Wolverine is one of Marvel Comics's most famous creations. His first appearance was in Incredible Hulk #181. Since then, he's made steady appearances in just about all the X-titles (X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, et al.); Wolverine also has his own monthly comic (creatively titled "Wolverine"). He was created by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe.
Unfortunately, the Marvel line of X-Men-related comics has too many plot twists for me to include allthe facts about Wolverine, so rather than offer you up a very in-depth review of Wolverine the character, I'm finding that I'm forced to generalize and flat-out omit information, for the sake of a contiguous, sense-making writeup. I apologize for that; if you really want an in-depth idea of this complex character, here's an idea: head to a used book store, or comic store, buy up bargain basement, destroyed comics involving Wolvie, and read the hell out of them. Fortunately, Wolverine suffers from little with regard to insanely lame and nonsensical writers--unless you include all the plot twisting, but that's just Marvel in general; we can't blame Wolverine for that, can we?
Just the facts, ma'am
His real name is Logan. Whether or not he has a last name is unknown*. Originally, the character was a Canadian secret agent/assassin/psycho. We know for sure he's ex-Canadian military (maybe this is a Marvel "joke," I dunno; they refer to the government agency as "Department H", woo). At first, we know very little. It takes a few appearances in Uncanny X-Men to clarify even the basics about him, but what we find is this: his name is Logan, he's worked with a Canadian group called Alpha Flight, and is the product of a program called Weapon X--this program is responsible for the adamantium claws housed in his forearms, and also the adamantium covering his entire skeleton. It's also responsible for destroying his memory and perhaps making him at least part-insane. He escaped, fought Hulk, and moseyed his way on to Westchester, New York, and hooked up with Xavier and his posse.
Over the course of Wolverine's superhero life, he's had several changes, and because we're talking about Marvel Comics, they've been major changes to the entirety of the character. His number one love interest, Mariko, was killed, he's given up and returned to the X-Men, had his adamantium ripped out of his body by Magneto, went extremely feral, being drawn extremely animalistic and bordering on inhuman. The character changed little, however: still smokes cheap cigars, eats pork rinds, says "bub" a lot. He's a stalwart individual, faithful to his friends, no matter how much he hates them (but hey, don't we all hate Cyclops?) He's characterized as being something of a rough individual; he smokes, drinks, and curses (or would, if Marvel would let that past their censors). He believes himself to be the best at what he does, and who can argue? He just kicks ass.
What about the mutant part there, bub?
Okay, so of course, he's a mutant. You have to be to join the X-Men. But at first Wolverine's powers weren't all too clear. Sure, he could go toe-to-toe with Hulk, Venom, Punisher, all these other tough guys, but what was it that made him so special? Shortly into his comic book career, we found out that Wolverine's mutant powers are animal in nature: sharp hearing, great eyesight, excellent sense of smell. In addition, he has amazingly heightened healing, allowing him to shrug off blows that would severely impair or even kill your average human. So, you combine that with the adamantium skeleton--and in truth, his healing factor was the reason they were able to infuse his bones with a foreign metal--and you've got one tough bastard.
With fiends likes these, who needs enemas?
As I've stated, we've got to keep this writeup short, otherwise we'd have four or five different writeups, all over the place. I've decided to cut out a friends section. What of that? Most of Wolverine's friends are X-Men, and these characters are well-documented here at E2. We could also add characters like Maverick, who is also a Weapon X graduate. Anyway, on with the big three enemies:
Lady Deathstryke (first appearance Alpha Flight #33): a crazy ninja-esque woman who was once part of the Reavers. She has apparently spent some goodish time with Wolverine in Japan, but for whatever reason has now sworn "vengeance" on him. Hey--Marvel's never really clear. She's tall, thin, and a cyborg, with huge claws on every finger; her hands seem to be about two feet long. They've had tons of conflicts over the years, and just about all of them are good. But not quite as good as...
Omega Red (first appearance X-Men #4): Arkady Rossovich is a fucking lunatic Russian with a grudge. More or less, Rossovich is an ex-solder-nutcase with huge carbonadium--which is to adamantium what cubic zirconia is to diamonds--tentacles springing from both of his hands. He is a mutant as well, whose power is pheromones that can kill, mostly. If he doesn't periodically release these pheromones, they attack him. He's big, he's scary, he's crazy, and a totally rad character. He is so nuts that the Russian government put him in cryogenic freeze. Yeah, that's right. By the way, ya know, Claremont is responsible for this madman. Even though Red is incredibly, incredibly cool, all of the badguy props must go to the real arch-nemesis...
Sabretooth (first appearance Iron Fist #14): Victor Creed. If Omega Red is a nutcase, then Creed is a full-bore, mushroom-cloud-layin' sociopath with zero regard for human life. They made him more or less the same mutant as Wolverine, except he's completely insane. He's got the healing factor, the keen senses, along with strength, size, and sheer brutality. As for famous fights? Pick one. They're all good. They seem to be part of the same Weapon X program, but who knows? All the memory implants Sabretooth and Wolvie have had could mean any or all of their life experiences are frauds. Hell, one set of memories told us that Creed was in fact Logan's father.
Wolverine's self-titled comic is up at issue #188 as of the date of this writeup; check it out. Through all the comics he's been in, what I enjoy the most is that he's a fighter. No matter what, he defies improbably odds. You've got madmen out to kill you (whatever the reason), your memories are all frauds and the things you do remember all lead to dead ends. But still, you keep going. I admire that. And he's got one thing that straight-laced fuckos like Cyclops or Prof. X do not have:
Note: from what I'm told, there's a series of comics out where they say Logan's first name is James, and his last name may or may not be Howlitt, but the character doesn't know it. I'm checking into this.