Daken: Dark Wolverine #20

Issue Date: 
March 2012
Story Title: 
A Love Story?

Rob Williams (writer), Alessandro Vitti (art), Cris Peter and Rachelle Rosenberg (colors), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Jared K. Fletcher (designer), Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner (assistant editors), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer), Giuseppe Camuncoli with Frank Martin (cover art)

Brief Description: 

At a diner, Daken meets up with Donna Kiel to figure out where their relationship is going. After they leave the diner, they engage in a heated discussion before kissing each other passionately. Eventually, Donna breaks their embrace and tells Daken that he’s a monster. Daken agrees that he is and says Donna is just like him. To prove his point, he takes her to an apartment building where he shows her three men hanging from the ceiling. Telling Donna that they are all deplorable human beings, Daken hands her a pistol and tries to get her to kill them. She does not; and instead points the gun at Daken. Before she can shoot, Daken slices off her right hand. Discouraged by what he did, Daken says to Donna that she came back for him – nobody has done that before. Donna replies by telling him that she was just trying to stop a monster. Dejected, Daken leaves the room. Donna proceeds to make her way to a cop car where she asks for help while Daken heads to assassinate the kingpin of L.A. – Count Nefaria. When his attempt fails, Daken states that he came there to create. He tried but some people, like him, are only born to destroy.

Full Summary: 

Everyone who has ever died unexpectedly awoke that day, blind to the sacred nature of normality, the beauty of the banal. They yawned, scratched, urinated, brushed their teeth, pulled on their clothes. Entirely unaware that things were about to end.

Pointing his rifle at his target, Daken remarks that he finally got some intel on who the mystery kingpin of Los Angeles is and his location. He wisely hides himself away the vast majority of the time but, no matter who you are, sooner or later you have to raise your head above the parapet. And when you do, you’re vulnerable. Peering into the scope, Daken sees his target – Count Nefaria. Rather on-the-nose name for a criminal. A modern, disparate city such as Los Angeles simply deserves a far more… nuanced figurehead. Bone and brain matter would only enhance this man’s sense of aesthetic. Eventually, Daken has Nefaria right where he wants him but at the last second, one of his female associates steps in the way.

Cursing, Daken states that, as tempting as it is to randomly open fire, just to watch them dance, bleed and internally hemorrhage, that would merely scare him off. And it would be… uncultured. He knows where to find Nefaria now. He just needs to be patient. One bullet, that’s all. And then he gets everything he wants.

Later that night at a diner, Donna Kiel sits by herself at a table. She mutters to herself “meet me here at midnight, he says…” Just then, a song plays the lyrics – “It’s streets and boulevards, orphans and oligarchs, and here’s a plaintive melody, truncated symphony... An ocean’s garbled vomit on the shore…” Donna remarks that might be vaguely romantic if she didn’t currently want a Heat fix so badly she would gladly kill every person in this room. If it wasn’t blowing a hurricane outside. And if the person she’s meeting wasn’t such an R-rated, basket case horror story…

At that moment, a young man walks up to Donna and tells her that, if she drinks that cup of coffee in front of her, she ain’t gonna sleep tonight. No caffeine after 4 PM, that’s his rule. Leads to insomnia. Man, he loves coffee. Especially Bolivian. Has she tried the Bolivian grinds that come direct from the farms? He mainlines the stuff but you’ve got to know when to stop, y’know. It gets seriously addictive. Does she mind if he joins her? He means, if she’s planning on staying up there’s no reason she should do it… alone…

Just then, Donna pulls a pistol out of her jacket and places the muzzle to her head. She then tells the young man she doesn’t know. Does it look like she minds him joining her? Running out of the diner, the young man calls her crazy. As he runs through the rain, he narrowly misses bumping into Daken.

Entering the diner, Daken greets Donna and says to her that he wondered if she was there yet, and then he saw a grown man running from there with mortal terror in his… Donna tells him to shut up. They both know why they’re there so why don’t they just have the intelligence to openly admit it. After Daken asks why they are there, Donna peers at him and tells him he’s full of @%$&. They’re there to decide whether or not they’re going to fall in love. When Daken says nothing, Donna gets up from her seat, calls Daken a coward and says to him let’s get out of there.

As Donna storms out of the diner and into the driving rain outside, Daken gives chase and asks her what she called him. Donna tells him that he’s a coward. Scared. A scared little boy. Grabbing her arm, Daken asks scared? Popping his claws, he proceeds to ask her if she wants him to show her what “scared” is. Once he puts his claws to her neck, Donna tells Daken she’s sorry she’s not a “super hero.” Not a mutant or a clone. They don’t get to punch or stab each other until you win. Lazy, too-easy transference. She offered him a chance to admit who he is and he balked like a hung-over man about to jump out of an airplane. She’s smart. And she thinks she… knows him. He doesn’t get to hide here. When he removes his claws from her neck, Donna curses. Unbelievable… it’s raining. She… she can’t be a cliché. She… she wants to be real. She… Before she can say anything else, Daken takes her in his arms and kisses her.

After kissing for a while, Donna suddenly pushes Daken away and tells him to stop. When Daken asks why, Donna says because he doesn’t always get to just have whatever he wants. And because he’s a murderer, a cop killer, he’s a monster. When Daken begins to laugh, Donna slaps him. Clenching her fist, Donna asks Daken if he knows how many police have died since he came into town. And he laughs? Grabbing her arm, Daken tells Donna she’s right. And he has absolutely no sense of empathy or remorse. He has lost count of how many he has murdered over the years and guess what? He sleeps very well at night. Exasperated, Donna tells Daken that he… someone like him… he’s not capable of feeling love. Just because they were both hurt by Roston… they shared an addiction. That doesn’t mean they should be together. Why? Why would she ever love him? Daken replies because she is exactly the same as him. And she feels it. Looking away, Donna tells him he’s wrong. She’s never killed anyone. Taking her hand, Daken implores Donna to follow him. He wants to help her.

In short time, Daken leads Donna to an apartment building. Walking through the halls, Donna asks Daken what this place is. Daken tells her that it’s somewhere important, for her. As they get into the elevator, Donna sees a young girl with a bandage over her eye and on her arm. In the elevator, Daken continues that it’s somewhere she can transcend. Once the elevator doors open, Donna is shocked by what she sees – three men bound and hanging from the ceiling. Daken tells Donna that he can feel the world… pushing them together like they have no choice in the matter. He thinks she feels that too. Looking at the men hanging, Donna reminds Daken that she’s F.B.I. He must be out of his %#&*$@ mind. Handing Donna a pistol, Daken tells her she is a psychopath who has attempted to elevate herself above other psychopaths by catching them. He believes that she feels no empathy for others and could kill these men without a moment’s inner torment. This is her chance to do so.

The three men there are vile and corrosive human beings – murderers, human traffickers of the young and vulnerable. He’ll spare her the soul-staining details. Detritus. The world will not miss them. The pistol is completely unidentifiable. Serial number destroyed. He will dispose of the bodies afterward. She knows they won’t be found. She is free to do this. A life of feelings repressed and inner conflict is a life of agony. And he… cares for her. He doesn’t want her to suffer. They are too intelligent to let the rules of others stifle them. They define who they are. These men? They are simply meat waiting to be moved. He does not care if they die there. And, more importantly… she does not care either.

As Donna points the pistol at the men, Daken whispers into her ear that she doesn’t have to hide anymore. She’s no longer alone. They found each other. Transcend. Remembering the young child’s face from a few floors below, Donna turns to Daken and tells him he’s right about everything. When she points the gun at him, Daken asks her what she’s doing. Donna asks him that he still doesn’t have a healing factor, does he? That means she can kill him. Before she can pull the trigger, Daken lashes out at her and slices off her right hand at the wrist.

When Donna collapses to her knees and grabs her bloody stump, Daken asks her why she would do that. Donna tells him because this world’s better off without him. Bandaging up her arm, Daken tells her she doesn’t mean that. She came back for him… she didn’t have to, but… she almost died from the Heat addiction because of him. Roston was killing him and she… she… saved him. No one’s ever done that. Donna proceeds to tell Daken that he didn’t come back for him. She was just trying to stop a monster. As Daken leaves, he tells Donna that he’ll change. Donna responds “No you won’t.”

Sometime later, Donna makes her way to a nearby police car and asks the officers if they can get her some ice. When they give her a shocked look, Donna tells them it’s okay. She’s F.B.I.

Back on the hill overlooking Count Nefaria’s estate, Daken unloads his weapon but Nefaria is able to stop every one of his blasts. Daken remarks that when he first came to Los Angeles he wanted to build something. He wanted to create. He tried. Really he did. But some things are simply beyond one’s control. Some people… ugly people… are simply not meant to create. They are born to destroy.

Characters Involved: 


F.B.I. agent Donna Kiel

Count Nefaria

Various unnamed associates of Count Nefaria

Various unnamed members of the Los Angeles police department

Various unnamed patrons and residents of Los Angeles

Story Notes: 

The song “It’s streets and boulevards, orphans and oligarchs, and here’s a plaintive melody, truncated symphony…” comes from “Los Angeles, I’m Yours” by the Decemberists.

Donna Kiel began to be addicted to the drug Heat back in Daken: Dark Wolverine #15. Daken, back in Daken: Dark Wolverine #10.

Daken and Donna, along with the Runaways, were able to defeat Marcus Roston last issue – Daken: Dark Wolverine #19.

Daken first came to Los Angeles in order to create his own criminal empire back in Daken: Dark Wolverine #9.1.

Issue Information: 
Written By: