Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin is a complex character that has been a part of the Marvel Universe since 1967. While he’s battled with both Spider-Man and Daredevil countless times and is best known as a villainous crime-lord, Matthew Rosenberg’s Kingpin run adds a great deal of depth to this classic comic book bad guy while also introducing us to the wonderful Sara Dewey. And it’s good that she really is a wonderfully complex character because we spend a lot of time with Ms. Dewey throughout this collection–so much so that the series could have been named after her.
What’s Kingpin: Born Against about? From the publisher:
Wilson Fisk builds an all-new empire! The Kingpin has done bad things. Deplorable things. Unforgivable things. He has cheated the law. He has blackmailed rivals. He has killed. But that’s all in the past. Now he’s back in the city he loves and ready to make his mark as a titan of legitimate industry. But before he can take a fresh bite out of the Big Apple, first he needs to transform his public image. As Fisk makes disgraced journalist Sarah Dewey an offer she can’t refuse, the spiraling saga of crime and betrayal begins anew. His road may be paved with honorable intentions, but nobody in his circle will remain pure on his climb back to the top! Reacquaint yourself with the Kingpin in all his brutal glory: the man, the murderer…the Good Samaritan?!”
The question of whether or not Wilson Fisk has a heart remains as the predominant one for the majority of the book as it appears as though he is simply stringing along journalist Sara Dewey in an effort to persuade her to write his biography. Fisk is looking to show the public a new side of himself – he’s looking to go legit, and in doing so, show the world that he’s a half-way decent guy after all. Dewey, of course, is leery of Fisk’s motives, and as a serious journalist, she has a reputation to worry about along with a slew of other problems. For Dewey, agreeing to write Kingpin’s biography would mean a fresh start for a new life thanks to the fat check waiting for her should she complete the task. That and it doesn’t hurt to have the Kingpin as your friend.
Matthew Rosenberg produced a strong script for this run. The story feels grounded in reality despite the fictional landscape and when characters communicate, their interactions feel organic. At times the pacing could have been quicker, but overall, the writing found throughout Kingpin: Born Against is solid.
Throughout this collection the contrast of light and darkness is brilliant and as cliche as the verbiage may be here, the darkest scenes are the ones that shine the brightest. Ben Torres’ noir art style adds a necessary layer of grit to Rosenberg’s story. Perhaps intended to match the big man himself, the art in this book is bold, powerful, and simple. Nothing explodes off of the page per se, but then again, this story is riddled with action scenes requiring such treatment either.
Overall, Kingpin: Born Against is certainly worth reading. Just know that the majority of the book’s focus falls on a journalist and not the kingpin of crime. Regardless, the story is solid and the art is powerful and you won’t be disappointed after reading this. Pick it up.