Retcons, Reboots And Resurrections #49: There Are Two Wolves Inside Wolverine?
by Scott Redmond
As with most things, not all retcons are created equal. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain ridiculous.
Welcome to a new month of Retcons, Reboots, and Resurrections. This time we’re going to specifically focus on the wildest, most ridiculous, best left forgotten retcons around! It’s all leading up to the big 50th edition of this column, where we’ll dive into one of the retcons so horrible it got its own wild ridiculous retcon almost twenty years later!
As usual for this column: Retcons are elements retroactively added to a character’s history, reboots can either be revivals of a character/their title or extensive changes to canon, and resurrections are characters clawing their way back from the afterlife. Each week we’ll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Retcons, Reboots, and Resurrections!
A whole month of this column was recently spent on just a handful of the numerous retcons that were centered around the various characters named Wolverine, or related to Wolverine in some way. That’s because there was a period in the 2000s where a variety of writers were all very dead set on diving deep into the past of Logan and opening as many retconning doors as they could. Mostly thanks to the retcon that came with 2005’s House of M event that saw Logan remembering all of his past, undoing decades of his past being mostly erased/hidden from him.
Some of those retcons were good, some okay, and some of them bad. Here, we get to crossover the Wolverine column theme with the current worst retcons theme, jumping into the brief period of time where Logan and other feral style mutant’s status as mutants became a hell of a lot murkier. Yes, it’s time to look at Romulus the lupine retcon that was later retconned itself.
As noted above, the retcon at the end of House of M (and followed up in Wolverine #36-40 in 2006) opened the floodgates for creators to really pick apart a wide-open arena of Logan’s past. From those books the series Wolverine: Origins was launched by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon to, of course, dig into the past and origins of Logan.
To be fair it was actually Origin/Wolverine: Origin back in 2001 from Paul Jenkins, Andy Kubert, and Richard Isanove that opened the door to the retcons because it gave a definitive origin to Logan. As with most origins, it was one that others decided they wanted to tweak or build off of over the years. Taking the mystery loner character and turning him into someone that was deep into the fabric of the Marvel Universe has been a favorite of creators for most of Logan’s existence.
The Nitty Gritty:
While Wolverine: Origins dealt with the emergence of Logan’s unknown son Daken/Akihiro, a retcon himself, it would be the solo Wolverine title that would get the ball rolling on the retcon that tried to change what Logan actually was. In the 50th issue of the series, Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi kicked off an arc entitled “Evolution”. It’s here that they introduce a mysterious character known as Romulus who apparently was present for and behind a lot of the stuff that happened in Logan’s life, revealed to Logan through memories and visions that it is later revealed were triggered by Romulus.
To keep a long story short: Romulus was behind Weapon X, restored the feline looks of the previously depowered Feral and Thornn, augmented Wild Child to a vicious powerful point, and stripped all so-called humanity from Sabretooth (leading to him killing Feral and Logan killing him) all because he wanted Logan to know this as Logan was said to be important to the future of the ferals or something.
During all this Logan had come to Wakanda, and it was Black Panther and Storm (married at the time) that revealed the discovery that there might have been a group of beings that evolved not from apes but from more lupine-like beings. This was all orchestrated by Romulus again, as he wanted Logan and others to learn that apparently all the feral mutants were not human mutants but were part of a species of lupus sapiens that are mutants. Logan is of course dismissive and skeptical of this, not caring what ‘proof’ Black Panther might have found.
At the end of the arc, Romulus was still mysterious, but this retcon that he revealed continued and followed the character as he made his full appearance in the aforementioned Wolverine: Origins (issue #39) over two years after this original story. That series dealt with the fallout of this character and dove in deeper and ended with Logan trapping Romulus within the Dark Force dimension thanks to Cloak.
Loeb apparently wasn’t done with all this as he and Bianchi returned to the Wolverine title in 2012 and began a new arc with issue #310. The previous volume ended with #74 before it was relaunched and was renumbered to #300 after its 20th issue, that’s modern comics for you. Essentially this story arc, titled “Sabretooth Reborn,” is structured as a direct sequel to that previous storyline with the only indication that time has passed being how Romulus was in the Dark Force dimension and the Sabretooth that Logan killed back then is a decayed corpse.
Fan outcry to the lupine retcon was not of the happy type back in 2007, which explains why this arc just comes in with another retcon swerve to clean it up. In the story, we’re introduced to a mysterious woman who saves Logan and ends up being Remus, the twin sister of Romulus. Through her, we’re told the true story of Romulus and also that, surprise surprise, the whole lupine evolution revelation was all made up just as Logan suspected. It was supposedly a lie cooked up by Romulus to throw Logan off the fact that he was mining vibranium to create a new adamantium because he was looking to create a master race of feral mutants.
Logan was to be his template, and he didn’t want Logan dead but wanted him by his side to help foster in this new race of mutants. If that seems like a pretty huge swerve from the way that the previous retcon was handled in the first story arc, good money says that it most definitely was. Maybe, and it’s a stretched use of the word, Loeb’s plan was always headed this way but the subsequent stories and the length of time between the stories mixed with the fan reaction to the original retcon seem to point to it not being.
Naturally once Romulus was defeated he’s been referenced very little since then, Remus hasn’t appeared since, and the retcons haven’t been touched at all. Not surprising on any of those fronts, as a whole lot of the stuff from that 2000s/2010s era of trying to super retcon stuff around Logan has mostly been forgotten outside of the emergence of his kids Laura and Akihiro.
Since this is the month of worst retcons, it’s an easy guess that the verdict is this was not a good one. It was unnecessary, ridiculous, and as just noted hasn’t been mentioned since it was retconned away almost six years later. For being not well received though, it did in a sense stick around for quite some time compared to many other poorly received retcons (though it wasn’t really touched that much in those ensuing five years).
In the end, it being forgotten and treated like a bad dream is very much the best way to go about this choice. Every retcon is pretty much a gamble by the creators, and sometimes that gamble doesn’t pay off.
Next Week: THE BIG 5-0! A big one! Buckle up webheads for one of the worst retcons ever that got a wild two decades later retcon!