Thursday, July 17, 2003

Kingpin #2 - A Review

Written by: Bruce Jones
Penciled by: Sean Phillips
Inked by: Klaus Janson
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Lettered by: Cory Petit
Editor: Alex Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

No jibber-jabber from me this time, folks. Just the pure 411 on what this book, which I highly praised last time it came out, is like this time. And in case you missed it last time (which seems likely as I recall Kingpin #1 selling out at my shop in hours), this issue helpfully comes with a summary of the last issue at the very start.

Wilson Fisk now commands two of the biggest gangs in New York City, having had to crush a few heads to do so. But he has his eyes on a bigger prize and spends most of the issue explaining his plans to an assembly of other gang members right under the noses of the heads of the biggest Mafia crime families in the city. Unbeknown to Wilson, at the same time his former lieutenant has been discovered not quite dead. More importantly, the woman who found him also has a grudge on her shoulder which could bring even more trouble upon the rising star of the criminal world.

The dialogue and plotting is dead perfect. Fisk’s main narrative at the beginning, where he speaks of the lessons to be learned by the early Christians fighting the Romans, can easily stand alongside the best speeches the character gave under the pen of Frank Miller. Phillips’ style, while a bit stylized, is neither distracting nor offputting. Rather it is beginning to grow on me and reminds me a bit of Steve Ditko’s early Marvel works in an odd way.

After reading this issue, I only have two quibbles. First, Spider-Man is on the cover of the magazine, despite appearing only briefly and not in any way relating to the Kingpin. I can understand wanting to bring in new readers to this title… but with a quality writer like Jones and a “love to hate him” bad guy like Wilson Fisk, such marketing-scheming hardly seems necessary. Secondly, is that the mysterious Portia who comes to the rescue of Rocko, is drawn much younger than the forty she claims as her age. The first time I saw her and Rocko together, I thought I had stumbled on a wounded Peter Parker waking up on Mary Jane ne Daphne from Scooby Doo’s couch.

Still, with the possible exception of the amazing Fantastic Four #500 (which is an excellent exercise in alliteration as well as an all-out amazing read), you won’t find a better look into the criminal mind this month.

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