WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 by Gerry Duggan, Andy MacDonald, Jordie Bellaire and Cory Petit, in stores now.
Marvel Studios changed the way audiences watch movies. Where moviegoers used to race to the parking lot as soon as a film's final scene ended, Marvel's mid-credits and post-credits scenes taught audiences to sit patiently for a chance to glimpse the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Unsurprisingly, Marvel tried to duplicate the experience of those cinematic post-credits scenes last year with a series of back-ups that asked "Where is Wolverine?" These one-page stories ran in A-list titles like Captain America and Amazing Spider-Man, and seemingly traced Logan's footsteps since his mysterious return from the dead in Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic's Marvel Legacy #1
For the most part, the "Where Is Wolverine?" back-ups depicted relatively inconsequential moments that usually involved the X-Man performing a good deed or having a near-miss encounter with one of his fellow Marvel heroes. Instead of offering any concrete hints about Logan's return, the back-ups seem to simply celebrate the idea that Wolverine is an active part of the Marvel Universe again.
However, Wolverine: Infinity Watch recently revealed the "startling secret" that the "Where is Wolverine" teaser promised, and that information casts the teasers in a dramatically different light.
Instead of chronicling the return of the Marvel Universe's Logan, those back-ups actually starred a time-traveling, Phoenix-wielding Wolverine from an alternate future where Loki had assembled all of the Infinity Stones.
Instead of offering hints about the return of a fan-favorite icon, the "Where is Wolverine?" back-ups essentially serve as vague teasers for Infinity Wars, an Infinity Stone-centric crossover that hadn't even been announced when most of these pages were published.
With these revelations about this alternate reality Logan, some aspects of "Where is Wolverine?" make more sense.
While Wolverine tried to find Avengers like Captain America and Iron Man during those back-ups, he never sought out the X-Men, his closest friends and allies. Those Avengers and Marvel's cosmic heroes ended up having larger roles in Infinity Wars than the X-Men, so that initially puzzling decision makes more sense in retrospect.
When Marvel's main Wolverine finally returned in Charles Soule and Steve McNiven's Return of Wolverine #5, that issue ended with him walking up the steps of the X-Mansion in search of his fellow X-Men. Since the last page of that issue doesn't reveal who Logan finds at the X-Mansion, it ends on a cliffhanger that leads directly into Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1.
While that might seem like a relatively simple moment, it highlights why "post-credits" scenes don't really translate well to the comic book medium. Given the serial nature of most modern comics, the last page of a comic book usually plays a big part in trying to convince readers to buy the next issue of the series.
The final pages of most superhero comics usually include sudden revelations, emotional payoffs or cliffhangers that lead directly into the events of an upcoming issue. The "Where is Wolverine" back-ups didn't really do any of those things. Instead, they were a largely disconnected series of vignettes that had tangential connections to the rest of the issue's events.
It's difficult to replicate the effects of a cinematic post-credits scene in comics because Marvel's post-credits scenes effectively mimic the way the last page of a superhero comic book works. They usually feature the kinds of cliffhangers and revelations that make the next entry in the MCU a must-see affair. While this level of serialization might've been revolutionary for film, it's nothing that the comic book Marvel Universe hasn’t been doing for decades.
Wolverine's return to the Marvel Universe will continue in Wolverine: Infinity Watch #2 by Gerry Duggan and Andy MacDonald, on sale Mar. 20.