Wolverine (born James Howlett commonly known as Logan and sometimes as Weapon X) is created by writer Len Wein and Marvel art director John Romita Sr., who designed the character, and was first drawn for publication by Herb Trimpe.

The character made its official first appearance on The Incredible Hulk #180, on the final panel of the issue, in 1974. On that note, the character's first appearance was further dissected into "First Appearance" (#180) and "First Full Appearance" (#181), by fellow collectors and comic book merchants.

Wolverine is typical of the many tough antiheroes that emerged in American popular culture after the Vietnam War; his willingness to use deadly force and his brooding nature became standard characteristics for comic book antiheroes by the end of the 1980s. As a result, the character became a fan favorite of the increasingly popular X-Men franchise, and has been featured in his own solo comic since 1988.

Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas asked writer Len Wein to devise a character specifically named Wolverine, who is Canadian and of small stature and with a wolverine's fierce temper. John Romita Sr. designed the first Wolverine costume, and believes he introduced the retractable claws, saying, "When I make a design, I want it to be practical and functional. I thought, 'If a man has claws like that, how does he scratch his nose or tie his shoelaces?'"

The character's introduction was ambiguous, revealing little beyond his being a superhuman agent of the Canadian government. In these appearances, he does not retract his claws, although Wein stated they had always been envisioned as retractable.

Wolverine's intended origin was to be a mutated Wolverine cub,  which would later evolved to humanoid form by an already established Marvel geneticist, the High Evolutionary.

Luckily for us, Wolverine was born James Howlett in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, during the late 1880s, purportedly to rich farm owners John and Elizabeth Howlett though he is actually the illegitimate son of the Howletts' groundskeeper, Thomas Logan. After Thomas is thrown off the Howletts' property for an attempted rape perpetrated by his other son, named simply Dog, he returns to the Howlett manor and kills John Howlett. In retaliation, young James kills Thomas with bone claws that emerge from the back of his hands, as his mutation manifests. He flees with his childhood companion, Rose, and grows into manhood on a mining colony in the Yukon, adopting the name "Logan".

When Logan accidentally kills Rose with his claws, he flees the colony and lives in the wilderness among wolves, until he is captured and placed in a circus. Saul Creed, brother of Victor Creed, frees Logan, but after he betrays Logan and Clara Creed to Nathaniel Essex, Logan drowns Creed in Essex's potion. Logan returns to civilization, residing with the Blackfoot people. Following the death of his Blackfoot lover, Silver Fox, at the hands of Victor Creed, now known as Sabretooth, he is ushered into the Canadian military during World War I. Logan spends time in Madripoor before settling in Japan, where he marries Itsu and has a son, Daken. Logan is unaware of his son for many years.

His primary mutant power is an accelerated healing process, typically referred to as his mutant healing factor, that regenerates damaged or destroyed tissues of his body far beyond the capabilities of an ordinary human.

His healing factor also dramatically affects his aging process, allowing him to live far beyond the normal lifespan of a human. Despite being born in the late 19th century, he has the appearance, conditioning, health, and vitality of a man in his physical prime. While seemingly ageless, it is unknown exactly how greatly his healing factor extends his life expectancy.