Anyone who has ever read a Daredevil comic or a Spider-Man story, or one of countless other Marvel comics that may have had a spot appearance from the Kingpin, knows this much: the Kingpin is a bastard. That's the important piece of information to carry into reading this issue. "Return of the King" starts here and this issue is completely devoted to the once and future king -- Wilson Fisk. Although this is an issue of Daredevil, aside from his name, his alter ego's name, and one silhouetted image, Daredevil is absolutely nowhere to be found in this story.
Brubaker does not let the lack of his titular hero impede a great story. Quite the opposite in fact. Brubaker uses this book to do the impossible. He made me feel sympathy for Wilson Fisk. I'm not one to gravitate towards the badasses of the universe. I like my heroes strong and determined and my villains conniving and ruthless. Heroes should be the mouthpiece for the story, not the villain. Brubaker makes Wilson Fisk a character whose inner voice isn't that far off from anyone the reader can imagine. He bares the soul of the former Kingpin for us all to see. Then, just as we think reform might be in the cards for Fisk, Brubaker uses Fisk's heart and soul as a pincushion.
Aja steps up and makes that pincushion tangible, adding a grit that very few in the industry do as well as or better. Aja's style makes the world portrayed in these pages feel real. The streets Fisk walks on have to be real. This is a haunting story with visuals to match. The little touches Aja adds into the story make this a more complete tale, from the stark, monochromatic portraits of Adriana and Jaime to the tri-color brooding silhouette of Fisk depicting Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Bullseye.
This issue may be a little heady for those readers with no familiarity with Wilson Fisk, but for readers of the Marvel Universe wondering where their favorite big man is and what he's been up to, this issue is a must have. The looming encounter between Fisk and Daredevil is going to be a meeting to remember for the ages if this first segment is any indication of what's to come.
This issue smacks of the type of story that should have been bound by staples under DC's "Faces of Evil" non-event. While I would be hesitant to read a "Kingpin" series, Brubaker and Aja were able to make me want to re-read this book and to share it with some friends who might have lapsed from comics. Just like Wilson Fisk, as compelling as this issue is, I'm sure some of my friends will be drawn right back in.