Adamantium is a fictional metal alloy appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, and is best known as the substance bonded to the character Wolverine's skeleton and claws. Adamantium was created by writer Roy Thomas and artists Barry Windsor-Smith and Syd Shores in Marvel Comics' Avengers #66 (July 1969), which presents the substance as part of the character Ultron's outer shell. In the storeys where it appears, the defining quality of adamantium is its practical indestructibility.
The word is a pseudo-Latin neologism (real Latin: adamans, adamantem [accusative]) based on the English noun and adjective adamant (and the derived adjective adamantine) with the neo-Latin suffix "-ium," implying a metal. The adjective has long been used to refer to the property of impregnable, diamondlike hardness, or to describe a quite firm/resolute position (e.g. He adamantly refused to leave). The noun adamant has long been used to designate any impenetrably or unyieldingly hard substance and, formerly, a legendary stone/rock or mineral of impenetrable hardness and with a large number of additional properties, often identified with diamond or lodestone. Adamant and the literary form adamantine occur in works such as Prometheus Bound, the Aeneid, The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, Gulliver's Travels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Lord of the Rings, and the film Forbidden Planet (as "adamantine steel"), all of which predate the use of adamantium in Marvel's comics.
History and properties
Within Marvel Comics stories, adamantium is a group of man-made metal alloys of varying durability, but all are nearly indestructible. Adamantium is inadvertently invented by the American metallurgist Dr. Myron MacLain in an attempt to recreate his prior discovery, a unique alloy.
According to the comic books, the components of the alloy are kept in separate batches - typically in blocks of resin - before molding. Adamantium is prepared by melting the blocks together, mixing the components while the resin evaporates. The alloy must then be cast within eight minutes. Marvel Comics' adamantium has an extremely stable molecular structure which prevents it from being further moulded even if the temperature is high enough to keep it in its liquefied form. In its solid form, it is described as a dark, shiny grey like high-grade steel or titanium. It is almost impossible to destroy or fracture in this state, and when moulded to a sharp edge, can penetrate most lesser materials with minimal force.
In the Marvel universe, adamantium is rarely used due to its high cost, the scarcity of its source materials, and the difficulty of manipulating it.
The character Wolverine once discovered an adamantium-laced skull in Apocalypse's laboratory and says it seemed to have been there for eons.
Adamantium as key component
Adamantium appears in various Marvel Comics publications and licenced products, where it is found in:
- Ultron's outer shell
- Wolverine's skeleton and claws
- Sabretooth's skeleton and claws
- Agent Zero's combat knife and bullets
- The outer skin of a few of Alkhema's robotic bodies
- Battlestar's shield
- Bullseye's spinal column, skull, and in a few strips coating several of his bones
- Certain iterations of Captain America's shield
- Constrictor's original wrist-mounted, prehensile metal coils
- Cyber's claws and skin
- One particular set of Doctor Octopus' arms
- The outer layer of Citizen V's rapier
- Lady Deathstrike's skeleton and talons
- One of Mister Fantastic's labs for extremely dangerous experiments
- Moon Knight's crescent blades
- A unique suit of armour once used by the villain Stilt-Man
- The outer skin of TESS-One
- One of several layers of containment at the superhuman incarceration facility known as the Vault
- An outer coating on the Swordsman's blades
- A special type of bullet in Iron Man's ballistic weapons
- Bullets used by Underworld
- X-23's claws
- Doom 2099's suit
- Bucky Barnes's Captain America suit
- A statue of the Hulk sculpted by Alicia Masters
- Hammerhead's head
- Some arrows used by Hawkeye
- The Russian's body, following his resurrection by General Kreigkopf
Adamantium in the Ultimate Marvel imprint
In the Marvel Comics Ultimate Marvel imprint, adamantium is highly durable and can shield a person's mind from telepathic probing or attacks. It is a component of the claws and skeleton of Ultimate Wolverine and of the Ultimate Lady Deathstrike character. This version of adamantium isn't unbreakable. In Ultimates #5, the Hulk breaks a needle made of adamantium. In Ultimate X-Men #11 (December 2001), an adamantium cage is damaged by a bomb. In Ultimate X-Men #12 (January 2002), one of Sabretooth's four adamantium claws is broken.