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First Look: The Kingpin #1

Many people criticize "the new Marvel" for jumping on the bandwagon of pop culture and simply trying to flood the market with books, but you know what? That's what the industry has always done. That's why it's called an industry.

One genre that has been doing increasingly well in comics lately has been crime comics, which makes the ghost of E.C. proud. For all intents and purposes, Brian Michael Bendis has shifted Daredevil over to being a more straightforward crime comic. (Bendis might argue that Daredevil always had its roots there anyway.) It makes sense, since The Man Without Fear's largest (in the importance sense) foe has been an onstensibly non-superpowered crimelord named simply The Kingpin.

Back to that pop culture thing again. Right now one of our biggest cultural touchstones is HBO's The Sopranos, with other networks falling all over themselves trying to tap into that success. So why shouldn't Marvel follow suit?

Especially when they already have a character who lends himself to the genre, a villain almost Shakespearean in his complexity and majesty -- The Kingpin, or as he probably prefers to be known, Wilson Fisk.

Bendis has big plans for him in the pages of Daredevil, but Marvel has bigger plans. For the first time, we're going to see just how Wilson Fisk got to the top. It promises to be a violent spectacle, but in the hands of writer Bruce Jones, I'm also going to bet it will be thought-provoking. It's almost too bad we're going to see Spider-Man in the book so soon; with Jones, we don't need the reminder of Kingpin's super-hero affiliations. Yet.

(Side plug: I recently read The Hulk: Return of the Monster trade collection -- and it's briliiant. And no, Marvel is not providing me with any freebies.)

Chalk this one up as a good bet to add to Second 2 Some Studios' list of comics to get non-readers into it. If you like, um, NBC's Kingpin, you just might like Marvel's Kingpin.

As usual, double-click the images for larger versions.

Here's a first look at a few pages from the new June-debuting ongoing series KINGPIN, by the creative team of writer Bruce (INCREDIBLE HULK) Jones, penciler Sean Phillips & inker Klaus Janson.

Described as "The SOPRANOS meets GODFATHER PART II Marvel-style", the series follows the violent early life of Wilson Fisk - a.k.a. the one-day Kingpin of Crime - a shrewd young man who built his New York City organized crime empire the old-fashioned way, one dead body at a time.

Betrayal, gang-wars, and alliances are built and shattered in this first glimpse at the Kingpin's rise to power. Plus: the first encounter of the Kingpin and Spider-Man!

Esad Ribic provided the cover image up top, for Kingpin #1 which goes on sale 6/11 with a cover price of $2.50.

Derek McCaw

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