After a table-clearing ‘point one’ issue, “Daken: Dark Wolverine” begins a new direction with issue ten under new writer Rob Williams. Moving the character to Los Angeles, Williams seems to want to focus on the youthful decadence of the character, delivering a cross between “Entourage” and the novels of Bret Easton Ellis. Though the issue begins strongly, both in writing and art, after its initial thrust it peters out in mediocrity.
The opening scene is bold and engaging with Daken causing havoc on the 110, dressed in military gear and a Captain America mask alongside others identically dressed. The point of it all is unknown; no explanations are given and that’s what makes it work. Daken blowing things up with some other people before popping some sort of pill that exchanges Matteo Buffagni’s clean and energetic art for Riley Rossmo’s scratchy, frenetic scrawls? That’s how you begin a new direction! It immediately grabs the reader makes the new team look like they’ve got some interesting ideas for the book.
And, then, the rest of the issue kills all of the good will that opening scene built up. In an effort to explain how Daken got to the beginning scene, Williams brings to mind “The Informers” with Los Angeles decadence, bisexuality, and drug-induced partying. Sadly, it’s the film adaptation rather than the book of short stories that I’m reminded of. Everything that happens just lays on the page, not exciting or enticing the reader; it’s the boring part of the story thrown in because there’s a sense that it needs to be there. Drugs and sex for the sake of drugs and sex to prove that Daken is a ‘bad boy’ is uninteresting by this point in the character’s story. A subplot with a police officer feels tacked on and suffers from dialogue that thinks itself clever when it’s just cheesy.
Even Buffagni’s art loses some of its spark when the issue shifts to explaining the destructive stuff on the 110. In action, his work leaps off the page with interesting angles and poses that feel slightly off from reality, more influenced by his sensibilities than an attempt at ‘realism.’ For the back half of the comic, he’s so focused on ‘real’ people in ‘real’ situations that his art looks more fake than ever. His facial expressions seem forced and cartoonish. Rossmo’s contributions are so out there and strange that they’re the one bright spot of the poor second half.
The opening scene of “Daken: Dark Wolverine” #10 seems like a battle cry, a declaration that this series will do crazy things and not worry about spoon-feeding everything. And, then, the issue decides to spoon-feed everything. The explanation of how Daken got to wearing a Captain America mask and using a bazooka is far less interesting than him doing that. Hopefully, Williams realizes where his strengths lie, because they’re not in the second half of this comic.