From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.
As the unique medium that they are, comic books can tell stories in very distinct ways, even within the medium itself. While the majority of comic book stories are 5-6+ issue arcs, amongst the long-form tales can be found single issue gems that shine all on their own in self-contained wonder. These are the best single issue stories starring Wolverine.
I miss him. I’m not ashamed to say it. Despite my whining about so many Wolverine comic books being on shelves prior to his death, I miss the little runt. Researching this article reminded me of just how many really cool Wolverine stories there have been over the years. But, in the end, it was easy to pick these top single issue stories. So, without further ado, he’s still the best, we have the proof, and SNIKT, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Single Issue Stories – Wolverine.
(This list does not include One-Shots; only single issues from an ongoing series that happened to tell a single, self-contained story)
Honorable Mention: Wolverine #49 (Volume 3)
Between the Wolvie solo story that tied in to Civil War and the Loeb/Bianchi “Kill Sabretooth” story, there was a single issue story written by Rob Williams and drawn by Laurence Campbell called Better To Give…, a holiday issue that sees Wolverine saving Christmas.
It’s your typical fish-out-of-water/water-finds-fish sort of story that begins with Wolverine having to deal with holiday shopping at the mall, but quickly puts the mutant in his element as the mall is attacked by the terrorist group Black Christmas. Yes, that is the actual name.
Besides a solid story and some terrific panel work, the true appeal of this issue is that cover. It makes it into my Christmas decorations every year, but it only earn this ish the Honorable Mention spot in this Lot.
5. Wolverine: Weapon X #16 (Volume 1)
When Nightcrawler, one of Wolverine’s best friends, died a few years back, there wasn’t a huge deal made out of it, but writer Jason Aaron, with the help of artist David Gianfelice, told a heartwarming tale of death, loss, and friendship that could only be told in the pages of a comic book.
In a story titled The End of the Beginning, we’re shown just how important Nightcrawler was for Logan in the past when it came to dealing with death, while also presented a scenario where Wolverine must now deal with death without the help of that friend. Kurt sends Logan on one final adventure, an act of goodwill, that is all of the help Wolverine needs to overcome his sadness. A terrific story…that was almost immediately ruined by the return of Nightcrawler, but it’s still a great single issue read.
4. Wolverine #41 (Volume 3)
Known simply as The Package, Wolverine issue #41 has one of the most iconic Wolverine covers ever, and the story itself lives up to the drama of this timeless image.
Writer Stuart Moore expertly crafts a heartfelt story of sacrifice, while artist C.P. Smith does so very much with so very little; a true testament to his talent. In the story, Wolverine takes a job to protect a mysterious package, only to discover it’s a baby. There’s just the right amount of fun in this issue, but it all comes down to the hard-boiled brutality of the violence Wolverine suffers in order to protect this child. Again, this cover is amazing, but the interior lives up to the promotion, putting Wolverine #41 in the #4 spot.
3. Wolverine #32 (Volume 3)
Written by (arguably) the modern day legend Mark Millar and drawn by current Iron Fist writer/artist Kaare Andrews, Wolverine #32 is a twisted tale of Logan driving a Nazi prison camp warden insane just by showing up.
The story, Prisoner Number Zero, sees Logan taking up residence at a Nazi prison camp and opens with the arrival of a new warden. Logan quickly comes to the attention of the new boss, who proceeds to shoot the mutant over and over and over.
But Wolvie comes back each time, eventually driving the Nazi leader insane, only to be replaced by a new target for the Best There Is At What He Does!
2. Wolverine #48 (Volume 3)
Marvel’s Civil War was a really big deal that saw hero fighting (and killing) hero, and villains ultimately taking over, but it all started with a guy named Nitro who blew himself up while dosed with some Mutant Growth Hormone. While everyone else put their focus on the crime, one man took it upon himself to bring the criminal responsible to justice.
Although this single issue story was technically the Vendetta Epilogue
story to Wolverine’s Civil War tie-in series, it works beatifully on its own, and is one of my favorite representations of the character’s history in a present-day backdrop. Marc Guggenheim, from too many books and TV shows to count at this point, weaved a wonderful story that truly took advantage of artist Humberto Ramos’ unique style; a style that is my favorite depiction of the character.
The style is so amazingly beautiful that you can’t help but stare. There’s a reason Ramos gets the big titles at Marvel Comics, and that reason is obvious in these images. but that still leaves one issue standing alone at the tippy Top o’ this Lot.
1. Wolverine #56 (Volume 3)
Volume 3 has so many spots on this list because it simply had more single issue, stand-alone stories. But, of all of those issues, none were as compelling and entertaining as the Howard Chaykin drawn and relative early piece for now superstar writer Jason Aaron The Man in The Pit from Wolverine #56.
The Man In The Pit is a psychological thriller of single issue story starring Wolverine that shows just how good the Best There Is At What He Does IS at doing that job, and sometimes the claws aren’t punishment enough for some.
Wolverine is The Man In The Pit, subjected to a 24/7 barrage of high-caliber bullet fire. Although Logan may be the tortured, his real plan is to lay down some punishment of his own.
Logan methodically gets into the head of one of his captors until, finally, he breaks, goes insane, and begs for a different sort of mercy. But mercy isn’t what Wolverine does.
Aaron is brilliant in this single story issue and Howard Chaykin hasn’t missed a beat in decades, so this is a treat of a stand-alone issue. It makes the Top o’ this Lot because of the amazing quality of the creators, the psychological twist, and Wolvie being shot at close range for days on end.
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