WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Return of Wolverine #4 by Charles Soule, Declan Shalvey, Laura Martin and VC’s Joe Sabino, out now.
Ever since Logan’s resurrection, we’ve been teased with the new twist on his famous claws. Return of Wolverine has depicted the titular character’s iconic adamantium appendages as glowing red hot, which has had fans wondering just how Wolverine obtained this new enhancement, and why. While the big answers around their origin have yet to be answered, we do now have a few more clues as to the unintended consequences of Wolverine’s "Hot Claws."
Throughout the Return of Wolverine miniseries, Logan has been fighting against the mysterious and deadly Soteira corporation and its enigmatic leader Persephone. In issue #4, that fight has taken a darker turn, as Persephone twists reality around Logan, preying on his lost memories and subverting everything he thought he knew. Before he comes back to his life as Wolverine, it seems like Logan has to drag himself back from hell, only in this case, hell is the Soteira corporation.
Awaking to find himself in a hospital room of sorts, he’s greeted by Ana, the nurse who has been looking after him and who, in turn, Logan has been helping to find her son. In this issue, Wolverine learns that not only is all of that a lie, but that Ana, her son and the whole island he’s being held captive on, are all dead. The corpses of hundreds of people are being resurrected and manipulated by Persephone like a macabre puppet show, and as Logan regains consciousness, he realizes he’s been manipulated all along.
The body of Ana tells him that he lost consciousness in the fight against the X-Men that ended the last issue, and that this was potentially caused by overusing his new power. Shortly before all hell breaks loose and Logan’s world gets flipped upside down, "Ana" tells him that for a short time, his claws were burning white-hot, but that eventually, he burned himself out. He was injured and exhausted, so she removed him from the fight to this hospital room. The fascinating part is that he appears to be taking longer to heal after using his "Hot Claws," and Ana/Persephone wonders aloud if his claws are now stealing energy from his healing factor to fuel their hyper-heated state.
If this is the case (and it likely is), this disadvantage is reminiscent of another relatively new superpower. Back in 2015, Geoff Johns and John Romita jr’s Superman run revealed that Clark’s heat vision was merely a precursor to a much greater power; with great cost to himself, Superman can expel the energy stored in every one of his cells, creating a Solar Flare. The effort of doing this takes its toll on the Man of Steel, however. For around 24 hours after unleashing his "Super Flare," Superman’s cells are depleted, leaving him without his powers. While this power hasn’t been used that often in the years since, on the occasions when it has appeared, the resulting consequences have led to some interesting stories.
Considering Wolverine has often been depicted as an overpowered character, the introduction of this new consequence to using his claws definitely adds an interesting twist to his abilities, one writer Charles Soule likely has plans to explore moving forward.
The return of the original Wolverine (there are still a fair few running around out there) has been accompanied by a ton of questions surrounding his new claws. Are they a result of his time spent in the afterlife? Are they linked to his emotions? Are they somehow connected to the Phoenix Force? Or were they given to him by Soteira? One thing’s for certain, Persephone is as curious about their effects on Logan as we are, and while it’s still unclear where they came from, we seem to be one step closer to learning the truth about them, and Logan's resurrection.