ComicsVerse is celebrating the 12 Days of X-Mas by taking a look at some of our favorite X-Men holiday-themed issues! Today, we’re talking about Wolverine’s holiday evolution over three different issues of MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

Wolverine is always grumpy, no matter what time of the year, but he seems to have a particular dislike for the holidays. In three MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL issues from 1996, 2007, and 2011, Wolverine proves why he’s the comic book parallel of Dickens’ famous character Scrooge. He hates Christmas, holiday cheer, and anything that has to do with Santa Claus…or, at least that’s what he says. These three issues attempt to show how, with time and a constant ambush of festive activities via his teammates, even a Grinch-like Wolverine can enjoy Christmas.   

Wolverine vs. X-Mas

The first time we see Wolverine’s sour reaction to the holidays is in the MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL 1996. The Canadian mutant sulks around New York City, narrating a diatribe against Christmas. His reasons for hating the season mostly have to do with his own experiences (which were negative) and the artificial nature of Christmas. He points out some reasonable complaints, but his words become obsolete when paired with the illustrations. Throughout the city, various X-Men characters, including Iceman, Storm, and Bishop, help spread holiday cheer — with tangible results.

MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Near the end of the issue, Logan sees a little girl giving her sister a present, which fellow X-Man Bishop bought for her. In typical Wolverine fashion, he doesn’t admit that the moment meant anything to him. Still, readers can begin to see the barest hint of a fissure in his antisocial shell.     

Meeting Sentinel Santa

That shell continues to deteriorate in Kurtis Wiebe‘s story in MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2007. A report of a defunct Sentinel in the New York City sewers sends Wolverine into the field while the rest of the X-Men throw a Christmas party at the mansion. Wolverine, of course, doesn’t mind. He hates Christmas and, according to his own inner dialogue, didn’t want to be there anyway (yeah, like we believe that).

MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

As one might have guessed, the Sentinel is very much alive. A psychotic Santa Claus actor has been engineering it to wreak havoc on NYC. Spider-Man helps Wolverine take him and the Sentinel down before it can do too much damage. As a thank you, he invites the web-shooting hero to the X-Men Christmas party. The invite is a small but needed step for Logan. 1996 Wolverine would’ve left without saying goodbye. 2007 Wolverine is at least willing to extend a hand.

Holiday Training Exercises

In the 2011 MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL, Logan is co-headmaster of Xavier’s. This means that he has to be on campus for Christmas. Luckily for him, a few students decide to play a prank, destroying Beast’s lab on Christmas day. As punishment, Logan forces the kids (as well as a few teachers) to play hockey on a frozen pond in the middle of the woods. It seems like fun until Logan lays down the number one rule for the game: no powers.

MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

But, when has that rule ever kept Xavier’s students from using their unique gifts to win a game? Bobby and Kitty, both teachers, are the first to use their powers. From there, the rest of the players, Logan included, begin using and abusing their mutant powers to get ahead in the game. After they all head back to the institute, Wolverine realizes that what he did borders on wrong. Kitty reminds him that, although they probably didn’t want to be there on Christmas, they ended up having fun and forming some unlikely friendships.

A Holiday Learning Curve

In fifteen years, Wolverine learned a lot about life as a member of the X-Men. He went from being a surly recluse to being the headmaster of Xavier’s school. Years of working with the X-Men helped him slowly come out of his shell and adapt to a more social environment. Nowadays, he doesn’t always like being nice, but at least he knows how.

MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Wolverine is such a popular character outside of the diehard X-Men sphere that I think it’s sometimes easy to forget how difficult his past was. From killing his stepfather and losing his memories to having his skin forcibly ripped off to create his adamantium skeleton, Logan has had an especially hard time. Most superheroes have rough origin stories, but Logan’s is slightly different because of his age. He’s been through a lot more than most superheroes. He’s seen more Christmas seasons than the rest of them too.   

In 1996, he didn’t want to celebrate Christmas because he considered himself immune to the delusions that make Christmas what it is. He thought that Christmas was just a capitalistic farce (which it can be) and another reminder of how miserable his life has been.

A MARVEL HOLIDAYS SPECIAL Lesson

Wolverine’s apprehension concerning Christmas was warranted, but it wasn’t really necessary once he became part of the X-Men family. All the X-Men have rugged pasts. However, they realize that Christmas is the time to focus on and enjoy the present. For Wolverine, this is a difficult thing to do. It takes him years to figure out how to trust his X-Family and believe in the importance of the holiday season.

MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Even in the 2011 MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL, he’s still learning, but that’s what makes him a complex character. His mental scars don’t heal as fast as his physical ones do. It’s a gradual process that the MARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL issues do a great job of illustrating. Maybe next year we’ll see a Wolverine in a Santa Suit…or maybe just the hat. For Wolverine, small steps are big steps.        

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