“Face towards Enemy”
Certain characters facing off with other characters will always get some people excited. Joker and Batman, Spider-man and Venom, Spawn and clown etc. …
Two of those characters for me are Kingpin and the Punisher. Having both characters getting more recent media attention I can only get excited for this issue ahead…
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Ricardo Lopez Ortiz & Hayden Sherman
Colour Artist: Matt Lopez
Editor: Mark Basso
Kingpin is in shock after the attempt on his life. He goes into hiding upstate with only his most trusted allies. Scourge however suddenly turns on Fisk revealing he is actually none other than Frank Castle under the mask. After a vicious battle with Frank, Fisk is left for dead on the roof of his hideout as S.H.E.I.L.D. arrives to arrest him.
So through the course of this series we have been looking at classic gangster film story troupes. We had ‘the Rise’ in issue one; we had ‘the golden days’ in issue two. Now we have ‘the Fall’ in issue three. Now be honest. Who else is there better to bring down the Kingpin in marvel comics than Punisher (ok, so maybe Daredevil or Spider-man but they are busy).
Firstly we see Fisk is beginning to turn on Janus. He openly admits to caring for Janus and as I suspected grooming Janus for leadership. Fisk doesn’t know if Janus has turned on him but for him that doesn’t matter. If Janus has turned or captured he is a liability to Fisk either way. I love this thinking for Fisk as it shows even as things are going to hell he is always keeping in mind the big picture. We do see Kingpin being absolutely bloodthirsty here in order to build a wall of protection around him.
Enter the Punisher. Here is where the story starts to falls apart for me. Punisher snuck in here under the disguise of Scourge. Firstly I’m not even sure what Scourge is doing in Kingpin’s inner circle. Punisher’s plan seems flawed. He goes to all this trouble to get close to Fisk and once he is there he starts attacking henchmen randomly. Surely you take out Wilson first then take on the rabble or just go in Guns a blazing from the start. He later is picking off men in a dark tunnel but lets Fisk live for no reason. I know the meta-textual reason for letting Fisk live and not killing off the character but I wish there was better in story reasons.
My other big flaw is that both characters should have died. Punisher strapped a claymore mine to his chest and detonates it. Now they do explode in a direction but you are not walking away from one of those. Kingpin also gets a bowie knife to the upper chest. Not just stabbed in, but kicked in and Frank even hangs from it when they dangle from the outside of the building. I know the Kingpin is strong but you don’t just get to live another day from that. It also turns out rather then seeking medical help or killing Frank; Wilson has been narrating the story to him the entire time. While I normally love this reveal of in story narration this one was tied into a point that Fisk probably should have bleed out. I would have much preferred if they were just weapons free and just beat the $h!t out of each out with their fists and you could have accomplished the same result.
That said I am still greatly enjoying Rosenberg’s dialog for Fisk. I am also excited to see where the story will go with Fisk in custody by SHIELD.
Ortiz has really come in to his own over the course of this series and he is the real star of this issue. While I had flaws in the plot, the story telling flow in the art is superb. He is as stated in other reviews very stylized but this is the least out there of the issues. There is no crazy elastic characters here. And the few ‘out there’ touches done I do really like for story telling moments. i.e. Devil eye Fisk
All in All
This issue is the weakest one of the series so far but it is not a bad book. I struggled to give it the premise of both these men surviving the battle that was Frank’s poorly thought out plan, but apart from that there is some great Rosenberg dialog and best art yet from Ortiz