X-POSITION: Williams Brings the Heat to "Daken"

In order to write a character, it can be helpful to crawl into that character's "skin." If the character is a cop, you might want to go on a ride-along with your local police. If the character is a teacher, you could assist in instructing youths at a nearby center. But what do you do if your character is a manipulative killer with no moral center to speak of? I'd recommend giving that writer some space...

The scribe I'm speaking of in this instance is Rob Williams, and he's the lucky son of a gun who has taken over the writing duties on "Daken: Dark Wolverine." The author has tackled the character with great aplomb with his debut on the title with #9.1. With Los Angeles as a playground and a drug called "Heat" as a tempting vice, Williams has found some terrific new challenges for Daken to sharpen his claws on.

In addition to having his hands full with Logan's son, the writer also keeps himself occupied with a few other dark characters in "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force" and the new "Ghost Rider" ongoing series. Thankfully, he's not too busy to answer questions for his readers, as he's our guest for today's X-POSITION. Williams is one busy little fish, so let's not waste time and jump right in!

...and it appears we're jumping in to the deep end with this initial question from the Big G:

1) First off Rob -- welcome to the X-books! I don't mean to throw you a tricky question right out of the gate, but what the heck! Recently, Daken got his skin burned off and I was curious...how does his tattoo come back? We clearly saw it in issue #10. I mean, doesn't the ink get burned away as well? Is his tattoo "special" in some way with a "special" origin?

Thanks Big G! Erm, good start... next!

Actually, I'd imagine that whoever gave Daken that tattoo did make it a "super tattoo." Daken's healing factor would, you presume, reject any ink from a normal tattoo. For that one to stay in his skin it can't have been anything ordinary. Maybe Romulus gave Daken it and it's now bonded to his skin, so when his skin burns away and grows back, the tatt comes with.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Good opener though!

2) I enjoyed watching Daken tripping on Heat. Is it safe to assume that Heat is -- as the late great Rick James once said -- "one hell of a drug?" How long should we expect to watch Daken popping them pills?

Heat's like nothing Daken's ever experienced before -- something that Riley Rossmo's trippy pages really show off, giving us Daken's trippy point of view. His healing factor's made him so bored of any drug or drink -- they don't really touch him. Heat does affect him though, and that immediately make it hugely appealing to Daken. He's a hedonist, after all. And not only is it hugely addictive and, as you say, "one hell of a drug," it also starts to shut down his healing factor. It's dangerous.

Daken's looking for challenges all the time. He thinks he's smarter than everyone else and he thinks he can kill anyone in one-on-one combat. Nothing can harm him, so there's no challenges for him. Heat is a challenge. It could well kill him. That makes it very attractive to Daken.

3) Is Donna Kiel (the new woman in Daken's life) going to be a character we'll see for a while? Or is she merely around for an arc?

Donna's a major player in this storyline. She's a hugely smart FBI profiler who's been brought in to solve the murders of L.A.'s latest serial killer -- someone who uses claws to eviscerate their victims. Sound like anyone you know? But there's no motive for Daken to be doing these killings and he can't remember doing them. Donna's going to help solve the mystery.

This is someone who can match Daken intellectually. That immediately makes her very attractive to him. Again, much like the Heat drug, Donna is actually a challenge for Daken. That's rare. But she has her own issues too, as we'll discover.

Our pal Marcus Martin is concerned about another challenge going on in the X-universe and wonders how it will impact Logan's son:

1) Will the events of "X-Men: Schism" affect Daken in any way? It doesn't appear that the X-Men's decisions really matter to him one way or the other...

To be blunt, he couldn't give a £$%& what the X-Men do or don't do. He's only interested in his own agenda, which is to build up his empire. He's already taken over Madripoor and now he wants to become Los Angeles' new Kingpin of Crime. I'm not even sure he thinks about the fact that he's a mutant. Mutant rights aren't big on Daken's mind. Now, that doesn't mean that mutants don't think about him, or that the fall-out from Schism won't affect him.

2) By any chance, will Daken run into the Runaways during his stay in L.A.? He's already mentioned the Pride...

Hmmm... there's an interesting thought.

Daken hanging around with a bunch of prepubescent kids? Adorable! PhoenixReborn wrote in to ask about another pal of Daken's that's a bit less cuddly...

Will Norman Osborn's return affect Daken? Could it reunite him with his Dark Avengers pals?

Not immediately. He's busy building his own future and certainly wouldn't be interested in working for Osborn again. But there's an interesting dynamic between the two of them, certainly. Osborn could push Daken's buttons. Maybe in the future.

Well, if he's not going to spend time with children or the goblin king, Captain Cavalier hopes to see Daken find some new friends of a "shiny" nature:

Rob, I really liked the whole "Scarface"/"Entourage" vibe I got from issue #10 of "Daken: Dark Wolverine." Will Daken be sticking around Los Angeles long? Will he get groupies?

Hah. I don't think Daken has to worry about getting groupies. He's a good-looking guy awash with Brian Fantana's favored brand of Sex Panther. Wherever Daken goes, he's going to find good-looking company. That's his scene. And he's going to be in Hollywood for the foreseeable, yes. Incidentally, well done on picking up the "Entourage" nod. That was deliberate and something I was going for. Matteo Buffagni drew that whole party scene beautifully too.

Renaldo wins today's prize for the longest list of questions. Let's see what kind of prizes await in Williams' answers:

1) Rob, with "Daken: Dark Wolverine," what was your approach to the character after [Daniel] Way and [Marjorie] Liu had him run riot in Madripoor with huge success?

I wanted to continue the good work Dan and Marjorie had established. Daken being bisexual, for instance. It would've been pretty horrible if, my first issue, he suddenly announced himself as being out-and-out straight or gay. Hopefully my Daken still feels like the same guy you've been reading for the past few years, but any writer is going to bring their own sensibility. I thought it would be empowering and challenging for him to get away from Wolverine for a while -- the son 'leaving home' to write his own destiny.

2) Will you be going back to any of the "Wolverine: Origins" elements for Daken? Can we expect you to introduce new elements to the character as well?

I kind of think it's healthy to stay away from continuity-heavy plot points. They're there in Daken's past and you respect them, but we want to tell stories that new readers can pick up that aren't bogged down with exposition. I tend to think exposition is death on the page and it's to be avoided where humanly possible. As for new elements? We thought it'd be interesting to challenge Daken in as many ways as possible. Strip down his healing factor -- that healing factor's very useful but it can be a drama killer too.

Where's the threat to a character if you know he can survive pretty much anything he comes up against? So, Daken's addiction to a new drug called Heat is going to make him vulnerable. And emotionally, we thought it'd be intriguing to have Daken fall in love for the first time. To find someone who, mentally, is on his level and who he connects with. All these things are meant to push him to his limits. You have to challenge these characters and put their souls on the line.

3) Shall we anticipate a lot of encounters with Wolverine in upcoming stories, as Daken is already mocking Captain America in your issue #10 opening?

No Wolverine for the time being. We're enforcing a 'no Wolverine' zone temporarily. Daken said goodbye to him in #9.1 (which Ron Garney drew beautifully, by the way). Wolverine's in enough books as it is.

4) Daken's sexually "active" panels in issue #10 were quite surprising. Were there questions from editorial about taking the character down this path? Can we expect more surprises such as this?

Editorial were great on Daken's sexuality. They basically allowed me the freedom to go where I wanted with this. We talked about Daken being bisexual and they said up front, when I was taking over the book, that they were very open to him having a gay relationship in the book. It was never an issue... which is how it should be. Hopefully it feels organic and true to the character. I'd hate to throw things in there for sensationalism's sake. Daken's primarily a hedonist. He's intellectually dismissive of any of society's brands of constrictions. He sees himself as being above all of that.

5) Where'd you get the inspiration to create this rogue faction of Purifiers in "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force?" They seem to mean more hurtful business than past incarnations. How does the new antagonist Jonathan Standish embody their ideals?

These Purifiers are a splinter group. While the main Purifiers believe mutants are the children of the devil, this group think that it's all superhumans. They see the events of "Fear Itself" and think this is the end of the world -- the stuff of the Book of Revelations -- and they think the super-people have brought the devil to earth for humanity's souls. It's up to them to get as many good human souls to Heaven "before the devil knows they're dead." They're basically very scared people, and fear makes humanity do terrible things.

Their leader, Jonathan Standish, is a neurosurgeon who believes he has been called to "save" as many people as he can. As ever in these instances, he thinks he's the hero here -- the one with the moral high ground. And he's got a mutant kill crew coming after him, so maybe he has a point (albeit a very screwed up one). The storyline was really generated by the moral question of "Should a mutant kill crew exist?" And if they are necessary, as Wolverine and company believe, then what does that say about society (and superhero books) in general? While "Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force" has big, summer blockbuster-style action sequences, hopefully it asks a few interesting questions too. And Simone Bianchi's made it look stunning!

6) Your story ties into the chaos as the Serpent's Armageddon hits, but how else are your themes and story differentiating themselves from the awesome job that Rick Remender has already lain out in the main "Uncanny X-Force" book? Will your story be picking up on small seeds and threads from his title?

I've tried to stay away from the main plot points in Rick's run (which is terrific and I'm really enjoying each month). But hopefully the character dynamics are the same. I've thrown in some sexual tension between Psylocke and Fantomex, for example; Archangel's in a pretty aggressive state-of-mind, etc. Jody Leheup's my editor on the miniseries and Jody edits the main "Uncanny X-Force" book, so he kept me on the straight and narrow. But, as I said earlier with Daken, I want this to be a self-enclosed story that new readers can pick up and immediately get what's going on. If I came in heavily referencing a bunch of Rick's plot points there'd be little room for our plot.

7) Lastly, where did the motivation come from for your new Ghost Rider identity? And what kind of impact will be felt with Blaze/Ketch, especially after the amazing "Heaven's on Fire" run from Jason Aaron?

Making the new Ghost Rider female was a pretty straightforward choice. Launching a new series, we were looking for something that felt fresh and different. Jason Aaron's run on the book was terrific but it felt like Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch as Ghost Rider had both been done, so... I'd never claim it's the most original idea in the world, but a female Ghost Rider is a new hook, a distinctive visual aesthetic.

Matt Clark got to give the new Ghost Rider an awesome new design and look. It's exciting to flesh her out. And Johnny Blaze, who I love writing, is still there throughout our story, albeit now in the role of a fairly incompetent mentor. He's our drunk and sarcastic Obi-Wan Kenobi. On a motorbike. But without powers. As for how all this affects Danny Ketch, we have plans for that down the ride.

Sounds fun! And now, it's my turn to take you "Behind the X" with a little get-to-know-you question. If you don't mind sharing -- what movie scared you most when you first saw it and why?

Probably "Nightmare on Elm Street." I was, I think, thirteen when it first came out and, without being too graphic, it scared the living piss out of me. Don't think I slept for days. It did its job. A movie that makes teenagers be scared of sleeping and having a bath. Smelly, sleep deprived, grouchy. Thinking about it from the point of view of the 39 year-old father of two I now am, that movie kind of prepares you for parenting.

Thus we conclude today's X-journey, but be sure to come back next week as we have Daken's literary "daddy" joining us -- writer Daniel Way. He'll be here to answer questions on "Deadpool" and "Astonishing X-Men," as well as any other notions you may have tickling your noodle.

Everyone here should hopefully know the dealio by now -- just type up those queries in the Queen's best English, email them to me as quickly as you can, and I'll do my darndest to get your inquiries answered. Put an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I promise I won't show folks that video of you imitating Princess Leia hairstyle with two French crullers. Now hurry and send me those emails!

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