First Published: June 1998
Contents: Wolverine #48 (November 1991) to #69 (May 1993)
Key Creator Credits: Larry Hama, Marc Silvestri, Mark Texeira, and others
Key First Appearances: Team X, Mastodon, John Wraith, Psi-Borg
Story Continues From: Essential Wolverine Vol. 2
Story Continues In: Essential Wolverine Vol. 4
Overview: Pop open a cold brewski, light a cigar, and sit back to enjoy the latest collection of Wolverine stories from the early 1990s. But drink and smoke in moderation, because I’m willing to bet you do not have a mutant healing factor to offset the vices.
Kicking off this volume, Wolverine enlists the X-Men’s help as he struggles to put the pieces together of his mysterious past. Following the events of Weapon X, Wolverine encounters former members of Team X, as he realized that he was not the only person who was experimented on.
Next up is a time-traveling adventure that brings Logan and Mystique together to stop Mojo. Parts of this story will remain a mystery until it is revisited by Larry Hama later on in his run, which will be collected in Essential Wolverine Vol. 4.
Wolverine finds himself going to Japan to bail out Jubilee. This leads to an encounter with his beloved Mariko, whose life comes to a tragic end during a battle with the Hand. The loss of Mariko sends Wolverine spiraling downward in a depression trying to deal with her death.
Strangely, this volume ends with issue #69, which started a three-issue story involving Rogue and Sauron in the Savage Land. If you were only reading Wolverine by Essential volumes, you were forced to wait eight years to read the conclusion of that story (see Footnotes).
What makes this Essential?: This is an interesting collection, as the comics cover all the variations of the typical Wolverine tale – stories involving the X-Men; time-travel stories; Wolverine in Japan; fights with Sabertooth; and the occasional filler issue featuring the rising star character, such as Shatterstar. So this is a good example of a lot of the different stories that can be told with Logan. My concern with this volume, as with the previous Essential, is that most of these stories are not memorable. I struggle to write a review for this, as I am not recalling these stories. This is a case where the character justifies the volume, but not necessarily the stories contained within the Essential.
Footnotes: Once again, the cover spells Silvestri’s first name with a K (Mark), but it should be spelled with a C (Marc).
Because of the number of double-page spreads, the covers to some stories appear at the end of the story to minimize the number of blank pages in the book. Unfortunately, this meant some issues ended and the next started up without the reader noticing until the next set of issue credits comes up. For example, with the final four issues in this volume, it runs: Cover to #66, Issue #66; Issue #67; Cover to #67; Issue #68; Cover to #68; Cover to #69; and Issue #69.
Essential Wolverine Vol. 3 was released in June of 1998, but Essential Wolverine Vol. 4 was not released until May of 2006. During the long gap, Marvel reprinted Volumes 1-3 multiple times, as the cover format was updated in the early 2000s.
If you like this volume, try: the Weapon X story, if you have not read it already. And shame on you if you haven’t read this! The story originally ran in Marvel Comics Presents as a 13-part story. It has been collected multiple times in multiple formats, so it should not be hard to find. Written and exquisitely drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith, we finally learn how Logan received the adamantium in his skeleton. As many questions as this story answered, it also introduced even more questions into the back story of Wolverine. The initial story arc in this Essential serves as a sequel to the Weapon X story, as Wolverine meets up with other participants from the Weapon X complex.