Wolverine may be one of Marvel's most popular characters, but that doesn't mean his life is getting any easier. In fact, practically ALL of the various versions of the Wolverine - in movies, and in the comics - are in various stages of being killed off.
Whether it's specific variations of Logan or members of the extended 'Wolverine family,' that motley collection of mutants who share some genetics with the man himself, Marvel seems determined to kill off each and every one. But is this bad news for Wolverine fans... or an effective way to clear things up with an increasingly convoluted set of characters?
Let's start with the man himself: Original Recipe Wolverine. A few years ago, Marvel shocked fans with Death Of Wolverine - which did, actually, kill the un-killable mutant off by encasing him in a cocoon of liquid hit adamantium. Wolvie was finally dead, but comics follow comic rules, and everyone expected him to eventually return... which he did, earlier this year.
The Hunt For Wolverine and Return Of Wolverine series saw the original Logan return without his memory, but with a new, black, not X-Men approved suit and a fancy new way to turn his adamantium claws red-hot. However, now that this version of Logan is alive again, Marvel has to deal with all the various other Wolverine-types they've been using to fill the gap in the years since his death.
First up, there's Wolverine's biological daughter X-23. When Wolverine originally died Laura Kinney took up his mantle, including the costume and the name - which really was a huge deal for her, as she shed the last things that tied her to the experimental facility that created her (the origin story largely adapted for the movie Logan). For many fans, this move meant that Laura was really coming into her own, and her All-New Wolverine title was fantastic, introducing her little 'sister' Gabby, and their pet wolverine, Jonathan. But at present Laura has been bumped out of the Wolverine role. She's back to using X-23, she's lost the title and uniform, and is essentially being relegated to the second place spot - because Original Recipe is back. There have also been rumors that Gabby will also be killed off in the near future, taking X-23 back to a solo hero, not a ward and mentor. Ouch.
Meanwhile, Old Man Logan, the older future version of Wolverine transplanted into the main Marvel Universe is also dying, as his healing factor is finally giving out (and allowing adamantium poisoning to overtake his body). After multiple issues of him trying to find some way to survive, it's become clear: Old Man Logan is out, Wolverine is in. That particular twist comes just as Fox's own "Old Man Logan" has died a heartbreaking death on the big screen, too - wiping Wolverine from Fox's X-Men movie universe. Oh, and even Daken, Wolverine's tattooed son has failed to survive Logan's comeback. In Return of Wolverine, when Logan really got to grips with his new claws, Daken was barbecued with flaming gasoline.
So what's with all the Wolverine-family deaths? Well, it's unlikely that Marvel would want to be putting a character this beloved in the backseat, especially having just resurrected the guy. Much more likely is that this is a way to clear out some old deadwood and confusing duplicates, and make life easier for new Wolverine fans. The Return Of Wolverine is a great place for new readers to come in - Wolverine is all new, and he's chatting to all his old personas in his head, which introduces new fans to his long and complex comic book history in a simple way.
However, new and casual fans are likely to get confused if they see two Wolverines, a literal Wolverine, a Wolverine-in-training (Honey Badger), an Old Man Logan, and Wolverine's son running around. Bringing more fans to the comics (and giving them an easy entry point) is actually a good thing - and it might be the only reason that we'll accept this wholesale slaughter.