Best Wolverine Trades of All Time?

Dear DiG,

Somewhat in my dotage and evidently having lived under a rock all these years, I have discovered the tremendously intriguing character of Logan/Wolverine. In search of more information about this character and his various depictions and stories over roughly a 35-year period, I came upon your incredibly detailed, literate (not all Wolverine-related sites out in the www are, I’m sure you know) informed as well as informative, website. It would be very difficult to find anyone more knowledgeable on Wolverine than you, and I am in awe of the amount of work and depth of detail you have poured into creating and maintaining this important reference.

With that said, I throw my dilemma like a gauntlet at your feet and ask your advice. As I mentioned, I have discovered this terrific character far too late to ever hope to read even a fraction of his stories… even if I could, I’d never be able to locate them all, nor could I afford the expense of trying to collect them. A search through Amazon.com reveals a confusing array of Wolverine compilations, some with good reviews, some not so good, but what to trust? What to ignore, and what truly is Wolverine ‘gold’? I have so far only purchased two compilations – the jaw-droppingly riveting Barry Windsor Smith Weapon X, both story and artwork just amazing; and Greg Rucka’s The Brotherhood, although I liked the story (not great, but OK), the cartoony artwork makes Logan look like a Neanderthal – didn’t care for the artwork, and wasn’t interested in the follow-ups Coyote Crossing or Return of the Native. This may sound a bit strange considering, Wolverine IS a comic book superhero, after all, but I really prefer the man to the spandex. I’m not crazy about the weird-colored tights, but prefer him in ‘civvies.’

In your well-considered opinion, what would be, say, your top five or six Wolverine compilations combining the best story arcs and the best artwork? I sincerely look forward to hearing your recommendations.

BTW, my husband has been a big fan of Warren Zevon for years, and I have forwarded your site to him (see http://www.typingmonkeys.com/zevon_cd.html). Zevon’s lyrics are absolute poetry, and what an incredible musician he was!

Thank you for the labor of love that is your website!

Sincerely, Pamela D. Arceneaux

Wow.

Well, thank you very much for you kind and considered words. This site is most definitely a labor of love (and many times a labor of frustration). But it is always encouraging to hear from folks who have visited. And I have a hunch that I share your ‘dotage.’

You bring up a terrific question and let me see if I can help. At first blush, I would recommend the following stories (in order):

-Essential X-Men #1 (amazon.com): Black and white compilation covers Wolverine joining the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1 through the ‘golden years’ of Chris Claremont and John Byrne and X-Men #119. Wolverine is a terrific supporting character throughout and it is during this run that he become my favorite character.

-Essential X-Men #2 (amazon.com): Continues the ‘golden age’ of Chris Claremont and John Byrne from X-Men #120 through Uncanny X-Men #144. Some of the best X-Men/Wolverine tales ever told.

-Essential X-Men #3 (amazon.com): Uncanny X-Men #145-161 and several annuals. Not quite the ‘golden age’ anymore, but critical stories to the development of Wolverine’s character.

-Essential X-Men #4 (amazon.com): Uncanny X-Men #162-179, several more annuals and God Loves, Man Kills, the brilliant graphic novel by Chris Claremont. Wolverine leaves the X-Men in issue 168 for perhaps the best Wolverine story to date (see next item) and returns in #172. Really the last essential Essential.

-Wolverine (amazon.com): This miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller (and believe me Frank Miller does more than just draw) is what keeps me reading Wolverine to this day. Not to be missed.

-Weapon X (amazon.com): Barry Windsor-Smith stunned the comic book work with this mind-blowing saga of Wolverine’s early days.

-The Best of Wolverine, Vol. 1 (amazon.com): This collection includes the Claremont-Miller miniseries and Weapon X saga from above and a few other strong appearances. A great collection and a good value.

Now I may be ruffling some feathers, but I simply cannot recommend any of the other X-Men or Wolverine collections (at least of the ones that immediately come to mind). To be blunt, they are caricatures of Wolverine with the occasional strong issue, but nothing of sustaining significance. The much ballyhooed Wolverine: Origin is overly dramatic tripe, and the current runs of Wolverine and Wolverine: Origins are deeply cynical, broad caricatures or all-too-infrequent one-hit wonders.

That said, I would strongly recommend one series that wraps up quite soon…

-Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 1 – 4 (amazon.com vol. 1 | vol. 2 | vol. 3 | vol. 4 ): Joss Whedon and John Cassaday capture Wolverine at his best. This may be the best Wolverine written, period.

OK, I’ve had my say.

Anyone else out there want to recommend the very best Wolverine collections of all time?

Facebook comments:

  1. Dear DiG,

    I can only agree with Pamela about your site as the best Wolverine source on the Web. Even if I not always agree with your opinion, I like your reviews (and check the RSS twice a day).

    To the best Wolverine I would add “Enemy of the State” and “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Probably not a Wolverine for purists, but it made me think a lot about violence and our personal stand about it, as the body count went so high. Wolverine as archetype has a lot to offer in terms of relation between civilization and savage nature, pain and suffering, revenge, and atonement. I think this is much more interesting then just slicing and clawing.

    Another nice issue was “So. This Priest Walks Into a Bar” (Wolverine #6) who is strange because there is no fight in it.

    And of course there are a lot of other possibilities to read X-Men and Wolverine: through your local library (maybe they start a comic collection, if you demand it periodically through interlibrary loan), the digital issues at Marvel.com and the not so legal torrent downloads.

    Regards
    patora

  2. May I also recommed, Essential Wolverine Vol3 and X men Mutant Genesis, but that’s mainly because I have a huge interest in the Team X history. Essential Wolverine Vol 3, also connects nicely with Weapon X, as we learn about the memory implants there.
    Again agree with questioner. You do seem to know more about Wolverine than anyone else.

  3. Dear DiG,

    While I agree Essential X-Men 1-4 is pure gold , they aren’t without their imperfections either. Essential X-Men has a “Wolverine who hadn’t been molded” yet. No one knew what his past was going to be , and some of his intended back ground was laughable. I remember one scene where a leprechaun insinuated that Wolverine was half human and half Wolverine. Thankfully this leprechaun nonsense was never mentioned again , but my point is each series has it’s good and bad parts. (I even remember they weren’t sure if Logans claws were part of the costume , since a typical villain mocked Wolverine for his claws not being real.) The part that I find the most amusing was how the team often rejected Wolverine as “one of them” , and for the most part they were justified. Logan was a character who originally received a lot of therapy for his murderous rage, and on one or more occasion he acted like a lunatic. It wasn’t until later that other sides of Wolverine were shown, and he became the character we all love today.

    If you are looking to start from scratch Pamela , I highly recommend both Ultimate X-Men collections. (Ultimate X-Men : Ultimate Collection Book One and Book Two.) Sure Wolverine has that annoying super healing factor , but the stories are really good. Keep in mind this takes place in alternate universe then the Essential X-Men storyline. But in my opinion this is a nice twist on a old classic . And you’ll be free of the burden of the other story lines that are already established in the original comic. Plus their are some fresh perspectives on Wolverine and he dates Storm in one of the story arcs. If you have the extra cash , I would check them out. A lot of people bash on Mark Millar for returning Wolverine to his assassin roots . But Logan is all about “redemption” and I really like that about him. Heres a link to those TPBs <—-

    The other one I can recommend if “Marvel Omnibus : New X-Men”. This one is done by Grant Morrison and it’s one of the better X-Men stories out their. The price tag is a little high , but if you have a Wolverine obsession like me , then you won’t regret spending your hard earned cash on this. This collection is filled with heart break , action , and comedy . Plus this is the story that introduced Scott and Emma’s relationship. In my opinion that last few issues has one of the best Wolverine moments ever. Here is a link to this huge collection <—–

    I would stay away from the Wolverine Essential trade paper backs. A writer named Larry Hama worked on those. Digg agrees with me , when I say he introduced a lot of dumb things into the Wolverine canon. If you are looking to get a monthly series I would suggest either “X-Force “ or “Wolverine :First Class”. Both of these series are really good , and worth the monthly trip to the comic book store.

  4. that’s fine providing you live near a comic book stall!!
    I’ll agree the Essential Wolverine are very disappointing, but most of the Stories about Wolverine past haven’t been printed anywhere else, so it can be very difficult for Non-US readers to get hold of.
    That aside, while a lot of Larry Hama’s stuff is dumb, some of the story lines are interesting, e.g. Elipson Red, and they also give us a more accurate picture of Past Wolverine than Wolverine Origins seem to be doing!

  5. Well I really do agree with you. Growing up all I had was Larry Hama’s work on Wolverine too. I didn’t even know who Chris Claremont or Frank Miller was. I’m an anti elitist when it comes to Wolverine , so I have a pretty open mind when it comes to newer Wolvie titles. Larry Hama did introduce Wolvie’s super healing factor and bone claws. Both are really interesting and added some extra dimensions to Wolverine’s character. I just didn’t like it when he became the ugly “beast” wolverine for a little while. (He had sharp toe nails and finger nails.) O_O . Thankfully that new look didn’t last forever , because I was really scared !!

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