DAKEN: Page 2 of 5

Publication Date: 31st Jan 2022
Written By: Douglas Mangum and Monolith.
Image Work: sixhoursoflucy and Gremlin.


Though he had been a lieutenant to Romulus for decades, Daken could not offer an exact location for the mastermind. However, knowing that Romulus enjoyed exacerbating bloody and senseless conflicts around the world, the pair found themselves in northern Africa, where they ran once again into Cyber, who was likewise searching for Romulus. After rebuffing an offer by Cyber to join him, the two concocted a plan by which Wolverine would attempt a frontal assault on Cyber’s outpost, providing a distraction so that Daken could catch Cyber unawares. Ever the manipulator, Cyber convinced Daken to betray Wolverine before he could recover from his frontal assault, after which they would leave him behind and continue their mission against Romulus together. However, this in itself was part of Wolverine & Daken’s plan, as to lull Cyber into a false sense of security and extract any information he might have on Romulus’ location. When it became apparent, however, that he possessed none, Daken killed Cyber and left his corpse for Wolverine to find. Daken’s message was clear that he wanted no partnership with his father and that he would work against Romulus on his own in an attempt to usurp him. [Wolverine: Origins #31-32]

Despite his intentions, Daken did not immediately begin his quest. Instead, he sought out mercenary jobs, which led to a rather unexpected opportunity. After the recent unsuccessful Skrull invasion, Norman Osborn had come to power as the director of H.A.M.M.E.R., the preeminent global police force which had succeeded S.H.I.E.L.D. As a side project, Osborn proposed to form a government-sponsored Avengers team, with members comprised of criminals and mercenaries, all of which he believed he could control. Aside from the prospect of full-time employment, Daken accepted the offer and donned the identity of “Wolverine” knowing that it would enrage his father. [Dark Avengers (1st series) #1]

Announcing himself as the new and very public “Wolverine” attracted the attention of Cyclops, current leader of the X-Men and recent de facto leader of all mutantkind. Whether this was part of his plan in joining Osborn's Avengers from the start is unknown, but it provided Daken with a unique opportunity. At some point in the previous months, Daken had become aware of the Muramasa blade, a powerful sword whose properties could negate mutant healing factors, and Wolverine had handed it over to Cyclops for safekeeping. By becoming the new Wolverine, Daken hoped to draw out the blade so that he could steal it. Daken’s plan worked exactly as he had anticipated and Cyclops arrived with a team of X-Men and the blade. With speed and ferocity on his side, Daken made short work of the X-Men and would have stolen the entire blade, if not for the intervention of Wolverine. In the end, Daken escaped with only a portion of the blade, its tip, which had broken off during the battle. [Wolverine: Origins #33-34]

Daken immediately sought out the infamous Tinkerer, famed technical supplier for super-villains. He hired Tinkerer to bond the Muramasa metal to his claws, and set him up with a laboratory on a moving subway train. Impressed with the properties of the Muramasa metal, the Tinkerer in short order bonded the third claw in each of Daken’s wrists with the metal. Additionally, to avoid the catastrophic effect which would occur should the bonded metal come into contact with his soft tissue, the Tinkerer inserted Adamantium sheaths into which the metal-laced claws would be housed. The process had only just completed when Wolverine burst into the lab. Logan was delayed in arriving because Victor Hudson and Romulus himself had also been on the train. Instead of pursuing the chance to end Romulus, Wolverine chose to try and stop his son from becoming this living weapon. When he heard this, Daken was furious Logan let Romulus get away now that he could kill him, and slashed Wolverine with his claws. He held back from using the Muramasa claws to fatally wound Logan, though. [Wolverine: Origins #35]

It’s not clear if Daken informed Osborn of his new weapons upon returning to the Avengers, but for all intents and purposes he pretended to be loyal to (if occasionally bored by) Osborn. While Daken shared sociopathic similarities with the other “dark” Avengers, his personality was vastly different. Where his teammates were bombastic, threatening each other and seemingly on the edge of violence, Daken was less overt in his interactions and subtly sowed the seeds of discord among his teammates. He used his pheromones on Bullseye to generate jealousy and antagonism toward him, making Bullseye look the aggressor and Daken the victim. To Moonstone, he planted doubt of Osborn’s leadership, causing her to question his sanity. To Venom, now the sinister Spider-Man, he regularly flirted, making him feel sexually uncomfortable. However, it seems even Daken wasn't confident enough to make any attempts to manipulate the psychological time bomb, the Sentry. [Dark Wolverine #75-76]

Despite his interest in spreading discord among his team, Daken nonetheless was a team player when he chose to be, usually in instances where he could avail himself of his violent tendencies. When Osborn created his “List” of achievements to fulfill, he sent Daken to accomplish one: the termination of the Punisher. While the Punisher had operated for years in his vigilante war against organized crime, in the eyes of the law he was a mass murderer. So, as head of H.A.M.M.E.R., ostensibly a law enforcement agency, Osborn needed him put down. As Wolverine, Daken hunted Frank Castle and ended his life, slicing him into numerous pieces. [Dark Reign – The List: Punisher]

Daken was also sent to recruit Skaar, the son of Hulk, to be a member of the Avengers. Meeting him at a small town bar, Daken at first seemed interested in bonding with someone with similar backgrounds and pointed out to Skaar the similarities between the two: their mothers were killed before their birth, raised by monsters to be monsters, violence against their fathers. In truth, Daken was using the time to emit calming pheromones at Skaar, which involuntarily transformed him into his much weaker, semi-human body. As Daken was clearly intending to kill the youth whom he had come to recruit, it was only by the intervention of Wolverine that Skaar had time to transform back into his “Hulk” self. Nonetheless Daken pressed his attack and would still have killed Skaar, had Bruce Banner not intervened in an unorthodox manner, threatening Wolverine with a high tech weapon capable of killing him. Refusing to allow anyone to kill his father but him, Daken allowed Banner and Skaar to depart in peace. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #603]

Daken’s machinations were not limited to his teammates, but extended to his employer, Norman Osborn. With Osborn, however, Daken was more complex. He caused him to question the loyalty of the “Avengers” he had selected, including (it seemed) Daken itself. With the suspicious Bullseye already keeping an eye on his activities, Daken visited the Fantastic Four, explaining to them that he rejected Osborn’s actions and was looking for a way out. Promising to be their “man on the inside,” Daken asked that they maintain his cover, by having the Thing literally throw him out of the Baxter Building. Unfortunately for them, Daken informed Osborn beforehand, allowing him the opportunity to film the incident as to publicly discredit the FF. Over the days which followed, Daken convinced both sides that he was actually loyal to them and betraying the other. [Dark Wolverine #76-77]

In the end, it was all a ploy by Daken to gain access to Osborn’s files and acquire a certain video which Osborn had been holding over his head. Early in his tenure as Osborn’s “Wolverine,” Daken had acted heroically by saving a grandmother and her grandson from being mugged, but his bloodthirsty nature had gotten the better of him and he had killed the masked assailants. Worse, the incident had been caught on video, which Osborn had successfully intercepted. However, having acquired the video from his machinations with the FF, Daken wished to undermine Osborn and released the video to the public through two intermediaries, after which he eliminated them both to avoid it leading back to him. Desperate to regain the public support for his “Wolverine,” Osborn arranged for several ex-cons to stage a prison break for notorious terrorist Moses Magnum, all for Daken to publicly recapture them. Unfortunately for Daken, the mission went sideways and the assembled cons managed to overpower him. The enraged Daken wanted blood instead of public support, so Osborn decided to cut his losses and bombed their location to eliminate them all. In a twist of fate, Daken not only survived (and allowed most of the cons to escape) but saved an infant from the resulting blaze, ultimately restoring the public’s adoration as originally intended. [Dark Wolverine #75, 78-80]

When the California statewide ballot measure called “Proposition X,” intended to limit the reproductive right of mutants, began to gain popularity, mass protests on both sides of the issue broke out in San Francisco, the current home of the X-Men. Daken soon became embroiled in the situation when (seeing this as an opportunity to flex and expand his authority) Osborn deployed Avengers and agents of H.A.M.M.E.R. to restore the peace. Through his secret cabal, Osborn had an agreement with Emma Frost to avoid mutant affairs so long as she kept them in line. Seeing the riots as a failure on Emma's half of the bargain, Norman tried to recreate the success he had with the Avengers by creating an officially registered team of X-Men, of which Daken (as Wolverine) would be a member. Being on Osborn’s “dark” X-Men caused rifts with his Avengers teammates, who pointed out the illogic of a Wolverine being on multiple teams, but Daken and the rest of Osborn’s X-Men were soon deployed to the streets to fight Cyclops’ X-Men.

Though the tide seemed on the side of Daken and his allies, fortunes shifted when over half of Osborn’s X-Men switched sides to Cyclops’ team. Even more unexpected, Cyclops revealed his master plan: the raising of Magneto’s downed Asteroid M, which was renamed “Utopia,” an independent state in San Francisco Bay and a haven for mutants around the world. To prevent this declaration from being a reality, Daken and the rest of Osborn’s Avengers were sent to push the X-Men back into the sea. During the battle, Daken came to bloody blows with X-23 who, unknown to him, was actually cloned from his father, Wolverine. In the end, Osborn’s forces were overpowered and Daken and his teammates were forced to withdraw. Nonetheless, Daken was a short distance away from Osborn in his subsequent press conference where he declared victory for his Avengers, by claiming that they had successfully relegated the X-Men to a de facto offshore prison. [Uncanny X-Men / Dark Avengers: Utopia]

For months, Osborn’s Avengers continued acting as erstwhile heroes, facing and defeating emerging threats, such as Morgana le Fay, Atlantean terrorists, the Molecule Man… and the Man-Thing. [Dark Avengers (1st series) #1-6, 10-12] However, Daken had had enough of his time with Osborn and the Avengers just as Osborn overstepped his authority. He attempted to invade the last spot on American soil over which he had no control: the city of Asgard. [Siege crossover] In the ensuing battle, as Daken relished in slaughtering Asgardian warriors, he was noticed by the three Fates, Norn sisters who embodied fate. As Asgard had been brought to Earth, the cycle of Ragnarok had been broken, and the three Fates decided that the deadly Daken could be their Earthly tool needed to restart the cycle. While Daken might have done as they wished had the idea been his, Daken refused out of principle, always wishing to be the instigator and never the one used. [Dark Wolverine #82-84]

Osborn’s move against Asgard turned out to be an unparalleled disaster, which brought down Osborn, H.A.M.M.E.R. and his “dark” Avengers. Ever the survivor, Daken escaped in the chaotic aftermath and was once again a free agent. [Siege (1st series) #4, Dark Avengers (1st series) #16] However, opportunity arose when he was soon contacted by his father, Wolverine, who offered a new alliance against Romulus. Daken agreed in principle to Wolverine’s plan, though he extended the caveat that he would only do so if he wanted to at the time. He also warned Wolverine that, once Romulus was out of the way, they would have unfinished business between the two of them. With that, the two parted ways.

A week later, Daken was at a hotel in Paris when he was confronted by Romulus. Playing on Daken’s hatred of his father and his desire to be like him, Romulus pried Wolverine’s plans from Daken. A week afterward, a smug Daken met his father at a café in Ankara, Turkey, proudly admitting to his betrayal. However, much to his surprise and anger, Wolverine admitted that he had not only anticipated Daken’s betrayal, but that it was part of his plan. With that, Wolverine stabbed Daken with what seemed to be the Muramasa blade.  However, the sword used had actually been a fake, a fact unknown to the watching Romulus. When the dumbfounded Romulus revealed himself to check on Daken, Wolverine sprung his trap. Caught between Wolverine and his ally, Skaar son of Hulk, Romulus found a surprise ally in the still living Daken, who very much wanted to foil his father’s plan. If Wolverine succeeded in exposing Romulus’ existence to the public, thus removing the shroud of fear upon which Romulus’ empire was built, Daken would have nothing to inherit.

With the plan an apparent failure, Wolverine and Skaar were teleported away by Cloak, leaving Daken and Romulus to fade into the shadows once again. Romulus seemed genuinely grateful to his lieutenant and in his gratitude made the sin of letting down his guard. The next day, as the two discussed their next move, Daken used his Muramasa metal-coated claw to gut Romulus. With Romulus at his mercy, his powerful healing factor eliminated by the properties of the Muramasa blade, Daken berated him for never being serious about choosing Daken as his successor, always intending Wolverine to take the throne.  Now, Daken just wanted Romulus dead. However, as Daken moved to deliver the killing blow, Romulus was teleported away. Realizing that it was Wolverine’s doing, Daken yelled his name in rage. Daken did not have long to wait, however, as two days later Wolverine cornered him in Budapest. The two fought ferociously, but in the end Daken was beaten by Wolverine, who wielded the broken Muramasa blade, which he had been trained to use months before by the Silver Samurai. Now at his father’s mercy, Daken was unable to prevent his father from surgically removing the Muramasa claws of each hand and secreting them away to parts unknown. Daken's claws would regrow in time, but the Muramasa enhancement was lost to him. [Reckoning crossover]