The penultimate issue of Marvel’s event series Devil’s Reign is out this week, and Kingpin may be losing his cool. He’s outlawed any unsanctioned superhero work and aims to reveal Daredevil’s secret identity. The reason he wants to reveal it? Because he knows deep down he used to know it, but now doesn’t. In this fifth issue, the heroes take the fight to Kingpin’s Thunderbolts, and a major death takes place that shifts things in Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto’s ongoing Daredevil saga.
The series has lacked big splashy moments, but that’s not the case with this issue. The issue opens with Kingpin finding out where the Purple Man’s kids are and allowing his strike team to rush in, civilians in harm’s way be damned. Enter Jessica Jones, Spider-Man, Ironheart, Nova, and Ms. Marvel to tell the Thunderbolts they can’t kidnap children. Later in the issue, there’s an epic double-page splash that will have readers lingering for some time. Checchetto reminds us we should be in awe of these heroes.
This issue also helps move the chess pieces around with a heavy focus on Mike Murdock. He plays a key function with Kingpin’s son but also is a target of Kingpin. It was a bold choice to make this character actually real as opposed to a figment of Matt’s imagination in the ’90s. What transpires here is not only a bold choice for the character but a bold choice for Zdarsky’s run.
There also seems to be a kind of statement being made about the high-flying nature of superheroes. They’re loud, draw our attention, and may not be as effective as one might think. You see it directly with Jessica Jones, who ends up taking a major L in the issue. This series has felt incredibly political, showing how conversations in quiet rooms have more impact than punching supervillains in the face. That’s evident by how the action plays off major moves made. It also suits the nature of Zdarsky and Checchetto’s run on Daredevil.
There are also some interesting developments around Doc Ock that are intriguing. It’s unclear how the actions in this issue might change him, but he’s certainly taken a lump here that may change his point of view.
If you’re unfamiliar with Mike Murdock you might find this issue middling, though. There hasn’t been a lot done to build up the character and, customary of serial storytelling, you’ll need to read previous Daredevil issues to feel the weight of the moment. Given he’s a kind of clone or copy of Matt it’s also a bit harder to feel for him in this issue.
If the art in this issue made a statement, it’s how good art and color (by Marcio Menyz) can make a chaotic scene come to life. Little bits of rubble always seem to be flying around heroes like Miles Morales or a smartly positioned blur effect above the characters as drones move about adds depth to a panel. Checchetto doesn’t skimp on details behind characters, either, and there’s a great use of color to bring out key figures away from the tall buildings behind them. If you ever needed a comic to show you how a dust-up can create a distinct look in action, this is it.
Devil’s Reign #5 is a great penultimate issue as it brings big splashy superhero moments to the forefront while evil dealings in closed-off rooms take place. There seems to be a statement being made here about superheroes being loud and ineffective while true justice remains unseen where it matters most.
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