WOLVERINE: Page 23 of 23


One fateful day, Wolverine happened across a hostage situation involving what appeared to be a deranged father with some sort of space-gun. Once the man was dead and his son took control of the weapon, Logan realized more was going on. The "gun" was actually a spaceship for an intelligent virus from the Microverse, grown from the "body banks," who intended to invade Earth and possess humanity as hosts for its collective consciousness. The virus was fascinated by Logan's healing abilities and proceeded to test him several times by putting its innocent host or others at risk. During the escapade, Logan was shot with a capsule bullet, which appeared to be non-threatening after it was dug out.

Wolverine got involved with Nick Fury and SHIELD during his efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, only to discover the entire Helicarrier had fallen under the virus' influence. His own healing factor kept Logan immune to the virus and he joined forces with the few remaining SHIELD agents using oxygen tanks to stay uninfected. Logan rejected several further attempts by the virus to earn his support, and finally flushed it out of the Helicarrier's inhabitants. Unfortunately, the virus remained active worldwide and played their trump card -- the capsule bullet Logan was hit with contained a viral agent that rewrote his physiology, permanently canceling his healing factor. [Wolverine (5th series) #1-6]

As SHIELD continued to fight the virus around the world, Logan was forced to deal with his new mortality. Hank McCoy came up with a drug to prevent Adamantium poisoning, but otherwise Logan was now an aging, vulnerable human being. He cut himself shaving, couldn't hold his liquor and generally felt pervasive fear for the first time in his life. Word of Wolverine's vulnerability spread quickly, and so Sabretooth and Mystique set him up for some true humiliation. 

They goaded Logan into meeting them at the site of the old Howlett family mansion, now a shopping mall. Logan barreled knowingly into the trap, without any plan or new strategy to compensate for his vulnerability. Kitty Pryde was worried about Logan's recklessness, and forced him to take her along with him.

A telekinetic acupuncturist named Fiber prepped Wolverine for Sabretooth's trap by attacking Logan and tweaking his nerve endings. Logan had built up a high mental tolerance for pain over the years due to his healing factor, but Fiber's attack removed this advantage, causing Logan to flinch and recoil from injury like an average man. The mall was a disaster -- Sabretooth's allies tauntingly killed twelve people in ways that highlighted Logan's inadequacy. Their assaults also put him in enough pain that he lashed out unthinkingly to try and mutilate Kitty and innocent civilians. Creed himself only appeared at the end, putting the final nail into one of Wolverine's most embarrassing (and preventable) failures. A dozen people died because Logan's stubborn pride prevented him from accepting his new limitations. [Wolverine (5th series) #7-13]

Wolverine spent three weeks in the infirmary after that, as Hank McCoy managed to save his life. [Wolverine 6th series) #1] Logan was deeply humbled by the experience, but moved on as best he was able. His relationship with Kitty Pryde was damaged almost beyond repair, and certainly contributed to her decision to take her students and leave the Jean Grey School for Cyclops. [Battle of the Atom crossover]

Thanks to Deadpool, Wolverine also ran into a splinter faction of the Weapon Plus Program around this time. In North Korea, Wolverine joined Deadpool and Captain America in freeing an innocent group of test subjects forced to undergo genetic implants to make them like the X-Men, with samples of Deadpool's healing factor keeping their bodies from rejecting the foreign genetic material. Seeing versions of himself and Kurt was particularly hard for Logan. The normally clown-like Deadpool suffered deeply when Weapon Plus murdered a woman he once slept with and also apparently killed a daughter he never knew. The loss of a child was something Cap and Logan had gone through as well, and they forged a genuine friendship and bond of brothers with Deadpool during that horrific mission. [Deadpool (4th series) #15-19]

It wasn't all bad news and unspeakable horrors for Logan, though. During an incredulous adventure involving pirates of Hell invading the shores of Heaven, Nightcrawler was resurrected. Logan was thrilled at Kurt's return, and the best friends bonded once more as Nightcrawler rejoined the X-Men. [Amazing X-Men (2nd series) #1-6] Wolverine also reached a measure of peace with Cyclops. The two of them were tricked into attacking a Sentinel factory at the same time, in the hope that they would kill each other. Instead, the old comrades demolished the Sentinel line and hid out with a stockpile of beer while recovering from their wounds. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #38-40] At the first graduation ceremony of the Jean Grey School, Professor Logan reflected on how much he had matured since opening the school and taking charge of the X-Men. He wistfully noted that an entire day had passed without needing to pop his claws. [Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #42]

Despite his efforts to move on, however, Wolverine could not escape the consequences of his vulnerability. Captain America and Iron Man removed him from the Avengers' active roster due to his "personal problems." [Avengers (5th series) #24] The summer after graduation, an experiment with making Quentin Quire a teaching assistant failed spectacularly. Logan was unsuccessful in his efforts to rehabilitate Quentin, who inherited the billion dollar Phoenix Corporation and abandoned the X-Men's teachings. [Wolverine and the X-Men (2nd series) #1-6]

Shaken by his recent losses and vulnerability, Logan spent a year of compressed time with Ororo in the World of the Weapon Plus Program. Despite the perspective he received in that experience, however, Logan was still unable to convince Quire to return to the X-Men. [Wolverine and the X-Men (2nd series) #7-9]

As much as he appeared to be coping with his mortality, Logan truly was not. Word of his loss against Sabretooth was spreading, making Logan feel shamed by his friends when they mentioned it. He locked up in battle against a giant robot, nearly dying helplessly due to his fear of death before Jubilee rescued him. Even his efforts to turn up intelligence about Sabretooth's organization failed, because his friends and contacts were afraid to tell him anything that would inevitably get him killed.

Ultimately, Wolverine accepted an offer by Maria Hill to go undercover for SHIELD in a criminal capacity, taking advantage of his new, limiting situation. Logan began overplaying his frustration, openly and publicly lashing out at his friends and finally quitting the X-Men altogether out of anger for being treated as a liability. In the process, he ended his relationship with Storm and further alienated Kitty Pryde, among others. 

This supposed fall from grace was designed to get the attention of a criminal organizer named the Offer. Offer wanted to get into business with Sabretooth and having Wolverine in his employ would be a tempting bargaining chip at the negotiating table. Offer offered Logan a position in his organization in exchange for eventually getting a shot at revenge on Sabretooth, which would let Offer take over Sabretooth's business at the same time.

Logan took the offer and effectively became a super-criminal for the Offer's team, using handguns, artificial claws and an ablative armor costume to compensate for his limitations. Wolverine initially bargained with the Offer to keep his hands clean of killing any innocents. Circumstances arose, however, when a Daily Bugle reporter bluffed his way into the Offer's offices, claiming to be a representative of Sabretooth. When his cover was blown, the reporter claimed he was actually writing a story on Wolverine and wanted to help him return to the side of the heroes. Instead, Logan executed the reporter for compromising the Offer's organization. (This entire scenario was actually a set-up by SHIELD, with the reporter played by a Life Model Decoy, to further cement Logan's cover.) [Wolverine (6th series) #1-4]

The infiltration appeared to be working, but Wolverine was unable to remain detached from his new comrades. In the Offer's gang, he took on a fatherly role towards the Lost Boy, a young super-criminal with a heroic self-image and odd ideas about "Fighting evil with evil." He also began a physical relationship with Pinch, another partner in the gang who was making money for her little girl back home.

While trying to bond with Lost Boy, Logan went a tattoo parlor run by an artist with a unique gift. Pablo had the ability to visualize a personalized tattoo for each person he met, representing their innermost feelings or nature. In Logan's case, it was a simple rose tattooed on his forearm. The meaning was not lost on Logan.

The hunt for Sabretooth picked up when the Offer decided to go after a weapon in which Creed was reportedly interested, stealing it first in order to get a meeting with Sabretooth. Coordinating a search for the weapon in Madripoor against the chance to confront Creed, while working with the Offer's gang and doubling with MI-13 and SHIELD agents on the scene, proved to be too much for Logan and his cover collapsed. He once again hesitated in the field, this time freezing instead of calling in his teams or going after Creed himself. One of the Offer's gang was killed by Sabretooth, who then captured Pinch, Lost Boy and the weapon, leaving Logan with nothing. [Wolverine (6th series) #5-7]

With the help of Iron Fist and Shang-Chi, Logan finally confronted his fear of death by confronting Death. Literally. Wolverine came to terms with his fate and rallied his allies in SHIELD, the Avengers, X-Men and others to stop Sabretooth from unleashing the Madripoor weapon on New York City. Pinch and the Lost Boy were freed, but circumstances forced Wolverine to make the final confrontation against Sabretooth alone. Without armor, without his healing factor, Logan faced Creed again and this time he managed to win. [Wolverine (6th series) #8-12]

Reinstated with the Avengers and the X-Men, Wolverine returned to his life as a hero as best he could. He remained active with the Avengers and X-Men. [Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #23-24, Amazing X-Men (2nd series) #8-12] He also had adventures with both old friends and new. [Nightcrawler (4th series) #1-6, Ms. Marvel (3rd series) #6-7] Eventually, however, Wolverine's health problems caught up with him. An examination by Reed Richards revealed that the metal in Logan's body was mildly radioactive due to various incidents over the years. He was also exposing himself to countless bacteria every time he retracted his claws from the open air to inside his body. Basically, Logan was designed to have a healing factor, and his body just could not continue to function indefinitely without one. [Death of Wolverine #1]

Reed offered Logan the possibility of a cure, but the amount of time he needed to research and verify his findings was more time than Logan had the way he was currently living. He encouraged Logan to get off the grid and avoid conflict until his work could be completed. Logan relented, but worried that if word spread of his "retirement," it would be like blood in the water. He was right. At an isolated cabin on an island in undeveloped Canada, Logan was assaulted again and again by mercenaries and enemies looking to settle old scores. He learned about a bounty on his head, wanted alive, and decided to seek out the mysterious contractor.

Wolverine's investigation led him to many old haunts, such as Japan and Madripoor, and many old foes, such as Viper, Sabretooth, Ogun and Deathstrike. As was often the case in Wolverine's life, however, in the end it all came down to the Weapon X Program. Abraham Cornelius had resurfaced, myopically trying to amend his legacy by creating something more than the world's greatest weapon or killer, but going down the same path of human experimentation he did in Weapon X. Logan confronted Cornelius at his desert lab in Paradise Valley, Nevada and learned that Cornelius wanted to use Logan's healing factor to improve the amount of intrusion and surgery his latest round of kidnapped test subjects could cope with. Logan laughed at Cornelius for being so out of touch, and revealed his healing factor was gone.

Infuriated by the setback, Cornelius ordered his Agent Sharp to kill Logan while he continued with the Adamantium infusion trials on his latest test subjects. Logan beat Sharp, but lost the artificial claw glove he had been using and was forced to pop his own claws. Cornelius triggered the final stage of the Adamantium infusion to cover his escape. 

In order to prevent the kidnap victims from having Adamantium forced into their bodies, Logan slit open the pressurized tank, causing the liquid Adamantium to flood out over his body instead. Logan somehow still found the strength to push himself to the roof to stop Cornelius, despite the rapidly cooling Adamantium covering his body. Cornelius never made it to his escape chopper due to some flying glass that penetrated his guts during the melee. As he lay dying, Abraham Cornelius shouted up at Logan about his lost chance to change the world, screaming, "What did you ever do but kill people? What did you ever do?"

James "Logan" Howlett struggled to the edge of the roof to watch his last sunset as the Adamantium hardened around him. He thought back on the last 130 years. He thought about Madripoor, and the wars, and all those dead ninjas. He thought about his school, and Mariko, and Jean. And in the end, he thought, "Enough." [Death of Wolverine #1-4]