Devil’s Reign has been as chaotic as you would think it would be as Wilson Fisk has introduced his own version of the Superhero Registration Act in his war against Marvel’s superheroes. Things looked to be completely against the superheroes as their desperate strike against Wilson Fisk had them face off against the powerful Superior Four of the Multiverse led by Doctor Otto Octavius. Along with that Fisk is also making moves to show his power through taking on more of the power of the Purple Man and unleashing his Thunderbolts to keep everyone in check. How will things go next? Let’s find out with Devil’s Reign #4.
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 after the Avengers loss against the Superior Four New York City is overrun by Mayor Wilson Fisk’s Thunderbolts agents and drones keeping everyone in check.
At the Mayor’s office Doctor Otto Octavius drops off some of Fisk’s opponents while snakingly complimenting Fisk’s use of Purple Man’s powers to have the city crime free. Wilson Fisk questions why Doc Ock hasn’t rebelled against him. Doc Ock says he is more interested in making the world better and safer and is using Reed Richards multiverse tech for his own means. Before leaving Doc Ock mentions that Fisk’s son (Butch Pharris) has been arrested.
Elsewhere Matt Murdock as Daredevil checks on Foggy Nelson’s condition at the hospital. Their meeting is interrupted when Matt senses Mike Murdock approaching. Putting on his Daredevil mask Matt confronts Mike to make things clear he is not interested in Mike selfish antics.
Kirsten McDuffie shows up and Matt opens up about worrying about his “Second Death” coming for him and is thinking of killing Wilson Fisk.
Elsewhere Fisk orders the Thunderbolts to find Purple Man’s children.
Over at The Myrmidon Prison, Sue Storm leads Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Danny Rand, and Moon Knight in a breakout at the prison.
Over at an NYPD precinct, Butch is let go thanks to his dad’s help. Butch shows no respect to Wilson Fisk, even spitting in his dad’s face, before walking off.
Elsewhere the Champions are fighting Rhino. During the fight Rhino reveals he actually wants to work with the Champions and provides them with Thunderbolt badges to conceal themselves from Doc Ock’s drones. When questioned why he would help them Rhino says he is not on board with Fisk’s plans to go after kids.
Later, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) tells the Avengers about what he learned from Rhino about Fisk targeting Purple Man’s kids. Jessica Jones tells Spider-Man that she is going to lead the Champions to find Purple Man’s kids first.
Over at Fisk’s home, Mary Walker finds Wilson sitting alone at the fireplace. Wilson admits to not knowing why he can’t stop being hungry for power and revenge. Wilson then says that his love for Mary has helped him discover a new power fueling him. As they both reflect on wishing to remember the first time they make love Wilson’s Purple Man staff suddenly activates to cause them both to regain their lost memories.
Wilson freaks out and rushes to the rooftop. Alone on the roof Wilson uses the staff to remember Daredevil’s identity. It works and an angry Wilson Fisk says Matt Murdock’s name. End of issue.
The Good: With each passing issue Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto have found a way to continue to escalate things so Devil’s Reign always reaches a new level. Devil’s Reign #4 was yet another excellent example of the success Zdarsky and Checchetto are finding with the latest Marvel event. The story feels like an aftermath issue to the events of how the first half of Devil’s Reign concluded and quickly established how the second half of the event will go.
Opening Devil’s Reign #4 two weeks after the events of the previous issue was well done. Matt Murdock’s walk through New York City was able to deliver on setting up what the current vibe in New York City is since we last checked in. Checchetto’s artwork in particularly worked very well in making you feel how time has passed so the status quo of the city has changed with Wilson Fisk’s Thunderbolts and Doctor Otto Octavius’ drones having the city locked down.
This opening nicely transitioned into the tense meeting between Wilson Fisk and Doctor Otto Octavius. Given how things went in Devil’s Reign #3 it was great to see Zdarsky had Doc Ock adjust his plans after he had spent more time using Reed Richards technology. Doc Ock showing that his plans go beyond New York City to the whole world is a great way to transition the villain to be an even bigger threat while still working with Fisk. It sets up the possibility of Doc Ock being in contention for most dangerous Marvel villain even after Devil’s Reign is over.
For Wilson Fisk’s part, Zdarsky did a great job in continuing to showcase how even though he is driven by his lust for power and revenge, specifically on Daredevil, there is deep love in his heart. When it comes to love we see that when it comes to those he considers family, which in this case are his wife Mary Walker and son Butch Pharris. The relationship with Butch is shown to be as complicated as ever. Things are clearly even more complicated now that in Wilson Fisk goal to control everything has brought him against Butch’s own goals as Kingpin. Butch showing his father no respect even after being helped out from being sent to prison does well to set up the character as possibly playing a role in Wilson Fisk’s downfall.
On the Mary Walker side of things Zdarsky is able to show us an even more human side of Fisk. Everything about being the tough politician or Kingpin is dropped as he is simply Wilson Fisk around Mary. It’s works to get over how Wilson and Mary’s marriage is a meaningful thing for both of them. Even when their memories return we don’t suddenly see them breakaway out of trauma. Instead, at least for Mary, it strengthens the love they have.
This all goes to make Wilson Fisk going all in on using the power of the Purple Man to discover Daredevil’s identity an even more powerful moment. We knew that discovering Matt Murdock is Daredevil again would be the moment when Devil’s Reign would move towards the endgame. That is exactly the feeling that Zdarsky and Checchetto gave us with the way Wilson Fisk said Matt’s name. The entire design of the final splash page along with invoking the words of Born Again elevated this ending for Devil’s Reign #4. You get the feeling that the superheroes are now in even more trouble than ever before.
Speaking of, while they were forced into hiding for most of Devil’s Reign #4 it never felt like the heroes were out of it when it comes to how things are going in this event. They needed to stop being rash about their actions, especially with the humiliating defeat they suffered against the Superior Four. At the same time they could not just sit around waiting for a chance at another strike. They have to hit things on multiple fronts. Which is why Jessica Jones stepping up to lead the Champions to find Purple Man’s children worked. This is one angle that the heroes can turn things around while still leaving the other Avengers to work on other plans.
Adding in Rhino turning traitor to accelerate our heroes into action was a great use of the character’s history. While Rhino has certainly gotten back to his villain roots the sense of honor the character has been shown to have is still there. Going after kids as Fisk sent the Thunderbolts to capture Purple Man’s children made Rhino turning traitor work because of that previous character work in Amazing Spider-Man and Miles Morales: Spider-Man.
This was timed well with Invisible Woman leading a prison breakout with the other imprisoned heroes at Myrmidon. Showing that Invisible Woman actually waited the two weeks to go with the prison breakout is good long term planning on her part. Because she could’ve easily broken out before but needed to create a plan first. This move shows that our heroes aren’t completely out of it when it comes to overcoming whatever Fisk will throw at them.
All that said, Devil’s Reign #4 did set-up Matt Murdock’s Daredevil to possibly be the biggest wild card of them all for this event. We didn’t see him working with the Avengers like he was in the first three issues. Zdarsky purposely had Matt out on his own as Daredevil. The meeting with Foggy Nelson, Mike Murdock, and Kirsten McDuffie all showed us how he is now striking out on his own. And in striking out on his own Matt is considering killing Wilson Fisk as his only option to put an end to things. Which spices things up even more given how Devil’s Reign #4 ended with Fisk learning Daredevil’s identity again.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Devil’s Reign #4 is another stellar chapter in what is quickly becoming one of Marvel’s best events. Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto have continued to show a great sense of how to continuously escalate the scale of Devil’s Reign so the story keeps reaching a higher level. The developments in this issue create even greater anticipation for reading the final two issues of this event.