[Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Kingpin #1.]
Since his inception many decades ago, in Spider-Man #50 (1967), Wilson Fisk a.k.a. The Kingpin, has remained one of Marvel’s most respected and reviled villains. Starting out primarily as a Spider-foe, Fisk slowly grew into one of Daredevil’s major antagonists, while still dropping by from time to time to darken the Web-head’s doorway. From his humble origins as a young thug, Wilson built himself an empire, becoming one of the most ruthless gangsters in all of New York City and growing his reputation around the world.
Despite his formidable rap as a cut-throat crime boss, Fisk has been shown to possess a certain sense of honor, at least to the degree possible in the underworld. With a new Daredevil mini-event kicking off, Wilson Fisk once again finds himself the focus of a new limited series (he also got a miniseries during Civil War II). This time around, though, he really wants to paint himself as a man trying to change his ways. Has the one-time Kingpin of NYC really reformed or is it just part of another game?
Running with a Tough Crowd
While rarely as brutal as organized crime, the journalism racket has its ups and its downs too. As Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sarah Dewey knows all too well, the downside doesn’t pay nearly as well as the upside. At this point, her glory days of writing high-minded foreign policy analyses seem far behind her (for reasons left unexplained as of yet), and she’s been relegated to chronicling the exploits of area boxers to make ends meet. Her personal life isn’t rosy either, as she’s a recent divorcee who also lost custody of her children in a bonus one-two punch. At least she still has her journalistic ethics for now.
While watching an up-and-coming boxer spar, she’s contacted by a mysterious man in a limo. His employer has requested her presence and is willing to compensate her lavishly for her time to the tune of two thousand dollars. She agrees, and during a nice long ride into the countryside, the man reveals that his boss happens to be Wilson Fisk. Already unnerved before she meets the infamous Kingpin, his special request of her doesn’t make her any more comfortable, even though he insists will pay very well.
Profiling a Criminal Mastermind
Although Dewey refuses at first, Fisk insists that she give some thought to writing his biography, which has been optioned by a major publisher. He asks her to consider writing what will be a confessional of sorts, as he doesn’t want to pull any punches. In order to sway her, and to give her an alternate take on his life, Fisk invites her to a fancy soiree, where she can experience the other side of the Kingpin. As further incentive, he sends a pair of expensive if risqué dresses to her apartment.
Despite being creeped-out and mildly insulted by his lavish gifts, Sarah attends the party, meeting the movers and shakers Fisk mingles with on a regular basis, including the governor and a numerous of captains of industry. She also runs across Matt Murdock (Daredevil), who warns her about getting sucked into the downward spiral of Kingpin’s gravitational pull. Overwhelmed, she heads to the bar, trying to avoid ordering anything stiffer than sparkling apple juice in light of her recent sobriety, but is accosted by real estate tycoon Gavin Boyce, who she’d met earlier. Gavin, in his boorish fashion, reaffirms her fears about the crime lord and his legacy. Shaken by the evening, she leaves the party and heads home, only to receive a surprise visitor: Wilson Fisk himself.
Up to the Same Old Tricks?
Although Sarah is beyond disturbed by Fisk’s late night visit, he apologizes for the unpleasant evening and offers to take her out for donuts as a gesture of goodwill. They walk over to a shop where, as a teenager, Fisk began his rise in the underworld. He also gets into the nitty-gritty details behind the would-be biography piece: he’s trying to change his game, and in order to cease the rumors, whispers, and innuendo, he needs to air out his dirty laundry once and for all in a controlled if public forum.
As they walk back to her apartment, he implores her to consider writing his book but invites her to talk it over with family and not to rush her decision. Before they arrive at her place, though, they’re accosted by the same scruffy looking man who Fisk donated some money to earlier. This time, though, he robs them at knife-point, with Fisk choosing not to fight back – despite the fact that he could easily handle one armed assailant.
Back at home, she weighs her options, which is underscored by her deactivated phone. With bills piling up and illustrious jobs not jumping into her lap, she wonders if writing Fisk’s bio is worth the risk. It certainly would fill her empty coffers. In addition to her newfound sobriety, reestablishing herself could give her more leverage with her ex-husband and greater access to her children. After discussing things briefly with her ex, Dewey leaves the phone booth, only to stumble across a crime scene. The officers wave off her journalistic curiosity, though, dismissing the incident as less-than-newsworthy, nothing but “just another dead junkie.” Had been peered behind police lines, however, she would have seen the same man who attacked them earlier, lying dead with a needle jammed into his arm.
Even if all the clues point to the Kingpin returning to his old ways, scribe Matthew Rosenberg doesn’t tip his hand yet as to whether Fisk is involved in death of the mugger. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe a ruthless criminal boss like Fisk would suffer such an indignity without some sort of retribution. Still, since he’s trying to revamp his image, he knows any connection to murder which coincides with his return to New York won’t scrub his public perception clean.
Kingpin #1 revels in its noir-leanings (penciled in an appropriately moody manner by Ben Torres) and paints the crime boss in a surprisingly affable light. Still, an air of menace hovers over him. Learning more about Wilson Fisk the man, as well as watching the burgeoning rapport between him and the downtrodden reporter, Ms. Dewey, will make this dark tale all the more engaging.
Kingpin #1 is currently available online and in print.
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