Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Most Under Used Character: Wolverine

Most of you probably detected the sarcasm in this blog post title. Wolverine, simply put, is the most exploited character Marvel's got. It wasn't always this way.

Those of you old enough to remember recall a time when Wolverine wasn't associated with every fucking book Marvel published. You remember when he was just a funny-looking, short guy with a bad costume that made no sense. He started out in the Incredible Hulk book, and then continued in the Uncanny X-Men.
He wasn't the star of his own solo series. He did not co-star in every single book on the planet. There was one X title, and he was in it. There were no origin stories.

Simpler times.

There was a mini-series that came out. It was pretty decent and fairly well received. That series, which featured a great scene with a bear, was not the start of the overkill. I think, however, the excellent Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini-series was ground zero for Marvel's merry mutant. It was the moment the light bulb went off and Marvel fully realized what a cash cow it had.

The mini-series was good. It came out of an era when the mini-series meant something. The character of Kitty Pryde changed forever. Wolverine went on to co-star/cameo in any new series, any series that needed a sales boost, and any series with a mutant in it. This, of course, led to his own series which had bad ideas (Madripoor) and brilliant ones (like when he was an enemy of the state). He became a member of the Fantastic Four along with Punisher and Ghost Rider. (Someone should have been shot over that one.) He was the image Marvel used when money was needed and was needed quickly. All of this only served to take a hero who was once mysterious and interesting and make him pedestrian and a bit of a joke.

Wolverine isn't my favorite X-Men. That would be Nightcrawler. I do think, however, that he has plenty of potential in him. I wish the origin would have never had been written, but I can understand the mindset behind it. I know he draws readers in, and I know many of them have been disappointed with the stories. Marvel would do well by relegating him back onto co-star status, though. Make him mysterious again. Make him a character worth reading instead of the joke he has become.

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