A Comic Book Entry – My Love/Hate Relationship With Wolverine

But first, some shameless self-promotion!  I have many likes on this blog and that makes me happy.  But I also have a Facebook page (the address is under the “links” tab) and I have only four likes and that makes me quite sad.  So if you like my blog, please go like my Facebook page as well.  Also, there is a coupon for my novel good through June 22 so you can get it absolutely positively totally completely free.

Right, on to the ranting!

Wolverine is the little mutant that could.  When introduced by Chris Claremont in 1975, the X-men team had a small problem.  It was ethnically diverse, but powerwise less diverse.  So it came down to the death of an X-man and it was between Warpath and Wolverine.  Well, one of the people involved was partial to Canadians and it was deemed too many characters already had super-strength and speed, and at that point none had a healing factor and wicked claws, so Warpath had to go.  Wolverine was this close to getting the axe but survived past the second issue to define the term “bad-ass” in the Marvel lexicon.  Many decades later, a popular internet blogger said something to the effect of, “I stopped reading X-men when Wolverine started appearing on the covers of comics he technically wasn’t in.”

To say that Wolverine became enormously popular is an understatement.  I’m not even going to pretend I know the whole history of the comics that came out featuring or starring Wolverine.  I’m not a Wolverine expert.  Wolverine’s main character trait appears to be that he’s a bad-ass with a sensitive side that is most often expressed in a tendency to practically adopt stray teenage girls as his daughter (this could also be read as creepy depending on your interpretation, especially considering how many of those girls end up with an Electra complex, and I’m not talking about Daredevil‘s on again-off again love interest).  He’s been there, done that, met everyone, especially as his popularity grew and suddenly he was retconned into all sorts of places, particularly WWII.  His time with the X-men was mostly as the Bad Boy foil to Cyclops’ Boy Scout.  Remember, I’ve already said I don’t think that was a bad thing (see previous blog post “Cyclops is Not Wolverine, And That’s Not a Problem“).  Wolverine has gotten much love in other media.  The 90s X-men was fairly faithful to the comics in spirit and often in story.  I think the voice actor was actually Canadian and I thought it worked very well.  Hugh Jackman, while Australian, made a fabulous Wolverine, although the actual Wolverine movie was fairly lame.  Later cartoons even put Wolverine’s name in the title and made him the head of the team, not Cyclops.  Or if you look at the evolution of the “X-men” movie posters, he goes from background to foreground because he’s that darn popular.  He’s on so many teams currently he quipped in the New Avengers that his mutant power is actually multi-tasking.

So why do I love Wolverine?  For the same reasons pretty much everyone else does.  He’s a bad-ass.  He plays by his own rules, takes no prisoners, rebels against the man.  He’s the Bad Boy and yet works for the side of righteousness.  He has some sort of literal animal magnetism that attracts all the women in the immediate vicinity, and yet he’s not a complete dick as evidenced by his soft spot for semi-orphans.  He also gets a pass on some of his more psychotic behavior because his mind was so screwed with during the Weapon X program.  He’s uncouth and hard-living because his life has been hard.  He has had so many girlfriends die on him, or turn into his enemies, he’s probably lost count (and probably doesn’t even remember them all).  He goes on despite pain, because while he can heal, healing still hurts.  He’s got a long and potentially interesting past writers can work with, which I’m sure on the writing level makes him very popular.  He can hold his own with just about any opponent, and if not, he can take punishment like a champ.  Gosh darn it, he’s scrappy.  He may be the very definition of scrappy.

But why do I hate Wolverine?  Because he almost takes the definition of scrappy to “Scrappy Doo.”  Despite a long backstory, his character is not interesting enough to justify his ubiquitous presence in the Marvel universe.  Also, one of the longest running stories in which he was involved in was to me one of the most over-dramatic and ridiculous ones.  I refer, of course, to the love triangle with Jean Grey.  Oh, I read the tradebacks.  I understand, I suppose, why Jean would be interested in the Bad BoyIt’s practically narrative convention.  What drove me bonkers was that so many writers had difficulty handling that relationship properly.  I would have had Jean outright break up with Cyclops to date Wolverine outright and then realize that’s a terrible idea.  You know, have the characters behave like mature adults about their relationship(s).  Instead, readers were treated to years and years of what boils down to this:

Cyclops – I don’t like you because you’re a Bad Boy!  And also because you’re hitting on my girlfriend!
Wolverine – I don’t like you because you’re a Boy Scout!  And your girlfriend totally wants to date me!
Jean – Yes, I mean no!  Of course not!  I’m dating Cyclops!
Cyclops – You stay away from my girl!
Jean – Hey, you don’t own me!  I can date whoever I want!
Cyclops – But we’re dating!  Do you want to break up with me?
Jean – Of course not!  But I could if I wanted.
Wolverine – You know you want me, babe.
Cyclops – I don’t like you because you’re a Bad Boy!  And also because you’re hitting on my girlfriend!
Wolverine – I don’t like you because you’re a Boy Scout!  And your girlfriend totally wants to date me!

Ad nauseum.  Or, to put it more succinctly – Jean!  Scott!  Jean!  Prof. Xavier!  Logan!  Uh!

There was a lot I didn’t like about the Ultimates universe, but at least the whole Scott/Jean/Wolverine love triangle was handled upfront (more or less) and honestly (more or less).  Still, one bad relationship does not mean I should hate Wolverine.  Although I should point out I find Wolverine’s overpowering sexiness to be somewhat unbelievable.  The key thing to remember is that Wolverine in the comics is not actually Hugh Jackman.  Wolverine is 5’2”, broad and hairy.  Most women in comics are about 5’6” or 5’8” and most men are about 6′.  Wolverine is short.  Logically, if his arms and chest are as hairy as often drawn, his back and legs should be too.  I also imagine he probably doesn’t smell so good either considering he’s quite animistic (and sweaty) and also smokes cigars, and cheap cigars at that.  I suppose there are people who would find a short, very hairy, smelly man to be sexy, but somehow I doubt everyone would (as all the women in the comics seem to).  So I think his irresistible sexiness is about as exaggerated as his personality.  Also, although it’s not Wolverine’s fault, his popularity has spawned a lot of knock-offs, and I for one am tired of writers who think it’s a great new idea to introduce yet another character with a healing factor and claws.

I am also annoyed that Wolverine’s power levels have gone from “tough, but scrappy and able to survive more than an ordinary  person” to “nigh unkillable.”  Once upon a time when Wolverine got the snot beaten out of him, it took days to weeks for him to recover from those kind of injuries (whereas a normal person would be in traction for months).  In his more recent incarnation, Spider-man chucked him out of a skyscraper and not only did he survive, but he was fully healed less than an hour later.  He’s nearly had his head cut off and survived.  Then again, power creep is a bigger issue than just Wolverine (see rant on Tyrant-in-Chief).

Basically, I love Wolverine because he’s Marvel’s paragon bad-ass Bad Boy.  But I hate Wolverine because he’s Marvel’s paragon bad-ass Bad Boy, which means all writers want him in their comics even if he really doesn’t belong there.  He’s overdone and it’s tiresome, like a certain puppy that just won’t shut up.  I really don’t want to see Wolverine actually turn into Scrappy Doo, but I’d love him better if there was less of him.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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