Dark Wolverine #76

This is a book that's not quite as clever as it wants to be, but at least it's trying. One instance is how the opening scene with Norman Osborn and his Avengers is later repeated with the Fantastic Four with positions and viewpoints either shared by members of each group or set in opposition. It's a good idea, but a bit obvious in its execution, almost to the point of being groan-inducing. And, that's "Dark Wolverine" #76 in a nutshell: interesting concepts, less than spectacular execution of said concepts.

However, the execution is still strong enough to warrant that three-and-a-half star rating, don't forget. The portrayal of Daken, Logan's son and Wolverine in Osborn's Avengers, alone is worth checking this comic out. Way and Liu play with the 'wild card' element that Logan had in his early appearances, that sense of foreboding that you don't really know what this guy is up to, that maybe -- just maybe -- he will actually betray the X-Men and sleep with Jean Grey. Sure, you didn't think he would actually turn out to be a bad guy, but that possibility was there.

Here, you know Daken is a bad guy, so Way and Liu ramp that up by focusing on his intelligence and skills of manipulation to turn him into the 'wild card' in Osborn's group. With Logan, you were afraid he'd betray his teammates; with Daken, you assume he'll betray his teammates -- and that idea is used well.

Entering Daken into a conflict with Bullseye is a smart move since he seems like the group's 'wild card' at a first glance. As it is, we don't know exactly what has happened, and neither does Norman Osborn as both men try to turn their boss against the other. The repetition of discussions Osborn has with each is humorous, but overplays the structure here of having the second part of the book mirror the first.

The actual characterization is strong, although some may question how the Thing acts, which is out of character. Though, there's a hint that the Thing's out of character actions are a clue about Daken and his abilities. Otherwise, the right tone in the dialogue is reached as characters try to manipulate one another for purposes not yet revealed.

Giuseppe Camuncoli does fantastic work. His art has always leant itself to characters looking more evil and twisted than others draw them, and that highlights the writing here. If everyone looks like they've got an agenda, that's only because they all do. Camo's action scenes are also top notch as Daken goes up against the Thing, a pairing that isn't quite as mismatched as it would appear.

Since Daken is still relatively unknown to readers and characters, Way and Liu use that to their advantage, keeping both groups off balance here, no one quite sure what Daken is really up to. However, he is turning out to be a far more interesting character that the title "Dark Wolverine" would lead you to believe.

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