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Drawing Crazy Patterns – Wolverine Threatening With His Third Claw

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics).

Today, based on I am pretty sure a suggestion by yo go re (I’ve misplaced who suggested it), we look at five instances of Wolverine putting his two end claws on both sides of a person’s head and then threatening to “pop” his middle claw, as well.

Enjoy!

Note that I’m only doing times he THREATENS to do it, so not the time he actually DID do it to Sabretooth.

Amazingly enough, Wolverine never used this trick in the pages of X-Men or Wolverine until Marc Silvestri was drawing the book. Until then, when Wolverine went “snikt” – it was always all three claws coming out. He would threaten people in a variation of this move, but it would be with all the claws still inside his forearm, threatening to pop them ALL.

So Uncanny X-Men #230 saw it happen for the first time (except outside of X-Men and Wolverine’s regular titles)…

Jim Lee first used it in Uncanny X-Men #258…

As it turns out, though, as luck would have it, it DID first appear outside the regular books! It first showed up in God Loves, Man Kills (a graphic novel). I’ll show you that one as a BONUS!

It also showed up in the 1987 Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot.

But no one used it for eight years in the regular titles until Lee did in 1990. Then Todd McFarlane also did it in a 1991 issue of Spider-Man.

Lee used it again in a 1992 issue of X-Men #6…

The first time it showed up in Wolverine’s own series was when Darick Robertson had Wolverine do it to Shatterstsr in Wolverine #54…

Wolverine next did it in X-Men #21, when Brandon Peterson and Dan Panosian show Wolverine doubting Psylocke’s bona fides after Revanche showed up (the lady whose body Betsy was now living in, showing up wearing Betsy’s OLD body)….

Finally, in Uncanny X-Men #329, the bone claws are used (I guess this one is a double bonus!)…

If you have a suggestion for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns installment, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

58 Comments

During the”perceptions” arc, in Spider-man 12, he does it againbVS Spidey. That one was first than the last two posted.

Professor Yaaaargh

July 16, 2011 at 3:59 am

Doesn’t he do it in “God Loves, Man Kills” – published in 1982 and drawn by Brent Anderson?

Travis Pelkie

July 16, 2011 at 4:02 am

That last one reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas show. “Those are good reasons!”

The first time I saw Wolverine threaten someone with “the third claw” was in the X-Men graphic novel `god loves, man kills”.

It predates all the above. As I remember, it freaked out the rest of the X-men as much as the guy he was interrogating.

Beaten to the punch twice; that’s what I get for not being on the internet at 3 am!. Yeah, the first and to my mind definitive moment of this was in God Loves Man Kills.

Freyes mentions the time Wolverine did this move in McFarlane’s “Spider-Man” series, and that was the first time I ever saw him do something else: pop the middle claw only halfway so it just touched the tip of Spidey’s nose. Before then, I’d just assumed the claws could either be all the way popped or all the way sheathed, like an old car door that wouldn’t hang open mid-way.

Frank Tieri, at the beginning of his run in Wolverine #159, had him do this to a lackey of new villain Mister X.

If we’re allowed to count non-comics stuff, then Logan did his trick in the first X-Men film.

Wolverine 90, anyone?

Man, I never liked that bit. I mean, how huge is wolverine’s fist that his claws can reach both sides OF A HUMAN HEAD? The only explanation is that they go sideways when they come out… and that makes no sense- how do they fit inside his arm them?

I recall him pulling it on Gambit sometime during the Muir Island Saga, too.

The one I remember the most is with Sabertooth where he ended up popping the middle claw in the end. Man that issue was fantastic!

He seems to do it a lot when Psylocke is involved. Four out of the above five involved her. (The last one is when he and Archangel were looking for the Crimson Dawn to save her life, I believe).

I think that has a lot to do with Jim Lee liking to draw Psylocke…

He also did in the great Wolverine Vs. Spider-Man special from 1987.

I remember the Spider-Man instance, and was annoyed because I’d read somewhere (The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, maybe?) that the claws had to either be fully extended or fully retracted.

A bit surprised to see it didn’t happen before #258. My first X-Men comic was the first time Wolverine threatened someone like that. How cool.

The bit with the third claw is SO bad that most artists have to show the outside claws curving around the target just to make it work.

Look at that Revanche one! It is like his claws are a giant pair of tweezers!

@Sijo I always Thought that His Claws Rested in his Forearms not his hands and Just popped into place and Settled in his hands when in use. Therefor His claws could be as long as his Forearms give or take a inch or two.

The “You ever dance with the Devil by the Pale Moonlight” can’t be a coincidence…that’s gotta be an easter egg homage to the Batman movie that came out months prior to the comic

Rollo Tomassi

July 16, 2011 at 9:14 am

My first recollection of that trope was in early issues of Wolverine’s book. I can’t recall the exact issue or if it was Buscema or Byrne’s run, but both of those predate Lee on X-Men as well.

I’m generally no fan of Lee’s art, but at least that first use has the outer claws going around the target’s neck, which is just about plausible, rather than around a head.

Billy Bissette

July 16, 2011 at 9:32 am

@Looking In

I wouldn’t call it an easter egg, as Wolverine does two straightforward movie reference “threats”. First, the Joker from the Keaton Batman films, and when Mandarin doesn’t get the reference, he does Dirty Harry’s “Do you feel lucky”.

The Keaton Batman films were big, and for a while “Dance with the devil in the pale moonlight” caught on for a lot of people. If that issue came out not horribly long after the first film, then it was still a highly recognizable line.

Billy Bissette

July 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

@Sijo

In most cases, at least Wolverine seems to do it to the neck or below the chin, so the claw spread isn’t too bad. The Shatterstar page by far looks the worst, as he does it at eye level. Worse, the claws are *still* pretty far outside his head. I mean, the points have to be around a foot apart by that image.

Then again, wasn’t there a period where Wolverine’s claws were drawn angled out (like a “W”), even in regular shots?

Yeah, I have God Loves, Man Kills open in front of me, and Wolverine definitely does it there. Probably for the first time, but I wouldn’t swear to it. But in any case, a good 8 years before that first Jim Lee example.

Oh, and here’s that McFarlane Spider-Man page, by the way (scan not mine):
http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/1567/mcfarlaneyp6.jpg

No Wolverine # 90?

I will beat the dead horse and repeat that I saw this the first time in the graphic novel, and it was very freaky. He popped one claw, then two, then said “wanna go for three..?”

It was one of many moments that made that story feel very mature (or maybe “edgy”) to me. Besides the heaviness of the subject matter (with lynchings, etc.), it also had the first times I’d read the words “bitch” and “bastards” in a comic, the first blood that was actually coloured red, Prof. X getting crucified, Nightcrawler threatening to bite a guy’s jugular, and the above claw-popping interrogation.

Which to a ten-year-old all amounted to “cool”.

He kinda did it to Iron Fist when the X-Men first met him in Iron Fist #15, but the claws came up through Iron Fist’s mask rather than on either side of his head. The middle was threatened to go through Iron Fist’s head, like between the eyes, up the nose.

My suggestion was “Wolverine with less than all three claws popped,” so while this fits, I wasn’t thinking as specific as the “claws around the head” pose – someone else gets the credit for this one!

Cool, that was my suggestion! Pretty cool, BC, I never would have thought it was such a recent fad

reyes mentions the time Wolverine did this move in McFarlane’s “Spider-Man” series, and that was the first time I ever saw him do something else: pop the middle claw only halfway so it just touched the tip of Spidey’s nose. Before then, I’d just assumed the claws could either be all the way popped or all the way sheathed, like an old car door that wouldn’t hang open mid-way.

Has anyone other than McFarlane had Wolverine use his claws that way? I’m wondering if it’s one of those Mopee moments of one writer coming up with an innovation that didn’t really fit into canon very well and was conveniently ignored thereafter.

Well, I cannot remember anoter time he used such claws that way. However Xmen the Movie has the claws slowly coming out at the bar scene. Also, now knowing that such are part of his bones and not an hydraulic system, I think it’s natural to control them that way.

No Wolverine # 90?

Just times when he THREATENED to use them. As I note, I am specifically excluding the time he actually DID “pop” the third claw, which was Wolverine #90.

I recall him pulling it on Gambit sometime during the Muir Island Saga, too.

I thought so, as well, but when I checked it, he did not.

During the”perceptions” arc, in Spider-man 12, he does it againbVS Spidey. That one was first than the last two posted.

That was after the first Jim Lee one.

Man, that McFarlane scan irritates me. There is no way that Wolverine could conceivably manhandle Spider-Man in such a cavalier fashion. The only Spidey vs Wolverine sequence that works is the scene in SECRET WARS where Spider-Man demolishes Wolverine.

The first time I remember seeing it wasn’t in a comic at all. The big Marvel: 5 fabulous decades book that had a history of Marvel in it, also included some comic stories in the back. There was a Golden Age Sub-Mariner, Amazing Spider-Man #2 (vs the Vulture, not the Tinkerer), possibly one more that I can’t remember, and a Wolverine Story where he did this to a guy, who may or may not have been part of the hand. (Been years since I read it). I do recall that he actually cut the guy with the third claw, but didn’t kill him. Any idea which issue was reprinted in there? Thanks

@Sijo, Bedlam66 & Billy Bissette

I have thought about this, too.

If his claws are housed between his ulnar and his radius, EVEN if they slide in place right next to each other, his forearms would HAVE to be much wider than most. Those claws would have to have space to articulate, sliding past each other, within the arm when he rotates it. There would also have to be some weird spacing in the bones of the wrist to allow passage of the claws parallel to the metacarpals (this also means he couldn’t bend his wrist while the claws were being extruded).

So, accompanying his mutant abilities would be a very unique skeletomuscular anatomy in his forearms, wrists and hands. Whatever the biomechanics of housing, extruding and locking the claws in place, it would NECESSARILY present as enormous forearms and wide hands.

The more interesting question to me is what is causing the claws to extrude with SUCH FORCE that they can pass through flesh and bone? I can understand that once they are locked in place (another set of bones snapping in place behind the claws), Wolverine’s own strength (superhuman?), the hardness of the Adamantium, and the sharpness of the blades would allow them to cut through many things. BUT, with only the force of whatever is pushing the blades out, if those things can pass through metal objects (first example above), then the mechanism (muscular in nature) must be quite powerful.

Travis Pelkie

July 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm

@Killer Moth — I don’t know which story it is in that Marvel 5 decades book, but from what I recall, the Wolverine story in there was one that was not published prior to that appearance. I seem to recall hearing something about a “previously unpublished Wolverine story” with that book, and my guess would be that the reason it wasn’t published was due to the cutting of the guy.

That book would have been, what, late ’80s, then? So still not the very first time it happened, but close.

I just read Uncanny X-Men #230 and Wolverine does it to Rogue during a training exercise.

Good catch, Philip, thanks!

“The only explanation is that they go sideways when they come out”

I feel like I’m strange. I look at my hand, and my knuckles are clearly NOT parallel, so I don’t have any problem thinking of Wolverine’s claws the same way.

The Wolverine story in the Marvel Five Fabulous Decades book was called The Hunter & was originally published in a book of Marvel stories that was sold exclusively in Sears stores in 1987.

The actual sequence was Wolverine had his fist against the guy’s throat, we hear the Snikt, then we see the guy with two bloody cuts at the sides of his neck & Wolverine holding up two claws & threatening to come back & finish what he started.

Although considering that the blood would indicate the guy’s jugular vein had been cut I’m not sure the third claw would be necessary. ;-)

Thanks for the info, KAM.

And now I ask, WTF was Sears thinking?

Wards had Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Sears had Wolverine basically killing a guy.

Although Sears IS still in business and Wards isn’t…

Well, maybe if Wards had had Rudolph go crazy & nearly kill someone maybe they’d still be around? ;-)

Huh. From the description, I would have sworn that was the story where Wolverine tells Matsuo (of the Hand) that he’s going to slice him apart one piece at a time, and starts by third-clawing half of his nose off.

I could have sworn that he did this during John Romita JR’s first or second run on Uncanny. I don’t remember the issue (and digging it out is too much work), but I remember it made a big impression on me at the time. If I had to guess, I’d say it was around the time of the Secret Wars II tie-ins, but don’t know why I think that.

Didn’t Wolverine also do the third claw trick in that story that Marshall Rogers drew? I don’t know where it first appeared, but it was one of the stories reprinted in the Marvel 50th Anniversary book.

I could have sworn that he did this during John Romita JR’s first or second run on Uncanny. I don’t remember the issue (and digging it out is too much work), but I remember it made a big impression on me at the time. If I had to guess, I’d say it was around the time of the Secret Wars II tie-ins, but don’t know why I think that.

JRjr had Wolverine threaten with the claws a lot, but not the “two claws” approach. To wit, in one of the more graphic scenes of mid-80s X-Men, he threatens Rachel to not kill Selene by holding his fist (sans claws) against her chest. When she refuses, he “pops” his claws, gutting her.

@KAM, Travis,

hey guys. Thanks for the info.

@ Looking In & Billy Bissette
re: The Batman reference
Those issues have a bunch of Batman refs. It’s the debut of the Jubilee “Robin” outfit and Jim Lee homages a lot of Dark Knight Returns panels in the art.

@Fred10 – Really good points, but, um, it’s comics, man. We’re talking about a comic in specific where Wolverine serves on a team with a woman who controls weather and a guy who turns into steel. No explanations needed. ;)

@ED:

He kinda did it to Iron Fist when the X-Men first met him in Iron Fist #15, but the claws came up through Iron Fist’s mask rather than on either side of his head.

I think that’s technically the first time he did it, though I suppose it isn’t exactly the same as later uses. I do love that the claws came up through Iron Fist’s mask though.

My favorite instance of this was at the end of that department store promotional that was at the end of Les Daniels’s “MARVEL: Five Fabulous Decades”. You know the one where he “sneaks in” by intentionally getting shot to pieces? Someone wrote about this here or somewhere and I went back and read it and it’s still gravy.

“Until then, when Wolverine went “snikt” – it was always all three claws coming out.”

I’m pretty sure in Giant Size X-Men 1 he popped just one with a SNIKT! when he first decides to go with Prof X. I’ve only read reprints, so I can’t be sure this wasn’t somehow edited to have the “snikt” effect.

No, you’re correct, Atrocitus. Good eye!

I wonder why they stuck with just three claws so long afterward.

@ Pj Perez

Oh, well.. yeah! It would never keep from reading or enjoying the comic. I was just aknowledging that I think about it. It is, after all, our nature to rationalize and attempt to reconcile inconsistencies and contradictions. That’s what myth-making is all about. What are comic book superhero stories but modern myth-making? As science seems to have the real world pretty much tapped down, it’s fun to apply these parts of our brains to more imaginative realms. True, one can never fully explain comic book phenomena without eventually running in circles, chasing their own tail, but it’s always seemed to me that the more you try, the more fantastic the stories become. For example, applying the logic from my first post, there IS a rationale for Wolvie’s forearms and fists to be wider than someone’s face, making it easier to suspend disbelief for at least a larger chunk of the action depicted.

Biggest and baddest display of the third claw offer was Uncanny X-men Annual 4, where the X-men have to go to hell to rescue Nightcrawler from Margoli Szardos. Wolverine threatens the devil himself if I recall correctly thats who he was. Drawn by none other the JRJR himself! :)

Iron FIst #15

didn’t he do it to a brainwashed havoc during the extinction agenda?

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