Wolverine's smelly son brings some emo to the X-Men universe

Illustration for article titled Wolverines smelly son brings some emo to the X-Men universe

Recently, Marvel introduced a new little cub to the Wolverine family. Daken is a sexually predatory assassin with super-pheromone powers and massive daddy issues. And he's written by Marjorie Liu, a famous paranormal romance author. It's the perfect fit.

Here's why you need more Daken in your life.

Daken, the long-lost son of Wolverine, has bone claws extending from his hand and isn't the most popular character. He's a legacy character, which naturally engenders a lot of hatred among fans. He gets credit for being part Wolverine, while the real Wolverine has to run around doing Daddy duty in his own story. What's more, he had some questionable mutations. The guy can modify his pheromones to make people angry, happy, and most of all, turned-on. That is played up massively throughout his series. Daken has stalked the Marvel Universe, seducing, attempting to seduce, or just leering at every character in sight. And using his smell powers to make them do the same. After that? He usually kills them. He's poisoned one lover, after basically using her house as a place to crash. He's sent another lover running in front of a bus. He's hacked one potential lover to death himself, after flirting with him in order to get a superhero costume. He's not a nice guy.


Which made his run in Daken: Dark Wolverine, written by Marjorie Liu, a very well known author of paranormal romance, that much more fitting. She's best known for her Dirk & Steele series, a series of books about the various members of a supernatural detective agency operating in a world where magic and reality overlap. This is a genre she knows very well - and it's a genre she gleefully subverts in the series.

Pretty much every paranormal romance story, from Wuthering Heights to Twilight, features the Brooding Man With the Violent Past. Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights, was a poor orphan who gained wealth and power and sought terrible revenge on the family that had betrayed him - except for Cathy. Edward from Twilight is a vampire who used to periodically fall off the wagon and eat people, and who fears he may do it again - but has to struggle to be good for Bella. Bill, the brooding vampire from the True Blood series used to have fun ripping people to shreds - but he wants to reform for Sookie. (As a matter of fact, so does Eric, the other big brooding vampire in the series.)

Illustration for article titled Wolverines smelly son brings some emo to the X-Men universe

Each of these lucky ladies has something in common: She is the exception, the light of her man's life, the person for whom he will continually strive to better himself, the person who he would never, ever harm. Each of these ladies also has something in common with the scores of victims left in each gentleman's wake - they all thought they were the exception, too. What makes the story a romance, instead of gore, is the fact that it's focused on the woman who actually is the exception, and not the tons of people who thought they were.


And that was has made Liu's run on Daken so fun. He's conned fashion models and designers, The Fantastic Four and crime bosses, the devil and Mystique, all of whom thought, "I understand the situation. I can handle this guy." And, of course, when they couldn't they were surprised. Everyone thinks they're not falling for his line, but everybody does.

And Daken, as a character, keeps on spinning that same line. The characterization was well established by Daniel Way in Wolverine: Origins series. The individual storylines in Daken's solo title do something more. Liu tantalizingly waves set-ups in front of the reader. Daken is unexpectedly kind to a plain-Jane in the first issue. Will we be seeing her again? No, he's not the least bit interested. Daken is quite taken with Mystique and they have a real rapport. Maybe they'll be a villainous couple together. No, he just needed someone to be a witness to his fake, heroic 'death'. Daken hits on a crime boss and she brushes him off. Clearly she's on to him. No, he was running another scam on her. He seems to be bonding with Johnny Storm, but is only manipulating the guy to get some tech and some credibility with the Fantastic Four. Liu keeps dangling possibilities out there and slamming the reader with the sledge hammer of, "He's not that guy."


This makes for a surprisingly honest romantic hero. And make no mistake, he's a romantic hero. He has the dark, terrible past. He has the potential for salvation. He has the looks and the power. It's just that, unlike all those other romantic heroes, he hasn't found the person who will turn it all around for him. Perhaps, just in the next issue, he'll find that person, and reform, and lead a desperately virtuous live while trying to contain his violent nature. And they'll be blissfully happy together.

But with the stacks of dead bodies in his past, would you take the chance on being that one person? No?


Exactly. That's the point.

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To be fair to Heathcliff, Cathy didn't 'turn it all around' for him. If anything, his obsession with her made him more destructive than he would've been without it. Then again, if that's the sort of end-game they're going for with Daken, I'm all for it. Bill, Eric, Edward - all of their stuff is in the past when we meet them, while readers have been dragged through all of Daken's crap. With him, I'd honestly like to see a nasty end.