Wolverine is a character who was created by Len Wein and John Romita Sr in 1974, first appearing in The Incredible Hulk. He has since become the most recognizable X-Men character, since being adopted to the team in 1975. He has consistently been featured in one, or more, ongoing solo series since 1988. The following will be a guide to the essential Wolverine reading, in both X-Men and solos.
Here is the origin to Wolverine, which was not written until 2001. Here you will see the boy, who became the man, who would become the beast. Born James Howlett, the man who will be Wolverine grows up in a wealthy household with his father, friends, and maid. Here you will see the events that start to shape him into the man he becomes. Written by Paul Jenkins with art by Andy Kubert.
Originally printed in 1991, Weapon X is the story of how James Howlett became Wolverine. Here you will discover the answer to the long asked questions of; where did Wolverine's adamantium skeleton come from? You will see the Dark and gruesome process that created the adamantium skeleton, as a mad scientist tries to turn Logan, a mutant into a weapon. His memory will be wiped, he will be controlled like a animal, as he tries with all of his might to regain control, and break free. While the first origin is the origin of the man, this is the origin of the beast. This is considered by many to be the definitive Wolverine origin story. Written and illustrated by Berry Windsor-Smith.
Giant Sized X-Men
Here you will witness Wolverine's first meeting with Professor Charles Xavier, and him joining the X-Men.
The Big Dare
Classic X-Men #4 - The Big Dare
An eleven page backup story about wolverine and Nightcrawler becoming friends after an afternoon of drinking.
X-Men by Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Starting out, Wolverine didn't seem like anything special among the X-Men, but that started to change in 1977 on X-Men #108 after John Byrne joined the creative team. Byrne made many changes to the character and put in the building blocks that would turn Wolverine into one of Marvel's biggest stars. Here you will see Wolverine take center stage in the X-Men books for the first time. You will witness the debut of many iconic Wolverine characters, like Mariko, Guardian, and the rest of Alpha Flight. It will be revealed that Wolverine is actually a very cultured man, knowing multiple languages, and this will also be the run to reveal his name to be Logan. Towards the ends of John Byrne's runs on X-Men, he will also give Wolverine a new costume. Abandoning the bright yellow costume for the more stealthy brown and tan costume. This run not only features the most character development and advancement for Wolverine, but it also features the most iconic X-Men stories. Here you will see the Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, and the Proteus Saga, with Wolverine playing a small to big role in each of them. This run is highly recommended for any Wolverine fan.
The Brood Saga
X-Men: The Brood Saga
While Professor Charles Xavier's fiancé, princess Lilandra, is preparing to leave Earth to return to the Shi'ar Empire, Wolverine and the X-Men visit her to see her off. Unfortunately, they are attacked by a insect like race known as the Brood. The Brood infect the X-Men with eggs, that when hatched, will transform them into the alien creatures they were fighting against. It is Wolverine who first awakens initially survives the process, due to his healing factor and adamantium skeleton. It will be up to Logan to fight the Brood and to find and rescue his fellow X-Men. This story contains heavy charecter development for Wolverine and most of the charecters in it. See the X-Men as they try to come to terms with what has happened to them in this story. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Dave Cockrum.
When Wolverine's sweetheart, Mariko, stops returning his calls, Logan decides to take a trip to Japan to see what is going on. He will learn that the woman he loves has been forced to marry another man, a violent man who is abusive towards her. Logan will have to challenge Mariko's father for the right to her hand, but things do not go as planned.
Wolverine will come into contact with the ninja known as Yukio, and he will be forced to battle the deadly group of ninja assassins known as the Hand. Wolverine will have to try and overcome everything that is thrown at him in order to win back the woman that he loves. You will see Wolverine go through a Rollercoaster of events in this classic tale, that is considered by many to be the definitive Wolverine story. Written by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller with Miller doing the art.
The Uncanny X-Men #172 - Scarlet in Glory and The Uncanny X-Men #173 - To Have and Have Not
This is the conclusion to the critically acclaimed Wolverine solo. Here you will see Wolverine attempt to marry his sweetheart, Mariko Yoshida, only for his wedding to be crashed by Viper and the Silver Samurai. This story will also feature the first team up between Wolverine and Rogue.
X-Men: Mutant Massacre
X-Men: Mutant Massacre
This will feature Wolverine in one of the X-Men's darker stories. When a mutant group known as the Morlocks are massacred in the sewers, Wolverine will use his enhanced senses to hunt down the murderers. Wolverine, along with the X-Men, will do battle with a new group of villainous mutants known as the Marauders. You will see Logan introduced to new friends here, as Psylocke joins the team, and have to cope with losing friends, as the X-Men suffer some defeats at the hands of their enemies. Among the enemies will be Wolverine's long time adversary, Victor Creed, known as Sabretooth. Here you will witness the first iconic battle between Wolverine and his arch nemesis. The X-Men will hit a all time low point in this story, with Wolverine being one of the few to survive unharmed. Logan will have to step up and take a more important role in the group as new recruits join. Written by Chris Claremont with art by John Romita Jr and later Rick Leonardi.
Kitty Pryde and Wolverine
Kitty Pryde and Wolverine
When Kitty Pryde is captured in Japan, Wolverine will travel there to her rescue. He will come face to face with his old master, Ogun. Logan will have to rescue Kitty, and then train her on how to be a ninja. Here you will also see the return of Yukio and a cameo by Mariko. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Al Milgram.
When the Brood crash land on the earth, Wolverine will be fighting them once more. This time Wolverine will be leading a group of new X-Men against the Brood, as the have already started to impersonate humans. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Marc Silvestri.
Wolverine by Chris Claremont
Wolverine: Madripoor Nights
Wolverine's first ongoing solo series is finally launched in 1988. The first 10 issues are written by long time X-Men writer, and Wolverine's main writer up to that point, Chris Claremont. Here you will see Wolverine travel to Singapore in hopes of rescuing another friend. He will fight pirates and team up with other Marvel Heroes like the Hulk and Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman. You will also see Wolverine once again fight his classic villain, the Silver Samurai. Claremont is succeeded on the series by Peter David, who has a six issue rub, where he continues where Claremont left off.
A Green and Pleasant Land
A Green and Pleasant Land
Here, once again with the Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and Rogue will be captured by the foreign country, Genosha. Here you will see Wolverine battle foreign solders, and have to cope with losing his healing factor. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Marc Silvestri.
The Uncanny X-Men #251 - Fever Dream
While returning back to their base in Australia, Wolverine is attacked by a villainous cyborgs known as the Reavers. In this story, you will see the X-Men disband, as Wolverine is saved by new mutant, Jubilee. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Marc Silvestri.
Lady Mandarin and Joining Psylocke
The Uncanny X-Men #256 - The Key That Breaks The Locke, The Uncanny X-Men #257 - I am Lady Mandarin, and The Uncanny X-Men #261 - Harriers Hunt
Here, Psylocke will return, as she has been brainwashed by the Mandarin. It will be up to Logan to battle her and rescue his friend. The duo of Wolverine and Jubilee will turn into a trio in this tale. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Jim Lee.
The Uncanny X-Men #268 - Madripoor Knights
See a flashback story from World War II, as Wolverine teams up with Natasha Romoninof and Captain America. This story is from 1990 and is one of the earliest to hint at how old Logan really is. Written by Chris Claremont with art by Jim Lee.
X-Men: Mutant Genesis
Not necessarily a Wolverine story, but this is a turning point in the lives of the X-Men, and connects to Wolverine as well. See the debut of the X-Men's new costumes, made iconic by X-Men: The Animated Series, in this story. Magneto has returned as a antagonist and it is up to the X-Men to stop him. Magneto will make a discovery what will have him questioning if he ever truly was reformed. This story marks the end of Chris Claremont seventeen year run with the book and the first issue of this story went on to become the highest selling comic book in the world according to the Guinness book of world records. It is the beginning of a new Era for the X-Men in this tale.
Weapon X Unbound
Wolverine: Weapon X Unbound
This story is a sequel to Wolverine's original origin, Weapon X by Berry Windsor-Smith. Wolverine will attempt to get his memories back, and seek out Jean Grey and Professor Charles Xavier to help him unlock them. Here he will also seek out the Professor that originally bonded the adamantium metal to his bones, and once again face him. In this collection, you will also see Logan's relationship with Mystique evolve, as they will face the X-Men's classic villain, Mojo. This collection ends with Logan once again travelling to Japan to help Jubilee, who was stranded there during Logan's battle with Mojo, where he will once again meet the woman whom he planned to wed, Mariko. In this collection, you will also see Logan team up with the X-Force member Shatterstar, Sunfire, and Spiral. Written by Larry Hama with art by Marc Silvestri.
X-Men: Fatal Attractions
Not necessarily a Wolverine story, but this story contains one of the most iconic things to happen to Wolverine during his entire publication history.
Magneto Returns to his role as a antagonist. He is saved by the mutant Exodus and gathers the forces of the remaining Acolytes and battles X-Force to capture the space station, Graymalkin. Here you will witness Cable return to X-Force for the first time since X-Cutioner's Song.
The X-Men learn about this when Magneto crashes the funeral of Colossus' sister, Illyana. You will see one of the most epic confrontation between Magneto and Professor Xavier here. As he prepares to go to lengths that he has never gone before to stop Magneto. Witness one of the most iconic battles in comic history, Wolverine vs Magneto in this story. Written by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicizea, and Lary Hama with art by Andy Kubert, Joe Quesada, Chris Sprouse, John Romita Jr, and Ken Lashley.
The Dying Game
Wolverine Epic Collection: The Dying Game
After losing his adamantioum skeleton while battling Magneto in Fatal Attractions, Wolverine starts to become more aggressive and feral. Here you will see Wolverine do his first battle with the fan favorite character Deadpool, and meet some of the X-Force's suporting cast. Wolverine will also have one of his most iconic battles with Sabretooth here, and this collection will feature many cameos from other characters from Wolverine's life, including his best friend, Nightcrawler. Wolverine will also team up with the teenage group of mutants known as Generation X and have a fierce battle with the unstoppable Juggernaut.
Not Dead yet
Not Dead Yet
A highly critically acclaimed story from 1997 by Warren Ellis.
Wolverine reached the heights of his popularity in the early 2000's, thanks in large part to his portrayal in film by Hugh Jackman. This area would be a good starting point for fans that do not like the classic comic styles, but you should at least give the classics a try before starting here.
Wolverine by Frank Teri
Wolverine by Frank Teri
Frank Teri arguably has the best run on Wolverine's solo comics. The art style will take much influence from the movies from the time period, with Wolverine gaining a more realistic look and slightly resembling Hugh Jackman. This run also featured a spin off story from Berry Windsor-Smith's Weapon X, where we saw Windsor-Smith return to do artwork for the story arc. This run also finishes Wolverine's story arc with Viper and features guest appearances by Alpha Flight. This run also has Wolverine return to Singapore and face new foes as well as old.
New X-Men by Grant Morrison
Wolverine is a main character in this run, but not all of it is Wolverine stories. Morrison did a soft reboot on the X-Men in 2001, along with artist Frank Quitely. Here you will see Wolverine and the X-Men start to more closely resemble the critically acclaimed movies from the early 2000's. There will be new challenges for the X-Men to face, and you will see the mutants impact on society like never before. This run contains essential character development for all of the main team members; Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Professor X, and Beast. There will be threats, such as Professor Xavier's sister, Cassandra Nova, the Sentinels, Magneto, Weapon Plus, U-Men, and their own students. The X-Men will also make new allies in the form of Fantomex and the New students at their school. You will be introduced to a wide array of new charecter. This will also be the debut of Emma Frost as a X-Man, and one a tale of long time team mate, Jean Grey. This run has received mass praise, and while it is always better if you had prior knowledge of the X-Men, it is still a good starting point for fans and young readers who do not want to read the classics.
Wolverine by Greg Rucka
Wolverine by Greg Rucka Ultimate Collection
During the early 2000's Marvel launched a new line called Marvel Knights, and in 2003 Wolverine's solo was relaunched under that banner. Greg Rucka was the man that was put in charge of relaunching Wolverine. This is a very self contained run, and is easy to read. It will feature the return of some classic Wolverine characters, as well as some new ones.
Enemy of the State
Enemy Of The State
In this highly critically acclaimed story, Wolverine will be summoned to Japan to find a friend's daughter. There he will be ambushed and captured by the hand, who have freshly formed an alliance with Hydra. Wolverine will fight, and be captured and brainwashed by the hand. He will be turned into a killing machine, going after many of Marvel's biggest heroes. Nick Fury and SHIELD will hire the highly skilled assassin, Elektra, to stop him. This story is filled with many guest appearances, including the X-Men, Elektra, Daredevil, Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and Nick Fury. Every major player in the Marvel Universe will be a tempting to get their hands on Wolverine in this story, as Logan will try with all of his willpower to free himself from. The mind control he was under. This 12 issue story is written by Mark Millar with art by John Romita Jr.
House of M
House of M
This is very much a essential story for Wolverine and the X-Men. While the preludes to this story are in Avengers, this story will effect the mutants for over a decade to follow and forever change Wolverine. It starts with Magneto, trying to calm his daughter, the Scarlet Witch, after she lost her family. When the decision is made to take action against her, she uses her power to warp reality, making a world where it is the mutants who are the dominant species on the planet, with humans being the minority. When this happens, only Wolverine will remember the past, due to him being brainwashed so many times in the Weapon X program. It will be up to Logan to try and fix things, as he gathers his former X-Men and attempts to make them remember their old life, while also forming alliances with Spider-Man and Luke Cage. Together, they will take on Magneto, the ruler of this new land, in a attempt to find the Scarlet Witch and set things right. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Olivier Coipel.
After regaining his memories after the events of House of M, Wolverine will search for somthing from his past. Here you will see flashbacks from World War II, and see the story of how Logan became a man. Written by Brian K Vaughn with art by Eduardo Risso.
This is not directly a Wolverine story, but it does prelude X-Force. This is a crossover where the X-Men teams up with New X-Men and X-Factor.
For the first time since House of M, a new mutant infant will be born. When this happens, the X-Men, as well as the forces of Mister Sinister, will go after it. The X-Men will be fighting for the survival of the mutant race, as they are betrayed by one of their own while fighting to save the infant. The X-Men will cover all angles, and even travel through time in hopes of finding the baby. Written by Ed Brubaker, Peter David, Mike Carrey, Greg Kyle, and Christopher Yost with art by Anthony Castrillo, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brandon Peterson, Bret Blevins, Brett Booth, Carlos Pacheco, and Chris Bachalo.
Directly following the events of Messiah Complex, Wolverine is sent out to capture Mystique, who escaped during Messiah Complex. Here you will see many flashbacks of Logan and Mystique long history, as Wolverine hunts her across the land. Written by Jason Aaron with art by Ron Garney.
In this reboot to X-Force, Wolverine will be the leader of this incarnation of the team. This directly follows the events of Messiah Complex, and will see Wolverine leading X-23, Warpath, Domino, Arcangel, and Wolfsbane. You will see some crucial character development with Wolverine in this series, as he is still deeply effected by the events of House of M.
In this series you will see many former X-Men Antagonists make their return and join forces to battle Wolverine and his team. Wolverine will face some of the biggest challenges of his career here, and you will see him facing a new challenge; the challenge of leading a team. Written by Greg Kyle and Christopher Yost with art by Clayton Crain and Mike Choi.
This is a follow up to Messiah Complex, and is a crossover between X-Force and the Cable solo series. Here you will meet the infant once again, as Wolverine, X-23, Arcangel, Warpath, and Domino are sent to the future to meet with Cable. They will battle Cable's arch nemesis, Strife, as well as come face to face with Apocalypse and the X-Man that betrayed them. Written by Greg Kyle, Christopher Yost, andDuane Swierczynski with art by Clayton Crain, Ariel Olivetti, Mike Choi, andSonia O'Back.
Old Man Logan
Wolverine: Old Man Logan
Mark Millar returns to Wolverine in 2009 to craft another highly critically acclaimed story. In this one, you will see a aged Wolverine in a wasteland where the world has been taken over by the supervillians, who United and joined forces. In this tale, you will see Wolverine as and pacifist, who is forced to come out of retirement and join Hawkeye on one last adventure when he can't make his rent for the month. Here you will see the Marvel Universe re-imagined as a apocalyptic wasteland, and come across a few aged version of some fans favorite Marvel characters, and hear interesting stories of the things that happened to the others. You will learn Logan's dark secret, of the horrible things that happened that killed Wolverine to the point to where only Logan remained, who vowed to never un-sheath his claws again. Written by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNiven.
Old Man Logan by Jeff Lemire
Old Man Logan
After the events of Secret Wars, Old Man Logan is transported from the wasteland to the main Marvel Universe. He will seek revenge on the people who caused his future, before meeting up with the X-Men again. Logan will have to try and adapt to his new life, as he lives day to day knowing that his future may happen any day.