Top 10 Spider-Man Villains

Top 10 Spider-Man Villains

Well, we did the Batman Rogues, so why not do the Spider-Man Rogues. They are undeniably the other best batch of bad guys. Animal themed burglars, mob bosses, and aliens attached to serial killers, what’s not to like?

Like many comic book fans, Spider-Man was my first love. He was funny, had cool powers, and has, arguably, the most creative costume ever conceived. As a result, I will always love his villains quite a bit, and I do know quite a bit of them and quite a bit about them.

Anyway, let’s not waste time. Let’s get started!

  1. Speed Demon

It’s hard to read Nick Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man as well as Fabian Nicieza’s New Thunderbolts without gaining a healthy respect for this former Squadron Sinister member. Yeah, he’s essentially an inferior version of the Flash/Reverse Flash, but he’s just so smug and so…not good at being a bad guy, that it’s hard not to gain an interest in Jimmy Sanders. He’s just a dick, but he’s so charming at the same time. What can I say? I love him.

  1. Doctor Octopus

When I was a kid Spider-Man 2 was my absolute favorite movie. Alfred Molina brought Otto Octavius to life in an impressive and endearing way. As a result, Doc-Ock will always have a place in my heart. He’s a genius with forceful and, at times, violent ways to bring his vision to life in the world. He has generally wanted to make the world a better place, but his personal hang-ups have held him back. I kind of adored the idea of him being in love with Aunt May honestly. Also, the Superior Spider-Man story was actually a pretty interesting idea, even if I didn’t read much of the story.

  1. Kraven the Hunter

Between Deathstroke, Deadshot, and, now Kraven, I guess you could say I have an affection for men with aspirations of leaving a legacy. Sergei Kravinoff wants to be remembered as the world’s greatest hunter, and Spider-Man became the White Whale to his Captain Ahab. He wants to be the man who killed the Spider-Man. He has enhanced strength, speed, reflexes, and this all compounds his already impressive physiology. He has a myriad of weapons, and he will do anything to get his pray. He’s just freaking cool.

  1. The Rhino

He’s a big, kinda dumb, and angry guy dressed like a rhinoceros. What’s not to like? I won’t lie, my admiration for Aleksei Sytsevich (did anyone know that he was Russian? I always just assumed he was a Bronx leg-breaker) doesn’t really go much deeper than him looking cool. I always liked the really strong rogues too, and Rhino was one of my first experiences with such characters. Rhinoceroses are one of the coolest animals on the Earth. Aleksei chose one of the best creatures off of which to base an identity.

Plus, he killed that axe-wielding sucker who tried to replace him. Good on him.

  1. Carnage

Cletus Kasady was a serial killer even before he had a blood-thirsty alien parasite attach itself to him. He worships Chthon, the Marvel god of chaos. He’s just a scary bastard. He will do anything to taste blood. Killing is his sole hobby. The more bodies he can drop, the better. To give Todd MacFarlane his credit, the symbiotes have a really great visual design. So, on top of everything else, Carnage just looks really cool. He’s an immensely powerful and dangerous villain for the Web-Head to throw down with. Even being torn in half by the Sentry didn’t stop him. He keeps coming back.

  1. Sandman

I have a soft spot for rogues who try to go straight (hence, the Thunderbolts), and that is one of the main reasons for my admiration for Flint Marko/William Baker. He only stole to get the funds for his sick daughter. If that’s not a good motivation for crime, I don’t know what is. Apparently, there have been retellings of his origin story, but that’s the one I prefer. After a number of defeats, he did begin feeding a grudge against the Wall-Crawler. He tried to go straight a few times, teaming up with Hawkeye and the Avengers on a number of occasions. He even went straight again during Axis. He keeps going back to his criminal ways, but there may still be some hope for Sandman. We will see.

  1. The Green Goblin

Norman Osborn is a brilliant, scheming, dangerous douchebag. I love him. I list him as the Green Goblin because that is the identity that he is most famous for, and it is the moniker he often uses while fighting Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. However, the era in which he led the Thunderbolts then H.A.M.M.E.R and the Dark Avengers is what truly gave me a love for Gobby. I dug him as the Iron Patriot. It showed an understanding of the kind of world he lived in as well as ambition that took him to the top of the food chain. He could have stayed there if he wasn’t absolutely freaking insane. Ever since, I held a love for Green Goblin, and he will always be one of my favorite Marvel rogues.

  1. The Shocker

That’s right. I love the Shocker. Fight me. He’s cooler than Green Goblin, Carnage, Electro, Doc-Ock, Sandman, the Rhino, Hobgoblin, the Lizard, Scorpion, the Vulture, Mysterio, Chameleon, that jackass Morlun, and all of your favorite Spider-Man villains. I love his costume that makes him look like a tire mascot. I love that his primary weapons are a pair of gauntlets that cause vibrations in the air. I love that the general disrespect he gets has translated to a likable character who has extremely low self-esteem thus making him relatable…oh.

Yeah, I don’t like that the Shocker gets dumped on a lot, but it’s what has made him into the lovable character he is today. It’s a bit of a conundrum I kind of want him to succeed more because of that. I love that he finally gets his day at the end of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Hell, he gets to lay out the Punisher. He has a Shocker-mobile that looks like his costume. It’s just plain great. Plus, he was a Thunderbolt too, and that’s just cool.

  1. The Kingpin

I consider him primarily a Daredevil villain now, but I can’t ignore the fact that he first appeared in Spider-Man comics. He’s a man of great vision and ambition. He will do anything to rule the criminal underworld. He does tend to have a loose code of honor, and he’s not willing to do anything especially depraved. However, killing those who would stand in his way is never off the table. He is the epitome of terrifying, silent fury, and he will always be close to my heart as a result.

  1. Venom

Flash Thompson will always be my favorite iteration of Venom. I will always prefer Venom as a hero. However, I do still love Eddie Brock, the original Venom. He’s a great bad guy, and he is a good opposition of Spider-Man. Spider-Man has never really had a problem with coming close to killing his enemies, but Venom is a portrait of what that would be like.

Venom wants to use his power for good. He wants to have control of the beast. However, its will is often stronger than his. It gives him the power to bring down the truly reprehensible people, but the price of its power is him not always being in control. To add to it, the beast really hates Spider-Man, so it often brings him back into the Web-Head’s path. That’s interesting, and it makes Brock a really compelling character.

Anti-Venom and the subsequent attachment to Toxin were cool turns for Eddie Brock. In all honesty, I would have preferred if Brock stayed as Anti-Venom. I thought that was an interesting turn for the character, and I loved the inverted colors of that symbiote. It allowed him to be the brutal hero he always wanted to be.

Mac Gargan was a pretty cool Venom too, and I actually liked the visual design of his version of Venom a little more than MacFarlane’s original and still fantastic depiction. Lee Price was an interesting if apparently short-lived bearer for the symbiote. At the end of the day though, Eddie Brock is my favorite version of the villainous Venom (second-favorite overall after Flash Thompson), and Venom is my absolute favorite Spider-Man rogue.

That’s all for now folks! Keep reading comics!

Daddy Issues: An Observation

Daddy Issues: An Observation

I’m going to go ahead and let you know how this article is going to end. In short, it doesn’t really have one. Where my usual op-eds have a point to drive to or a proposed solution to whatever problem we’re discussing, this one is just pointing out a comic book storytelling trend. I’m not even sure if it’s a real “problem” either. It’s just something I’ve noticed.

A vast majority of super heroes have major father issues. That is not an opinion but a statement of fact. It’s not a part of their character that points towards them having daddy issues (though that is admittedly a truth as well), it’s literally written into their backstories.

I feel that Spider-Man is actually a good character to start this discussion with. The death of Uncle Ben is the catalyst by which Peter Parker became Spider-Man, and his “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra is the compass by which Peter makes many of decisions. Now you may be thinking “daddy issues, but Ben wasn’t his dad.” Yeah, but Uncle Ben was his father figure. For all intents and purposes, Ben was his dad. No, I don’t think all that stuff with Peter’s parents being spies or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D or whatever has any bearing on this. Furthermore, the eternally youthful Peter Parker has seemed to try to fill that void with a number of male authority figures, not the least of which have be Curt Connors, Tony Stark, and Steve Rogers. Even Captain Stacy, Robbie Robertson, and Ben Urich have arguably taken up that space at moments too.

Superman is special, because he gathered two daddies to have issues with. Jor-El and Johnathan Kent have both given Kal-El reasons to wring his hands and contemplate what kind of man he should be. This is especially true in newer comics where Jonathan Kent is dead.

Batman manages to have a similar situation with Alfred Pennyworth and Thomas Wayne. Yeah, Bruce lost both of his parents, but, whenever he singles his parents out, it usually turns out to be Thomas over Martha. Thomas is who he is trying to live up to while Alfred is the father he often ignores. This of course does not count Zack Snyder’s infamous “Marthaaaaaa” incident.

The Flash is admittedly unique because he manages to have mommy and daddy issues. Barry lost his mother to a random killer/Professor Zoom, and his father was blamed for the incident.

Thor Odinson may indeed be the king of daddy issues because All-Father King Odin Anthony Hopkins bounces between being the voice of reason and a complete freaking madman. Thor has to live up to his legacy while often having to go toe to toe with him.

Tony Stark has had to live up to the legacy of Howard Stark. Rick Remender added a drunken father backstory to the childhood of Steve Rogers. Hal Jordan’s dad was also a stunt pilot. The Robins and Terry McGuinness are a legacy of daddy issues, all of which grow to hate/emulate big daddy Batman. Clint Barton had a drunken and abusive father. Luke Cage disappointed his dad by getting into the gang world. Danny Rand’s father was obsessed with K’un L’un and ignored little baby Iron Fist. Oliver Queen has a philanthropist father to live up to. Roy Harper was abandoned by Green Arrow in his hour of need. T’Challa had a celebrated king father in T’Chaka. Guy Gardner had a celebrated police officer father that was abruptly replaced with an abusive and drunken father in the most recent issue of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Arthur Curry and Black Manta gave each other father issues by killing each other’s dads. Bucky Barnes has some arguable daddy issues while trying to live up to Captain America. Sam Wilson has debatably the same thing going on with Steve as well as his own pastor father. Bruce Banner had a drunken and abusive father that he beat to death. Logan had an angry adopted father, a malicious biological father, a begrudged father in Charles Xavier, weird daddy/brother problems with Sabretooth, and then there’s whatever you call the story with Romulus. Johnny Blaze literally sold his soul to save his father. Matt Murdock has always taken the lessons given by Battlin’ Jack Murdock to heart. Star-Lord has his jackass emperor father, J’Son. Flash Thompson’s father was a mean drunk. Eddie Brock’s dad thinks he’s a bum. Helmut Zemo’s father was an actual Nazi war criminal. Slade Wilson has three kids that hate him as well as a super-powered megalomaniacal father of his own. Obsidian and his father, Alan Scott, never saw eye-to-eye. Vision was created by Ultron, meanwhile Ultron hates his creator, Hank Pym. Genis-Vel and Noh-Varr are offspring of the legendary hero, Captain Mar-Vell. Daken is the son of Wolverine. Scott and Alex Summers both thought their dad was dead when he was in reality the space pirate known as Corsair.

Hell, women aren’t exempted from this. I could go on for days about the myriad of psychological implications of the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker, and daddy issues are a part of them. Carol Danvers has always tried to live up to the legacy of Captain Mar-Vell too. Jessica Drew had a pretty warped father who may have also been Hydra. Katherine Kane had a strict military father. Barbara Gordon is constantly being pressed in different directions by Batman and Commissioner Gordon. Needless to say, Laura Kinney will always have daddy issues from Wolverine too. Raven’s dad is an actual Demon. Gamora and Nebula were raised by Thanos. 

Again, I’m not sure if there’s a point to all of this. It’s merely a pattern I’ve noticed. I will say there is a potential for storytelling ruts and repetition in the pervasiveness of this trend. It does say something about the mentality attributed to the super hero ideology as well as some assumptions about the audience that consumes these comic books.

Anyway, until next time, keep reading comics!

Avengers #1 Review

Avengers #1 Review

A Kangucopia, an Immortusbord, a Rama-Tutnami

Mark Waid (W), Mike del Mundo (A, CA), Marco D’alfonso (CA)

Cover by Alex Ross

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

          So, here we are with another Avengers #1. I know I’ve gone on this tangent before, but Marvel really needs to get past its self-conscious need to reboot every title every year or so. I really liked All-New, All-Different Marvel. I know it had a lot of critics, but I enjoyed the new direction and slate of titles. In a way, it was almost a return to form, giving a lot of characters that haven’t had their own books new titles, bringing out some cool, new characters, and pursuing that upbeat and wild Mighty Marvel Manner. Now we have Marvel NOW version 4 or 5 or whatever, and we’re doing this weird darkish divide between the hero community that only seems to be exemplified by the Avengers and Champions splitting off from the All-New, All-Different Avengers book. We have a lot of new titles again and a “new direction” for Marvel Comics that I’m sure will be abandoned in about another year.

Also, if I can go on the price soapbox again, I get the compulsion to jack up the price on a #1, but I think it shows some arrogance that is unearned. Why set up a price wall for a new book? You’re selling the book to the reader, not the other way around. Even if it’s a few pages longer like Avengers #1, use that extra length as a show of good faith. You want to convince the reader that this book will be worth reading beyond the first issue, but you make the first issue harder to buy. It’s not a given that it will sell. Not even the Avengers can guarantee that. You’re already refusing to price any of your books under four-dollars, Marvel. Why do you make it so hard to love you?

Anyway, now that I have that out of my system, let’s get to the book itself.

Avengers #1 continues off of the Kang the Conqueror stories from All-New, All-Different Avengers with Kang returning to track down the infant version of himself which the Vision stole from the future in the hopes of preventing his tyrannical reign. Unfortunately, the Avengers are a few members short due to Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Spider-Man having left the team to form the Champions. Hercules arrives to bolster the team’s ranks, and Peter Parker of Parker Industries offers to fund the team and provide them with a new base in the Baxter Building. Kang arrives to sour these proceedings.

Naturally, a fight ensues between the Avengers and Kang the Conqueror. The battle is complicated when Kang splinters off from himself once again (something he showed happens from time-to-time in the previous series due to some form of time distortion), and, as a result, the Avengers and the original Spider-Man have to contend with both Kang and the Scarlet Centurion.

The Kangs attempt to determine the location of their young self from the Vison. However, he has wiped the memory from himself as a precaution, and they leave to pursue a different tactic. Afterwards, the Avengers offer membership to Spider-Man, which he accepts. The Vision is forced to reveal to the Avengers that he took the infant Kang, and they show frustration with this as well as the fact that he kept it a secret.

Meanwhile, Kang and the Centurion locate the crystal in which the Vision offloads his memory banks. They use it to determine the identities of these Avengers and kill them in the cradle. The comic ends with the Avengers dissipating.

This is a solid Avengers story with a classic villain. I like this current lineup quite a bit, and I’m interested in seeing how the members will interact with one another in the future. The joining of Hercules seemed a little abrupt, but I’m never going to complain about the Prince of Power showing up.

Kang is in full form of course, and he offers a great threat with which to inaugurate this new Avengers team. His endgame in this issue does seem a little incongruous with the problem he is attempting to solve. If the Avengers simply disappear when Kang kills their young selves, why has he not become a different person due to the Vison kidnapping his infant self? Maybe they’ll explain that later, but it does seem a bit odd here.

Mike del Mundo’s art will likely make or break this book with a lot of people. While it looks good, it is a lot more stylized and distorted than most art used in Avengers series. I like the art well enough, and it is very unique. However, I’m not sure it quite fits the tone and style of the Avengers.

This isn’t exactly the most daring or radical take on the Avengers. It’s not really doing anything I haven’t seen before. That being said, it is still a fun book that does feel like an Avengers comic the art aside. I have been a huge fan of the Avengers for quite some time, and I look forward to Mark Waid’s continued work on the team.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Thunderbolts #5 and #6 Reviews

Thunderbolts #5 and #6 Reviews

 Bucky vs Miles and Abe References SCTV

Thunderbolts #5

Jim Zub (W), Jon Malin (A), Matt Yackey (CA)

Cover by Jon Malin and Matt Yackey

*Ties in to Civil War II

Thunderbolts #6

Jim Zub (W), Sean Izaakse (A), Matt Yackey (CA)

Cover by Jon Malin and Matt Yackey

Both Published by Marvel Comics

Both Priced at $3.99

          I try my best to avoid having to go back and review comics (outside of the Barely Retro Reviews of course). I prefer to stay up-to-date, plus I want to be able to recommend comics when they are fresh on the shelves and easy to find. Sometimes things happen though, like forgetfulness and missed orders. So, here we are. We’re going for another double review with the past two issues of Jim Zub’s Thunderbolts.

Issue Five picks up with Bucky Barnes discovering from Fixer’s surveillance station that Ulysses had a vision of Miles Morales the Ultimate Spider-Man killing Steve Rogers. Naturally, this greatly upsets the Winter Soldier, and he decides that he’s going to keep Steve from dying, remembering the last time it happened at the end of the first Civil War.

He loads up, heads out, and attempts to capture Morales. The spider sense foils his plans, and the two enter a brawl. Bucky seems to have the upper hand when S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives and overwhelms him. He ends up being captured, and the comic ends with the Winter Soldier in a cell.

Issue Six opens up with a relatively smaller dilemma: the Thunderbolts are out of food, and Atlas is hungry. Kobik can’t fix it because Bucky told her not to use her powers. So Atlas and Mach X decide to go out on a food run to stock up on supplies. Meanwhile, Moonstone and Fixer decide now is as good a time as any to solve the Kobik problem.

Moonstone and Fixer try to accomplish this by reverting her back to her Cosmic Cube state. This fails, and Kobik pacifies them and reveals to Fixer that she brought him back from the time loop he was previously trapped in (way back in Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts). She dissolves all of his technology, including a signal jammer he gave to Erik and Abe when they went on the food run.

This allows S.H.I.E.L.D. to get a reading on Mach X’s armor, and they go out to arrest him and Atlas. They find them at a convenience store, and the two manage to escape with some supplies. The return to their secret base unfollowed and find Moonstone and Fixer having a tea party with Kobik. The comic ends with Fixer discovering that Bucky has been captured by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Both of these issues were fantastic for very different reasons. We’ll go at this chronologically for simplicity’s sake.

Issue Five provides a really dramatic story that, along with the Power Man and Iron Fist Civil War II tie-in, is among the best things to come out of the current big crossover. It’s simple, straightforward, and lasts only one issue. Miles Morales may kill Steve Rogers in the future. Steve is Bucky’s closest friend. Bucky will do anything to save him.

The pacing is fast: Bucky is tracking Miles in first few pages. He has some heartfelt flashbacks to Steve’s death as well as his own time dating Black Widow. He has to force himself to be cold and focused. The ensuing fight is intense and kinetic. Jon Malin and Matt Yackey depict it all to perfection

The personal stakes are clear. We are put right inside Bucky’s head as he does all of this. It’s emotional for him, and the reader can feel it. I think it’s the best issue of the series so far, and I can recommend it to anyone, even if they haven’t been following Thunderbolts or Civil War II.

Issue Six is almost an “X-Men playing softball” issue, and I really dig that. The Thunderbolts are out of food. This is the only catalyst for what happens next, even Moonstone and Fixer going after Kobik. Mach X and Atlas are allowed to have a great bromance moment while referencing Bob and Doug McKenzie, and Moonstone and Fixer get to continue being shady. The characters act like themselves, and you get to connect with Abe and Erik for a bit. The comic is also just really funny too. It plays a good light-hearted follow up to the heavy drama of Issue Five.

I also really like that they explain how Fixer is back given his endless cycle of killing himself that Jeff Parker set up way back during his run on Thunderbolts. It shows Jim Zub’s love for the series and that he really has read up on his comic’s history. Plus, all of this serves to make Kobik kind of intimidating as she browbeats Fixer for trying to change her.

The art change was unexpected, but it wasn’t bad. I like Malin’s 90’s callback style, but I also enjoyed the clean and sleeker look of Sean Izaakse. As usual, Matt Yackey keeps the colors bright, and I continue to enjoy the hell out of it.

Both comics are self-contained too, and, as you well know by now, I really like that. The stories feel complete, and I highly recommend both of these comics.

Final Scores:

Thunderbolts #5: 10/10

Thunderbolts #6: 9/10

Review of the Previous Issue

Champions #1 Review

Champions #1 Review

So, Hercules isn’t on this team?

Mark Waid (W), Humberto Ramos (P), Victor Olazaba (I),

Edgar Delgado (C)

Cover by Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

          So, just like last year’s Secret Wars, Marvel’s Civil War II is mired with delays and extensions, and they are having to put out the comics that happen in the fallout of the big story before the big story actually finishes. That looks really good. Furthermore, we are resetting everything again and shaking things up because God forbid we have a status quo in the Marvel Universe.

I would go more in-depth on my feelings on that, but I have had an editorial about it in the works. I’ll save the lengthier discussion about Marvel’s constant need for “soft reboots” for then, so look out for it.

The premise for this comic is that the younger heroes are disenchanted with the older heroes due to the events of Civil War II, so they are splitting off and starting their own hero teams. This seems to be some extended metaphor for the generational divide between “Millennials” and the generations that came before, albeit a bit on the nose.

This comic begins with Kamala Khan eating dinner with her family. They are surprised that she is at home, and she flashes back to five days prior. She and the Avengers were fighting the Wrecking Crew on a railway in Queens. The Avengers win, but the people below are unhappy with the destruction. Ms. Marvel wants to help clean up the mess left by the battle, but Captain America says they aren’t really qualified to do that. Ms. Marvel is enraged by that and quits the Avengers.

In the present, Kamala contacts Miles Morales and Sam Alexander (Spider-Man and Nova, respectively) for a meet-up. They unite on top of a bridge and discuss recent events. Spider-Man and Nova quit the Avengers because of the recent civil war, and Ms. Marvel proposes an idea for a new team run by them instead of the old guard. After some convincing, Spider-Man and Nova agree, and the Miles makes a suggestion for a recruit.

The comic turns to Amadeus Cho attempting to free some miners from a collapsed cave. The three heroes arrive on the scene to help him. They manage to free the miners, and Kamala says that they will help clean up the collapsed mine.

They next go to recruit Viv Vision, and, after they do, they have her look up any potential threats nearby through the use of her internal internet connection. She discovers a human trafficking ring run by someone calling himself Pagliacci.

The heroes go to bust this up, and they are, understandably, enraged by what they see. They defeat the henchmen and try to save the girls. They manage to save all but one. The death infuriates them further, and Hulk almost kills Pagliacci with a crowd cheering him on. Kamala stops the Hulk, and she says that they need to learn to solve things as peaceably as possible. She gives a speech towards the crowd, which is recording them on phone cameras. This is where the name “the Champions” comes in, and they turn to their phones where many people are *sigh* Tweeting about the Champions.

Despite Civil War II and the fact that this is yet another shake-up to the Marvel Universe, I actually really liked this comic.

The characters are likeable and endearing. Kamala’s boundless optimism and need to help people is the perfect spark to ignite a team like this. She is the perfect leader for this team. The disagreement over what to do with the wreckage from the Avengers fight, while seemingly small, is actually a valid concern on Kamala’s part, though I can totally see Captain America’s point of view on the matter.

The back-to-back troubles of the collapsed mine and the human trafficking really serve to show what this team is all about. Though they are young, but they are very much into old-fashioned heroics and saving the day completely. However, reality sets in with Pagliacci, and they have to see how far they are willing to go.

The pacing is superb. It never leaves you bored, and it feels like a complete story. This is the full origin. They may recruit more heroes (like young Cyclops who is on the cover but not in the book), but you can read this issue and know where the comic is going.

I’m not a fan of Humberto Ramos’ art. The characters often seem gangly, stretched out, and beyond cartoonish. That being said, this is the best art from him that I’ve seen. The characters look more realistic, and the details from the inking make the scenery look a lot better. I love the colors; they’re bright, contrasting, and dynamic. While I won’t say the art is great, this is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my Cage! review. Art is important, but the story is what makes it or breaks it for me. I wasn’t thrilled with the art, but the story was great. As a result, I really dug this book.

Mark Waid smartly restrains using a lot of colloquialisms to try to make the characters seem young and hip. The people Tweeting about the Champions at the end was a little much, but it didn’t ruin the story or the ending.

This comic mixes youthfulness with old-fashioned heroic philosophy in an admirable manner. The characters are charming, and I definitely want to see where they go with it. The art isn’t great, but it’s not horrible. I recommend this comic completely, and you should give it a read.

Final Score: 8/10

#6: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime

#6: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime

Art by Esad Ribic

Wilson Fisk was a poor and obese child. As he grew up, he began bodybuilding and training in the art of sumo wrestling as a means of self-improvement as well as self-defense. He educated himself through stolen books and took an interest in political science. He took to using these skills in his criminal enterprises, vowing to never become anyone else’s subordinate. He also knew the importance of never being directly connected to his own operations, and he stayed out of the line of fire whenever possible. This was the start of his path to becoming the Kingpin.

Fisk was careful to invest his ill-gotten gains in above the table businesses, the first of which was an Asian spice company. Long into his career, he met a woman named Vanessa, whom he quickly fell in love with. She gave him a tranquility that he could find nowhere else. They married and had a child named Richard.

It was after his power had been firmly established in New York that the modern age of heroes began. He was wary of their potential threat to his organization, and he made a point of avoiding them at first. When Spider-Man briefly retired, he took the opportunity to make moves against the international criminal enterprise, the Maggia. He united a number of smaller gangs and initiated a criminal uprising throughout New York. However, Spider-Man returned and challenged the Kingpin. The truly damaging blow, however, came when J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle outed Wilson Fisk as the Kingpin of Crime.

He was further challenged by Spider-Man in following plans and even clashed with his own son, Richard, then disguised as the Schemer. He was later invited to head the Las Vegas contingent of Hydra, and he had Richard serve as his right hand man. The available resources gave Kingpin the opportunity to achieve even greater power, but, upon discovering that the Red Skull was subverting his authority behind the scenes, rejected the organization and abandoned his plans with them.

After the numerous failures and dangers that assailed Wilson, Vanessa pleaded with her husband to abandon the identity of the Kingpin. He acquiesced, and the two moved to Japan. She persuaded him to turn over information on his former colleagues to authorities. His associates were angered by this, and they made an attempt on her life that Wilson was led to believe was successful.

He moved back to New York and returned to his criminal activities. He turned information on his rivals over to authorities through the vigilante Daredevil. This depowered the Maggia and gave Fisk the opportunity to even further increase his influence in the New York. Kingpin then began making inroads into the city government through Councilman Randolph Cherryh. When the politician became elected to the office of mayor, Daredevil discovered the criminal connection. He also found that Vanessa Fisk was still alive. He promised to return her to Wilson if he convinced Cherryh to deny the position. Fisk agreed. This was the beginning of the vicious rivalry between Daredevil and the Kingpin.

It was around this time that Kingpin hired insane super assassin Bullseye as his main hitman.

He soon stumbled upon the then heroin addicted and impoverished Karen Page, former secretary to Nelson and Murdock. Fisk had, at this point, been inconvenienced by the two attorneys on a number of occasions. Upon offering to feed her addiction, Page gave the Kingpin Daredevil’s secret identity of attorney Matthew Murdock.

With this information, Fisk relentlessly targeted Murdock. He had the man rendered impoverished and disbarred. Upon being confronted by Murdock, Kingpin assaulted him and left him for dead. Daredevil survived the experience, but Fisk continued his assault on the hero. He sabotaged his personal relationships, continued to inhibit his law practice, and sent more threats against his life, such as the insane mutant seductress, Typhoid Mary.

After much abuse, Murdock found a weakness in the Kingpin’s armor, and he exposed Fisk’s criminality to the public. He took his wealth, his power, and his position away from him. He also sent Vanessa into hiding in Europe. Fisk was able to escape incarceration, but he was left completely broken.

He resurfaced in Japan as a part of the Stark-Fujikawa company in Japan. There, he came into possession of the Elixir Vitae, the only known cure to the then-rampant mutant Legacy Virus. This led him to conflict with the X-Men and Shang-Chi. He had intentions of using the cure to regaining his wealth. However, Storm destroyed it. Regardless, his corporate gains allowed him to once again obtain a footing in the New York criminal underworld.

He gained an adopted daughter in Maya Lopez aka Echo, whom was the daughter of a deceased enforcer formerly in his employ. Though Fisk himself killed the man, he convinced Maya that the killer was Daredevil. After Echo and Daredevil clashed, she realized that the true murderer was the Kingpin himself. Echo went after Fisk and temporarily blinded him in the assault.

Fisk lost his empire once more when an employee, Samuel Siikes, and his own son, Richard, staged a coup against the Kingpin that left him severely wounded. Vanessa killed Richard in revenge and fled abroad. Fisk himself killed Siikes and also left the country. He attempted to take back his power, but Daredevil beat him back and pronounced himself Kingpin. This led to Fisk being incarcerated at last.

However, this was short-lived. Fisk had left little evidence of his criminal dealings. He was constantly being antagonized by other inmates in prison, making him a legal liability in the eyes of the federal government. He had another advantage in his knowledge of Daredevil’s secret identity, and he leveraged this information with the FBI. Murdock was arrested, but the FBI reneged on their negotiations and kept Fisk in prison with Murdock. The hero was able to stage an escape with Fisk, but he betrayed the man as well, leaving him in prison with a wounded knee from fellow inmate Bullseye.

Fisk tried to angle a release through collaboration with Tony Stark during the Super Hero Civil War. He claimed that he knew of a base of operations for Captain America’s forces. In reality, it was a hideout for the Hammerhead. Fisk also put out a hit on Peter Parker, whom revealed his own identity as Spider-Man in accordance with the Superhuman Registration Act. This led to the shooting of May Parker. Spider-Man retaliated by brutally beating Fisk, promising to kill him if he ever threatened his family again.

Vanessa Fisk came into contact with Murdock, on the run in Europe from his own legal issues, and arranged for the lawyer to take on Wilson’s legal battle. She passed away shortly after, and Matt Murdock aided his nemesis. He had all charges dropped, but on the condition that Fisk was exiled from America. Fisk agreed, and went to visit the grave of his wife.

When Daredevil took control of the Hand and established the supernatural prison, Shadowland, Wilson Fisk saw this as a new opportunity to strike at his foe. He returned to America and began working against Daredevil, leading Luke Cage and Iron Fist to challenge the Hand as well as summoning the Ghost Rider to go after Daredevil. When Daredevil was defeated by his former comrades, Fisk took control of the Hand.

Fisk next hired Hobgoblin to steal an experimental metal from Horizon Labs, a company that employed none other than Peter Parker (whom had since wiped the knowledge of his secret identity from the world through a deal with Mephisto). Spider-Man and Black Cat pursued the metal and destroyed the sample. The resulting explosion brought down Fisk Tower.

He ran into conflict with Spider-Man once again (this time the “superior” incarnation that was in reality the mind of Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body). The Web-Head attacked Shadowland and destroyed the Hand’s base of operations in New York. Fisk went underground once again and faked his own death.

He resurfaced in San Francisco, where Daredevil had relocated in the interest of soul-searching and starting a new law firm. This new ploy involved using the Owl as a human computer processor, Lady Bullseye, and Ikari to manipulate Matt Murdock through his loved ones, Foggy Nelson and Kirsten McDuffie. He also took advantage of the crazed vigilante, the Shroud, whom ended up killing Ikari. Daredevil was able to gain the upper hand once more and defeated the Kingpin.

In the new world that formed after the new Secret Wars, Wilson Fisk has established a company called Fisk Industries and has regained his wealth once again. He has shown himself to still be interested in criminality by using the Inhuman, Janus, to avoid the premonitions of Ulysses, whom has made it difficult for the criminal faction. Kingpin has used this advantage to set up a number of new criminal allegiances and his new plays remain to be seen.

He has a new solo series aptly called, Kingpin, set to be released in coming months. Of course, I’ll let you know how that is here, as I will most certainly be trying it.

Wilson Fisk is a man who started in rags and made himself into a proper emperor. He has used ruthlessness and brute strength, but he also believes that intellect is the greatest weapon. He is not without the capacity for love, being more committed to his now-deceased wife, Vanessa, more than anyone else. He has also shown something of a code of honor, almost always living up to his end of bargains and not killing when it is unnecessary.

Admittedly, Vincent D’Onofrio’s superb performance as Wilson Fisk in Netflix’s Daredevil series is part of what has drew me to the character originally. He brought the character to life in a manner that I had never seen before. However, it was Fisk’s intrigue, intelligence, and determination in the comics that maintained my love of the character. He’s a ruthless and terrifying crime lord, and this is what earns Kingpin the position as my 6th favorite Marvel Villain of all time.

Daredevil #9

Daredevil #9

A dash of trouble in the larger Chinese metropolitan area

Charles Soule (W), Goran Sudzuka (A), Matt Milla (CA)

Cover by: Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

One thing before we get rolling: this book has been out for a couple of weeks now. Usually, I wouldn’t review it that long after release, but my local comic shop received damaged copies of the book. Consequently, it took me longer to get a hold of this issue. I still want to talk about this book though, so I hope you’ll forgive the tardiness of this review.

Charles Soule is a writer that had a tough challenge thrown in front of him when he signed on to write Daredevil. He had to follow Mark Waid’s now-legendary run on the book. Waid left quite the footsteps to follow.

The creative team made a smart move right off the bat when they decided to take the book back to its grittier past. Waid’s book was a bit more upbeat and high-flying than Daredevil has been historically. The character of Matt Murdock was chattier and more openly charismatic than he usually is. To try to emulate that tone and style would have seemed unoriginal for Soule and the rest of the creative team.

However, they also made a couple of missteps along the way since then. Namely the series has had a lack of Foggy Nelson, they brought back the concept of Daredevil having a secret identity. The former of those is an issue because Foggy is easily one of the most endearing supporting characters in comic book history. The latter is an issue because of the challenges that Daredevil having a public identity posed for the character. It added a new dimension to his super hero career, and it also showed growth and change in the story dynamics. Change is something that’s pretty rare in mainstream comic books, and it was nice having that in this book. That being said, it has been made into a plot point in the first few stories of the series, so perhaps Daredevil’s identity will be public again before too long.

Has this run of Daredevil been as good as the previous one? Eh…no, not really, but it has been a solid series nonetheless, and I’ve enjoyed it.

The current story has brought ole-Hornhead to China in search of information. In the previous issue, he defeated a telepath in a game of poker at a casino which allowed him access to the upper floors of the building. There is a briefcase containing the information he needs on the top floor.

After reaching his upper floor suite, Daredevil contacted Spider-Man to aid him in this effort. After meeting up, Spider-Man and Daredevil break into the top floor suite where the man with the important briefcase is located. The man escapes in the ensuing brawl. DD and Web-Head track him to Hong Kong using a tracer Spider-Man put on the briefcase.

Upon locating the man again, Spider-Man and Daredevil ambush him and his men. This time, Spider-Man manages to snag the briefcase while Daredevil finishes the man’s thugs.

On the roof, Spider-Man refuses to hand over the briefcase, as he has noticed that he is missing some of his memories with Daredevil. This is disconcerting to Spider-Man, as the two have had a long history of collaborating. Daredevil admits to Spider-Man that he did something to remove the memory of his secret identity from the world as a part of a plot to bring down a bunch of powerful gangsters, including Kingpin, Black Cat, the Maggia, and others. The briefcase holds information necessary to enacting this plan. This satisfies Spider-Man and he hands over the briefcase.

This issue is probably my favorite of the series thus far. The pacing is fast, the action is fun, and the dialogue between Daredevil and Spider-Man is endlessly entertaining. These are two heroes with a long history of working together, and they act like it. Daredevil is even willing to fire a few quips back at the notoriously fast-talking Spider-Man, and this really makes their relationship believable.

The art is really good too. It really solidifies the noire feel that this book is going for, even if most noire-esque stories don’t happen in China. This comic and its art make it work.

This comic also really benefits off its own simplicity. There is the goal: the briefcase. There are the players: Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the Chinese Triads. It flows smoothly from there. The comic essentially goes dialogue, fight scene, dialogue, fight scene, dialogue. The dialogue is so enjoyable and the fight scenes are so kinetic that it all just works.

It also advances the backstory with Daredevil mind-wiping everyone of his secret identity too. The briefcase has information about it. There, you have your plot advancement. It seems like such a simple play, but it kept me from feeling impatient about that story. Plus, of course, you have the tidbit at the end about Daredevil doing this as a part of his own plot to bring down the big bad criminals of the world.

This series is not its predecessor. It’s not trying to be its predecessor. Charles Soule is out to tell grittier Daredevil stories with a darker tone than Mark Waid. He wants to make his stamp on the DD legacy, not merely recreate someone else’s. That’s respectable, and he’s done a fine job so far. Give this book a chance, and, if nothing else, buy this issue. It’s truly great.

Final Score: 9/10

A Discussion on Daredevil/The Punisher 

A History of Daredevil