Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The First Cut

Magnet # 101: Unmasked Wolverine

Material: Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By: Me

Comic book favorite Wolverine arguably made his first appearance this month in 1974's Incredible Hulk # 181. Technically, he popped up in the last panel of # 180 in October, but people tend to count this one as his first true appearance. He fought the Hulk in a battle that created a fierce, lasting rivalry. After this, and a brief appearance in the next issue, he'd remain dormant until May of 1975 when he popped up in the comic series that made him a star - The X-Men.

It's interesting to note that Wolverine wasn't immediately the fan - or creator - favorite that he is today. Both writer Chris Claremont and penciler Dave Cockrum weren't exactly sure what to do with the character, besides creating a love triangle between him, Jean Grey, and Cyclops. At one point, they were even considering dropping him from the series. Luckily, artist John Byrne came onto the book and was determined to save Wolverine, as they are both Canadians.  He developed the character's backstory and made him older than the rest of the X-Men.  He began to evolve into the darker anti-hero we know and love.  His willingness to engage in violence and kill when necessary helped popularize the anti-hero genre of comics that includes characters such as John Constantine, Batman, the Punisher, and the Sin City protagonists.  Fans can't seem to get enough of these characters, or Wolverine, who has had both his own comic book series that lasted almost 200 issues, his own video games, and his own movie just this year.  He consistently tops lists of the most popular comic book characters, often at #1.

I definitely like Wolverine, even though he's not my favorite character in the X-Men.  Personally, I think his popularity stems from a few sources.  First, unlike many comic book characters, he's not completely gorgeous.  He's not physically perfect like Superman or suave like Batman.  He's actually short - only 5'3" - and pretty darn hairy.  And if you take a look at him in the comics, you know he's no sexiest man of the year like Hugh Jackman, even if he has portrayed Wolverine onscreen.  I think readers like that he's not another comic book pretty boy.  And he's also willing to get very messy.  Action junkies can get their fixes from Wolverine, who's built for tough fights.  His adamantium claws and skeleton allow him to do maximum damage while his healing power allows him to sustain it.  He's had years of training in all sorts of combat, so he knows how to face his opponents.  And this is a guy who refuses to loose - he will fight until he wins, even if he has to fight dirty.  After all, his slogan is "I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice."  And yet, for all of his tough guy bravado, Wolverine is a loyal teammate and can be a nice guy, too.  He's taken young girls like Kitty Prude and Jubilee under his wing, becoming their mentor and father figure at times.  And he has formed friendships with some of his teammates like Storm and Jean Grey.  Personally, I like his friendship with Nightcrawler best.  He lightens up Wolverine and the two have fun engaging in male bonding acts like bar hopping and playing pranks on each other.  Every Han Solo should have his Chewbacca and I'm certainly glad Wolverine has this brother-like connection to make him more accessible.  Really, there are so many reasons to like Wolverine, and it's easy to see why he has so many fans.

For decades now, Wolverine has been a favorite of comic fans around the world and his popularity shows no signs of ever slowing.  His movie was a hit this year, and Hugh Jackman seems up for a sequel.  He's also heading up the X-Men on television in the animated series Wolverine and the X-Men.  And, of course, he also appears in numerous X-Men comic books each month.  Wolverine may be an underdog, but he proves that with enough bite (or clawing) he's tough -and nice - enough to win just about anyone over.

No comments:

Post a Comment