It’s not all beer and skittles for Wolverine. Beer, sometimes. Skittles, no.
This article, much like one of the songs from ‘Cats’, is about memories. Normally, I’d research the living daylights out of something like this, but – just this once – I’m going with the memories.
You might consider that lazy – but that’s not the point. The point is that most of these moments had a huge emotional impact on me. Sure, maybe I’m misremembering certain facts around these heartbreaking moments (such as why certain things happened), but the idea – the essence – of the interactions between the characters is what I’m trying to relay here.
Unless, of course, search engines are going to start actually giving me useful replies to questions like ‘In which issue of X-Men did Wolverine almost get Spider-Man killed?’
That time Wolverine almost got Spider-Man killed
Spider-Man once had to visit the X-Mansion (AKA The Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters). I can’t remember why he went there, but I’m pretty sure it was either because he wanted to see if he was a mutant (he’s not) or because he needed Professor Xavier’s help to track someone down.
That’s not important. What is important is that nobody was home, apart from Wolverine, so Wolverine invited Spiderman inside and invited the friendly neighbourhood webslinger to join him for training.
If you’re not an X-Men fan, that might not be setting off any red flags for you: The X-Men train in a place called ‘The Danger Room’.
See if you can guess why it’s called that:
A) It was designed by Rodney Dangerfield
B) It was a reference to a Sherlock Holmes story
C) It was a reference to M3-B9 G.U.N.T.E.R. from Lost in Space
D) It was dangerous to be in the room because it was full of hidden mechanical training hazards such as giant blades, presses, and flame throwers (and so on)
That’s right, the answer is E) Don’t patronize me, Liam.
For a seasoned battle veteran like Wolverine, the Danger Room was a bit of a joke. For Spider-Man, however, it was a living hell. I remember some of the traps nearly killing Spider-Man and reading Spider-Man’s thought bubbles: ‘This maniac does this for FUN?’
Professor X stops the Danger Room right before Spider-Man is about to be killed, and verbally roasts Wolverine like you wouldn’t believe. It’s the only time I recall Wolverine just standing there and listening to Professor Xavier, instead of saying something like ‘Stow it, Chuck’ and then storming out.
Anyway, Professor X is yelling at Wolverine, saying how stupid it was of him to let Spider-Man even enter the Danger Room, let alone take on Wolverine’s deadly training program. Wolverine surprised me with his response: ‘Well, if the kid didn’t want to be there, he should have said something about it.’
Sure, it’s not exactly world-class empathy – but Wolverine was treating Spider-Man like an adult and not a kid. Even though he called him one.
It hit me hard because, being a teen at the time, I was constantly hearing the phrase ‘If you want me to stop treating you like a child, then stop acting like one’. This taught me that being assertive is more useful to everyone around you than being subservient.
Of course, that’s not actually true in all situations – but it’s a pretty cool place to start growing up.
That time Jubilee stood up for Wolverine and he never even knew about it
Jubilee is one of my favourite Wolverine sidekicks of all time.
She’s probably considered absolute cringe nowadays, but back then her bright-yellow-raincoat-and-bright-pink-visor-sunglasses outfit was – well, it was the ‘90s, okay?
She was always just ‘some kid’ to all the X-Men but Wolverine – he knew she was tough as nails when she needed to be.
Back then, Wolverine couldn’t remember his past, so he was working with Professor X and Jean Grey (both very powerful telepaths) to unlock his memories. He’d unlocked a memory involving someone, let’s say it was Sabretooth.
Whatever he’d remembered – funnily enough, I can’t remember what it actually was – he was in the Danger Room to work off some steam.
He asked the Professor to call up a bunch of Sabretooth battle-holograms (the Danger Room had been upgraded by alien technology by this stage) so he could just go into Berserker Mode on them – something, ANYTHING, to ease his pain.
Well, Professor X and Jean Grey are sitting around like ‘Oh, I don’t that’s mentally healthy at all!’ and ‘Should we let him do it?’ and ‘Could this endanger the rest of the team if his rage takes over?’
Jubilee, the fucking CHAMPION, waits until there’s a lull in the conversation and says to them both, with as much snarky sarcasm (snarkcasm?) as she can muster: “Wow, it sure must be nice to be able to surf around in your own head and fix all your emotional issues that way, it sure would suck if someone had to blow off steam without being able to do that.”
Wordlessly – and clearly shamed by the poster child of the ‘90s – Professor X finally does as Wolverine asks.
This hit me hard because it taught me that a few choice words can change someone’s entire worldview in a moment. It could be argued that’s not really true anymore in the age of social media – but that doesn’t detract from the fact that Jubilee stuck up for Wolverine when nobody else would.
That time I realised Wolverine was in constant emotional pain
This is back in the early days, I want to say around issue 65 of volume 1? I can remember it was pencilled by Mark Texeira (you can see his work on the comic cover directly above).
Wolverine, in plain clothes, goes to some random bar. Jean Grey follows him because she’s worried about him. She knows that Wolverine is in love with her, but she cares about him as a friend and she knows he’s close to breaking point.
As she turns up, he’s starting a fight. I could be wrong, but I remember her trying to stop everyone (See also: very powerful telepath) and Wolverine telling her to butt out, which she does. He wipes the floor with all the combatants without popping his claws.
After the brawl is over, Wolverine is sitting there nursing a black eye. This minor injury would no doubt disappear after like 5 minutes due to Wolverine’s healing factor, but he was still holding a raw steak (or a bag of ice or whatever) against it. I always figured it was because Jean insisted on it.
Jean Grey verbally rips into Wolverine: ‘You IDIOT! Why do you always do things like this? You have a healing factor – not a pain dampening factor!’
And Wolverine, who until now had just been a tough guy and that’s all I’d ever seen of him, lowers the raw steak (or bag of ice or whatever) and looks her straight in the eyes and says something like: ‘It’s all I’ve got, Jeannie. I can’t even get drunk because of my healing factor. So I go to bars like this that I know are full of people who deserve to get punched, I rile them up, and then I punch them’.
It hits me hard because any one of my friends and family (or anyone else for that matter, who are still worthy of my empathy) could be full of pain and I would never ever know.
And also, as I’ve gotten older, I’m also like: Imagine not being able to get drunk.
Man, that sure would suck.