Friday, August 17, 2012




Created by: Roy Thomas, Len Wein and John Romita Sr.  First Appearance: THE INCREDIBLE HULK #180 (1974)

The core of Wolverine's character revolves around his mystery. Logan (his real name is James Howlett) doesn't remember much of his past life or his influences yet he still carries a distinct persona. This persona is centered around instinct. He is a man who defines himself as a fighter. He doesn't shy away from fights and he doesn't take kindly to anybody getting in his way. This gives him very anti-social traits that make it difficult for him to form relationships and make friends. As a result, he is a loner who often does his own thing.

Chief among this aspect of his psychology is his anger. Because he is so driven by instinct, he is quick to anger and has little aversion to violence or taking damage. His mutant Healing Factor can heal him from nearly any wound and because of this, he is much more prone to fighting and violence. Couple this with his animal instincts, heighten senses and Adamantium-laced skeletal structure with claws that can cut through just about anything, he becomes almost predatory in nature, ferociously seeking out his enemies while protecting those that are close to him.

While the effects of the "Weapon X" project on his body (and mind) cannot be understood by most. Through the painful processes of Adamantium bonding and memory wiping, this process further robbed him of his humanity and he became very much like the "Wolverine" that identifies him. His ability to escape and resist the Weapon X manipulation process highlight his powerful desire to not be controlled, which can be both a natural reaction and an extension of his loner persona. His predatory character also helps push him to seeking vengeance on those who wrong him rather than run away. The more he is treated as an animal, the more enraged he becomes. It shows in his distinct "berserker rage" where instinct nearly completely takes over and his violence drives him even further into madness. 

However, while Logan has many anti-social traits and predatory instincts, he is not without humanity or honor. A major strength of his character is that while he is constantly being ripped away from everything that makes him human, he still retains it. In many ways joining the X-men reflects his desire to rebuild what was taken from him. It shows that while he's often adverse to relationships, he will still respond to those who reach out to him and have an unyielding loyalty to them. These are the traits that make him such a reliable teammate and one of the most respected heroes on Earth.

Wolverine is also without a doubt one of the most intense and tenacious fighters in the Marvel Universe -- which has also lead him into some of the most classic, most brutal and most referenced battles of all time, bar none! Many of his fights are so legendary that they are credited as some of the major moments that moved the industry from the Bronze Age of Comics (1973-1985) into the Modern Age (1985-present) where characters generally became darker, violent and more psychologically complex. And those memorable scraps are ranked here in this write up! So without further ado, here are the ol' Canucklehead's 5 greatest battles ever and see for yourself why he's the best at what he does, and what he does isn't very nice...

5.) THE UNCANNY X-MEN #173 (1983)

Writer: Chris Claremont  Art: Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek.
Wolverine is looking for the Silver Samurai who plans on killing Mariko Yashida, his half-sister and Wolverine's fiancée. Their father was a crime lord, and the Silver Samurai wants Mariko dead so he can control that empire. Wolverine invited the X-Men to Japan for their wedding, only for everyone but Storm to be poisoned by the Silver Samurai. Rouge shows up and she and Wolverine infiltrate Nabatone's estate to find him dead. Rogue flies in, grabs the whole gang of ninjas, including their leader, and tosses them aside; Viper orders her ninjas to kill her, while she looks for Silver Samurai. Wolverine finds and challenges the Silver Samurai and engages in a brutal, bloody battle which results in him breaking Samurai's arm. As he readies his claws from the killing blow, Mariko begs him to spare her half-brother. Viper pulls a gun on Mariko and Wolverine, demanding they let the Samurai go. The Samurai faints right as Wolverine and Mariko make a run for it. Rogue throws herself into the ray’s path before it hits them. Rogue causes the gun to overload, but suffers life-threatening injuries. Viper uses her ring to teleport herself and the Samurai away. Wolverine forces Rogue to absorb his power to heal and saves her life.

4.) WOLVERINE #4 (1982)

Writer: Chris Claremont  Art: Frank Miller and Josef Rubinstein

Shingen sends The Hand after Wolverine, but he defeats and arrests every ninja that was sent after him. Meanwhile Mariko doesn't know what to do, she loves Wolverine but her father Shingen made her marry Noburu Hideki, and now she knows that they both are ruthless bad guys. Eventually Wolverine enters the fortress, and his friend Yukio helps him in his quest by killing Noburu. Soon Wolverine faces Lord Shingen one-on-one (who has already defeated and dishonored Logan in the past) in his dojo. Torn between his love for Mariko and his honor and obligation, both warriors engage in a bloody fight to the finish. Despite taking some major damage, Wolverine finally manages to defeat Shingen by popping his claws into the drug lord's face. Mariko enters the room and gasps, her father dead on the floor. Traditionally, since Wolverine killed her father, Mariko is honor bound to be Wolverine's enemy and kill him, but alas, she decides that her father was a disgrace to the family name and brought dishonor to the family sword. Wolverine fought for what was right until the bitter end, regardless of cost, and therefore is worthy of the sword. All obstacles now out of the way, Wolverine and Mariko finally embrace each other. 

3.) THE UNCANNY X-MEN #133 (1980)

Writer: Chris Claremont  Art: John Byrne and Terry Austin

Without a doubt, this is one of the most iconic Wolverine issues ever, and the one most responsible for cementing him as the fan favorite, breakout character in the title. While Wolverine had a few "cool" moments to shine since issue #94 as a background character. It wasn't until issue #109 that he really started moving into the forefront of the X-Men stories and began capturing the reader's imagination. Whether you think it was because of Chris Claremont's writing, John Bryne's art, Terry Austin's inks or a combination of all three, Wolverine just kept getting better and better. Like his silent take down of a guard in the Savage Land in issue #116, his off panel escape from Alpha Flight in issue #121 and his rising from the sewers in issue #132  saying, "Okay suckers -- you've taken your best shot! Now it's MY TURN!" (which is one of the most iconic images and cliff-hangers in comic-book history). But issue #133 features the extensive of all those moments, as Wolverine takes on a group of Hellfire Club mercenaries and mounts a rescue operation all by himself. Thrusting him into the spotlight for the first time! It put Wolverine onto the path towards becoming not only the most popular X-Men character, but arguably, the most popular character at Marvel. 

In the issue, Hellfire Club mercenaries are searching the basement to confirm Wolverine's death when he suddenly emerges from the shadows and attacks them. Quickly dispatching of the mercenaries, Wolverine intimidates the fourth into surrendering before pressing him for information about the Hellfire Club (this was another truly iconic moment for the Wolverine-mythos and comic book history because never had a "superhero" in comic books used such methods to scare a villain). Wolverine was becoming this new type of more darker and violent hero who would go to extreme methods to get the job done. It was such a bold new concept that readers couldn't help but jump on the Wolverine bandwagon and express to even non-comic book readers how cool this character was. Wolverine truly was the forerunner of the "anti-hero" that ushered in the Modern Age of Comics and this issue was the beginning of it.

2.) THE UNCANNY X-MEN #212 and 213 (1986/1987)

Writer: Chris Claremont  Art: Rick Leonardi, Alan Davis, Dan Green and Paul Neary

Wolverine stalks through the Morlock tunnels looking for survivors of the Mutant Massacre. As Wolverine searches through the tunnels, he finds nothing but dead bodies. Eventually he's attacked from behind  by Sabertooth who's looking for a fight. In the feral mutant's hands is the Morlock's Healer. Seeing that the healer is still alive, and could be a help in healing the others, Wolverine goads Sabretooth into dropping his victim and starting up a scrap. However, while Sabretooth is interested in slaying Wolverine, Logan is only interested in saving the Healer. Managing to get close enough to the man he is trying to save, Wolverine collapses part of the tunnel, putting a barrier between him and Sabretooth. Picking up the healer, he rushes off with him in his hands to take him back to the others. (The story continues into issue #213) Psylocke scans the Mansion perimeter until she detects someone on the property. When she tries to scan their mind, she is overpowered by their psi-shields. The intruder turns out to be Sabretooth, who had already overpowered Rogue and broken into the mansion. He now attacks Betsy, who temporarily sends him reeling with one of her "psycho-blasts", but not before Sabretooth has savaged her arm with his claws. Betsy dares him to follow her as she runs further into the mansion, leading him away from the infirmary and the patients inside. 

After Sabretooth follows Betsy up onto the mansion's roof, the two two of them crash through the roof of Storm's attic, where Betsy tries to fend him off with Storm's knife. Her losing battle is interrupted by the arrival of Storm, Callisto, Magneto and Wolverine who wants to finish up what they started in the previous issue. He goes one-on-one with Sabretooth in one of the most intense and vicious scraps ever seen in comics up until that point. Before Magneto can use some improvised bonds to subdue Sabretooth, Psylocke explains about the psi-shields that are protecting Sabretooth and suggests they allow her to try and probe his mind while he's distracted by his fight against Wolverine. This works, allowing Betsy to probe Sabretooth's mind and learn who the secret leader of the Marauders is. When she tells Wolverine this, the two combatants have made it near the lake that is at the edge of the mansion. With the other X-Men coming to help Wolverine take Sabretooth on, the feral mutant dives into the lake, with Wolverine following after him. Sabretooth however manages to escape, and Psylocke says he cannot be detected. While "Wolverine vs Sabertooth" was a great rivalry, this two-part story made it a legendary one.

1.) THE INCREDIBLE HULK #340 (1988)

Writer: Peter David  Art: Todd McFarlane

Without a doubt the legend and reputation of Wolverine went into the mythic realm of godlike after this comic hit the stands. For this battle is not only his greatest and most famous fight ever, but it is also one of the greatest fights ever... period! Never before did two heroes engage in a scrap so fierce and brutal that it left readers in total awe. The legend of this issue became so renowned that it made the "Hulk vs Wolverine" rivalry one of the greatest and most intriguing in comic book history. Even the cover became such an iconic image that many consider it one of the greatest ever.

I must admit, this comic was so hyped-up by comic fans that it made Wolverine the toughest character in the Marvel Universe. Now Logan was always a really tough scrapper -- but the toughest?? Yup, because after this fight, Wolverine became an unstoppable wrecking machine who could take on any opponent and any amount of damage given to him. He was now known as the guy who essentially killed the Hulk and stood toe-to-toe with him. Well, what fans didn't realize was that this was the weaker and far less durable "Gray" Hulk. Sure, this version of the Hulk was extremely powerful in his own right, but nowhere near the levels of the green "Savage" Hulk who knocked out Wolverine with a glancing blow back in their first fight in The Incredible Hulk #181 (1974). But creators couldn't help jumping onto the Wolverine-bandwagon and bring him from a mid-level, street-tough hero, into the realm of the Super-Heavyweights who could stand with anyone in the Marvel Universe including the Juggernaut, Thanos, Gladiator, Hyperion, Thor and now even the green "Savage" Hulk himself. Wolverine may find it difficult to beat these big guys, but he has no problem going one-on-one with them and taking everything they can dish out... really?? This is when I believe the true character of Wolverine was forever ruined because now almost nothing could knock him out, stop his claws from cutting through them and he could heal from just about anything with his out of control Healing Factor. Yup, Wolverine is the poster boy for what popularity can do to a character, especially if they get popular enough to become a company icon. This fight will always remain a mixed blessing; it is a standard in comics that took superheroes scraps to a whole new level, but it also remains a curse for what it did to a character that I used to love and made him much more powerful than he was ever truly intended to be. All hail the death of the Wolverine!!! Long Live the Wolverine!!!!

The "Gray" Hulk, Rick Jones and Clay Quartermain travel in a van and are lost in a snow storm. The Hulk gets restless and goes out to get some fresh air and find food. He leaps into the air and accidentally hits a plane. The plane starts falling and it's rescued by Rogue from the X-Patrol. When they land Wolverine picks up the Hulk's scent and notices that it's different from the one he remembers. When Wolverine finds the Hulk he notices that the Hulk has gray skin instead of green and his attitude is much more crueler than he remembers. At first Wolverine doesn't want to fight but the Hulk pushes and goads him until Wolverine loses control and starts to savagely attack! Wolverine actually wins the first battle, by hacking away at the brute's chest and leaving him lying down, with his guts all opened (this is the moment that forever changed how any comic fan would view Wolverine and show what his claws are capable of). But due to the Hulk's amazing healing factor, he stands up again and continues the fight. Both savages go nuts and engage in a back and forth blood-fest (that both seem to enjoy) until Clay Quartermain splits them up and puts an end to the fight. Wolverine feels guilty that he lost control and succumbed to one of his berserker rages because he thought he had changed. The Hulk let's him know about it and laughs at him while leaping off. Now Logan wishes he had a cigar.

Agree? Disagree? Let's hear it fanboys!!

Check out other "TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF..." here:

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John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETRO FAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing, runs the Roy Thomas Appreciation Board on Facebook and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John likes to think he's the real Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.


  1. You're such a hypocrite. You say wolverine is an overrated character but you won't admit hulk isn't an overrated character. Hulk is Marvel's most overrated character ever. They make Hulk do the impossible like majority of World War Hulk, lifting Thor’s hammer, and beating people in ways that were impossible decades earlier. You also talk about Wolverine's crazy healing factor; Hulk never had a crazy healing factor until recently. The best part is that you think Hulk belongs in a class of Thor, Thanos and Hyperion. Maybe in strength you could put hulk there but no total power. Hulk is totally outmatched by all characters. Hulks class is people like Abomination, and juggernaut. Thor, Thanos and Hyperion outclass Hulk in many, many ways. In case you haven’t noticed, Hulk is marvel’s poster boy of what popularity can do to a character. Hulk goes from being weaker than Thor to being dominantly stronger than Thor. The writers have made Hulk lift Thor’s hammer even though Hulk has proven he is far from being worthy. You can try to come up with some bad excuse to why this has happened but the answer is quite clear. Hulk’s popularity allowed him to start becoming overrated over the years. Most Marvel fans know this. The one’s that deny it are Hulk fan boys.

    1. Actually, you're a fool. I may not be a big Hulk fan, but Wolverine is the most overrated character in Marvel or all comics. This write up proves what most people already know. If you're too blind to see the truth, then that's your problem.

  2. Dude, in a way most characters are overrated.... calm down

  3. This is a good list! I would switch #1 and #2 around, but I can't argue with the way you left them.

  4. Another great write-up. I totally agree with you about The Incredible Hulk #340 being largely responsible for ruining a formerly great character. Less ir more, people.

  5. Ok, so first: Juggernaut has ALWAYS been more powerful than Thor. He's just not very intelligent, which allows him to get outsmarted by people like Cyclops. Second, Hulk has had a healing factor since the mid-1980s (as this issue clearly demonstrates). Third, Hulk is stronger than Thor now, which is stupid as all get-out, I agree; but that is at least in part because Thor has been gimped severely since the 1980s, when he was the Superman of the Marvel Universe. Just thought I'd pop in and mention.

    1. Thor just thoroughly beat the crap out of Juggernaut at full-power recently so your argument is void.

  6. You hit the nail on the head with this and I'm glad that somebody finally put it into print. Wolverine should not be the unstoppable force that he is today and Hulk #340 ruined him. I always thought that Wolverine and the Hulk fighting should last only about 5 seconds. Marvel sucks!!

    1. Yeah, it's too bad because Wolverine used to be such a great scrappy character. Today, he'll heal from anything, he's unstoppable and he cannot die??? Stupid, stupid, stupid if you ask me. Today, I HATE the character.

    2. I agree. They killed the Golden Cow, as fas as I'm concerned. I used to love the character, now I cringe at what they've one to him. He's the very symbol of corporate greed gone very wonrg, well, the comics version of it, anyway.

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  8. Good call. Wolverine has always been overrated.

  9. I guess you don't have to worry about the popularity of Wolverine ruining other characters or stories because he is essentially written off within the Marvel Universe. As long as FOX owns the movie rights to Wolverine as well as all the X-Men universe you won't be seeing them play a majority roll in the grand scheme of things.

    1. Thank god and good riddance. Wolverine was always an overexposed and overrated character.

    2. He's back in the MCU as Disney bought FOX. So get ready for his return in a big way. SNIKT!