REVIEW: Kingpin

by Stephen Hardman

Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin. Of all Daredevil’s enemies The Kingpin is perhaps his most ferocious. He’s certainly the one who has caused Matt Murdock the most suffering and pain in his life. Fisk has sought to destroy Matt since they first crossed paths, very nearly succeeding at times.

Wilson Fisk has by his own admission “killed people”. He’s done much more than that in his career as the crime lord of New York, but he has also been convicted and jailed for some, if not all, of his crimes. Can a man who has committed such heinous acts be reformed? Will the stigma of his previous actions forever surround him? Will he ever be able to change the perception that a majority of outside observers hold? These are the issues facing Fisk as he tries to re-write his legend and these are the questions explored by writer Matthew Rosenberg in the new ongoing Marvel series Kingpin.

Fisk seeks to employ the services of hard-up journalist Sarah Dewey. Having enjoyed reading her boxing profiles he feels she is the perfect choice to write his life story. Primarily chosen for her talent as a writer, it can’t be a coincidence that Dewey is also a flawed character with her own demons haunting her daily life. Over the first couple of issues Fisk and Dewey engage in a boxing match of their own, trading verbal blows, as they size each other up and Dewey wrestles with a decision which will almost certainly change her life.

Along the way we see examples of both sides of Fisk’s character – the violence and rage which bubbles under the surface, and the altruistic caring side of a man with wealth to spread around to people who need it. These two warring sides are what makes Fisk such a fascinating protagonist and perfect for Rosenberg’s character study.

The art by Ben Torres is great, and perfectly suited to the Kingpin’s world. Torres is adept at imbuing his characters with emotion, revealing their inner thoughts which often betray the words leaving their mouths. Torres draws Fisk as an oversized, physically imposing character who is twice the size of most of the people around him. While there is a risk of this appearing cartoonish and jarring Fisk has always been portrayed this way in Daredevil comics, his physical appearance fitting his persona, and reflecting the power he holds.

Jordan Boyd’s colours are also key to the success of the series at this early stage. Alternating the background tones for different scenes, Boyd’s realistic colours fit the overall feel of the title perfectly. His use of light and shadow, and silhouette in various scenes is fantastic and adds a depth to the pages which is a joy to behold.

Matthew Rosenberg is skilled at exploring and displaying his characters motivations and desires. He showed this in his creator-owned series We Can Never Go Home. He takes characters unknown to the reader and makes them instantly relatable. With Kingpin he has a different challenge – how to make the reader relate and sympathize with Wilson Fisk. If anyone can achieve this it is Rosenberg. In the first three issues that have been released so far he is proving to be well up to the challenge.

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Stephen Hardman is a trainee Legal Executive Lawyer who currently resides in Bath, in the UK with his wife and their cat.  Among other things he writes in his spare time. He is currently working on a novel which he hopes to finish soon, and he has written a few short stories as well, though has not had anything published. Yet. Stephen loves reading and is a huge crime fiction fan; George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Ken Bruen being particular favourites. He is an editor and contributor at the geek culture website Geeks Unleashed.

His obsession with comic books knows no bounds and he loves sharing news and reviews of all the great comic books and graphic novels being published right now. He also loves listening to music and seeing bands live, and is always seeking out new bands and musicians to obsess about.

You can catch him on Twitter @HardDaysWrite.

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