Although Daken isn’t a particularly compelling idea for a character, it’s a credit to Liu’s work on Dark Wolverine that these days, it is actually possible to distinguish him from his father in a way that doesn’t involve using the phrases “mohawk”, “tattoos” or “one claw in the front of his arm”. Daken is smarter, more calculating and far more amoral than Logan is – so when I saw that this issue would be pitting him against everyone’s (well, my) favourite evil psychiatrist, Karla “Moonstone” Sofen, ex of Thunderbolts, currently of the Dark Avengers – that was more than enough to draw me in.
And, in some ways, I got what I wanted. The issue is largely a conversation between the two, with Karla given a prominent role in the story. I should probably be glad that the contents of the issue actually matched the cover and solicitation copy. But as someone reading the issue for Moonstone rather than Daken, maybe it was too much to expect to come out of this story feeling anything other than disappointed.
The problem I have is that Moonstone is traditionally portrayed as someone at least as amoral and calculating as Daken is. When push comes to shove, she’s more overtly motivated by self-interest, but that’s the chief difference between them. The impression this issue gives is that she’s shocked and surprised by Daken’s actions, even to the point of being rather naive about the prospect of a relationship forming between the two of them. To be honest, it does the character a disservice to dumb her down in order to build Daken up, and I can’t help feeling that a more skillful narrative could have avoided that problem.
Now, fanboy whining aside, the issue isn’t entirely rubbish. It does tell a nice, done-in-one story that exemplifies Daken’s personality – but in that sense, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Much like the plague of generic Wolverine one-shots Marvel has been releasing over the last year or two, this is a generic Daken story which offers very little new insight into the character. For an issue that’s supposed to be about psychiactric evaluation, that feels like a bit of an omission.
Perhaps Liu is stuck treading water until the climax of Dark Reign, hence a string of stories that continually restate the same basic facts about Daken’s character – but it’s equally likely that she’s attempting to make the point that Daken is very smart, scheming and amoral. In which case: We get it. If you only read one Daken story this year (and providing you’re not particularly obsessive about Moonstone) then you’ll be more than satisfied with what goes on here – but anyone else is going to find themselves feeling like they’ve read this one before.