…Logan’s parentage?

Followers of this blog may recall its first big success back in January 2013 when it recruited as a guest contributor comics’ royalty, Paty Cockrum, member of Marvel’s bullpen and wife of the late legendary creator of the All-New, All-Different X-Men Dave Cockrum.  This time around the proverb “good things come to those who wait” has finally come true for this blog, with Nate recently having the ridiculous good fortune to speak exclusively with the Godfather of The X-Men, Chris Claremont, over many elements of his original, seventeen year run . The following essay represents his thoughts on yet another of his dropped stitches, the true parentage of Logan, the mutant known as Wolverine.

I wouldn’t want to in this particular instance.  That is, as long-time readers of this blog will know, I am a Claremont-purist.  So for the remainder of this blog post I will attempt to highlight how Chris’s explanation for who he intended Logan’s parents to be, more specifically his biological mother, was RIGHT THERE during his original run… and yet no X-fan saw it, but how in the hell did they MISS it?

In Chris’s conception, Wolverine is, in many respects, the anodyne of what Charles Xavier preaches to the student X-Men.

He is not a natural-born man of honour, he is not a non-violent person.  He is significantly older than all of the other X-Men, he has a life experience that is unlike any of theirs, and in terms of his inherent character, he is fundamentally, and continually, in conflict with himself.

Chris Claremont’s evolution of who and what Wolverine is, and where he came from, is substantially different from what evolved into traditional Marvel origin tropes. To Chris, he is a man in conflict with himself by virtue of the fact that half of his persona, and his physical abilities, are derived from his father, i.e. Sabretooth, and half is defined from his mother who in his conception was the fallen angel, Seraph, who ran the Princess Bar in Madripoor.

From that you have the reason why he is significantly height-challenged compared to Sabretooth…

…but also why, in Chris’s presentation of the character, every year on his birthday Sabretooth shows up and basically kills him… since from Sabretooth’s perception, this is a rite of passage.

Figure 03_WLV10p19

He’s totally aware of the reality, i.e. Logan has a healing factor that is as ruthlessly efficient as Sabretooth’s own.  So when one says Sabretooth kills him, he gets better and Sabretooth knows this.  But from his perception,

“If you’re my son, then the only way you get to be ‘top dog’ in the ‘pack’ is by getting rid of ‘the top dog in the pack,’ which is me.  And until you can do that, I’m not going to give you any respect…especially if you refuse to do that.”

And it’s even from Sabretooth’s perception Logan is even more of a blot on the family escutcheon because, not simply because of his height and his flawed attitude, i.e. a sense of morality, but also because he’s a cyborg thanks to the Weapon X foolishness.  He has adamantium-laced bones, he has the adamantium claws, so as far as Sabretooth’s concerned, Logan is broken goods.

From Logan’s perspective, he is torn between the half of his persona that is derived solely from his father, which is he’s a kick-arse hellraiser, i.e. if you look at any room he lives in, half of it is a total shithole and the other half derived from his perception of fulfilling his mother’s aspect of his persona, i.e. in him it’s epitomised by the essence of Japanese/ samurai culture, is almost a perfect symmetry of form and substance.  It is simple, it is unique, it is clean, it is essential…

…and that’s the battle that is always going on with him.  There is a part of him that always wants to be the passionate, but honourable, mate of Mariko Yashida, but the other half of him is even more passionately bound to Phoenix, or more importantly Dark Phoenix.  He wants to tear the Omniverse to shreds because that’s the way to win his lady’s heart…

…and he is constantly in conflict… and it drives him absolutely fucking crazy… which is about as brilliant a presentation for a character in a melodramatic setting like the X-Men as one could get.

So everything, for Chris at least, defining about Wolverine is the two aspects of his life are his past, in terms of the details of his past, who he is and where he came from, he doesn’t care, from Chris’s way of thinking, he has no interest in his origins, he knows his origins.  As far as where the claws came from, the fact that he doesn’t know doesn’t bother him, they’re here… he will deal with it. He isn’t interested in getting revenge, unless of course the person who did it is doing it to other people… if a person indeed did it.  His focus is on the present and what is yet to be, getting in this instance the X-Men and by extension the New Mutants and all the students associated with Xavier at the school ready for whatever will come at them down the pike.  But aside from that, he is not that concerned.  Part of that is solipsism on Chris’s part; basically he did not trust himself to come up with an origin that was so unbelievable… and unique… and absolutely kick-arse… that he wanted to risk it.  And the other half of Chris was even if he did come up with that, in ten years it would be stale and someone would want to change it.

Chris’s pitched Dark Wolverine Saga, where he would have the Hand turning Logan into their assassin, was a feint.  That is, Chris intended to reveal that the Hand were not interested in Logan except as a lure to reel in Jean, knowing that if he was needing rescuing she would be the one who would come after him…

…and then they would have Dark Phoenix and finally cut her lose.

But the kicker… this was the Shadow King’s plan.

That is, he was responsible for shaking up the Club and coordinating a more ruthless Inner Circle, Matsu’o his agent to use the Hand to put this plan into play.

As for Kitty, she is the next best thing to Logan’s daughter, she came in part to be because of him and was intended by him to become the inheritor of everything scary about Wolverine…

…including his immortality… the consequences of which would come down the line (the background to this being that the Shadow King came to learn her connection in Madripoor and this was behind him fading, not into the background, but cross-time where he manipulated others to his “cause” with the intention of using them to corrupt her – his big clue to us re: this was Sat-Yr-9, in guise of our Courtney…

…joining the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle).

The above all leads to a number of questions, including:

1. If Logan besmirched the “family escutcheon”, this mean his father(Sabretooth)’s side of the family had a coat-of-arms which suggests they are of noble lineage, and not too far back if Sabretooth is directly aware of this… and a family that believed morality to be a weakness/ flawed attitude.  So just where does this family come from?

Baron Strucker came from a line of Prussian noblemen.  He led the Death’s Head Squadron, first mentioned in Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #5, but not SEEN UNTIL, yes, Chris’s Uncanny X-Men #268.  Although an S.S. division, they operated independently from the Reich, following only Baron Strucker’s orders, and were the ones shown in pursuit of young Natalia Romanova.  In that particular issue they were killed by Seraph, Madripoor’s self-appointed guardian.  The Death’s Head originated with pirates, e.g. the Jolly Roger, but there was also a Prussian version which had the crossbones behind the skull. Wolfgang came from a long line of Struckers who were all military leaders cut from the same cloth…

…a family that believed morality a weakness/ flawed attitude. So did Logan besmirch the Strucker escutcheon? Seraph went out of her way to shoot the Death’s Head Squadron. Hmm, interesting…

2. If Seraph was a “fallen angel” (and Chris insists this wasn’t a metaphor), what led to her fall?

How interesting is it that her son is destined to partner with the corrupted Phoenix, when the Second Book of Enoch denotes the Seraphim as the Phoenix, “flying elements of the Sun”.

3. There’s also the question of how Seraph came to meet Sabretooth?

Marvel Comics Presents #2 revealed the woman on David Chapel’s pendant, which he gave to Wolverine in the Australian desert, as the woman for whom the Princess Bar was named (at the time it seemed to be Jessan Hoan but at this point she had not long migrated there – given the later revelation in Wolverine #126, it was obviously Seraph).

Before she built the Princess Bar, Seraph met Sabes in Canada, had some fun, even worked together for a time as circuits clicked and emotions heated up between them. One thing led to another and they had a child (i.e. Logan). Early on he had been a proper rotter – think the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas…

… – leading to major conflict between the two of them.  Seraph hit the road to put some necessary distance between herself and Sabes while she figured out where to go from there.  To his surprise as much as hers, Sabes felt a connection with Logan so remained back to continue raising Logan.  Seraph went on to settle in Madripoor, it turning out to be the sole place in Earth where she felt safe (which of course makes one wonder what-who she might be afraid of).

4. Had a Princess ruled Madripoor before Prince Baran…

…and Seraph built the Bar on her behalf? Or did Seraph institute herself as reigning princess of the island of thieves?

This might explain why Viper felt it important to institute herself in that position.  That is, by marrying the son of Seraph…

…she believed she had inherited the title.

That means Logan is entitled to the position of Prince of Madripoor, and Sabretooth perhaps King of Madripoor.

If Wolverine wants the title of King, he will have to kill Sabretooth;)

5. What or who might Seraph be afraid of?

Well if she had been an Angel, but had lost her celestial attributes, does this mean she had been a member of Lucifer’s host who all “fell” after banishing the N’Garai from Earth (cf. Marvel Preview #7)?  Given the Camarilla of the N’Garai wished to punish Satana as revenge on her father, the seraph, Lucifer, for his role in their banishment from Earth…

…did the demons similarly have their agents after Seraph? I can see it now while she is working in the Kluane, the N’Garai curse that was the Wendigo in pursuit of her, leading to a showdown between the creature and Sabretooth.

Or did she seek Sabretooth out because she heard of his power and perhaps thought by having a child with him she could raise a champion to defeat the N’Garai?

Post-script: In X-Men #98, one of Stephen Lang’s technicians comments on the odd readings they get from Wolverine, suggesting he was not a full-fledged mutant.

Figure 17a_UXM98p12

In Wolverine: Wizard Tribute Edition (1996), Dave Cockrum claims the original intention for this throwaway line inserted by Chris Claremont was due to his intention to reveal Logan to be an actual wolverine who was mutated by the High Evolutionary (an idea nixed by Stan Lee but later picked up for Spider-Woman’s origin).  When John Byrne replaced Cockrum as artist on X-Men, he recalled the plot dangler so made the suggestion that it could be resolved by revealing Sabretooth as Logan’s biological father and that because he was also a mutant, that the mutation had bred true so Wolverine was actually the first of a new species, and that’s why it confused the technician. However, Byrne ended up off the book before the actual idea got implemented and Claremont seemingly never got to actually do it despite many a hint he dropped with regard to Sabretooth being Logan’s father… or so we thought.  That is, with the above-noted groundwork of Seraph as Logan’s biological mother being laid down, Lang’s technicians comments would have come full circle in that the odd readings he got from Wolverine would be explained by the fact that in addition to inheriting the mutant gene from his father, he carried the DNA of a fallen angel (i.e. Seraph).  And so, a forty-year plot dangler is finally resolved.

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