Kingpin #2

Background

Wilson Fisk, the head of a juvenile gang named The Kings, took the first step on a bloody road to the top when he recruited a young black man named Leonard. A former member of a juvie gang named The Saints, Leonard became Fisk's chess opponent, but more importantly the future Kingpin's road into the lucrative heroin industry.

Seeking to unite his own gang with a gang named The Blades, Fisk offered that gang's lieutenant, Gino Ferzini, a spot in his new organization. Gino refused and then told his boss, Carlo Sanguino, about this offer. Apparently young Sanguino is a member of one of New York's five families and the nephew of the Sanguino patriarch Jimmy.

But every man has a weakness, and Carlo's came in the form of his fiancée, Tina Reily. When Carlo found out that Tina was cheating on him with none other than Fisk's lieutenant, Rocko, his gang set up a one-on-one knife fight. Of course, Tina was playing both Rocko and Carlo, as she expected to go to the top with Fisk. She ended up on the bottom...of the harbor.

Rocko killed Carlo in the fight, but then BOTH gangs stabbed Rocko...on Fisk's orders.

Free from Carlo Sanguino, Gino, who is well aware of the drug routes, took up Fisk's offer as his new lieutenant. To make room in his organization for Gino, Fisk had Leonard killed.

"It's called a Sicillian Gambit, Leonard. Sometimes you have to sacrifice one of your best men to win the game." -Fisk

Story 'Sharks & Little Fishes'

  Kingpin #2
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor: Warren Simons
Writer: Bruce Jones
Pencils: Sean Phillips
Inker: Klaus Janson

Scenes of a woman jogging are juxtaposed with scenes of a church. Both the woman in the park and the priest in church encounter a body...both victims of a rising underworld star by the name of Wilson Fisk.

The woman snaps several photos of the fallen hood, who turns out to be none other than Lou Rocko, former lieutenant to Fisk. And the priest ends up taking a generous donation so that Fisk, the leader of the united Blades and Kings street gangs, can conduct meetings underneath.

Fisk addresses his newfound army, comparing their impending battle with the five families with early Christianity's fight for survival against the might of the Roman Empire, stressing the advantages they both had over larger, much more powerful foes.

Skids, the leader of the Saints, is on his way to confront Fisk at this meeting...without an invitation. Suddenly, Spider-Man drops by, also without an invitation, asking Skids about the meeting. Skids tells Spidey he wouldn't know, since he's black. Spidey webs off, while Skids seems unimpressed and continues on his way.

Fisk tells his forces that they are meeting underneath the church where all the heads of all five families attend Sunday mass. Hyping the individual gangs reputations, he claims that together they will conquer and rule.

Rocko wakes up, ribs banaged, on the couch of the jogging photographer. Apparently the mud sealed up his wounds enough that he didn't bleed to death. She introduces herself as Portia. Noticing her photographs, Rocko, a bit of a photography afficonado, rates her as a poor photographer. Rocko demands to know why she helped him, instead of calling the cops or an ambulance, suspecting the older woman expects sex in return. Portia reveals that she's quite aware of Rocko's criminal record, being a photographer of crime in particular.

Fisk explains his designs for the smack distribution system in New York...and also for Las Vegas. Valquez, one of his men, points out that Cosa Nostra has been out of Vegas for years. Fisk explains that he has it on very good authority that the Sanguinos want back in, and that is where Fisk will strike.

The meeting is interrupted by Skids, enraged that Fisk would be foolhardy enough to take on the Five Families, since he knows that they'll go after the black gangs first in reprisal.

Meanwhile, Portia explains that she made her fortune on crime photos to spite her cheating ex-husband. She plans to write a book, but lacks adequate knowledge of the New York gangs beyond photographs. Rocko puts it together: Portia's rescue wasn't an anonymous good deed.

Back underneath the church, Skids accuses Fisk of murdering Leonard and his wife and launches into an attack. Fisk lets him get a couple of good shots in, and then throws him into a wall, only nominally disrupting Sunday services. One of Skids's friends throws him a knife, but Fisk merely crushes his wrist with the greatest of ease. Fisk easily kills Skids with his bare hards, reminding his troops that today's lesson was about solidarity, union, brotherhood, and an army... of one! His underlings look at Skids' mangled corpse and then at their ruthless leader.

At Portia's place, she offers Rocko sanctuary and the book royalties in exchange for the chance to take down her ex-husband, a politician on the take from Cosa Nostra. Looking at a picture of Fisk, Rocko accepts Portia's offer, looking for some payback of his own.

General Comments

For me, Issue Two wasn't quite as compelling as number one, but it seems to be building towards something...something more than big enough for me to seek the third chapter. I look forward to Fisk's impending battle with the Five Families, and that alone is Bruce Jones's work.

Fisk's manipulation is less obvious in this issue. While not overtly stated, he clearly left Skids out of the meeting to manipulate him into a confrontration - and demonstration of Fisk's raw power in front of his troops.

Jones also paints Fisk as an educated, or at least booksmart, man... which may fly in the face o earlier interpretations of the Kingpin as a man with a lack of education, but works insofar as he uses what he knows toward strategy. It takes more than treachery to build an empire... it takes vision and tactics, both of which Fisk has in spades. The Machiavellian characteristics of today's Kingpin are clearly there.

Alone, Rocko's survival would not make him an interesting adversary for Fisk, as he seems to lack the brainpower to take him on solo. However, allied with the intriguing new Portia (ever notice how stories about the mob always make references to Rome?), Rocko becomes a legitmate threat to Fisk.

Spider-Man's involvement in the book remains limited to cameo, although we see him starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Sadly, this part remains the least interesting part of the story. Again, it seems clear that this is not a Spider-Man book, but nevertheless an interesting read. And I offer kudos again to Philips and Janson, as their art really fits this book like a glove.

Overall Rating

Kingpin is building on it's great start, albeit somewhat more slowly than what would be to my liking. But a strong dame makes for a good crime story. I hereby deem this issue solid and worth your U.S. $2.50.