Writers: Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Art: Nico Leon and Felipe Sobreiro
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 26th, 2022
The Winter Soldier is obsessed with getting his file from Kingpin’s vault in Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1 and will go through anyone to get it, including Wilson Fisk himself. But what else will be destroyed when these two face-off?
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As Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1 opens, Kingpin is fighting his own mind, as the suggestion Purple Man planted in everyone’s heads to forget Daredevil’s identity, keeps playing over and over in Kingpin’s brain, driving him a bit mad.Winter Soldier has become obsessed with seeing the files that Kingpin has on him, using subterfuge and his fists to find their location.
It’s an interesting twist. Normally, a hero with a secret identity wants to find files a villain has on him and destroy them, but the Winter Soldier, who has a very limited memory of his past, wants to get the files so he can read them and fill in the details of his fractured memory. And if he can grab some other heroes’ files and destroy the files to help them out, why not?
Ultimately, Winter Soldier encounters Kingpin, and we see the after-effects of Purple Man’s mental suggestion, what happens when a person is hypnotized into forgetting something that their whole body and mind are screaming to remember.
Even though Kingpin’s out of his mind at the climax of the issue, he’s rarely been more terrifying. This is a Wilson Fisk who’s not holding back and wants blood. It’s not the typically cold efficient Fisk, but Winter Soldier isn’t himself here either. What we get in the story is the extremes of both characters, one being driven mad, the other one driven by obsession.
The fight scene between the two is beyond brutal. This isn’t some light fisticuffs, this is “The Raid” style body smashing, bone-breaking, blood spraying war. Winter Soldier’s quietly grim style plays off Fisk’s raging well. All in all, it’s an interesting “side quest” to the Devil’s Reign story, and ends in a surprisingly quiet fashion.
I’m generally a big fan of Nico Leon’s art, but in Devil’s Reign: Winter Soldier #1, he draws Kingpin as if he’s 8 feet tall and 15 feet wide. He looks like he took one of Hank Pym’s giant pills. In other books, he’s portrayed to be huge, but not a monolith. I suppose every artist is allowed to do their own vision of Kingpin, but I preferred the John Romita and Frank Miller versions of the character, where he appeared to be a very bulky man over 6’5” tall.
Nico’s panel layouts are as stylish and inventive as ever, letting the action flow and never sticking to a straightforward 6 or 9-panel layout. In some panels, the characters seem blotchy or fuzzy, but I think that’s more because of the colorist than Nico himself.
Nico’s recent Catwoman #39 was clear and vibrant, much different from the darker work here.
Both Kingpin and Winter Soldier are not themselves here, and the story benefits from it. I liked the brutal combat between the two, and the ending sets up both characters for some interesting stories to come.