021: Department H and Weapon X

Version 3.01, last updated on February 9, 2008

Wolverine as Weapon X
Mike Miller and Vince Russell, Wolverine #144.

As the age of superheroes blossoms in the United States, Canada taps James Hudson, as head of Department H, to formulate a plan…

X-Men #120 (Apr 1979) – “Wanted: Wolverine! Dead or Alive!”
Plotter: Chris Claremont and John Byrne; Scripter: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne; Inker: Terry Austin

Logan tells the X-Men of his past when he was a Canadian government agent, “Jimmy Hudson… is head of a project to develop a team of Canadian superheroes. He started by lookin’ for mutants, same as Professor X. He found me. I was his guinea pig… his first big success, his only failure. Hudson gambled on me while all the shrinks said I was uncontrollable, a psycho. In the end, I proved ’em right.”

The Incredible Hulk #181 (Nov 1974) – “And Now …The Wolverine”
Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Herb Trimpe; Inker: Jack Abel
A high-ranking official of the Canadian military comments about the Wolverine that “…The government has spent a great deal of money developing that mutant’s natural-born speed, strength and savagery into skills of a professional warrior and despite a few kinks still remaining in his psychological make-up, I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”

Alpha Flight # 52 (Nov 1987) – “Specters”
Writer: Bill Mantlo; Penciler: June Brigman; Inker: Whilce Portacio
Using an archived “raider disc” that recorded events within Department H, Gary Cody watches an old video of James Hudson and Logan. From the tone of the conversation, it is obvious that Hudson’s attempt to track down other candidates for his Canadian superhero team has failed, and Logan is getting tired of waiting around for progress. Using technology to track down individuals with latent powers, Hudson finally locates a convicted murderer and grants him a pardon in return for experimentation to activate the latent powers.

Wolverine #144 (Nov 1999) – “First Cut”
Writer: Erik Larsen & Eric Stephenson; Penciler: Mike Miller; Inker: Vince Russell
Logan reminisces with Dum Dum Dugan of S.H.I.E.L.D. about the beginning of his career as a superhero, specifically when James Hudson gives him a full-fledged superhero costume as the first Canadian superhero of Department H. Apparently, some senior members of the military had wanted a more patriotic approach: a Maple Leaf wrapped around the uniform, but Hudson is able to gain approval for a yellow and blue Wolverine uniform.

Alpha Flight (Vol. 2) #8 (Mar 1998) – “The Weapon X Files”
Writer: Steve Seagle; Penciler: Scott Clark; Inker: Chris Carlson
Heather has a vague recollection that Logan was code-named “Badger” at one point.

Wolverine (Vol. 2) #50/2 (Mar 2007) – “Puny Little Man”
Writer: Jeph Loeb; Pencils: Ed McGuinness; Inks: Dexter Vines
Wolverine claims, “I practically begged Heather to take those stupid whiskers off the cowl… like wearing a cowl wasn’t embarrassing enough.” He further comments on his name, “The Wolverine. ‘The.’ Just in case you thought there were any more out there like me, I was ‘The’ Wolverine.”

Wolverine #144 (Nov 1999) – “First Cut”
Writer: Erik Larsen & Eric Stephenson; Penciler: Mike Miller; Inker: Vince Russell
To inaugurate the Wolverine as a superhero, Major Chasen, in coordination with Department H, sets up a training mission. To appease the military leadership who are worried about the Wolverine’s psychological makeup and temper, Logan agrees to treat the test run-through as if it is real. Entering the abandoned warehouse filled with “dangerous terrorists,” the Wolverine slowly subdues them one by one, bantering the whole time in a style reminiscent of Spider-Man. Finally, the Wolverine pops his claws for the maximum terror effect, giving a terrorist a close shave with one of his claws. Out on the street, the Department H monitoring team, safely ensconced in a van, tracks the Wolverine’s progress until he suddenly and mysteriously disappears into thin air. Unbeknownst to Department H, the Leader, the arch-nemesis of the Hulk, teleports the Wolverine to his underground base in New Mexico, rendering him unconscious in the process. When the Wolverine awakes, he finds himself manacled to a steel table in the company of two other captives, Hercules (the Greek God turned superhero) and Karkas (a member of the race Deviants that predated mankind on Earth). The Leader then explains his plans to convince the three heroes to assist him in capturing the Hulk so the Leader can permanently turn the creature back into Bruce Banner. Before the Leader can explain further, the Wolverine reveals that he escaped from his manacles and frees both Hercules and Karkas. While Hercules and Karkas battle the Leader’s android army, the Wolverine tracks the retreating Leader. After cutting his way past various traps, the Wolverine finally catches up to the Leader, disabling his flying escape vehicle. In the ensuing battle, both the Leader and his giant defense mechanoid fall into the Gamma-Negating Bath intended for the Hulk, setting off a chain reaction that destroys the entire base. Before long, the Wolverine claws his way through the debris and climbs to the surface, finding both Hercules and Karkas unhurt in the hot New Mexico sun.

There is some evidence that the Wolverine relating these events was a Skrull who had secretly taken Wolverine’s place. If that is the case, it is probable that these events are still accurate because the Skrull would have needed to conduct in-depth research to create such a convincing impersonation.

The Incredible Hulk #180 (Oct 1974) – “And the Wind Howls …Wendigo”
Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Herb Trimpe; Inker: Jack Abel
The Hulk arrives in the Canadian North Woods bringing the notice of the top secret Royal Canadian Air Force Tracking Installation. To prevent any further damage to the province of Quebec, the government mobilizes Weapon X, better known as the Wolverine.

Wolverine #144 (Nov 1999) – “First Cut”
Writer: Erik Larsen & Eric Stephenson; Penciler: Mike Miller; Inker: Vince Russell
As the order to mobilize Weapon X is made, Hudson and the Canadian military argue over his sudden disappearance the night before. Before any decisions can be made, the Wolverine arrives and voices his eagerness to face the Hulk.

Wolverine: First Class #5 (Sep 2008) – “Citadel”
Writer: Fred Van Lente; Artist: Clayton Henry
Wolverine tells Kitty Pryde, “Department H took me in, tamed me, trained me, gave me a purpose: Defendin’ the country from monsters like Wendigo — and the Hulk.”

The Incredible Hulk #180 (Oct 1974) – “And the Wind Howls …Wendigo”
Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Herb Trimpe; Inker: Jack Abel
In the wilds of Canada, Marie Cartier, a modern-day sorceress, and Georges Baptiste lure the Hulk and the mythic Canadian beast Wendigo into a cave in an attempt to transfer the curse of the Wendigo to the Hulk to free Marie’s brother, Paul Cartier, who was transformed into the Wendigo on a hiking trip with Georges Baptiste some months prior. Unfortunately, plans go awry as they often do in these stories, and the two beasts begin to fight.

Wolverine, the Hulk and Wendigo
John Byrne and Terry Austin, The X-Men#139.

X-Men #139 (Nov 1980) – “Something Wicked This Way Comes!”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Plotter/Penciler: John Byrne; Inker: Terry Austin
Wolverine reminisces with James Hudson about his first mission as the Wolverine for Department H, his fight with the Hulk and Wendigo. Specifically, he remembers approaching the Hulk and Wendigo from behind a tree as the two creatures clash.

The Incredible Hulk #180 (Oct 1974) – “And the Wind Howls …Wendigo”
Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Herb Trimpe; Inker: Jack Abel
The Wolverine dramatically bursts onto the scene and confronts both the Hulk and Wendigo.

The Incredible Hulk #181 (Nov 1974) – “And Now …The Wolverine”
Writer: Len Wein; Penciler: Herb Trimpe; Inker: Jack Abel
The Wolverine attacks the Hulk first but soon realizes that he is unable to cut through his tough skin, even with his diamond-sharp adamantium claws. Quickly moving to Wendigo, the Wolverine finds that he can cut and hurt the white-haired beast with ease. Confused by this change in tactics, the Hulk naively decides the Wolverine must be his friend and helps him battle Wendigo. With a two-pronged attack, the Hulk and the Wolverine quickly knock Wendigo unconscious. Half of his mission complete, the Wolverine turns his full fury on the Hulk who becomes outraged at the betrayal of his “friend.” The two begin a long cat and mouse battle but are knocked out by Marie Cartier’s spell of subjugation. When the unconscious Hulk turns back into his human alter ego, Bruce Banner, Georges Baptiste balks at Marie’s plan. He will not be party to transferring the curse of the Wendigo to an intelligent human being. Banner turns back into the Hulk and wakes up, intent to resume his battle with the Wolverine who was chained up while unconscious. The Hulk smashes the Wolverine into the ground, shattering his bonds, and the two continue their epic fight. But Marie’s scream breaks the Wolverine’s concentration, allowing the Hulk to land one monstrous shot, knocking the Wolverine out cold. It seems that Georges completed the transfer of the curse from Marie’s brother Paul to himself out of his unrequited love for Marie.

The Incredible Hulk #182 (Dec 1974) – “Between Hammer and Anvil”
Writer: Len Wein; Artist: Herb Trimpe
The Wolverine tries to resume his battle with the Hulk but is interrupted by a Canadian transport helicopter. The Wolverine’s six hours for defeating the Hulk have elapsed, bringing the fight to a close. The Wolverine reluctantly enters a pod from the helicopter while Canadian troops are dispatched to deal with the Hulk.

Wolverine (Vol. 2) #50/2 (Mar 2007) – “Puny Little Man”
Writer: Jeph Loeb; Pencils: Ed McGuinness; Inks: Dexter Vines
Wolverine dreams in additional detail about his first battle with the Hulk, adding the line, “When was the last time a rabbit took a bite out of you?”

Wolverine: Origins #28 (Nov 2008) – “Original Sin, Prologue”
Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Mike Deodato
With his memory intact, Wolverine reveals more details about his encounter with the Hulk that even he was unaware of. “It was my last mission as an agent of Romulus. Just like usual, it was a double-black op — a secret mission ‘piggybacked’ by an even more secret mission. I had my official orders, issued by the Canadian Military… and then I had my other orders, ultimately issued by Romulus, but delivered to me through a ‘letterbox’ — a pawn. Also just like usual, I was told the bare minimum: someone — ‘X’ — was actively recruiting. Phase one of my mission was to make sure I got recruited. To ensure that happened — an’ this was the part that was completely un-usual — I was sent out into the world to show ‘X’ what I could do.” We also learn that when the Hulk did finally hit Wolverine, it was a shockingly devastating blow.

This is an intriguing layer added to the original Hulk-Wolverine encounter, but it does come with a few problems. The artwork, while stellar, does depict Wolverine wearing a later uniform, a very bizarre continuity gaffe. And aside from ignoring the entire Marie Cartier angle, we also get the sense that Wolverine encounters Professor X almost immediately after this fight, which in reality takes place many months later.

Wolverine (Vol. 2) #59 (Jan 2008) – “Logan Dies (Part 3 of 5)”
Writer: Marc Guggenheim; Artist: Howard Chaykin
Whenever Logan suffers a life-threatening injury, he is forced to confront and defeat Lazaer, the Angel of Death, to preserve his soul. To save himself from Purgatory one final time, Wolverine has to fight all the version of himself who have defeated Lazaer in the past, including the Wolverine who fought the Hulk at this point. This would suggest that the punch he received from the Hulk was a killing blow that he was only barely able to survive.

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 (May 2006)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Artist: Alex Maleev
In a secret meeting with Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner; Charles Xavier; Reed Richards; Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Black Bolt (King of the Inhumans), and the Black Panther, Namor cites a rumor about “a mutant assassin working for Canadian Secret Services.” This would suggest that it was Namor who first brings Logan to Xavier’s attention prior to the recruitment of the new X-Men.

Wolverine: Origins #29 (Dec 2008) – “Original Sin, Prologue”
Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Mike Deodato
Professor Charles Xavier admits to Wolverine, “I was psychically monitoring you during your battle with the Hulk and Wendigo. Do you realize that, even when you were delivering the killing stroke to Wendigo… you never once thought about killing him?”

X-Men #139 (Nov 1980) – “Something Wicked This Way Comes!”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Plotter – Penciler: John Byrne; Inker: Terry Austin
Wolverine reminisces with James Hudson about his first mission as the Wolverine for Department H —  his fight with the Hulk and Wendigo — classifying it as his only failure.

X-Men #140 (Dec 1980) – “Rage!”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Plotter – Penciler: John Byrne; Inker: Terry Austin
Wolverine tells James Hudson that he researched Wendigo after his mission.

Wolverine #9 (Jul 1989) – “Promises to Keep”
Writer: Peter David; Artist: Gene Colan
Logan vividly remembers when, five years after the commando raid at the American Embassy in Baghdad, he tracks down the mercenaries responsible not only for the death of the Canadian nun, but also for the destruction of her faith. Slowly over the course of several days and hundreds of miles, Wolverine kills ten of the mercenaries, one by one. Finally, he confronts the leader, Malone, in the woods to explain the reason for his anger, but Malone kills himself to cheat the Wolverine of his revenge.

Uncanny X-Men #261 (May 1990) – “Harriers Hunt”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciler: March Silvestri; Inker: Dan Green
Sgt-Major Harry ‘Hardcase’ Malone (retired), a different Malone than the previous entry, tells Wolverine it’s been an age since they’ve seen each other. Considering Hardcase calls him Wolverine, one can assume they knew each other and possibly worked together while Harry was a Royal Marine Commando, probably during this time period.

Wolverine #139 (Jun 1999) – “The Freaks Come Out at Night”
Writer: Erik Larsen; Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu; Inker: Dexter Vines
Based on the conversation between Logan and Harry ‘Hardcase’ Malone, it seems that Logan knew him as Sgt.-Major and as a mercenary. It is possible that Logan, as the Wolverine, knew Harry during the transition.

Wolverine/Cable #1 (Oct 1999) – “Guts and Glory”
Writer: Joe Casey; Penciler: Stephen Platt; Inker: Batt, Lary Stucker, Bob Wiacek, Mark Pennington, Johnny Greene, Scott Koblish, Rod Ramos
In the wilds of Northern Canada, Logan relaxes in a log cabin when his solitude is interrupted by a priority transmission from James Hudson concerning a disturbance in Moose Jaw, Canada. Before long, the Wolverine, still in his original uniform, reaches Moose Jaw by military helicopter and confronts a hulking futuristic warrior, quickly subduing the brute by flipping him onto a set of electrical wires. Later at Department H labs, technicians discover the warrior is a technological marvel with advanced weaponry. Within a week, the warrior is retrofitted by Department H in hopes of transforming him into a Canadian superhero. During the night, the warrior awakes and with the aid of VTOL rockets attached by Department H, escapes into American airspace. The Wolverine pursues in a military helicopter to New York City, where the futuristic warrior is attacking a white-haired cyborg named Nathan Dayspring (later known as Cable). The Wolverine takes a blast to midsection in the battle, but his healing factor kicks in, allowing him to ambush the warrior from behind and decapitate him with the help of Dayspring. As the authorities clean up, Dayspring and the Wolverine snipe at each other, promising to finish things when next they meet.

Wolverine as Weapon X
Stephen Platt, Batt, Lary Stucker, Bob Wiacek, Mark Pennington, Johnny Greene,
Scott Koblish and Rod Ramos, Wolverine/Cable #1.

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Facebook comments:

  1. Nice update. Gotta love the whiskers on his mask.

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  3. […] probably do a step by step of this soon. It’ll be in old school Wolverine Weapon X colors just for […]

  4. […] casually mentioned Department H. Why was this a bad idea? Department H was the organization behind Wolverine receiving the Adamantium treatment. Wolverine is a Fox character, despite him actually having […]

  5. […] casually mentioned Department H. Why was this a bad idea? Department H was the organization behind Wolverine receiving the Adamantium treatment. Wolverine is a Fox character, despite him actually having […]

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