Devil’s Reign #3 is an event comic published by Marvel, written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Marco Checchetto, with colors by Marcio Menyz, and the letters are by Clayton Cowles. In this series, Wilson Fisk, The Mayor of New York, has declared war on superheroes in the city. Supervillains and heavily armed soldiers have been tasked with bringing in the heroes that have now been deemed illegal. Many have been arrested and others have gone underground. Kingpin stole the powers of Purple Man in order to win the next election. Deciding to battle him politically as well as physically, the underground heroes choose Luke Cage to run for mayor.
In this issue, Cage makes his campaign public. This puts him and many others in danger. Both Kingpin and Octavius continue to scheme, together and apart from each other. As the captured heroes make plans of their own, Daredevil and his allies stage an attack on Kingpin at City Hall.
Now in the middle of the event, this is the first time of the crossover where the team has made a plan of attack. For the first two issues, the shock of the attacks and the chaos kept them running. But now they are formulating ideas. For the readers, there is a dread for everything they do as many of the actions seem overly dangerous and with huge amounts of risk. Zdarsky structures the issue like his Daredevil run, with many plates spinning at the same time. The story is not quick, but that is probably helpful considering the jumping between people and places. The script is fantastic and can be followed easily even with the movement and by the end of the issue, there is an eruption of speed and noise. There are two huge revelations that may change the face of the event and perhaps even long after the conclusion. The battle feels like an explosion of pent-up emotion after the heroes have been in hiding for so long.
It is evident that the tie-ins do have an effect on the main book, showing that not everything will be crammed into the six core issues. But it should be clarified that these moments are not so important that the core issues are beholden to the tie-ins, it is not necessary to read every issue of this crossover. The majority of important moments are referenced in dialogue or explained succinctly.
The key characters of the comic are excellently written by Zdarsky. It appears that the majority of the important cast members have now revealed themselves in the main series. What is exciting about Devil’s Reign is that it has treated the superheroes in two different ways. They have either been isolated and picked off, separated from the pack. Or they are bunched together, a group featuring Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Man. Captain America and many others. Each has their own distinct voice. What the writer also achieves superbly is showcasing the connection that all of these heroes have with each other. They have protected the city and the world together for years. It is a community, a family.
But families can start to fray. Daredevil’s catholic guilt is causing him to believe that Kingpin’s warpath is because of him. This is leading him to bursts of anger and a desire to end things as quickly as possible. His plans are dangerous and aren’t thought out properly as he lashes out at those around him. With stakes like that and against a scheming mastermind like Fisk, that is a dangerous game to play. There is always this underlying fear of an ambush or a betrayal.
Checchetto’s art is absolutely stunning. The artist brilliantly depicts tiredness and exhaustion. His style means that the faces look so real, as do the facial expressions. The characters have been living in hiding and are now looking scruffy and unshaven. Each individual hair of the stubble is added, an example of exquisite detail inside this comic. The injuries that Spider-Man picked up look raw and painful. Doc Ock and his new Superior Four team are fantastic in this art style. During the fight scene, the sense of impact and shockwaves is powerful. The combat opens with an opening shot that literally scatters the heroes in an awesome panel. And the way the fight is framed always presents the protagonists as smaller, or with their backs against the wall.
The coloring is incredible. Devil’s Reign #3 is much brighter than other comics due to a lot of it taking place in the day. Menyz beautifully introduces unnatural colors into a natural-looking world. The purple glow of Purple Man’s powers actually looks like it fits, cast across a room like a lava lamp. The presence of texture is also a crucial aspect of the issue. The red and orange of Human Torch’s flames are very different to Spider-Man’s costume. In Menyz’s collaborations with Checchetto, there is often a drop-off in the detailed line-art that is often presented as mist or fog or steam. The blending of the colors is amazing and adds to the atmosphere of the scene.
The lettering is very efficient and easy to read. With many custom word balloons, there is a dynamism to the text.
Devil’s Reign #3 maintains the high quality of the event. Zdarsky has mixed the emotional weight and melodrama of his Daredevil and elevates it to a city-level event. None of the characters are here as a cameo, they all have meaning because this is their home. The different story threads highlight how important Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and New York’s other superheroes will be. And that is perhaps what makes this crossover shine. It isn’t about separate stories, even if they are on their own. Every hero is part of something bigger, and the exploration of this by shutting down a city is fantastic.
Devil’s Reign #3 is available where comics are sold.
Devil’s Reign #3 maintains the high quality of the event. Zdarsky has mixed the emotional weight and melodrama of his Daredevil and elevates it to a city-level event. None of the characters are here as a cameo, they all have meaning because this is their home.
Screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”