REVIEW: Daken: Dark Wolverine #1 By Daniel Way And Marjorie Liu

Daken: Dark Wolverine #1
Written by Dan Way & Marjorie Liu
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Onofrio Catacchio

As a first issue, Daken’s core experience is mediocre, with a fantastic rehashed back-up feature.

I only have a passing familiarity with the character, thanks to Wolverine: Origins and Dark Avengers, and I feel I’m the sort of fan Marvel is targeting with this series. After all, I know the character’s basic concept, and if I’m investing in the title, I want to know more about him. And in that respect, Dark Wolverine #1 stumbles.

This issue kicks off the arc Empire. It’s a fitting title. As a character Daken is about to solidify himself as a solo presence in the world, one as polarizing and dangerous as his namesake. And as a writer, Dan Way loves his epic vision. The problem is, neither attempt is convicing.

For a first issue, this reads like the second. With Way at the helm, pacing problems were to be expected (see Wolverine: Origins), and I was hoping with Liu on board, Way’s sense of grandeur would be refined. Didn’t really happen, but you can definitely feel Way and Liu’s hands texturing the story in their own way.

Camuncoli and Cattachio are a fantasic duo. The art style is clean and distinctive, and certainly feels as perfect for Daken #1 as Jim Lee did to X-Men #1. It’s beautiful, defining, and the storytelling is clear. Every extra is rendered with care, and little details in the backdrop of the fashion show or cliff side chataeu are beautiful. I also want to give colorist Frank D’Armat recognition. Like the pencils and inks, the colors are dark and dirty one moment, and then vibrant and crisp the next, as the story needs. Letterer Cory Petit works in some great onomatopoeia font choices. This book has a great visual storytelling team, and I look forward to future issues based on that alone.

We open in true Wolverine fashion, in a flashback to some non-descript backwoods bar. As Daken narrates his hate for his father and prepares for the kill…he lets him go. Not out of mercy or development, no. Simply for the joy of the “Not like this” speech.

From here, we’re taken to Milan, and given more insight into Daken’s mind, as well as several reminders of his pheromonal control. With women and men. Alright. The man is clearly a deviant, but a charming deviant, one with a “terrible beauty”, to quote his fashion designer friend. He’s slimy enough to be endearing, and just when we think he’s just a sleazy little nancy boy, we’re treated to a hell of an action scene.

Camuncoli and Cattachio simply nail this action scene, and this scene alone characterizes the character better than anything else in the issue. It’s brutal, unflinching, and yet devastatingly slow and graceful. In two pages, we see this man as the nasty little Wolverine he is, and then cap it off with an implied rape of a female survivor. She survived, and strong women turn him on. Harsh? Yes. Disgusting? Hell yes. But for me, this scene reminded us who Daken was, and it didn’t rely on flashbacks or monologues or introspection. This was storytelling at it’s purest.

I did not like this man. I had to know more, in that moment. And then we cut to another Shadowy Figure conversation, and flashed back to some Origins plots regarding Mystique, and my attention waned.

We end with Daken suiting up and telling us, perhaps appropriately, perhaps he knew I didn’t like the last half of this issue: “Beware the fury of a patient man”. Alright. I’ll be patient. Show me what you’ve got in the next few issues.

For Daken casuals like myself, there is a backup feature, a reprinting of the Daken Saga from a few weeks back, which catches you up on the character’s detailed history. It definitely helped me appreciate the story more once I was armed with that knowledge, but my opinion remains the same.

6/10

Remember, 6 isn’t necessarily bad. Is this book going on my pull list? No. If there’s a light enough week and I can budget, would I check it out? I’d put the $3.99 towards a value menu, to be honest. But did you enjoy Origins and/or Daken? Do you enjoy Liu’s Black Widow stylings? There are worse books to spend that money on.

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