|Iconic Cover Reprinted|
how the genesis of a pop culture icon is often not what you'd expect. Although sometimes met with appropriate pomp
and circumstance, it's far more common for the individual (whether real or
imagined) to show up on the scene unannounced with little fanfare. If they
happen to be fictional, their creators often consider them unimportant or
ancillary characters, simple archetypes designed to introduce or help resolve
short-term conflict. Only after readers or audiences respond to
their personality do these characters grow beyond the boundaries of the
original story and into their own adventures.
If popular enough, they can even transcend the medium to other forms of
artistic expression (be it music, movies, etc.), firmly supplanting themselves
into our collective consciousness.
comics superhero Wolverine is a prime example.
One of several characters developed by the braintrust of art director
John Romita, Sr. and writer Len Wein, Wolverine was first brought to life by
artist Herb Trimpe during his silver age run on The Incredible Hulk during the early 1970s. Although the costume,
claws and Canadian heritage were all there, however, his appearance over three
issues (#180-182) did little to capture reader interest. Fortunately, Len Wein saved a roster spot for
him on the new X-men team, where he 'debuted' roughly a year later with along
with X-men mainstays Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Banshee.
X-men contributors Chris Claremont, John Byrne and even Frank Miller would
expand on Wolverine's character, developing an elaborate backstory to match his
gruff, sardonic personality. Popularity
would come in the form of his own storylines and eventually his own books. Similar
to characters like Venom, Wolverine became the embodiment of the antihero
spirit very much en vogue in comic books during the middle to late 1980s. When
Marvel saw its fortunes take off at the start of the early nineties, Wolverine became
one of its hottest properties. He was featured prominently in Saturday morning
cartoons, video games, collectible cards and toys. Even when the comic book
market collapsed and Marvel was forced to fight bankruptcy to stay alive, a
stellar performance by Hugh Jackman gave the character new life in a successful
X-Men live-action movie adaptation.
After two sequels and a film of his own, Wolverine is a now a super
celebrity rubbing elbows with the likes of Spider-man, Batman and Superman.
was yard-saling this weekend, I came across a lasermatic cover printing of the
issue in which he first appeared*, The Incredible
#181. Given the comic's insane collectability, it's unlikely I will
ever be fortunate enough to own a copy.
That said, the framed print is pretty sharp looking, all the more
special because it's sign by artist Herb Trimpe himself. Unfamiliar with a lot of Trimpe's work**, it
was interesting to read how influential he was developing the Silver Age Hulk.
, he was quick to point out the character was never intended
to be a series regular. That said, Herb
was the first artist to draw the character publication, and that distinction
alone deserves special attention.
Wolverine first appeared in the last panel of Incredible Hulk issue #180, known
in the comic book world as a cameo.
out this blog
for a breakdown of Herb's work on the Hulk.