Review: Devil’s Reign #1

Devil's Reign #1

The concept of banning superheroes isn’t a new one in the Marvel Universe. Registration, and a ban on those that don’t, was key in the classic Civil War storyline. Recently, a ban on superheroes under the age of 21 was enacted. Devil’s Reign #1 begins the next chapter of Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto‘s Daredevil storyline and takes the concept of a superhero ban and updates it a bit for modern times.

Wilson Fisk, aka the former Kingpin, is Mayor of New York and has enacted a law banning all superhero activity. His logic is “follow the money”, that the trials and tribulations and numerous attacks are due to superheroes. Trouble follows them. To enforce this law, a new Thunderbolts is launched taking classic villains and deputizing them to enforce the law. Devil’s Reign is a bit of Civil War mixed with Dark Reign but its commentary is a bit more focused on recent events.

Zdarsky has put together an interesting concept so far that on its surface is a simple parable about the role of superheroes and heroes in general. If we have the ability we should help others, laws be damned. But, dig a bit deeper under the surface and it looks to be more of a reflection on the last 5 years as fascism has risen and been mainstreamed. Fisk is an easy stand-in for Trump, his Thunderbolts the terror that was endorsed by him, and the heroes those that stood against it all like Antifa. Indeed, much like Fisk’s lawmaking, laws attacking Antifa have been attempted and even passed with violence at times encouraged against anti-fascists by elected officials. The Devil’s Reign is the reality we’re struggling with now.

But, move beyond that deeper read and the comic itself is pretty entertaining. It sets things up nicely introducing the plot to new readers while featuring a bit more for those who have been reading Daredevil. While there’s a few plot points that don’t make a ton of sense of the new readers, in general, it’s an event that’s pretty easy to get into and enjoy. There’s a whole new Spider-Man costume that I feel like I missed somewhere as an example of something I’m left scratching my head.

The art by Checchetto is fantastic. There’s some striking moments and beautiful panels despite the darkness that looms over everything. Marcio Menyz‘s colors helps with the matter as characters pop with an almost spotlight on them despite the dark and serious tone at times. There’s also a solid mix of action and discussion with each scene delivering tension or moments that get you to pause and think. There’s a lot packed in as body positions help deliver the mood of the moment. Clayton Cowles‘ lettering too adds so much to the story giving personality to some of the characters but also impressively packing in a lot of dialogue around the beautiful art.

Devil’s Reign #1 is a pretty solid start to the event. It lays out the situation and also builds the tension and threat to come. The issue balances action with quieter moments and has enough surprising parts to keep readers on their toes. Overall, it does a solid job of introducing the event to new readers while keeping long time readers engaged with what’s to come. While its concept might not feel new and a mix of events of Marvel’s past, Devil’s Reign #1 delivers a new shine and focus with today’s political climate.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Marco Checchetto
Color: Marcio Menyz Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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