Running with the Devil: Kingpin

Wilson Fisk bows to no man. But that doesn’t mean he does not mean he will not grab a good deal when he sees it, even if it does have someone else’s name on it.

And so, the upcoming KINGPIN series coming in February enters the DAREDEVIL section of the Marvel Universe alongside BULLSEYE, ELEKTRA and more. It may look like Murdock’s show but writer Matthew Rosenberg and Editor Mark Paniccia tell us that Fisk has that long game in mind. In handling Kingpin during Civil War II, you’ve dealt with a Wilson Fisk that has been oriented around pursuits very separate from Daredevil and his supporting cast. With KINGPIN and Fisk being pulled into this sub-universe how does that change the tone of the book and the attitude of the character? How does having Daredevil more present in Kingpin’s life change him?

Mark Paniccia: Kingpin is in NYC and he’s hatching a new plan that will widen his scope of power in a way he’s never done before. It’s going to be fun watching him strategize and manipulate his grand scheme and I’ll admit readers might cringe a bit at what happens to some of the supporting cast.

Matthew Rosenberg: Well our focus is on telling stories about Fisk and how he sees the world. He is a very driven and determined man, but he is a businessman. All of his work is about setting ambitious goals and then figuring out ways to overcome the huge obstacles that come with that. So whether it’s labor laws, zoning regulations, tax codes, the crime prediction powers of Ulysses, or Daredevil’s relentless harassment, they are all just problems to deal with.

Daredevil may be Fisk’s most persistent problem, and his biggest, but that’s all he is. So with Daredevil becoming more of a focus in the ongoing series it just means that Fisk needs to find ways to beat Daredevil at every turn. And that’s what our series is. It is a study of Fisk’s most ambitious plan to come out ahead of all the self-appointed heroes who harass him. It’s bigger, nastier, and more ambitious, but it’s still just business. In general, how do you view the relationship between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk? How do they influence and push one another?

Matthew Rosenberg: I feel like the real problem, and what drives them both, is that they don’t view things the same way. They don’t have the same perspective. It’s a misunderstanding in some ways, but Murdock is looking at the city from the streets and seeing the problems up close, and Fisk is watching from a penthouse, seeing the bigger picture.

Murdock is an absolutist. He sees things Fisk does, he judges them to be wrong, and he takes it on himself to stop them. And when he can’t, he takes it personally. For Murdock, Fisk is a villain because he has killed people and profits from crime. But Fisk is not the villain of his own story. He loves New York, loves what the city is, and loves the idea of what it can be. He is working to make it better, but he sees a bigger picture that Murdock can’t see. It’s not personal. It’s a war to save the city and Fisk understands acceptable losses and that bad things have to happen for good outcomes sometimes.

He is a general while Murdock is a soldier. Murdock puts on a uniform and tries to save the city one alley at a time. It’s the small picture. Fisk would love to not have to stoop to Murdock’s level, but Matt is persistent and annoying. Sometimes even generals have to pick up a gun and join in the fight. So while Murdock may dwell on Fisk and see him as the endgame, Fisk just sees Murdock as another pawn on the board. In general, as a writer, what excites you about being a part of this creative endeavor? We already know you are excited for writing KINGPIN, but does this extended playground of sorts enhance that experience for you?

Matthew Rosenberg: My god, yes!

Writing Marvel comics, the shared universe, there is almost nothing like it in all of art. We are telling our own stories, making our own way, but it is built on the foundation laid by some of the best people to ever make comics. It is a story that began before I was born and will continue long after I am dead. You look at this huge tapestry of what The Kingpin is—from Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.’s creation, onto amazing work by folks like Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Klaus Janson, Brian Bendis, Alex Maleev, Ed Brubaker, Mark Waid, and on and on. Those are the people who made me want to write comics. Knowing that our work, even if it’s just a blip, will be another mark on this amazing tapestry is surreal.

And that’s just Kingpin. Throw in Daredevil, Punisher, Elektra, Spider-Man, and all these other characters that we may interact with? It is a terrifying level of responsibility, but I feel honored every day to be a part of this. How is it as a writer to be working in closer concert with not just your artist but other creators like Ed Brisson, Charles Soule, Ron Garney and so on? How, at all, does it inform your process?

Matthew Rosenberg: It’s amazing. I feel like I have a real support network in them, but also a real level of competition that is making my work better. I want to make sure my work is good enough to stand alongside them.

Charles and Ed were both writers that were immensely kind and generous with their time when I was starting out in comics. I love their work. I studied it, picked their brains for advice, and stole more than a few things to put in my own books. And I still come to both of them for advice and help all the time. I am probably pretty annoying. But to be able to work alongside them, get advice and ideas, is invaluable.

And that extends through the whole process. Mark Basso and Mark Paniccia, my editors, have really helped make this book something I am proud of. They are incredibly insightful and good editors. [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso has given me a ton of amazing advice and notes. I am doing things I never thought I could do in a comic because Axel pushed me to be better.

And Ben Torres, who is drawing the book, is definitely doing a ton of the heavy lifting here. It has been a really tremendous experience so far. We all are trying to make books people will love and care about for years to come, and that is a team effort that extends beyond me and Ben, beyond KINGPIN. It’s a really cool thing to be part of.

Come back tomorrow as BULLSEYE takes a turn Running with the Devil!