When Did We First Learn That Wolverine Was Older Than He Looked?

In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Reader Gene P. wrote in to ask, "For your “When We First Met” series. I would like to see When we first found out that Wolverine ages slower than regular humans."

This is a tricky one, Gene, and honestly, the answer you guessed in your e-mail really IS the correct answer, but I think that there are two other examples that can still count.

Okay, so when Wolverine first debuted in Incredible Hulk #181, he was intended by his creator, Len Wein, to be a young adult, like maybe 19-20 years old, something like that. It was supposed to be this whole "he's not only short and scrappy, but he's YOUNG, short and scrappy!"

Heck, even when we first saw his face, Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum really didn't have anything planned for the guy that was anything special. He was just a guy. I mean, you know, he had powers and everything like that, but otherwise, he was just a guy, like Cyclops or Iceman or whatever. Just a regular mutant.

Then Chris Claremont was joined by John Byrne, and Byrne, being from Canada, was drawn to the Canadian superhero and wanted to expand on the character...a LOT. So he and Claremont sat down and came up with all sorts of neat things about him, like the fact that he had an an advanced healing power. Naturally, once they came up with the idea that he healed fast, that made them think, "Hey, he should probably also age slowly."

A problem was that things that Claremont and Byrne agreed on then would not necessarily be revealed for YEARS. Byrne famously wanted to reveal that Logan knew Captain America during an issue of Captain America during Byrne's run on that book with Roger Stern. You know, have a flashback issue and Wolverine's just chilling in the background. It did not happen, but right around that time, we have what I think counts as the first real sign that Wolverine was older than he looks.

In X-Men Annual #4 (by Claremont, John Romita Jr. and Bob McLeod), Wolverine and the X-Men are in hell and it is quite a cold day in hell in the spot that they are in and Wolverine notes that it reminds him of that bloody winter beneath Monte Cassino...

The Battle of Monte Cassino was a famous battle between Allied forces (including Canadian soldiers) and the Italian defense near Monte Cassino in the winter of 1944 going into 1945. It was a very bloody battle and a pretty clear reference that Wolverine is supposed to be old enough in 1980 to have fought in a battle in World War II thirty-five years earlier! Yes, Reed Richards also fought in World War II, but people weren't writing stuff about Reed fighting in World War II in 1980. They were only in the early 1960s because, well, duh, a 40 year old guy in 1961 was going to have been involved in World War II. Not so in 1980, so this was a clear sign that Wolverine was older than he looked.

Six years later, in Alpha Flight #33 (by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema and Gerry Taloac, but Mantlo consulted with Claremont on the story), Wolverine notes to Heather Hudson that he fought in "the war," meaning World War II...

Again, we're in 1986 here and Wolverine is still talking about fighting in World War II. Clearly he is older than he looks. As an aside, what is up with Wolverine and his pining over women he can't have? You're so lame sometimes, Wolverine!

However, it is fair to note that we have not seen him specifically being an adult in the past, so that will wait until the next page...

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