Wolverine is a fictional superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Incredible Hulk #180 (October 1974) and was created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita Sr., who designed the character, and was first drawn for publication by Herb Trimpe. A mutant, Wolverine later joined the X-Men's "All New, All Different" roster in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). X-Men writer Chris Claremont played a significant role in the character's subsequent development as well as artist/writer John Byrne, who insisted on making the character older than the other X-Men. Frank Miller also helped to revise the character in the early 1980s with the eponymous limited series in which Wolverine's catch phrase, "I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice", was first written.
Born James Howlett and commonly known as Logan, Wolverine possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, retracting bone claws, and a healing factor that allows him to quickly recover from virtually any wound, disease or toxin. This healing ability enabled the supersoldier program Weapon X to bond the near indestructible metal alloy adamantium to his skeleton and claws. Wolverine was typical of the many tough anti-authority anti-heroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War; his willingness to use deadly force and his brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book anti-heroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became the clear favorite for fans of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise. Wolverine has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988 and has been a central character in every X-Men adaptation, including animated television series, video games, and the live action 20th Century Fox X-Men film series, in which he is played by Hugh Jackman.
Wolverine first appeared in the final "teaser" panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (cover date October 1974) written by Len Wein and penciled by Herb Trimpe. The character then appeared in a number of advertisements in various Marvel Comics publications in early July (cover date November) before making his first major appearance in Hulk #181 (cover date November 1974) again by Wein and Trimpe. John Romita, Sr. designed Wolverine's yellow-and-blue costume. The character's introduction was ambiguous, revealing little beyond his being a superhuman agent of the Canadian government. In these appearances, he does not retract his claws, although Len Wein stated they had always been envisioned as retractable. He appears briefly in the finale to this story in Hulk #182.
Wolverine's next appearance was in 1975's Giant-Size X-Men #1, written by Wein and penciled by Dave Cockrum, in which Wolverine is recruited for a new squad. Gil Kane, who drew the cover of the comic, accidentally drew Wolverine's mask wrong, with larger headpieces. Dave Cockrum liked Kane's alteration (believing it to be similar to Batman's mask) and decided to incorporate it into his own artwork for the actual story. Cockrum was also the first artist to draw Wolverine without his mask, and the distinctive hairstyle became a trademark of the character.
A revival of X-Men followed, beginning with Uncanny X-Men #94 (August 1975), drawn by Cockrum and written by Chris Claremont. In Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine is initially overshadowed by the other characters, although he does create tension in the team as he has a crush on Cyclops' girlfriend, Jean Grey. As the series progressed, Claremont and Cockrum (who preferred Nightcrawler) considered dropping Wolverine from the series; Cockrum's successor, artist John Byrne, championed the character, later explaining, as a Canadian himself, he did not want to see a Canadian character dropped. Byrne created Alpha Flight, a group of Canadian superheroes who try to recapture Wolverine due to the expense their government incurred training him. Later stories gradually establish Wolverine's murky past and unstable nature, which he battles to keep in check. Byrne also designed a new brown-and-tan costume for Wolverine, but retained the distinctive Cockrum cowl.
Following Byrne's departure, Wolverine remained in X-Men. The character's growing popularity led to a solo, four-issue limited series, Wolverine (Sept.-December 1982), by Claremont and Frank Miller, followed by the six-issue Kitty Pryde and Wolverine by Claremont and Al Milgrom (November 1984 - April 1985). Marvel launched an ongoing solo book written by Claremont with art by John Buscema in November 1988. It ran for 189 issues. Larry Hama later took over the series and had an extensive run. Other writers who wrote for the two Wolverine ongoing series include Peter David, Archie Goodwin, Erik Larsen, Frank Tieri, Greg Rucka, and Mark Millar. Many popular artists have also worked on the series, including John Byrne, Marc Silvestri, Mark Texeira, Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Rob Liefeld, Sean Chen, Darick Robertson, John Romita, Jr., and Humberto Ramos. During the 1990s, the character was revealed to have bone claws, after his adamantium is ripped out by Magneto in X-Men #25, which was inspired by a passing joke of Peter David's.
In addition to the Wolverine series and appearances in the various X-Men series, two other storylines expand upon the character's past: "Weapon X", by writer-artist Barry Windsor-Smith, serialized in Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 (1991); and Origin, a six-issue limited series by co-writers Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins, and Bill Jemas and artist Andy Kubert (November 2001 - July 2002). A second solo series, Wolverine: Origins, written by Daniel Way with art by Steve Dillon, spun out of and runs concurrently with the second Wolverine solo series.
During World War II, Logan teams with Captain America versus HYDRA, and continues a career as a soldier-of-fortune/adventurer. Logan works for the First Canadian Parachute Battalion and the CIA before being recruited for Team X.
As a member of Team X, Logan is given false memory implants. He continues on the team, until he is able to break free of the mental control and joins the Canadian Defense Ministry. Logan is subsequently kidnapped by Weapon X, where he remains captive and experimented on, until his rescue by the Winter Soldier, after which he returns to the Canadian wilderness.
Logan is eventually discovered by James and Heather Hudson, who help him recover his humanity. Following his recovery, Logan, this time under the supervision of Department H, once again works for Canadian Intelligence. Logan becomes Wolverine, one of Canada's first superheroes. In his first mission, he is dispatched to stop the destruction caused by a brawl between the Hulk and the Wendigo.
Professor X recruits Wolverine to a new team of X-Men. Disillusioned with his Canadian intelligence work and intrigued by Xavier's offer, Logan resigns from Department H. Logan continues to adventure as a superhero, eventually recovering his memories.
In X-Men #25 (1993), at the culmination of the "Fatal Attractions" crossover, the supervillain Magneto forcibly removes the adamantium from Wolverine's skeleton. This massive trauma causes his healing factor to burn out and also leads to the discovery that his claws are actually bone. Wolverine leaves the X-Men for a time, embarking on a series of adventures during which his healing factor returns, greatly increased in power. After his return to the X-Men, Cable's son Genesis kidnaps Wolverine and attempts to re-bond adamantium to his skeleton. This is unsuccessful and causes Wolverine's mutation to accelerate out of control. He is temporarily changed into a semi-sentient beast-like form in which he gains greater physical power than ever before, at the price of part of his humanity; he kills Genesis shortly after this occurs. Finally, the villain Apocalypse captures Wolverine, brainwashes him, and has the adamantium rebonded to his skeleton successfully. Wolverine overcomes Apocalypse's programming and returns to the X-Men.
Depictions of the speed and extent of injury to which Wolverine can heal vary. Originally, this was portrayed as accelerated healing of minor wounds, but writers have increased this ability over years to the point that he can fully regenerate nearly any damaged or destroyed bodily tissue. One of the more extreme examples of Wolverine's healing factor shows the total regeneration of his soft body tissue, within a matter of minutes, after having it incinerated from his skeleton. Wolverine survives the explosion due to the protection his adamantium-laced skull provides to his brain. It has been stated in the Xavier Protocols, a series of profiles created by Xavier that lists the strengths and weaknesses of the X-Men, that Wolverine's healing factor is increased to "incredible levels" and that the only way to stop him is to decapitate him and remove his head from the vicinity of his body. His healing factor also dramatically slows his aging process; despite being born in the late 1800s, he has the appearance and vitality of a man in his physical prime. Though he now has all of his memories, his healing abilities can provide increased recovery from psychological trauma by suppressing memories in which he experiences profound duress.
Wolverine's healing factor also affects a number of his physical attributes by increasing them to superhuman levels. His stamina is sufficiently heightened to the point he can exert himself for numerous hours, even after exposure to powerful tranquilizers. Wolverine's agility and reflexes are also enhanced to levels that are beyond the physical limits of the finest human athlete. Due to his healing factor's constant regenerative qualities, he can push his muscles beyond the limits of the human body without injury. This, coupled by the constant demand placed on his muscles by over one hundred pounds of adamantium, grants him some degree of superhuman strength. Since the presence of the adamantium negates the natural structural limits of his bones, he can lift or move weight that would otherwise damage a human skeleton. He is strong enough to break steel chains and lift a dozen men above his head with one arm and throw them through a wall.
Wolverine's senses of sight, smell, and hearing are all superhumanly acute. He can see with perfect clarity at greater distances than an ordinary human, even in near-total darkness. His hearing is enhanced in a similar manner, allowing him to both hear sounds ordinary humans can't and also hear to greater distances. Wolverine is able to use his sense of smell to track targets by scent, even if the scent has been eroded somewhat over time by natural factors. This sense also allows him to identify shapeshifting mutants despite other forms they may take.
Wolverine's mutation also consists of animal-like adaptations of his body, including pronounced canines and three retractable claws housed within each forearm. While originally depicted as bionic implants created by the Weapon X program, the claws are later revealed to be a natural part of his body. The claws are not made of keratin, as claws tend to be in the animal kingdom, but extremely dense bone, and can cut substances as durable as most metals, wood, and some varieties of stone. Wolverine's hands do not have openings for the claws to move through: they cut through his flesh every time he extrudes them.
Wolverine's entire skeleton, including his claws, is molecularly infused with adamantium, rendering it practically indestructible. Due to their adamantium coating, his claws can cut almost any known solid material. The only known exceptions are adamantium itself and Captain America's shield, which is composed of the only substance in the Marvel Universe known to be even more durable than adamantium. Wolverine's ability to slice completely through a substance depends upon both the amount of force he can exert and the thickness of the substance. The adamantium also weights his blows, dramatically increasing the effectiveness of his offensive capabilities.
Due to high level psionic shields implanted by Professor Charles Xavier, Wolverine's mind is highly resistant to telepathic assault and probing.
Wolverine sometimes lapses into a "berserker rage" while in close combat. In this state he lashes out with the intensity and aggression of an enraged animal and is even more resistant to psionic attack. Though he loathes it, he acknowledges that it has saved his life many times. Despite his apparent ease at taking lives, he does not enjoy killing or giving into his berserker rages. Logan adheres to a firm code of personal honor and morality.
In contrast to his brutish nature, Wolverine is actually extremely intelligent. Due to his increased lifespan, he has traveled the world and amassed extensive knowledge of foreign languages and cultures. He can speak English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Spanish, Arabic, and Lakota; he also has some knowledge of French, Thai, Vietnamese, German, Italian and Portuguese. When Forge monitors Wolverine's vitals during a Danger Room training session, he calls Logan's physical and mental state "equivalent of an Olympic-level gymnast performing a gold medal routine while simultaneously beating four chess computers in his head.
Wolverine is frequently depicted as a gruff loner, often taking leave from the X-Men to deal with personal issues or problems. He is often irreverent and rebellious towards authority figures, though he is a reliable ally and capable leader. He has has been a mentor and father figure to several younger women, especially Jubilee and Kitty Pryde, and has had romantic relationships with numerous women, as well as a mutual but unrequited attraction to Jean Grey, leading to jealous run-ins with her boyfriend (later husband), Scott Summers.
Marvel Studios recently announced that an X-Men spin-off movie based on Wolverine, titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is currently in production and will have Hugh Jackman reprise his role as Wolverine. Gavin Hood will be directing the film, which will be released worldwide on May 1, 2009. Troye Mellet will play the young Wolverine. In the game Marvel Ultimate Alliance Wolverine stars as one of the four main heroes, with the others being Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor respectively. He is also a playable character in the games X-Men Legends I & II.