Where to Start With Wolverine Comics

Wolverine is easily one of the most popular Marvel Comics characters of all time, which also makes his every comics appearance nearly impossible to track. Wolverine himself has joked that his mutant power is secretly the ability to be on multiple super teams at once, and the joke becomes closer and closer to reality as Wolverine ages.

Below you’ll find a beginner’s guide on where to start with Wolverine comics. The list progresses in chronological order, with the exception of an all-new Old Man Logan reading order which I’ve added to the end of the guide, so it can also quite serviceably function as a Wolverine reading order.

Enjoy the comics, and always remember: Wolverine’s the best there is at what he does, and what he does isn’t very nice.

wolverine tries to kill molecule man before cyclops stops him
The Wolverine / Cyclops relationship summed up in one panel

I) The Chris Claremont Wolverine Era

Uncanny X-Men Origins

While Wolverine’s first appearance is technically in 1974’s Incredible Hulk #181, it’s his debut with the revamped X-Men of 1975 that ensured he’d be a Marvel Mainstay.

Now, if you’re a fan of the X-Men, or simply getting up to speed with the best Marvel Comics has to offer, you will undoubtedly want to read as much of this run on Uncanny X-Men as humanly possible. You can find the complete Claremont X-Men reading order here.

Simply for the sake of starting with Wolverine, I will draw the line at Uncanny X-Men #142. This will take you through Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, and John Byrne’s creative reign, taking the X-Men from Marvel also-rans to the most popular comics in the world. It will also cover the entire the Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, and Days of Future Past storylines.

Issues: Giant-Size X-Men #1, Uncanny X-Men #94 to #142

Wolverine – Solo Miniseries

Wolverine’s first solo series, published in 1982, is a must-read for any fan of the character. Chris Claremont teamed with up and coming artist Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City) to expand on Wolverine’s Samurai history, and solidify the heart and honor of the character.

Issues: Wolverine (1982) #1 to #4

Wolverine – First Ongoing Series

Claremont’s Wolverine mythos expands, with the creation of Madripoor, Marvel’s own hive of evil and villainy!

Collects: Wolverine #1 to #16 (series beginning 1988)

Wolverine: Prehistory

Technically speaking, the Wolverine Prehistory collection tackles Wolverine stories from before his time (occasionally well before his time) with the Uncanny X-Men. I’d read after you have some familiarity with the character and the mystery surrounding his origins though.

Collects: Wolverine (2003) 32; Logan: Path Of The Warlord, Shadow Society; Wolverine: Agent Of Atlas 1-3; First X-Men 1-5; Wolverine: Hunger; Wolverine (1988) -1; Before The Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm & Logan 1-3; Wolverine/Cable; Material From Marvel Comics Presents (1988) 93-98, Wolverine: The Amazing Immortal Man & Other Bloody Tales, Wolverine (2010) 1000

Wolverine: Weapon X Unbound

Collects: Wolverine #47 to #57

Wolverine vs. the Marvel Universe

If nothing else, check out the mid-80’s Spider-Man vs. Wolverine graphic novel. A great spy thriller with lasting ramifications for the Spidey and Wolvy relationship.

Collects: Captain America Annual 8, Daredevil (1964) 249, Spider-Man Vs. Wolverine, Incredible Hulk (1968) 340, Wolverine (1988) 134, Wolverine Vs. Thor 1-3, Marvel Universe Vs. Wolverine 1-4, Material From Marvel Comics Presents (1988) 117-122

II) Wolverine Does the 1990s

Wolverine: Weapon X

One of my absolute favorite comics of all time. Wolverine: Weapon X is written and drawn by comics veteran Barry Windsor-Smith, and provides the definitive, if endlessly enigmatic, origins of Wolverine’s time in the Weapon X program.

Issues: Marvel Comics Presents #72 to #84

X-Men: Fatal Attractions

Again, I’m quite deliberately not hitting every single X-Men story (if you want it, here’s the Chris Claremont era X-Men reading order), but the 1993 to 1994 storyline “Fatal Attractions” features one of the all-time memorable showdowns between Wolverine and Magneto.

Fatal Attractions Issue Reading Order:

X-Factor #92

X-Force #25

Uncanny X-Men #304

X-Men #25

Wolverine #75

Excalibur #71

Uncanny X-Men Annual #17

Wolverine: The Dying Game

Wolverine deals with the ramifications of Fatal Attractions, and teams up with the likes of Deadpool before battling Sabretooth.

Collects: Wolverine #87 to #100

Wolverine: Not Dead Yet

When Warren Ellis (Planetary, Transmetropolitan, Gun Machine) and Leinil Francis Yu (Secret Invasion) team up to tell a Wolverine story, you give it a look. That’s just something you do.

Collects: Wolverine #119 to #122

Age of Apocalypse

This isn’t a Wolverine story per say, but Age of Apocalypse will give you yet another awesome variation on the character, in what is quite simply my favorite X-Men alternate reality story ever.

Issues: Age of Apocalypse reading order

Wolverine Epic Collection: Shadow of Apocalypse

The comic story where Wolverine is forced in to servitude as a horseman of Apocalypse!

Issues: Wolverine #133 to #149, Hulk (1999) #8, Wolveirne/Cable one-shot

wolverine_new_avengers

III) Wolverine Enters the 2000s

Origin

One of Marvel’s big new millennium initiatives was to tell the true origins of Wolverine, for the very first time!

It’s a reasonable story for what is ultimately an impossible challenge (the mystery around Wolverine’s origins has fueled the character for over 25 years at this point), but if things like a young Annakin Skywalker send you into uncontrollable fits of rage, skip this volume. For all those who just have to know, there’s also a newer Origin II follow up.

Ultimate Universe Wolverine

Marvel’s Ultimate Universe is one of the best starting places for new comic book readers in general, and Wolverine is no exception.

For the unfamiliar, the Ultimate Universe was a Marvel U relaunch in 2000 that started every character from a new #1 issue, without the baggage or restraints of continuity dating back to 1961. The modernized Ultimate U would go on to define much of what we’ve seen in Marvel Movies, including Wolverine and the X-Men.

This is not your father’s Wolverine, but the Ultimate Universe is a highly enjoyable read in its own right.

Wolverine vs. The Punisher

Collects: Punisher War Journal 6-7, Wolverine/Punisher: Damaging Evidence 1-3, Punisher War Zone 19, Wolverine/Punisher: Revelation 1-4, Punisher 16-17, Wolverine 186, Wolverine/Punisher 1-5, Astonishing Tales: Wolverine/Punisher 1-6

New X-Men + Astonishing X-Men

There are two strong creative visions for the X-Men throughout the early 2000’s, and both feature Wolverine as a prominent player on the team.

First, you have Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Matrix inspired reinvention of the mutants. This is followed by Joss Whedon (directed The Avengers) and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men, which features some of the most memorable Wolverine moments and quotes in comics.

Issues: New X-Men #114 to #116, New X-Men Annual #1, New X-Men #117 to #156 , Astonishing X-Men #1 to #24, Astonishing X-Men Annual #1

New Avengers

In 2004, Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch Disassembled the Avengers, and shortly thereafter the Marvel Universe was in the throes of a brand New Avengers.

The flexible team dynamics allowed for two of Marvel’s most popular non-Avengers to finally join the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest, with Spider-Man and Wolverine becoming full-fledged Avengers.

You don’t need to read all of New Avengers just to get the Wolverine experience, but he is a major part of the team from after Disassembled through Siege.

Issues: New Avengers (2004) #1 to #6

Wolverine: Enemy of the State

Mark Millar is one of the biggest names in comic book writing, with hits like Kick-Ass, Civil War and Wanted finding serious mainstream recognition. As such, it’s no surprise that his twelve issue run on Wolverine, with all-time great John Romita Jr., feels like an event comic. It’s a clever execution on a familiar concept, as Wolverine takes on the entire Marvel Universe after being brainwashed by HYDRA.

Collects: Wolverine (2003) #20 to #32

House of M + Wolverine: Origins

Marvel’s House of M, their 2005 Universe-wide event, had major ramifications for Wolverine, and it’s a good event story in its own right. The eight issue event will set up a new ongoing series titled Wolverine: Origins, in which Wolverine explores new elements of his past. The consistency ebbs and flows through this series, but some of the developments are absolutely huge, and a big part of the Wolverine mythos today.

Note that you could very likely just read Wolverine: Origins Vol. 2 – Savior, and you’d be in great shape.

Issues: House of M #1 to #8, Wolverine: Origins #1 to #50

Wolverine vs. Deadpool

Issues: Wolverine (1988) 88, 154-155; Deadpool (1997) 27; Cable & Deadpool 43-44; Wolverine: Origins 21-25; Wolverine/Deadpool: The Decoy 1; Material From Wolverine Annual ’95, ’99

Wolverine: Logan

When Brian K. Vaughn writes a Wolverine story, you read that comic. That’s just something you do.

There isn’t a ton to it, but Wolverine: Logan adds to the mythos of Wolverine’s past, and was part of the inspiration for The Wolverine movie (the 2nd, passable one).

Issues: Logan #1 to #3

1526448-uncannyxforce2c (1)

IV) Late 2000’s to 2015

Jason Aaron’s Wolverine

No writer has done more to define Wolverine for a post-MCU audience than Jason Aaron. Over the course of 5 years, Aaron wrote three separate must-read Wolverine titles (Wolverine, Wolverine: Weapon X, Wolverine & The X-Men), scribed the X-Men event that would lead to Wolverine becoming headmaster of his own school, and sent Wolverine to Hell.

There are certain creative names that will forever be tied to Wolverine – Claremont, Miller, Hama, Millar – and with this sustained period of excellence Jason Aaron ensured his placement on the roster of greats.

Wolverine by Jason Aaron Vol.1

Collecting: Wolverine (2003) 56, 62-65, material from 73-74; Wolverine: Manifest Destiny 1-4; Wolverine: Weapon X 1-5; material from Wolverine (1988) 175

Wolverine by Jason Aaron Vol. 2

Collecting: Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine #1; Wolverine: Weapon X 6-16; Dark X-Men: The Beginning 3, All-New Wolverine Saga

Wolverine by Jason Aaron Vol. 3

Collecting: Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine 1-6, Wolverine 1-9, 5.1; Wolverine: Road To Hell 1

Wolverine by Jason Aaron Vol. 4

Collecting: Wolverine 10-20, 300-304

Schism + Wolverine & The X-Men

As mentioned above, Jason Aaron also set up Wolverine’s time as headmaster at his own school for gifted youths. It’s one of my favorite premises in Marvel, and one of the most joyous, emotional, funny books to come out prior to Avengers vs. X-Men and on through Marvel NOW!

For the record, Schism will give you an important X-Men story that sets the stage for Wolverine & The X-Men, but it’s nothing a recap page can’t manage. Only needed for the most dedicated readers, or those who can’t get enough of Cyclops v. Wolverine.

Issues: Schism #1 to #5, Wolverine & The X-Men #1 to #42

Wolverine: The Best There Is

Issues: Wolverine: The Best There Is #1 to #12

Uncanny X-Force

Just in case you were getting worried modern Wolverine was all feel good teaching and life lessons, enter Uncanny X-Force. In the wake of the X-Men event Messiah CompleX, Wolverine puts together a covert opps X-Force, responsible for the missions too bloody and dark for the regular X-Men.

There are two volumes of X-Force in a relatively short period of time, and both are worth your time. That said, Rick Remender’s time on Uncanny X-Force (beginning in 2010) is one of my favorite Marvel Comics of all time, and certainly one of the best 100 of the last 20 years. Wolverine teams up with Deadpool, Psylock, Archangel, and Fantomex to take on the mutant threats the X-Men can’t handle.

Issues: Uncanny X-Force #1 to #35

Death of Wolverine

Anyone who’s anyone gets their own “Death Of” comic, and after 40 years, it was Wolverine’s turn.

I have a whole Death of Wolverine reading order for those of you who want the full experience, but for everyone else, the 4 issue event is fairly self-contained and strong work from Charles Soule and Steve McNiven.

All-New All-Different Wolverine Reading order

Following the Death of Wolverine event, X-23 adopts the mantle of All-New All-Different Wolverine, and you can read her comics through the above reading order.

V) Old Man Logan Reading Order

Old Man Logan (2009)

In my book, Mark Millar’s best Marvel work on Wolverine comes in the form of flash-forward elseworld Old Man Logan where Wolverine is, well, an old man, and the Marvel heroes have (for the most part) fallen.

It’s a fan-favorite alternate reality dystopia, and features some truly excellent moments. A must-read for Wolverine fans, and especially for those who want to catch up with the All-New All-Different state of Wolverine, as Old Man Logan was one of the better Secret Wars tie-ins as well.

Collects (and your Marvel Unlimited reading order): Wolverine #66 to #72, Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size #1

Old Man Logan (2015) – Secret Wars Tie-In

In addition to winning my award for best Marvel event of the 2010’s, Secret Wars also returned Old Man Logan to the Marvel Universe in the pages of a 5 issue tie-in.

Andrea Sorrentino’s art truly sets Old Man Logan apart from the competition, but it’s also one of Brian Michael Bendis’s most restrained comics in years, and easily his best Secret Wars book.

Collects: Old Man Logan (2015) #1 to #5

Old Man Logan (2016 – Present)

Following the conclusion of Secret Wars, the saga of Old Man Logan continues from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. Lemire and Sorrentino got off to a very strong start on the series, to the point that Old Man Logan was one of my favorite Marvel Comics of 2016.

Collects: Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 1: Berzerker – Old Man Logan #1 to #4

Extraordinary X-Men (2015 – Present)

Jeff Lemire’s other X-book also includes Old Man Logan as part of the ongoing narrative, and should be read after Old Man Logan #4, even though Extraordinary X-Men was published prior to the first arc of Lemire and Sorrentino’s Old Man Logan.

Collects: Extraordinary X-Men #1 to #5

Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 2: Bordertown

Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 3: The Last Ronin

 

There you have it – the pro-mutant voter’s guide to Wolverine. Have any other Wolverine stories you can’t believe I missed? Just want more X-Men? Do what feels right to you in the comments below.

14 Replies to “Where to Start With Wolverine Comics”

  1. I saw that you mentioned Origin, but what about Wolverine Origins the series? And then the off-shoot with Daken? I’ve been trying to figure out where those place in the grand scheme of things. Thanks for all your hard work!

  2. Thank you Dave, I was hoping you were gonna do this guide some day! You are really the best there is at what you do xD plenty of guides out there, but I find yours particularly good!

    1. Not any Department H specific trades I’ve seen, but there are some decent Alpha Flight collections. Will give you a taste of solo Alpha Flight, and some limited Wolverine flashback to his time in Dept H.

      This is a good request, though. I’d like to see a similar collection.

  3. Hey Dave, thank you for all your work! I have a question, I love your guides, but, Is it necessary to start from the top? I mean, I want to know about wolverine but I don’t want to read all this, are these I),II),III),IV) starting points too? I mean, can I start reading from wolverine in the 2000s? Thanks!!

    1. Yeah, in general I break up into chunks so you can jump in at different stages depending on your interest.

      Early Wolverine is some of the best Wolverine, but starting with more modern appearances is totally viable.

      Enjoy the comics!

  4. This is one hell of a guide! Thank you very much! I’ve been looking for a solo Wolverine reading guide since reading “The Death of Wolverine”. I’ve been meaning to ask: Do you have a Wendigo reading guide? I mean, I know the Wendigo is not a specific character, but the concept is really cool and I was wondering if there were any story arcs that revolved around the Wendigo. Thanks in advance! Keep up the good work!

  5. Love all the reading orders….what are your thoughts on Greg Rucka’s Wolverine (pre-Enemy of the State) and Wolverine: The End?

    What about Wolverine: Snikt! and Wolverine: Xisle?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *