SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Cullen Bunn Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni's "X-Men Blue" #1, on sale now.
Several weeks ago, Marvel Comics released a pair of covers for upcoming issues of "X-Men Blue" indicating the imminent arrival of a certain clawed mutant. While the character was blurred out, there was no mistaking the familiar, hunched over stance of Wolverine as he's been depicted so many times in the past by cover artist Arthur Adams.
Of course, with it being so obvious, the question was, why was Marvel even bothering to hide his identity? With the release of "X-Men Blue" #1, we have the answer, and it's a bit of a doozy!
Yep, It's (A) Wolverine!
Yes, the obvious answer to the mystery was that Wolverine was back from the dead. However, there's no way Marvel would let that information get out as part of the standard monthly release of of their solicitation text and covers. With that in mind, our initial thinking was that perhaps this would be revealed to be Logan's son, Daken, who was last seen attempting to live up to his father's legacy in the pages of the "Wolverines" series.
Turns out, it is Logan's son - and yet, we were completely wrong.
In "X-Men Blue" #1's back-up story, by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Buffagni, the identity of the mystery Wolverine is made perfectly clear, and fulfills a different fan prediction -- it's the son of Ultimate Wolverine, James Hudson Jr., aka Jimmy Hudson.
Yes, the young team of X-Men will soon be joined by a young version of Wolverine, albeit one from a different reality rather than a different time period -- or, in the case of Old Man Logan, a different time period in a different reality. At least, that's appears to be the plan.
Ultimate Secret Wars Fallout
While Jimmy isn't explicitly named, it's seems obvious that the young mutant has made the leap from the Ultimate Universe into the 616, a la Miles Morales, Ganke Lee and several other members of the "Ultimate Spider-Man" cast. Though he speaks just one word ("Run!"), and he's now sporting a beard, the clawed mutant's identity is immediately apparent thanks to his dusty-blonde hair.
In a nice bit of throwback reference to his more famous father's 616 counterpart, we're treated to Jimmy's Marvel Universe-proper debut when he stops an attack on a small town by a Wendigo. Wolverine's first appearance in "Incredible Hulk" #181, of course, saw the then-new mutant fight the gamma-powered Hulk before the pair teamed to defeat the nearly-indestructible, feral Wendigo.
But that's just window dressing, an Easter egg for longtime readers. The real story is that this is the latest example of how the Marvel Universe was re-formed in "Secret Wars" #8 after the nigh-omnipotent Doctor Doom tore apart reality, created his Battleworld from shards of various dimensions' Earths, and then saw it all wiped out and rebooted once again by his arch-enemy, Reed Richards. (You may know him as Mister Fantastic.)
The resulting reality was the same as the one Marvel readers already knew - more or less. While most of the pieces of the Marvel U's puzzle fit in nicely with each other, there were a few that needed a bit extra manipulation in order to complete the picture. The aforementioned Miles Morales and friends would be one such piece, along with the suddenly-reformed Victor von Doom, and the recently revealed Mjolnir that belonged to the Ultimate Universe's Thor.
Now, we appear to have yet another refugee from the Ultimate Universe in Jimmy Hudson, which has us wondering, what will his connection be to the 616's currently-deceased Wolverine? For that matter, will he have a connection to Wolverine? Or will he be linked to another character entirely, -- or possibly to no characters at all?
Miles and Thor's magical hammer aren't the only remnants of the Ultimate Universe currently running around the Marvel U; Ultimate Reed Richards, aka the supervillain known as The Maker, recently plagued the Mighty Avengers, and stands to become an even bigger threat as he appears to have been revealed as the mastermind behind the return of Cynthia von Doom, Doctor Doom's mother.
Right now, there's little, if any, connection between Miles, the Maker, Mjolnir and now Jimmy Hudson. However, the theory behind Chekhov's gun would indicate that at some point the various threads from the Ultimate Universe which appear to be unconnected will eventually become tangled. Whether that's here, in "X-Men Blue," in the pages of the Miles Morales-led "Spider-Man," or somewhere else entirely remains to be seen. Marvel has promised a solid year and a half free of major events following the finale of "Secret Empire" this summer, so it will likely be explored in "Blue," or will simmer underneath the surface for a long, long time.
For now, though, Wolverine is back - sort of. In the coming months, we'll see his story unfold, revealing whether he's a man without a past, is revealed to be the other son of the original Wolverine's, or (and this would be intriguing) if he remembers his life in the Ultimate Universe. After all, Miles is said to have all of his memories intact, and it appears as though the Maker recalls his prior life as well. A Wolverine who remembers every aspect of his past rather than nothing would be an interesting thematic flip of the original character's story.
Fun Fact: Jimmy Hudson was actually co-created by the very man whose redacted covers teased his arrival in the Marvel Universe! Arthur Adams illustrated "Ultimate X" #1, scripted by Jeph Loeb, which saw the Ultimate Universe' Kitty Pryde introduce the adopted Jimmy to his dead father by way of a holographic message. Jimmy -- whose birth mother is Ultimate Magneto's wife (!) -- eventually joined a new team (Ultimate X) under the leadership of Kitty Pryde, involving Hulk, a super-powered Liz Allen and more.