“Maybe you died and got born again …lucky”-Marko
So the big boy is back in the Big Apple but New York’s underworld has changed in the wake of the current superhero conflict. It is not like Wilson Fisk to enter a conflict without a plan however. So how do things turn out for him and this Issue? Find out below
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
“Shouldn’t have come back”
Artist: Ricardo Lopez Ortiz
Colorist: Mat Lopes
“the Death and Birth of Janus Jardeesh”
Penciler: Dalibor Talajic
Inker: Jose Marzan JNR
Colorist: Miroslav Mrva
Editor: Wil Moss
The Cover here has nothing to do with the story. It dose not even have Kingpin front and centre even though he is only one who has more than a cameo in the issue. It’s a group on villains, mostly New York based, emerging from a cave with Hobgoblin front and centre. Hobby isn’t in this issue at all so I am assuming this is a stock cover. That said it is nice art by Aaron Kuder even if it was probably something from an editors draw. In all fairness it was the reason I brought the issue off the shelf because it caught my attention so it for sure did the job a cover should do.
Wilson Fisk returns to New York to make a play at being kingpin again. The New York underworld he returns to has changed however. Criminals are either in hiding or arrested before they do anything thanks to Inhuman precog Ulysses. Fortune smiles on Fisk however when he discovers that his former solider Janus Jardeesh is still able to get away with illegal acts. Turns out Janus is a newly turned inhuman has the power hide from the heroes new “predictive justice”.
I have not read anything else by this writer Matthew Rosenberg. So I did not know what to expect here. After a handful of pages I could honestly say this issue won’t be my last of his. I found myself really enjoying Matt’s take on Fisk. I, like many on this page, tend to read Fisk with the voice of Roscoe Lee Brown from the 90’s cartoon. I can hear Roscoe deliver everyone of Matthew’s lines perfectly. I was expecting Fisk to be written in the Tone of the Netflix character but it wasn’t. In fact if I had to pick a Netflix character he is most written like it would be Frank Underwood from House of Cards. Matthew as a writer captures both a powerful regale tone and very dry sense of humour in Fisk.
The story is told in a broken timeline narrative with overlapping narration by Fisk. This story telling really evoked films of Martin Scoresse for me. Fisk being the Henry Hill of the Marvel Universe. The story being told by Fisk is one that makes the villains seem oppressed by the heroes.
“we are extraordinary men.. but we are cursed” .
This is how villains would talk to one another. They don’t see themselves as the villains of the story, they are the heroes and avengers are the villains here. Dare I say that through the story you do actually start to form sympathy for the supervillain’s current plight, not being able to earn under precog rule and fairness of being arrested for something they might do. Another good staple of a mafia movie scene as well as the best use of Civil War 2’s moral quandary yet.
There is a scene in the book where Kingpin is confronted by Captain America, Spectrum and Night Thrasher about the disappearance of Bushwacker (who Fisk disposed of earlier). In this scene the heroes really do play more as antagonists. I even found my self enjoying Fisk’s put down of Monica when he asks what superhero name to call her as these days a blonde is Captain Marvel. She tells him it is ‘Spectrum’. Fisk coldly responds, “ Well they can’t all be good ones”
My Favourite scene is one where we see a flashback of Fisk first arriving back in New York and sits down with the only two crime heads that would meet him, The Owl and Madame Masque. The rest stood him up. (I do have a continuity nit pick with Madme Masque here rather than someone else due to her story in Iron Man by Bendis but its minor enough not to hurt the scene). He is just in an old track suit. This greatly Juxtaposes the opening scene (but later in the actual timeline) where Fisk is back in power, holding a grand meeting of the families, and in his classic white Suit. In this scene Fisk learns of the minority report precog problem effecting the underworld. Owl and Masque soon flee upon learning Fisk was unprepared for this and are arrested by shield for future crimes.
As this is going on Fisk establishes friendship for the reader by slipping a gun into the newspaper and hands it to the café owner Armand. Hawkeye barges into the Café asking, “Where is he” the reader thinking he is after Fisk. In a perfect mislead however Hawkeye is after Armand. Turns out, Armand makes the best coffee in New York. Hawkeye is surprised to see Fisk, tells a fat joke and puts his coffee on Fisk’s tab. All things in Hawkeyes character but again making the heroes’ the antagonist bullies. What I really love here is this is the marvel universe for me. Both characters written well (Fisk pointing out the unoriginality of a fat joke at his expense and to writer’s credit it is the only one in the book. Looks like Matt will focus on other aspects of the character) and both patron the same coffee stop. This is the connected marvel universe I love much.
Coming out of this scene we see Armand approach Fisk in a respectful manner, ala a scene from the Godfather, requesting his help in returning his kidnapped niece, even with heroes outside, Armand comments they just focus on their own issues and trusts Fisk more. (another great mob movie staple of a Mob Neighbourhood is the safest). In searching for this girl it turns out it is one of Fisk’s old men kidnapping these women. A low level called Janus. In the issues back up story we see he went on to work for black cat where he was exposed to Terrigan mist and became Inhuman and discovers that he has become invisible to law enforcement precog. We saw Janus, the greek god named counter point to Ulysses, earlier in the issue and that Kingpin would protect him at all cost. We now we know why. In the current climate Janus is his golden ticket. A great wrinkle in the larger Civil War story.
I have hardly even gotten into all the little cameo panels and character beats but eventually I’d just be doing a Kevin Smith style review where I just glowingly tell you everything beat for beat. Writing here really is a stand out and one of the best-written first issues I have read from any company in a long time.
Here is where the review might change for you depending on your personal preference. Art is very subjective. There is no denying however Ortiz has the fundamentals of sequential story telling down. He uses block panels that while simple to the eye are perfectly placed for story beats. I liked for example in a stack out scene the digital car clock time changing, simple but denotes passage of time on the page. Loved his use of onomatopoeia sound effects. His actual art styling I did really enjoy but it is very stylized art. I see hints of Ramos or even Sean Murphy influence in here if I had to guess. Characters statures change depending on scene. For example Fisk becomes almost demonic in a scene cloaked in shadow and anger. So this will vary depending on personal choice of comic art you enjoy. Personally I prefer artists to have their own flavour to say a house style. Only character I didn’t feel worked was Ortiz’s take on Sam Wilson who looked a little puppety in my eyes.
Another stand out of this book is Mat Lopes on color. He brings an early 2000’s vertigo vibe and really layers in some nice textures
All in All
One thing I do feel I got to mention is the fact it is a $5 book (or $10 AUD where I am). You do get the origin story of Janus in the issue as a back backup to increase page count. Its well told but I don’t know who badly we needed that story filled in till see get future issues. I do think the book is worth cover price however I just hope price does not scare people off. I am reviewing this book for what it is which is a “tie in” book to Civil War 2 but it does a wonderful job telling a side story to that as well as a fantastic Kingpin story so despite small things like Sam’s look, Continuity nit-picks and price I got to give this books real high praise and next issue will be on top of the reading pile.