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!
Sometimes it just feels right to somewhat brings things full circle. Wolverine month for this column kicked off with the retcon that added bone claws to the character, changing what was thought to be known about his claws for a good long time. From that point forward not much was done with those claws, as all versions of Logan and even his offspring (check out the last column for more on how they came to be) had some combination of bone claws and adamantium covering them.
I mean there doesn’t seem to be much else that could be done with those claws other than having them come out of different places on the body such as the bottom of the wrist (Akihiro/Daken) or the foot (Laura/Wolverine). That was until one intrepid mind came along and said “What if the usual claws…but also super super hot?”
Yes, it’s time for Hot Claws!
The path towards hot claws was not an easy one for Logan, as their birth came out of his death. So back in 2013, there was a whole storyline through two volumes of the solo Wolverine title, written by Paul Cornell and drawn by a variety of artists, where a Microverse virus caused Logan to lose his healing factor. Every use of his claws was pushing him closer to an end since his whole existence was dependent upon the healing factor that had always been there. The final handful of issues of the second of these Wolverine volumes even had a title and banner with 3 Months To Die/ 2 Months To Die/ 1 Month To Die leading up to the actual death (I guess if you’re going to kill your cash cow character, might as well drag it out).
Even the covers played in with Logan’s fist with claws out went from fine to more and more broken/bloody across the five issues of the final storyline.
To make a long story short, despite being warned by Reed Richards not to use his claws (as Richards worked on a way to start back up the healing factor) Logan took on a variety of enemies as he dealt with a contract on his head. Trying to find the originator of this contract took him down a road of greatest hits as tons of old foes were brought back in across the four-issue Death of Wolverine series (from Charles Soule and Steve McNiven). Turns out it was Doctor Cornelius from Weapon X who was trying to create more ‘weapons’ like Logan and wanted Logan’s healing factor to help with that.
Cornelius had many subjects he was preparing to inject with adamantium, had one of them fight Logan, but it went against him. Fleeing, Cornelius unleashed the adamantium to be injected into the subjects (sans healing factor) but Logan sliced the container and was coated with the liquid Adamantium. Quickly he used the regen serum he had been using to keep living on the subjects and was able to kill the fleeing Cornelius before he dropped to the edge of the building roof to watch the sun as he suffocated within the adamantium as it hardened into an impenetrable shell.
While the whole event might have been playing at nostalgia with all the old foes coming back as well as going back down the Weapon X tunnel, hitting those same notes has long been an issue with the character’s stories, the ending is one that in many ways does feel somewhat fitting for the character. Battling the past that was always hidden from him but somehow kept coming back to harm him in the present, while making the ultimate sacrifice to keep others from being put through the same thing that he had to live through. From lone wolf to hero, too bad Marvel never lets stories like this stick for very long.
A whole bunch of minis and series spun off this, but Logan was dead. Wolverine was still around as Laura took the name, and Marvel technically cheated as they used the 2015 event Secret Wars to bring the Old Man Logan version of the character into the main universe to run around till they eventually brought the original Logan back.
The Nitty Gritty:
How did they manage to bring Logan back from being within hardened adamantium you might ask? Well through comic book sort of shenanigans, that’s how.
Real quick, the actual return stuff was a bit of a mess. See Logan first reappeared in the Marvel Universe as part of the Marvel Legacy #1 one-shot in 2017 that was meant to set up a lot of upcoming stories. There he appeared alive and out in possession of an Infinity Stone, before appearing all over the place in some backup portions of many Marvel comics in the first three months of 2018 that were called “Where is Wolverine?” This promotion led to a Hunt For Wolverine eighteen-part event that was made up of four mini-series and two one-shots featuring various X-Men and Avengers and foes of Logan on the hunt for the possibly returned character.
This led to the five-part Return of Wolverine series from Soule, McNiven, and Declan Shalvey who drew the middle three issues. Turns out there is this new mutant called Persephone who has the power to return the dead back to life, how handy! Normally that power also makes them puppets under her control but a return to life means that Logan’s healing factor also returned and it was able to heal him up and get rid of all that control. Guess Persephone should have done some better research before resurrecting this particular person.
So what about the hot claws? Well, basically Soule decided he wanted to add something to Logan to make him “fresh and new” with his return and decided that the way to go was to make his return trigger a situation where his claws sometimes when popped get really really hot, especially if he was angry.
While there were tons of on-hand things that could have been used to explain these super hot claws (there was a concurrent future story about Logan one day housing the Phoenix Force), the story eventually just reveals that since Logan’s healing factor had been down Persephone’s returning him basically overclocked it. This overload of healing energy manifested as heat, and the heat in the claws even kept the wounds from his claws coming out from healing right away. Even for comic books, this was a bit of a hokey sort of thing.
Hot claws were such a thing that Soule and Marvel were seemingly pushing that there was even a hashtag there for a while. If that was the case, what happened to them you ask? Essentially, Marvel just forgot about them and moved on. At this point in time, the X-Men were in a sort of transition period where the old guard of creators and editors was moving on, and the new guard led by the Jonathan Hickman revamp in House of X/Powers of X was on the way.
Once that new era with HOX/POX began, we just saw a Logan that had normal metal claws and that was still the case even after he died in the story and was resurrected again. Sometimes retcons are given enough room and power or popularity to become the default (such as bone claws) while other times they are so bizarre or disliked or easily forgotten they fade away fast (hello hot claws). That’s just how it goes.
Silly. That’s how you sum up the hot claws. It’s comic books, and a lot of hokey or wild stuff is going to happen especially when talking about these publishers who have been following the same characters for many many decades.
There have been far worse resurrection or retcon changes than hot claws, but it’s definitely on the list of the most useless or quickly forgotten I’m sure. Who knows, one day Logan might feel enough rage and have his healing factor overclocked enough to bring back the hot claws. Right now there is some person that started reading X-Men at that point and loved that sort of thing that will become a writer at Marvel someday and will bring them back.
Next Week: Somehow the ’90s found a way to make Tony Stark worse