Marvel’s latest blockbuster event is here just as we are about to close out 2021. With the latest big event starting at the end of the year Devil’s Reign could set the stage for how things in the Marvel Universe will turn out. That alone makes this immediately go from just being the latest chapter in the Daredevil vs Wilson Fisk Saga to something even greater. From everything that not only Chip Zdarsky but Mark Waid and Charles Soule built before him on Daredevil this event centered around Wilson Fisk has been brewing for a long time. Everything Fisk has built since becoming Mayor of New York culminates with Devil’s Reign. What does this mean for the Marvel Universe as a whole? Let’s find out with Devil’s Reign #1.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Two weeks ago the Stromwyns are shown deciding to make Wilson Fisk’s Mayor tenure even more interesting with their Political Futures Group.
One week ago, somewhere in New York City, Daredevil and Mayor Wilson Fisk have a tense meeting with Fisk angry that the secret files holding Daredevil’s identity are completely blank. Fisk says he knows something is wrong with this and demands to know Daredevil’s identity. Daredevil takes off saying its called a secret identity for a reason.
In the present, Mayor Fisk holds a press conference outside New York City Hall. Fisk speaks on how superheroes hold themselves above the law but that stops now with The Powers Act he has drafted with various lawmakers. Fisk saws this law will be an extension of the Kamala Law to charge any form of vigilantism as a threat.
As Fisk walks away Mary Walker (Typhoid Mary) asks her husband if this is a good idea with the heroes likely fighting this. Fisk accepts that challenge.
After The Powers Act announcement Tony Stark, Storm, and various others comment on the matter. During the news coverage it is unveiled that the Thunderbolts Unit has been mobilized to handle superhuman threats.
Somewhere in New York City, Moon Knight is fighting the Thunderbolts Unit that has tried to arrest him but fail to do so. U.S. Agent, Rhino, Agony, and Electro (Francine Frye) show up as members of the Thunderbolts Unit and quickly overwhelm Moon Knight.
Elsewhere in New York, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is assisting firefighters by helping people escape from a burning building. Captain America joins to help with the rescue efforts.
Suddenly members of the Thunderbolts Unit tase Spider-Man and arrest him while others ask Captain America to surrender. Captain America throws his shield at the Thunderbolt agents arresting Spider-Man and quickly starts fighting.
Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) and the Daredevils (Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios) show up to back Captain America and Spider-Man up. As more Thunderbolt Unit reinforcements start arriving the heroes decide to go underground.
Once they reach a bunker-like area, Daredevil reveals that this all kicked off because of Fisk’s obsession to learn his secret identity. He goes on to say he had the Purple Man’s children cause the world to forget his secret identity and put into place for people to never learn it.
Captain America says that something like The Powers Act was bound to happen with Fisk in power. Captain America goes on to say he won’t let a tyrant tell him he can’t protect people and they will show the mayor their strength to never give up.
Over at the Baxter Building, agents working for the Thunderbolts Unit arrive to investigate the possible weapons of mass destruction the Fantastic Four are holding. Reed and Sue Richards attempt to argue the case but before they do Doctor Octopus, who is also working for the Thunderbolts Unit, places power dampening collars on the Richards. Doctor Octopus reveals he knows what Reed has in the Baxter Building and he has authorization to arrest the Fantastic Four.
Sue fights back in order to send a message to the Thing, Human Torch, and Franklin and Valerie Richards to escape. As agents of the Thunderbolts Unit show up the Thing and Human Torch take Franklin and Valerie to safety in the Fantasti-Car.
In another part of New York while out with their daughter (Dani Jones-Cage) Luke Cage and Jessica Jones notices a bus toppling over onto another car. Luke and Jessica work quickly to get the driver to safety.
Shocker, an agent of the Thunderbolts Unit, suddenly appears with Darkhawk arrested and tells Luke and Jessica to stand down and hand themselves over. Luke quickly destroys the power dampeners. Shocker unleashes a blast that destroys part of the street. Jessica moves to defend the people on the streets from the debris.
Luke then goes to fight Shocker while Jessica deals with agents of the Thunderbolts Unit. Luke and Jessica are able to win the fight, which is being recorded by people.
Noticing that they are still being recorded Luke makes a speech that Fisk new law is just one step in his plan to control everyone. Luke says if he sees people in trouble he will not hesitate to help because that is what New Yorkers do.
Elsewhere, Fisk visits the current Kingpin of Crime, Butch Pharris. Fisk says The Powers Act will make Butch’s job as Kingpin. Butch yells that he doesn’t care as even if Fisk fails he will still run this town as Kingpin. Fisk says the coming months will show Butch his motives. He then walks out while saying “Be well…Son.”
After Fisk leaves, Mike Murdock comes out of hiding freaked out thinking Fisk was going to kill Butch. Butch says he thought Fisk would leave him along after Richard Fisk was brought back to life. Mike says with how Butch has quickly risen to power they just need to make sure Wilson Fisk wins his election.
Over at Luke and Jessica’s apartment they pack their things and meet Tony Stark outside. Tony says they have to take Fisk down legitimately which is why he is planning to run for Mayor of New York City.
Inside the Baxter Building, Doctor Octopus calls Fisk to inform him he found the gate to the Negative Zone.
Fisk then finds his package from Doctor Octopus arriving in his lab. Fisk dismisses everyone in the room to speak with a locked up Purple Man in private.
Fisk reveals all the secret files he has amassed of his allies and enemies with all the information about them. He goes on to say that with now being in his endgame he is just giving these files away. Fisk then mentions that Purple Man’s files being mysteriously empty.
The container holding Purple Man suddenly opens. When Purple Man tries to escape Fisk quickly grabs him and starts beating Purple Man to death.
Elsewhere the Stromwyns are shown preparing, with the Political Futures Group, the campaign for to make Wilson Fisk a candidate for President of the United States. End of issue.
The Good: If you ever needed an example of how to kick off an event with the hottest start possible look no further than Devil’s Reign #1. This issue is everything you want from how the stage is set for a big event from Marvel. There is absolutely no messing around with what Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto successfully accomplish with Devil’s Reign #1.
One of the more impressive things about Devil’s Reign #1 is how Zdarsky and Checchetto learn from the strengths and weaknesses of past Marvel events. I’m not sure if that is their intentions coming into Devil’s Reign but that is a feeling that this entire issue gives of. There is a build where characters are shown understanding what is going on because they’ve experienced similar events like with Civil War and Siege. Having this small attention to detail is something as a fan that did experience those events I appreciate what statement is made by Devil’s Reign #1 even more.
That is something that is shown throughout Devil’s Reign #1 with how the different superheroes respond to Wilson Fisk’s announcement and execution of The Powers Act. This isn’t something like the Superhuman Registration Act that is dividing the superhero community. Rather, our heroes know exactly what the endgame is for The Powers Act and are presenting a united front in opposition for it.
The important thing about the way Captain America, the Spider-Men, Daredevils, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Man are presented is not just being a new Rebel Alliance. Their defiance of the law simply comes from them continuing to do what they do best: help people in need. There is no big scandal over what our heroes are doing. Presenting things in this way firmly establishes how we have a true hero vs villain story rather than a bunch of shades of grey.
Framing the heroes to show them saving people from various disasters also helps to strengthen the two big speeches that Captain America and Luke Cage make in this issue. While both hit similar tones they work to accomplish two different things. With Captain America it is more about rallying the heroes so there is a unified front. Even calling out how this is more than just about the latest chapter of Daredevil vs Wilson Fisk was important. Because while Daredevil and Wilson Fisk are at the core of this event the impact of The Powers Act and other choices made affects everyone.
This speech by Captain America also helps to strengthen Daredevil’s own role in the story. While the other heroes are certainly going to play a huge role in this story Daredevil will be one of the driving forces of what is going on. Zdarsky makes each action, whether in the flashbacks or present day scenes, show that Daredevil’s decision will be something to constantly keep an eye on as things develop in Devil’s Reign.
We also see how with Luke Cage’s speech has possibly an even greater impact on what we on the immediate fallout of The Powers Act announcement. Because during Luke Cage and Jessica Jones fight against Shocker and the Thunderbolts Unit it was shown to the public that Wilson Fisk’s regime is out of control. It being caught on people’s phones emphasized this fact. Which made Luke’s speech have an even greater impact as he is not just speaking for superheroes but the people of New York. That is were the importance of calling himself a New Yorker is key as it invokes the community feel so many in the city feel.
How Wilson Fisk responds to all of this going on should be very interesting. Because as things end in Devil’s Reign #1 Fisk is fully confident that his endgame has not been disrupted. The confidence he exudes throughout this issue that his endgame is going as planned does make you believe in him as the big bad of this event. Translating that confidence to how dangerous he comes across during the final scene with Purple Man just solidifies his status as the main villain of the story.
Adding in that his Thunderbolts Unit includes villains like Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Electro, and Shocker just further emphasizes the sides that are clearly drawn between our protagonists and antagonists. Most of the Thunderbolts Unit being made up of Spider-Man villains was a nice touch as it is a reminder that Wilson Fisk is part of Daredevil and Spider-Man rogues gallery. The Thunderbolts also getting some wins like defeating Moon Knight and Doctor Octopus taking over the Baxter Building makes it so we see that both sides of the conflict in Devil’s Reign are even.
Concluding Devil’s Reign #1 with not just Tony Stark throwing his hat in the ring to possibly become the Mayor of New York but plans in place for Wilson Fisk’s Presidential candidacy was a nice touch. Now we have even greater political intrigue as one hero tries to enter the political game the other side tops his announcement. Wilson Fisk possibly running for President of the United States also places even greater urgency in our heroes taking down the current Mayor of New York City so he doesn’t gain even more power.
Marco Checchetto’s artwork throughout Devil’s Reign #1 is excellent. Throughout his time on Daredevil Checchetto showed he can carry big moments and Devil’s Reign #1 is filled with that. The complexities of big moments like Miles Morales’ forcefully being arrested while Captain America is asked nicely to surrender worked because of how Checchetto drew the scene with Marcio Menyz coloring adding that other layer of detail. All of the action was also well done to make a clear distinction between our heroes helping people and the villains complete authoritarian disregard as part of the Thunderbolts Unit. All these things help make Devil’s Reign be presented as the big event it is advertised to be.
The Bad: The only thing that keeps Devil’s Reign #1 from being a masterpiece is the scenes with Kingpin Butch Pharris and Mike Murdock. What Zdarsky was trying to accomplish with Wilson Fisk and Butch’s meeting and Mike Murdock coming of hiding was all a continuation of their story from his Daredevil run. Unfortunately its these scenes were the continuity of Zdarsky’s Daredevil run may lose readers are coming into Devil’s Reign not reading that story. And honestly, even as someone who read and loved Zdarskty’s Daredevil run these scenes with Butch and Mike were largely forgettable even with full context of what was going on.
Overall: Devil’s Reign #1 gives Marvel’s latest big event as hot of a start as you can get. Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto absolutely delivery a fun and complex read as Wilson Fisk executes his ultimate endgame on the Marvel Universe. The way both Marvel’s superheroes and villains respond to Wilson Fisk’s announcement creates a lot of excitement and intrigue into how things will go down in Devil’s Reign. This is certainly one Marvel event not to miss out on.
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