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Comic Book Legends Addendum

Regarding the story of “Wolverine was originally meant to be a mutated wolverine,” the story itself is true, but Len Wein has been mis-attributed by many folks (including by me) as being involved in the idea.

From the late, great Dave Cockrum:

Stan Lee himself put the kibosh on it. We were going to suggest that Wolverine was not a human at all, but a mutated wolverine. There were remarks in the storyline at one point where somebody was assessing Wolverine and saying, “I’m not even sure he’s human” or something like that, which would have led up to it. But Stan found the concept disgusting.

Here is the scene in question, from X-Men #98…

The confusion comes from the first time Cockrum discussed it, years earlier, in an interview in 1981 or 82. It came up in connection to some unused ideas Len Wein had for Wolverine, and then Cockrum went into the mutated wolverine idea, and ever since then, it has been conflated that Wein was involved in THIS unused idea, as well (and I think that’s reasonable enough – if you say “Wein wanted to do this, Wein wanted to do that” and then you follow with “we were originally going to do this” then it seems like it is Wein who’s being discussed – and then in the future, Cockrum just refered to the idea as something “we” were going to do).

But that’s not the case.

Apologies to Mr. Wein for the mis-attribution!

Thanks to Scott Beatty for the Cockrum quote.

When you read this story in the book, just imagine Cockrum’s name in place of Wein’s. ;) If we ever get a new printing, I’ll fix the error.

17 Comments

Thank you so much, Brian, for the correction. This has been gnawing at me like few other mistakes over the course of my career, and I appreciate your help in setting the record straight.

— Len Wein

An idea too goofy even for Stan!

Heh. There’s a story that then-publisher Martin Goodman didn’t want Stan Lee to put out a character called Spider-Man because he felt spiders were too repellent, so it’s funny that Stan put the kibosh on something a little over ten years later for the same reason!

Of course, Wolverine probably wouldn’t have come as popular a character with the “mutated wolverine” origin, so I suppose it goes to show that Stan Lee has good taste…

Is this the same rumour that state that mutants with animal-like powers actually evolve from non-primate animals? Like Angel is a descendant of birds and Wolfsbane evolved from wolves?

I’m glad they changed him to an irradiated gerbil instead. It’s more appropriate somehow.

“An idea too goofy even for Stan!”

Odd too, considering he didn’t seem to have those qualms when he and Jack made the High Evolutionary’s New Men. Considering that Wundagore Mountain and its environs have been involved in so damn many characters’ backstories, Wolverine would be a logical fit.

Oh Stan, you work in mysterious ways.

The difference was probably that the New Men were obviously animal people, and were always written as mutated animals, while Woverine looked and acted human. The idea of Wanda and Pietro having basically a female minotaur for a nanny was cute, the idea of Jean and Scott being in a love triangle with what they didn’t realize was actually a large weasel (insert obvioust joke here) grossed Stan out. Heck, you cruise enough message boards, you’ll find people that are freaked out by humans and Vulcans having sex on Star Trek (“They’re not even the same SPECIES!!! Won’t someone think of the children!?!?”). There also might be an offshoot of the uncanny valley involved: everyone knows animal people are SUPPOSED to look like, well, animal people; animal people that look like ACTUAL people? That’s just creepy!

Nice to see Len Wein here. Hope the recovery from the fire is going well, Len!

Dave says “we”. If “we” wasn’t Len and he, then who else was it? Claremont?

I don’t really feel like presuming anyone for the we, Frank, as the last time that happened ended up with the mis-attribution for Len Wein.

Jeez, if this origin had remained, think how it would have altered Wolverine’s history. Would he still get engaged to Mariko and show an interest in Jean?

Now there’s a What If? for Marvel to do.

So, did this influence the hint in Wolverine Origins that Wolverine, Sabretooth et al are all mutated Wolves??
Or has that been Kiboshed now? I recently dropped Origins AND Wolverine…

DesertSon915

May 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm

“Heh. There’s a story that then-publisher Martin Goodman didn’t want Stan Lee to put out a character called Spider-Man because he felt spiders were too repellent, so it’s funny that Stan put the kibosh on something a little over ten years later for the same reason!”

Not even close to being the same reason.

imaginary dave

May 21, 2009 at 5:25 am

RE: interspecies action.

Jessica Alba’s character in dark angel was a genetic mix including cats of some kind, and i havent heard of anyone having any problems imagining having a relationship with her…

The Snappy Sneezer

May 31, 2009 at 5:58 am

Interesting this,\ didn’t Stan protest the origin of Spider-Woman being a Spider as well? I am glad he did by the by. I am so glad there are rumors of a Spider-Woman DVD coming. I must ask was there a 70’s initiative to create characters evolved from animals. Does Stan hate the idea of growing human body parts in sheep? Genetic alteration of such a nature from animals to human seems to get his goat.

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Personally I’m very glad that Stan stepped in when he did. The idea of Logan being an anthropomorphic wolverine who pretends to be human is utterly retarded. I can’t believe that any decent writer would even consider using such an awful idea. That’s pretty much along the same lines as a writer triumphantly exclaiming, “wait, what if he could shoot motorcycles…made out solid gold…from…get this…his fingertips?!”.

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