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If I Pass This Way Again – We First Learned Wolverine’s Real Name From a LEPRECHAUN?!

This is the first installment of a brand-new feature that is about odd plot points that were never addressed again after they were first introduced.

We begin with the fact that we first learned Wolverine’s real name from a bunch of leprechauns!

X-Men #101-103 involved the X-Men visiting Banshee’s ancestral home, Cassidy Keep, in Ireland. However, they stumbled upon Banshee’s evil cousin, Black Tom, as well as Black Tom’s special friend, Juggernaut, who had taken control of the castle.

Before that, though, there’s a great scene where Wolverine criticizes the outfit Banshee is wearing for a formal dinner while Wolverine, himself, looks absolutely ridiculous…

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“Formal dinner? Then I just HAVE to wear my cowboy hat!”

Anyhow, in a battle with the bad guys, Wolverine, Banshee, Storm and Colossus were captured but Nightcrawler escaped – just barely. He was knocked out and he was met by…leprechauns!

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Nightcawler having the ability to vanish in the dark was, itself, more or less forgotten, but eventually Alan Davis returned to the idea during his Excalibur run, so it doesn’t qualify for this feature.

Then, after Nightcrawler frees most of his teammates (except for Banshee), we get the greatest revelation of all-time…

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Yes, leprechauns know Wolverine’s name! This is the first time that ANYone had heard “Logan” referenced and it was a LEPRECHAUN who did it?! Insane.

And it is also kind of nuts that a character like Wolverine who gets his past CONSTANTLY revisited has never addressed this story again. Wolverine says he never saw leprechauns before, but with his memory issues, it was likely just blocked it out.

Heck, the leprechauns themselves only showed up two more times, which is ALSO weird, considering how often old X-Men stories are stripmined for modern X-Men stories.

First, in Generation X, Banshee and the gang return to Cassidy Keep…

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And in a story set in the past in 2010′s Uncanny X-Men First Class #8, which, oddly enough, does not have Wolverine address the leprechaun thing again…

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So come on, Marvel writers, what are you waiting for? Reveal the hidden history between Wolverine and the leprechauns!

EDITED TO ADD: Someone pointed me to a quote my pal Teebore posted from Claremont about this particular time in X-Men history. It’s an interesting look into his approach at the time (emphasis added):

The beauty of writing X-Men at that time was that nobody had any expectations at all. We were so far beneath the radar. It was Dave (Cockrum) and me and the X-Men. We were like, ‘What outrageous thing can we do now? How about a space battle?’ Dave would go, ‘Whoa, yeah, space battle, yeah! Starship, binary stars – eat your heart out, Star Trek!’ It was all the stuff that we wanted to see and no one would ever do. You know, alien space battles and demons. Let’s kill off Jean! Nobody’ll see it coming! And then we’ll bring her back! We wanted to do stuff that we enjoyed and stuff that was fun. Let’s blow up Kennedy Airport! Let’s throw in homages to John Carter, Warlord of Mars! Let’s bring back Magneto and have him beat the living daylights out of the X-Men! It was almost like, ‘Can you top this?’ In this issue: leprechauns! For some reason, the effervescence, the audacity, the good stuff outweighed the bad. I look back on it now, and it’s like, ‘Oh, God, I could throw out, like, two-thirds of the copy!’ We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were certainly enjoying ourselves.

If you have suggestions for future editions of this feature, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

48 Comments

Oddly enough, the first Spider-Man game based on the Raimi movies got the idea that Spidey had the ability to disappear in shadows too (that’s at least the first time I’ve ever seen him with that power, alien suit notwithstanding). And now they’ve given that power to Miles.

I think we have the plot for the next Wolverine movie here…

And as an added meta-bonus, we can have Sean Connery in this appearance of the Wee Folk as well, in much the same capacity as he had the *last* time they were featured so prominently…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFN-y5AB6fs

Not sure about leprechauns, but I really want to see Hugh Jackman wear a cowboy hat in one the films before he gives it up..

If the leprechauns really knew so much, they’d know his REAL name is James Howlett. ;p

So come on, Marvel writers, what are you waiting for? Reveal the hidden history between Wolverine and the leprechauns!

I seriously want to read this.

@Shadowtag

I’ve played that game too and I don’t think Spidey was literally disappearing into the shadows, I think that was just the game visually representing him being cloaked in shadow

Nightcrawler’s disappearing power was used again during the fight with the Imperial Guard in the Blue Area of the moon during the Dark Phoenix Saga. He hid in the shadows when looking for Angel in a tunnel. Manta was able to see him anyhow because she can see in the infrared.

So if leprechauns are so smart, shouldn’t they have called Wolverine “Mr. Howlett”? (No, of course not, because Origin wouldn’t be written for another 25 years. Still, retcons make it even harder to read these things!)

I seem to recall Chris Claremont saying the Dave Cockrum wanted to draw leprechauns and had Nightcrawler fading into shadow and he just ran with it. So much of the legendary X-Men run of Claremont / Cockrum & Byrne arose from the Marvel Method. Brian, I’ll email you couple more Cockrumisms that just sort of pop-up and we never pass again.

Rollo Tomassi

May 28, 2014 at 7:26 am

I like how the furry, blue, elf demon with a tail finds the existence of leprechauns unbelievable.

I also love that the leprechaun is also “revealing” Wolverine’s secret of being some kind of mutated wolverine rather than a more typical mutant (which I think was the concept at the time).

See, *this* is why Jeph Loeb’s whole “Romulus” retcon didn’t work. If he’d revealed that Wolverine, Sabretooth and the rest were descended from leprechauns, the whole thing would’ve been much better received.

akkadiannumen

May 28, 2014 at 8:39 am

It’s a bit odd and silly but insane? Meh… The whole thing was explained right then and there (sort of): the leprechauns “know a lot of things”. Translation: It’s MAGIC! For further clarification, ask Spider-Man. What would be the point of revisiting that moment? It was just a silly throwaway line that wasn’t very well thought-out. There’s no real mystery. I suppose a story could be made using that as a starting point but it’s not something I’d be particularly interested in reading.

I rather like how the Claremont Era X-Men could have aliens, vampires, demons, leprechauns, hidden lands, magic portals, and it all felt like a part of the story, it made the theme of “protecting a mankind that hates and fears them” less bleak, because you had such diversions.

I don’t know, but the ability to go from serious to light-hearted and back again, and from child-like to mature and back again, seem to have been lost in comics. Nowadays you can either be fun or gritty, mature or for kids-only, the few series that manage to be both, like ASTRO CITY, have a bittersweet feel to them.

I’m inclined to agree with akkadian, there doesn’t have to be a back story here. Although that said, it is remarkable nobody has given us one.

It’s a bit odd and silly but insane? Meh… The whole thing was explained right then and there (sort of): the leprechauns “know a lot of things”.

But as shown with their reaction to Nightcrawler, they really don’t seem to possess some magical ability to know stuff – it only pops up with regards to Wolverine, suggesting something different there.

I also love that the leprechaun is also “revealing” Wolverine’s secret of being some kind of mutated wolverine rather than a more typical mutant (which I think was the concept at the time).

Yeah, you can definitely read it as being the last clue by Claremont/Cockrum that Wolverine was a mutated wolverine before they dropped that plot idea (heck, based on the timing of the issue, there’s a decent chance that they never actually DID drop it, but rather that Byrne dropped it when he took over the book from Cockrum).

Does anyone else think that the leprechaun that’s talking to Wolverine looks a lot like the Elf With a Gun from Steve Gerber’s Defenders?

There may not be a story there. Just because he knows Logan’s name doesn’t mean he’s met him before. These ARE magical creatures… Knowledge is a commodity, and leprecauns like wealth…

@Rollo Tommasi

Kurt being amazed at the otherwordly things the X-Men encountered was a key character trait in those issues. He’d often feel as though his life as an X-Man enabled him to experience things he’d see in his favorite movies. In that sense, he functioned as a kind of POV character.

It should be noted…when the leprechaun said he didn’t believe in talking wolverines…Wolverines original intended history was that he was a Wolverine turned into a man…yeah…that’s true and a fact my friends.

I can’t believe you people are taking “Reveal the secret history of Wolverine and the leprechauns!” seriously.

When they retcon Wolverines’ ‘origin’, Logan can be his real last name.

So, of course, the Irish guy’s castle had to have leprechauns in it…..

And I don’t know if it was the Handbook to the Marvel Universe, or the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, or both, but Nightcrawler being able to “fade into shadows” was a known, listed, power to me. Fir a guy in black with dark blue fur who could open portals, it never seemed that odd to me. Till it was pointed out how few times he’s used it here.

This is how they can bring Mr. Logan back from the dead and restore his healing factor!

“We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were certainly enjoying ourselves.” — And that’s how they captured magic in a bottle.

I have always wondered about this since I first read it 20 years ago. Recently bought both of the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus hoping to finally find out if they ever explained it in anyway or revisited the reveal. And all I had to do was wait for this report.

Kent Hare: You are absolutely correct.

I like this random lephreachans just happen to know Wolverine’s secret ID approach. I am surprised Marvel has never had a story behind this

M-Wolverine, Alan Davis gave a great explanation of Nightcrawler’s invisibility in shadows in Excalibur. If I remember it right, he postulated that Nightcrawler has a teleportation field around him at all times, sort of like a mobile gateway into another dimension. The field creates the invisibility effect when it’s in shadow. I always liked that — basically it’s not a secondary or tertiary mutation, it’s a side effect of his teleportation ability.

If the Leprecauns called Wolverine by the wrong name and hinted at the wrong origin, then who is to say they weren”t just messing with him?

i heard, somewhere, that wolverines intended origin was that he were an evolutionarily advanced woverine, or some shit. though who s to say maybe we all are, y know, evolved from wolverines. or some shit

So here’s the question I have about Kurt disappearing: sometimes it’s a “blend into shadows” deal (see the first Excalibur one shot as he watches the Technet from the safety of a shadow on a wall before crushing Body Bags; I also think that was the case for the Jean Grey fight) and then we have it as “invisibility” in the early going (here, the first fight in Murderworld, etc.).

I chalk it up to various writers making their own alteration to how the ability works. That no one writes him using it that much seems odd given the sheer utility of it with his standard power set (a teleporter who turns invisible in shadows? He could totally stay out of danger forever with that).

In any case, I do believe that this was an attempt to boost Kurt’s power set that didn’t take for whatever reason; in the early going here, it was clear that he was the weakest power-wise of the ANAD X-Men.

Ah, love the wild times of early X-Men where Claremont was still finding his way and thus going all out as Marvel had no expectations this was going to be their biggest hit.

And come on, given all the insanity the X-Men have experienced since, leprechauns fall on the mild side.

Smokescreen wrote:
in the early going here, it was clear that he was
the weakest power-wise of the ANAD X-Men.

Agreed; this occurred to me while watching Blink in Days of Future Past; the way they depict her powers, it seemed to me she was much better in a fight than Nightcrawler ever was.

And no Claremontian angst about how much stress transporting others would cause, and maybe they wouldn’t make it, etc.

@Mike Blake
Blink’s teleporting has always been shown to be more offensive than Kurts, the Age of Apocalypse version, the one that has had more comic appearances than the regular timeline one, can teleport to the moon and back, so whilst not as powerful as say…Lila Cheny, who can go from one side of the universe to the other, she pretty much eclipses (see what I did there?) Kurt.
Add to that the fact that she can use her teleporting offensively, such as channeling it through her javelins, cutting foes in half by allowing them part way through a portal then closing it off, and her extensive training (The AOA version at any rate), as well as defensively it’s clear to see why she’s a fan fave.
But I think Kurt works better from a storytelling perspective, Blink could be considered too powerful and as such placing her in jeopardy could seem more forced, whereas Kurt’s weakness gives writers something to exploit, the mutant massacre is a good example of using it well I think.

Hey Michael O, these are comic books we are talking about. If you don’t take them seriously what hope does the world have? I for one want a series called Wolverine & the Leprechauns.

Oops sorry that’s to Michael . I’m Mike O!

Mike Loughlin

May 29, 2014 at 6:43 am

They didn’t call him “James Howlett” because Wolverine didn’t know his name was James Howlett. If they called him that, he’d have said, “James who? Wrong guy, bub.”

THINK LOGICALLY, PEOPLE!!!

His name is Logan, not James Howlett, and bone claws never happens. We all have personal retcon ability :)

@Alex

When they retcon Wolverines’ ‘origin’, Logan can be his real last name.

They kind of did. While ORIGIN didn’t, explicitly, state it, it was heavily implied that the Howlett’s groundskeeper, Thomas Logan, was Wolvie’s biological father. This seems to have been corroborated in Jason Aaron’s “Wolverine Goes To Hell” arc.

@Anonymous

So come on, Marvel writers, what are you waiting for? Reveal the hidden history between Wolverine and the leprechauns!

Great!…thanks for spoiling the plot of ORIGIN III. :)

I’m exercising my personal retcon ability:

“Wolverine” is a false memory implanted in the minds of everyone in the world at the moment of Professor X’s death in order to cover up the thousands of ninja Professor X has killed with his brain over the years.

All appearances of Wolverine SINCE AvX have been a group of Bamfs operating an elaborate Wolverine puppet suit on the professor’s orders. The slow crawl towards the “death” of Wolverine is their escape strategy.

My personal Marvel universe is the best Marvel universe.

As for the Logan/Howlett thing:

Based on what passes out there for lore about the little people, they would know him by the name he identifies with the most. At the time, he did not know of or see himself as “James Howlett”. He had, for all intents, BECOME “Logan” in his own heart and mind. So, that became his true name until his past was revealed to him. And, even later, if someone was to try to work true name magic on him, I really don’t think James Howlett would work after the , while Logan might. But, that’s up to Marvel to explore.

There’s nothing better than the good old days when comic books were fun and exciting and awesome!

Just thought I’d mention that the Classic Xmen reprint of the story (issues 10 and 11) removed all reference to Nightcrawler’s invisibility in shadows.(1 page missing and at least one panel redrawn)

“But as shown with their reaction to Nightcrawler, they really don’t seem to possess some magical ability to know stuff – it only pops up with regards to Wolverine, suggesting something different there.”

Like I said before, not very well thought-out.

David Spofforth

June 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

@Mormel
“Kurt being amazed at the otherwordly things the X-Men encountered was a key character trait in those issues.”

Best of all, from Bizarre Adventures 27, was his astonishment that there was really a place called “Poughkeepsie”. As a non-American, I really empathised with Kurt there!

ParanoidObsessive

July 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm

“Formal dinner? Then I just HAVE to wear my cowboy hat!”

To be fair, it WAS the 70′s. It was a very different time then.

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