X-POSITION: Rob Williams Says Farewell to "Daken"

Tue, December 20th, 2011 at 1:58pm PST

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

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Rob Williams joins X-POSITION to discuss Daken, Ghost Rider and "Venom: Circle of Four"

Wolverine's son, Daken, first made his presence known to the Marvel Universe in 2007. He was a surprising addition to Logan's life, causing Wolverine more trouble than one would have thought possible. Daken's popularity grew as he joined Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers, publicly taking on his father's costume and codename. Eventually, Daken graduated to his own ongoing title, and readers got their fix of this intriguing anti-hero on a monthly basis.

Like many good things, however, "Daken: Dark Wolverine" is now coming to an end. Have no fear, though -- Daken will still be around to cause plenty of mayhem for daddy dearest. But what can we expect before his run is over? Let's ask writer Rob Williams, who joins us today for a festive and frank X-POSITION. Without further ado, we're going to jump right in, before Frosty melts away!

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Maroutz has a variety of questions, including one that may cause you to sing "Goodness, gracious, great glands of fire!"

1) You seem to write a lot of anti-heroes (Ghost Rider, Daken, Uncanny X-Force). Why are you drawn to characters like these?

"Daken: Dark Wolverine" #20 kicks off the series' final storyline

I guess because of their complexity. I love shows like "Breaking Bad," "Boardwalk Empire," "The Sopranos" -- that thing of making you like a character, then pulling the rug out from under you by having them do something really horrible. That's good drama.

Also, misdirections; playing with the audience's expectations. God bless people who can write a really compelling Superman -- that's hard to do. You know that character's going to do the right thing, whatever. It's in their DNA. I think we all get affected by the pure altruism of a good heroic act, and that's something that gives you faith in human beings. It's why we love those noble characters. But the nuanced, grey area characters offer more dramatic scope, I think.

2) Can I ask a stupid question? How can a female ghost rider have breasts if she has no skin?

This is a skeleton with its head on fire riding a motorbike. But you're right, the boobies make no sense!

3) You've had two books cancelled on you within a month of each other. Not to rub salt in this wound, but is it hard as a writer not to take this personally?

Begin the salt rubbing! Being honest, of course I took it personally. You're enormously invested in the books you create, in terms of the amount of time and energy you put into your stories, the emotion you put into them, your career, the money it brings into your household (creators have mortgages to pay, families to feed, etc.).

With any book you buy, there's an awful lot of the personality of the creators in those pages. So when a book gets cancelled, you do take it very personally. And while you can look at how tough the market is right now and examine the sales figures -- and "Daken: Dark Wolverine" and "Ghost Rider" were both still outselling an awful lot of very good comics -- you still find yourself asking, "What could I have done differently to bring in new readers?" You feel responsible for their cancellation to an extent, even though I've written a lot of material in "Daken" and "Ghost Rider" that I'm proud of.

The people at Marvel were very enthusiastic about my work on those titles. It's not like they were shut down because of the standard of the comics -- as far as I know, anyway. If you know different then shhhhh. The industry's just a scary place right now, and on a rational level, you accept that and try not to take things too personally. But, yes, you feel down about the news and beat yourself up for a few days and then you get back on the horse and keep writing stories. Not literally, you understand -- I don't own a horse.


4) Aside from "Venom: Circle of Four," do you have any other projects from Marvel percolating?

I'm wrapping up "Ghost Rider" as we speak, with a big explosive finale that's going to finalize Alejandra and Johnny Blaze's character arcs. The final four issues of "Daken: Dark Wolverine" is a storyline I'm very excited about. And the Venom crossover, which I've co-written along with Rick Remender and Jeff Parker, has been a huge amount of fun. I'm busy. In terms of what's upcoming -- nothing I can talk about at the moment.

5) I'm sorry to say, but I've never read any of your "Judge Dredd" stuff (although I've heard it's great). I'm not even familiar with the character past the Sylvester Stallone flick. What would you recommend I read to learn about the character and enjoy your books?

EXCLUSIVE: A page from "Daken: Dark Wolverine" #20

In terms of the character? There've been so many great Judge Dredd stories over the years. If I had to advise you to buy one graphic novel, I'd say "The Complete Case Files 05." That's got the "Block Mania/Apocalypse War" in there, which is just one of the best action comics you'll ever read in your life. And the art -- Mick McMahon at his absolute genius best! Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra -- it's stunning stuff!

In terms of my Dreddworld stories, I've written a few Dredds I like. "Out Law," the one-off I did with Guy Davis ("B.P.R.D.," one of my favorite artists, so that was a thrill), is collected in "Mega City Masters 03." But the bulk of my Dreddworld work comes in my future crime series "Low Life," which has been running since 2004, I think.

"Low Life" is about undercover cops in Judge Dredd's city, and the early stories were collected in "Low Life: Paranoia" last year. The "Low Life" stories I've done with D'isreali ("Scarlet Traces") in recent years, which I think are some of the best things I've done, are being collected in "Mega City Undercover 2," which is coming out in March, I believe.

Thanks for the great list of reading over winter break, Rob!

Ramelito is next, and he wants to know what pushes Daken's buttons.

1) What would you say motivates Daken? Is it revenge? Or pure entertainment?

Both, really. I think his primary motivation would be revenge, but I'm not even sure he could say for what. It's a hugely deep rooted thing -- 80 levels deep or more. He should have been born an innocent, but his mother was murdered, his father wasn't around and his genetic lineage is to be this monstrous killer.

And then there's how he was raised, which is a carnal house. He's got every right to be angry at the world. But still, somewhere along the line, he made his choice. There's probably an idealistic being of beauty deep inside there somewhere -- one that's enormously bitter about being ruined, but good luck finding it.

2) Are you going to be able to wrap up everything you wanted to do with Daken before the book concludes?

To an extent. His emotional journey, we're going to get to the point of that. I'd have liked to have stuck around and showed him growing into one of Marvel's main super villains. That was the main arc of the book. I'll be keeping the same theme and making the same points I wanted to make; we're just making it somewhat quicker. In terms of the question, "Can Daken be redeemed," issue #20 answers that. I'm pretty proud of that issue. It's a self-enclosed love story, albeit one that's very Daken. It gets to the heart of him, I think.

3) Is there any chance for a Daken/Ghost Rider crossover before you go? What do you think a "penance stare" would do to Daken?

No, that won't be happening. I considered it briefly before the cancellations, but decided they were different books, different tones. I didn't want to muddle it. I imagine Daken wouldn't be that affected by the penance stare. He has no remorse. No guilt. All the things that Ghost Rider preys upon aren't inside Daken. He's not wired that way.

Frank15 has heard about your upcoming project and he's dying to learn more. Can you put him out of his misery?

1) Can you tell us any details about "Venom: Circle of Four?" What is the catalyst for the events that follow?

EXCLUSIVE ART: "Daken's" final story arc hits on all the point Williams wanted to get to

I don't want to give too much away here other than to say that something very evil is going down in the Nevada desert. Red Hulk's searching for Venom, X-23's on the hunt for someone who's stolen her blood and the Ghost Rider's drawn to whoever needs vengeance most. Then the stakes raise to the point where the soul of every person on planet Earth is at risk, bringing them together.

It's huge fun in the spirit of Walt Simonson and Art Adams' "Fatal Four." The visuals that Tony Moore has created for Venom #13, the 30-page launch issue, are absolutely dynamite. Seriously, this isn't me schilling something I'm involved with -- it's a phenomenal looking book. I think Tony said on Twitter recently that it's the work of his career, and I buy that. Lots of scope for crazy, crazy imaginative visuals in this storyline.

2) How is the work being split amongst all the writers? Did you each take a portion of the story? Or did you create the story and split the scripting of it?

In creating the story from scratch, it was basically Rick Remender, Jeff Parker, myself and a bunch of Marvel editors knocking ideas back and forth via email. Other people were involved briefly at varying stages. Jason Aaron was initially involved, I think; Marjorie Liu was involved for one phone call. Then, past a certain point, it was Rick, Jeff, Editor Jeanine Schaefer and me on a number of conference calls.

The final conference call was a big, monster two-and-a-half hour session between Rick, Jeff and myself, just nailing down the final beats. It's been a lot of fun. Incredibly collaborative, as you can gather, and everyone's been very open and cool throughout. That's been the best thing about it. We've all gotten excited by the storyline, all bounced ideas back and forth. Whichever issue you read, no matter who's scripting it, there's bits of all of us in there. A writer's room approach.

From a personal point of view, it's fascinating and really educational to see how writers of the caliber of Rick and Jeff work. Rick's all high energy ideas, really generating the momentum of the storyline; Jeff stays quiet for a while, and then when he does offer an idea, it's, "Bang!" He just nails the point we were circling around. They're both very, very good. It's inspiring and intimidating to be working in that environment.

Last but never least, Renaldo hopes to hear more about crossovers and a dream-team of your creation:

1) Does the Ghost Rider cancellation have any impact on the upcoming Venom crossover? Also, how did you, Jeff, and Rick get together to formulate this event?

The cancellation doesn't affect the Venom event. Ghost Rider's involvement was happening before the cancellation. Once the Venom event ends in #13.4, we go into Ghost Rider #9, which is our final 30-page issue. That'll tie up the Alejandra-Johnny Blaze storyline.

"Daken: Dark Wolverine" #23 will be the series' final issue

2) Of the other characters -- Red Hulk, X-23, and Venom -- which would you like a crack at writing solo?

Hmmm -- I'd like a crack at the Hulk at some point. That would be fun. Venom's intriguing, too. I like the whole idea of the symbiote being addictive -- plus it just offers some amazing visuals. Sorry, X-23, but I've written Wolverine's offspring already.

3) As Daken is ending, will he abandon his plans for LA and Madripoor and return to his old ways? Maybe as Osborn's killing machine? Or possibly taking a swipe at Logan's new kids at the Jean institute?

You'll have to read our final arc, running through #20-23, to find out. But you may be on the right track, there. I'm really very pleased with the last Daken arc. It's very him, I think. It has a twisted worldview you don't get in many mainstream superhero books. Marvel was always very supportive in allowing me to approach Daken in that way.

4) Last time I emailed into X-POSITION, we discussed the Vela and Gallas cameos in your Daken comic…and it seems we brought some luck to Arsenal! Which soccer players would you pick, from any nation/club, to comprise your soccer Avengers?

Soccer Avengers!!! Erm -- Captain America would be Landon Donovan; Hawkeye would be Robin Van Persie (see what I did there?); Ultron would be Roberto Mancini; Dr. Doom would be Alex Ferguson; Batroc the Leaper would be Arsene Wenger (blatant racial stereotype!). We'd better stop this now...

Okay, it's time for our quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call "Behind the X." As the season is here, can you tell us, what are some uniquely British holiday experiences that you enjoy during this time of the year?

Drinking single malt whiskey of an evening, getting drunk with comic friends in London, enjoying port and really strong stilton cheese -- can you tell what's considered a British holiday experience? Happy Christmas everyone! (burp)

That concludes this week's yuletide merriment, but be sure to come back in seven days when we unveil our "Best X-Moments of 2011" list (as voted by you, the readers) for the end of the year. I've tabulated your emails and postings in our X-forums, and I think it's going to be one doozy of a column.

No need to email me this week. Just sit back, enjoy the holidays with your friends and family, and possibly read a comic…or ten. What can I say? Here at X-POSITION, we do our best to put the "X" in X-Mas! Cheers, and see you next week!

TAGS:  x-position, marvel comics, rob williams, daken, wolverine, ghost rider, venom

 
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