If you want to go by the more traditional naming scheme, “What If: Wolverine – Father” could more accurately be called “What If Wolverine had Raised Daken?” And this being a What If? story, you can probably guess that it’s not all sunshine and roses.
A story such as this presents the perfect opportunity to examine the nature vs. nurture debate. Writer Rob Williams doesn’t really see it as a debate (or at least, not an open once), though, since his interpretation of Daken is that he’d turn out evil regardless of environment. Well, either that, or his point is that too much parental guidance is equally as bad as none at all. Either way, Daken turns out just like he did without Wolverine’s parenting, which leaves Logan with little choice but to attempt to do what he does best.
Williams wisely side-steps the whole “Romulus” conspiracy theory that Daken was originally a product of, plugging Sabretooth into the issue’s otherwise vacant villain position. A guest appearance by Professor Xavier provides a notably interesting scene, but in general, the book struggles to establish a convincing supporting cast, not least because the artwork is heavily stylized to the point where it’s hard to identify individuals. For the majority of the book, Logan and Daken don’t even look like themselves.
Although the writing in general is strong, with Williams nailing Wolverine’s dialogue and attitude, and providing an interesting narrative hook, the issue struggles to provide a satisfying answer to the question posed by its premise. That’s a failure too big to ignore. Essentially, the answer is “everything ends up more or less the same, only this time someone gets stabbed with the Muramasa blade.” There’s little to indicate how or why it went differently. Arguably, it’s due to the rusty fighting skills of Daken and Logan (compared to “our” universe) but we’re into battle-board territory there. The lack of any character-based resolution lets down the book.
As with the writing, the artwork is tough to get a handle on. Tocchini’s style is inconsistent — which is to say, the inconsistency appears to be deliberate — but when you contrast beautiful pages such as those where Logan and Daken are working in the field with the ugly, distorted faces during the sequence where Logan delivers Daken, it’s hard to say that it works.
Certainly, the book isn’t a complete mess, but it’s also hard to say that it’s a success. The results say very little about Daken and Logan that we didn’t already know, and what it tries to say isn’t very well-conveyed. A couple of good moments aside, the book’s main contribution to the world is showing that Rob Williams could probably write a very good Wolverine, given the chance to tell a longer story. That’s the kind of thing that makes it useful to editors, but ultimately, of little interest to the fans.