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Kingpin #1 Review

The second superhero Civil War has subsided, and Wilson Fisk can continue on with rebuilding his business–and his reputation. In Kingpin #1, writer Matthew Rosenberg returns to flesh out Big Willy’s style. Is it good?

Kingpin #1 (Marvel Comics)

If we’ve learned anything about Wilson Fisk over the decades, it’s that he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. Sometimes that involves elbow grease and bloody knuckles, other times sweet talk and the art of persuasion. Both are on display in Kingpin #1, where Fisk tries to convince a down-on-her-luck reporter to write his “honest” biography.

Maybe the scare quotes aren’t necessary, because it’s not like he’s strong-arming her into printing lies; rather he’s putting on a show to convince her to take the job. And with her money problems, personal demons and child custody battles, it may be a carefully crafted offer she can’t refuse.

Is It Good?

Kingpin #1 is a deceptive title, as this book is at least as much about Sarah Dewey, if not more so. The former Pulitzer Prize winner, now reduced to trying her hand at covering boxing matches, is the true protagonist, as she should be. A villain-centric series is tough to pull off, as no one wants to sympathize with the bad guy, so Rosenberg makes the right decision here to showcase Fisk’s character in how he beguiles the story’s real hero.

And what a tragic hero Dewey is. She clearly has integrity, but sometimes life conspires to rob you of that. She resists Fisk’s offer early and continually, but the master manipulator will not be denied. Dewey’s momentary fall from the wagon is emblematic of her weakening overall resolve. All of Dewey’s tribulations (maybe even opposition from Daredevil!) are similarly well-introduced, with very little exposition, the most difficult of all feats for a first issue.

The art in Kingpin #1 is much more suited to the story than what we saw in the preceding Civil War II tie-in series. Ben Torres draws everything in a wonderful noir-like setting and uses thoughtful panel layouts for effect, as when Fisk and Dewey converse in a limo, and for the knockout blow in a boxing scene. Colorist Jordan Boyd makes nice use of both black and white silhouettes, and shadows for Fisk’s secretive though still recognizable henchman.

Kingpin #1 already stands head and shoulders above the previous mini-series also penned by Rosenberg, thanks to Torres’ art and the introduction of a new protagonist for Fisk to play off of. Dewey’s principled hesitancy is palpable, as is her growing acquiescence as the gravity of her situation sets in and the Kingpin works his magic. An out-of-character decision toward the end of the book is maybe the one stumble in this opening installment of what should be a riveting, character-driven crime drama.

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