The comic series death of Marvel's Wolverine may not be a dead end
His skeleton may be coated with an indestructible substance and claws may shoot from his hands, but Wolverine, most famous of Marvel's X-Men, is preparing to meet his maker.
A new four-part comic series, whose title, Death of Wolverine, leaves little room for manoeuvre, has been published. The mutant character, who first appeared in 1974, isn't dead by the end of the first issue, but he has lost the healing ability which has helped to keep him alive for more than a century. And the Grim Reaper doesn't seem far away - a lifeless Wolverine is depicted being borne away in a Christ-like pose by a skeletal Death on the cover of the final comic in the series.
Responding to scepticism about how long the death will last - the demise of comic characters is generally less than permanent - writer Charles Soule told USA Today that this time, the death of Wolverine would be "an event that's designed to stick". Wolverine, he said, would definitely perish, but "it's really the manner of his death that matters".
Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso added: "He's Gary Cooper in High Noon knowing he's going down, only he doesn't know if he's going to go to heaven or hell when it's over."
Marvel advised fans to "grab a box of tissues", because "nothing will ever be the same for the clawed Canadian ever again - mostly because it's hard to change things for a dead guy".
"Wolverine's been tested in the past, and he's even come close to death on a few occasions. Back then he had his healing factor to pull him out of death's clutches, but now he's not so lucky," said the publisher.
However, with Spider-Man's Uncle Ben said to be the only comics character to stay dead, some aren't convinced. Comics retailer Bev Morley said: "Give me a freaking break, nobody stays dead . . . How can he? But it is generating a lot of interest. It's going to be very big-selling."