Wolverine’s Horrific Injury At The Hands Of Magneto Was Originally A Joke

The latest episode of X-Men ’97, “Tolerance is Extinction – Part 2,” ended on an absolutely horrific gut punch of a cliffhanger. Wolverine stabbed Magneto through the chest, and in a fit of rage, Magneto violently ripped all of the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and out of his body completely. Surprisingly, the graphic act of mutilation was based on a joke made by a writer over thirty years ago.

The Iconic X-Men #25

Much of X-Men ’97 is based directly on stories from the X-Men comic books, and this latest episode was no exception. “Tolerance is Extinction – Part 2” loosely follows the plot of X-Men Vol. 2 #25 from 1993. In the comic, just like the show, Magneto makes his final stand against humanity, prompting a team of X-Men to confront him aboard his space station hideout.

The climax of the issue sees Wolverine’s bones stripped of their adamantium covering by an angry Magneto, who then liquidizes the metal and extracts it through Logan’s skin—creating several open wounds in the process. It’s as brutal as it sounds, and while the X-Men ’97 version is predictably toned down somewhat, the results are still the same. Oddly, the genesis for Wolverine’s gruesome fate came from an offhand joke made by Marvel writer Peter David.

A 90s Crossover Event That Had A Lasting Impact

X-Men # 25 was part of an event titled Fatal Attractions, in which all of the X-books of the time—Uncanny X-MenX-MenX-FactorX-ForceWolverine, and Excalibur—all crossed over for one big story. These X-Men crossovers had proved to be so successful that they became an annual tradition at Marvel. During the X-Writers Conference for 1992’s crossover, X-Cutioner’s Song, David first suggested having Wolverine’s adamantium torn out by Magneto.

All of the writers were tossing around ideas for the big crossover, with one of the more popular ones being the return of Magneto, who at the time was presumed to be dead. One suggestion was that The Master of Magnetism’s return involves a fight between Wolverine and Magneto—something X-Factor writer Peter David considered absurd.

Blame Peter David

x-men '97

David once recalled thinking out loud, “Boy, y’know, if I’m Magneto, I don’t even bother with Wolverine. I just yank out his skeleton and be done with him.” According to David, this suggestion was met with dead silence before all the writers slowly looked at him and told him what a brilliant idea it was. “No, it’s not,” David responded.

The other writers pushed back that the idea would make for a great “visual,” prompting David to point out that as great as the visual would be, Wolverine would also be dead. When his fellow writers brought up Logan’s healing factor, an incredulous Peter David lost it.

Pushed Wolverine’s Healing Factor To The Limit

“Healing factor?!,” David recalls exclaiming. “If you rip out his whole skeleton, he’s a pile of flesh on the floor! He’ll be a healed pile of flesh! What’ll he do? Ooze at people?!” David’s exasperation was based on the fact that his suggestion presumed that Wolverine would have his whole skeleton—adamantium and all—torn from his body. What the writers ultimately went with was slightly more humane but still grotesque.

Ultimately, Cable’s evil clone, Stryfe, was chosen as the big bad of X-Cutioners Song. The writers didn’t forget about Peter David’s tongue-in-cheek idea, however, as evidenced by the fact that it made it into the pages of the following year’s crossover, Fatal Attractions.

Started A Dark Era For Wolverine

The story was eventually corroborated by X-Men writer Fabian Nicieza, who recalled that David did indeed suggest Wolverine be deboned like a chicken at Magneto’s hands. According to Nicieza’s memory of the event, none of the other writers laughed at Peter David’s suggestion because it was a “great idea.”

The event had severe ramifications for Wolverine, whose healing factor was absent for a time after it shorted out trying to heal all of the heroes’ wounds at once. It would be years before Logan had new adamantium regrafted to his bones, returning him to his previous indestructible state. Whether X-Men ’97 will follow the same path or give Wolverine a mercifully swift recovery following Magneto’s attack remains to be seen.

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