When reading about a comic character you’re interested in, it can be hard to keep up with all the stories they’ve appeared in. That’s where The Essential Reading List comes in. I’m compiling all the important appearances of characters that I appreciate and this edition is focusing on Daken. As the son of Wolverine, Daken has done plenty to establish himself within the X-Men mythos, but he’s also become one of the most intriguing characters in the wider Marvel Universe. Here’s a look into the major stories that he’s been a part of.
Wolverine: Origins #10
Daken first appeared in the pages of Wolverine: Origins when he infiltrated a SHIELD base in order to meet Wolverine for the first time. When they came face to face, Daken slashed open his father’s belly because he believed he was responsible for the death of his mother, Itsu. The first appearance set up Daken’s personality as a man with a grudge and kicked off the complicated relationship between father and son.
This story arc featured Daken and Wolverine finding some common ground, with Logan getting help from Professor Xavier to try and undo his son’s brain washing. Daken had been taken from his dead mother’s womb by Romulus, who instilled a hatred inside him for Wolverine and turned him into a weapon. Daken realised that Wolverine didn’t kill his mother and the two of them choose to work together to track and hunt down Romulus.
Daken’s alliance with his father didn’t last long and he chose to join Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers to create a power base for himself. This was when Daken received a solo series written by Marjorie Liu and it turned him into one of my favourite characters. The Prince featured Daken using his emotion altering abilities to manipulate his team mates and The Fantastic Four. He became a cunning, Machiavellian schemer who started to create and empire for himself and climb out of Wolverine and Romulus’ shadows.
This story brought Daken and Wolverine back together to confront Romulus once and for all. Daken wanted to take power for himself and tried to play Logan and Romulus against each other. He came close to killing Romulus and taking his place, only for Wolverine to outsmart him at the last second.
This arc is one of my favourite Daken stories because there’s a lot of emotional weight. Daken interactions with both his father figures revealed a lot about his character. There’s a great moment where he showed his hatred for Romulus because he never loved Daken like a son.
Punishment involved Daken’s ongoing war with The Punisher, who he killed during the Dark Reign event. Punisher was brought back to life as a Frankenstein-like monster and he was determined to get revenge. The best thing about this arc was the over the top violence, with Daken and Punisher throwing everything they had at each other. Wolverine appeared in the end to stop Castle from killing his son.
Empire featured Daken faking his own death so he could operate in the shadows and rule the criminal underworld. He went to the island of Mandripoor, taking over the local gangs to establish himself as a major player. This arc is worth reading for the amount of new characters that Daken interacted with. There’s some great relationship building with Mystique and it was implied that Daken had genuine feelings for her.
Collision is an essential story for fans because it featured the first meeting between Daken and X-23. Laura had come to Mandripoor to search for leads to a new Weapon X program, while Daken was looking to use it to his advantage. The two of them started fighting each other, though they eventually worked together in order to stop Weapon X from being restarted.
The relationship between Daken and X-23 is complex, with him revealing that he admired her, but couldn’t understand why she didn’t use her power to create a better life for herself. X-23 believed that Daken limited himself by not caring about people. It provided character development for both of them.
The Pride Comes Before The Fall
After Mandripoor, Daken went to Los Angeles to try and take over the criminal element within the city. He became addicted to a drug called Heat that stripped him off his healing factor and brought him to his lowest point. The story is interesting from the perspective of Daken having to build himself back up from nothing.
Daken returned in the pages of Uncanny X-Force, leading a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He pitted the group against Wolverine’s X-Force in a final effort to destroy him. This is one of the most emotional comic arcs I’ve ever read because Wolverine and Daken’s broken relationship is at the heart of the story. Wolverine was given no choice but to kill his son to save the world. The ramifications of Logan’s actions carried on into the Apocalypse Twins arc, where Daken came back to life as a Horseman Of Death.
This arc takes place after Wolverine’s death and Daken chose to watch over his father’s remains to give him a respectful burial. There’s a tremendous amount of character development because Daken is protective of Wolverine’s legacy, refusing to let his bones be used by any criminals. The arc culminated in a traditional Shinto funeral and Daken said goodbye. Kika Sai ended with the hope that Daken would become a better person, thus adding to the character’s complexity.
Daken transitioned from a villain with a grudge to a multi-faceted man with very human motivations. Look out for more of my favourite characters to be featured on The Essential Reading List.