Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Rosenberg’


After giving Bullseye #1 a richly-deserved rough time of it in my review last week, I was leaning pretty heavily towards giving the rest of Marvel’s “Running With The Devil” titles a pass, but some nagging little voice in my head told me that Kingpin would probably be worth at least an initial $3.99 investment. Okay, fair enough, Matthew Rosenberg’s earlier Civil War II : Kingpin series was generally savaged by critics (to the point where I stayed away), but I chalk that up to the fact that all “event” tie-ins are garbage weighed down by a shit-ton of editorial mandates — surely free of these constraints, the writer behind 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank and We Can Never Go Home can give us a decent crime story, don’tcha think?

Jeff Dekal’s cover doesn’t necessarily inspire a ton of confidence — he’s been absolutely killing it over on Hulk, but his composition on this one seems a bit curious, to say the least, especially considering that Daredevil, Elektra, and Bullseye don’t feature in this book at all (apart from a cameo by Matt Murdock in his civilian guise), and it seems to me that if you’re gonna include superfluous characters in order to drive up sales, it might be best if one of them doesn’t look like he’s hopped-up on cheap bathtub crank. But who knows? Maybe I’m just old-fashioned — and besides, as with prospective romantic partners, it’s what’s inside that counts, right?


Fortunately for us all, Kingpin #1 grabs you immediately on page one and doesn’t let go. Rosenberg’s characterization of Wilson Fisk is definitely “in line” with Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of him on the Daredevil Netflix series — frightening, physically and psychologically imposing, ultimately unknowable — but with a crucial twist : his motives this time out appear to be far more personal and therefore more potentially dangerous. Yes, he seems determined to save “his” city and to employ his customary morally-ambiguous (to put it kindly) methods while doing so, but he knows that he’s got some serious image rehab to do first, and to that end he’s selected down-on-her-luck journalist Sarah Dewey to ghost-write his (auto?)biography. Dewey  is a fascinating and fully-fleshed out character who functions as both an eminently relatable audience stand-in and an immersive figure in her own right at the same time : her trepidation at “getting close” to such a dangerous figure mirrors ours, but her personal problems (divorce and custody issues, 12-stepping) are very much her own, and this comic ends up being every bit as much hers at it is the title-holder’s. She’s our “eyes and ears,” sure (and perhaps our conscience?) — but that doesn’t mean she can’t pull “double duty” and be very much herself while she’s acting in that capacity. I don’t know how many issues this series is slated to run, but I’m already hoping that Marvel finds a worthy spot for her once it’s over.


But let’s hope this doesn’t end too darn soon — because not only does this book read well, it looks absolutely gorgeous. Artist Ben Torres borrows a bit from Frank Miller and Tim Sale here and there, it’s true, but he’s got a distinctive “medium-heavy” line all his own and, together with colorist extraordinaire Jordan Boyd, navigates the borderlands between noir and everyday urban not-quite-grime with a fluid ease that’s enough to make lesser talents downright jealous. A truly successful Kingpin book can probably only look one way, and guess what? This is it.


Have I convinced you yet? If not, then I guess I’m just not doing my (voluntary, I admit) job well enough. Or maybe spot-on characterization, sparkling dialogue, superb illustration, and pitch-perfect colors all working in concert to accentuate a slowly-encroaching sense of dread and unease just isn’t your particular cup of tea. That’s entirely possible — but even if that’s the (unlikely) case, I’m still willing bet you just about anything that this issue’s simple-but-jaw-dropping cliffhanger will leave you wanting more.

So, yeah — I was all kind of impressed by Kingpin #1. Give it a chance I’m confident you will be, as well.





When a new comic series comes along touting itself as being “like Wes Anderson remaking Reservoir Dogs,” I’m bound to be intrigued — if for no other reason than the fact that I absolutely despise Wes Anderson every bit as much as I love Quentin Tarantino. As a result, writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Tyler Boss’ new five-parter from Black Mask Studios, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, had my attention from the outset — but was going to be on a very short leash. If it proved to be a fun, foul-mouthed crime caper with a ’70s exploitation vibe, then I’d be in for the duration. But if it played out like a self-consciously “quirky” story loaded down with bright primary colors and a nauseating “rich people are nothing but harmless ‘big kids’ who never grew up and pal around with deadpan mute sidekicks from the Indian subcontinent,” well — chances are I’d be cutting the cord pronto.

As it turns out, this comic is actually neither (at least going by the evidence offered in the first issue), and should probably stay away from playing the comparison game because it stands on its own two feet just fine, thank you very much.


Our titular “4 Kids” are an immediately-identifiable cast of 12-year-old social outcasts nominally “lead” by the strong-willed and quick-witted Paige, whose house serves as “hangout central” for their D&D-style gaming — until a bunch of unknown ruffians show up and start hassling them for no apparent reason. Paige’s apparently-well-meaning single father scares the hoodlums off, but when they show up the next day at the kids’ school to egg them on again, our youthful protagonists decide a stakeout-style surveillance mission is in order to gather some intel on just who it is they’re up against, not to mention why . Their “recon” leads to more questions than answers, though, when they witness their antagonists meeting up with — well, that would be telling, but it makes for one heck of a cliffhanger.

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Needless to say, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank is a decidedly “indie” book with a look and feel about as far removed from “Big Two” superhero stuff as one can imagine, and around these parts that’s always appreciated. Boss’ superb artwork has a bit of a Chris Ware influence to it around the margins, but on the whole is singularly his own, while Rosenberg’s script deftly mixes agreeably crude humor, spot-on characterization, and wry, witty dialogue with just a dash of mystery in a manner that’s breathtakingly free of pretense or self-conscious homage. I certainly “get” why Black Mask is marketing this to the cinephile crowd (some of the variant covers even ape the look of famous movie posters, most notably the iconic ones for Chinatown and the aforementioned Reservoir Dogs), but again — it’s certainly in no way necessary, and one could even reasonably argue that, strictly speaking, it’s a bit misleading.


Seriously, though — that’s it as far as gripes go, and it’s both a small one and one that’s strictly on the shoulders of the publisher of this book rather than its creators. Black Mask more than make up for this one tiny strike against them, though, by giving us 32 pages of cover-to-cover art and story with no ads on really nice paper between heavy, high-quality cardstock covers for the more than reasonable price of $3.99.Marvel could clearly take a lesson on offering value for money from these guys.

In all fairness, I still have no idea, one issue in, what happens when 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank — but I absolutely can’t wait to find out.