Quick Review: Moon Knight 1-3

Moon-Knight-1icoBy Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey

MOON_KNIGHT_1_Preview3Moon Knight is a brilliant street-level vigilante of Marvel’s Bronze Age who has a cult following but has yet to truly take off in a solo comic book.

(Click here for my article on Moon Knight)

The character has attracted some of the finest artists in the industry including Bill Sienkewicz, Jerome Opeña, Tan Eng Huat, Juan José Ryp and Alex Maleev to name just a few. Created as an antagonist in Werewolf by Night, Moon Knight was a kind of Batman-type dressed entirely in white and armed for supernatural combat. In later appearances a full supporting cast of characters including his pilot ‘Frenchie,’ lover Marlene and a set multiple personalities that matched the four phases of the moon. A soldier of fortune who died at the hands of his partner and was reborn at the base of a statue of the god Konshu, Marc Spector became an instrument of vengeance against the unjust. He wears a blinding white costume so that his foes can see him coming.

Moon Knight has been in various comics over the years and served in various iterations of the Avengers and Defenders, but functions best as solo adventurer particularly because he freaks out most heroes. He charges into battle taking a great deal of damage, barely escaping to his palatial home where he prays at the feet of Konshu for strength to do it again.

In Moon Knight’s latest monthly book, writer Warren Ellis has attempted to make the character ‘cool’ by adding new elements and streamlining Marc Spector’s mythology as well as removing the supporting cast entirely. The result is a bit jarring but I have to admit that the approach has succeeded as the book is enjoying high sales, due in part to the celebrity status of Ellis as writer, positive word of mouth and the outstanding art by Declan Shalvey.

In my own opinion, the result has been a mixed affair. Marc Spector has a new persona known as Mr. Knight who walks around in a tailored white suit and matching mask. He is known to the police and even works alongside a detective. It’s kind of corny and while driving around the mean streets of Manhattan in a stretch limo (straight out of David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’) to fight crime is unusual, it’s all kind of forced and makes no real sense. In later issues, Spector uses the traditional armored superhero costume and glider to drop into action. The stories feel like set pieces featuring Moon Knight as a stand-in hero rather than the star. With the announcement that the sixth issue will end the run by Ellis and Shalvey, many readers are already jumping ship.

Despite my criticisms that Ellis’ stories feel like they’ve been ripped from Night Gallery or Tales from the Dark Side with Moon Knight jammed in place as a character (and seldom the main one), it’s still an enjoyable series and one of the sharpest looking superhero books on the shelves today alongside Hawkeye and Daredevil.

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