It’s been almost 40 years since Wolverine’s first appearance on the very last page of The Incredible Hulk #180. In comic book time, of course, Wolverine is much older: Over a hundred years old, a century-plus lifespan that has seen the man called Logan become a soldier, a samurai, a superhero, an X-Man, an Avenger, the amnesiac victim of horrific scientific experiments, a renegade, a teacher.
This September, that’s going to end.
Marvel has been teasing a radical new development in Wolverine’s history with this summer’s story arc, “3 Months to Die,” which robs Wolverine of his healing factor, the mutant power that has kept him alive and kicking through decades of fatal injuries. Now, EW is excited to announce exclusively that “3 Months to Die” will culminate in a 4-part miniseries in September called, simply, Death of Wolverine. Written by Charles Soule and drawn by Steve McNiven, Death of Wolverine #1 hits on September 3 (that’s the cover image above.) The next three issues of the series will follow every week ensuing, climaxing with Death of Wolverine #4 on September 24.
Michael Marts, an executive editor at Marvel overseeing the project, explains that the idea to kill off one of the most iconic characters in comic books emerged out of Marvel’s semi-annual creative retreat, when Marvel writers and editors come together to discuss major projects. “For a long time, no matter who Wolverine was battling, he’s been the eternal victor,” says Marts. “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 entered the Marvel fold relatively recently, working on ongoing series Thunderbolts and the new Inhuman. Soule explains that the series is meant, in part, as a retrospective for both the character and the audience. “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.”
Eagle-eyed readers will note that the Wolvie silhouette on the issue #1 cover is an homage to the character’s first appearance; future covers will feature similar nods to the character’s past. Soule’s reading list in preparation for the project included classic Logan stories like the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Japan-set miniseries, the Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X tale, Mark Millar’s “Enemy of the State” arc, and Old Man Logan (also drawn by McNiven.) The writer isn’t revealing any specific details of the Death Of story arc. “He’s basically been told, by his various genius buddies, to not get into any fights, because he can’t survive them,” says Soule. “Wolverine being Wolverine, violence tends to find him.”
The concept of “death” in comic books can seem a bit tenuous – unless your name is Uncle Ben – but Marts says that Marvel approached this event “from a standpoint of finality, of closure.” The hero’s death will have ramifications throughout Marvel’s line. “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.”
For now, Soule just hopes that Death of Wolverine feels true for the readers. “I hope that when people finish it, they’ll feel like he died in a way that was true to him,” says the writer. Marvel promises to reveal more about Death of Wolverine at this weekend’s C2E2 event in Chicago, at the “Wolverine: 3 Months to Die” panel this Sunday at 1:15 PM CST. But right now, you can check out another exclusive image from the first issue: The first page of Death of Wolverine #1, showing the hero in what appears to be a less-than-ideal situation: