Retcons, Reboots And Resurrections #43: The Bone Claws Connected To The Adamantium

by Scott Redmond

They’re the best at what they do, and often what they do isn’t very nice!

Welcome to a new month of Retcons, Reboots, and Resurrections. We’ve followed the Marvel star-spangled Avenger and company as well as the big blue boy scout at DC and his family, now it’s time for some SNIKT SNIKT as we dive into the Wolverine family! Plenty of retcons, reboots, and resurrections between them to fill more than a month. But we’ll contain ourselves to the month format!

As usual for this column: Retcons are elements retroactively added to a character’s history, reboots can either be revivals of a character/their title or extensive changes to canon, and resurrections are characters clawing their way back from the afterlife. Each week we’ll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Retcons, Reboots, and Resurrections!

Since the day that Logan “James Howlett”/Wolverine strolled into the pages of Marvel Comics, he’s become a bigger and bigger and more popular character to the point that most X-Men media at times focuses on him for the popularity. At the same time, he’s been a walking talking retcon the whole time as well, which is bound to happen when a character begins as “the man of mystery” with his background wrapped in shadows upon shadows. 

Many of the retcons over time have not only added more to his backstory but have added numerous children, a clone that is his daughter, new depths to his powers, past connections to Marvel Universe characters, and some really wild and out-there things we’ll probably get to. Out of all those, we’re going to start with the retcons that centered around the thing that makes him pretty dangerous: those sharp sharp claws. 

The Backstory:

Let us start by jumping back to the very beginning, Incredible Hulk #180 from Len Wein and Herb Trimpe from 1974. It was here that the character of Wolverine was first introduced before he would jump over to the X-Men with 1975’s Giant-Sized X-Men #1, and in the subsequent issue, he would fight the Hulk as well as the Canadian creature known as the Wendigo. According to reports, at the time Wein very much envisioned those claws of Wolverines to be part of the gloves that he wore rather than from his body. Therefore anyone could put the gloves on and use the claws just like him. 

Under the watch of Chris Claremont, once he took over the X-Men series, which would become Uncanny X-Men, it was instead revealed that the metal claws were very much part of Logan’s body. They were part of the process that had infused his entire skeleton with Adamantium during the procedures done by Weapon X on him many years before. This was pretty much the given idea for the rest of Claremont’s time on the title and into the next era. 

One of the X-Men’s oldest foes though would be the catalyst that helped bring about a major pointed retcon in 1993. 

The Nitty Gritty:

In 1991 a whole new X-Men series was launched by Claremont (who would leave after three issues) and Jim Lee. It went on to be one of the highest-selling comic books of all time, a record that doesn’t seem likely anything will come close to beating even a few decades later. It reintroduced Magneto and brought in his new followers, but by the end of the story, it was believed that he was dead when his base Asteroid M was destroyed. This would be what was believed for a few years. 

Enter the stable of X-Creators at the time which included Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, Larry Hama, Joe Quesada, Adam & Andy Kubert, and many many more. Under their watch, a mutl-series storyline titled Fatal Attractions was created and saw Magneto and his Acolytes return with their new base of Avalon (it was actually Cable’s old base Graymalkin with Shi’ar tech added), and a desire to wipe out all of humanity once and for all. Over the different issues, the Acolytes tried to persuade different mutants or mutant groups to come to Avalon, a mutant haven, to avoid the plan to bombard the Earth with EMP waves. 

Long story short, Professor Xavier assembles a team that includes Wolverine to infiltrate Avalon and stop Magneto. They use Shi’ar tech of their own not only to give Xavier the ability to walk (through an exosuit) but also to teleport right to the asteroid. Magneto engages the X-Men after they use a virus Beast created to take down his computers, and after being nearly gutted by Wolverine he unleashes his rage. That unleashed rage includes him using his magnetic abilities to rip every single bit of Adamantium right out of Logan’s body, which happens in X-Men #25

Professor X gives in to his own rage and uses his telepathic powers to mind-wipe Magneto, leaving the man in a coma (this would have consequences down the line in the massive and much-maligned Onslaught Saga, which we’ll get to one day). They rush back to Earth to care for Wolverine, and the Blackbird encounters turbulence while Logan fights off dying and going into the light, reviving long enough to save Jean Grey from getting sucked out of the jet. 

In this issue, Wolverine #75, is where the big retcon finally happens. After healing up some at the X-Mansion, noting that his healing factor is greatly diminished, Logan takes part in a Danger Room sequence to prove to himself that he can still be part of the X-Men even without his metal skeleton and claws. As he presses on in this tough program, he and everyone else is shocked when bone claws erupt out of his hands, which put him at at risk of bleeding to death with his diminished healing factor. 

Here in this issue and later on it is stated that since much of Logan’s past was taken from him by Weapon X, it was very possible that their messing with his mind just made him assume they implanted the claws in him because he forgot about his claws he already had. Eventually this revelation would be developed even more, especially in the 2000-era Origin or Wolverine: Origin mini-series (stay tuned!). None of it explained though why having bone claws made him go feral and apparently lose his nose in the process. Comics!

The Verdict:

Some retcons can be harmful to a character while others can be mediocre while others still are actually additive to a character and their history. With the bone claws, we got a retcon that was very additive. It brought whole new dimensions to a character in some ways, despite fan feelings at the time which in many cases were not positive at all. 

It makes far more sense that Logan had a claw mutation to go with his healing ability, more so than the idea that for some reason Weapon X just randomly decided to find a way to make metal bones turn into retractable blades. 

Compared to so many of the other Wolverine-related retcons that we could get into, this one was pretty tame and pretty logical. 

Next Week: When a rebooted Wolverine dabbles in the realm of retcons

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