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Review: Kingpin #3

Matthew Rosenberg is forging forward with his mission to humanize one of Marvel’s most notorious gangsters and he’s doing one hell of a job. Kingpin #3 digs even further into the mystery of what made Wilson Fisk into the Kingpin. There are more than a few shades of gray that run alongside the line that Kingpin rides making him neither pure evil nor pure good. Rosenberg gives us a glimpse into the mushy parts that make Kingpin a protector of the weak and a corrector of the strong and evil.

The third issue in the current solo story line still relies heavily on Sarah doing her journalistic due diligence but, Kingpin exudes a sense of omnipresence that casts his rather large shadow in every panel whether he’s in it or not. Rosenberg shows us some of Kingpin’s oldest friends, kids from his old neighborhood and, much like the last issue we are treated to some of Kingpin’s gentle side. We also get in on the ground floor of Tombstone’s inevitable pushback against Fisk and, see him using Sarah as a pawn in his game. There are some decent and memorable cameos in this issue and they fit nicely into the story that Rosenberg is committed to telling.

Ben Torres provides some good, old fashioned comic book line art that shows the grit and the grime of the NY underworld. The detail in Torres’ work also shows us the bleak situation that Sarah is in as a divorced alcoholic mother trying to regain herself and her children. Jordan Boyd gives the issue just enough color and makes sure that his palette choices match the mood of the panels. Boyd uses dark, muted & shadowy colors when showing Sarah’s life and on any panels showing the criminal underworld but, he’s talented enough to use bright 80s style colors when we are treated to the scenes that show the sweet and sensitive side of Kingpin.

This issue gives us more pieces to the Kingpin puzzle and reads like a really good comic noir. The creative team behind this issue made sure that the story and art was consistent with the issues that preceded it and, that this issue had a sense of stand alone cohesiveness. The story as a whole is tight, well written, beautifully drawn and colored, plus it makes sure that when you’re starting to feel overly sympathetic to Kingpin, you get a nice jolt and reminder that there is a monster lurking under his surface. We still don’t know all of Kingpin’s motives but, as a reader, this issue makes sure that you’re all in to find out what happens next and, see how the story unfolds.

My only problem with this issue is the cringeworthy moment in the diner where Sarah is sitting down with Kingpin and the subject of the slap she received at her ex-husband’s hand comes up. Sarah tells Kingpin that it was her fault for pushing his buttons, Kingpin does not agree with her assessment and for now it looks as if he won’t take action against her ex. But, even though that small portion of the story is cringeworthy, it’s still real and poignant. Most abused partners truly believe that abuse in any form is their fault, Kingpin seems to acknowledge that fact and doesn’t push too hard but, he also doesn’t white knight for her making the reader feel a sense of guilt for wishing he did. But, that’s the thing with Rosenberg’s writing, the world he created seems real, visceral and often makes it hard to disconnect with the characters which makes this story less of an escape and, more of an investment. The good news is that it is an arc worthy of becoming invested in and serves as a testament to the overall package.

Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art: Ben Torres and Jordan Boyd
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.8 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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