|Iconic Cover Reprinted|
Marvel 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.
Future 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.
While I was yard-saling this weekend, I came across a lasermatic cover printing of the issue in which he first appeared*, The Incredible Hulk #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. Remembering Wolverine, 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.
*Technically, Wolverine first appeared in the last panel of Incredible Hulk issue #180, known in the comic book world as a cameo.
**Check out this blog for a breakdown of Herb's work on the Hulk.