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The Wrong Side: Sabretooth vs. Wendigo

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In this feature, I examine comic book fights that were particularly notable in the wrong side winning (or at least that the fight wasn’t won the “right” way). This really isn’t a big deal, of course, as it doesn’t really matter if the “wrong” person won a fight. But it’s fun to talk about!

If you want to suggest a fight for future inclusion in this feature, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Don’t suggest a fight in the comments!

This week, based on a suggestion from reader Keith, we take a look at Sabretooth doing surprisingly well against Wendigo…

As always, the first page we look at their power levels and on the second page, we look at the fight itself.

Also, as always, we answer the age-old question – “How did they do when they fought Spider-Man?”

As I’ve featured a few times, Spider-Man kicked Sabretooth’s ass when they fought.

Spider-Man, oddly enough, never actually fought Wendigo. There was a storyline involving Spider-Man, Wolverine and Wendigo, but Spidey and Wendigo didn’t fight.

Wendigo debuted in Incredible Hulk #162 by Steve Englehart, Herb Trimpe and Sal Trapani. Notice how he more than holds his own against the Hulk…

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Wendigo’s most famous fight happened in Incredible Hulk #180-181 (by Len Wein, Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel), which also happened to include the first appearance of this short Canadian guy, Wolverine. Hulk and Wolverine take on the Wendigo and eventually defeat him, working together, but still, the Wendigo takes on BOTH Hulk AND Wolverine at once…

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Note the bit about the Wendigo being impossible to kill (by the way, later in the issue, Hulk and Wolverine knock each other out during a fight – I originally misremembered and thought it was Wendigo who knocked them out. I initially sent in a headline to CBR saying Wendigo defeated them. Oops, my bad!).

In X-Men #140, by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin, Snowbird turns into a magic wolverine and defeats a Wendigo, which is something people have suggested for a Wrong Side in and of itself, however, the key word there is MAGIC wolverine. Snowbird doesn’t just turn into animals, she turns into much stronger, magical versions of said animals, so I think it is fair enough for her to defeat Wendigo, as her magic wolverine is probably very powerful. Hell, Wolverine compares her to Dark Phoenix here!

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In Sabretooth: Open Season #4, by Daniel Way, Bart Sears and Mark Pennington, Wendigo nearly kills Sasquatach, who is pretty darn powerful…

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But read on to what happens to Wendigo AFTER that Sasquatch scene in the same issue…

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54 Comments

Lord, that’s ridiculous.

I do disagree with you on the Snowbird fight, though.Even the pages you post seem to say she beats him not because of magic but because a real wolverine is just so kickass.

Maybe water is the Wendigo’s kryptonite? Maybe Sasquatch wounded the Wendigo in the fight? Other than that, I got nothing.

Ben Reilly and Ghost Rider fought a Wendigo in Marvel Fanfare vol. 2 #3. Not sure if the clone’s record counts here and I honestly can’t remember how he did against the Wendigo. IIRC Ghost Rider takes it him down with his penance stare.

Being as Sabretooth is my all time favorite character, I may be a bit bias, but this is one of the exceedingly rare times we get to see Sabretooth as an absolute badass.

1. This was Wendigo’s 2nd consecutive fight.
2. Villain type characters are ALWAYS underplayed in most storylines.
2.5 Sabretooth is a lot more powerful and capable than people like to give him credit for. Admittedly advantage wolverine for the metal but him and Deadpoool(a Sabretooth/Wolverine knockoff in Spider-Man underwear) are always somehow overpowered but Sabretooth is always the brunt of jokes. Why?
3. Most importantly, Wendigo isn’t 1 character, it’s a curse. A very plausible and usually accepted explaition is this was either a very weak Wemdigo or the one Hulk and Wolverine fought was a very strong one. Irregardless, not the same one.

Now that was pathetic.

given how wolverine told hulk wendingo is immortal surprised sabertooh manage to be able to kill it and skin it though could be that the thing was weaken with its battle with alpha flight and soften up for sabertooth to be able to win

I haven’t read much Marvel in recent years, but didn’t Art Adams introduce a whole tribe of Wendigos in a backup feature in the “Hulk” books? Maybe this was a young Wendigo and not the fully mature, Classic Wendigo.

I don’t know. I’m just trying to rationalize this.

Comparing the premier of Wolverine in the 1970s Wendigo to a current Wendigo a solid 40 years later is pretty pointless.

The whole character was re-imagined from it’s immortal Hulk foe status decades ago and now is more a tribe with individual beasts being much MUCH weaker than the original villain. The beast that can stalemate the hulk is little more than a “look how bad-ass I am” measuring stick now, and has been for some time.

Well now

The wendigo curse occurs when a human performs cannibalism during a full moon in the forest or something, so next time someone pulls off an ole Hannibal, it’ll just restart the whole thing…

So I have two questions.

1) Was this story after Marvel started introducing multiple Wendigos?

2) Has Victor Creed ever fought THE HULK? I saw them fight in Hulk vs. Wolverine though; that was lulzy.

They are plenty of weak Wendigos around.

A bullet in the right place would give those trouble (see Wolverine and Spider-Man in Canada) so I don’t think Sabretooth should have too much trouble with one.

What’s with all the sabretooth hate in this column lately??? The black cat fight gets referenced constantly and he wasn’t even considered a mutant then!

Why isn’t there a reference to when sabretooth was taking on spiderman and the punisher and winning pretty easily?? How he defeated omega red by himself?? How he just took on 8 scarlet spider clones at once and killed them??? But a comic from when wolverine was still maybe a mutated wolverine in marvels eyes gets referenced??

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

January 25, 2016 at 9:48 am

I don’t think this is a “bad” fight/outcome. Heck, I really enjoyed this book when it came out, though it has been a while since I last read it. Of course, I’m also an unabashed Sabretooth fan, so I’m not exactly unbiased.

That said, I do think Sabretooth is more powerful than people give him credit for. Not that he’s a worldbreaker or anything, but he’s far better/more powerful than he was back when he fought Spidey and Black Cat. There are also any number of Wendigos in the Marvel U now, so this could easily explained as him skinning a younger/less powerful one.

What’s with all the Sabertooth hate on here? Just because he realizes he’s a bad guy and doesn’t pretend to be good like wolverine? He’s fucking Victor Creed. He doesn’t have shit to prove to anyone.

Wow. When I got to the last panel it was all I could do not to yell, “Oh, COME ON!” This was ridiculously ill-conceived.

No hate on display, it’s just that he’s an interesting case of varying a character character to fit a plot, when you look at his “resume.” Beaten up by Iron Fist and black cat, draws even.with Daredevil, tortues Logan for decades, knocks out Rogue, kills a freaking wendigo. All over the place, and the only explanation for what he does is a mutation that basically makes him an athletic bear.

The inconsistencies which you present here are due to the fact of, at times, decades of character growth. Sure enough did Sabretooth appear first as a minor villian, but in recent years, since the late 80s he was more of a powerhouse, constantly battling Wolverine. Of course he can take a mindless Wendigo, as he is mean, rough and a total badass.
Yes, I like Sabretooth:)

Damn, I miss the days when Wolverine was not like 20 million Galactus like powerful and unkillable. When he got his hind beaten by Sabretooth.
And yes, I am also a Wolverine fan.

That is some really nice use of negative space and fight scene pacing. Is Bart Sears usually that great?

Yeah, I always took the Snowbird fight to mean that it wasn’t her magical animal mojo that let her win, just that she was an insane in the membrane wolverine, which even Logan should be able to defeat (let alone a solid steel Colossus).

To paraphrase The Lost Boys: One thing about living in Canada I never could stomach; all the damn Wendigos.

Seriously, they’re everywhere.

I don’t have too much problem with this one. As with all the bad ones the fight could have breathed a little more. But we went from one Wendigo to everybody’s a Wendigo and they got a lot less formidable. And I’m not sure the original was all that tough to begin with. They teamed up to beat him, but I think either Wolverine or Hulk could have. Wolverine jumps the Hulk and basically says “well, my claws aren’t working on you, how about this guy?” and shreds him. In fact, Wolverine gives the “killing blow.” Now he’s immortal, so he can’t be killed, but he’s as close as he can be by getting stabbed. Wendigo is obviously more like early Thor and Wonder Woman than the Hulk, who needed bracelets and a hammer to block bullets, but could take nuclear level punches. Wendigo can take a punch, but isn’t so good with sharp things. And if Wolverine can handle a Wendigo, Sabertooth should be able to. And if they can be cut, there’s no reason you couldn’t skin one. (Especially since it says it could take hours for him to revive). Now the gruesomely interesting thing could be that he’s basically skinned alive, but can’t die. Is there a skinless, muscle exposed Wendigo running around (that could be scary), or does his fur coat come alive? (Not so scary).

Yeah… the text in Xmen 141 makes it read that the Songbird Wolverine defeated Wendigo because she was the real deal…. which is kind of dumb since Wendigo (or Wolverine for that matter) could just encounter any old real wolverine and get his a** handed to him?

It’s a variation on a Claremont tick: “his/her claws are the REAL thing…Wolverine’s are fake.”

That said…. maybe Wendigo’s first showing is his best?

Songbird having an advantage over Wendigo and for that matter Wolverine because she’s a “real” wolverine is a variation on a Claremont tick about real animal claws being superior to Wolverine’s long metal unbreakable ones.

Snowbird, David. Snowbird.
Songbird is someone else entirely (a Thunderbolt? Am I wrong there?)

I agree with your interpretation, though.

I always liked this mini-series because it felt to me more like Sasquatch guest-starring Sabretooth than the other way around. :)

Le Messor… I’m the best there is at what I do and what I do is get names wrong a post redundantly.

I gotta tell ya, the underground Sabretooth fandom is my real find of this article. He ain’t no Magneto, but still.

Heh. I remember this one. I did scratch my head about Sabretooth killing a supposedly unkillable sasquatch, but it didn’t bother me too much because, like people said, it was badass. And not too badly written and drawn.

I have to say though, as far as wendigo vs. cat-themed-villain fights go, my favourite took place over at Dark Horse.

I first met Sabretooth as an one-note, one-time Iron Fist villain. A particularly uninteresting villain in a particularly forgettable story. Due to the editorial realities of Brazil, it was only years later that I met the character again.

Not being a Wolverine fan, I am not a fan of the power inflation that set into both characters, either. Wolverine is nearly as bad as Sabretooh when it comes to power levels being all over the place. He is supposed to be evenly matched to both Nick Fury and the Hulk? Really?

@Brian: “Hulk and Wolverine knock each other out during a fight – I originally misremembered and thought it was Wendigo who knocked them out.”

Still not quite there. The sorceress girl mixes up some potion and knocks them both out. Therefore she’s a match for any one of Marvel’s Big Three Female Powerhouses (Spider-Woman, who can kill Wonder Man with a piece of wood; Wasp the X-Terminator; and Spiral the Avengerbuster).

BTW I like the Wendigo, but its origin has me scratching my head. So there’s some kind of curse that says “If you eat human flesh, I”ll punish you by turning you into a cannibal monster so you’ll eat even more. And I’ll make you basically unkillable, so you’ll kill dozens and cause immesurable misery. This is a good idea because…”

Well, that’s if you interpret ‘curse’ specifically as a punishment, actively put on you by someone who becomes miffed by your eating humsn flesh.
In the original legends, it’s not a punishment. Nobody WANTS there to be more wendigos, whether they approve of your cannibalism or not. But the spirit of the wendigo doesn’t care. Wendigo isn’t making a moral judgement on your penchant for long pig. Wendigo just takes you.

Since Wendigos can possess individuals, and are the embodiment of what happens to a person who resorts to cannibalism, wouldn’t it be dangerous to outright kill them, especially through biting? You could argue Snowbird is safe due to magic and godliness, but Sabretooth? I’m pretty sure he should be a Wendigo himself after that.

…And maybe he is. And sometime thereafter we got another clone.

If you read Margaret Craven’s short novel, “I Heard the Owl Call My Name”, about a priest’s time with the Kwakiutl (“kwa-Kewt-al”) people of coastal British Columbia, there’s some mention of the Wendigo mythology, though it’s not terribly explicit. Granted, it’s been more than thirty years since I last read the book, but as I recall the myth serves a dual purpose of, more or less, scaring little children (a la The Boogeyman) and a sort of spiritual channeling. I don’t believe that it was covered in the heavily abridged film adaptation, though the cinematography is fairly pretty.

My 10th grade English teacher showed that movie in class.

I was going to talk about the same story Ian reminded of (Marvel Fanfare vol. 2).

Okay, it was Ben Reilly and not Peter Parker… but, anyway, he was acting as Spider-Man at the time, had same powers as Spidey and even thought he was the original Parker! hehe

So, Spider-Man fought Wendigo once.

On the other hand, Spider-Man fought ANOTHER Wendigo during a snow blizzard in New York (in Amazing Spider-Man)… such Wendigo had another characterization and behaved more like a spirit. Marvel handbooks recognize such story as canonical, but don’t establish a relationship between this Wendigo and the “classical” ones. They just say it’s “another Wendigo” or similar stuff.

Finally, speaking about Wendigo’s characterization… someone talked about the multiple Wendigos (at some time in chronology, this would be not really possible, however, things have changed apparently).. but there’s the claim that Wendigos can’t leave Canadian territory (Chris Yost used this fact recently in an Amazing X-Men story)… BUT, Jeph Loeb (ALWAYS Loeb) told a story involving Wendigos in Las Vegas (Hulk comic)…

Any possible explanation for that? Not in handbooks that I can remember now…

I remember when Brian brought up Dr. Strange some months back, someone in comments quoted Joe Quesada dismissing him as a character whose powers vary with whatever the story needs.These columns are a useful reminder that even if that were true, it wouldn’t make him any different from anyone else in the MU.

The Wendigo,
The Wendigo!
Its eyes are ice and indigo!
Its blood is rank and yellowish!
Its voice is hoarse and bellowish!
Its tentacles are slithery,
And scummy,
Slimy,
Leathery!
Its lips are hungry blubbery,
And smacky,
Sucky,
Rubbery!

The Wendigo,
The Wendigo!
I saw it just a friend ago!
Last night it lurked in Canada;
Tonight, on your veranada!
As you are lolling hammockwise
It contemplates you stomachwise.
You loll,
It contemplates,
It lollops.
The rest is merely gulps and gollops.

-Ogden Nash

@PM Agria: Wendigos are created only in Canada, but if getting rid of them was as simple as getting them out of C., there would be little point of fighting them at all (Sasquatch would throw it out to sea and a chopper would pick up the de-wendigo-ed guy and flow him to the USA, or just let him drown, case closed anyway). That Amazing X-Men story had stranger things, like being bitten by a Wendigo transforming the victim, which was brand new and made about as much sense as Captain America transforming his enemies into supersoldiers by biting them. (“Watch it, Zemo, he just bit Arnim Zola and now he’s American Zola!”)

BTW the first Wendigo was transformed back in the story involving Wolverine and has been “dead” ever since. The one that was created in that issue was the one Snowbird defeated, and Wolverine remarked how it acted differently to the original. Therefore as long as more than Wendigos were in play, they always were a little different.

That Amazing X-Men story had stranger things, like being bitten by a Wendigo transforming the victim, which was brand new and made about as much sense as Captain America transforming his enemies into supersoldiers by biting them. (“Watch it, Zemo, he just bit Arnim Zola and now he’s American Zola!”)

Or as much sense as a werewolf turning people into werewolves by biting them, or a vampire turning people into vampires by biting them, or a zombie turning people into zombies by biting them.

I remember when Brian brought up Dr. Strange some months back, someone in comments quoted Joe Quesada dismissing him as a character whose powers vary with whatever the story needs.

Which is, in fact, the whole point of being a sorcerer, let alone a sorcerer supreme.

I’m kinda shocked that Secret Wars didn’t give us American Zola. Or at least AMODOK.

I’d have settled for MODUCK, it practically writes itself. Surely it’s been done? The Agents of Atlas one-shot was pretty good. No ducks, though.

@ buttler: “as much sense as a werewolf turning people into werewolves by biting them, or a vampire turning people into vampires by biting them, or a zombie turning people into zombies by biting them.”

Those are established traits. But the Wendigo never turned its victim into Wenigos. Making it up just for the sake of the story, disregarding 40 years o comics just isn’t good enough. (Much like Sauron breathing fire in New Avengers.)

There was a standalone Secret Wars story about a bunch of Modoks trying to work together. Definietly worth a read.

Somehow Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham never faced MODUCK. I’m disappointed.

Has Howard? Or Squirrel Girl?

@Inner Circle:

Oh, for sure, the contradiction with established continuity is irksome. I realize you were just indulging in some fanciful hyperbole with the Captain America thing. I’m just saying, on the face of it, a supernatural beast-creature replicating this way wouldn’t be particularly unusual. It’s just that the Marvel Wendigo was never known to work that way (nor known to be multiple at all, nor to be so easy/possible to kill).

We didn’t actually see Sabretooth kill the Wendigo, just wearing what appears to be his hide. For all we know, that’s some polar bear or something he skinned after getting away from the thing. :D

The problem with all of these comments suggesting that this particular Wendigo was just weak, is surely that – as I understand it – that particular Wendigo had just beaten Sasquatch?

Yes, it might have been weakened by that battle, but the implication is still that Sabretooth is on a similar power level to Sasquatch – which (sorry Sabretooth fans) isn’t consistent with any of his earlier appearances.

Except, of course, him knocking Rogue out with 3 punches.

Yeah cause Sasquatch has always been known for his fighting ability and ability to not choke completely. Hate to mention “evolution” but I remember Sasquatch being with feral and wolfbane, looking for wolverine to help them cause sabretooth was on a rampage. R.I.P. Feral… Plus creed has always done very well against Hank McCoy in fights, last one he left beasts intestines hanging out, and I’d rather have beast any day over Walter. Plus I think sabretooth beat up Walter in the wendigo book too. 1000 wins over wolverine should mean you can hold you’re own pretty well anyway.

Wendigo is definitely stronger than Sabretooth. That’s no doubt about that. I have one question: which of these two can actually drown? Wendigo has amazing durability, but Sabretooth is effectively immortal.

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