Friday, 2 January 2015

Moon Knight #1 - Marvel Comics

MOON KNIGHT No. 1, August 2014
Since his first appearance within the pages of “Werewolf By Night”, the Fist of Khonshu has always been portrayed as a brighter than white costumed acrobat, his face masked and physique shrouded by a billowing cloak which would not look out of place catching the high rise winds of a certain Gotham City. Indeed, for many he would appear for all intents and purposes to be little more than a ‘negative version' of Bob Kane and Bill Finger's co-creation; an especially understandable criticism considering that at his most basic level Marc Spector is just a ludicrously wealthy playboy who dons cape and cowl to battle crime.

But this isn’t “DC Comics” or "Batman", it’s “Marvel Worldwide”, and with this opening issue writer Warren Ellis has masterfully reimagined forty years’ worth of shadowy shenanigans and created a Moon Knight who, whilst still very much the mentally unbalanced servant of the Ancient Egyptian Moon God, is wonderfully removed from the ‘cloaked crusader’ of old. Instead we simply have ‘Mister Knight’, a concerned citizen who has the trust of a grizzled street detective and resultantly access to the crime scene of the latest in a series of New York ‘slasher’ killings.

Admittedly the anti-hero's face hood and prevalent crescent moon imagery is still very much on display. But the flowing cape, leaping from rooftop to rooftop and lasso-grapple have all been replaced (for now at least) with a dazzling all-white three-piece suit and tie, as well as a calm, considered, Arthur Conan Doyle-like investigative approach which makes this version of the former mercenary a considerably different type of superhuman to those currently in place within the Marvel Universe (or that of any other publisher for that matter).

The only slight dampener to these ‘fresh’ proceedings is the somewhat sketchy quality to the comic book’s artwork by Declan Shalvey. The Eagle Award winner certainly has a unique style and along with Jordie Bellaire’s colour art, makes the figure of Moon Knight dramatically leap out at the reader from each and every page. Yet when tasked to portray Spector in less action-packed environments, such as his doctor’s office, the Irish artist’s pencilling is rather ‘hit and miss’, as he masterfully captures a cruel twisted smile on a physician's lips as she discusses her interest in actors cutting off people’s faces in one panel, and then presents an extremely ‘square-looking’ illustration of her patient sat in a chair with the most bizarre-looking clawed right hand in the next. Fortunately however, as a result of Ennis’ pulse-pounding storyline, such quieter moments are few and far between.
The variant cover art of "MOON KNIGHT" No. 1 by Skottie Young

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