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Comics 411: Wolverine’s Deadliest Foes

September 16, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Wolverine - Len Wein

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last week we discussed Essential Black Panther Stories Here’s what some of you had to say:

El Atomico: “I always thought Black Panther was cool, but when I was reading comics they barely used him”

RAWmachine: “There won’t be any real memorable stories with Black Panther because there wasn’t any real focus on him. Obviously, MCU version had more of a focal point and the possibility of BP being the war of Wakanda and Atlantis wouldve brought Black Panther and Namor to another level.”

Iain: “I will fully endorse the Vol.3 series by Priest. It was amazing. When the movie came out, I went back and reviewed – i forgot how much was taken from that series for the movie.

Benjamin Kellog: “I picked up a “Black Panther Adventures” digest-sized TPB around the time the movie came out which contained Fantastic Four #52 and some kid-friendly “Marvel Adventures” issues in which Black Panther guest-starred. Boy, did that FF issue age poorly compared to the far later fare! My recommendation from this collection is Marvel Adventures Avengers #22, “Wakanda Wild Side!” Punny title aside, the plot is fairly similar to FF #52, just swap the Avengers for the FF as the hapless heroes discovering T’challa’s home turf and getting their tights handed to them as a result of BP’s jungle-hewn instincts and advanced vibranium tech. I like how BP has an effective answer for each Avenger’s combat style (Hawkeye getting ticked off is a hoot!), yet still is a great host to them afterward. There’s also some cool bits with the Dora Millaj and everyone teams up at the end to defeat Klaw (you weren’t kidding about BP’s villain list being astonishingly small; he pops up a lot in this collection). Anyone checked out IDW’s “Marvel Action: Black Panther” yet?”

Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss…

Wolverine’s Deadliest Foes

For you number loyalists out there, Marvel’s ongoing ‘Dawn of X’ era Wolverine title will turn back the clock to its classic legacy numbering in December to celebrate the milestone Wolverine #350. The creative team of writer Ben Percy and artists Adam Kubert and Viktor Bogdanovic will present an over-sized issue for Wolverine #350, the eighth issue of the current volume, that will shine the light on some of the more mysterious aspects of the Weapon X program.

“When a secret enemy starts making moves against Wolverine’s old crew, Team X, Logan has to go on the hunt before more bodies pile up. As the mystery deepens, he’ll pick up the scent of his old compatriot, the mutant known as Maverick,” according to Marvel’s official description.

“What follows will be a dangerous adventure that will introduce new enemies, redefine old allies, and give Wolverine plenty of opportunities to do what he does best,” it continues. “This special extra-sized issue will be both a celebration of Logan’s history and a perfect jumping-on point for new readers!”

So why not talk about…Wolverine’s Deadliest Foes?

To be honest, there’s no real surprises in a list like this. We all know it’s going to have names like Viper, Lady Deathstrike, and Sabretooth on it, but it’s still fun to converse about.

Let’s start with the Hulk. The Hulk v Wolverine rivalry has been one of my favorites since Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk. The two square off after Wolverine is contracted by Nick Fury to assassinate the Hulk. Suffice to say, things don’t go as planned but we get treated to the Hulk ripping Wolverine in half. These two clashing is also big because Wolvie made his first serious appearance in 1974 in the pages of Incredible Hulk #181. While these two have worked together, it’s when they clash that things get interesting and way out-of-hand. While he doesn’t make my list, Wendigo gets a mention here as he played into Wolverine’s first appearance. I always thought he has potential as an interesting Wolverine foe. They’ve faced off in the past but the fights haven’t been anything memorable.

Cyber might be a name you don’t normally think of when you talk about Wolverine’s foes but he’s another one who has made an impression but I still feel has the potential to be more. Covered in unbreakable adamantium, Cyber has a backstory that extends longer than Wolverine’s, depending on the writer. They first crossed paths when Cyber/Silas Burr was Logan’s drill instructor during World War I. The brutal instructor is given the job of pushing Wolverine to his limits, receiving orders to kill a woman Logan has been romantically involved with. After witnessing her death by Cyber, Logan goes at him but is severely beaten. As a result, Logan has deeply rooted psychological fear of Cyber. They’ve had a number of run-ins over the years that have resulted in some epic fights and stories. Currently Cyber is dead…I’m pretty sure…but I have faith the good folks at Marvel can find a way to bring him back.

As mentioned above, we have to talk about Lady Deathstrike. We can thank her dad, Lord Dark Wind, for creating the adamantium-bonding process that made Wolverine into who he is. Lady Deathstrike/Yuriko Oyama hired the villain Spiral’s “body shoppe” to bond adamantium to her own skeleton in addition to other cyber-genetic enhancements and has gone on to plague Wolverine many times. You see, after the death of her father, Oyama swore vengeance on those she felt stole or misused his work. On that list, you guessed it, Wolverine. She means business and won’t rest till she’s taken out our favorite Canadian mutant. I’m putting The Reavers here because of her association with these Australian ravagers and ex-Hellfire Club baddies, thanks to the beating they put on him, giving us a very memorable cover to Uncanny X-Men #251.

I’ve always been a fan of Omega Red. Arkady Rossovich was a serial killer born in Russia and experimented on by the KGB to be there Captain America. The result was Omega Red so I’m not sure it worked out like they wanted. While he’s no Captain KGB, what makes him different is the implanted a retractable carbonadium tentacle within each of Red’s arms. Carbonadium was the Soviets’ attempt to recreate the artificial alloy known as adamantium, as Carbonadium is a more malleable form of adamantium. Omega has gotten the upper hand on Wolverine on many occasions and has even worked with some of the other villains on this list, most notably when he was recruited by Sabretooth to attack Wolverine’s friends and family alongside Lady Deathstrike.

I like to add Silver Samurai to the mix as he seems to add some honor to the proceedings. Kenuichio Harada/Kenichiro Shingen was the illegitimate son of Shingen Yashida. He used his mutant power to charge his katana for villainous ways and that brought him into conflict with Wolverine. He has helped him over the years, even gaining so much respect that Logan entrusted him with the care of his adopted daughter, Amiko Kobayashi. While that Silver Samurai has died, a new Silver Samurai has made his intentions known when Wolverine made a trip to Japan to visit the grave of the original. This new version is the Silver Samurai’s son Shingen “Shin” Harada. Family honor runs deep so expect plenty more run-ins in the future.

One thing that stands out in Wolverine’s rogue gallery is the presence of some very strong, very dangerous women. Viper is definitely one of them. Ophelia Sarkissian was orphaned in Eastern Europe when her parents were killed during a revolution. Taken in and trained by Kraken, she made her mark in the criminal world. In order to seize control of a power vacuum left in Madripoor, Viper claimed a long-held debt with Wolverine and married him. Once married, he helps her take down Hand and HYDRA operatives as well as Sabretooth so that she can take control of Madripoor for herself. Lots of trouble commences and she makes his like torture. I was going to add Ogun to the list but decided to just add him here. Ogun was one of Wolverine’s mentors who joined up with the Yakuza. Things went from bad to worse when Ogun would use his powers to possess those around Logan.

No matter what, Sabretooth will always be #1. Victor Creed is a vicious assassin and while Wolverine battles to suppress his savage qualities, Sabretooth does the opposite and embraces them. Interestingly enough, creator Chris Claremont meant for Sabretooth to be Wolverine’s father, though this was called into question by a number of writers. Claremont, when asked what he had intended to be the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth, stated:

“Father and son. That’s why Sabretooth always considered Logan “sloppy seconds” to his “original” / “real deal.” The other critical element in my presentation of their relationship was that, in their whole life, Logan has never defeated Sabretooth in a knock-down, drag-out, kill-or-be-killed berserker fight. By the same token, on every one of his birthdays, Sabretooth has always managed to find him, no matter where Logan was or what he was doing, and come within an inch of killing him. For no other reason than to remind him that he could.”

A whole column could be dedicated to the epic history that Wolverine and Sabretooth have. Suffice to say, Creed is a worthy foe in every respect.

I considered including Mystique and Daken but kept them off for various reasons. With Mystique, they certainly have history but it feels forced and contrived. Also, with all the changes coming to Marvel and lining up with the cinematic universe, expect the Mystique we know to continue to undergo drastic rewrites.

Daken is another one that feels forced. He’s Wolverine’s son from a brief marriage during World War II and his mother was killed by The Winter Soldier. He fell under the care of Romulus, a character that I can’t even explain how much I dislike. He’s newer to the Wolverine mythos and hasn’t really made his mark yet. To me anyways. 

I’m sure a few people will want to include Cyclops. I think he’s definitely a rival of substance but there’s has mostly played out through the affections of Jean Grey. It’s one to watch, especially with the upcoming changes.

Who makes your list? Who did I miss? Deadpool? Let me know!

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!