Sarah Dewey, the Real Showstopper of Kingpin #1

Warning: Spoilers for Kingpin #1

‘Born Against’

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artist: Ben Torres

Colour Artist: Jordan Boyd

Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham

This first issue is a real character driven treat focussing on the developing relationship between Wilson Fisk and journalist Sarah Dewey. The narrative is crafted beautifully amongst the brooding, almost gothic artwork by Torres that expresses the overall mood of our principal characters. Sarah is especially dejected as the fallen journalist who has lost her family to alcoholism. She is down on her luck as Fisk offers a much-needed helping hand. Within this first issue she struggles with her sense of morality and pride as she considers the implications of work with the former Kingpin.

‘They say that every villain is the hero of their own story’ and Fisk wants his story told. He has tasked Sarah to rehabilitate his public image with a biography so he can make his comeback as a ‘titan of legitimate industry.’ Despite her initial animosity toward Fisk she is lured by money and intrigue as she wonders how different she and Fisk really are in their ultimate goals. Both need resurrection. Can they help each other achieve their mutual aim?

Sarah Dewey is a well-crafted character and the real showstopper of this first issue. She’s strong and feisty and is quick to call out the barrage of misogyny so prevalent within her circles. She asserts to Fisk in her initial panels ‘You know I’m not going to sleep with you, right?’ and continues to outline her boundaries throughout. During a prestigious party, she abandons a conversation entirely before remarking ‘so much testosterone’ to then walk directly into Daredevil. Daredevil proceeds to threaten her and she’s quick to call him out. Clearly, her decisions will not be made by men who threaten. Interestingly, and in contrast, Fisk has made no such threats, nor has he made any demands of her. In Kingpin #1 Fisk comes off as a better guy than Matt Murdock.

Readers watch as Sarah navigates this male privileged world in a way all women can comprehend. The constant uncertainty around attaining work, the judgement faced in any social situation and the plight of the fallen woman; far less damaging than that of the fallen man. The stark contrast in position from Sarah to Fisk is illuminating in that, while their situations are similar, the outcomes could not be more different. Kingpin has prospered while she has failed despite both of them being consummate fighters. And as a fighter, Sarah constantly has her guard up in this hostile and opaque environment.

The Fisk offered to readers in this first issue is eloquent and gentle in speech and manner despite his colossal size. Like Dorian Gray, Fisk is the sophisticated socialite with a heart full of darkness. Readers are aware, that bubbling below this respectable demeanour is a violent criminal. This is clearly depicted in the initial pages where we see Fisk’s gigantic fists smash through his competitors in training. However, this is a ring where normal social codes are suspended in order to fight, consensually. So where does this fall in the realms of Fisk’s rehabilitation? Perhaps, as a much needed outlet for his violent tendencies?

Despite his new-found kindness Torres has drawn Kingpin more terrifying than ever. He looks less than human and more than resembles The Thing. His stature belies his speech as we wonder how far he can sustain his legitimate and respectable intentions. The suspense in this comic is drawn from the unknown; walking on a knife edge between what is said and what is meant.

When accosted in the park by a drug addled mugger, Fisk freely gives all of his cash. At the end of the issue we see the same mugger dead in an alleyway, syringe hanging from his arm. There is a question that nags; was Fisk’s kindness all show for Sarah? Did he or Wesley return later to enact revenge? Or was this addict a victim of our own reality? The world lived outside of the Marvel Universe where addicts often die alone in alleyways. This final panel seems to outline the overall feel of what this series has set itself up to do; to explore reformation, change and resurrection. As a reader, I’m excited to read on.

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