Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Wolverine, But With Half The Calories!

Because she's brilliant, Abigail Brady had the genius idea of pinning down Paul Cornell and Kieron Gillen on the question of what happens if Wolverine is bisected, skull to groin.

I think it's pretty clear that Cornell is wrong, here, but let's play around with the idea for a bit.  If we do bisect Wolverine, there are four basic possible outcomes (for Wolverine; the researcher themselves is almost certainly going to wind up dead at the conclusion of the experiment):
  1. Wolverine dies;
  2. One half of Wolverine rebuilds itself into Wolverine, the other half rots;
  3. Both halves of Wolverine rebuild themselves in Wolverine;
  4. Both halves of Wolverine attempt to rebuild themselves, but only one is actually Wolverine, the other being some messed-up nightmare creature, or something.
Cornell plumps for 2 (Gillen for 3), but the problems with this are obvious.  If only one half of Logan can return, which one is it?  One obvious answer is that it must be the one containing the majority of the heart, but then does that mean that were one to utterly disintegrate Wolverine's right side, he'd drop dead?  That's clearly not the case, at least not these days; there doesn't seem to be anything necessary to total recovery so long as the skeleton remains, which makes any argument on the grounds of asymmetric organ-packing profoundly unconvincing.

So if we assume it can't be as simple as picking the "regrowable" side, earthworm-style, what does that leave us?  If, for example, we were to clone Wolverine (and then cover that clone's skeleton with adamantium), and immolate opposing halves of each of our two Logans, we'd surely end up with two Logans again fairly quickly (and, as a result, half the already meagre life-expectancy of our fearless lab techs).  What's the difference between that experiment and a lateral bisection?

I think the only real explanation is some kind of hand-wavey nod to the soul, or perhaps in more secular terms, Logan's will to survive.  He can survive losing either half of his body, but if he's chopped in two, one side will somehow want it more, and become the true Wolverine, whilst the other becomes something different.  You still get two people, or two life-forms, depending on how you look at it (option 4 above would be the most obvious choice of how to run with a bisection actually occurring in the comics, which is certainly not to say trying it would be even a remotely good idea).  You could even surrender to cliche and give each half different traits from the original.  Indeed, Wolverine & The X-Men: Alpha and Omega already gave us one suggestion, albeit under very different circumstances, featuring as it did a rational but amnesiac Logan and a drooling violent animalistic Wolverine.

In that respect, "only one Wolverine" makes sense as a summary, albeit whilst making no sense at all as an actual logical position (and yes, I'm aware that applying logic to superhero comics is inherently ridiculous; but if you don't find it fun nonetheless, then frankly I rather pity you).  Me, I'd go for option 3, and damn the torpedoes.  Hell, do it right, and for the first time in twenty years Wolverine's appearances across the Marvel line might actually make some sense.

(X-posted at Year X)


Chris said...

I'd rely on the precendent set by Deadpool where he faces an evil(er) doppleganger of himself assembled from offcuts left behind in previous stories. I think that points to 4 being the right answer.

SpaceSquid said...

Ah, Deadpool. So many people talk about his crazy adventures and fourth-wall-breaking quips that his value as a walking science experiment is never discussed as fully as it should.

Chris said...

His science make me sad though. Being imprisoned by someone planning to use him as an ethical source of meat for his wife who was zombified by a faulty set of breast implants clearly breaks laws on the conservation of mass.

Abigail Brady said...

clearly breaks laws on the conservation of mass.

Wolverine once survived in a desert (I think) by tearing strips off himself and eating them.

Conservation principles are something that happen to other people.