‘The Wolverine': Required Reading

by Brett White

Now that the first two trailers for “The Wolverine” have been released, we all have a better idea about just what specific type of trouble Logan will be getting up to during his stay in Japan. The film’s plot seems to center around Wolverine’s desire to give up on life after the loss of Jean Grey, a desire that leads him straight into the clutches of Shingen Yashida, Viper and the Silver Samurai. These characters have become mainstays of Wolverine’s solo exploits in the Marvel Comics, and the glimpses we got of each character makes me think the film will adhere close to their comic book counterparts. With that in mind, Splash Page has compiled a list of the comic book story lines that seem to provide inspiration for this summer’s film.

“Uncanny X-Men” #118-119 (1979)
Wolverine’s ties to Japan originated in this two-part story, by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, that finds the X-Men in the midst of an epic journey from Antarctica back to New York City. Wolverine first meets Mariko Yashida, falling in love with her almost immediately. Storm even notes how much calmer he’s become since meeting her. All the love stuff is interrupted by an earthquake caused by the super villain Moses Magnum, who wants to sink Japan unless he’s named absolute ruler of the country. The battle is well fought and leaves the X-Men with one fewer member.

“Wolverine” #1-4 (1982), “Uncanny X-Men” #172-173 (1983)
This is the story line that’s a must read for anyone wishing to prepare for “The Wolverine.” The first mini-series marked Wolverine’s debut as a solo hero, introducing the character to his ally Yukio and nemesis Shingen Yashida. Wolverine’s affection for Mariko grows during this story, culminating in the couple’s wedding… that is, after Viper poisons all the X-Men, leaving only Wolverine and Rogue coherent enough to save them from the Silver Samurai. Not only is this a bona fide comic book classic by Chris Claremont, Frank Miller and Paul Smith, it contains the best story featuring pretty much every character in “The Wolverine.”

“Blood Debt,” “Wolverine” vol. 2 #150-153 (2000)
Artist Steve Skroce tried his hand at writing and came up with a brawl-filled romp through the Japanese underworld. Yukio and the Silver Samurai return, as does Wolverine’s foster daughter Amiko. Skroce’s artwork is the real selling point here, as his hyper dense detail and stylized figures make the action scenes incredibly visceral.

“Old Man Logan,” “Wolverine” vol. 3 #66-72, “Old Man Logan” #1 (2008)
Mark Millar and Steve McNiven put Logan through the wringer in this story. Set in the far future after every one of Wolverine’s allies have been brutally killed, old man Logan isn’t too keen on being a superhero. In fact, it’s been years since he even popped his claws; he’s now settled down in an attempt to forget his past. If this sounds similar, it’s because that’s pretty much Wolverine’s attitude in the trailers.

“Back In Japan,” “Wolverine” #300-303 (2012)
Over the past decade, one writer has become permanently associated with Wolverine: Jason Aaron. This, Aaron’s final storyline with the character after a lengthy run, brings Wolverine back to the setting and characters made popular. Yukio’s back, as is the son of the Silver Samurai, along with a who’s who of people Wolverine would rather never see again (Mystique, Sabretooth). The stakes are suitably high and the story acts as a perfect conclusion to Wolverine’s adventures in Japan.

Are there any Wolverine story lines we missed? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!