10 Essential Wolverine Comics for New Readers

Does heroic mutant and X-Man Wolverine’s latest cinematic adventure in Logan have you hankering for more stories featuring the man formerly known as Weapon X? While there have been plenty of films and cartoons featuring the clawed mutant, most of wolverine’s greatest stories have been on the comic book page.

But where to start?

The following 10 comic books are perfect starting points for new readers interested in Wolverine. From his origins to his post-apocalyptic adventures, these stories tell the best of the best of Logan. After reading the following comics, you’ll have a strong grasp on the character and be ready to dive even deeper into this fascinating character’s complex and compelling history.

Find more to read with 10 Essential Batman Comic Books for New Readers.

Wolverine Mini-Series

Writer: Chris Claremont Artist: Frank Miller

wolverine-mini-series-claremontAfter becoming a breakout success in the pages of Uncanny X-Men as part of the team, writer Chris Claremont teamed up with the young Frank Miller to give Wolverine his first solo adventure. Here, Wolverine goes solo to Japan in order to save the love of his life, Mariko Yashida, from the tyrannical rule of her father, Shingen. This is the first look at Wolverine as a samurai, with plenty of battles against ninjas and romance making this a fun and compelling solo adventure.

Why You Need to Read: This is the Wolverine story that launched a thousand stories. Not only does it introduce a new wrinkle to the character that would inform many comics and the eventual movie The Wolverine, but it’s a huge reason why he became one of the biggest characters in comics for decades.

What to Read Next: The ongoing Wolverine comic book series, which began shortly after. While it may be somewhat dated, it picks up several threads and carries on much of what people loved about this miniseries.

Weapon X

Writer and Artist: Barry Windsor-Smith

weapon-x-windsor-smithAfter years of hinting at his early days, writer and artist Barry Windsor-Smith dove into Logan’s time in the Weapon X program – a military experiment that captured him and gave him his adamantium skeleton. Filled with gorgeous but disturbing artwork, it’s a trip into madness and violence that reveals crucial details about what made Logan into the beast known as Wolverine.

Why You Need to Read: Weapon X isn’t just about finding answers to a mystery, but diving headlong into a grotesque but compelling story. As Logan is broken down and destroyed in both body and mind, he fights his way back against his captors in a truly satisfying but haunting examination of what turned Logan into the haunted hero he is today.

What to Read Next: Origin, which details Wolverine’s early years for the first time. While it gives readers definitive answers on Logan’s early years, his Weapon X origin and the mystery of his past is far more interesting than any real answers.

Wolverine: Alone (X-Men #132)

Writer: Chris Claremont Artist: John Byrne

x-men-132-wolverine-aloneAlthough it’s a single issue in a larger story, this is a must for any Wolverine fan. After the X-Men have been beaten by the villainous Hellfire Club, it’s up to Wolverine to fight back and free his fellow heroes. All alone and surrounding by hordes of goons, the clawed hero slices his way through overwhelming odds despite being outnumbered by far more powerful villains along the way.

Why You Need to Read: This is one of the first comics to truly focus on Wolverine, with the character taking center stage while the rest of his fellow X-Men have been captured. In addition, it was the first time the character was shown to be extremely dangerous and truly lethal. It’s a gripping and tense story that is all about Logan tearing through every enemy in his way in service of a larger narrative. With this and just a few other stories, Wolverine would quickly make his way to massive amounts of popularity with readers.

What to Read Next: The Dark Phoenix Saga – This issue is just one part of the much larger story arc by Claremont, which is considered by many to be one of the defining X-Men stories. While Wolverine plays a supporting role in the story as a whole, anyone interested in seeing the X-Men team dynamic play out should love this iconic storyline.

Uncanny X-Force

Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Various

uncanny-x-force-remenderWolverine and a group of killer mutants including Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex, and Deadpool set out to put a final end to various threats around the world. But their fights with a reborn Apocalypse and villains with ties to their pasts test them to a greater degree than ever before due to a series of moral compromises and horrible consequences.

Why You Need to Read: The X-Force team has been reinvented time and time again over the years, but it has always been some form of paramilitary mutant group focused on the dirty jobs The X-Men won’t do. Here, Wolverine guides a new team into a serious of incredibly deadly and morally questionable special operations that have lasting consequences on both X-Force’s members and targets. Come for Wolverine, stay for the rest of the team. Not the least of which being Deadpool.

What to Read Next: ­X-Force (2008) – Even more Wolverine-led X-Force! While this is the team book that came before Remender’s you don’t have to read it first. Featuring more dirty missions and lots of death, this is one brutal X-Men team book.

Old Man Logan

Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Steve McNiven

old-man-logan-millarSet years in the future where the rest of the X-Men and almost all of the Marvel heroes have been killed after a group of villains took over the United States, Old Man Logan sees Logan long since retired from heroics after a mysterious tragedy. But he’s pulled out of his quiet family ways for an adventure across the vastly changed U.S. It’s a story of redemption, loss, and revenge that echoes Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and inspired the future-set Logan.

Why You Need to Read: While this is the loose basis for 2017’s film Logan, this is really just one of the character’s best modern stories. With the bleak post-apocalyptic setting and a Logan who has long abandoned his heroic ways, Old Man Logan is both a wild tour of a very different sort of Marvel Universe and a satisfying character arc for Wolverine, who is often subjected to repetitive types of stories. This is one of his best, don’t miss out!

What to Read Next: Old Man Logan by Jeff Lemire – Years later, the Old Man Logan character would enter the modern Marvel Universe after parallel universes collided, which continued the character’s story in a new environment.

Wolverine: Blood Debt

Writer and Artist: Steve Skroce

wolverine-blood-debt-comicIntrigue and mystery pull Wolverine back into the family feud of the Yashida clan, but this time the hero may be at the mercy of those who seek to use him as a pawn. Like his other great Japan stories, the hook of Blood Debt is the simultaneously vulnerability and capability of those he cares about most who are in the crosshairs of his worst enemies. Lots of action and violence to spare!

Why You Need to Read: The setting of Japan has proven to be fertile ground for many Wolverine stories throughout the decades and Skroce’s Blood Debt is easily one of the strongest of the modern era. Filled with betrayal, the lives of loved ones on the line, and the strength of coming off a line-wide refresh of every X-Men comic, and Blood Debt is a lesser read but incredibly strong entry into the ronin side of Wolverine’s ongoing saga. Plus, it’s got some fantastic artwork.

What to Read Next: Wolverine: Get Mystique – Get more deadly dealings between Logan and women he has a past with in this tale of long forgotten feuds and present day revenge, this time starring the deadly and deceptive Mystique.

Wolverine: Enemy of the State

Writer: Mark Millar Artist: John Romita, Jr.

wolverine-enemy-state-millarAfter a sneak attack by the evil ninja clan The Hand, Logan is turned into their brainwashed assassin and let loose on the world of Marvel heroes. It’s Wolverine at his deadliest and most unhinged and he’s loving every minute of it. But what can stop Wolverine and what will he do to those who used him?

Why You Need to Read: This is the best of both worlds, with readers given the unexpected thrill of seeing Wolverine acting as a villain and also seeing him take his revenge on those that used him. As an unleashed killing machine, Wolverine is truly terrifying as he tears his way through many different heroes, which helps make this story stand out amongst the others on this list. This is a tightly plotted, action movie-like story that brings in tons of great guest characters for a all-star trip through the Marvel Universe.

What to Read Next: Vicious Circle (The Incredible Hulk #340) – A single issue in The Hulk’s own book, this is just one of the many long and storied fights between these two heroes. This time, it’s Wolverine vs a weaker but smarter Hulk. If you love seeing Wolverine fight other heroes, this is the next step for you.

Not Dead Yet

Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Leinil Francis Yu

not-dead-yet-wolverineIn the wake of having the adamantium coating his bones and claws ripped out of him, Wolverine is in a darker and more vulnerable place than ever. And in this moment comes an old ally turned bitter enemy, who seeks to destroy Logan through a gauntlet composed of deadly assassins and adamantium weapons. A simple, lean story, Not Dead Yet is all about the thrills and fights.

Why You Need to Read: Wolverine’s street level, smaller scale adventures have come to define the character just as much, if not more, than his big, loud superhero stories. Here, writer Warren Ellis puts Wolverine through the ringer in a way that shows him vulnerable in new ways and in much more intimate manners. One of Wolverine’s biggest shortcomings as a character is his seeming invulnerability to any danger. Here, it’s certainly not the case and the result is a thrilling and wild tale.

What to Read Next: Fatal Attractions – The story in which Wolverine loses his adamantium. While it serves as the climax to a larger X-Men storyline, here an attack on Magneto sees the villain rip the unbreakable metal out of Wolverine, nearly killing him in the process. The result is a far more vulnerable Logan who discovers that he had bone claws all along. It’s one of the character’s defining moments in comics.

Kitty Pryde and Wolverine

Writer: Chris Claremont Artist: Al Milgrom

kitty-pryde-wolverine-comicTeenage X-Man Kitty Pryde becomes mixed up in Yakuza crime and is temporarily turned into a deadly assassin by the evil ninja Ogun. But when she targets Wolverine, he helps her overcome her conditioning and find new inner strength. As her mentor, Logan finds a new bond with and respect for Kitty Pryde, who would continue to be one of the most dynamic X-Men characters of the decade.

Why You Need to Read: Wolverine’s role as a mentor is a crucial part of his character and a much-needed contrast to his frequently depicted nature as a stoic, lone warrior. Here, we see his role as a father figure to the young mutant Kitty Pryde, which would come to define him in the ‘80s and inspire future friendships like his mentoring of Jubilee. When combined with further Japan adventures, we see a compelling and mature side to Wolverine.

What to Read Next: Death of Wolverine – You read the title right, this 2014 miniseries is all about the final days of Wolverine, who is targeted for death while dealing with the loss of his healing factor. Kitty plays a crucial role and Logan finds a fitting end, even if any death is only temporary in comic books.

Wolverine and The X-Men

Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Various

wolverine-and-x-men-comic-aaronIn the aftermath of several events that have splintered The X-Men, Wolverine has decided to reopen Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters as a way to atone for his past and set mutantkind on a brighter path for the future. Working as headmaster and running the school with several of his fellow X-Men, Logan welcomes young mutant students both new and old in an effort to make a positive impact on their lives. But this is comics, and things soon go wild in this 43-issue storyline.

Why You Need to Read: If you’re looking for something far different from the typical Wolverine story, this is it. Filled with colorful characters, a big cast, and a slightly more comedic tone, this is a big, sprawling story that pivots on Wolverine’s new role as a school headmaster, which involves plenty of hijinks, as well as the drama that comes from shepherding a group of young mutants through both education and high stakes action.

What to Read Next: Astonishing X-Men – Another twist on the X-Men team story, this time written by Joss Whedon. Like Wolverine and the X-Men, this takes a new approach to what the X-Men mean as a team while still providing big, colorful action and adventure.

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