- ← char: daredevil/matt murdock →,
- ← char: dr. strange/stephen strange →,
- ← char: iron fist/daniel rand →,
- ← char: kingpin/wilson fisk →,
- ← char: mary jane watson →,
- ← char: moon knight/marc spector →,
- ← char: punisher/frank castle →,
- ← char: shadowcat/kitty pryde →,
- ← char: shang-chi →,
- ← char: spider-man/peter parker →,
- ← creator: brian michael bendis →,
- ← creator: mark bagley →,
- ← creator: mark brooks →,
- ← title: ultimate spiderman →
So this post is the final part of my Kingpin series, marking not only the conclusion to the long-running Kingpin story arc on Ultimate Spider-Man, but also Bagley's tenure as the series' artist. He would show up from time to time in guest-spots (and of course 'The Death of Spider-Man') but this was his 'swan song' to the title.
This first issue comes from the second annual and is illustrated by Mark Brooks. I didn't know whether or not to post it in my previous post or this one as it wraps up some plot elements from the 'Warriors' arc but also starts up some elements for this one.
Disclaimer: This issue was double-sized.
Personally, I found the annual to be one of Bendis's weaker efforts. It's just way too much in one issue and the whole thing is cluttered, perhaps unnecessarily so. There's a lot of flashbacks and expositions here which is fine for a regular arc but in one issue it becomes too much...it seems every other scene is broken off with a flashback to where the characters got to where they are--how the Punisher escaped from jail (really, you couldn't just say 'he escaped'?), how Moon Knight got out of his coma, etc and the whole thing is disjointed. It also includes what is one of the most infuriating moments in the entire series.
So once again Spidey meets up with De Wolfe.
So long story short, Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Punisher and Daredevil all get involved. Kangaroo gets beaten up, then we have a flashback of him meeting Fisk for the first time.
Ugh. What a waste. Bendis had just introduced Jean De Wolfe's character in the title with the 'Warriors' arc and had set up her as an interesting plot point; she's one of Spidey's few non-superhero confidantes, but she's also corrupt and working with the Kingpin. And then, her second appearance...she gets blown away. It's just...why? Yeah, it's shocking, I guess but it's also incredibly anticlimactic.
Also from a plot perspective...if De Wolfe's allegiance to the Kingpin is well-known enough that it's known on the street, how come no one has done anything about it? Even if there's no proof, surely the police would be taking steps if one of their own men (or women) was in bed with the Kingpin, both literally and figuratively. It would be one thing if the entire NYPD is corrupt and in Fisk's pocket, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
So just a bad decision IMO all around.
Anyway, Moon Knight returns home...
That being said, I did like this final page a lot...the look of devastation on Fisk's face that shows he really did care about De Wolfe, moreso than just another ally in his corruption. One of the reasons why I like Kingpin so much as a character is because he's still a human being, and I think Bendis remembers that moreso than other writers.
So #106 of Ultimate Spider-Man kicked off the 'Ultimate Knights' arc.
The masked man manages to bring down Fisk's men, but he's no match for the Kingpin himself.
In Moon Knight's head, his different personas/identities argue about what they are going to do: creating a new persona, a hit man, to work for the Kingpin. The little girl (who I'm guessing is his conscience?) argues that it's dangerous and that this killer may become the dominant personality. Marc Spector and Steven Grant (the other two personalities) say that taking down the Kingpin is all that matters.
So the Moon Knight's new personality is none other than...Ronin. As Ronin, he offers himself to Kingpin. Fisk asks him to prove himself, which Ronin does by beating the crap out of Kingpin's men. Kingpin says that's not what he had in mind, but he's obviously impressed.
As Ronin, he crashes a schoolbus into Midtown High (It's rumored that Spider-Man is a student there).
That's Kitty Pryde speaking. She's a student at Midtown High, just broke up with Peter, and needs someone to hit. Ronin tries shooting at her (the rest of Moon Knight's personalities, watching this, are horrified) but they pass through her.
The Ronin persona, meanwhile, has grown stronger and begins 'fighting' Moon Knight inside his mind.
Ronin grabs Spider-Man, steals his webshooters, and manages to swing away as the police arrive.
Spider-Man, unmasked, wakes up tied to a chair. The Kingpin explains that he was going to check his fingerprints to find out who he really is, but his FBI contacts have told him that S.H.I.E.L.D. has flagged them, and he does not want Nick Fury up in his business.
Anyways, Spider-Man goes out and attacks Daredevil under the belief that he's Kingpin's man. Suddenly, Matt's law office explodes behind them. Daredevil explains to Spider-Man that Kingpin killed his father when he was young because he wouldn't throw a boxing match.
The issue opens with two of Kingpin's men taking Ronin/Moon Knight out and shooting him. They say that Kingpin wants this to be a message to other superheroes.
Iron Fist explains to the rest of them that he has a daughter with his girlfriend, Colleen. He says that Kingpin's men threatened the life of his daughter if he didn't help him give him the information. Shang-Chi leaves in disgust. Daredevil tells him to go Kingpin and distract him, and then he's going to take from Kingpin like Kingpin took from him.
We're once again inside Moon Knight's head. The Moon Knight persona is lying facedown on the ground, but he's not yet dead. The two Marcs and the little girl try to get him to wake up, but it doesn't work. The giant Ronin persona arrives, pushes the others away, and yells at Moon Knight to get back up.
Back in real life, Ronin/Moon Knight struggles to rise from the water and staggers away.
Moon Knight staggers to the police. He identifies himself as Marc Grant, Steven Grant and Moon Knight. He tells them that Kingpin had him shot.
We see an epilogue. The Kingpin is arrested for attempted murder and numerous other offenses. Despite being a crazy guy who crashed a bus into a school and tried shooting at children, Moon Knight is lauded as a hero. Shang-Chi is seen getting on a bus, possibly leaving New York. Iron Fist is spending time with his girlfriend and daughter. Dr. Strange is meditating. Daredevil is brooding and acting angsty.
The final page of the issue has Peter gloomily walking by himself in the rain by a shop filled with Kingpin's Spider-Man merchandise.
Kingpin later made one more appearance in the reboot. Basically, after the events of Ultimatum, Kingpin's name is cleared as all the evidence is destroyed in the mass flooding from Magneto.
Fisk is later declared dead by the media. Now the death was, as far as comicbook deaths go, not 100% confirmed. In Bendis's Daredevil run (which I may post in the future) Kingpin was stabbed by his cronies and declared to be dead by the media, but that was revealed to be a ruse by his men to take him out of the city so he could recuperate. So I'm hoping Bendis comes to his senses and brings Fisk back--Mysterio is a very poor replacement with none of what made Fisk such an interesting antagonist for Spidey. And if you have to kill him off, at least do something more dignified than the "let's have the new villain kill off the old one to show how badass he is" cliche. He deserves better than that.
Finally, Kingpin's presence was felt in a later arc, in which Black Cat and Mysterio were fighting over a "Zodiac Key" that was in Fisk's possession, something that they believed Kingpin used to keep himself in power. As the following flashback shows, this was not the case.
Reading that flashback only made me miss Fisk that much more but it gave me a little hope seeing that Bendis still wanted to write about him even after his 'death'.
So that's it for the Kingpin for now. Hopefully he'll show up again.
So anyways, I hope you all enjoyed this series and if you have any similar requests from the title, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Hopefully I've encouraged at least a few people to pick up some trades.