WOLVERINEOriginal Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1974
Creator: Len Wein
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Wolverine originally functioned as a sort of "token Canuck", when The Hulk happened to be north of the border. At the time, Marvel Comics didn't
have any Canadian superheroes for him to fight, so writer Len Wein (Teen Titans, Brother Voodoo) made one up — a super-powered agent of the Canadian government, named Wolverine. He attracted no more attention than any of The Hulk's other slugfest partners.
Several months later, Wein was the writer charged with re-populating The X-Men, and he tossed Wolverine into the mix. Wein left the series almost immediately (along with most of The X-Men's original cast), and Chris Claremont (Power Man/Iron Fist) took over the scripting. Interest in the new/old group soared, and Wolverine was one of its most popular members.
Under Claremont, Wolverine was played as a taciturn, near-ruthless, incredibly tough fighter — not quite the first of Marvel's heroes that are hard to tell from villains (The Punisher had been behaving that way already), but one of the very early ones. Aside from his natural mutant abilities, including great strength and the ability to recover almost instantly from any non-fatal injury, he possessed a skeleton that had been artificially laced with adamantium (a metal so strong and durable, it can exist only in comic books), retractible claws of the same substance built into the backs of his hands, and a mysterious past that immediately became the subject of fan interest and speculation.
Bits and pieces of his past would occasionally come to light, usually by chance. A typical revelation of that sort was when The X-Men got stranded in Japan, and it turned out Wolverine knew the language. "You never told us you could speak Japanese," one of his teammates remarked. "You never asked," quipped Wolverine.
A major revelation of his past occurred in 1977-78, when the Canadian government tried to get him back. It seems he'd been a major investment on their part, the first of a group of Ottawa-sponsored superheroes. Other members of the group, called Alpha Flight, fought The X-Men several times in an attempt to force him to rejoin. Eventually, the two teams reached a truce — in which Wolverine, predictably, wound up doing exactly as he pleased. He chose to remain with The X-Men. (Alpha Flight, incidentally, eventually got its own comic, even without Wolverine.)
Wolverine was the first of the new X-Men to be spun off into his own book — first, a four-issue mini-series in 1982, then an ongoing monthly series starting in 1988. He was also the most frequent star of Marvel Comics Presents, a bi-weekly series with rotating characters, which ran from 1988-95. In the latter series, and in the 1989 mini-series Wolverine Saga, his past was finally laid bare. But by that time, Marvel could afford to — he was very firmly established as one of their major stars.
Wolverine continues to maintain his X-Men membership, and to star in his monthly comic. When Marvel finally did get around to giving him a detailed origin, in 2002, it was a best-seller, so apparently, he continues to delight fans with his no-nonsense attitude toward superheroing.