Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, and sometimes that’s pretty sad. While most fans do not really think of Wolverine stories as very emotional, that’s not the case at all. Long-time fans of the character know that Wolverine is more than just a clawed berserker; he’s a deeply troubled man, one who has lived far longer than he should have and experienced more pain than most can imagine.
Over the years, there have been rather sad Wolverine stories that still tug at the heartstrings of his fans even years later. These formative tragedies have made Wolverine who he is.
10 Origin Reveals That Wolverine’s Life Was Fraught With Tragedy From The Beginning
Origin, by writer Paul Jenkins and artist Andy Kubert, finally revealed the beginnings of Wolverine and also threw a lot of tear-jerker moments at fans. Telling the story of young James Howlett, the future Logan, it revealed the terrible night his powers manifested, as Wolverine accidentally killed his mother while attacking the groundskeeper who had just shot his father.
Forced into the wilderness with no one but his nursemaid Rose, his unrequited love for her would end when he accidentally killed her as well. This would not be the last time Wolverine killed a woman he loved, and the whole thing let readers know how sad his life had always been.
9 New X-Men: Planet X Was Full Of Pain For Wolverine
New X-Men: Planet X isn’t technically a Wolverine story, but it does have some heartbreaking Wolverine moments in it. Written by Grant Morrison with art by Phil Jimenez, this story paid off years of New X-Men plots, as Magneto attacked the X-Mansion after sending the X-Men on multiple wild goose chases meant to lead to their deaths.
In New X-Men # 148, Wolverine and Jean Gray were trapped on a chunk of Asteroid M as it was pulled into the sun, the situation getting increasingly desperate. Wanting to save her the pain, Wolverine kills Jean, who then turns into the Phoenix. Later, back on Earth, Jean stops Magneto but is killed by him, and Wolverine lops off his head in a rage. Having to kill Jean, getting her back, and then watching her die again was a roller coaster for Wolverine and fans.
8 Wolverine # 100 Had Wolverine Sacrifice His Humanity To Save His Friends
Wolverine # 100, by writer Larry Hama and artist Adam Kubert, was the culmination of the first phase of the bone claw years. Wolverine, captured by Cable’s evil son Genesis and the Dark Riders, was getting his adamantium put back into him and brainwashed to become Genesis’ newest servant. Fellow X-Man Cannonball comes to save the day but is hopelessly outnumbered and on the verge of death when Wolverine makes a fateful decision.
Taking conscious command of his healing factor for the first and only time, he expels the adamantium from his system, going fully feral, and hunts down Genesis and the Dark Riders. Wolverine gave up his humanity in order to save Cannonball, making a terrible sacrifice.
7 The Death Of Wolverine Was All About A Man Facing The End Of His Life
Marvel’s heroes die and come back all the time, so when The Death Of Wolverine was announced, fans knew it was only temporary. Written by Charles Soule with art by Steve McNiven, the story saw a healing factor-less Wolverine, the years of abuse catching up with him, going on one last journey in order to find out who was targeting him and his friends.
A travelogue through Wolverine history, an air of melancholy pervades this story. Wolverine is a man on his final legs, doing everything he can to save the day one last time even though it has become nearly impossible. He’s resigned to his fate but never stops fighting.
6 Ultimate X-Men # 41 Sees Wolverine Forced To Do The Unthinkable
Ultimate X-Men # 41, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch, is a Wolverine-centric issue that’s a pure heart breaker. A teenager wakes up in his small town, and no one’s around, just wisps of smoke as he enters rooms. He makes his way to school and is met by Wolverine, where he learns the truth; he’s a mutant, and his power has killed everyone in town.
From there, the two have a conversation about the unfairness of the world. Wolverine’s healing factor saves him from the teen’s power, but he must kill him so mutants will not be blamed for what happened. It’s a brilliant story and one of the best Wolverine tales of all time.
5 Uncanny X-Men # 172-173 Saw The End Of His Engagement With Mariko Yashida
Wolverine’s relationship with Mariko Yashida was perfect for him, and the two were supposed to be married. Uncanny X-Men # 172-173, by writer Chris Claremont and artist Paul Smith, had the X-Men head to Japan for the wedding, just for everyone but Wolverine and Rogue to be poisoned at the wedding party by Viper and Silver Samurai.
Wolverine and Rogue overcome their differences and work together to bring the villains down, returning to the wedding with the antidote. Unfortunately, Mastermind uses his powers on Mariko and she cancels the wedding, breaking their engagement and Wolverine’s heart. It’s one of Marvel’s more tragic weddings, and fans get to see Wolverine’s tears at the end.
4 Old Man Logan Was Built On A Tragedy And Got Sadder From There
Old Man Logan, by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, is a modern classic. Fans get sad moments throughout, witnessing the wreckage of a possible future where the villains won. The reveal that Wolverine killed his friends in the X-Men is bad enough, but it only gets worse when he returns home from his quest to find his family dead.
Old Man Logan does not spare readers from the pain. It keeps upping the ante on its broken world, dragging readers down with it. Even the rather triumphant ending has a strain of melancholy to it, built on the deaths of everyone Wolverine has ever loved.
3 Uncanny X-Force: The Final Execution Pits Father Against Son In A Battle To The Death
Wolverine’s son Daken quickly became one of his greatest foes, and their final battle took place Uncanny X-Force: The Final Execution. Written by Rick Remender with art by Mike McKone, Phil Noto, Julian Tedesco, and Dave Williams, the story pit Daken’s Brotherhood against X-Force with the fate of the Apocalypse clone Evan Sabah Nur at stake.
The whole thing ended in a final battle between father and son, one that saw Wolverine drown his own son, a fate that would have been his if Daken had his way. Seeing their broken relationship end in such a terrible way was undeniably sad.
2 Wolverine (1989) # 10 Showed One Of Sabretooth’s Most Terrible Acts
Sabretooth has tormented Wolverine for years, and Wolverine (1989) # 10, by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Buscema, shows one of his most despicable acts. Set in the past on the Canadian frontier, Wolverine comes home from a fishing trip to find his girlfriend Silver Fox brutally murdered and immediately goes after Sabretooth, who reveals he did it because she told him no.
This leads to a violent battle between the two men, one that sees Wolverine take a horrendous beating. A formative chapter in the battle between Wolverine and Sabretooth, it’s an iconic story that shows just how dangerous being in love with Wolverine is.
1 Wolverine (1989) # 55-57 Shows Readers The Tragic End Of His And Mariko’s Relationship
Wolverine is not exactly lucky in love, and Wolverine (1989) # 55-57, by writer Larry Hama and artist Marc Silvestri, is yet another example of why. Wolverine heads to Japan to pick up Jubilee after their last mission and, along with Gambit, finds Mariko embroiled in a battle with Matsuo Tsurayaba and the Hand. Eventually, it ends in a peace conference where Mariko is poisoned by Matsuo.
Mariko, dreading a painful honorless death by poison, asks Wolverine to kill her, and he obliges, ending the life of the woman he loves. It’s easily the saddest Wolverine story ever, a tragic end to Wolverine and Mariko’s love.
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