-= REC.ARTS.COMICS.MARVEL.XBOOKS =-
Frequently Asked Questions
Version 2003.02, last updated November 2003
Subject: Table of Contents
X-MEN COMIC BOOK QUESTIONS
* Is Magneto Jewish or Gypsy? Was Joseph Magneto? (+)
* What is the Hellfire Club? Who are its members? (+)
* What is the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth
supposed to be?
* Does Wolverine have any real memories anyway? How about
* Who was Wolverine before he was Wolverine? Does he even
have a real name? (+)
* Wolverine can regularly regenerate himself from a drop of
Subject: X-MEN COMIC BOOK QUESTIONS
Please note: Background information on the creators and the X-titles
editorial offices is based on over a decade's worth of interviews,
articles, and personal questions, and as such is not directly
attributed here. Now that some of Marvel's staff members are on Usenet,
they are welcomed to correct and amend any of the answers listed below.
--- Is Magneto Jewish or Gypsy? Was Joseph Magneto? (+)
It appears that Magneto is Jewish, although his wife Magda likely is a
gypsy. However, Marvel being Marvel, it's good to set forth the
evidence. This is a summary of Rivka Jacob's excellent research on the
In UXM #150, after Magneto thinks he has killed Kitty, he says: "I
remember my own childhood ... the gas chambers at Auschwitz, the guards
joking as they herded my family to their death. As our lives were
nothing to them, so human lives became nothing to me." Storm is about to
blast him for "killing" Kitty, and she says, "If you have a deity,
butcher, pray to it!" Magneto answers, "As a boy, I believed. As a boy,
I turned my back on god forever." Magneto can't be a political prisoner
or atheist--he can only be Gypsy or Jewish if his entire family is at
In UXM #161, we see for the first and last time Magnus' tattoo from
Auschwitz. His number is #214782. Xavier says, "That tattoo, Magnus,
were you ...?" Magnus answers, "Auschwitz. I grew up there." Magnus'
number is high for someone who was there from the beginning of the camp,
but it is a standard number, without the A of the 1944 arrivals, or the
Z of the Gypsies, or the other special classification symbols. Of
course, the penciller probably didn't know these details...
In Vision and the Scarlet Witch, Vol. 1, #4, Magneto tells Vision about
his youth. Pictured is the Auschwitz camp, with guards tormenting
emaciated prisoners, one of whom displays a prominent and exaggerated
Star of David on his clothing. In the next panel, however, Magneto sort-
of goes into a fantasy. He says, "But unlike the other victims, I
possessed the power to fight back." He imagines he's hurling Nazi tanks
away with magnetic energy. Only Jewish prisoners wore the Star of David.
In UXM #199, Magneto (with Lee Forrester and Kitty Pryde) arrives at the
National Holocaust Memorial in Washington, DC. (It's not really Lee, but
Mystique, trying to capture Magneto). "Lee" says: "Man's inhumanity to
man... how easily the race kills." Magneto answers: "Then, Lee, it was
the Jews. My nightmare has ever been that tomorrow it will be Mutants."
Why would he say that, if he weren't Jewish? Next, Magneto tells Kitty
EXACTLY how to address the gathering in order to get information about
dead or missing family members. Isn't it obvious that he's done this
before? Why would he address a Jewish Holocaust gathering looking for
information about his family if his family weren't Jewish?
In UXM #211, Magneto reacts to the Morlock Massacre out of pure emotion,
saying, "NO! The horrors of my childhood, born again...only this time,
Mutants are the victims, instead of Jews." If he weren't Jewish, he
wouldn't have said Jews, or he would have at least added the name of
another people targeted by the Nazis.
In New Mutants #49, Magneto dreams of the massacre of his family. Here
we see for the first time, his family--father, mother, sister--as
they were gunned down in front of open graves. The family members are
dressed in middle class urban clothes. No peasant dress, no Gypsy
clothing. It's Magnus and his family who are out of place. They are
well-dressed, an urban family in a rural setting. This matches accounts
of what happened to Czech and German Jewish families who were moved east
and sometimes removed to woods and rural settings where they were shot.
In the X-Men Classics #12 back-up story, we see the actual scenes of
Magneto's and Magda's escape from Auschwitz. The war is almost over, and
it is the winter of 1944-1945. The Gypsy camp was murdered in the gas
chambers in August 1944. This scene, by Claremont and Bolton, takes
place on Jan. 20, 1945, two days after the camp was evacuated and the
death marches began. Some 70 of the Sonderkommando, Jewish prisoners who
were forced by the Nazis to lead the victims to the gas chamber, haul
the bodies to the ovens, and burn or bury the dead, were kept to help
destroy the evidence of the death factory, before they were to be
killed. Some 200 women from the woman's camp, Jews, were chosen to fill
in the huge pits where bodies were burned. The SS soldiers sent back on
Jan. 20th were sent to kill the women. Magneto was saving Magda because
at that point, he wasn't the target, yet.
In New Mutants #61, Magneto thinks to himself, "An ill wind is coming...
they are registering mutants... like they once registered my people in
Poland...! Who knows what horrors await us." Only the Jews were forced
to wear armbands with the Star of David on them, and registered before
being forced into ghettos in Poland (beginning at the end of 1939).
Young Magnus, who was already at Auschwitz by 1942, would only have
experienced the Jewish people in Poland (including German Jews who had
already been deported there in the first months of the War) being
In X-Factor Annual #4, Doom challenges Magneto to a duel of wills, with
a helmet that pulls out unpleasant memories and torments the wearer.
Magneto takes his turn--Doom describes what he sees, "...after the
ignoble defeat of the Nazis in Germany, you and the woman Magda you
rescued, fled the prison camp Auschwitz, in Poland." Doom confirms that
Magnus and Magda "fled" or escaped Auschwitz before liberation and after
the Gypsy camp was murdered.
In Uncanny #274, Magneto recalls his life in Auschwitz: "Zaladane has no
such compunction. And I hear the echo of Der Fuhrer's voice in the radio
of memory, smell the awful stench of the sick and dying as the cattle
cars brought the comdemned to Auschwitz. I wear red, the color of blood,
in tribute to their lost lives. And the harder I try to cast it aside,
to find a gentler path... the more irresistibly I'm drawn back. I should
have died myself with those I loved. Instead, I carted the bodies by the
hundreds, by the thousands... from the death house to the crematorium...
and the ashes to the burial ground. Asking now what I could not then...
why was I spared?!" This is what the Sonderkommando did. This is
fundamental to the history of the Holocaust, to the history of Nazi
Germany--making the *Jews* the ones who had to do all the dirty work in
the death camps.
In X-Factor #92, an Acolyte says, "You've seen this place Havok! You've
seen the sentinels! You tell me... where's the sense in letting the
flatscans do to the mutants what Hitler did to the Jews?..." The
Acolytes have done research on Magneto; they worship him. This one says
"the Jews" as a parallel metaphor. Why say that, if Magneto isn't
Now comes the infamous X-Men Unlimited #2. In that issue, Gabrielle
Haller stated definitively that Magneto was a Gypsy of Sinte descent.
However, nearly everything that Gabrielle Haller says about Magneto's
history, including the claim he is a "Sinte Gypsy," is false. For
example, Danzig was not annexed. It was a Free City, under League of
Nations protection, that voted itself a Nazi government and welcomed the
Nazi troops in like liberators. Gauleiter Forster, the extremely anti-
Semitic Nazi leader of Danzig ordered all the remaining Jews of Danzig
to be kicked out of the city in 1939, not the Gypsies. Auschwitz wasn't
opened as a Polish political prisoner camp until the summer of 1940, not
1939. The Gypsies were sent to German municipal camps, in Germany and
the Greater Reich, as early as 1933. But they were not sent to Auschwitz
from Germany until 1943. The only people who were in a work camp in
Auschwitz before it opened were 300 Jews from the town of Auschwitz who
were forced to transform a collection of horse stables and army barracks
into the Polish prisoner camp. (Fabian Nicieza wrote Magneto as a Gypsy
at the request of editors Kelly Corvese and Bob Harras, so don't blame
In X-Men #40, which takes place in Israel, Legion pulls out Magneto's
memories. One can see a picture of young Magnus with older male
prisoners, standing behind and below a high, barred window. This is an
accurate portrayal of the quarters of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz I.
At Auschwitz I, only the Sonderkommando (other than prisoners awaiting
execution) were kept in isolated basement cells, the windows of which
were high, barred, and as seen from the outside, half-below ground
level. And why is Magneto in Israel anyway? Why would a Gypsy go to
Israel when at least 30,000 Gypsies lived in Germany in the late 1960s
and early 1970s? And many more Romany formed a thriving community in
Paris. Why go to Israel to "find himself" or find his "soul"? Any Jew
can emigrate to Israel, under the Law of Return. All Magneto had to do
was show them the tattoo on his arm, and he was home. Furthermore,
Magnus at this time had forged papers, that identified him as "Erik
Magnus Lehnsherr." He could have immigrated to any country in the world,
including the United States! If he were a Gypsy, and didn't want to
self-identify as such, why not go to America? The Romany today deeply
resent the focus on Israel, and the support Israel enjoys among nations
of the Western world, while the Gypsies continue to be persecuted and
In Astonishing X-Men #3, Magneto says, "Long before Xavier died...
before this point of divergence... I stood by helplessly as millions of
my people were led to slaughter in the name of 'genetic purity.'" The
AOA is a divergent timeline, starting from the same events as in our
own timeline. 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were murdered (possibly as many
as 750,000). Millions of Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles during the
course of the invasions, and in political violence, and in acts of pure
murder, were exterminated. But only the European Jews were "led to the
slaughter" in the millions because of one man's racial beliefs.
In X-Men #72, we learn that the name *Erik Lehnsherr* (revealed by
Gabrielle Haller in X-Men Unlimited #2 to be Magneto's real name) is
fake, and so Haller's assertion that Magneto is a *Sinte* Gypsy was
based on false and forged identity papers. Basically, Magneto needed the
fake Sinte identity to have a better chance of success on his search for
Magda (who *was* a Gypsy) after she had run away from him. Magneto,
speaking with Georg Odekirk, the man who forged the papers, says, "Do
you remember what you promised me the night I came to you, torn and
filthy, nearly a quarter century ago? I was searching for my beloved
MAGDA, determined not to lose her as I had lost so many others in the
fire that engulfed all of Europe during my childhood. The authorities
were in pursuit of me for the "crime" of avenging my daughter's murder.
I was willing to deny who I was... everything that my family died for...
so that I could find one woman... so that I would not be caged AGAIN.
The Erik Lehnsherr fabrication was a convenient means of ensuring that.
You swore that the forged papers were FLAWLESS, that your skills were
unsurpassed... but now, you have proven to be a liability. Your work has
been called into queston by my enemies, and they will trace Erik
Lehnsherr the Sinte BACK to you." Odekirk protests, "That is impossible!
That forgery was impeccable! My work is..." Magneto answers: "It was not
ENOUGH! You gave birth to Erik Lehnsherr, Odekirk. And tonight, you have
killed him. My secrets shall die with him. All that remains now... is
MAGNUS." Only the Jews and Gypsies were targeted as entire peoples, and
killed for no reason other than they were Jews and Gypsies. Magnus was
either one, or the other. Since in X-Men #72 it is revealed that he is
NOT a Gypsy, we must conclude he was born a Jew.
More recent issues have supported the retcon of the Magneto-as-Gypsy
retcon that appeared in X-Men Unlimited #2. In X-Men #111, Trish Tilby
calls Magneto the "rumored son of Israel." Furthermore, in X-Men #112,
Scott Summers describes Magneto as a Jew: "It's ironic, really. Magneto
lost his family in a Nazi death camp, persecuted just because they were
Jewish for the crime of being 'different.' Fifty-odd years later ... and
this time he's the monster. It's his army prepared to cleanse the Earth
of a race they've decided isn't worthy to continue. he's become what
he's always hated." It would be unlikely that the writers and editors of
the comics would include references to Magneto as Jewish unless they
were envisioning him as such. Outside canon, Magneto is described as
Jewish in the 1996-97 "Mutant Empire" trilogy of novels by Christopher
If you want more details, including scans of relevant passages and
images, visit the "Magneto FAQs and Background Info" section of Alara's
Magneto Page at http://www.alara.net/xbooks/mag/faq.html.
As for the Joseph/Magneto cloning issue, Terrafamilia helps us out: To
be a stickler for detail-- Joseph was emphatically stated to *not* be a
clone. A copy, yes, but not a clone. Astra, a previously unknown
character retconned to having been an original member of the Brotherhood
of Evil Mutants, replicated Magneto using various and sundry bits of
highly advanced alien tech she had snatched over the years during her
travels through the galaxy (she's a high power intradimensional portal
style teleporter). Basically, she sent Magneto through a molecular
transporter type system and made a copy, which she altered to be younger
and more pliable. Unfortunately Magneto escaped during his and Joseph's
first encounter, so Joseph had time to develop a mind of his own while
he was supposed to be tracking down his quarry. Joseph's dead now,
having sacrificed himself for some reason or another.
As for Magneto's existence... Magneto was stabbed by Wolverine in X-MEN
#113. In NEW X-MEN #115, he appeared in a wheelchair, sitting in a
building in Hammer Bay as it was crushed by a Sentinel. He was presumed
dead as of that issue, until being revealed as Xorn in New X-Men #146.
--- What is the Hellfire Club? Who are its members? (+)
The Hellfire Club is a direct homage / tribute to the 1960s UK Avengers
show with Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. In an episode called "A Touch
of Brimstone", Steed and Mrs. Peel face a top secret political group
which named itself after the legendary 18th-century secret society. The
members of the "Inner Circle" all wear period costumes, and at one
point Mrs. Peel assumes the role of "the Queen of Sin", wearing a black
leather costume that's the image of the White Queen. (That's also why
the White Queen has the first name Emma--it's an homage to "Emma Peel".)
John Byrne has admitted using it as an inspiration, since it was one of
his favorite action/advenute shows growing up. Hellfire Clubs did exist
in the real world, but they were usually "gentlemen's" clubs of the 18th
century dealing as upper-class brothels. The best-known characters were
based on popular actors: In the X-Men Companion II (Fantagraphics Books,
1982), Byrne says that Sebastian Shaw was based on Robert Shaw, Harry
Leland was Orson Wells, Donald Pierce was Donald Sutherland, and Jason
Wyngarde is Peter Wyngarde.
Anyway, in Marvel Comics, there have been many different incarnations of
the American Hellfire Club / Inner Circle, as well as numerous
international clubs. The HC members tend to be mutants who want to rule
the world through a combination of raw power and subtle political and
financial maneuvers. Membership is passed down to one's offspring, so
people like Warren Worthington III (Angel) and Brian Braddock (Captain
Britain) are members of the club. The club first appeared at the start
of the Dark Phoenix Saga in Uncanny X-Men.
According to Ultimate X-Men (the coffee-table book, not the text-story
collection or the comic series of the same name), the American branch
of the Hellfire Club was founded in the 1770s by "wealthy trading
company owner Sir Patrick Clemens and his mistress, Diana Knight" who
emigrated from Britain to New York City. The Hellfire Club mini-series
reveals that the American club members were loyalists who battled the
Captain America of the American Revolution. The mini-series also gives
some background on Sebastian Shaw, showing how he transformed the Inner
Circle of wealth and privelege to an Inner Circle of mutants.
The backup story of Classic X-Men #7 introduces the reader to the
previous leaders of the club, namely White King Edward Buckman and his
White Queen, Paris Seville. According to OHOTMUDE, Shaw had up until
then risen to Black Bishop. On the same New Year's Eve when Jean Grey
became the Phoenix, Buckman was telling Sebastian Shaw what a fine Black
King he'd make. However, this was just a ruse to put Shaw in a false
sense of security, since Buckman and Paris actually intended to kill all
mutants, including Shaw and his four associates: Emma Frost, Harry
Leland, Tessa and Lourdes Chantel. In the fight that ensued, Lourdes
Chantel (Shaw's lover, a teleporter) was killed. Retribution was quick
to follow; under Emma Frost's telepathic control Buckman shot all of the
members of the Council of the Chosen before Shaw snapped his neck. Shaw
then took control of the Club, and renamed the Council the "Inner
The club was formally introduced to X-Men readers during the Dark
Phoenix Saga. The Inner Circle was lead by Sebastian Shaw (the Black
King) and telepath Emma Frost (the White Queen). Shaw's assistant was
Tessa, an extremely intelligent human who later joined the X-Men as
Sage (where she displayed newly-found telepathic powers). The Black
Bishop was Harry Leland, who could manipulate mass. The White Bishop was
Donald Pierce, a cyborg who wanted to become White King. Mastermind, who
disguised himself in order to lure Phoenix into the club as its Black
Queen, was an applicant for Inner Circle membership.
The Hellfire Club appeared again in Marvel Graphic Novel #4, which
introduced the New Mutants. Pierce worked against Xavier in recruiting
Cannonball, but Tessa realized that Pierce was a threat to the Inner
Circle, and promised to deal with him. (Pierce was later seen in full
cyborg mode leading the Reavers in the Australian Outback era of
Uncanny. Donald Pierce returned in the Domino mini-series and later
turned up during the Ladronn issues of Cable.)
Years later, around the time of Uncanny #180-190, Selene became the new
Black Queen, after she was introduced by her agent/worshipper Frederick
von Roehm, (the Black Rook). Selene was a type of vampire, and she'd
appeared in New Mutants. Around the same time, Emanuel Da Costa (father
of New Mutant Roberto DaCosta) was recruited to become the White Rook.
Issues of Uncanny also revealed that Emma Frost was training her own set
of younger mutants, the Hellions, who went up against the X-Men before
becoming a longtime rival of the New Mutants.
After the defeat of Nimrod in Central Park, the Hellfire Club
disappeared from Uncanny, but continued to appear in The New Mutants,
where Frost, Shaw, and Selene pitted The Hellions against Xavier's
students. The two teams interacted on a number of occassions.
During this time, Magneto served as headmaster of Xavier's school.
In one memorable story (after the Beyonder killed and resurrected them)
the New Mutants became Hellions (and therefore wards of the Hellfire
Club). Magneto was named to the position of White King. He and Storm
shared the title for a while, and Magneto called himself the Grey King
after Shaw was booted out of the club (circa New Mutants #75).
The Hellfire Club underwent a number of dramatic changes in the 1990s.
In Uncanny #281, the Hellions were killed and Emma Frost was put into a
coma (she woke in Uncanny #314). Soon after, Sebatian Shaw was
overthrown by Shinobi Shaw, who was supposed to be Sebastian's son, but
had mass / intangibility powers more like those of Harry Leland.
Shinobi replaced the entire Inner Circle (some with members of The
Upstarts) and this new Circle is what stands in X-Men Annual #3. The
"upstart" Inner Circle was composed of Shinobi Shaw (Black King),
Benazir Kaur, Reeva Payge, and Benedict Kine (White King). It's only
assumed that the aforementioned ladies held the rank of queen. Circa
Uncanny #319, Shinobi attempted to bring Storm, Psylocke, and Angel in
as members of the Inner Circle, but they refused.
The Club next appeared in Generation X's first annual. Emma Frost's loss
of the Hellions caused her to align with Xavier and train his new team.
This resulted in her abandoning her position in the Club, though she was
still known as the White Queen. Her younger sister, Cordelia, tried to
insinuate herself into Shinobi's Hellfire Club, but she was refused
After Onslaught, Sebastian Shaw was finally able to overthrow his son.
Selene returned to the Club as well, bringing with her Trevor Fitzroy
and X-Man's Madelyne Pryor. Madelyne eventually double-crossed Selene
and sought to supplant her as the Black Queen. Issues of X-Man indicated
that Madelyne assumed the title for a short time, and Sebastian Shaw
called her "my queen." This version of the Inner Circle did not last
very long, though. Madelyne soon left to follow Nate Grey (and was again
replaced by Selene) while Fitzroy sent himself to the future as the
Chronomancer (see Bishop: The Last X-Man #1). Tessa also announced that
she was no longer in the employ of Shaw, and later aligned herself with
the X-Men. At one point, Emma's sister Adrienne Frost announced that she
was the new White Queen (circa Generation X #62) but she was never seen
in that role.
Club membership was readjusted once more beginning with Fantastic Four
Annual '99, which established that Black Queen Selene was running the
club with the demon Blackheart (Mephisto's son) as her Black King.
Selene later showed up in X-Force, where she converted Roberto DaCosta
into an HC member. Berto should have inherited his father's White Rook
position, but he's apparently the Black Rook. No current White Hellfire
Club members are confirmed as such.
As if that wasn't enough, there have been quite a few stories mentioning
the (presumably original) London branch of the Hellfire Club. Beginning
in Excalibur #92, Warren Ellis mentioned the London branch. It was
connected to the American Club by name and occassional association,
but the London Club had distanced itself enough that Shinobi Shaw
convinced Brian Braddock (Captain Britain) to enter the London Club and
act as informant for whatever plan was brewing. The London Club used the
colors Red and White for its Inner Circle, as opposed to the Black and
White of the New York Club. During the Excalibur run leading up to issue
#100, Brian planned to enter as the Red Bishop (since his father had
apparently held that position), but he ended up becoming its Black Rook.
The Red King was an Indian man we'd never seen before, and the Black
King was likewise a new character. The Red Queen was sorceress Margali
Szardos, better known as Amanda Sefton's mom and Nightcrawler's adoptive
mother. The Black Queen, named Emma Steed, was a psionic skinner who
looked very much like the Damask character that appeared in the Age of
Apocalypse storyline. (She was also the spitting image of Diana Rigg,
who played Emma Peel in the classic Avengers episode mentioned above.)
The Red Rook, Scribe, was a recorder of sorts, whose body was being used
by Mountjoy, a refugee from Bishop's timeline. She had powers of
intangibility, superior strength, and agility, which may have come from
Mountjoy instead of from her own ability. (It should be noted that
Mountjoy was a refugee from Bishop's future who was revealled to have
snuck through Fitzroy's gateway while riding another criminal. Bishop
became aware of his prescence in the mainstream timeline present and
pursued him in theBishop Limited series by Ostrander and Pacheco).
Excalibur #100 revealed that the London Hellfire Club and black ops
organization Black Air had bribed their way into the pockets of many
important politicians. The Club attempted to utilise the powers of a
demon trapped under London to cause enough chaos that they and their
agents in Black Air could seize power. They kidnapped Excalibur member
Douglock to use as a sort of power conduit, but unfortunately they'd
underestimated the power of the demon and pretty much drove themselves
mad. The Black King and Red King ended up dead, while Red Queen Margali
was snatched into Hell / Limbo by Belasco (see the Soulsword question),
and the Black Queen escaped to parts unknown. The Red Rook, Scribe,
eventually showed up in X-Man #23, where she later battled Madelyne.
The London Club also made an appearance, via flashback, in a story
involving Cable (circa Cable #49). "The Hellfire Hunt" had Cable chase
Donald Pierce and Sebastian Shaw across the Atlantic to prevent them
from stealing Apocalypse's technology. On the flight there, he and Irene
Merryweather read the diary of a previous Union Jack who had battled the
Club in his day. The story also involved the Harbinger, a creation of
Apocalypse (see CABLE #50). These events referenced the events of The
Further Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix. That story--the origin of
Sinister--revealed an alliance between Apocalypse and the London Club of
1889. The Hellfire Club planned to increase strife around the world,
making the world ready for Apocalypse's eventual return.
Obviously, the Hellfire Club and its Inner Circle have deep roots in
the Marvel Universe. In addition to the London and New York branches,
there are apparently chapters of the Hellfire Club in Moscow, Rio de
Janeiro, Tokyo, Venice, and Hong Kong. Jamie Braddock, Brian Braddock,
and Betsy Braddock all had membership through their father, who was a
member of the London Inner Circle. Warren Worthington III had membership
through his father, and his girlfriend Candy Southern was also a member.
Howard Stark, Iron Man's father, was a member, as was Senator Robert
Kelly (see Uncanny #247). The Hellfire Club mini-series indicates that
the Greys (Jean's parents) probably are members as well.
--- What is the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth supposed
Once upon a time, this was one of the big Unanswered Questions in the
X-titles. Of course, once upon a time Bernard the poet was a recurring
character in X-Men as well. Dig those groovy rhymes!
Wolverine and Sabretooth were originally designed, most likely by John
Byrne once he got his hands on them, to be son and father, respectively.
Nothing was ever made of this, besides the usual murky hints behind the
scenes. As time went by the relative popularity of Wolverine versus the
great obscurity of Sabretooth (up until recently, he was still a second-
string villain found working for no-name crime bosses in Spider-Man
titles) made such a revelation rather silly in the eyes of Marvel, so
they just shifted the whole thing over to them both just having some
sort of relationship in the past, but of an unspecified sort.
Recently, Wolverine and Sabretooth have been revealed simply to be
former secret agents who worked on the same team with other mysterious
mutants such as Maverick. A blood test performed by some considerate
S.H.I.E.L.D. medical technicians in Wolverine #42 finally gave us a
definite answer: they aren't related by blood at all. Sabretooth once
believed himself to be Logan's father, but that was merely a vestige of
the Weapon X's memory implant procedures.
--- Does Wolverine have any real memories, anyway? How about real bones?
Apparently, almost all of Wolverine's memories are constructs, thanks to
the ever-dependable Weapon X program and the demands of Marvel writers.
What he had as his original skeleton has become even more of a muddled
pile of murk thanks to the Fatal Attractions storyline. A brief synopsis
of what was once known to be true will be attempted here, but as
discussions on racmx have shown, this question is a retcon in action,
and even Wolverine fans are still confused over the whole affair. Those
of us who are just neutral bystanders will have to be content with what
follows, and leave the heavy arguments to the knowledgable Wolvie sages
IN THE BEGINNING, like, pre-X-Men (Hulk #181), even, Wolverine was just
designed to be a spunky teenager working for the Canadian government,
who had claws stuck in his gloves. One gets the opinion that perhaps
there were some slight budgetary problems in the Canadian Secret Service
at the time. There was a suggested subplot which would reveal him to be
a "super-evolved" real wolverine, made into human form by the High
Evolutionary, but that was never followed up on.
Now, when Wolverine was put into the X-Men, Chris Claremont decided that
since he was in the X-Men, he needed to have a mutant power.
Furthermore, he didn't like the idea of having the adamantium claws just
part of the gloves, as then "anyone who could get the gloves could be
Wolverine." So, he revealed that the claws are actually housed in
Eventually, we find out that all of Wolverine's skeleton is bonded with
adamantium. Adamantium is the hardest known non-magical substance in the
Marvel Universe, capable of ignoring point-blank nuclear strikes. Chris
Claremont also revealed that Wolverine was much older than he'd
originally been planned to be. Wolverine's vaunted healing factor wasn't
mentioned in the stories until UXM #142, although it was first shown in
the UXM issue in the mid 110's when Wolverine got his arm chomped on by
Time passes. We learn that Wolverine may have gotten his adamantium from
the Canadian special weapons project, Project X. There is a good clue
out that the adamantium bonding process was stolen for Project X from
Lord Darkwind, a Japanese nobleman who performed the same sort of
operation on Bullseye, a nonpowered assassin and foe of Daredevil's.
Lord Darkwind's daughter, Lady Deathstrike, has been hunting Wolverine
for years to kill him, since him having that skeleton is an insult to
the heritage of her father. The process was either stolen by or for
James Hudson, head of the Alpha Flight project, which was responsible
for the superpowered protection of the Canadian provinces and interests.
Then comes the Weapon X storyline (MCP #72-84). Wolverine, who up to
this point is thought to just be a fast-healing mutant of indeterminate
age, is now revealed to apparently have had some form of natural "bone
claws" where his metal ones ended up, because when they were filling him
full of adamantium, that's where a bunch of it pooled up (sounds more
like a scientist was skipping on quality control, but, hey, it's
The idea of the Weapon X project was that it would create all these
super-soldiers, and then release them back into the general public with
no memory of who they were as "sleepers." So they wouldn't remember
their experiences at the Weapon X facilities, they were all programmed
with false memories. To help keep watch over this odd idea, a computer
program named Shiva was written, who could take over one in an almost
endless series of robots to hunt down and destroy any Weapon X soldier
who, somehow, showed signs of remembering who he really was. Currently,
Wolvie has fooled Shiva into thinking it killed him.
So, with that added to the muddle, we then get the unusual Fatal
Attractions crossover, where Magneto pulled the adamantium off of
Wolvie's bones through his skin pores (X-Men #25). So, Wolvie (aside
from hurting real, real bad) was growing new bone claws because he
originally had bone claws (and they got covered in adamantium), and
Magneto removed the original ones.
The lastest addition to this saga is that the adamantium was preventing
his mutation from expanding any further. In this case, that meant his
turning into pure animal, with the unbearably heightened senses and
uncontrollable instincts (Wolverine #92).
The memories problem was repaired by Epsilon Red (by the same people who
brought you Omega Red).
As of Wolverine #100, we have a new incarnation of Wolverine. To Larry
Hama's credit, Wolverine did get his adamantium back. For a few panels.
Then Wolverine rejected it and lost what was left of his mind. The
current version is now a mutant who can withstand almost any amount of
physical abuse. Elektra took it upon herself (Wolverine #101) to help
Logan return to humanity, and it mostly worked.
To make matters worse, Sabretooth had been the recipient of Wolverine's
old adamantium. The stuff was then ripped out of Sabretooth and given
back to Wolverine by Apocalypse, who made Wolverine his horseman Death
for a short time. Wolverine #145 displayed the moment in a flashback,
but the first appearance with the metal back was as Death in Astonishing
X-Men Vol. 2 #1.
--- Who was Wolverine before he was Wolverine? Does he even have a
real name? (+)
In 2001, a new miniseries was created by Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas, and
Paul Jenkins, penciled by Andy Kubert and digitally painted by Richard
Isanove. Creatively named "Origin," the book was set in Alberta and
British Columbia, Canada, and was supposed to tie up a lot of loose ends
about Wolverine's origins. We'll summarize the important parts for you,
so you don't have to spend dozens of dollars trying to buy the darned
Issue #1 used misdirection, and convinced many readers that Dog, the
beaten and abused son of lowlife groundskeeper Thomas Logan, was
Wolverine. Origin #2, however, revealed that Wolverine was James Howlett,
the weak child of an aristocrat, James Howlett, who was a gentle and soft
man, and his wife Elizabeth, who has been sequestered in the mansion ever
since the death of her first son, John. It's likely that Elizabeth
Howlett had an affair with Thomas Logan, and that James is actually their
son, since Thomas sneaks into the mansion in issue #2 to take Elizabeth
away with him, and she doesn't protest too much. Either way, Thomas Logan
ends up dead when James pops his claws. Something odd happened with his
dead older brother, though--John Logan died at age twelve, apparently
after an illness, and Mrs. Howlett says something to the effect of "ohh
... Not *again*. Not *you*, James" in Origin #3. Apparently she's seen
*somebody* pop claws before. It's too much for her, so she kills herself
with a rifle. When the news is brought to Grandpa Howlett, he asks Dog
what happened... and Dog lies and says that Rose had a gun.
After Grandpa Howlett forces Rose and James to leave the Howlett home,
Rose takes James by train to British Columbia to work in a quarry. Since
James is in a daze from the appearance of his claws, and they need to
hide their identities due to James' killing of Thomas Logan, Rose gives
the foreman the name of "Logan" for James. (The foreman, Smitty, is
where Logan picks up his characteristic use of "bub.") After working
lower-class jobs for a long while, Logan becomes stronger, following an
internal "urge" to learn how to track animals. As of issue #4, he
prefers the name "Logan" instead of James. He doesn't know what happened
in Alberta (apparently his mind is blocking the memories), and though
Rose wants to talk with him about it, he won't listen. She writes an
account of it in her narrative diary, hoping that he'll learn the truth
from the diary someday. Logan still seems to remember his claws, though,
and after two years at the camp, he pops them out again.
In Origin #5, Rose becomes interested in Smitty. Smitty ends up giving
Logan a book about Japanese Samurai fighters, presumably leading to his
interest in that culture. At the end of the issue, Grandpa Howlett talks
of letting "the fear of what happened to his brother" cloud his
judgement, and sends a messenger to find James and Rose--except that the
messenger is Dog, Thomas Logan's son from issue #1. In issue #6, there's
a cage match in which Logan is called "the Wolverine." He throws a fight
against Smitty, who was in the cage matches to earn money so that he and
fiancee Rose could leave the quarry. When Dog appears and fights Logan,
Logan remembers that Dog is actually the one who killed his father, not
him. Rose tries to stop them; popping his claws, Logan accidentally
kills Rose. He then runs off into the Canadian wilderness, leaving Dog
and Smitty behind.
Apparently it's all true, because Xavier's freaky sister Cassandra Nova
called Wolverine both "Mr. Logan" and "James" in NXM #126.
At the WizardWorld 2002 Comicon Quesada spoke for a while about Origin.
The story didn't tell much about Wolverine's origin, they said, because
the people at Marvel have planned a sequel. "Bill [Jemas] wants to do it
tomorrow," said Quesada, "but I want to let 'Origin' sit a while." So
who knows when we'll find out the details of how Wolverine went from
teenage quarry worker to Weapon X agent.
And, just to clear things up: Dog is not Sabretooth. Really.
--- Wolverine can regularly regenerate himself from a drop of blood,
Only if you only reread one annual.
In Uncanny X-Men Annual #11, the X-Men get involved in this very
symbolic quest to determine the worthiness of the entire human race, and
all that other light afternoon sort of entertainment. In the end, only
Wolverine is left to strive for the goal, this immensely powerful alien
god-gem gadget thingee. Unfortunately for Wolverine, the alien Horde is
right behind him, and slaughters the poor mutant--but not before a
single drop of Wolvie's blood lands on the immensely powerful alien god-
gem which super-cosmically charges the superpowers of that blood to
regrow an entire Wolverine, adamantium bones and all. In short, don't
try this at home, kids, at least not without an immensely powerful alien
god-gem of your own.
The simplest evidence against Wolverine having this amount of
regenerative ability, however, is that in the numerous issues with no
alien god-gems in sight that Wolverine gets pounded in, none of the
blood he's leaked so copiously over everything has ever grown into
*** Continued in Part 7 ***
Compilation Copyright 2000-2003 by Katharine E. Hahn
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