Review: The Incredible Hulk #181

The Incredible Hulk #181 cover
Cover by Herb Trimpe (with John Romita)

The Incredible Hulk #181
Published and © by Marvel, November 1974

Title: “And Now … the Wolverine!”
Synopsis: The Hulk and Wendigo’s battle is joined by a Canadian military agent known as Weapon X … aka Wolverine!

Writer: Len Wein
Penciler: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Jack Abel

Review: Many of the elements that make Wolverine special are already in place for this first full appearance: adamantium claws (called talons here), his diminutive stature, hints of the Weapon X program. But, even in hindsight, it’s hard to imagine that a multibillion-dollar franchise would evolve from this relatively by-the-book debut. Len Wein and Herb Trimpe’s work is solid, but Wolverine doesn’t yet stand out from dozens of other characters who debuted during the Bronze Age. That elevation would come from the masterful work of Chris Claremont, John Byrne and others in the pages of the all-new, all-different X-Men (see reviews).

Grade: B-

Second opinion: “The real reason fans read this issue is for Marvel’s first take at Wolverine, and it’s clear he still has some developing to do.” – Phil Mateer, Comics Buyer’s Guide Presents: Hulk, 2003 … No. 17 on Marvel’s “Greatest Marvels of All Time” list. …  “Honorable mention.” – Hero Illustrated Special Edition Vol. 4, No. 1: The 100 Most Important Comics of All Time!, May, 1994

Cool factor: Wolverine. Duh.

Notable: First full appearance of Wolverine.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 2012 Hasbro reprint of this issue, as well as 2019 and 2023 facsimile editions. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant. … Beware, this issue contains a Marvel Value Stamp (Series A) #54 (Shanna the She-Devil).

Character quotable:Moving is the thing I do best!” – Wolverine, the best he is at what he does

Editor’s note: This review was written April 28, 2024.

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