By Matthew Rosenberg, Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Matt Lopes, Dalibor Talajic, Jose Marzan Jr., Miroslav Mrva, and Travis Lanham.
Civil War ll: Kingpin #1 is finally here and this book is worth its weight in gold, which turns out to be quite a lot because he is the Kingpin after all. (Commence the fat jokes). This is another tie-in to the Marvel summer event, Civil War II, and adds an interesting dynamic to a title that is sometimes overlooked. That is of course the villain’s perspective, and when you have Wilson Fisk headlining his own title, you can expect BIG things. (Okay, that is it for the fat jokes, I swear).
So far, Civil War ll has not fully lived up to fan’s expectations. The concept is great; a precog inhuman that can help thwart crime before it even begins. This turns hero against hero as they battle out the morality of taking away the free choice to do horrible things, even if it is the free choice of the bad guys. Amidst the subpar titles and books we have received there was one shiny beacon of hope shining in July, and it was the highly anticipated title of Civil War ll: Kingpin. This book does not rectify the sins of all books that came before, but it does add a little levity and create some fresh perspectives to Marvel’s summer event.
The story is divided into two separate stories, both written by Matthew Rosenberg, but with art from separate creative teams. The first story is “Shouldn’t Have Come Back” and really acts as a catch-up on where Fisk has been after his little stay in San Francisco. We meet some new faces, a new sidekick for Fisk named Janus Jardeesh, and we get some cameos from some great C-level bad guys like Bushwacker and Owl. Fisk is back in Manhattan and he finds himself in a new city from how he left it, bad guys are getting picked up before they even do anything and it is cramping his plans to take back the city. There is a terrific moment in here from Hawkeye toying with Fisk, with Rosenberg fully capturing the fun dynamic between a snarky quick-witted Clint up against a cautious Fisk. We see this story start to take a turn down an unexpected road right in the middle. Rosenberg almost makes Fisk super likable, you see Fisk as almost a Robin Hood to the common people who make up the city. The people loathe the super heroes because they see them as too unrelatable because of their powers and adventures in space. Fisk appears to be a man of the people, but the story takes a left turn that sets up the next story perfectly. We know perfectly well where Wilson Fisk’s loyalty lays.
The art we get from Lopez Ortiz, colors from Lopes, and letters from Lanham in “Shouldn’t Have Come Back” really stands out with it’s grainy colors, sharp bold lines, and gritty feel. Every panel is chock o’ block full of color, detail, and great expressions. The action panels with Fisk have great movement with colors and lines, and the added background effect of rain only adds to the movement and overall emotion of the scene. Lopez Ortiz seems to capture every emotional turn with a great facial expression to match that is done expertly with Fisk throughout the story. We watch his face go from calm, to enraged, to confident, to defeated, back to calm, and then sadistic. This journey Fisk is on is truly captured by the character design, colors, and facial expression in every panel. This art style really compliments the story, a raw gritty story with art to match.
The second story in Civil War ll: Kingpin #1 is titled “The Death & Birth of Janus Jardeesh.” Rosenberg planted many seeds in the first story that we see bloom in this second act that shed some light on where this series is headed. Fisk’s new sidekick Janus Jardeesh is fairly important, and we find out why he is and how he became that way. This story paints him in a more likable shade than the previous one, like he could be a possible victim of circumstance, but this story is more nuanced than that. It was refreshing to see Rosenberg create a fresh story that messed with the typical Kingpin story lines and added some new life with a fresh new premise.
Art in this second story is from Talajic on pencils, inks by Marzan Jr., colors by Mrva, and Lanham on letters. The overall art in this story feels a little more nuanced with softer lines, a calm toned down color palette, and great use of shadowing. As we watch Janus Jardeesh descend deeper and deeper into crime, we see the story get darker and darker with greater use of shadowing. The second story is comparably shorter than the first, and the creative team made great use of panels to transition the story along in a short span of time. There is also great use of facial expression as we follow Janus Jardeesh through a tremendous ordeal.
Civil War ll: Kingpin #1 is off to a great start with this fun, fresh first issue. It was a welcomed, unexpected title that added some excitement to a pretty exhausted event from Marvel. If you want to be in on this summer’s event without all the commitment from the endless titles of tie-ins, you can add Civil War ll: Kingpin. This hopeful book has all the promise to be a standout title from this summer’s Marvel event thanks to dynamic art combined with inventive storytelling.