|MOON KNIGHT No. 6, October 2014|
As a swansong for the ingenious duo of Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey “Spectre” is undoubtedly something of a disappointment, and a somewhat sorrowful finale for an extremely inventive and amazingly imaginative six-issue sojourn. True, there is still much to marvel at with this edition as both writer and artist are craftily clever and produce a rather ingenious ‘bookend’ to their relatively short run on “Moon Knight”. The comic’s cover illustration, for example, is clearly designed to resemble a negative version of that used for their first issue. Whilst the narrative itself also returns the reader back to the very beginning of the creative team’s time together when ‘Mister Knight’ initiated his investigation into a series of New York ‘slasher’ killings. But unlike their other endeavours to do something different within this story-telling medium, this one simply doesn’t seem to be the ‘stand-out’ culmination the pair were probably striving for.
Much of this dissatisfaction lies within the fact that whereas Ellis’ earlier piece followed the masked vigilante’s excursion into the bowels of the city and a fateful confrontation with an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. monstrosity, the English graphic novelist’s storyline now simply follows the jaded and dislikeable Police officer Ryan Trent on his dark and spiralling journey into obsession, domestic murder and eventual homicidal insanity. Unfortunately this means that the brightly dressed Fist of Khonsu, whether sleuth or scrapper, is barely to be found within this book until its dying pages. And when he does appear he is seemingly so ineffective that a single well-thrown dart incapacitates the hero to the point where, if not for a mistimed car bomb, Trent, now wholly immersed his alter-ego of Black Spectre, may well have shot him dead.
Admittedly there are several nods to Moon Knight’s past, both recent and more long-term, wonderfully woven into the events of the police officer’s fall into madness. The (mis)use of the ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent’s identification, an interview with Jean-Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp, and Trent utilising the self-same room beneath which Doctor Skelton buried the corpse of his first experimental patient. But so many of the pages are taken up with dialogue, and conversations/interrogations which don’t actually progress the plot any further nor motivate the New York City cop to sink deeper into his psychosis.
Sadly Declan Shalvey’s artwork also seems to suffer in this ‘chattier’ noir world without Marc Spector. The Irish illustrator’s subtle changes to the Black Spectre wannabe are done well enough; increasingly dark eyes, unshaven stubble, hunched shoulders and unnerving smile. But there’s little to no vigour to his pencils until the transformation into (supposed) super-villain is complete. Before that the pages are filled with static, plain, rather robotic-looking figures. Line art which clearly proved equally as uninspiring to color artist Jordie Bellaire, whose use of greys, browns, dark blues, and pallid haunting flesh-tones does little but accentuate the disenchanting drawings.
|Writer: Warren Ellis, Artist: Declan Shalvey, and Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire|