I recently reread “Incredible Hulk” #181 by Len Wein and Herb Trimpe, an issue notable as the first appearance of Wolverine (Canada’s first superhero!). Like many older comics, “Incredible Hulk” #181 features some kooky moments intermixed with the panels of this historically significant issue. I’m not sure whether my memory has faded or I just noticed a few more interesting tidbits than I did the first time I read this, but here are some of the things that stood out most this time around.
First, I forgot Woverine used to have hilarious and awesome whiskers built into his mask like Wildcat.
If there isn’t an action figure of the ol’ Canucklehead in this getup, there should be! It’s a shame Fred Van Lente didn’t find an excuse to work the whiskers into “Wolverine: First Class,” that would have been marvelous. Jason Aaron, it’s up to you now. Nothing says “astonishing” like that costume!
I learned most of my vital X-Men stats from the trading card-like bios featured on the backs of Hi-C juice boxes when the animated series was popular back in the ’90s. When I was a pickier nerd, I remember complaining that Hugh Jackman was too tall in the X-Men movies as Wolverine was supposed to be 5 foot 3 (according to Hi-C). It’s nice to see that from a stickler’s point of view, I wasn’t far off and had some solid data to back up my gripe (though since then Logan’s height has been retconned a bit).
Though it isn’t Wolverine-related, I was reminded in this issue that Wendigo was the world’s first Pokémon.
Finally, and most shockingly, I finally found out the secret behind a vague but famous bit of Wolverine dialogue. Debuting in Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s four-issue Wolverine miniseries, the hero has since been known to frequently speak or narrate the line, “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn’t very nice,” or some variation of it. Given Wolvie’s berserker rages and pointy claws, most would assume that what he does is kill or maim or stab. Turns out it’s not quite that sinister.
It would seem that Wolverine is just a closet dance fiend who can shake it with the best of them, but can only exhibit the skill—presumably—in the Canadian wilderness. Or, he just loves to help friends carry futons in a less-than-nice way. Or, he’s an unpleasant guy with Restless Leg Syndrome. The point is, what the guy’s best at is moving, so don’t let that gruff line intimidate or impress you.
Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.