The land of comic books is rife with debates and in-fighting, as readers and fans debate which characters can best others or which movie based on comics reigns supreme. There's arguably no bigger debate—at least in collecting circles, however—than the first true appearance of Wolverine, arguably one of the biggest superhero characters ever created. While it's widely accepted the character's first appearance falls in The Incredible Hulk #181 (November 1974), he did happen to appear in a panel at the end of The Incredible Hulk #180 a month prior. Because of that, Roy Thomas says it should be #180 that's considered the character's first appearance, and not the more-iconic issue that sells for a premium.
"Obviously it's 180 because he's in that last panel," Thomas tells ComicBook.com. Thomas co-created the character with Len Wein and John Romita. "It's just that the other is a full story and the one's a panel of it. But the first appearance is in #180, obviously."
The former Editor-in-Chief then laid out the details as to why he considers #180 the first appearance. As it turns out, the character's first panel was nearly identical to some of the earliest concept pieces created by Romita for the character.
"Because that pose, and that panel as John Cimino [Thomas' manager] has pointed out in an article he wrote recently, was taken almost directly from John Romita's character sketch and so forth," the comic legend adds, "So that's the first one. But of course, at the same time, if you were really trying to collect the first Wolverine, you'd rather get a book that doesn't have one panel. What you should really do if you were a real collector, you got to get both of them."
There you have it. One of Wolverine's three credited creators insists on The Incredible Hulk #180 being the character's first appearance, even though he suggests you buy both issues to cover all your bases. In fact, Thomas even says to make sure you add The Incredible Hulk #182 to your collection just to be safe.
"Well you don't need that third issue when he's in a page or two, but that would be good to get too," he concludes. "But you certainly need the first two, and if you can get the third why not? Get the trifecta."