Comic Legends: The Mystery of Wolverine's Retractable Claw Gauntlets

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventy-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I'll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

In honor of the release of my new book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, on April 15th, every legend until that point will be about the X-Men!

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends.


Wolverine's claws were going to be part of his gloves even after he was a regular member of the X-Men.


Appears to be True

Today; we're tying in together a couple of different interesting points in the history of the X-Men and of Marvel Comics itself.

First off, I don't believe I've ever explicitly talked about Len Wein's initial plans for Wolverine as an explicit legend before (maybe in my first book? I did 65 new legends there that I've never done as part of this column, so maybe there?), and I suppose I could have just made this legend that, but instead, I think it's an even more interesting mix between Wein's original plans for Wolverine and Marvel's history of inventory stories.

Okay, to begin, when Wolverine first appeared in Incredible Hulk #181...

His claws were supposed to be part of his gloves. That was the case still when Wein and Dave Cockrum brought him over to the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1...

Then, however, with Wein off of the book, Cockrum and new writer, Chris Claremont, decided to do their own thing with the character by both revealing his true face for the first time (his first five appearances as a member of the X-Men, Wolverine remained fully in costume the whole time)...

and then revealing that the claws were part of him and not part of his gloves...

While that is an interesting change in and of itself (that was also when Cockrum and Claremont cooked up the whole "Hey, maybe Wolverine is a mutated wolverine instead of being a mutant!" idea that went nowhere), what strikes me as even more interesting is that the change was clearly not properly conveyed to the rest of the Marvel offices!

You see, as I've written about recently, starting with Marv Wolfman's tenure as Marvel Editor-in-Chief (which was right when Wolverine's claws were revealed to be part of him), Marvel instituted the practice of doing inventory fill-in issues of their titles. These would be comics that would be designed to be ready to be published whenever the book became late, so as to avoid doing reprint issues.

Dave Cockrum had problems with hitting regular deadlines, so part of the reason that the X-Men series remained bi-monthly was because of Cockrum's deadline problems. However, even with the relaxed schedule, Cockrum was slow. So slow that Marvel did not believe that he could keep up the regular release of the book. Cockrum was irritated at this, because he WAS keeping up with the schedule back then, but Marvel created a fill-in issue right away. Well, you know how these things go, you paid for a fill-in issue, you're going to want to use it, so when Cockrum's run was almost done (and he definitely WAS falling behind schedule), Marvel schedule in X-Men #106, a fill-in issue by Bill Mantlo and Bob Brown created to be used around X-Men #96...

Obviously, then, that fill-in issue was also based on Wolverine's old setup, so his claws were in his gloves.

Marvel, though, then had ANOTHER fill-in issue created, due to Cockrum's slippage in page delivery, this time by artist Tony DeZuniga. And once again, Marvel (Archie Goodwin was now Editor-in-Chief) did not want to let an issue go to waste. Their problem, though, is that it since Cockrum was off of the book with X-Men #107 and new artist John Byrne was on the book with X-Men #108, you couldn't really schedule the issue before Byrne's first issue or after Byrne's first issue, since then that would make it so that the X-Men would have four different artists in four issues! That would be seen as way too sloppy. So they waited until after Byrne's SECOND issue to slot in the fill-in issue, which irritated Byrne and Claremont, since their run was just getting started and here it needed to be delayed an issue due a fill-in issue that had now become unnecessary (due to Byrne's speed as an artist catching the book up on its deadline issues right away).

The Tony DeZuniga-drawn issue was clearly also using the old set-up (pre-Wolverine's claws being part of his body), as we only see Wolverine using the claws with gloves...

Not only that, but then DeZuniga went even further to get to use Wolverine using his claws in his civilian gear by giving him special gauntlets to wear for his claws!

So twelve issues after learning that Wolverine's claws were part of his body, they were still being treated the other way due to the lateness of the use of inventory stories!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Was Sean Connery almost going to appear in Die Another Day?

Check back late tonight for Part 3 of this week's legends! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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