You are reading: The Great Wolverine/Fantastic Four Time Paradox of 1993
This is the latest edition of How Can I Explain?, a feature where we spotlight unexplained comic book plot points (unexplained in the comics themselves, of course, as quite often there are outside explanations, like “the artist made a mistake,” etc.).
Today we look at the amusing time paradox that was created in an issue of “X-Men” #25, a paradox that was actually created BY an editorial note intended to explain away a continuity issue!!
1993 was an interesting time for the Fantastic Four. Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan were trying to keep the “Fantastic Four” in keeping with the “grim and gritty” style of comics that were selling so many comic books during the period while, of course, trying to keep the book true to itself. So they did stuff like cover gimmicks and lots of guest stars. One of the more notable examples of using guest stars to sell the title was “Fantastic Four” #374 (by DeFalco, Ryan and inker Danny Bulanadi), which harkened back to one of the most fun sales gimmicks that the “Fantastic Four” had ever done. A couple of years earlier, then-writer Walter Simonson and guest-artist Art Adams did an arc where the Fantastic Four were taken out of commission and a group of four new heroes stepped in to save them. These new heroes happened to be four of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe at the time – Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Hulk (the other major “hot” character of the time, The Punisher, made an amusing cameo in the story arc that was teased on the cover). The “New Fantastic Four” was a major sales success, and in the years since, they’ve been revisited a number of times by other writers. The first one to do was DeFalco. You see, around this same time, Marvel had launched a new book called “The Secret Defenders,” which was about Doctor Strange putting together different teams of superheroes for different missions. The initial team in the series shockingly included Wolverine on it (wait, what’s the word for the complete opposite of shockingly?). Although, to highlight the odd nature of the teams that would sometimes be thrown together, the rest of that initial team was Darkhawk, Nomad and Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter).
So in “Fantastic Four” #374, Doctor Strange put together a Secret Defenders team to hunt down the Human Torch, who had caused a lot of damage to Empire State University when he was forced to use his nova blast during a battle there (that issue, “Fantastic Four” #371, included a completely white cover with an embossed Human Torch. It was one of the more novel cover gimmicks of the time as it tied directly into the plot of the issue). So Johnny had been on the run (guest-stars Silver Sable and the Wild Pack were called in to capture him at one point) and now Strange and Johnny’s friend, Spider-Man, wanted to bring him in before anyone else could get hurt. The team Strange formed was, coincidentally enough, the “New” Fantastic Four – Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and Ghost Rider (although the Hulk was in his gray form the first time and was now in his combined Hulk form)…
The rest of Johnny’s teammates show up to help him when he sends out a flame asking for help (this was during a period when Sue was going through some issues, hence her skimpy outfit and her fighting with Reed).
Note that Wolverine brags about his adamantium claws…
I included that page mostly because I love how Doctor Strange seems to have little faith in the FF. “They vanished! Oh man, I bet they’re all going to die now!”
(the woman, by the way, is Sharon Ventura, Thing’s old girlfriend who had been turned into a She-Thing but was then cured by Doctor Doom, as part of a plot against the Fantastic Four)
He began to cover himself with a helmet at this point…
Okay, so fast forward to “X-Men” #25 (by Fabian Nicieza, Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan), the famous issue where Magneto pulls Wolverine’s adamantium out of him…
The X-Men had invaded Magneto’s outer space base because earlier in the issue, he had detonated an electro magnetic pulse over the whole Earth to respond to the Earth trying to put up a field to keep him from coming back to Earth. It was devastating. We were shown a number of people’s reactions to the EMP, including the Fantastic Four, which included a non-scarred Thing…
And there’s a note to explain that this issue took place BEFORE the Thing was scarred. However, well, I think you can see the problem with why this issue being set before the Thing was scarred by Wolverine’s adamantium claws is an issue, right?
Certainly not a big deal, but a fun paradox that could have been avoided by just slapping on some scars to the Thing.
If you have a suggestion for a future How Can I Explain? edition, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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