|MOON KNIGHT No. 10, February 2015|
There’s a good deal of suspense present within the pages of Issue Ten of “Moon Knight” as the latest agent of Khonsu, the Machiavellian Doctor Elisa Warsame, bewitches a United Nations security officer into making an assassination attempt upon the rather contentious General Aliman Lor; a former murderous militant from the fictitious African state of Akima. Indeed it is rare for a narrative to become so completely compelling that without even realising it the reader’s pulse starts to quicken and they devour the contents of each page with increasing rapidity.
Brian Wood’s narrative for “HQ” however produces just such an effect despite the comic’s opening simply depicting the rather monotonous routine of Gloria Roza as she prepares for a seemingly typical night shift at “Turtle Bay.” Fortunately events do not remain as anaesthetically mundane for long as the guard’s regimental habit is suddenly rocked by the eerily haunting words “thirty-six hours from now. You die” and she shockingly comes face to face with the Egyptian Moon God’s emissary.
What then follows is a rather sinister series of pages within which the Vermont-born writer depicts the villainous psychologist at her mentally manipulative best, patiently probing and provocatively pushing her prey into a course of action that will result in the U.N. employee committing the most cowardly of murders. Such a fundamental betrayal of Roza’s sworn oath of office is extremely well written by the former “Rockstar Games” staff designer and proves to be a fantastically gripping read. Especially when it is clear such cold-blooded butchery goes against everything which the ‘peace officer’ thought she believed in.
Lesser authors may well have been tempted to ‘convert’ their would-be killer within the space of a few panels in order to keep the story flowing. But Wood instead concentrates upon the physician’s twisting of Gloria’s personal history and the shooting of her “highly decorated, very respected” father when she was but twelve years old. As a result, by the time General Lor covertly arrives at the United Nations, it really isn’t clear how the guard is going to react. So when the opportunity approaches for his swift elimination all the signs disturbingly seem to indicate the evil doctor has won the day.
Fortunately the heroically dramatic emergence of a battered and bloodied Marc Spector at the last second manages to momentarily break Warsame’s hold over her pawn, and at the same time interrupt the bookworm’s breathless trance and allow them to take a much needed ‘gulp of air’.
However what it particularly impressive about this scintillatingly atmospheric drama is just how much of its fascinating hold over the reader is additionally down to the pencilling of Greg Smallwood. No less than seven of the comic book’s pages actually contain no dialogue whatsoever, and thus entirely rely upon the American artist’s wonderful illustrations to captivate the imagination. Such a ‘wordless’ technique proves to be doubly effective towards the climax of the story, as all attention becomes focussed upon Roza’s body language and facial expression; most notably when she recognises her intended victim and with an audible “snap” unholsters her firearm.
|Writer: Brian Wood, Artist: Greg Smallwood, and Color Art: Jordie Bellaire|