Wolverine: A Visual History of the Most Dangerous Mutant


Even Wolverine goes through changes throughout the years. So I scoured the internet to find all of his most classic and some of his rarest costumes that he’s worn throughout the years.

Let’s take a look.


The original debuted in Incredible Hulk #180, only on the last page. This was our first glimpse at what would become the most popular mutant in the comics world. A little different from his most famous costume, you can notice the whiskers in the face as a little odd compared to what you are used to.


Now there we are. This is the classic Wolverine we all know and love. This adjustment to his debut costume came in Giant Size X-Men #1 which saw a change in the X-Men franchise that revitalized the brand and saved it from cancellation and its previous years of reprints.

This costume is so well loved that after it had disappeared for a time, Jim Lee brought it back when he launched X-Men Vol. 2 in the 90’s. Ironically, he allegedly told John Byrne that he gave Wolverine his “real costume back” when it was actually Bynre’s idea to give Wolverine the other famous look, which we will discuss shortly.


This rarity is only seen in Uncanny X-men #108. After having his costume obliterated, Wolverine decides to take this costume from his enemy and wear it, because he wasn’t bad ass enough already.


This is the other most famous costume of Wolverine and has actually been used in more appearances of the character than any other costume. Typically if a fan is thinking of Wolverine, he is wearing this, or the “real costume” Jim Lee gave back to him.


In Days of Future Past, the comic, we got to see a Wolverine that has started to age and is showing it with the two grey spots in his hair, a visual acuity kept in the film as Hugh Jackman can be seen wearing the two grey spots as well. Wolverine may be extremely old, but he does age, just much slower than you or I.


While on secret missions of a personal nature in Japan as seen in Frank Miller and Chris Claremont’s Wolverine 4 part mini series, Wolverine occasionally wore something a little stealthier than his normal attire.


Similar to the costume above, whenever Wolverine needs to shrink into the underbelly of the Japanese underworld, he in known to use Patch as an alias.


Our first look at the great mystery that was the life of Wolverine before the X-Men came in the series Marvel Comic’s Presents. Here we got a look at Weapon X and the process that helped turned James Howlett into the weapon we know today.


In 1991, for some reason they decided that the team that best represented diversity should be forced into a team-wide uniform, and Wolverine fell into the fold as did the rest of the team. This only lasted for a short time but other characters, most notably Forge, would hold onto it for years. Whereas Jim Lee would then return Wolverine to his “real costume.”


It was still quite sometime before we got the full story of Wolverine’s past, but in the early 90’s we got a glimpse of a time when Wolverine and Sabertooth were on the same team, Team X that is. This was also when we started to learn that everything Wolverine knew about his past, wasn’t exactly what it appeared to be, as he had been subjected to false memory implants.

The 90’s were not the kindest time to the X-Men, or to comics in general, but one story of the mutants stood out more than any other in this period, the Age of Apocalypse. This featured a world where Professor Xavier was killed in his early years and Magneto took his stead as the leader of the Mutants against the tyranny of the dictator Apocalypse. In this reality, Jean Grey was Wolverine’s lover and she came with a price. Wolverine lost his left hand from a blast of Cyclops optic lasers. Ever those two would do battle for that woman, either in this world or the next.


For a time Wolverine went without the famous adamantium covering his bones after he had it ripped from him by Magneto during Fatal Attractions. His body did not respond very well. His body’s healing factor was used to fighting against the very metal in his body, and without its presence, it kicked into high gear and he reverted into a savage like state in the process. This didn’t go over well with fans critics or just about anyone. They quickly moved on and never mentioned it again.


 Years later, Apocalypse forced Wolverine and Sabertooth to fight each other with the winner becoming the new horseman Death, and receiving the adamantium skeleton as a bonus. Wolverine agreed and won, simply for the fact of preventing Sabertooth becoming that much more powerful and unstoppable if he were to gain the metal advantage. So he became Death!


Grant Morrison was brought on in 2001 to revamp the X-Men franchise. In the process, Frank Quitely gave the X-Men a bold new appearance. Wolverine began to look more like his movie counterpart when he ditched the yellow spandex for a leather jacket.


When Marvel took on a whole separate universe to create new reader friendly stories free from previous continuity, the Ultimate Wolverine was born. This Wolverine was a little taller and his hair a little longer than the Wolverine of old. Basically he was more Hugh Jackman.


For a time, Marvel attempted to keep the various versions of Wolverine as similar as possible. The black leather with gold outlines became the standard and he could be seen wearing it in both comics universes, X-Men:Evolution TV show, and in the X-Men films.


Also during this era, Marvel decided that Cable’s history wasn’t convoluted enough. So they changed the Ultimate version of Cable to that of a future Wolverine without a healing factor who had traveled through time. Yeah … that happened.


First off, if you haven’t read Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon, then stop everything you are doing now and go read it! Now! All 25 issues! It’s the greatest X-Men story ever! In it, Cyclops decides they have had enough black leather for one lifetime and return to more standard superhero gear to remind the people of the world that that is what they are, superheroes. It’s a welcome change and a return to form for Wolverine as he adopts something very similar to something we love, but still keeps it fresh.


Old Man Logan featured an alternate future Wolverine beaten by time. His healing factor not what it once was, he had finally started to succumb to age. This story is very similar to Unforgiven, in that it features a Wolverine sworn to kill no more and only wants to provide for his family. Of course nothing goes according to plan.


One day, Cyclops decided that he needed a secret team of mutants that can perform black ops missions for the sake of mutantkind that no one can know about. He hires the best person for the job, cause he’s the best at what he does. For these stealth missions, Wolverine adopts a black and grey version of his classic brown outfit. It’s darker. It’s scarier, but it still feels like classic Wolverine.


If you remember the part earlier about the Age of Apocalypse, we discussed a world in which Apocalypse took over and the mutants fought to save the day. Well almost 15 years later, Marvel returned to that world in the Age of Archangel, also a good story you have to read. In it we find out than in the place of Apocalypse, Weapon X/Wolverine has become Apocalypse in his stead and is the new terror in town. I just spoiled it for you, but it’s not even the best part of the story. So again go read it!


This was to be one of the last costumes of Wolverine. Towards the end of his tenure, he lost his healing factor when it was overcome by a virus. Wolverine adopts an armored costume with retractable claws to help make up the difference without having to cut himself on the daily like he used to.  It would be our last uniform of the Wolverine that we knew.


But everyone knows nothing is ever the end in comics. Wolverine would return, just a little different than we expected.


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