Back in 2001 Wolverine issue 175 was released. This issue closed out a story where Wolverine fights the deadly team of Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, and Sabretooth. Wolverine gets depowered and squares off with a depowered Sabretooth. It ends with Wolverine being put into a body bag. At the time I was nine years old, so I was convinced that Wolverine was dead for good. I was too distraught to care about some stupid backup story, but I read it anyway. The backup was written by the winner of a fan contest that Marvel was running and that made my nine year old self even more angry. The story was so lame, I could have written something so much better! There were no ninjas, there were none of the recurring villains, there was nothing that made Wolverine cool. It sucked!
Then years later I read that issue again. The backup story was actually pretty good, better than I remembered. A couple weeks later Wolverine issue 62 was released. This was the first part of the Get Mystique storyline and it kicked so much ass. It turns out that both the backup in issue 175 and Get Mystique were written by the same guy; Jason Aaron. That was pretty cool. The guy who won the fan contest had made it to the big leagues. Aaron went on to become one of the best Wolverine writers in years. He completely understood the character and wrote some damn awesome comics.
Recently I took a look back at Aaron’s first Wolverine story. Even back then in 2001 he had a mastery of the character. In the eight pages that Aaron had to tell his story he showed that Wolverine was a tortured soul looking for peace that he will never find. The backup starts with Wolverine being chased by some hunters. When he thinks he loses them, Wolvie stops to help a woman fix her car. Unfortunately the men catch up to our hero and shoot both him and the woman he was trying to help. The story flash-forwards to Logan burying the body of the dead woman and driving away in her car while the bodies of the three hunters lay in the road behind him.
The story shows that the people Wolverine tries to help somehow end up getting hurt. He fully blames himself for that and he can’t chase away the dark cloud. He can only live with it. Logan would be a peaceful person, but the violence follows him wherever he goes. The woman he tries to help can see this in him, but she still believes that he is a good man. This short story can be seen as a metaphor for the entire character of Wolverine. He’s only in the costume for one flashback panel and that’s all that is needed. Wolverine doesn’t need a costume to be an interesting character. Regardless of whether you put him in the old west with a gun or feudal Japan with a sword, he is the same man. Violence is attracted to Logan the man, not to Wolverine the superhero. He knows that the day he finds peace is the day he dies, but even then he won’t. Aaron, through Wolverine, puts it best on the last page of his short story;
“Course I’ve also sent plenty a souls on their way who won’t be overly missed. But I take no joy from that. Cause I know that one day, sooner or later, I’ll be joinin’ ‘em. And it won’t be in heaven, that’s for damn sure.”