Nearly 40 years after he debuted in a 1974 issue of The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Comics confirmed that they are killing off the popular Wolverine character in a special four-part comic debuting this September entitled Death of Wolverine, which is written by Charles Soule and drawn by Steve McNiven. While it isn't ultimately clear how this will affect the X-Men cinematic franchise, which continues next month with X-Men: Days of Future Past, you can take a look at the cover art for the first issue and the first page from this comic below, then read on for more details.
Marvel has been teasing the death with an upcoming story arc debuting this summer entitled 3 Months to Live, where Logan is stripped of his healing powers that have kept him alive for decades upon decades. The character even survived a run entitled Old Man Logan, written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Steve McNiven, which was set in the future. This arc will culminate with Death of Wolverine #1, debuting on September 3, with subsequent issues debuting each week after, leading to Death of Wolverine #4 on September 24.
Marvel executive editor Michael Marts, who is overseeing the project, revealed that the idea to kill Wolverine came from Marvel's semi-annual retreat, where writers and editors meet to discuss major projects.
"For a long time, no matter who Wolverine was battling, he's been the eternal victor. He almost always comes out on top. Now he finally comes up against an adversary that he cannot win against, he cannot fight. What does that mean for this character who's been around for hundred years?"
Charles Soule, a relative newcomer in the Marvel world who recently worked on Thunderbolts and Inhuman, had this to say about the character.
"He's reflecting on his own life as he's reflecting on his own death. We wanted to have the reader do that at the same time. In each issue, we're focusing on a different aspect, or a different quintessential Wolverine."
The first issue cover is an homage to the character's first appearance in 1974, with the remaining covers to also feature nods to Wolverine's iconic past. To prepare for this project, Soule read classic Logan stories such as Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's mini-series set in Japan, Barry Windsor-Smith's Weapon X and Mark Millar's Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan.
Charles Soule teased that Logan is told not to get into any fights, after losing his healing abilities.
"He's basically been told, by his various genius buddies, to not get into any fights, because he can't survive them. Wolverine being Wolverine, violence tends to find him."
Of course, while several comic book characters have died before coming back to life, Michael Marts revealed that Marvel approached Death of Wolverine, "from a standpoint of finality, of closure," which will impact other Marvel comics.
"You're gonna be entering into a world without Wolverine. That affects not only his teammates, but also the Marvel Universe at large. We've got a lot of things in the works already."
Charles Soule will reveal more details at Marvel's "Wolverine: 3 Months to Die" panel at C2E2 in Chicago, which takes place Sunday, April 27 at 1:15 CT. When asked about how he hopes fans will react to the death, the writer had this to say.
"I hope that when people finish it, they'll feel like he died in a way that was true to him."
As for Marvel's cinematic X-Men franchise, Hugh Jackman has been confirmed to return for Wolverine 3, but his future beyond that is still in question, especially after he commented in March that his character will eventually be re-cast at some point. Wolverine 3 could possibly use the Death of Wolverine story arc, sending Hugh Jackman off into the sunset. This would also give Marvel and Fox a chance to properly reboot the character, focusing on stories never-before told on the big screen.
In related news, Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige recently addressed the topic of death in Marvel movies during a recent chat with Empire Magazine. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury is believed to be dead, before being revived, although the producer revealed that they never had any real discussions about killing him off.
"We never actually discussed doing it, no. Maybe as part of a very early general conversation. But it didn't go particularly far before the idea that ended up in the film came up."
Of course, in the comics, characters die and come back to life all the time, which we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) comes back to life as The Winter Soldier. When asked about the studio's approach to deaths, he revealed that they take their cues from the comics, while confirming that Thor: The Dark World's Frigga (Rene Russo) is not coming back.
"You never know. Again, we take our cues from the comics and everyone knows that in comics and soap operas, people die and come back. Except for Uncle Ben and Bucky, but oh! Bucky's going to come back and it's going to be awesome. When appropriate to the story, we certainly will not hesitate. Frigga is dead. She's not coming back. Big funeral."
Captain America: The Winter Soldier also posed a number of questions about what will happen next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is no more. When asked how this will affect the upcoming sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is currently in production, Kevin Feige had this to say.
"The dynamic certainly has changed. For us that was one of the benefits of doing this storyline - that it will force them to use something different in their next team-up than S.H.I.E.L.D., which basically provided the groundwork and the basis by which they assembled the first time."