Every Wednesday we take turns to delve into our trusty longboxes, pluck out a dusty back issue, and give you our thoughts. We’ll also try and place it in the context of the time it was originally published.
These days, Wolverine’s solo title is a bit of a mixed bag, offering rotating creative teams telling self-contained arcs. Fair enough – it’s not like you can’t get plenty of Wolverine elsewhere. Still, back in the day, Wolverine’s solo title actually felt like a solo title. It had its own supporting cast, and a long-term creative team, and it was generally pretty good.
Back in 1993, the Fatal Attractions crossover had left Wolverine stripped of his adamantium skeleton by Magneto. After taking an absence from the X-Men, Wolverine had finally come to terms with his new situation, which included not-quite-indestructible bone claws and a healing ability that was now working at full-pelt, no longer having to deal with having a metal skeleton. Unfortunately, a side-effect of this was that his unchecked mutation was now causing him to become more and more animalistic, and he found his humanity harder to hold onto than ever.
All of which made for fairly entertaining reading. Of course, fans knew that the adamantium was coming back one day, and Wolverine #100, complete with holographic foil cover, seemed to be the place. Cable’s wayward son, Genesis, hoped to return the metal to Logan, then brainwash him to serve as a disciple of Apocalypse. With the help of the latest X-Men graduate, Cannonball, Logan manages to escape the bonding process, rejecting the adamantium. Unfortunately, as a side effect, his healing factor fully mutates him into a barely-human animal, who kills Genesis then leaves, even as Cannonball discovers that Genesis’ other project – the resurrection of Apocalypse – might just have succeeded.
The artwork comes from Adam Kubert, who was always one of the better 90s superhero artists, and the series clearly benefited from his involvement. While Larry Hama’s writing took a serious downturn in the late 90s, here he shows a good grasp of the serial medium, bringing together several long-running plot threads and offering a remarkably satisfying alternative to “Wolverine gets his adamantium back” (which he eventually would, as depicted in flashback in Wolverine #145.) The ending was, at the time, quite an unexpected twist, and it’s almost inconceivable to imagine Marvel sending one of their most bankable properties on such a strange personal journey – although back then, he wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as he is now.
The title would eventually see Wolverine gradually regain his lost humanity, and it turned out that Apocalypse was indeed back. The focus on Cannonball is quite odd for an anniversary issue of Wolverine’s solo title, but when the lead spends most of the issue strung up and dehumanised, it makes sense to provide a POV character. Despite the gimmick cover, the banner proclaiming “Anniversery Event!” and the fact that it appeared smack-bang in the middle of one of comics’ weakest periods ever, the issue was actually quite a decent event for Wolverine readers, tying up a large number of plots, but launching as many – it’s something you don’t really see these days, thanks to the current trend of trade-focused pacing. For better or worse, they don’t make ’em like this anymore.