own versions of him. Here, then, are 16 characters (in chronological order) that were based on Wolverine.View article on one page
Dave Sim's classic series, "Cerebus," began as a satire of "Conan the Barbarian," with Cerebus, a talking aardvark, taking the role of the barbarian warrior. It slowly became a more and more elaborate satire of politics and religion. Even as it moved on from parodying other superheroes in general, Sim still continued to occasionally parody superheroes within the book itself. One particularly prominent example is when Sim introduced the Cockroach. The Cockroach was a fellow who had multiple-personality disorder and would take on the identities of famous comic book characters like Captain America (Captain Cockroach), Moon Knight (Moon Roach) and, most famously, Wolveroach.
Sim decided to make fun at Marvel's over-saturation of their Wolverine character (and Sim was making fun of this in the early 1980s, when Wolverine had only gotten a single mini-series so far!) by placing Wolveroach on the cover of "Cerebus" #54-56, prominently parodying Frank Miller's distinctive art style. Amusingly enough, Wolveroach was unconscious inside of the comic for the duration of the cover shtick. Marvel sent Sim a cease-and-desist letter, not for the use of the character itself, but for the prominent cover usage. Sim ultimately came to agree with Marvel's position and didn't use the cover bit in the future.
When John Byrne created the original lineup of Alpha Flight to join the previously created Vindicator (then re-named Guardian) in trying to take Wolverine into custody in "X-Men" #120, he only barely sketched out each of the characters. It is interesting to note, then, that Byrne would do much of the same thing in "Alpha Flight" #1, where he spent a couple of panels depicting a bunch of characters in the Alpha Flight training program called Gamma Flight. One of these characters had blonde hair, but we would not really meet him until he joined up with the villainous Omega Flight in "Alpha Flight" and we learned that he was a feral killing machine known as Wild Child.
As the resident Wolverine-inspired character, Wild Child was a popular character and he slowly evolved from a low-level villain to a regular member of the team, although there was always the possibility of him going feral lying in the back of everyone's head. That's ultimately what happened to him after he left Alpha Flight and joined X-Factor in the mid-90s (a popular, more feral version of Wild Child, had appeared in "Age of Apocalypse," which is what drove Wild Child to be added to "X-Factor" in the first place). Writer Jeph Loeb later acknowledged that characters like Wild Child were all part of a special mutant group of wolf-like creatures. Sadly, Wild Child died in that storyline.
Wildside was introduced in "New Mutants" #86 as a member of the Mutant Liberation Front, an organization that he ended up serving through many different iterations over the years. In fact, likely by virtue of being one of the few members to stick around the entire time, he even ended up leading the team at one point. Wildside had unique powers, as he could send out a psychic aura that would cause people in his general vicinity to hallucinate. However, he rarely used his powers, as he instead liked to just attack people directly with his razor sharp nails and teeth. He was a highly agile and athletic villain. He was effectively what Wolverine would be if he embraced his berserker rages.
Later on, Wildside was taken in by the Weapon X project and they gave him upgrades that made him even more of a Wolverine knockoff, as he was given special retractable metal claws that he could extend through his fingertips.
In the 1991 graphic novel, “Wolverine: Bloody Choices,” by Tom DeFalco and John Buscema, Wolverine faced two very difficult decisions. He discovered that a prominent drug dealer in the area was also engaging in pedophilia (and then likely murdering the young boys afterwards). However, Nick Fury asked Wolverine to step aside momentarily and let S.H.I.E.L.D. finish an operation to take the villain down for his drug business. Once they did that, then they could address the pedophilia. Wolverine begrudgingly agreed, but then the drug dealer cut a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. to help them take down a bigger drug dealer in exchange for Fury offering him protection. Wolverine could not stand for that, so he and Fury had to battle each other when Wolverine attempted to kill the drug dealer.
The drug dealer's chief enforcer was a man named Shiv who randomly looked a lot like Wolverine. We once asked DeFalco if he planned on revealing an actual connection between Shiv and Wolverine, and he told us that he always created back-stories for every new character he introduced, but his notes on what Shiv's was are long gone, so he did not recall what his ultimate plan was for Shiv.