Lately, Marvel has had two big priorities with their ongoing debuts. Firstly, the publisher has been devoted to launching a plethora of brand new Daredevil ongoings. The latest member of his supporting cast to get an ongoing, Kingpin debuts this week. The publisher also has a small-scale event, Monsters Unleashed, which is loaded with an ongoing series and a plethora of tie-in one-shots. Stay tuned for our full thoughts on that. Next up, Monsters Unleashed continues with The Uncanny Inhumans. It’s The Marvel Rundown!
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Ben Torres
Colors: Jordan Boyd
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
I’ll admit to being skeptical of Kingpin #1, a series that introduces another antagonist-led series to the Marvel Universe. However, this first issue was able to really dig into the complex relationship that Kingpin has to the people he spends his life with. Each member of the creative team adds something remarkable to this installment led by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Ben Torres.
The issue shows a complex relationship centered around Kingpin and a reporter. From that simple premise, Rosenberg begins to add more layers of depth to the comic without resorting to the simple journalist and evildoer dynamics explored in popular tv shows like House of Cards or even other Marvel comics like Vote Loki. Rosenberg analyzes the complicated nature between the reporter and Kingpin with restraint, as readers can see the crime boss concealing his twisted nature just below the surface of his character. Thankfully, the issue is made complex as the writer introduces different opinions and nuances to the characters.
While this issue’s premise isn’t unheard of in mainstream media, the idea is rarely explored in the medium of comics and could yield wonderful results if each issue shows as much restraint between the leads of this issue. One of the best parts about this debut is how the characters interact with each other. Dialogue in this comic is really sharp, digging into why these characters seem to loath both each other and themselves in a personal manner.
Artist Ben Torres adds something remarkable to this issue. The artist’s use of shadow and facial expressions start adding the elements of this issue that make this comic emerge from good to great. Dewey’s tortured psyche takes hold in her reserved facial expressions. When the comic peels back and illustrates why the character interacts with others in such a way, readers get a really nice entry point to her character and more context as to why Torres’ pencils look so bleak in this comic.
Last week I said that Bullseye #1 didn’t go far enough in mixing up reader expectations and adding something new to the character. Kingpin is an established Marvel Universe villain. He is the Kingpin of crime and has nowhere to go but down owning all the money under the sun. Pulling the rug out from underneath him in showing his criminal empire toppling would have been too easy. Rosenberg and Torres don’t take the easy route here, the team shows something that could have a more lasting effects on the character, they seem to be invested in irreparably damaging the Kingpin’s psyche as a whole.
Kingpin #1 feels like the perfect platform for Rosenberg and Torres in the Marvel Universe. The writer is truly able to channel some dark thoughts into a complex narrative that isn’t quite as simple as the character’s Civil War II mini-series. Torres gets to utilize style with unsettling psychological horror that will show readers how great of a talent he is in the first place. This Running with the Devil series is a wonderful intersection of art and style in the Marvel Universe.
Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Brian Level
Colors: Jordan Boyd
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Marvel continues to foster new talent in the Monsters Unleashed tie-ins, this time, adding writer Paul Allor and Brian Level to the mix. Of course, neither talent is new to comics in general, but this does seem to be a big chance for them to be added to the Marvel creative roster.
First things first, Brian Level is incredible in this issue. I haven’t seen any other new artist seemingly take such joy in drawing the epic scope of a huge monster. The artist’s insane page layouts and crazy facial expressions make this comic a joy to flip through. When the artist really challenges the craft of comics and delivers layouts subverting expectations, he shines. Level seems to come from the Chris Bachalo school of always drawing the most intense, visceral angles and really capitalizing on what is happening on the page. This is really inspired work from the publisher and I hope to see Level’s art again sometime soon.
Elsewhere, I like that this issue hits the ground running with Monsters Unleashed baddies. In past weeks, we’ve seen too many issues with characters running in place until the monsters show up. Allor wisely zooms his focus on Swain, a newer Inhuman that hasn’t gotten the attention she deserves in recent Inhumans stories crammed with other heroes. Thankfully, Swain’s emotional link with the baddie here really makes her the catalyst for this issue in particular.
Unfortunately, even though this issue is very light and pleasant, the story hardly feels substantial in any tangible way. Swain’s core problem is solved by the end of this story and any sort of conflict is deflated. The one concept that might slightly change things up here is hardly of any consequence. While this is a good story, it falls no where near the essential category and doesn’t do very much to truly shake up the premise of Monsters Unleashed to deliver a thrilling narrative.
Verdict: Browse. This is the closest a tie-in issue has come to delivering the goods from Monsters Unleashed.