Marvel’s Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3 Comic Review

John Walker becomes the focus of Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3, a mundane tale that could have benefited from not being tied to the main title.

Wilson Fisk plays the role of mayor perfectly, assuring the citizens of New York that he’ll remove all vigilantes — and thereby their violence — from their city streets. But like every other corrupt politician, Fisk wants to stay in power to benefit himself – namely revealing the identity of Daredevil and exacting his revenge on him. To that end, he will do anything, even use the mind-controlling powers of a captive Purple Man to influence NYC’s voters. Now his past sins of him are catching up to him and his personal task force of him, the Thunderbolts, are the only ones standing in his way. Published by Marvel Comics, the latest issue of Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire ties in directly with the main title of Devil’s Reignas a new threat emerges.

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3, written by Clay McLeod Chapman with artwork from Manuel Garcia, Lorenzo Ruggiero, and Dono Sanchez-Almara, depicts chaotic scenes at the Wilson Fisk re-election rally. An angry mob has thronged the podium and even turned on each other. The Thunderbolts, under the leadership of US Agent, aka John Walker, takes the Mayor to safety as violence erupts across the venue. Walker soon comes face to face with an individual named Conviction, who turns out to be the actual orchestrator of the attack. Fisk has held Conviction captive at the Ravencroft Institute and experimented on her to reproduce the Purple Children’s powers. And in Villains for Hire #3, she’s free to take her revenge.

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Conviction fights Agony in Devil's Reign: Villains for Hire #3

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3 places John Walker at the forefront of the issue. The Marvel story closely follows every interaction of the company man. Walker is walking on a thin line: on one hand, he is carrying a chip on his shoulder, trying to get evidence to bring down the former Kingpin of crime once and for all. On the other hand, he has to fake loyalty to Fisk. In the midst of all this, Walker never loses sight of his real mission – ensuring the city’s safety. Writer Clay McLeod Chapman seamlessly combines the narratives of this issue and Devil’s Reign #5 to reveal motivations and increase the overall story arc’s dramatic tension.

Like the events within the issue itself, the artwork is a messy stack of heavy hatchings and crude detailing in the background that gives the book a gritty look. While inker Lorenzo Ruggiero is responsible for the mentioned artistry, Manuel Garcia’s pencil work always does not hit its intended target. There are several inconsistencies across the panels, including facial characteristics that look too jarring from page to page. However, the framing of the shots creates a threatening air in the book and portrays the Thunderbolts as the villains they are. Colorist Dono Sanchez-Almara chooses his palette accordingly, painting the background in dark, drab gradients of sepia while keeping the foreground light in colors to help readers navigate the comic book.

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John Walker and Rhino confront Major Fisk in Devil's Reign: Villains for Hire #3

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3 is a well-paced story that suffers from being a tributary of the main storyline. Its indebtedness to the main storyline arc prevents this issue from broadening its horizons and exploring characters’ interpersonal relationships. Although there are glimpses of action and romance, the monotonous narrative, coupled with the bleak first-person narrative, leaves the reader wanting more. The story, however, does well to offer an insight into the character of John Walker, a self-righteous man torn between two worlds. A focal member of the Thunderbolts, it will be interesting to see how Walker reacts to learning about the illegal acts he committed while under mind-control.

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