Saturday, April 16, 2011

Daken #8 - The X-23/Daken Saga Continues

I've made no secret of my disdain of Daken. I liken him to a cross between Gordan Gecko and David Lee Roth, a douche-bag so full of himself that he's fuck his own ass if he could. I never really bothered with his ongoing. If I wanted to read two dozen pages of some degenerate asshole I'd read one of Donald Trump's books. But he's not the only Wolverine spin-off in the Marvel Universe. X-23 has endeared herself to me much more. She's a far superior character in that she doesn't have to act like a complete asshole to set herself apart from her predecessor. She's her own character and under Marjorie Liu, her new series has been a monument to awesome.

Now after each character has waded through their own pool of shit, they're finally set to clash in a story entitled Collision. It reviewed the first part in X-23 #8. It was a story that did everything right. It brought X-23 and Gambit to mean streets of Madripoor. It showed why Madripoor makes Tijuana look like a Saudi Arabian religious compound. It also put X-23 and Daken within stabbing distance of one another and they took full advantage of it. The issue ended with the two characters bloodied and pissed off. Daken #8 picks up right after that. Can the series continue even within the pages where the douchiness is so thick that you can't read it around an open flame?

Well Daken #8 starts from Daken's perspective and not X-23's. He's still staring down X-23, seeing Wolverine in her eyes and not in a good way. They're both in a position to tear into each other like a pack of hungry wolves that just broke into John Goodman's refrigerator. Then all that heated action that made the end of the last issue so thrilling takes an unexpected turn. Instead of fighting on, Daken does what can't be describe as exceedingly douchy. But it can be described as exceedingly fucked up because he just asks X-23 to take his hand, after his inner musings blatantly state he sees Wolverine in her. If that's not fucked up enough, X-23 does this even though she says he doesn't need him. I don't know if this was Marjorie Liu's idea or Daniel Way's, but it's more fucked up than Gary Busey's psych evaluation.

I really wish I could figure out what the fuck happened here. I would need the brain of Stephen Hawkings and whatever medications Michael Jackson was taking to make sense of it. Just after X-23 flat out rejects Daken's hand, Tyger shows up. She was a big player in the last issue and now somehow she's at the scene. It's not clear whether Daken goes to her or she comes to him. But for reasons that defy modern physics, X-23 just completely disappears. It doesn't show her walking away. It doesn't show her escaping. No attempt is made to explain this shit. Daken just talks to Tyger, who reminds him she helped him get control of Madripoor and he's responsible. But trying to teach an asshole like Daken responsibility is like trying to teach abstinence to a porn star. It's a waste of words.

Again, there's another fucked up scene transition. There's no narration. There's no mention of where X-23 went or what Tyger even wants Daken to do. He just goes on his merry way, reciting lines from old poems and sounding like a douche-bag with every line. So that epic fight that unfolded against X-23 and Daken in the last issue amounts to precisely dick. It makes no sense and there's no flow to this book.

So when Daken finally meets up with the mysterious Malcolm Concord that was revealed in the pages of X-23, it has about as much impact as Brett Favre saying he's going to retire. There's not a whole lot of groundbreaking revelations here other than Daken seems to want to launch his flesh rocket into Concord's chocolate factor. That and he wants Concord to make a new Weapon X program that will make him even more powerful than his predecessor. It's the kind of douche-bag behavior you would expect from Daken, but it's low even for him.

Concord seems to want X-23 as a test subject and who wouldn't? Damaged teenage girls who want to kill the people who fuck them up are just so easy to mess with. It's about as groundbreaking as another porn star claiming to nailed Tiger Woods. So it basically confirms what X-23 suspected. Daken was working with Concord and the Weapon X program is up and running again, just as boobalicious Miss Sinister claimed in the previous arc. I want to say that this is another dick move because unlike every other Wolverine spin-off, Daken is actually embracing Weapon X. Yeah, it makes him different. But the way he goes about it still makes him a douche. However, he's not above screwing Weapon X over as he screws everybody over both pornographically and figuratively.

So it's also not terribly surprising when X-23 emerges with Gambit to basically fuck Concord up. Again, this comes after X-23 saying she doesn't need Daken's help. It's not really a twist. It's basically showing one thing and doing the other. It's like hypocrisy only it doesn't get you a job as a treasury secretary after you've skimped on your taxes. I wish I could figure out how the course of events unfolded, but I re-read this comic several times and still couldn't get it down. I don't know if it was poor planning or it's like the movie Inception where it's purposefully confusing. That may work in movies where Leo Dicapprio is there to make the women go into orgasmic fits, but in a comic book like this you might as well try teaching brain surgery with a coloring book.

X-23 doesn't waste time with Concord. Apparently she was following Daken, but again it's hard to figure out because her fight with Daken basically ended on a WTF note. Now that she has Concord in her grasp, she prepares to have a little chat with him. And by chat I mean in the way Freddy Kruger chats with whining teenage girls. She explains to him how she was taught all the fine elements of torture at an age when most girls are just learning to dress like sluts from Miley Cyrus inspired concerts. She demonstrates that by tearing off some of Concord's nails. For a teenage girl, it's pretty badass and it's a nice touch for X-23. She's been basically written out of the issue to this point and she makes a powerful statement that hurts like hell just to think about.

While Concord is getting the kind of pedicure you can only get from a Somalian warlord, Daken decides to follow his dick again and flirt with Gambit. Keep in mind, he's doing this while a man is being tortured. This is the sort of thing that gives him a boner and he has the gall to use it by asking Gambit to take a cruise down the Hershey highway with him. Now you could argue Gambit is a bit of a douche, but his bullshit smells like summer roses compared to the stomach-melting stench of Daken exudes.

Even the worst Gambit haters in the world of comic fandom have to admit that Daken is a few rungs lower on the ladder of assholes. You can't help but forgive some of the guy's flaws when he starts tearing into Daken the same way X-23 should have done in the first few pages of the issue. Daken does seem to get under Gambit's skin, pointing out correctly that he's a scoundrel who would rob his grandmother and kick her in the face yet find some twisted way to justify it. He'll likely do that to X-23 as well. Daken may not be wrong, but he still deserves the beating he gets from Gambit and it's not the kind that'll give him another boner (I think).

Unfortunately, Gambit makes the same mistake as X-23 and doesn't keep pounding Daken until he's a metrosexual puddle of puss. While he was busy keeping his ass away from Daken's other claw, Malcolm Concord managed to stick X-23 with a needle. And that's not a porno joke either. Somehow while this deranged teenage girl was torturing him, he found a way to take her out. Every parent in the world would get on their knees and suck Concord's dick if he shared with them his secrets. Unfortunately, this is never shown and when Gambit sees it he ends up getting knocked out. I can only assume Daken will find a way to have his way with him off panels.

So the big fight between X-23 and Daken falters in the same way a party at frat house house falters. Someone gets knocked out, some homoerotic innuendo is shared, and someone gets knocked unconscious and thrown into the trunk of a car. There's no implied date rape, but given this is Daken we're talking about it could have happened off-panel. It makes me wonder why he doesn't ditch Madripoor and just enroll in some underachieving college where he can indulge in all the reckless poon and degrading violence that a degenerate like him could want. Unfortunately, it doesn't do X-23 much good. She was pushed aside in this issue and shuffled around like personalities of Mike Meyers. Yet it all ends with her getting thrown in the trunk. It's an underwhelming end to a disappointing book.

Now before I score this let me state outright that I understand this is a Daken book. It makes sense for him to take center stage. I don't mind that he had more panel time than X-23. I do mind that it wasn't developed in a very coherent way. The fight that began in X-23 #8 was just completely cut off so Daken could do his own thing. It felt like a string of choppy transitions that left one too many gaping plot holes. Did X-23 just stand there after Daken went off to meet Tyger? What the hell did Daken hope to gain by reaching out to X-23? It just seemed like an excuse to stop the fight so the story with Malcolm Concord could unfold. It's a messy way to tell a story and it really stunts the momentum that this book had in the last issue.

That's not to say it was terrible. The book definitely picked up steam as it neared the end. X-23's confrontation with Concord was very powerful and it involved an exploding car, so I'll give bonus points to that. Also, Gambit got to play a bigger part by beating up Daken when he tried to flirt with him. That's definitely a plus because Gambit hasn't really done much in the past two issues of X-23. It's nice to see him finally partake in a major fight. It would have a lot more impact if the story was actually well-organized. That way the fight would feel more natural. Sadly, the weak beginning of the issue really stunts the potential of this book.

There is still one issue left of the Collision arc. It's set to conclude in X-23 #9. I'm still excited about it, but this issue really left me underwhelmed. It's not a terrible book. It has all the potential necessary to be as awesome as X-23 #8, but it just doesn't follow through. The latter half of the book is solid while the first half is a mess. So in the interest of balance I give Daken #8 a 2.5 out of 5. If you only read half the book, you'll get plenty of awesome. It just depends on which half you read. The X-23/Daken battle has been pretty entertaining so far, but this was definitely a hiccup. It has every potential to finish strong. Like a witness to a drunken bar fight, it just needs to be coherent. Nuff said!


  1. Actually Collision ends with Daken #9 so if you want to get the entire story you got one more issue of Daken.

    Second, we get that your opinion on Daken; about every other sentence seems to remind us of it. You might to try to be more neutral about it next time.

  2. I'll keep that in mind, Malcolm. I appreciate the comment, but a major core of Daken's character is that he's an unapologetic douche-bag. It's hard to overlook that and I've never been too fond of such characters. I'll try to be a little more open with the next issue, but the real problem here was how poorly organized this issue was. If it actually read as easily as the last issue, it would have gotten a much higher score. It helps a comic if it's not confusing and doesn't appear to jump around. It shouldn't fuck up the flow of time. That's what LSD is for.

  3. Daken's a slut. I knew he was going to come onto to gambit, that dirty douchebag son-of-a-bitch.

    I wanted a little more cohesion with this issue too. The X-23 issue tied her and Daken's stories brilliantly. This issue was most certainly not as cohesive. WTF!

  4. Yeah, I don't think Daken can help himself. He'll hump anything with a pulse. Guess that's part of his charm, but whether or not he's a slut didn't make this issue bad. If it was just as well-organized as the last issue of X-23, I would have given it a higher score. As it stands, this issue was just sloppy even if it had some decent substance. I certainly hope the next issue improves.

  5. The art is nicely drawn.

  6. I agree! The art for this arc has been fantastic. It's dark, it's grim, it's gritty, it's violent, and even sexy at times. Very appropriate for the setting! I wish I mentioned it more, but there was a lot to talk about with this issue. Thanks for the comment!

  7. This was a great read. thank you.