Marvel’s latest big event, Devil’s Reign, is over. While we still have Devil’s Reign: Omega that will explore the direct aftermath of the event the main story is over. Having rated Devil’s Reign very highly in all my reviews I wanted to take a look back at everything that Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Marcio Menyz accomplished with their big event. As the six-issue event concluded we saw major developments that could play a larger role in the Marvel Universe in the future by various creative teams. Let’s dive into see what happened during Devil’s Reign and what I could mean for the future of the Marvel Universe.
DEVIL’S REIGN CREATIVE TEAM
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Marcio Menyz
Main Comic Books: Devil’s Reign #1 to Devil’s Reign #6
Key Tie-In Comic Books: Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #1 to Daredevil: Woman Without Fear #3
Devil’s Reign is a continuation of Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Marcio Menyz’s run on Daredevil. The three worked on all six issues of Devil’s Reign together. The event went on for five months, starting Dec. 9th, 2021 to April 6th, 2022, making the fact that we did not see any other art team or writer step in to help Zdarsky, Checchetto, and Menyz. It is truly impressive that we didn’t ever go more than a month between issues and the quality was always reached the high expectations Zdarsky, Checchetto, and Menyz have set as a creative team.
You can check out my individual reviews with full recaps of the events for all six issues of Devil’s Reign at the following links:
WILSON FISK WAR WITH MARVEL SUPERHEROES
Devil’s Reign was the culmination of a storyline that has been ongoing since 2017’s Secret Empire where Wilson Fisk used his resources to protect people in New York City during Captain Hydra’s reign. Thanks to what he did during Secret Empire Wilson Fisk was able to turn his new popularity into a successful campaign to become Mayor of New York City. As part of his platform during his campaign that was carried over into his time as Mayor of New York City, Wilson Fisk pushed an anti-vigilante agenda that targeted Marvel’s superhero community. Which is what Devil’s Reign brought Fisk’s agenda to the breaking point as he instituted by establishing The Powers Act at the beginning of the event.
It was quite the statement to make that immediately brought Civil War’s Superhuman Registration Act into mind when Wilson Fisk made the announcement. The difference between Superhuman Registration Act and The Powers Act was that it was only instituted to New York City with all forms of vigilantism being made illegal and the only official “heroes” working for the Wilson Fisk controlled Thunderbolts. In many ways The Powers Act was a much more refined version of Superhuman Registration Act as it did not leave room for the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Defenders, or X-Men any room to think there were sides to pick.
This immediately set Wilson Fisk and his entire regime as the pure antagonists of Devil’s Reign. To Zdarsky, Checchetto, and Menyz, early on, they used the charisma that Wilson Fisk has shown throughout his time as Mayor of New York City to make The Powers Act appear as to be for the people. Having this perception made the actions Fisk took, either personally or through the Thunderbolts, elevate him as an untouchable villain. Not until Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios’ Daredevils confronted Fisk in the final issue were the heroes ever able to get close to Fisk.
In the end it was Fisk own hubris that he was untouchable that was his downfall. He allowed his current power to fuel his anger behind killing who he thought was Matt Murdock but was really Mike Murdock posing as his brother. This action ultimately is what led Fisk into a spot where, as a person and character plots are written around, is retired for the time being. He hit the highest of highs that sailing off was all the was left. In its own way it was a satisfying conclusion for a character arc that has been developing for over five years.
MARVEL HEROES UNITED
Making Fisk an even more unconventional final boss of a big event was the fact that the Avengers and other heroes couldn’t just directly fight him. Especially early on in Devil’s Reign we saw Captain America and the others try to think of more official ways to take down Fisk. This approach made good use of similar events from the past, like both Civil War events, to back up why there was nonstop fighting. The heroes were all on the defensive until they were able to figure out what they should do next.
It was honestly refreshing to see that the heroes of the Marvel Universe weren’t pitted against each other for a big event. That’s become common place with Marvel big events that Devil’s Reign not going that route actually felt new. This allowed the lines not to be blurred as Devil’s Reign was very straight forward with who the heroes and villains of the story were. Even previous heroes that were found working for Fisk’s Thuderbolts were well explained with the development of how Fisk was using Purple Man’s power.
By going with this direction Zdarsky, Checchetto, and Menyz were able to focus on how our heroes would overcome everything Fisk has done. They were had their backs to the wall as the Thunderbolts were able to arrest major heroes like Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Iron Fist, and Ben Reilly’s Spider-Man. These actions made the heroes be even more united as they actively worked to get Luke Cage voted as the new Mayor of New York City while creating counter measures against Purple Man.
All of that culminated in the heroes finally striking back in a big Avengers Assemble moment. Seeing all the heroes rush in to stop the Fisk-controlled Thunderbolts, Superior Four, and Purple Man is what you want from a big event. It all showcased how having the superhero community united to stop a major evil truly elevates a big event compared to when its just a bunch of infighting.
DAREDEVIL ULTIMATE DECISION
While the Avengers were a major part of the story the main driving force for the heroes was Matt Murdock. Everything that happened in Devil’s Reign came down to the never ending battle between Matt Murdock’s Daredevil and Wilson Fisk. In the lead-up to Devil’s Reign we found out that a major thing fueling Wilson Fisk’s anti-vigilante stance was the realization that his knowledge of who Daredevil is was taken from him. This goes back to the Purple Man’s children making the world forget that Matt Murdock is Daredevil, much like the Mephisto deal for Spider-Man.
To the credit of Zdarsky and the rest of his team’s run on Daredevil we saw how Matt understood he couldn’t take down Wilson Fisk alone. Fisk had grown to powerful at this point that the one-man army Daredevil is wouldn’t be enough. Seeing Matt actually working with the Avengers made his normal solo hero actions stand out even more. You saw through Checchetto and Menyz’s artwork how Matt wasn’t used to working in a team. Which made him working with the Avengers and others stand out as a major character development.
It also made the moment when Matt allowed his anger over learning that Fisk killed Mike Murdock stand out even more. There was no communication to the other heroes about going after Fisk. He simply left as he went back to being the solo hero while the Avengers and others dealt with Thunderbolts, Superior Four, and Purple Man. While the motivations were understandable the way Daredevil did it was what spoke to him being a solo hero at heart.
That all further set-up how the final battle with Wilson Fisk did have a sense of everything that Zdarsky, Checchetto, Menyz’s run has been building towards. The fight was absolutely brutal with neither Matt nor Fisk holding anything back. It was once again an area where the artwork really stood out as telling the story simply by the character expressions. Even when the punches had their own power behind them it was how the characters looked that told the story.
Which all ended with Matt being left with the ultimate decision if he would cross the line by killing Fisk. Setting this decision with a crowd of people recording the entire fight on their phones further emphasized the importance of the choice that Elektra explained was Matt’s to make. Which made Matt realize he needed to be the hero he has always been driven for Daredevil to symbolize an important character moment.
NEW YORK CITY MAYOR LUKE CAGE
One of the major developments in Devil’s Reign that should not be overlooked, especially those who are fans of Marvel’s street-level titles, is Luke Cage becoming Mayor of New York City. We saw with Wilson Fisk time in the position that a lot can be done with whoever is the Mayor of the city where a large chunk of Marvel’s superheroes operate. Especially with Wilson in that role for five years we got a full scope how to leverage that position to be important to the Marvel Universe.
In that journey to become Mayor of New York City we saw why Luke Cage is the right person to become Mayor of New York City. By the end of his time in the role Wilson Fisk became an oppressive leader who used Purple Man’s powers, Thunderbolts, and advance tech to control New York City. On the opposite end we saw Luke step up to make the type of speeches that motivate people to stand up. He ran on a strong platform that spoke to the communities of the city. He then showed his strength as a leader in his ultimate decision to have faith in Purple Man’s son not being like his father. It was a strong moment the solidified why Luke is the right man to be the Mayor of New York City.
Luke is now set-up to be one of the more important characters in the Marvel Universe who could appear in multiple titles a month as either a co-lead or supporting character. Especially with titles like Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, and Daredevil relaunching soon we could see Luke be a presence in those titles. That is along with other current ongoing such as Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and other titles being based in New York City giving plenty of opportunity for Luke Cage to be showcased as a leader in his new role of Mayor. Hopefully that is what we see happen as there is plenty of potential with this development.
When all was said and done Devil’s Reign is one of the better big events that Marvel has published in the last few years. Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Marcio Menyz’s created a lot of phenomenal moments that were based on their run on Daredevil. Along with that there were a lot of great moments for characters that weren’t part of their Daredevil work that stood out as well. Characters like Sue Storm and Luke Cage were given major, standout moments and developments. Combining that with how compelling of a villain Wilson Fisk was throughout Devil’s Reign this was a major win for Marvel. Now as we see the dust settle there is a ton of potential for where the Marvel Universe could go from here.