Devil’s Reign: A Marvel Event
Chip Zdarsky (Writer), Marco Checcetto (Artist), Marcio Menyz (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer), Rafael de Latorre (Artist), Federico Blee (Colorist), Jim Zub (Writer), Luciano Vecchio (Artist), Carlos López (Colorist), Java Tartaglia (Colorist), Jed Mackay (Writer), Federico Sabbatini (Artist), Clay McLeod Chapman (Writer), Manuel García (Artist), Zac Thompson (Writer), Davide Tinto (Artist), Gerry Duggan (Writer), Phil Noto (Artist), Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Nico Leon (Artist)
My rating: 3.8 of 5 stars
Another comic crossover-event storyline. This time centred on the street-level heroes in the MU, centred on the inimitable Kingpin of crime, Wilson Fisk, and the man without fear known as Daredevil. The streets of New York are crackling with tension and bursts of violence as Mayor Fisk goes on a vendetta of simmering rage and violence to outlaw all masked vigilantes, consolidate his power and destroy Daredevil.
There’s many pinches of salt to be had when dealing with such “events” from comic companies and doubly-so from the Big-2 because over the past two decades, we readers have been inundated with them to the point that Marvel at one time not too far back, declared they would be easing off from the mega-company-wide-events… of course that did not last very long!
That said, they did ease off on the scale a smidge and the result is more limited storylines like this one getting a chance. It’s not often that we get such street-level events. Over the years we’ve had attempts with characters like Daredevil, Spider-Man and even Moon Knight being at the centre of major events/storylines, but invariably they tend to take on global and cosmic scales far too often – gods and monsters and fallout becomes of the epic-scale.
This is not the case with this storyline and for that I am very grateful!
The basic story follows on from recent Daredevil stories in his titular series, one in particular where Matt Murdock used some powerful wibbly-wobbly to make people forget that his dual-identity which has been in the public record since Brian Micheal Bendis was writing the character. Now, Fisk has stumbled across an old file/paper that tells him that he knew who Daredevil was and is enraged that the “hero” did something to his mind to make him forget – and for a famously narcissistic, brutal and violently impatient control-freak like Fisk, this is untenable!
He immediately proclaims masked people against the law, arrests people left and right (including Sue and Reed Richards and Iron Fist) and institutes a kind of martial law. Behind the scenes, he gives Otto Octavious control of the Baxter Building, creates his own new Thunderbolts to patrol the city as a new arm of the law and even creates his own personal super-team led by U.S Agent and full of violent criminals and psychopathic villains + he even captures The Purple Man (a.k.a Zebediah Killgrave) and puts him in a machine that channels his power to subtly manipulate the minds of people in the city to be more receptive to Fisk’s message and to vote for him in the upcoming elections.
All the heroes are forced to work with eyes in the backs of their heads, band together and work in the shadows – meanwhile plotting and trying to find ways to beat Fisk and his Thunderbolts without coming across as the bad guys or violent criminals as he is trying to frame them. They need to fight harder AND smarter under extremely challenging circumstances.
All in all, this was a very good read. The premise if a good one, filled with scope for action, drama, pathos and it manages to do it all justice.
For me, this series benefits HUGELY from being able to stay at a very limited size +having a VERY limited number of tie-in issues. Honestly, if you are not reading any of the ongoing series like Spider-Woman or Amazing Spider-Man or even Daredevil, you can read this event almost as a self-contained story and not feel like you’re missing anything. Even the mini-series that are tied to it, i.e, Superior Four, Villains For Hire, Devils Reign X-Men and Devils Reign Moon Knight are not required reading to make the main story readable BUT they actually are worth reading because I was surprised to find them all imminently fun and solid outings for the characters involved.
Superior Four is like a solo Doc Ock series where he is taking absurdly full advantage of being in control of Fantastic Four headquarters and travelling the multiverse on his own agenda (with a multiversal set of alternate Ock’s!) while Fisk does his thing; Villains for Hire follows the aforementioned super-hero/villain team that is policing the streets for Fisk, told through the troubled lens of U.S.Agent; X-Men is an intriguing mini that brings mainly Emma Frost into the fray as her history as White Queen of the Hellfire Club comes back to haunt her and brings her into conflict with Fisk and throws Elektra into the mix; and finally Moon Knight which sees our vengeful hero in prison under the new laws and we get to see what happens when a whole load of bad-guys are stuck in a prison with the Fist of Khonshu. Every one of these was for me a highly entertaining read and I recommend them all!
Of course, massive credit to all the artists who contributed – the style varies massively across the main and tie-in comics but they all did an excellent job. The action scenes in the main comic and the gritty and grim feel really accentuates the story and I really enjoyed the Moon Knight comic which had a more comic-y feel which was so odd and yet perfect for the ultra-violent story it told. Once again, story or art, all the parts of this event are good, solid entries.
All in all, this event somewhat renewed my faith in the event/crossover, at least to the extent that it reminded me of the similar, smaller scale and more restricted storylines that used to be there in comics at one point, back before everything had to be mega-sized. It also showed that there is a reason Chip Zdarsky is one of the most interesting writers in superhero comics for some time now and his fantastic work on the Daredevil line of comics has really been a high-point for ol’ horn-head. Personally I enjoyed it all and I recommend it as a worthwhile read as it lays out a sharp, brisk narrative that goes ways you do not always expect and leaves almost every character by the end changed from where they started.