Wolverine’s popularity has grown in leaps and bounds in the nearly 50 years of his existence. At Marvel, the only hero whose popularity exceeds his is Spider-Man, and even that’s debatable. Wolverine has starred in some amazing stories over the years, with many of them becoming hugely popular among readers. These stories are fan-favorites and have changed Wolverine forever.
Many popular Wolverine stories have found out the pitfalls of popularity. These stories have been adversely affected by their fan-favorite status, while others couldn’t live up to the expectations put on them by their popularity.
10/10 Uncanny X-Men #133 Built The “Wolverine Saves The X-Men” Trope
Wolverine has carried the X-Men often, and it all started with Uncanny X-Men #133, by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-plotter John Byrne. This book took place in the middle of the team’s first meeting with the Hellfire Club. The Inner Circle destroyed the team, capturing all of them, with Wolverine thought dead. However, he survived and went to free his friends.
This is a great story, but its popularity started a trope in X-Men stories that doesn’t really work. Wolverine is tough, but him always saving the day stretched credulity. Wolverine’s popularity was already climbing at this point, and as he got more popular, this sort of story would happen again and again.
9/10 Wolverine #10 Started The Trope Of Wolverine’s Girlfriends Getting Fridged
Wolverine #10, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Buscema, is a classic story. It chronicles Wolverine ducking Sabretooth on his birthday in the present, while a flashback showed why. Sabretooth has murdered his lover on a birthday long ago and beat Wolverine within an inch of his life when he confronted the villain.
This another stellar Wolverine story, easily a best of all time tale, but it started a terrible precedent. Fridging a female character in order to make a male one more tragic is heavily frowned upon, and Wolverine #10 started this plot element in Logan’s life.
8/10 Wolverine (Vol. 1) #1-4 Led To More Creators Making Wolverine In Japan Stories That Didn’t Always Work
Wolverine (Vol. 1) #1-4, by writer Chris Claremont and artist Frank Miller, is Wolverine’s first solo series. The story followed him to Japan, where he battled Shingen Yashida to free the love of his life, Shingen’s daughter Mariko, from an abusive marriage. Wolverine in Japan stories weren’t new at this point, but this was his first without the X-Men, and it’s massively popular and influential.
However, other than Claremont himself and writer Larry Hama, most writers shouldn’t do Wolverine in Japan stories. Unfortunately, because of Wolverine (Vol. 1) #1-4 every creator wants to write one. This book started a Wolverine trope that should probably go away.
Adapting some Wolverine stories would be a mistake, like Return of Wolverine, by writer Charles Soule and artists Steve McNiven and Declan Shalvey. Logan fans had missed the character a lot in the years he was dead, so Return of Wolverine had a lot of hype right off the bat. The first issue started out well enough, but then the hot claws happened.
Return of Wolverine died quickly, as the fans who wanted it the most quickly soured on it. The story only got worse as it went on, disappointing fans even more, although the art was quite good. This was a book that many wanted to like, but it let readers down completely.
6/10 The Death Of Wolverine Couldn’t Stand Up To Expectations
Many Marvel characters cheat death often, with Wolverine chief among them. However, eventually, the Reaper had to get his due. The Death of Wolverine, by writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven, killed the character off for almost five years. It spun out of a story where Wolverine had to sacrifice his healing factor in order to save the world and saw him ducking assassins in order to figure out who was after him.
The Death of Wolverine is another story that Marvel hyped to the moon, and it also didn’t meet expectations. It wasn’t as terrible as Return, but it let the rabid Wolverine fanbase down with just how basic it was. Fans wanted much more from this comic and didn’t get it.
5/10 Weapon X Led To A Few Wolverine Tropes That Got Overused
The best Wolverine stories don’t have happy endings. He’s not that kind of a character and when readers got glimpses into his past, that became more evident. Weapon X, by writer/artist Barry Windsor-Smith, told the story of his history with the organization that gave him his adamantium skeleton. The story ended with a feral Wolverine ripping his way through the Weapon X facility and escaping.
The story started a few tropes that would be used over and over again in Wolverine comics. Wolverine’s life would be marred by secret organizations, bloody rampages where he was reduced to an animal became common, and not remembering things was a trope that last for ages. These ideas are fine when good writers use them, but not every writer used them well.
4/10 Wolverine: Enemy Of The State Made Promises It Couldn’t Keep
Wolverine’s best stories are blockbusters, with Wolverine: Enemy of the State, by writer Mark Millar and artist John Romita Jr., being an action-packed masterpiece. The story saw Wolverine killed by new villain Gorgon and resurrected by the Hand, brainwashed into doing the bidding of them and Hydra for the first six issues, while the last six saw him break free and take revenge.
Enemy of the State is a beloved tale and has been since the start. However, the biggest problem was that instead of giving Wolverine some wins over Marvel bigwigs, which was teased, the fights either weren’t shown or he lost. The book promised things to fans it didn’t deliver, but luckily it still made people happy.
3/10 The Current Wolverine Series Rubs Some Fans The Wrong Way
The Krakoa era brought a new Wolverine series, written by Benjamin Percy. Working with artists like Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic, Federico Vicentini, Juan Jose Ryp, and more, Percy is writing an amazing series that is often among Marvel’s best-selling solo books. It’s the only solo title in the X-Men office and is very popular.
However, the problem with that popularity is that many fans don’t really like Percy’s style of writing. He tells short stories that leave room open for tales down the road. It’s a more old school writing style that many younger fans, those used to writing for the trade storytelling, don’t like.
2/10 Wolverine: Hunting Season Led To His Death
Wolverine’s starred in surprising stories over the years, but few shocked readers like Wolverine: Hunting Season, by writer Paul Cornell and artist Alan Davis. The story saw Wolverine pulled into the Microverse and while there had to make a terrible choice: give up his healing factor or see a killer sentient virus ravage the Earth. Being a hero, he made the only decision he could.
Hunting Season was a game changing story. It led into different Wolverine stories than fans had experienced before, as even in the post-adamantium loss days he still had his healing factor. However, the story did lead into Death of Wolverine, which disappointed a lot of fans who loved this story and the ones that came after written by Cornell.
1/10 Old Man Logan Was Too Successful
Old Man Logan, by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, quickly joined the legion of most beloved Wolverine stories. Taking place in a wrecked future run by the villains, a pacifist Wolverine goes on one last mission with Hawkeye in order to get the money to pay off the Hulk Gang. What follows is an amazing travelogue full of great world-building, devastating secrets, and breathtaking action.
Old Man Logan’s Wastelands jumped into Marvel’s best alternate universes, and as such the company couldn’t leave it alone. More stories got set there, with future versions of beloved Marvel characters, and it watered down Old Man Logan. It takes away what made the story so special and unique, and Logan himself has even made his way to the 616 universe while his 616 self was dead.
NEXT: 10 Most Underrated Wolverine Battles