Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 (Wolverine)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #72, Marvel Comics Presents #73, Marvel Comics Presents #74, Marvel Comics Presents #75, Marvel Comics Presents #76, Marvel Comics Presents #77, Marvel Comics Presents #78, Marvel Comics Presents #79, Marvel Comics Presents #80, Marvel Comics Presents #81, Marvel Comics Presents #82, Marvel Comics Presents #83, Marvel Comics Presents #84 (Wolverine stories only)
The plot is fairly straightforward: A Canadian agent of some sort named Logan is suspended from the force due to violent behavior and excessive drinking.
He is kidnapped...
...infused with adamantium, and subjected to mind control treatment.
It is discovered that he is a mutant with regenerative abilities. The attempt to control him fails, instead turning Logan into a feral beast, who kills most of the guards and escapes.
At the time this was originally published, Wolverine's history was mostly a mystery, so these revelations were huge. The only question at this point was what agency were these scientists working for and who was the mysterious background figure that was pulling the strings.
Attempts to subsequently answer these questions have resulted in a series of terrible stories, weighing the character down with tons of unnecessary baggage. Similarly, attempts to tell stories prior to the Experiment X event, either attempting to detail his adventures as a Canadian agent (which at least is logical) or showing every goddamned detail of his childhood, have diminished the appeal of the character.
Equal in weight to the impact from a character point of view is the method in which it was delivered. The Barry Smith from the 70s, who was a perfectly good Neal Adams/Jim Steranko hybrid, has continued to evolve and at this point has a very unique style that lends itself well to the dark and confusing nature of this story. (Windsor-)Smith inked and co-colored this series as well. The coloring is especially strange, creating a very distinct look.
He also wrote it, and we could have used some more writing by Windsor-Smith. He does a dead-on Wolverine in the opening scenes, and then as the experiment starts, he uses a style of narrative captions to depict the events. The captions are written the way people talk, with asides, interruptions, stopping short, technical data... It never feels like exposition.
It's all quite impressive, especially considering this was initially published in Marvel Comics Presents, which came out on a weekly basis and published a few pages at a time. Most stories published in this series have trouble with pacing, as the story is constantly interrupted, resulting in new opening splash panels and recaps. None of that happens here.
I don't know why Windsor-Smith didn't do more work as a writer for Marvel. He's clearly very good at it.
Interesting note on Wolverine's claws: The scientists in Experiment X (at least, the ones actually appearing in the series) did not set out to provide their subject with claws. There was an anomaly in the adamantium injection phase that caused adamantium to cluster in the wrist area.
Whether or not Windsor-Smith intended it, this could be used as justification for the fact that Wolverine has had claws all along but was unaware of it. The claws break skin and cause bleeding every time they are popped open; it is suggested that an apparatus could be designed to keep the holes open.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Per the back-up story in Alpha Flight #3, James Hudson worked at Department H about three years prior to Fantastic Four #1, and during that period he met Wolverine. Based on that i'm placing this in the Hero Gap.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: Weapon X TPB
I think it was revealed for the first time in the X-Men Genosha arc about three years before this that Logan's claws break the skin when they come out. Earlier stories -- if my memory is correct -- we're unclear about whether those "terminals" on his gloves were part of the claw apparatus or not. Windsor-Smith's contribution confuses matters even more: I guess Experiment X didn't get around to implanting the terminals they envisioned?
The natural claws retcon runs into a bit of trouble in that during the '80s, including in the Genosha arc, it's shown that having his powers suppressed doesn't affect his claws, since they aren't a natural power. But maybe Experiment X's modifications can account for that.
Windsor-Smith has written other stories like this one, including a story that was the blueprint for revelations about Bruce Banner's childhood and a story about the Thing, but he's an auteur (and deservedly so) and demands a level of creative freedom -- little or no editing -- that Marvel has been unwilling to grant. So those other projects haven't seen the light of day.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 3, 2012 6:12 AM
The bald professor is wolverine's cousin. Horrible family wolvie
Posted by: doomsday | July 29, 2013 2:25 PM
The character was supposed to be apocalypse bit qaa rectoned to Romilus a man that is obsessed with with Hudson's such as his mother
Posted by: doomsday | August 14, 2013 7:31 PM
I've never read the early parts of this story so it's surprising to me to see that the scientists didn't know Logan was a mutant with a healing factor. In other incarnations, they choose him for the project specifically BECAUSE he has a healing factor, and so has a chance to survive a process almost no one else could.
Anyway I agree, this is the only Wolverine origin necessary and is the only one I'd include in my personal canon.
Posted by: Paul | August 15, 2013 12:08 AM
Doomsday, what were you trying to say up there? I think your post got garbled.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | August 15, 2013 1:38 AM
I think that, due the later retcon, Romolus is behind the scene during the phone call with the Professor.
Posted by: Midnighter | August 16, 2013 7:45 AM
I'm thinking this shouldn't be in the Hero Gap. It was placed here based on two panels in the backup story of Alpha Flight v1 03, which shows that Wolverine had already met Mac Hudson prior to the start of the Fantastic Four. There is a problem with this, however.
First, the panel refers to Wolverine as Hudson's greatest success and greatest failure. Wolverine was considered a failure of Hudson's because he up and left for the X-Men, which didn't occur until X-Men Giant Size 01, well after the Hero Gap. So, while the Alpha Flight backstory does indicate a Hero Gap placement, it also has implicit self-contradiction.
Second, Fury #1 (May, 1994) depicts Wolverine as a Canadian agent (which was his role prior to Weapon X) AFTER Iron Man was already in existence. In this, Wolverine slashes open a truck tarp with a knife, rather than claws, and does not done a costume - further indicating the appears predates the Experiment X.
With self-contradiction weakening the Alpha Flight source material, the Fury issue would seem more convincing. Iron Man was depicted using his Mark II armor, which first appeared in Tales of Suspense #40, so I would suggest these issues should not be placed earlier than that.
Posted by: scholar | November 19, 2013 11:52 PM
There are several problems with your argument. First, Wolverine appears in several other flashbacks at the dawn of the Marvel era. In Wolverine:Cable/Guts and Glory- he appears in a story with Cable at the time of the Vulture's first robbery. In this story, he's already working for Department H, so it has to take place considerably after this story. Then there's the Wolverine -1 story, where Logan encounters a pre-FF 1 Ben Grimm. He also encounters Ben in a Before the Fantastic Four miniseries and that's also pre-FF 1.
Posted by: Michael | November 20, 2013 12:13 AM
Actually, Wolverine's claws (bone) are part of his mutation. He's had them since he was a child. Weapon X just gave him the adamantium.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | November 20, 2013 12:29 AM
Geez, guys! A little diplomacy? ;-)
Scholar, thanks for your thoughts. I used to have this later in time until Michael told me about the Before The FF story. With Wolverine there's always one more continuity insert you don't know about that can screw everything up... But Michael is also right that the two points you raise aren't conclusive especially in light of other contradictions; they have to be No-Prized away.
Anyway, thanks for your first comment here and I hope we didn't scare you away...
Posted by: fnord12 | November 20, 2013 12:50 AM
My apologies if I was less then tactful,scholar. Hope to see you again.
Posted by: Michael | November 20, 2013 7:52 AM
"The scientists in Experiment X (at least, the ones actually appearing in the series) did not set out to provide their subject with claws. There was an anomaly in the adamantium injection phase that caused adamantium to cluster in the wrist area."
I never read that as an anomaly at the time, honestly. It was already evident (as per the panels you posted) that someone MYSTERIOUS was involved with the project, having provided Logan deliberately as a mutant with a regenerative healing factor which would help him survive the process that would kill most normal people. One assumes this MYSTERIOUS individual likely also provided most of the resources (including all the raw adamantium, which one supposes is probably pretty damned expensive) and possibly most of the scientific data being used in the process as well.
I just assumed said MYSTERIOUS BENEFACTOR secretly arranged to have the system divert the extra adamantium to form the claws without telling anyone (just like he didn't tell the Professor Logan was a mutant). Whether creating the claws entirely from scratch (the implication at the time) or simply coating the existing bone claws (which was the later retcon). Because the implied goal was always to turn this man into a living weapon.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 19, 2014 5:52 PM
This story is one of the finest things Marvel has ever published, period. And yeah, we certainly didn't need any other origin for Wolverine than that.
Also, just as Doomsday said, the "mysterious benefactor" was supposed to be Apocalypse... which I find a bit weird idea.
Posted by: Piotr W | July 10, 2015 3:23 PM
Apocalypse was trying to weed out the weakest of the mutant race and make ultimate warriors out of the strongest, so if you really think about it, using a mutant with a healing factor and grafting a virtually indestructible metal onto his bones with cause of making him an ultimate weapon is something Apocalypse would certainly do. Look what he did to Warren.
Posted by: Darren | November 2, 2015 2:41 PM
I've finally figured out who the "mysterious benefactor" was that the Professor was talking to on the phone...
Posted by: Ben Herman | July 29, 2016 2:02 PM
I can't believe dog is the mysterious benefactor. But this leads to another mystery. Who is the shady character holding the phone for him?
Posted by: Mquinn1976 | November 17, 2017 2:11 AM
"Who is the shady character holding the phone for him?"
Well, it sure doesn't look like Apocalypse's arm, but it is the X-Universe, so I'm guessing it has to be an evil clone of Wolverine & Kitty's son from an alternate future?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 17, 2017 5:06 AM
Fnord, I was wondering if you will review Origin I & II at some point in the future, or at least the two Logan one-shots (Path of The Warrior, Circle Chase)? It’d be nice to include all of Wolverine’s pre-X-Men history.
Posted by: Matt | December 13, 2017 8:28 PM
Both "Origin"s are on the out of scope page, since they took place prior to Marvel Comics #1. The others might be covered; depends on whether fnord has them or not. We've got some time before he gets to 1996 publication.
Posted by: Andrew | December 14, 2017 12:11 PM
Comments are now closed.
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