When he was on trial for heresy and corrupting the youth of ancient Athens, the Greek philosopher Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Some residents of the Marvel Universe would disagree with that notion, especially Daken Akihiro, title character of "Dark Wolverine" and the son of the X-Men and Avenger known as Wolverine. Daken believes he knows exactly who he is and that he’s the best possible person he can be. In the months ahead, though, Daken will be forced to confront some of the ugly truths about himself. "Dark Wolverine" #80 is in stores today and CBR News spoke with writers Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu about their plans for the series, including a tie-in to the January Marvel event "Siege."
Before he was even born, Wolverine’s enemy Romulus murdered Daken’s mother and removed him from her womb. Daken was raised by Romulus to be the ultimate assassin and hate his father. In the 2008 "Wolverine: Origins" storyline "Original Sin," Daken discovered the truth about what happened to his mother and decided to kill Romulus. That doesn’t mean he reunited with his father or became a hero, though. Daken is still a remorseless, manipulative, ego-maniacal killer, which lead to Norman Osborn viewing him as the perfect recruit for his Dark Avengers team. Daken accepted the offer and now impersonates Wolverine on the Dark Avengers.
Osborn’s "Dark Reign" is predicated on public perception. His Avengers team is secretly composed of violent killers and psychopaths, but the public believes them to be heroes; Osborn needs them to believe that they’re heroes. So when video footage of Daken as Wolverine surfaces showing him slaughtering some masked assailants in front of a grandmother and her grandson, the former Green Goblin has to act fast. He sets up a heroic moment for Daken and arranges for him to confront several D-list villains: Emmy Doolan, Cutthroat, the Inquisitor, and Moses Magnum.
In "Dark Wolverine" #79, Daken was suppose to have a "heroic" style battle with the villains which would end with him arresting them instead of killing them. Much to his surprise and chagrin--he lost. "Daken is not practiced as a hero. He’s very good at killing people, manipulating them, and several other unheroic things, so he assumed that being a hero would be easy," Daniel Way told CBR News. "So in this instance it was a matter of ego getting in the way of ability. He didn’t mean to lose the fight and you’ll see now that he’s working out a way to use it to his advantage."
One of the villains that beat Daken in issue #79 was a woman, but her sex isn’t what’s important to Daken. "All that matters to him is that he got an ass whooping," Marjorie Liu said. "It’s not easy to get over the psychological damage from that. The vision he had in issue #79 of his dad mocking him means that there‘s a lot going on under the surface that even he doesn’t want to admit. This defeat is eating away at him."
Way added, "I also think the fact that Norman Osborn is aware of what happened adds fuel to the fire. The fact that anyone knows about it is unbalancing, but the only person he holds in more contempt than Osborn is his father. Daken considers Osborn an utter moron; so for Osborn to be in a position where he can hold this over Daken’s head puts a lot of pressure on him. And when you put a lot of pressure on a dangerous and unbalanced individual like Daken things are going to get really ugly."
Issue #80 is the concluding chapter of the current "Dark Wolverine" arc and it finds Daken boiling over with rage and frustration from his loss in the previous issue. "In doing what they’ve done, both this team of D-List villains and Osborn have really pushed Daken into a dangerous space. He’s now defending himself and in his mind his self is very large. So his defense amounts to a full frontal assault," Way said. "It’s a scorched Earth policy as far as he’s concerned. Everyone is expendable. They’ve embarrassed him. They’ve made him look inward and he can’t stand that. So now there’s no question in his mind that everyone needs to pay the maximum price."
Liu added, "In a way that aspect of his character is very much like a spoiled and over-indulged little boy. He had a tough childhood and was raised in a particular way, but the importance he puts on his pride and ego is so incredibly selfish that it’s immature."
The sheer force of Daken’s animosity means the events of "Dark Wolverine" #80 won’t end well for anyone involved. "In issue #80 you see it all. You see an act of heroism, but the way it occurs will force readers to ask themselves what a hero is," Way said. "Is someone a hero because of something they do? Or something they are? Do heroes always do the right thing? And can a character like Daken, who is gleefully evil, do something heroic?"
In December, Way and Liu offer up a done-in-one tale that pits Daken’s ego against the ego of one of his teammates on the Dark Avengers, Moonstone. "The Moonstone story is actually kind of an accident," Liu revealed. "It was never meant to be its own thing. It was meant more to be just a look here and there. The story ended up being bigger though."
Way added, "It started right in our first issue and then a couple of issues later Marjorie and I realized that it’s something that had to be paid off. You have to see where the relationship between Daken and Moonstone goes. And even though we only spend about half the time with Daken, issue #81 is a good jumping on point for new readers. You get the full picture in those 11 pages.
"Daken is a character that draws you in by design, and the story is compelling because you’ve got Moonstone looking for something in Daken. And at the very end she has to question herself and ask if she was looking for a lie," Way continued. "Because she actually gets a glimpse of what Daken really is . . ."
In January, the Marvel universe event "Siege" begins, and Daken’s membership in the Dark Avengers means he’ll be right in the middle of the action. Way and Liu will supplement Daken’s role in the saga with a three part tie-in story that kicks off in "Dark Wolverine" #82. "This story started out as a couple of lines Marjorie wrote down in an email and then when I talked with our editor Jeanine Schaefer about it over the phone, the story really started to take shape," Way told CBR. "So I called Marjorie back and told her that our Asgard story was good to go. It’s a pretty insane story and there’s going to be some great visuals because most of the story takes place in Daken’s head. It’s a mixture of Daken’s head, Asgard, and some very strange psychotic elements."
Traveling to Asgard, the fabled realm of the Norse Gods, would make most men nervous and a little scared, but Daken is not like most men. "I would say with this story he finally feels that he’s in the company he’s supposed to be keeping. The story is called ‘Godlike’ and that’s pretty much how Daken looks at himself," Way said. "He probably thinks he’s got a lot more in common with the Asgardians than other mutants or humans. The idea of going to a realm that has gods and does deify people is very appealing to Daken."
Daken will enter Asgard looking for anything that can help him advance his larger agenda of becoming a powerful master manipulator like Romulus, the person who raised him. What he finds, though, are forces looking to use and possibly change him. "There are elements in Asgard that see Daken as something they can use to further their own agenda," Way hinted. "And Daken is going to have a chance to look at the future that he's always wanted and make a choice whether to move toward it or away from it."
Way and Liu had to keep the identities of the supporting characters in Daken's Asgardian adventure secret for now. "It's hard to talk about these issues," Liu said. "There's a lot that goes on in them."
"A prominent Norse character plays a supporting role," Way hinted.
"And it's not Loki, we can say that much."
The next few issues of "Dark Wolverine" will feature two different artists. Stephen Segovia finishes up his stint on the book with this week's issue #80 and then regular artist Giuseppe Camuncoli returns for the Moonstone issue and the "Siege" tie-in arc. Way and Liu enjoy collaborating with both artists and feel each one brings something different to the book. "Stephen has an explosive style that's really good for action based stories," Liu said. "And Cammo [Camuncoli] is fantastic when it comes to stories that have a lot of subtle elements, like issue #81."
When "Siege" concludes in Spring 2010, the Marvel Universe will be a very different place, but Daken will still be an important part of it.
"After 'Siege,' 'Dark Wolverine' will loop back into 'Wolverine: Origins'. The final story arc of 'Origins' will be a crossover with 'Dark Wolverine'
titled 'Reckoning,'" Way said. "We definitely want this series to continue. Marvel is really happy with it, fans seem to dig it, and we love writing it. So 'Siege' isn't the end of Daken's story. If anything it marks the beginning of the next chapter in his life."