It's been nearly a year since Rob Williams replaced Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu as the writer of Marvel's Daken: Dark Wolverine, and in that time Wolverine's mohawked son has left for Los Angeles, tangled with Taskmaster, met up with Moon Knight and ran into the Runaways.
He's also gotten a love interest in the form of an FBI agent named Donna Kiel. Their relationship has already seen plenty of interesting twists such as when, in a case of mistaken identity, Kiel shot Daken in the head. You just don't get that in a Katherine Heigl romcom.
That dynamic is at the center of this week's Daken: Dark Wolverine #20, an issue that Williams calls " In Search of a Midnight Kiss for psychopaths." The series is also nearing its end with March's issue #23, and we talked to Williams via email about wrapping up the series, his attachment to the character, and what might be next for him.
Interior art from
Wolverine #20.Newsarama: Rob, we haven't talked since news hit that Daken: Dark Wolverine was ending in March. Folks are always curious about this kind of thing — how far in advance did you know the book was ending? Did you have enough time and wiggle room to bring things to a close?
Rob Williams: I was told start of October, if I remember right. It was very disappointing as I felt, and still feel, a real connection with the book and with his character. The editorial team was very enthusiastic about the book and the direction we'd taken it.
On the plus side, they gave me plenty of notice and quite a few issues to tie things up. I was told I'd have a final arc — you can do a lot in four issues. So it wasn't exactly the brutal, "We're ending this tomorrow." Still, it is truncated. I had a longer arc in mind for Daken. We're finishing up in an organic way though, I think.
Nrama: Before we get to the end, though, we have next week's issue #20, a story with that you've said to be particularly proud of. What makes the story unique? And what does Alessandro Vitti bring to it, visually?
Williams: It's a very dark one-shot love story. Not your usual superhero comic, certainly. It's the culmination of the Daken and Donna Kiel story and it asks the very valid question, "How can two psychopaths, two people not wired to feel emotion of empathy for others, fall in love?" Is it possible? That's a pretty challenging story to write, and I was nervous approaching it, but I'm very, very happy with how it's turned out. It's a long night of the soul in Los Angeles. Kind of In Search of a Midnight Kiss for psychos — that's what I had in mind. This is also the issue that, I think, finally answers the question: "Can Daken be redeemed?" This is his last chance. Antihero or villain, what's he going to be? What is he willing to be? Logan's never going to turn him to the light, but maybe Donna can.As for Alessandro. I love what he's done with this issue. It needed a distinctive look, I think and he's made it look very stylish but not once ducked away from the dark and the dirt. This issue goes to some pretty cold places, I think. He's captured that. Plus he draws a really killer huge sniper rifle.
Nrama: As mentioned, issue #20 focuses on Donna Kiel, who has been a major part of the series since you came on board last year. It's obviously been an interesting path for the two characters thus far — at this point, how do you characterize their relationship? And what has her introduction allowed you to explore about Daken?
Williams: One of the first things I asked editorial when I pitched the series was ''has Daken been in love?" Can he be in love? It's pushing him in a different direction. Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu had portrayed him as this cold, calculating sexual predator and done a great job of it. But when you write a character you're always looking to get under their skin, to push their buttons, to give them a real challenge and put their soul on the line.
Unbalancing Daken's world by having him fall in love seemed a great way to really destabilize him. A lot of us have these moments where you meet someone and, bang, the world seems to download the certain information into your brain that this person is the one for you. That's what happens when Daken meets Donna. He meets someone who is intellectually his equal, and he finds that emotionally, she has similarities also. But whether that can work in the real world is another matter. Daken's a remorseless killer, Donna's an FBI profiler. She hasn't killed... yet.
Nrama: As of late, there has been a degree of correlation between Daken and the other Marvel book set in Los Angeles, Moon Knight, specifically with Count Nefaria in his role as the "Kingpin of LA." From your end, how close has the coordination been between the two books?
Williams: It's all been done via the editorial teams. When I took Daken to L.A. I was told that Moon Knight was going to be there under Bendis. I talked with editorial about using Moon Knight — as it was only natural they'd run into each other. Everything was cleared through Tom Brevoort's office. Ditto with the use of Count Nefaria in #20. We had to make sure nothing we did affected Moon Knight's run, which took a little work. But editorial are very good at guiding you through that stuff. The fun of a shared universe!
Nrama: By the time Daken wraps, you'll have written the character for about 15 issues; a considerable run for certain in this day and age. What kind of fondness have you developed for him in the last year? How do you relate Daken to other protagonists you've written?
Daken #21.Williams: A surprising amount of fondness, considering the fact that he's a psychopath. Frankly, I think a lot of people dismiss the character as Wolverine's "edgy" mohawk son. That gave me a lot of freedom, to try and make him subtly nuanced as expectations maybe weren't as high as they would've been on some other books.
And Daken's intellectualism and snark is great fun to write and just kind of suited my voice, I think. I was genuinely surprised by how much I got him. He's an extremely bitter brutal killer, feels no empathy, is bisexual, will use anyone to achieve his goals. Daken is a lot of things I'm not, but I felt a rare connection writing him. Odd, that. That's one of the intriguing things about writing a character. You can't always predict who you'll really nail. Even though I'm leaving the book I'll always feel a big soft spot for Daken.
Nrama: With Daken and Ghost Rider both wrapping up in March, what's next for you on the horizon, at Marvel or otherwise?
Williams: Nothing I can talk about right now. The only things I can say for certain are on their way from me is a new series of Low Life, my long-running future crime story from 2000AD, I'm working on a second series of my supernatural western The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead Left in His Wake). again from 2000AD, and I have a little eight page western called Evangelyne coming up in the forthcoming Outlaw Territory 3 anthology from Image. I'm hugely excited about that one. There are other things in the works, but I can't say anything yet.
Plus, of course, the "Venom: Circle of Four" crossover running across February. I've written Venom #13.1 and 13.2 there. The final issue of Ghost Rider is a 30-page monster, a direct assault on hell (and all the heavy metal that implies). And the final arc of Daken, #21-23 is a killer way for us to go out, I think. Daken comes back to New York after his L.A. experience. The superheroes had better watch out.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!