Feeding a Heat pill to a man bound to a chair, Daken asks him “why do we take the pill? Simultaneously, Donna Kiel sits at her desk, brooding. She recalls back to her childhood when her parents had taken her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist asked her why she wrote the novel. And why are there so many… nasty things in it. Smiling, Donna answered that the devil made her do it.
Six days ago in the Hollywood Hills, Daken sits in bed with Marcus Roston, watching a clip from a movie. As they watch, Marcus informs Daken that it’s from the final cut. It’s not out for another month. What does he think? It’s the latest Marcus Roston-starring vehicle. It’s gonna be huge. Watching Marcus dressed up in armor with a cape and attacking a monster holding a damsel in distress on the screen with a sword, Daken states that it’s rather… simplistic. Marcus says he’s kidding. People eat this blockbuster %$#& up. A monster, great looking noble hero, some quest or other, kickass action, and good defeating evil. Easy straight-forward accessible stuff. He then adds that he’d love to do something smaller, indie, more personal. But while you’re hot you gotta take advantage.
Daken remarks that a man is defined by his actions. Besides, shouldn’t he really be playing the queen? Lying on the bed, Marcus tells him $&%* you. Not if he wants to stay a Hollywood leading man. Does he have the slightest clue what would happen to his career if he came out? He plainly doesn’t know this business. No offense. Popping his claws, Daken says none taken and proceeds to jam them into the wall, barely missing Marcus’ head. Moving closer to Marcus, Daken states that he supposes he’s never been particularly respectful of boundaries. Holding his claws up to Marcus’ face, Daken tells him that he has such a good-looking face. Perfect cheekbones and skin texture. It would be simply career crushing should he be horribly scarred. Marcus begs him not to. Daken then asks about the Heat pills. Tell him where he gets them from. Marcus asks Daken why. Why does he like them so much?
As he gets into his car, the Heat pills begin to take effect. When Heat kicks in, it’s warm inside. The world is the temperature of a mother embracing a lost and panicking child. It actually works! The glow builds inside you and euphoria streaks across neural pathways, sparking synaptic fiber tracts. $%#& you, healing factor! This works! Everything feels better. The welcoming light that a bulb throws across your face, the comforting litheness of simple human movement… The pleasing kick of the pistol as he unloads two bullets into the thigh meat of Roston’s dealer.
Dealer gives up supplier. Daken can feel his claws swell and beat in time with his heart as he cuts into him. He hears his thoughts and drinks his memories. He knows his answers 2.4 seconds before he gives them to him. The healing factor isn’t fixing this! The dealer refuses to talk but then psychically tells him the location of a man who knows where Los Angeles’ crime bosses are holding a secret meeting. Daken travels to his nightclub on a passing UFO and speak alien languages to the doorman who wets himself in greeting. The trip has turned gangrene gutshot ugly and he does not care. Because, for once… he can actually feel something. A man is defined by his actions. Viciously, Daken makes the scared, bleeding man tell him the whereabouts of this oh-so-secret meeting. And then he can’t recall a thing as everything goes black.
In a Los Angeles police department briefing room, FBI agent Donna Kiel shows those present pictures of Daken Akihiro. The C.I.A., MI:13, and Interpol all believe he’s currently the ruling crime boss of Madripoor. And he’s got the FBI’s attention when he arrived in Los Angeles 15 days ago. Under an alias, of course. The commissioner asks how exactly she knows this. Kiel answers via FBI contacts who used to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. Her contacts who used to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.
Continuing, she explains that he disappeared almost immediately. His location and business within L.A. remains unknown, although he was accidentally snapped by paparazzi lunching at Morton’s on Melrose. First victim of their perp was discovered 12 days ago in an alley a quarter of a mile from Melrose. Three victims since then. Each one ripped to pieces by what appears to be claws of some kind. Hence the press sobriquet “Claw Killer.” The commissioner replies that they know this. He then asks agent Kiel if she wants to get to her point. His time’s kinda precious. Kiel continues that Daken Akihiro was briefly Wolverine in Norman Osborn’s Avengers. Daken Akihiro is Wolverine’s son. And yes. Claws are implicit.
Once she informs the room that, all those present are in shock. The commissioner asks this is confirmed. This isn’t confirmed, right? Kiel answers not the Avengers thing, not officially, anyway. But when she pushed it she was told, off the record, that he’s Wolverine’s son. But Daken’s taller than Wolverine. The photos of Osborn’s Wolverine were plainly a bigger, different person. And the body language, if you study as much footage of Akihiro and Osborn’s Wolverine as she has, it’s the same man. A panther rather than an attack dog. After one of the detectives make a lewd comment that is largely ignored, the commissioner asks what they know about this guy. Kiel replies that he’s a nasty thing.
Perched on the side of a helicopter, Daken makes his way to Catalina Island, located 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. It is the location of the L.A. crime boss emergency summit meeting to discuss who, exactly, has taken over their city. Forced to leave their own turf to ensure safety. Poor terrified things. All those criminals in one place. If a highly ambitious competitor were to find out this was happening. Well, that would simply be awful. A half-mile swim in strong Californian offshore currents. Then scale the sheer 150-foot cliff wall of the gated coastal mansion they’re using for the meet. Then the guards…
Daken tries to focus on the matter at hand but this is just so… easy, his mind wanders. And Heat fills the gaps in his thoughts. He wonders why he wants it so much. And he does want it. His stomach muscles twinge and contort at the thought of it. His mouth salivates like one of Pavlov’s gullible dogs. After killing the three guards, Daken remarks that they were sons, brothers, husbands, lovers, fathers. He does not care in the slightest. All he sees is the utter lack of challenge they offer. He is brilliant and beautiful. Anything he wants on this earth he can take and no one can stop him. Simply, he is bored. He wants this drug. It beats his healing factor. It challenges him. To summarize, it’s $#%&%$# great.
After blowing a hole in the skylight above where the crime bosses are meeting, Daken drops through the hole and onto the table, firing his automatic weapon which he took from the guards as he does. Addressing the crime bosses, he tells them not to panic; they’re alive. He could’ve killed every one of them but he chose not to. He trusts they’ll take that as a show of good faith on his part. He also found out about this little top-secret soiree of theirs and got past their rather laughable security. Meanwhile, they’re hiding out there on an island, unable to confidently hold a meeting on their own turf. They need him. Their turf has been taken away, and he is what evens the playing field for them.
After tossing a CD to one of the crime bosses and telling him to play it, Daken thinks to himself that he didn’t kill them because he needs their individual business structures. Sitting around the table are representatives of all Los Angeles’ crime districts, with local links going back decades. Befriend them, learn their secrets, take their secrets. Make them work for him.
Once the CD starts playing, Daken informs them that he came there to create something. Not to fill for the fun of it. He is not a monster. They’re losing the war. They need to make a statement. This is their statement. The Los Angeles Durrant armored facility grab of 1997 was America’s largest cash robbery - $19.8 million. Since then, the company’s given their rare convoys a small private army. Time and location are top-secret, dummy convoys throw criminals off the scent.
One of the crime bosses asks that he doesn’t think they know that? These runs? Beyond top-secret. Impossible. Daken says no, they just need the right contacts. Durrant’s security chief is an ex-CIA agent named Terrill Lee Mitchell. He lives in Santa Monica with his family under an alias. He recently picked him up on the way home from work one evening. If he disappeared, Durrant would shut the latest convoy down, so traditional torture methods were out. Daken said he’d kill his family and Mitchell refused to deal. He’s a pro. He force-fed him two Heat pills. The first hour or so he tried to fight it. Babbled. Spoke poignantly about his secret feelings. He begged him for the second pills an hour later. The third pills, despite his agony, he refused to give him. He told him the schedule of every Durrant armored car convoy for the next eight months. He let him go home to his wife and daughter with his new addiction. And the unbearable knowledge that, if he blew the whistle, he wouldn’t get his next fix from him.
Daken proceeds to inform the crime bosses that a Durrant convoy carrying $26 million is heading out in three days. He wants one senior member from each of their crews for the team. $21 million is shared among them all, equally. He gets $5 million for bringing them the job. When one of the crime bosses says yeah, they still have the helicopters and their own private army, Daken informs him that they have him.
Pulling up to Marcus Roston’s palatial estate in his car, Daken calls for him on his call-box. When the attendant asks who’s calling, a voice from behind the car says “Daken Akihiro.” Turning around, Daken asks who she might be. Agent Donna Kiel tells him that she might be an FBI agent on secondment to the LAPD currently investigating several extremely brutal killings in the area where claws were the murder weapon. She is Agent Kiel.
Daken tells her she’s very direct. Very young too, slight in frame. Shouldn’t she have an older male superior accompanying her when meeting a highly dangerous individual? Kiel asks an imposing father figure, he means? Does he know any of them? Daken says touché. How nice to finally meet a smart person in Hollywood. After a brief stare-down, Kiel informs Daken that Roston isn’t home. She’s been sitting out there for six hours since being told he attended one of his parties. Daken says that’s a shame. When Kiel asks what his relationship with Roston would be, Daken tells her they’re lovers and he’s his drug dealer. But don’t tell the press, eh? They’d have a field day. He presumes she’s not going to arrest him for something he hasn’t done. No evidence or warrants pending.
As he pulls away, Kiel calls out to him that she’s not done with him. Daken tells her that if she can find him, he promises he’ll answer all her questions. How’s that? He has a feeling she enjoys a challenge as much as he does.
Now… Daken stands amongst the carnage on the streets of Los Angeles. In a Heat-induced state, he remarks that the Heat’s turning, hurting him. Killing him. Why does he take the pill? It’s killing him. The devil made him do it. He can’t breathe. His heart’s boiling and exploding inside his chest and he knows. Opening up the back of the armored car, he knows what’s behind the door – a challenge. Emerging from the back of the armored car, Taskmaster asks Daken if he really thinks in this supper villain day and age, a company’s gonna transport millions like this without hiring some world-class muscle to protect it? What is he? High?