Karen: After the con, I kept thinking about this. I tried to remember what it was like when I really did like Wolverine. It seems like it was so long ago. His over-exposure began way back in the 80s and has only snowballed since. Along with the runt appearing in practically every book Marvel put out, his powers also took a huge leap up; the guy who was knocked out by Moses Magnum was now surviving nuclear explosions, and being torn in half by the Hulk. To top it all off, every ounce of mystery was stripped from the character -every detail of his life was laid out, and it seemed like he knew every character in the Marvel U from his past life as a secret agent, or ninja, or whatever. It was all too much.
Karen: But there was a time that I liked Wolverine! I just had to dig deep. At the con, the panelists had been asked at what point did they realize Wolverine was something special, becoming a star. Two moments came to mind for me instantly. The first was from X-Men #98 (Apr 1976), when Banshee, Jean Grey, and Wolverine had been captured by Sentinels and taken to a space station. Wolverine breaks free, and for the first time, we see him without his costume -and he pops his claws. Banshee stammers, "Yer claws, laddie...Lord above, they're a part of you -we -I -didn't know!" Wolverine calmly responds, "Why should you, Irish? None of your business." I think I was as stunned as Banshee! But I was also fascinated. I don't think it had even occurred to me that Wolverine's claws were anything but a part of his suit. At that point in time, it was pretty shocking, having a hero who had real claws -not little claws on the ends of his fingers but enormous metallic blades shooting out of his arms! Non-lethal attacks were still the rule of thumb, and we still had heroes like the Black Knight, Swordsman, and Valkyrie who always proclaimed they were using "the flat of (their) sword" on their opponents. But you never heard any such proclamation from Wolverine! And his lethal weapons were a part of him. I'm sure I couldn't verbalize why this was so amazing to me when I was 12 or so, but it was.
Karen: The second moment when I really gained an appreciation for Wolverine was in X-Men #133 (May 1980) -although the final panel of the previous issue, showing an angry Wolverine rising out of the sewer, vowing vengeance on the Hellfire Club, is the indelible image from that storyline. The X-Men had been captured by the Hellfire Club and Wolverine was assumed dead, wiped out early in the fight. But the foul-tempered Canadian wasn't that easy to get rid of. He returned and tore through a bunch of Hellfire goons like they were nothing. But it's his fire, his indomitable spirit, that really caught my attention. Wolverine refused to be beaten, and despite his limited powers -remember, he wasn't godlike back in 1980! - he was ready to take on the entire Hellfire Club. That attitude was very appealing.It's a quality I like in any number of characters (Ben Grimm has it too, although he's more never-say-die rather than blood-thirsty), but Wolverine, before he was invincible and unstoppable, played this part very well. He was the underdog rebel who didn't care about the odds.
Karen: Maybe that's the key, the reason why that 12 year old girl at the panel likes Wolverine, and the reason my 12 year old self liked him so many years ago. Maybe at his core, the character still represents defiance and individuality, despite all the twists and turns he has taken in 40 years. It's easy to criticize what's been done with him from a vantage point that spans his entire career, but when you break him down to his essence, perhaps he is still that scruffy outcast, the one who never quite fits in with everyone else, and seems just a little dangerous. What can't be denied is that Wolverine is a true original, a cool and intriguing character, and that's proven by his popularity and longevity. Even if those of us in the older generation aren't always pleased with the changes that have been made...
Karen: Let's open the floor now. What are your earliest memories about Wolverine, early impressions and overall thoughts on the character?