Wolverine is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Born James Howlett and commonly known as Logan, Wolverine is a mutant who possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, and a healing factor that allows him to recover from virtually any wound, disease, or toxin at an accelerated rate. The healing factor also slows down his aging process, enabling him to live beyond a normal human lifespan. His powerful healing factor enabled him to survive having the near-indestructible metal alloyadamantium bonded to his skeleton. He is most often depicted as a member of the X-Men, Alpha Flight, or later the Avengers.
The character first appeared in the last panel of The Incredible Hulk #180, with his first full appearance in #181 (cover-dated Nov. 1974). He was created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita, Sr., who designed the character, and was first drawn for publication by Herb Trimpe. Wolverine then joined a revamped version of the superhero team the X-Men, where eventually writer Chris Claremont and artist-writer John Byrne would play significant roles in the character's development.
Wolverine was typical of the many tough, anti-authority, antiheroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War, his willingness to use deadly force and his brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book anti-heroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became a fan favorite of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise. Wolverine has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988 and has been a main character in most X-Men adaptations.
In May 2011, Wolverine was ranked 4th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.
Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas asked writer Len Wein to devise a character specifically named Wolverine, who is Canadian and of small stature and with a wolverine's fierce temper. John Romita, Sr. designed the first Wolverine costume, and believes he introduced the retractible claws, saying, "When I make a design, I want it to be practical and functional. I thought, 'If a man has claws like that, how does he scratch his nose or tie his shoelaces?'". Wolverine first appeared in the final "teaser" panel of The Incredible Hulk #180 (cover-dated Oct.1974) written by Wein and penciled by Herb Trimpe. The character then appeared in a number of advertisements in various Marvel Comics publications before making his first major appearance in The Incredible Hulk #181 (Nov. 1974) again by the Wein-Trimpe team. In 2009, Trimpe said he "distinctly remembers" Romita's sketch and that, "The way I see it, [Romita and writer Len Wein] sewed the monster together and I shocked it to life!... It was just one of those secondary or tertiary characters, actually, that we were using in that particular book with no particular notion of it going anywhere. We did characters in The [Incredible] Hulk all the time that were in [particular] issues and that was the end of them." Though often credited as co-creator, Trimpe adamantly denies having had any role in Wolverine's creation.
A revival of X-Men followed, beginning with X-Men #94 (Aug. 1975), drawn by Cockrum and written by Chris Claremont. In X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine is initially overshadowed by the other characters, although he does create tension in the team as he is attracted to Cyclops' girlfriend, Jean Grey. As the series progressed, Claremont and Cockrum (who preferred Nightcrawler) considered dropping Wolverine from the series, Cockrum's successor, artist John Byrne, championed the character, later explaining, as a Canadian himself, he did not want to see a Canadian character dropped. Byrne created Alpha Flight, a group of Canadian superheroes who try to recapture Wolverine due to the expense their government incurred training him. Later stories gradually establish Wolverine's murky past and unstable nature, which he battles to keep in check. Byrne also designed a new brown-and-tan costume for Wolverine, but retained the distinctive Cockrum cowl.
The character's official origin story was told in the 2001–2002 miniseries Origin. Wolverine was born as James Howlett in Alberta, Canada, in the late 1880s, to rich farm owners John and Elizabeth Howlett. The "Origin" miniseries insinuates and the Wolverine Goes to Hell story later fully reveals, however, that he is actually the illegitimate son of the Howletts' groundskeeper, Thomas Logan. After being thrown off the Howletts' property for violent actions perpetrated by his other son, named simply Dog, Thomas returns to the Howlett manor and kills John Howlett. In retaliation, young James kills Thomas with bone claws that emerge from the back of his hands as his mutation manifests (a traumatic event in one's youth is often the trigger for mutant powers). James is cast out by his mother (who then kills herself). He flees with his childhood companion, Rose (who closely resembles Jean Grey) and grows into manhood on a mining colony in the Yukon Territory, adopting the name "Logan". After accidentally killing Rose with his claws, Logan leaves the colony and lives for a time in the wilderness among wolves, until returning to civilization, residing with the Blackfoot Indians. Following the death of his Blackfoot lover, Silver Fox, at the hands of Sabretooth, he is ushered into the Canadian military during World War I. Logan then spends some time in Madripoor, before settling in Japan, where he marries Itsu and has a son, Daken. During World War II, Logan teams up with Captain America and continues a career as a soldier-of-fortune and adventurer. He then serves with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion during D-Day, and the CIA, before being recruited by Team X, a black ops unit.
His primary mutant power is an accelerated healing process, typically referred to as his mutant healing factor, that regenerates damaged or destroyed tissues of his body far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human. In addition to accelerated healing of physical traumas, Wolverine's healing factor makes him extraordinarily resistant to diseases, drugs, and toxins. Although his body heals, the healing factor does not suppress the pain he endures while injured. Wolverine also admits to feeling phantom pains for weeks or months after healing from his injuries.
Wolverine's mutation also consists of animal-like adaptations of his body, including pronounced, and sharp fang-like canines and three retractable claws housed within each forearm. While originally depicted as bionic implants created by the Weapon X program, the claws are later revealed to be a natural part of his body. The claws are not made of keratin, as claws tend to be in the animal kingdom, but extremely dense bone. Wolverine's hands do not have openings for the claws to move through: they cut through his flesh every time he extrudes them, with occasional references implying that he feels a brief moment of slight pain in his hands when he unsheathes them. On more than one occasion, Wolverine's entire skeleton, including his claws, has been molecularly infused with adamantium. Due to their coating, his claws can cut almost any known solid material, including most metals, wood, and some varieties of stone. The only known exceptions are adamantium itself and Captain America's shield, which is made out of an proto-adamantium-vibranium alloy.
Wolverine becomes a master of virtually all forms of martial arts and is experienced in virtually every fighting style on Earth. He is proficient with most weaponry, including firearms, though he is partial to bladed weapons. He has demonstrated sufficient skills to defeat the likes of Shang-Chi and Captain America in single combat. He also has a wide knowledge of the body and pressure points. He is also an accomplished pilot and highly skilled in the field of espionage and covert operations.
Wolverine's senses of sight, smell, and hearing are all superhumanly acute. He can see with perfect clarity at greater distances than an ordinary human, even in near-total darkness. His hearing is enhanced in a similar manner, allowing him to both hear sounds ordinary humans cannot and also hear to greater distances. Wolverine is able to use his sense of smell to track targets by scent, even if the scent has been eroded somewhat over time by natural factors. This sense also allows him to identify shapeshifting mutants despite other forms they may take. He is also able to use his senses of smell and hearing, through concentration, as a type of natural lie detector, such as detecting a faint change in a person's heartbeat and scent due to perspiration when a lie is told.