Marvel is making quite a big hub-bub, Bub, and it’s all about the Death of Wolverine mini-series from writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven. Longtime (and even short time) comic book readers know that Wolverine is about as likely to stay dead as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and every other major superhero who has ever taken a dirt nap. While Marvel is making a lot of noise of this particular death of Wolverine, the character has actually died plenty of times already in the comics over the years. Sometimes briefly, other times…well, slightly less briefly. Here are but seven notable times old Logan has died in the pages of Marvel Comics.
1. Days of Future Past (1981)
The first time Wolverine “died” was in 1981’s original Days of Future Past storyline in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, the last X-Men story together from the dream team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne. This issue showcased the now-famous cover of Wolverine being obliterated by a giant Sentinel robot.
Of course this wasn’t “our” Wolverine who got blasted to bits; it was the Wolverine of the dystopian future of 2013. Future Wolverine is one of the few X-Men still alive in the future timeline, but before that particular story is over, he’s blown to bits by a Sentinel, with no flesh left to regenerate. The way it plays out in the actual comic is a bit more gruesome than the more famous cover image. The recent Days of Future Past movie paid a lot of homages to the original comic, like having future Storm get impaled in the back, but this iconic cover wasn’t one of them, mainly because it’s Logan who does the time travelling in the movie, not Kitty Pryde. Still…wish they’d found a way to squeeze that image in somehow.
2. The Fall of the Mutants (1987)
The first “death of Wolverine” that I was directly exposed to as an avid reader was when all of the X-Men died during the Fall of the Mutants crossover in 1987. The whole world saw the team die in a giant explosion in Dallas on live television, while fighting the villainous Adversary. but what the world didn’t know is that the team was dead for maybe all of ten seconds.
See, Merlin’s daughter Roma brought everyone back to life, and then the team had the genius notion to let everyone keep thinking they’re dead, because reasons. That included former X-Men like Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler, as well as all their friends and family, which I just thought was mean. Wolverine and the rest of the team held onto the “we’re dead” thing for a couple of years, because the spell that brought them back made them invisible to recording or electronic detection of any kind, giving them the upper hand on their enemies until they were finally exposed. The whole “we’re invisible to detection” thing just wore off eventually, I guess, although like strong cologne, it took a while.
3. Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe (1995)
Back in 1995, before writer Garth Ennis made a name for himself with Preacher at DC, he did a one shot where the Punisher pretty much kills all the Marvel heroes, as the title not-so-subtly implies. The one-shot was essentially a special issue of “What if?”, where Frank Castle’s family weren’t killed by the mob, but instead died as a result of a battle between the Marvel heroes and an alien invasion force.
This gives the Punisher a reason to mow through the Marvel Universe in a “roaring rampage of revenge,” if I can get all Kill Bill on this. Logan and The Punisher finally tangle, and then Wolverine ends up impaled on his own claws and he gets electrocuted. That doesn’t sound like it should really kill him, but it’s just an Elseworlds story anyway, so whatever. If you can let me know of a comic that sounds more ’90s than this does, please let me know.
4. Wolverine Dies, But It’s Actually a Skrull (1999)
So in the 1993 Fatal Attractions storyline, Magneto famously pulled all the adamantium out of Wolverine’s body, leaving him with the healing factor, but not the super cool metal claws. This led Logan to go on a jouney to “find himself.” Eventually Wolverine rejoined the team, only to get promptly killed off, red shirt on Star Trek style.
But surprise! It wasn’t Logan at all. During the autopsy, Charles Xavier discovered that Logan was a shape-shifting Skrull imposter, and it turns out that the real Logan, while on his journey of self discovery, instead discovered Apocalypse, who promised to graft the adamantium back onto Logan’s skeleton, and then made him his horseman Death (by the way, I totally think that’s how Wolverine gets his adamantium again in the new movie timeline, as Apocalypse will make Logan his horseman of Death. Just puttin’ it out there.) So while this wasn’t an actual death for Wolverine, the reader though he was dead. Well, they probably really didn’t, but that was the intention.
5. For Tomorrow (2004)
This was Grant Morrison’s last story in his epic three year run on New X-Men, the book that helped push the X-Men to new levels of cool and interesting after spending most of the ’90s selling a lot of comics, but being sucky creatively. In this storyline, which is set in yet another horrible alternate future (the X-Men have no shortage of these) Beast is taken over by an evil sentient bacteria known as Sublime. At one point, Sublime uses his power to take away Logan’s healing factor and then he just kills him by gutting him. It’s not really Wolverine’s death that I remember from this story, though; it was the way artist Marc Silvestri drew him like an illustration from gay erotic art icon Tom of Finland.
6. Enemy of the State (2005)
This storyline from Wolverine’s solo book has the terrorist cadre the Hand, together with Hydra, kill Wolverine, although he is only dead for a few minutes technically. But this technicality allows the Hand assassin Gorgon to use various means to turn Wolverine into a mindless killing machine for them, and he goes about attempting to kill his friends and colleagues before finally breaking free of the Hand’s control.
The thing I remember most about this story isn’t that Wolverine died; it’s the furor online that one of the only X-Men that Logan killed was Northstar, Marvel’s biggest and most famous openly gay hero. The notion that Marvel’s (arguably) most popular character, at least back in 2005, was shown disposing of Northstar was met with a lot of criticism. In the end, though, Northstar got better, and, of course, so did Wolverine.
7. Ultimatum (2009)
If you think the 616 Marvel Universe Logan can be a dick, well, he ain’t got nothin’ on the Ultimate Marvel universe’s Wolverine, a hired killer who once tried to kill Cyclops so he could get in bed with his 18 year-old girlfriend Jean Grey. Icky much? So when Magneto killed him (and several other members of the X-Men) in Ultimate Universe Ultimatum, there weren’t very many people crying over this version of Wolverine biting the big one.
When the Ultimate universe began in 2000, it was the modernized, streamlined version of classic Marvel stories, but about nine years into it, the most well known and the best Marvel stories were pretty much all redone, and the whole thing was just tired. So Marvel’s solution was to kill almost everyone in the Ultimate universe in this miniseries. Writer Jeph Loeb gave over-the-top deaths to most of the characters (the Blob eats the Wasp, as one gross example) but Wolverine got off easy by just being obliterated.
Previously by Eric Diaz: