If Wolverine Heals All Wounds, How Does He Have a Belly Button?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to they're e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader George B. wrote in with the following meme, which apparently is popular, and George wanted to know what the answer to said meme was.

First off, here's the weird thing. Comic book companies didn't like to acknowledge that male comic book characters even had NIPPLES until the early 1970s. So belly buttons was, like, a whole other deal. Very rarely will you ever actually see a male character's belly button drawn into a comic, and certainly not until the 21st Century.

Phil Jimenez, for instance, is pretty detailed in his drawings of shirtless Wolverine in New X-Men #148, but even there, the belly button is more suggested than actually drawn...

But whatever, let's just assume, for the sake of the question, that Wolverine does, in fact, have a belly button and thus, the question is "WHY does Wolverine have a belly button?"

I think the biggest answer to that is the fact that Wolverine, like nearly all other mutants, did not get his powers until he reached near the age of puberty (it's typically normally puberty but it can occasionally be triggered before then based on stress), as shown in Wolverine: The Origin #2...

Thus, since he didn't have healing powers until AFTER his belly button scar was formed, he did not avoid the belly button.

Now, though, is the trickier thing. It's logical enough that he wouldn't prevent himself from HAVING a belly button, as it was just part of his body when his powers kicked in and thus not treated like a wound, but how about AFTERWARDS, like when he gets his skin burnt off, why would the belly button scar return?

Here, it seems to tie in with this very odd little idea, I believe first introduced by Chris Claremont, that all of Wolverine's body contains a precise genetic point where his body will return itself to when he is injured. In other words, think of his body as taking a perfect snapshot of Wolverine's body at a specific point in time and it will always return his body to that point.

This is why Wolverine's hair, for instance, always returns to that weird hair style, even when Wolverine buzz cuts it, like he did in Wolverine #59...

But most famously, Wolverine's body was seared to the skeleton in Wolverine #43 (during Civil War) and bounced back to his normal look...

So the way it works is, he gets born, the belly button scar is there, he grows up, his powers kick in and at some point, whatever shape his body is in, THAT'S what he heals back to. So, theoretically, had Wolverine lost an arm when he was five, then that would PROBABLY be the default state that he would just return to when he healed when he got older. That, though, might be taking this a bit too far.

Thanks for the question, George! If anyone else has a question, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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