Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Rob Williams

The Brit slices his way onto Daken: Dark Wolverine and smashes through the Savage Land with Skaar



By Kevin Mahadeo

If you want to become the best, you need to claw your way to the top. Thankfully, for the Dark Wolverine known as Daken, having some literal claws of your own certainly helps make that journey easier.

A new era begins for DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE with May's issue #9.1, which welcomes the title's new ongoing writer Rob Williams and sees the prodigal son make a bloody bid toward becoming the Marvel Universe's new Kingpin of crime. Writer Daniel Way originally created the character and has almost single-handedly shaped Daken's journey throughout the Marvel Universe, previously penning his path in both WOLVERINE: ORIGINS and the character's recently launched self-titled series. The offspring of the X-Men's clawed Canuck, Wolverine, Daken holds a deep resentment toward his father and has spent much of his time trying to either show him up publically—such as his time with the Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers—or outright kill him. Recently, Wolverine tried to save his boy from himself by prohibiting Daken from delivering a killing blow to the villain Romulus, however, this merely further motivated the character and he recently took control of Madripoor's criminal underground.

Williams takes over creative duties on the character with the special Point One issue, designed as a perfect jumping on point for new readers and a lead in to what's to come. The writer spoke with Marvel.com about his new gig, his plans for Daken and his other big project: the upcoming SKAAR: KING OF THE SAVAGE LAND.

DAKEN: DARK WOLVERINE #9.1 cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Marvel.com: Rob, first off, how did you end up getting this gig on DAKEN? What were your initial thoughts when Marvel approached you about it?

Rob Williams: You'd have to ask the editors. They work in mysterious ways. But I think it's because I've written a couple of things for DAKEN assistant editor Jody Leheup now and we seem to work well together. I wrote a WHAT IF? one-shot at the end of last year which looked at Daken's fate if he'd actually been raised by Wolverine throughout his childhood. I guess it went down well or I'd not be speaking to you now. I also wrote a Daken eight-pager in the DARK X-MEN anthology series, where Norman Osborn invited Daken to join the Dark X-Men via a visit to the opera, so I have a small background with the character. As for how I felt about the job offer? I was hugely excited. It's the chance to write a great, vibrant and young—in Marvel Universe terms—character. Dark, noirish stories really appeal to me. And, from a career point of view, it's an ongoing series with Marvel. I'm thrilled.

Marvel.com: What are your thoughts on Daken as a character?

Rob Williams: He's a nasty piece of work. A sexy, seductive, sociopathic killer. Jim Morrison meets Wolverine without the morals. What's not to be a fan of? There's a load of dramatic potential there. I think what's exciting about him is you still feel he's finding his own path. Like anyone with a famous father, he's still seen in terms of the paternal shadow. You can almost see him as a rebellious teenager up to now; the majority of his actions have been to piss daddy off. Well, at some stage he has to grow up and define himself by his own actions and destiny. We talked about taking him away from Logan for a while, a deliberate move by Daken—the child moving away from home, as it were. And, of course, Logan still feels Daken can be redeemed despite all evidence to the contrary. But can he? We'll find out.

Marvel.com: What do you see Daken's motivation as these days? Is it about being better than his father or do you think it's about the whole Romulus thing? Being the top dog so to speak, even if that means of your own empire?

Rob Williams: He's taken over Madripoor—one of Logan's old haunts—and become its crime king but I think he's surprised to discover that, when he finally achieves this, it leaves him feeling empty. The way I see it, he's never going to live up to Logan. There's no happiness to be found in that path. Like anyone, he has to find his own way. Now, granted, when you're a sociopath and a killing machine, that own may be something bloody and unsavory. With Daken thus far it's a case of "some men just want to watch the world burn," but growing up means that he wants to create something of his own. And that's potentially bad news for the rest of the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: You're taking over on the Point One issue of the book. What can you say about the story you'll be telling in that issue and how it ties into what's to come?

Rob Williams: As with all the Point One issues, we want to make this a fun jumping on point for new readers; a self-enclosed story that will then lead us into our next arc—my first on the title. Daken's Point One story is called "Gone" and it's the transition from Madripoor to the next stage in his journey. But before he can allow himself to go he has to say goodbye to Logan. And Daken doesn't really say goodbye like normal people.

Marvel.com: Wolverine and the Avengers appear in the Point One issue as well. What's it like writing those characters and how do they play into the overall story?

Rob Williams: To say his farewells Daken's got to get past Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Avengers Tower. So it's Daken as John McClane from “Die Hard” in a true test of his abilities. Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man—these aren't exactly bad bodyguards. And if he can get past them you've got a showdown with Wolverine to look forward to, and that might not exactly go the way you'd imagine.

It was huge fun to write the Avengers, of course. If you're a Marvel fan you love these characters. I've written several of them in various Marvel titles over the past year or so, but there's a panel with them all walking off a Quinjet together and you can't help yourself but have a little fanboy [moment].

Marvel.com: How do you view the current relationship between Daken and his dad? Is there another fictional father-and-son duo that you kind of compare them to? I'm guessing not so much like Ward and Beaver Cleaver…

Rob Williams: They are like Ward and Beaver Cleaver actually, albeit with unbreakable claws, a healing factor and their innate ability to kill. But, nevertheless, the similarities are uncanny. Really though, I don't think Daken is even remotely interested in reconciliation with Wolverine. He's not remotely interested in peace. But Logan, deep down, still wants to give Daken a chance at redemption. I think that's the great thing about Logan: despite all that blood and violence on his hands, he's something of the romantic at heart. He wants to see the good in people—up to a point.

Marvel.com: What can you say about your plans for the book moving forward? Can you tease some of the things we'll be seeing in the coming few months?

SKAAR: KING OF THE SAVAGE LAND #1 cover by Michael Komarck

Rob Williams: Daken wants power and affirmation. He wants to be a star. And if you want to be a star there's only one place to go: Los Angeles. He wants to fashion himself into Hollywood’s Kingpin of crime and he figures LA will be a piece of cake—which of course won’t go exactly as he planned. The pitch was "A Year One for Marvel's next Kingpin of Crime." It's going to be guns, beautiful girls and boys, sex appeal, high action and noirish plot twists. But there'd be no drama without putting Daken's soul at risk on this journey. Does he still have a soul? We'll find out.

Marvel.com: Along with DAKEN, you've also got SKAAR: KING OF THE SAVAGE LAND coming up. What can you say about that title?

Rob Williams: [That’s] proving huge fun to write mainly because of the sheer nature of the Savage Land. As a writer that kind of scale and invention is manna from heaven. Anything big and widescreen that you come up with you stop yourself and think "Ok, think again, how can we make it bigger?" And in the Savage Land you can do that with impunity. So it's crazy summer blockbuster action sequences with giant dinosaurs and crazy alien tech. What's not to like in that? Also, we're reintroducing some long lost Marvel characters in the series like Kid Colt. And Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy are just ridiculous fun to write, simply because they're so ridiculous. I think "fun" is the keyword for that series. And our art team, led by Brian Ching, [is] just doing an amazing job on it. It feels like a big Hollywood movie with a fearsome budget.

Marvel.com: How do you compare and contrast writing Daken to Skaar? Both have dads with anger issues and both walked a weird hero/villain line at certain points.

Rob Williams: I think Daken's far more damaged and more complex. [Writer] Greg Pak knows Skaar better than me and may disagree, but Skaar sees things in quite simplistic, pragmatic terms. Right and wrong are pretty clear to Skaar, who's still a child in many ways. I think a team of world-class Jungian psychotherapists could spend months on end with Daken and still not get to the heart of him. I don't think he's fully aware of why he's doing some of the things he's doing. He's seeking happiness, deep down, but doing it in the most destructive fashion. People are going to get hurt around Daken. And lord help anyone who does actually get close to him.

Marvel.com: To close things out, Daken and Skaar also both have serious daddy issues. Obviously that's all coincidence, I think, but are there any other characters with parental problems you'd like to write in the future?

Rob Williams: Does Galactus have a son? If so, his rebellious teenage years would be a hoot. Put me down for that one.

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Great and insightful interview. I look forward to reading both series.