by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor
Written by Brian Wood with Art by Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire
When I first started reading this series I came into it expecting a book I really was not going to like. From the previews I thought that the art looked scratchy and rough and frankly unfinished in places, but worst of all, I had been told I was reading a Batman knockoff. I had never read any Moon Knight books previously, but I am sure I saw him in a cross over or two; I was used to seeing people I did not immediately recognise at the time. All of this lead me to think this was going to be yet another #1 issue to a add to a pile that came out last year and one which I would be praying to go away quickly.
Well, it became a smash hit of 2014 and on quite a few lists as the book of the year, or at least in the top 10. It is definitely in my top 3 books of last year for its wonderfully inventive opening 6 issues with the original creative team. However this book should be given special credit for completely changing the team (other than the colourist) and yet still managing to produce an engrossing and clever book, if unsurprisingly different from that initial feeling. Gone is the exceptional pacing and layout which left you simply staring at the page piecing together all the clues it gave you; in its place is a much more fluid story with a more over-arching plot and a far more precise idea of what is actually happening. I was so upset when the initial creative team left and although the transition issue is the worst of the series, it is right back up there as one of the best titles each month.
Going back to the Batman comparison, from some re-reading of earlier series I can definitely see the connection; rich guy, fights crime, has a butler and a ‘moon’-erang not to mention a moon-plane and moon-copter. However the current version of the character is far away from this initial concept and to follow on the metaphor is much less like Batman than he is like a man possessed by a bat-god. In this instance it is Khonshu and he has gone from being a detached entity content to sit in the recesses of Spector’s mind to a petulant childish god intent on getting his own way, even if it means abandoning his host entirely.
And abandon him he does, for a new body in the form of a war-criminal’s disenfranchised daughter, a woman of near endless selfishness and vengeance. However, those sort of people do not make for the best hosts and a desperate and dying Spector calls upon is erstwhile sponsor to save him one last time.
There is something truly visceral and encapsulating about this comic. By that I mean that the art manages to transcend its static and silent nature and while you are reading you can hear it and practically feel it. There is a moment where Khonshu is talking to Marc in the limo and you can see that his head is floating above his body connected only by tiny strands of spider-web. As the head turns from panel to panel it does so in such a way that I can hear the creaking. Later on as the ‘doctor’ confronts her adversary and the colours in the room flash red and orange, it inspires in me such a physical sensation of hatred and anger that it takes on much more life than your ordinary book.
What this book does, and I am very grateful for it, is manage to drag you in, practically strangling you as it does so, but it does not thrust your face in pain, horror and gore. I have read some books which do a very similar thing, but they are so disgusting to go with it that you come away feeling dirty*. This makes you feel that all the dirt has been put upon the bad guys as they do actions in the dark, or off panel and it leaves you feeling much cleaner than if you had been directly involved in the violence. It also refrains from showing you just what Moon Knight does to ‘clean up’ which makes it the realm of the reader’s imagination, rather than a crass on panel depiction of violence.
I actually struggle to talk about this book as if it is a frame by frame comic book. I do not want to talk about ‘panels’ or ‘pages’ rather I feel I should be referring to ‘screens’ and ‘shots.’ That is just an indication of how good a job this creative team does to bring us into this world. This book may have changed since its inception, but it is still the most immersive title by Marvel and if it continues on like this, will be in my list for the book of 2015.