Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Discuss: Wolverine

Karen: Hard to believe, but we've never had a post dedicated to that crazy Canuck, Wolverine. He's one of the few comics characters created post-1960s who is in the top tier popularity-wise, but there's also been some backlash against him too. Let's hear your thoughts on the runt.


J.A. Morris said...

Still one of my favorite characters, but I liked him more before he was overexposed, a WWII secret agent and 150 years old. Hard to explain, but he's less "cool" when he's older than my grandfather. He was much more fun and interesting when his past was a mystery. You'd think Professional Comic Creators would get that.

Of course "my" Wolverine, the one that appears in Bronze Age stories isn't 150 years old. So he's still cool. Plus, I'm relatively short for a dude,and his lack of height was frequently joked about back then.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I agree that he was much cooler when his age was indeterminate and his past was largely a mystery. Also, I liked the way he was initially characterized in the early Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne phase, as a rather unstable maniac prone to "berserker" rages, with the lingering possibility of even attacking his own team-mates in the heat of the battle. I actually found myself getting a bit annoyed with the character at about the time of that first 4-issue mini-series by Claremont and Miller - I could already sense the looming overexposure.

dbutler16 said...

I pretty much agree with everything J.A. Morris said. I used to love the little guy (I'm both short and hairy, so I feel some kinship) and I still do like him, but all of the stuff Marvel has done to him and to the X-Men over the past 20 years has left a bad taste in my mouth. Still, like JA, my Wolverine, and my X-Men, for that matter, are the Bronze Age version. Actually, my X-Men cease to be somewhere around 1984, and I am very thankful that I have my back issues to enjoy whenever I want.

One of the many ridiculous over-the-top inventions regarding Wolverine is that he is essentially un-killable. Magnets rips out the adamantium from his skeleton, and he survives??!! Uh, OK. Who says modern comics are more "real". I think Wolvie could be reduced to atoms, and they'd somehow reassemble, and he'd be good as new in a few hours. Sure, why not.

I used to love the mystery surrounding Wolverine, as well as the fact that he was a loner, as I often see myself. Also, I love when he'd call Professor X "Charlie". He just played by his own rules. Yet, for all his savagery, he did have a sensitive and a cultured side. I loved discovering that he spoke Japanese, and I liked the way he acted differently around Mariko. Anyway, Marvel, as usual, ruined a good thing by going to the well far, far, too often.

david_b said...

Mysteries are always much more fun, leaving so much to the imagination, which is why I didn't like all the added Jabba scenes in 'New Hope', vers 3.0. Wolvie came after I stopped my initial collecting in '75.

Unfortunately, when I re-emerged on the comic scene by the mid-80s.., he was all over the place, along with Punisher. I liked his look in his brown outfit, and even bought the Secret Wars figure because it had that cool Byrne look to it.

Other than that, he was already saturating the Marvel Universe, so I was wondering 'Who was this upstart along all the characters I previously knew....?' And not being a big X-Men fan to start with, he really didn't perk my interest either.

Doug said...

I often wonder if the original intent for the character -- to have him be a teenager with the claws as part of the gloves -- would have resonated with readers. My guess is that before Claremont got hold of him, and then Byrne and Miller ramped him up, he'd have simply been a one-hit wonder. Perhaps he'd have caught on temporarily as Nova did a few years later, but I just don't see that initial goal for the character as standing out.

But as others above have said, I could have done without the convoluted backstory and ninjas. Also as has been said, I'll stick to the character in "my era" and that will be just OK with me.


Weird WWII said...

He's a mess. No one knows what his true origin is or his name, how old he is, etc. His healing factor is off the charts with being blown to bits by Nitro, incinerated by some Sentinels and completely d-atomized by whatever and the damn guy keeps showing up. That's just lazy writing. His crying and moaning about I can't remember this, his lost love, or whatever really just makes him a hot-headed, sup that obviously peaked in Jr. High mentally. In fact, only ever liked him when he did a cameo crossover and then only if he got his face shredded by Castle or him havin' to play by the rules via Cap. But I might be biased, I never did like any of the X-Whiners personally. Just to many hands at play with his development and no clear character other then he likes smokes, drinking, ass kicking and just being an all around smart ass jerk to those not in his little gang.

Make mine Marvel; most of the time,

Ram said...

Talk about ruining a character.
I agree with what I heard John Byrne say, that Wolverine works only in a group, because the contrast is what made him fun, now he appears everywhere (not sure if DC launched a new 52 title with him in it, he he).
But the worst thing that ruined it was a 6 ft tall actor on the movies, the coolest thing was that he was 5' 6''(?) and hairy with a huge attitude.

Karen said...

Like most of you, I've tried to ignore everything about the character that I don't like -which really began with the miniseries and the whole ninja thing. Initially he had a lot of appealing aspects: hot-head, brought conflict to the group, mysterious, savage. He was also someone who could get beaten back then too. He was interesting.

But then they kept adding layer after layer of story on him, and he became more and more powerful. I dropped X-Men back around 1988 or so and even though I tried to get back into it at times, it was too convoluted for me to understand. I do recall thumbing through an issue where Wolverine survived a nuclear blast. That pretty much cemented my decision to stay away.

Doug mentioned Len Wein's idea, that Wolvie was a teenager with gloves with claws. What if they'd followed up on the other idea (which I recall Claremont mentioning in an interview), that he was a mutated wolverine, ala the High Evolutionary's New Men? I don't really like that idea -they tried it on Spider-Woman and reversed it - but who knows, maybe it would have saved us from all this baggage he's accumulated.

J.A. Morris said...

I agree with davidb too, the brown costume was better. It was also the costume I wore when I dressed up as Wolverine for Halloween too!

Doug said...

Costume-wise, I've always been an original guy. The brown suit if probably more practical in regard to the actual color of the animal, but I like John Romita's original design. Particularly the mask.


ChrisPV said...

I unabashedly love Wolvie when he's done right. The savage aspect, for me at least, only really works when it's something he struggles with. When you've got that noble samurai at war with bestial nature thing going on, I think he's very compelling.

But he doesn't need to be in 7 books a month. And one thing I will give Bendis credit for is finally letting him remember his past. It leads to stories about unearthing them, but at least we don't have all of the horrible "false memory" crap that they foisted on us back in the 90's.

He does work best in a team setting, but he has no place on the Avengers. It's just insulting. Spidey I can sort of see if I squint, but it's still irksome because it's such an obvious ploy for attention. But Wolverine? No way. Some teams can get away with a wetworks guy to do the stuff no one else will. The Avengers can't afford to; they're too visible.

dbutler16 said...

I don't like the idea of Logan being an evolved wolverine. Thank goodness that idea got dropped.

Also, I do prefer the brown costume.

Dougie said...

Wolverine does seem quite overxposed. At the same time, however, it does seem crazy not to have your best-known characters on the highest-profile team. I have enjoyed a lot of what Bendis has done over the last six years; I just wish he hadn't dismantled the Avengers to do it. A "street-level" New Avengers with Wolvie, Spidey, Cage, Spiderwoman et al could happily co-exist with Thor, Cap, Vizh etc. as Mighty Avengers.

I actually find Jackman the best thing about the X-Movies.I also enjoyed the first three issues of Wolverine and the X-Men. Very entertaining.

Anonymous said...

never cared for him but i never liked x-men enough to buy an issue. only have issues that came with other comics in a plastic wrapper. hate all revisionism so i expect i would not like new wolverine either. i'd rather read wood-god!

Fred W. Hill said...

I got those two Hulk issues in which he first appeared -- I was actually more intrigued by the Wendigo (I'd missed his previous appearance) than in Wolverine and wouldn't have guessed that Wolvie would become a contender with Spider-Man as Marvel's most popular character within the next decade. I'd make a lousy psychic. During Cockrum's first run, I recall getting rather irritated with Wolverine as he typically behaved like a jerk, but of course Byrne turned him around so he became much more interesting. I quit collecting just as they were starting to ramp up the over-exposure, which I took as a sign of Marvel going bonkers. Until reading the earlier posts here I hadn't realized the extent to which they had ramped up his healing powers but it has clearly gotten ridiculous. Along with Superman and the Hulk, yet another victim of power-creep.

vancouver mark said...

I was fourteen when he debuted in Hulk and was seriously underwhelmeed. This is Marvel's Canadian hero?? I doubt many of us in Canada were too excited by him.
Captain Canuck came out around the same time, and while he was pretty tedious, at least he looked like a hero.

Wolverine became suddenly interesting a few issues into the New X-Men, when he was shown without his mask and then he escaped from the Sentinels and Banshee shouted something like "good Lord, boyo! Those claws aren't part of your costume! They come out of your hands!"

Like Karen, I started losing interest with the Frank Miller mini-series, and like her I haven't read an issue in twenty years or more.

I do like Hugh Jackman in the role.

Rip Jagger said...

I've gotten to appreciate the character more over the years. I actually thought his origin paid off the mystery, something I didn't think possible.

But I admit that early in the 80's I detested his influence on comics. It seemed clear to me that Wolverine was an outrider when it came to morality, but as his popularity grew, his grim world view became the norm. It struck me as odd.

Just because a character is compelling, doesn't mean he's right. I kept wanting heroes like Captain America to just tell Wolverine to shut the *&@#$ up and get on with it.

But I mellowed. I really liked his series, much to my surprise in its early incarnation set on Madripoor.

And I have to confess, I like the movie. Sheesh! I have no shame.

Rip Off

Inkstained Wretch said...

I agree with the general consensus that he was much better before he was so overexposed.

In retrospect the Claremont/Miller series, while great in most regards, was clearly his jump-the-shark moment. It proved he was popular enough to carry a series on his own.

Edo Bosnar said...

Re: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine; don't like that bit of casting at all. Keeping in line with my preference of Wolverine as the borderline psycho tough guy, I find Jackman too tall, too handsome and too generally heroic in appearance and bearing. Personally, I think a perfect 'fit' for a live action Wolverine would have been (if he were about 10-15 years younger) Fred Ward. No kidding.

Gray said...

Wolverine as a comic book character was a huge part of my youth, of course so were the X-Men thanks to Byrne and Claremont's work driving them to the heights of popularity. He was savage, rude, crude, everything that a teenage kid wanted to be...Clint Eastwood with razor sharp unbreakable claws! My circle of comic book collecting friends and I were always discussing The X-Men, Wolvie, and their endless interpersonal conflicts. When Marvel decided to cash in on the character's popularity...not so great. In my opinion, Wolverine worked best as a component of a group title, counterbalancing the ubergoodness of some of the other characters and providing an "edge". Alone, he's tedious. And of course as writers and editors turned him into some sort of unstoppable force that can't be killed...well, that's just boring in my opinion.

William said...

For me the "real" Wolverine will always be the character that appeared in Claremont & Byrne's X-Men run. (But then I do frequent a site called "Bronze Age Babies" so that's no big shocker).

I think Wolvie works best as the loose cannon of the X-Men, but I can see him being utilized quite successfully on his own as well. The problem is, he has never been handled correctly as a solo character since the beginning. The closest they came was the original Wolverine mini-series. I thought that was decent. I like martial arts and Eastern philosophy and such, so I thought the Japan and ninja aspect of story was pretty cool myself.

However, when Logan was granted his own ongoing solo series, they lost me completely. To me, that book was a hot mess and still is. The whole Madripoor, Patch/Indiana Jones angle just didn't work for the character, IMO. The stories were boring and the plots were kind of directionless and all over the place. Plus, it was the worst art I'd ever seen from John Buscema. As the book went on over the years, the whole thing just got worse. More and more confusing back-story was piled on to Logan's history and it just became this never ending gimmick that pretty much ruined the character.

Then they made things worse by trying to "fix" it with "Wolverine: Origins", uhg! It was the story that didn't need to be told and never should have been. It did nothing but destroy the last bit of mystery and fun that Wolverine had going for him.

I still very much love the character (as he was originally intended), but I'm not a fan of the current incarnation.

Joseph said...

I started to get into Wolvie when he was first starting to explode (a little before the Miller mini, but not much). Like everyone else, I hate the over-exposure, but still have a place in my heart for a superhero that smoked and drank - definitely a good role model for my 12-year-old self!

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