Marvel’s latest event comes to an end this week as Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto wrap up their Kingpin takeover story. Devil’s Reign #5 left us on some of the splashiest action yet, but the climax only just begins today in the finale.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Kingpin has used the Purple Man to sway voters so he won’t be voted out as New York mayor. The superheroes have caught wind of this, well the ones who haven’t been mind-controlled, and are hellbent on stopping him. Kingpin has made it a law you must be registered to fight crime in New York, which has caused most superheroes to be illegally operating. Largely though, this is a story about Daredevil facing off against Kingpin, and after Kingpin killed Daredevil’s twin brother, the gloves are off.
The name of the game in this issue is payoff for all the setup, such as Doc Ock’s role in the story and Elektra’s newfound love of Daredevil. The heroes are fighting for something they believe in and both sides seem equally strong. Checchetto and Marcio Menyz offer up a heaping dose of superhero action with many characters getting to punch, kick, and quip throughout the issue. Of all the issues in this series, this one feels the biggest, most blockbuster-event caliber.
While subplots are wrapped up, the story’s A-plot of Daredevil vs. Kingpin gets much more focus. Knowing full well Daredevil is relaunching in June, expect some confrontations to spill into new directions for characters. Longtime Daredevil fans will enjoy the Kingpin fight scene, especially with Elektra fighting by Daredevil’s side. Zdarsky has put Matt Murdock in a position where his rage and emotion are getting the better of him, which plays into the series’ themes of control.
Fight scenes are all well and good, but what about character-changing moments? Surprisingly, this issue lacks a clear sense of how this event changed Daredevil. Kingpin, on the other hand, is much more affected by the events and he actually steals the show. In the final few pages, there’s a major choice to be made, a sort of a happy ending, and some relevant work done in regards to Kingpin’s family. It’s somewhat funny he ends up getting a happy sort of ending given he was the main antagonist, but he’s sent off in a new direction at least.
There are a couple of things that don’t add up or could have used more explanation. Elektra stopping a car by throwing herself into the windshield, for instance, somehow doesn’t hurt her. Daredevil catches up to Kingpin for their showdown way too easily. How does Luke Cage help defeat Purple Man in the end? I assume willpower and accepting some of the power attack on himself, but it’s unclear.
Ultimately your enjoyment of this issue will depend on how much you’ve enjoyed the ride to get here. The series always had a slightly “been there done that” feel since it follows a similar premise to Civil War, i.e. illegal superheroes. Devil’s Reign never quite feels like a universe-changing event, though, with lower stakes and a general feel as a chapter in Zdarsky and Checchetto’s excellent Daredevil run. For that reason, this series ends on a note that is incredible if you’ve liked their run but leaves you wanting if you’re looking for more.
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