Wolverine is going to die.
Or, at least, that’s how it seems if you read Previews (or follow any sort of comic news).
Let it not be said that many comics, both Marvelous and Distinguished, have already tried this formula over and over again (just look at the Grayson title that’s coming out of the still-delayed Forever Evil #7, in which Dick Grayson was purportedly going to die….only to be reborn into a new, super-sexy-spy identity).
But speaking with some industry insiders, predictions say that Wolverine will remain dead for a few years (judging by what happened to Peter Parker, I’d wager four), before returning to comics ala pretty much every X-Man ever. Wolverine’s death makes a lot of sense; the big event will boost sales on his solo series (one of about four “Wolverine” titled books), and offer an end to a title—which features Wolverine infiltrating a villainous operation to get to Sabertooth—that, frankly, isn’t very sustainable.
Beyond that, Wolverine’s death is one that will affect a lot of characters in very compelling ways. Before he lost his healing powers and abandoned the Jean Grey School, Logan was becoming domesticated; running the school and shacking up with Storm. Some, both fans and characters in canon, regarded this iteration of Wolverine as “declawed,” so when Marvel made the move to literally un-empower him—to take away his healing power—it put the character at odds with his more relaxed lifestyle. Without the safety net of regeneration, life as the headmaster of a constantly-threatened-by-cosmic-terrors high school isn’t so easy. Death seems to be a natural next step in his story.
The people most affected by Wolverine’s potentially long-term death are the women of the X-Men. For a character that was introduced as a gruff, macho man, Logan often took young women under his wing, and nurtured them as a surrogate father figure. This started first with Rogue, where he offered to save her life by potentially sacrificing his own (though his offer was because she saved his fiancée Mariko). Then, in 1980, Kitty Pryde was introduced and Wolverine gained a young sidekick who eventually turned into his best friend, which is the current subject matter for Kitty’s coming of age story in the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini. Wolverine endured as an ever-present father figure in Kitty’s life when her real father died in Genosha, which makes recent events in their lives all the more dramatic. The current run of Wolverine features a sub-plot between Wolverine and Kitty dealing with the fallout of their relationship after Battle of the Atom, ultimately resulting in Kitty telling Wolverine she isn’t going to be responsible for his actions again. If this moment is the last time she sees Wolverine alive, it could make for a compelling personal arc.
There are also the younger women Wolverine helped, like Jubilee, Armor, and Idie. With his death, each of them will have new difficulties to deal with in losing the man who has been helping to raise them since they were young. Wolverine, a male power fantasy, is also simultaneously a compassionate, almost “feminine,” character when it comes to helping and protecting young women. There is nothing creepy or sexual about his relationship, he’s simply a man who wants to help these powerful, flawed young girls become women who can take care of themselves. Wolverine’s lack of a romantic relationship with these women is refreshing, and has been since his softer side was introduced 30-some years ago.
That’s not to say that Wolverine hasn’t had romances with X-Women. He and Storm joined the team at the same time, but rarely flirted until recently. Now, with them as a couple (or, at least, they were, before Logan went undercover as a villain), the upcoming Storm series will almost certainly deal with Ororo’s feelings for Logan, and maybe the sense of betrayal she harbors toward him for leaving her high and dry to manage a school entirely by herself. Beyond that, Wolverine has lusted after Mystique, Tyger Tiger, Viper….but it was always Jean Grey he wanted to be with, which begs the question, how will young Jean Grey, a character with whom he has barely interacted–for her sake, it seems–cope with this situation?
Some may regard the choice to kill Wolverine—and keep him dead—as ludicrous. The man known as Logan has been one of Marvel’s seminal money-makers since his debut in 1974; starring in solo titles consistently since the late 1980s, while also being a major part of the X-Men, and in the 2000s, the Avengers as well. I suspect Marvel won’t end all the Wolverine titles, likely at least retaining Savage Wolverine, a title regarded as a playground for creators to put Logan in different settings and eras. Marvel will also keep Wolverine and the X-Men as a title, considering the titular headmaster has barely appeared in the title at all since the reboot. That said, I think Wolverine’s death could be a positive one, in terms of what could come from it. While it may be an overhyped and overdone plot line, I’m interested to see what will happen once Wolverine dies, and I hope they keep him dead long enough to tell satisfying stories.
How do you think Marvel will handle the death of Wolverine?