When Wolverine Used to Routinely Fight the Angel of Death

In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This time around, we're looking at a slightly different variation of this theme. In this instance, it was the original writer who introduced the concept who came back in and also then abandoned the idea.

Marc Guggenheim, one of the big creators behind DC's hit superhero TV series on CW, did an arc on "Wolverine" during "Civil War" and in the story, he had Wolverine essentially blown up by Nitro, but Wolverine managed to survive. In "Wolverine" #48 (by Guggenheim, Humberto Ramos and Carlos Cuevas), we see what happened to Wolverine while his body was healing...

He would fight a mysterious man named Lazaer and if Wolverine defeated him, he got to come back to life. That was the last issue of that initial Guggenheim run.

However, almost a year later, Guggenheim came back to the title, now working with artist Howard Chaykin. In "Wolverine" #57, Wolverine's then-girlfriend was killed and he ended the issue essentially brain dead.

We discovered why in the next issue, when Doctor Strange investigated the situation...

(We also got to see the first meeting between Wolverine and Lazaer, during World War I, when Wolverine was the only survivor in the trenches. He surprised Lazaer and killed him, which is why they have their little deal).

As it turned out, Wolverine was being affected by this woman, Phaedra, who had returned him to the living the last time with the Hand (as part of the "Enemy of the State" storyline). Doctor Strange managed to get him back to the land of the living so that Wolverine could finally settle things with Lazaer (who he know understands is actually Azrael, the Angel of Death).

This brought us to "Wolverine" #61, where Wolverine learns that Phaedra has stolen a piece of his sould and he realizes Lazaer wants Phaedra dead, but can't kill her himself. So Wolverine cuts a deal, Lazaer/Azrael gives him his soul back and he'll kill Phaedra, but the catch is that the next time Wolverine dies, he dies for good...

And obviously, a few years later, Wolverine did, in fact, die for good in "Death of Wolverine" #4. So the deal worked out.

It's an interesting example of a writer introducing a major concept like this and then dropping the whole thing a year later. Guggenheim did some very interesting things in his "Wolverine" run. He had a great run on "Blade" with Howard Chaykin, by the way.

Okay, that's it for this installment! Feel free to write in with your suggestions for abandoned comic book plotlines to brianc@cbr.com!

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