Version 4.00, last updated on March 13, 2011
With the publication of Wolverine: The Origin, Wolverine’s childhood as James Howlett became well known and established fact, but prior to 2001 very few details concerning Logan’s childhood and youth had been revealed. It was known, however, that several layers of Wolverine’s memories had been implanted, altered and erased through the work of countless nefarious organizations. As a defense against a lack of any actual childhood memories, Logan’s mind conceivably could have created a superficial childhood to fill the void — that is until he finally regained all of his true memories during House of M in 2006.
Jim Lee, Wolverine #25
That said, the first references to his early life are not actually about Logan’s childhood, but his lineage…
Iron Fist #15 (Sep 1977) – “Enter, the X-Men”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciler: John Byrne; Inker: Dan Green
Iron Fist observes that Wolverine’s sheer ferocity is reminiscent of Sabretooth and wonders if there is a connection.
Apparently, for a while, there was. According to John Byrne, there were plans to reveal Wolverine’s father as a character already appearing in the Marvel Universe. Chris Claremont confirms that character was supposed to be Sabretooth.
Wolverine (Limited Series) #1 (Sep 1982) – “I’m Wolverine”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Penciler: Frank Miller; Inker: Josef Rubenstein
Logan notes that he knows his father and that’s as far back as he can trace his lineage.
This would suggest that, for a time, Wolverine considered Sabretooth to be his father within continuity. Until at least, Marvel changed its mind about Wolverine’s past. Even more intriguing was a three-page Wolverine hallucination courtesy of famed science fiction author Harlan Ellison and Frank Miller written for a special issue benefitting “famine relief and recovery in Africa”…
Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men #1 (1985)
Writer: Harlan Ellison; Penciler: Frank Miller; Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Wolverine has a vague memory of a time before he could heal himself, when he was “…merely human.”
One thing that wouldn’t change about Wolverine’s past is the country of his birth…
Best of Marvel Comics (1987) – “The Hunter”
Writer: Chris Claremont; Artist: Marshall Rogers
Though Wolverine’s Canadian heritage was apparent from his first appearance, this story represents the first time that Wolverine explicitly states that he is “…Canadian by birth.”
Several more obscure references only served to deepen the mystery of his youth…
Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1 (1988) – “Mexican Standoff”
Writers: Walter Simonson and Louise Simonson; Artist: Jon J. Muth and Kent Williams
In conversation with Alex Summers, Logan admits that he doesn’t know who his mother was.
Marvel Comics Presents # 40 (Mid-Dec 1989)
“Black Shadow, White Shadow: Hong Kong Inferno”
Writer: Marv Wolfman; Artist: John Buscema
Logan notes, enigmatically, that he threw away a chance to go home years ago.
Finally in 1990 and 1991, details of Logan’s childhood began to surface…
Marvel Comics Presents #44 (1990)
“Black Shadow White Shadow Chapter VII : Blood Craze”
Writer: Marv Wolfman; Artist: John Buscema
Wolverine acknowledges that he got in trouble in first grade for not listening to instructions, the teacher apparently not being especially forgiving in his punishment.
Wolverine #25 (Jun 1990) – “Heir Aid”
Writer: Jo Duffy; Artist: John Buscema
In Madripoor, Logan tells a story to a scared child to calm his nerves. The story is clearly from Logan’s childhood and chronicles the life of a young boy in the frontiers of lush Canada “…cast out by his people because he was small and weak. And so their leader, his father, decided that the boy was a coward and useless and the boy believed his people were right about him.” When the child asks for the boy’s name, Logan ignores him but reveals in his inner monologue that he could have called him Logan. The boy wanders the snow-covered mountains of Canada meeting up with a pack of vicious wolverines. Strangely, the normally solitary wolverines ‘adopt’ the child and, after many years, the child learns happiness. He notices that he is resistant to weather and that his body has a miraculous healing ability. He also has senses as keen as the wolverines’ and hones them by hunting with his adopted family. One day, the child is captured by hunters and caged for transport to a freak show. The wolverines attack the hunters and help to free the boy. Between the wild child and the wolverines, the hunters do not stand a chance. The tale ends with the child and animals feasting on the carrion with the knowledge that the child was not, nor has ever been a coward.
John Buscema, Wolverine #25
Wolverine: Bloody Choices (Jun 1991)
Writer: Tom DeFalco; Artist: John Buscema
After rescuing a young street kid in Hawaii, Wolverine flashes back to his own childhood remembering when he was “…a wild boy who grew up untamed and fearless, relying on his own feral instincts simply because his mutant body contained a healing factor which could cure any injury.”
Marvel Comics Presents #72 (1991) – “Weapon-X: Prologue”
Writer/Artist: Barry Windsor-Smith
In a story that takes place before he became Wolverine, Logan bitterly claims not to know “…who Ma was.” As this moment of reflection takes place just prior to the bonding of adamantium to his skeleton, it is interesting to note that Logan refers to his mother in the past tense before the extensive memory alterations of Experiment X.
By now Larry Hama was firmly in place as writer of the Wolverine series, and he took that opportunity to add a new twist to Logan’s paternal heritage…
Wolverine #41 (Early Jul 1991) – “Down in the Bottoms”
Writer: Larry Hama; Pencils: Marc Silvestri; Inks: Dan Green
While tracking each other in the New York City sewers, Logan and Sabretooth both experience a memory that Sabretooth is Logan’s father.
Wolverine #42 (Late Jul 1991) – “Papa Was a Rolling Stone!”
Writer: Larry Hama; Breakdowns: Marc Silvestri; Finishes: Dan Green
Later, a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist performs blood analysis to prove that Sabretooth is not Logan’s biological father, proving the previous memory to be an implant.
Wolverine #49 (Dec 1991) – “Dreams of Gore: Phase 2”
Writer: Larry Hama; Penciler: Marc Silvestri; Inker: Dan Green & Barta
When Professor Xavier and Jean Grey mind-probe Logan’s memories to assist him in remembering his past, Logan remembers carving his name into a tree with his father’s knife. The memory suggests that Logan views the knife as a sort of family heirloom. Who he believes his father to be is never revealed.
Long-time readers of this chronology will note that references to the non-canonical prose novel Wolverine: Weapon X by Marc Cerasini that allegedly relied upon a ‘Wolverine Bible’ provided by Marvel are no longer listed. In hindsight, I find the revelations in the book to be at odds with all versions of Wolverine’s origins, so I have removed those entries from this latest version of the Wolverine Files chronology.
To that point, most of this chapter has been revealed to have been based on false memories, for in 2001, then Marvel Comics Publisher Bill Jemas announced that Wolverine’s true history would finally be revealed in a limited series aptly titled, Wolverine: The Origin…