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.
I) The Chris Claremont Wolverine Era
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’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
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)
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
Collects: Wolverine #47 to #57
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
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
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:
Uncanny X-Men #304
Uncanny X-Men Annual #17
Wolverine deals with the ramifications of Fatal Attractions, and teams up with the likes of Deadpool before battling Sabretooth.
Collects: Wolverine #87 to #100
Collects: Wolverine #119 to #122
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
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
III) Wolverine Enters the 2000s
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
IV) Late 2000’s to 2015
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.
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
Collecting: Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine #1; Wolverine: Weapon X 6-16; Dark X-Men: The Beginning 3, All-New Wolverine Saga
Collecting: Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine 1-6, Wolverine 1-9, 5.1; Wolverine: Road To Hell 1
Collecting: Wolverine 10-20, 300-304
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
Issues: Wolverine: The Best There Is #1 to #12
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.