Ultimate Marvel put its own spin on many characters, and Sabretooth’s adamantium claws were an early departure of the character later dropped entirely
In an effort to make changes to its classic characters, Ultimate Marvel reinvented many beloved heroes and villains. Origins, characterizations and power sets were all shifted to help reimagine Marvel’s characters in this modernized reboot. However, one of the more intriguing changes came with Wolverine’s arch-nemesis Sabretooth. In Ultimate X-Men #12, by Mark Millar, Adam Kubert, Tom Derenick and Richard Isanove, it turned out the animalistic killer underwent the same adamantium process as his heroic counterpart.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stick. In all subsequent appearances, Sabretooth never proved to possess the same enhancements.
The Victor Creed of the Ultimate universe was every bit as startling and creepy as he should be. Although he appeared earlier in Marvel Team-Up in a more traditional capacity, his iteration in Ultimate X-Men established early on that it would be a fresh take on the character that still retained the heart of who Creed was. Unlike the mainstream Marvel Universe, the Ultimate version of the black ops organization Weapon X was still in operation. Sabretooth continued to work for Weapon X as their primary agent, wearing a necklace of ears as a gruesome display of his psychopathy. But what made him most dangerous of all were his adamantium claws.
During a fight with Wolverine, Sabretooth revealed that he had the same enhancements done to him that Wolverine had, only to an even greater extent. Creed had four claws installed into each hand rather than Wolverine’s three, and had his teeth coated in the super-sharp metal as well. Perhaps one of the coolest character details is that one of Sabretooth’s claws was fractured in half, hinting at some intriguing history as to what kind of Hulk-level threat he must have faced to obtain such an injury.
And then it never came up again. In all subsequent appearances, Sabretooth never popped out his claws, referred to adamantium in his system, or even had a glint on his fangs that would signify the adamantium was present. With Weapon X collapsed, Sabretooth began working for the Brotherhood of Mutants (previously established as being opposed to the inhumane treatment of mutants perpetrated by Weapon X) before he was seemingly killed once and for all by Wolverine decapitating him. If an adamantium spine offered any resistance to the decapitation, the comic did not mention it, and even the death itself proved impermanent when Sabretooth explained that a few threads of skin allowed him to regenerate back to life.
The change feels more like a devolution than an evolution, which proved to be a wasted opportunity. Thanks to his adamantium claws and teeth, as well as his desperation to make up for the inferiority he felt as the knockoff Wolverine, Ultimate Sabretooth felt unique. Losing the adamantium proved to be only the first change in a long line of homogenization that robbed him of any distinct flavor.
From there, Sabretooth flip-flopped between working for the remains of Weapon X and the Brotherhood, getting into several critical fights where adamantium claws certainly could have been useful. Against the Hulk in Ultimate X, Sabretooth basically proved nothing more than a punching bag, and in both that comic and subsequent appearances, he took on an increasingly bestial design. A far cry from the psychopathic commando look that first distinguished the character from his mainstream counterpart, Ultimate Sabretooth took on the same furred and animalistic look as his mainstream counterpart, with little distinguishing their personalities or motives.
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