008: The Thirties

Version 4.00, last updated on March 21, 2011

Logan Wanted
Johnny Timmons, Wolverine: The Amazing Immortal Man #1

As the 1930s begin, we find Logan still in the United States…

Wolverine: The Amazing Immortal Man & Other Bloody Tales #1 (Jul 2008)
“The Amazing Immortal Man”

Writer: David Lapham; Artist: Johnny Timmons

Stories are told of it taking five men to chain down a wild man accused of stealing chickens in Tennessee. That wild man is eventually sold into the circus freakshow of Maximillian Ernesto Seville for $40, where the man’s amazing healing abilities are revealed when he is shot by a jealous lion tamer for talking with his assistant, a pregnant gypsy girl by the name of Olga. Realizing their good fortune, the circus bills this wild man, revealed to be Logan, as the Amazing Immortal Man, subjecting him to a series of tortures and deathtraps. Logan soon becomes the main attraction, pulling in crowds so large at every stop that the the circus employees are able to rob the local banks during his performances with ease. By the time they reach Greenland, Kansas, the lion tamer has moved on, and Logan insists that Olga be allowed to give birth in the local hospital. But with $2 million sitting in the town’s bank vault, Maximillian doublecrosses Logan and provides only a midwife for Olga. During his death-defying performance that night, Logan realizes he’s been betrayed and breaks free, causing all mayhem to break loose. When Logan discovers that Olga died during a difficult childbirth, he hunts down Maximillian and kills him. After burying Olga, Logan disappears for parts unknown a wanted man.

It seems likely that Logan returned to the merchant marines to get as far away from his troubles as possible…

Marvel Comics Presents #41 (Jan 1990)
“Black Shadow, White Shadow: China Beachhead”

Writer: Marv Wolfman; Artist: John Buscema
Wolverine mentions he has been to China a few times, also noting, “There was a time when I’d dive for the thrill of it. Underwater, floating between schools of fish an’ coral shimmerin’ like rainbows, there was a sense of peace that I found nowhere else.” It is probable that these diving excursions first took place while with the merchant marine.

Wolverine #113 (May 1997) – “The Wind From the East”
Writer: Larry Hama; Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu; Inker: Edgar Tadeo
Logan flashes back to pre-World War II Shanghai when he was a hard-drinking merchant marine. Specifically, he remembers confronting members of the Japanese Imperial Army when they threaten an old man and defenseless young boy. Showing only defiance in the face of the soldiers, Logan impresses an Imperial Japanese Captain, possibly Ogun himself, and is offered a position at the Ogun Ryu Dojo in Kanazawa, Japan.

Japan landed Imperial troops in Shanghai in 1932 between January and March to break up boycotts of Japanese goods. This story fits quite well within that time period.

Logan as merchant marine in China
Leinil Francis Yu and Edgar Tadeo, Wolverine #113

While in the Far East, Logan returns to Madripoor and rekindles his relationship with Seraph…

Wolverine #126 (Jul 1998) – “Blood Wedding”
Creators: Chris Claremont & Leinil Francis Yu; Inker: Edgar Tadeo & Gerry Alanguilan
Logan tells Kitty about Seraph. “She brought beauty to my world and grace. But her lessons had a price. She gave me free will. Before Seraph, I did what I pleased. I didn’t care. She taught me actions have consequences. And how we deal with them? That defines our morality. Before Seraph, I could claim a kind of innocence.”

Logan and Seraph
Kaare Andrews, Wolverine: Origins Annual #1

Wolverine: Origins Annual #1 (Sep 2007) – “Return to Madripoor”
Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Kaare Andrews
In 1932, Seraph teaches Logan how to control his animal nature and more importantly, how to get away with murdering people, lots of people, in Madripoor. Over the course of the next few years, Logan becomes a world-class assassin, learns every square inch of Madripoor and falls in love with Seraph. One night, at a secret meeting underneath the Princess Bar, Logan discovers Seraph being bullied by a ninja, presumably from the Hand. Logan kills the ninja, but is gravely wounded in the process and when he comes to, Seraph tearfully admits she has been keeping secrets from him. Later, Logan carves a beautiful angel out of a tree to show her how he feels about her, causing her to say, cryptically, “You don’t deserve this!”

Logan is again shown sporting a eyepatch for part of his time in Madripoor. Whether this is to hide an injury or part of a disguise is unknown. Regardless, it is during these stories that Daniel Way recasts Seraph, who had previously been portrayed as a genuinely positive influence on Logan’s life, into just another handler for Romulus, much like Cyber and Sabretooth.

It would seem Logan soon leaves Madripoor and returns to Canada…

Uncanny X-Men #455 (Apr 2005) – “Not Dead Yet?!”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciler: Alan Davis; Inker: Mark Farmer
When visiting Mary McKenna at the Royal Tyrrell Institute in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, Logan sees an old photo of himself and a man with an eyepatch holding what seems to be the jawbone of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This is possibly Mary McKenna’s grandfather, suggesting that Logan was on a dig in Canada with the elder McKenna in the 1930s.

Logan with Tyrannosaurus Rex jaw
Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, Uncanny X-Men #455

There is also evidence of Logan’s handiwork in Scotland around the same time…

X-Men: True Friends #2 (Oct 1999) – “Royal Hunt”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciler: Rick Leonardi; Inker: Al Williamson & Jimmy Palmiotti
In Edinburgh, Scotland, 1936, Alasdhair Kinross crosses path with Kitty Pryde, a young time-traveling mutant teammate of Logan’s from the 1990s. After a confrontation with Baron Strucker and an Egyptian telepath named Amahl Farouk, Kinross and Pryde are dumped in the Edinburgh harbor and left for dead. Logan rescues them, calling himself Wolverine, sporting seemingly adamantium claws and a powerful mutant healing ability.

This is an odd appearance and the only way for me to explain the existence of this “Wolverine”, his adamantium claws and his expert fighting technique is that he was transported through time from the future. As Logan says, “Some people I work with called in a marker, said there’d be trouble, young folks needin’ help.”

X-Men: True Friends #3 (Nov 1999) – “Claiming the Crown”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciler: Rick Leonardi; Inker: Al Williamson
While battling Baron Strucker, Logan makes more comments that are in line with his future self, “Kill me as many times as you like, my healing factor will always bring me back. I’m the new kid on the block, the next generation of humanity’s evolution.” And when Kitty returns to the present, her time-travels are confirmed by Logan and others, suggesting that the events took place within our continuity and not some alternate timeline.

By 1937, both the ‘real’ Logan and a time-traveling Logan are found to be in Spain…

Wolverine #35 (Jan 1991) – “Blood, Sand and Claws”
Writer: Larry Hama, Penciler: Marc Silvestri; Inker: Dan Green
While fishing in Vancouver with Eugene Judd (Puck of Alpha Flight), Logan makes reference to a woman named Inez who spent time with Ernest Hemingway in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Within moments, a time vortex sends Logan, Judd and Lady Deathstrike back in time to April 26, 1937 in Guernica, Spain, the day of a devastating German raid. There, it becomes obvious that Ernest Hemingway and Inez, a Partisan, are already quite familiar and friendly with Logan. Considering that Hemingway arrived in Spain in February of 1937, it is quite possible that Logan met Hemingway in March of 1937 in conjunction with the Partisans of the Spanish Civil War. Due to Logan’s time travel, there is a record of events in Guernica of Logan’s actions that are direct result of the modern-day Logan’s participation.

Wolverine #79 (Mar 1994) – “Cyber, Cyber, Burning Bright”
Scripter: Larry Hama; Penciler: Adam Kubert; Inker: Mark Farmer & Mike Sellers
While fighting Zoe Culloden at the Landau, Luckman and Lake offices in Edinburgh, Scotland, Logan knocks over a filing cabinet filled with records on his life. One folder is marked, “Logan: Spanish Civil War Records.”

Later in 1937, Logan embarks on an espionage mission in the Soviet Union…

Wolverine: Origins #9 (Feb 2007) – “Savior, Part Four ”
Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Steve Dillon
In the Soviet Union, Logan protects a young Natalia Romanov as their train comes under attack. The bloody ambush is a deliberate ploy by Natalia’s father and agent provocateur, Taras Romanov, to convince the world that Natalia and Logan have perished. As planned by the shadowy organization controlling Logan’s life, for the next two years, Logan learns spycraft under Taras’ expert tutelage and teaches Natalia how to fight. Finally, one night, the web of deceit that entangles everyone unravels. It is revealed that Natalia is not Taras’ daughter, Logan was not sent simply to learn from Taras, and Taras knew more of Logan’s employers than he let on. The result is the death of Taras at Logan’s hands, the escape of a relieved Natalia to parts unknown and the return of Logan to his mysterious employers.

Logan is shown to heavily rely upon his mutant animal-like senses, noting that Taras’ heartrate increased almost imperceptibly when he told a lie and that Taras and Natalia were not related based on their smell. And despite Logan’s assertion that this mission took place after his time at Jasmine Falls, we now know that these events took place before World War II and the events of Jasmine Falls took place after World War II, hence their placement here in the chronology.

Logan in Russia
Steve Dillon, Wolverine: Origins #9

Wolverine: Origins #24 (Oct 2007) – “The Deep End, Part 4”
Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Steve Dillon
Logan flashes back to killing Taras Romanov.

Wolverine: Origins #16 (Oct 2007) – “Our War, Part 1”
Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Steve Dillon
In Madripoor 1941 at the mention of the name Natalia Romanova, Logan flashes back to his time in the Soviet Union with Natalia Romanov. Why her name is spelled differently in these two stories by the same writer within the same year is unknown, but to make matters more confusing, her name is referenced as Natasha Romanoff in ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #268, the original incarnation of this story.

As often happens, origins get retconned when a character is to appear on the big screen. Case in point, Black Widow endured a revamped origin with the release of Iron Man II. Unfortunately, she brought Logan along for the ride…

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 (Jan 2010) – “Black Widow: Deadly Origin”
Writer: Paul Cornell; Artist: John Paul Leon
Natalia Romanova is enrolled in Taras Romanoff’s military training school near Moscow in 1940 at the behest of Joseph Stalin and has tea with Taras (still very much alive) and Logan, who oddly seems to be wearing a United States Army uniform. Logan trains with Natalia, and later kills Taras at the school. Three months later, Natalia claims Logan was on a mission to kill Taras and let him escape.

In any event, Logan returns to the United States in 1939…

Wolverine #183 (Jan 2003) – “…And Got Yourself a Gun”
Writer: Frank Tieri; Penciler: Sean Chen; Inker: Tom Palmer
Concerning Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech at Yankee Stadium, Logan states, “Not a dry eye in the house. Hell…even I got a little choked up,” suggesting he was in New York City on July 4, 1939…

1939 Daily Bugle (2009) – “Cross Border ‘Creature at Canadian Border”
Writer: J.C. York (Bugle Staff Reporter)
In an article from October 13, 1939, border officials in Cape Vincent claim to have seen a husky and wild-haired man crossing the border on several occasions. The article goes on to suggest that the same man was involved in a Syracuse bar fight that left two men dead. “He brandished a strange triple-blade weapon that appeared to be carved from bone. Witnesses claim that he fought ‘like a wild animal, clawing at the men’ with his wrist-mounted knives.

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Facebook comments:

  1. You have to remember though. Logan has always been something of a killing machine, that is how he was created back when he first appeared in the X-Men comics. Before it was decided that he had a healing factor and a metal skeleton, they portrayed “The Wolverine” as something of a psychopath. Even villains like Magneto called him a “psycho” , and his own team mates wanted him off the team on more then one occasion during the early adventures. Of course Chris Claremont rewrote him and smoothed out the rough edges as time went along. (And the X-Men began to appreciate Logan’s warrior nature) But even so Logan was always the “go to guy”, when blood needed to be spilled and their has to be a reason for all of that.

    Wolverine wasn’t “saved” until he joined the X-Men and found his own reasons for living. Perhaps he found protection under Professor Xavier, in return for his amazing fighting abilities. But it makes more sense that Wolverine was manipulated all of his life prior to joining the X-Men. It also fits nicely that he was combed for evil things, before being submitted into the Weapon X project. They are the ones who forced Logan to do despicable things, in order to become a warrior he is now today. (killing mutants, fighting for their cause, etc) That’s why he is such a dangerous mutant, that’s why he kills the villains that no one else can. He’s done it before, and deep down he hates himself for the blood he has spilled. (He says it on the first page of Wolverine Origins.) He also seeks redemption by saving his son, who also fell down the same path that was chosen for him.

    Sometimes we are forced into things against our will. Logan endures this fact of life, and doesn’t let it eat him alive. Instead he does something about it, to make sure no one else if forced to suffer like he did. He may not have the amazing admirable features that he had before, but this makes him more human in my eyes. Sometimes you have to sort through the bad, to find the good and admirable qualities. In this case it’s the fact that Logan has walked down a dark path in his life, done unspeakable things against his free will, and still hasn’t succumb to the ways that Sabretooth and the others chose. Even though Logan and Creed were both put under the same dark path, Logan chose to become something different.

    In my eyes, Daniel Way has helped turn Logan into a three dimensional character. Logan has more of a reason to fight and seek revenge on the villains who transformed him. It makes sense why he suffers from berserker rages and violent outbursts. It wasn’t just a single science project that did this to him, it was centuries of manipulation, torture, and trauma that did this to him. And really why else would Logan be such a epic fighter, if he wasn’t put through tons and tons of insane battles and suicide missions all of his life ?

  2. Have you noticed how Seraph drawn by Dillon in Our War storyline looks really different than the one drawn by Andrews in WO Annual 1

  3. addition to my last comment:both stories even feature the same event with Seraph confronting a guy from the Hand(whose uniform is black in one version and red in the other)

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