Underrated: Wolverine Stories

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Wolverine Stories.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past, both at Graphic Policy and Ramblings Of A Comics Fan that were it not for Wolverine then there is a very good chance I would never have picked up a comic book. Whether it was X-Men: The Animated Series, Wolverine Unleashed #8 or even just regular old Wolverine #118, the one common thread that brought me in to each of these things was the clawed Canadian mutant.  Over time I would  come to realize that Wolverine is so much more than just a violent claw-fisted mutant, and so this Underrated will (hopefully) shine a light on some of the stories featuring Wolverine that may not be thought of as highly as others. With Logan hitting theaters, I felt that now would be a good time to look at some of Wolverine’s more underrated stories.

Tales such as The Japan Adventure, Weapon X and Old Man Logan are thought of in many ways as classic stories, and while some of the tales he’s featured in are somewhat terrible, there are some very underrated gems out there, and these are the ones I wanted to look at today, focusing on a handful of my favourites.

A few things before we start; firstly, these comics are all currently being published in an ongoing series. Secondly, I’ve got eclectic taste so these may not be for everybody so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

  • Not Dead Yet (Wolverine Vol. 2 #119-123)
    This is quite possibly one of my favourite Wolverine stories. Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu, the story is set during the time Wolverine had no adamantium in his body, it is told both in the present and the past by use of flashbacks. Wolverine is being hunted by one of the best, a man who has planned for years to be able to take down the nearly unkillable Canadian mutant with adamantium bones, but what he doesn’t know is that Wolverine‘s bones are no longer coated with the metal, and Logan is suddenly much more vulnerable than he used to be.  I keep coming back to this story every few years, and I have mentioned it several times on this blog, too.  It’s available in trade paperback format, and I highly suggest you pick it up.
  • Bloodlust (Wolverine: Bloodlust one shot)
    A one shot by Alan Davis, this is an absolutely beautifully constructed comic that explores the internal conflict of Wolverine‘s soul;  a recurring theme in many of the comics he has appeared in. Davis asks whether Logan is more of a man or beast at his very core, and delves deeply into Wolverine’s psyche to do so. But the question isn’t as simple as it first seems, and Alan Davis is at his very best here when he combines Logan‘s internal dialogue with the backdrop on the final few pages. For a more detailed review you can check out this link, but suffice it to say that this is easily one one my most treasured comic book stories.
  •  Wolverine #43
    I reviewed this when I reread it [a few years] or so ago (the curious can find that here) for another feature. Although it wasn’t as great as I remembered it being, this is still a really interesting story as we get to see Wolverine engage with his more noble animal side when confronting a run of the mill, all too believable, villain.
  • Wolverine And The X-Men Volume #1 (collects issues #1-4)
    Although there are numerous story arcs within the first full volume of this series, and I feel that I could honestly include the entire forty two issues from the first series, if you’re going to read the entire series then you should start here. Another Jason Aaron story, with numerous talented artists, this series was one of the best on the racks every week during it’s original run. Juxtaposing brilliantly with the equally amazing Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender, this series focused on the one X-Man least suited to running a school does exactly that, frequently with disastrously hilarious results. There’s a lot more heart in this series than you’d initially expect, and it’s well worth tracking down the entire run.
  • The Apocalypse Solution (Uncanny X-Force #1-#6)
    Rick Remender
    opens his seminal run on Uncanny X-Force (and if you can read the whole run, please do) with a story that finds X-Force, led by Wolverine, tasked to take out the reborn Apocalypse. This is the story that sets the tone for the entire series, and without giving anything away, is absolutely worth your time. Gritty, dark, and violent, this is a series that deals with the dark underbelly of the X-Men, and shows just how far they’re willing to go to protect mutant kind.

There we have it – a mere handful of underrated Wolverine stories. There are so many more stories featuring the Canadian mutant that are worth reading, so there’s a good chance there will be a second (or third) part to this list eventually. In the mean time, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!