This article is from the X-Men Comic Books FAQ, by Kate the Short (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
Apparently, almost all of Wolverine's memories are constructs, thanks to
the ever-dependable Weapon X program and the demands of Marvel writers.
What he had as his original skeleton has become even more of a muddled
pile of murk thanks to the Fatal Attractions storyline. A brief synopsis
of what was once known to be true will be attempted here, but as
discussions on racmx have shown, this question is a retcon in action,
and even Wolverine fans are still confused over the whole affair. Those
of us who are just neutral bystanders will have to be content with what
follows, and leave the heavy arguments to the knowledgable Wolvie sages
IN THE BEGINNING, like, pre-X-Men (Hulk #181), even, Wolverine was just
designed to be a spunky teenager working for the Canadian government,
who had claws stuck in his gloves. One gets the opinion that perhaps
there were some slight budgetary problems in the Canadian Secret Service
at the time. There was a suggested subplot which would reveal him to be
a "super-evolved" real wolverine, made into human form by the High
Evolutionary, but that was never followed up on.
Now, when Wolverine was put into the X-Men, Chris Claremont decided that
since he was in the X-Men, he needed to have a mutant power.
Furthermore, he didn't like the idea of having the adamantium claws just
part of the gloves, as then "anyone who could get the gloves could be
Wolverine." So, he revealed that the claws are actually housed in
Eventually, we find out that all of Wolverine's skeleton is bonded with
adamantium. Adamantium is the hardest known non-magical substance in the
Marvel Universe, capable of ignoring point-blank nuclear strikes. Chris
Claremont also revealed that Wolverine was much older than he'd
originally been planned to be. Wolverine's vaunted healing factor wasn't
mentioned in the stories until UXM #142, although it was first shown in
the UXM issue in the mid 110's when Wolverine got his arm chomped on by
Time passes. We learn that Wolverine may have gotten his adamantium from
the Canadian special weapons project, Project X. There is a good clue
out that the adamantium bonding process was stolen for Project X from
Lord Darkwind, a Japanese nobleman who performed the same sort of
operation on Bullseye, a nonpowered assassin and foe of Daredevil's.
Lord Darkwind's daughter, Lady Deathstrike, has been hunting Wolverine
for years to kill him, since him having that skeleton is an insult to
the heritage of her father. The process was either stolen by or for
James Hudson, head of the Alpha Flight project, which was responsible
for the superpowered protection of the Canadian provinces and interests.
Then comes the Weapon X storyline (MCP #72-84). Wolverine, who up to
this point is thought to just be a fast-healing mutant of indeterminate
age, is now revealed to apparently have had some form of natural "bone
claws" where his metal ones ended up, because when they were filling him
full of adamantium, that's where a bunch of it pooled up (sounds more
like a scientist was skipping on quality control, but, hey, it's
The idea of the Weapon X project was that it would create all these
super-soldiers, and then release them back into the general public with
no memory of who they were as "sleepers." So they wouldn't remember
their experiences at the Weapon X facilities, they were all programmed
with false memories. To help keep watch over this odd idea, a computer
program named Shiva was written, who could take over one in an almost
endless series of robots to hunt down and destroy any Weapon X soldier
who, somehow, showed signs of remembering who he really was. Currently,
Wolvie has fooled Shiva into thinking it killed him.
So, with that added to the muddle, we then get the unusual Fatal
Attractions crossover, where Magneto pulled the adamantium off of
Wolvie's bones through his skin pores (X-Men #25). So, Wolvie (aside
from hurting real, real bad) was growing new bone claws because he
originally had bone claws (and they got covered in adamantium), and
Magneto removed the original ones.
The lastest addition to this saga is that the adamantium was preventing
his mutation from expanding any further. In this case, that meant his
turning into pure animal, with the unbearably heightened senses and
uncontrollable instincts (Wolverine #92).
The memories problem was repaired by Epsilon Red (by the same people who
brought you Omega Red).
As of Wolverine #100, we have a new incarnation of Wolverine. To Larry
Hama's credit, Wolverine did get his adamantium back. For a few panels.
Then Wolverine rejected it and lost what was left of his mind. The
current version is now a mutant who can withstand almost any amount of
physical abuse. Elektra took it upon herself (Wolverine #101) to help
Logan return to humanity, and it mostly worked.
To make matters worse, Sabretooth had been the recipient of Wolverine's
old adamantium. The stuff was then ripped out of Sabretooth and given
back to Wolverine by Apocalypse, who made Wolverine his horseman Death
for a short time. Wolverine #145 displayed the moment in a flashback,
but the first appearance with the metal back was as Death in Astonishing
X-Men Vol. 2 #1.