Friday, 7 March 2014

New Beginnings - Moon Knight #1

by Matt Puddy

Moon Knight is a character who has been revived both literally and literally again. The most recent having been Bendis’s run which ended in April 2012. Now Warren Ellis has taken over with issue #1 for Marvel Now! And while some people may have raised concerns over the new tack taken and imagery, many were also happy that the interpretation that Bendis used with members of the Avengers (namely Cap, Wolverine and Spidey) was being done away with. In fact Ellis has tackled this particular point almost immediately. Whilst this story follows on chronologically from the last run and also acknowledges it, time is taken to re-set the psychological stage, so to speak.

In a brief flashback we see him in his therapist's office where we learn that Marc Spector does not suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder, but in fact he has brain damage resultant from Khonshu, the ancient Egyptian entity that gave him powers, occupying him as an avatar. There is even some explanation towards all the personalities he has displayed throughout his relatively short Marvel life (Moon Knight is a meagre 39 years old as a character).

What I did find a little interesting was that this was used late in the comic. The main bulk of the issue follows an almost sleuth-like Moon Knight attending a crime scene, complete with a detective who has bypassed his main directives to pursue and arrest Moon Knight in order to solve the crime more efficiently. Following some Sherlock-esque deductions, Spector takes things into his own hands to chase down and defeat the criminal. 

Whilst it is not a bad thing that the character displays a high level of composure and intellect in his approach to the crime, the depiction is treading very close to an old argument or discussion that Moon Knight is simply Marvel’s crazy take on Batman. A physically skilled but non-powered man of huge wealth who solves crime with brain power and gadgets, whilst the local police act in either animosity or by turning a blind eye. This is of course will rage on with certain groups but for the time being I am ignoring it (besides, Deadpool is arguably just Marvel's crazy version of Deathstroke and yet he is widely adored).

The story closes in the flashback, with Ellis taking from more of the Moon Knight history, and also casting some doubt on the therapist's conclusions by seeing him with his original personalities beside him. Most importantly the bird skull-headed figure of Khonshu appears as well. Although there is only four words in the section, the visuals say a lot.

Declan Shalvey is the artist for this issue and has taken a rather interesting line as well. Whilst the main bulk of the drawing is quick, dark and claustrophobic in its conception, working in concert with some of the writing (questioning why an Avenger of the night dresses completely in white), Moon Knight is pure white in his visage. To emphasise the point even further, Shalvey and colourist Jordie Bellaire have taken an extra step to make him shown to almost be removed from the actual scene like some kind of cut-out. The best way I can describe it would be to liken it to the music video “Take On Me” by A-Ha, where Morten Harkett was a black and white animated character. Hitting this home even further, when any part of the costume is removed the man underneath is shown exactly like everyone else in the comic. A nice little touch I thought.

As a first issue I think Ellis has done really well to honour a lot of the original story behind Moon Knight. I can’t help thinking that some of it is almost a correction of mistakes made by predecessors as well but that is just my interpretation. There is a lot of focus on ensuring that whilst Moon Knight is a force for justice he still has some major personal troubles to tackle and over come. That is a long term struggle and one that could potentially carry this title across various story lines and for quite a while.

Good reintroduction and great start to a comic.

Matt Puddy is playing a new game...

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