While the Hulk is famously Marvel’s most rage-filled hero, Wolverine is a close second, and when their powers were combined, Logan tapped his decades of anger for huge new serrated claws that could make even the Hulk himself bleed. The change came as part of Marvel’s World War Hulks event, in which major Marvel heroes including Spider-Man, Iceman, and the Thing gained gigantic new forms and powers from a dose of deadly radiation.
Born in the mid-1800s, Wolverine has lived a life filled with intense suffering and darkness. Working for the Weapon X program turning innocents into weapons, Wolverine was tortured, experimented on, and brainwashed, ultimately joining the X-Men with the secret intention of killing Charles Xavier. Thankfully, Professor X helped Wolverine break free of his programming, and he went on to become a true hero, using the rage born of all his suffering to fuel his quest to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.
In Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness’ Hulk #21, the Red Hulk’s secret plans with the villainous Intelligencia go awry, bathing Marvel’s greatest heroes in radiation. Each of these heroes grows into a new form, gaining incredible power so extreme, it will kill them within a day unless they’re transformed back. Unlike usual gamma mutations, the heroes don’t necessarily become manifestations of their hidden desires, but rather transform to possess more extreme versions of their powers – for example, Cyclops grows multiple eyes to enhance his optic blasts, and Wolverine becomes a feral monstrosity with gigantic, serrated claws and vicious teeth.
Wolverine initially attacks Red Hulk, able to break the indestructible hero’s skin with his gigantic, adamantium-coated sabers. Later – in World War Hulks: Captain America vs Wolverine from Paul Tobin and Jacopo Camagni – the Hulk Wolverine squares off against the Hulk Captain America (Bucky Barnes, the former Winter Soldier). Logan is motivated by the Winter Soldier’s torture of him at an earlier point in their lives, and admits it feels good to unleash his rage against a deserving target, saying, “This reminds me of the old days. Not only like in Chicago. But way back when I was feral. It feels good. This rage is like the girlfriend I never should have left.”
It’s not just Wolverine’s claws that are enhanced – his speed and strength are increased to god-tier Hulk levels, and he reveals his senses are now so acute, he “can literally smell Cap’s every move.” Ultimately, however, the gamma-powered rage is the perfect test of Logan’s heroism, and he’s eventually able to overpower his animalistic impulses. Wolverine’s enhanced powers allow him to down Hulk Bucky, but rather than going for the kill shot, he spares the hero, choosing his humanity over the raw power of his new form.
After everything Wolverine has been through – much of it orchestrated by the Winter Soldier, albeit against his will – Logan has learned how to channel his rage, meaning that even as a powered-up Hulk, he’s able to reassert control and conquer his base instincts. Over Marvel history, Wolverine has gained the Hulk’s powers many times (their DNA was even combined to create Weapon H), but while each transformation enhances him in powerful new ways, their most vital function is reminding Wolverine that he’s the master of his own destiny, possessing a sense of discipline that the original Hulk never has.
Next: Wolverine Perfected His Healing Factor by Totally Sacrificing His Dignity