Kingpin: Where Do I Start?

It’s hard to get in the way of someone who knows what they want, especially when they’ll go to any lengths to get it. And the Marvel villain known as Kingpin has been certifiable force of nature against adversaries like Daredevil, The Punisher, and Spider-Man. Originally created in 1967 by Stan Lee and John Romita as more of a hands-off mob heavyweight, subsequent writers like Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Aaron have expanded the big man’s role to be a force to be feared for his power and his fighting skills.

In this week’s Where Do I Start?, we look into the criminal history of Wilson Fisk and see he’s much more than an a foe for Marvel heroes to face off with but a substantial and nuanced character in his own right.

Daredevil: Born Again: You can’t say Daredevil and not think Frank Miller, and the same should be said for Kingpin. In this celebrated arc of the Daredevil series, Miller shows what Kingpin would do if given the true identity of Daredevil. Kingpin systematically tears apart Matt Murdock’s life and loves every minute of it, bringing Daredevil to his lowest, arguably, in the character’s history.

Daredevil: Hardcore: Although his name is in the title, when Kingpin makes an appearance in Daredevil he, more often than not, steals the show. And in this arc by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, a retired Wilson Fisk returns to New York City to reclaim his criminal empire and enlists Bullseye and Typhoid Mary to help him do it. Fisk and Daredevil’s decades-long struggle is really at its best here, showing how far one man pushes the other and  how hard the other pushes back.

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #4: Although this is collected in several books, those books contained unrelated material and is best read on its own; luckily, it’s a easy find in back issue bins. This one-off issue by Greg Rucka and Eduardo Risso sees Kingpin in a rage after his latest scheme is foiled by the wallcrawler. This really shows how Kingpin rules his organization, and the price for not living up to his demands.

Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3: The Kingpin is best known as an adversary for Daredevil, but Wilson Fisk got his start as a foe for another New York City hero — Spider-Man. In his great debut inside The Amazing Spider-Man #50-52, Kingpin comes to New York City to change the status quo of the criminal underground and put the five families controlling NYC all under his thumb. Along the way Spider-Man learns of Kingpin’s plot and steps in the way, leading to Kingpin unceremoniously squashing him so completely that it led to the infamous issue where Peter Parker considers quitting this whole superhero biz for good.

PunisherMAX: Kingpin: In a world of superheroes, super villains and super powers, Wilson Fisk does pretty well just with his wits and his normal, albeit large, physical abilities. In Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon’s PunisherMAX, they expertly show a younger and more vicious Fisk, beginning as hired muscle to a mob boss named Rigoletto. Fisk really gets his hands dirty here, and this book shows him coming up with the guise of Kingpin to ferret out the Punisher. This book shows his rise to power and to the role of Kingpin, at the expense of everyone around him.


  1. Is the 2003 self-titled series any good? I think Bruce Jones wrote it.

  2. How,could u not put the mike baron whilce portacio punisher issues there or bill mantlo Ed hannigan peter Parker spectacular Spiderman issues.

  3. While that single issue of Tangled Web was indeed great, go ahead and get the trades, as every issue was great.

  4. Ordinarily I think the Where Do I Start? articles are spot on, but this is one time I must take exception. If you want to learn about the Kingpin there is one, and only one, place to start: the brilliant Daredevil arc “Parts of a Hole” written by David Mack and pencilled by Joe Quesada. People tend to forget that Mack wrote Daredevil in between Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis, but his short run is easily one of the best Daredevil interpretations of all time. He had an amazing grasp of the character of Matt Murdock and wht his world was like. This is also the first time I really found the Kingpin interesting. It is a fantastic story and a top notch introduction to the Kingpin.

    • Parts of a Hole is amazing. That’s not to say that the issues above aren’t great too, but I agree about adding that particular arc to this article.

  5. I’d just throw up the entire PunisherMAX run by Jason Aaron, which plays out as the ultimate Kingpin vs Frank Castle story across the 20+ odd issues.

  6. I just found this review of The man without fear and just had to post it here

  7. I always think of the 90s spider man cartoon when I think of Kingpin. He was behind pretty much everything in every episode. Loved this character in the Danny Ketch ghost rider years.

  8. Considering Daredevil and Punisher are two of my favorite characters I’ve read most of these. I’d like to track down that Tangled Web issue though. Rucka and Risso are you kidding?!?!

  9. Also the first Frank Miller run on Daredevil with Electra is great Kingpin.