|MOON KNIGHT No. 11, March 2015|
Any casual comic book collector purchasing Issue Eleven of “Moon Knight” simply because of the savagely brutal Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire cover illustration, which depicts a cornered Mister Knight battering a heavily-armed mob of SWAT officers, will be in for something of a surprise once they open the magazine. For Brian Woods’ tale “Rendered” is a far cry from the gratuitously violent storyline promised by the title’s front page and proves instead to be a much slower, somewhat thoughtful insight into the daily dreary routine experienced by a super-hero incarcerated within a top secret high security penal facility.
However despite the narrative’s almost complete absence of action, this periodical does contain plenty of puzzling intrigue for both the reader and the former ‘Fist of Khonsu’ to ponder, as together they contemplate just where the unmasked vigilante is being detained and how he is going to escape. Indeed the American writer’s ability to create a sinisterly sterile atmosphere, complete with bland, featureless face-masked security goons, psychologists, nurses and even caterers ensures that what potentially could have been a dull lack-lustre issue about the regimental routine of prison life is instead a gripping, even thrilling tale; one which becomes increasingly tense as the ex-mercenary’s probing and eventual flight merely raises more questions as to the motivation behind his illegal captivity then provides answers.
Equally as compelling, though secondary to this comic’s main plot, is prisoner Spector’s deteriorating relationship with his spiritual sponsor Khonsu. Wood’s portrayal of the Egyptian deity as a goading, sarcastic, almost churlish former benefactor is an interesting new take on the moon god and demonstrates just how successfully Doctor Warsame has manipulated events to become the divine being’s “better prospect.” Not only has the psychopathic physician fooled the crime-fighter’s captors into believing Moon Knight has “breached [the] One World Trade Centre”, “attacked a visiting delegation at the United Nation’s building” and blown up the ‘good’ doctor’s own home. But Elisa has also seemingly managed to convince Khonsu that she is a far worthier candidate to do his work.
Such a sedentary script is understandably therefore heavily reliant upon the comic’s page composition to give its proceedings some much needed pace. Fortunately Greg Smallwood rises to this challenge admirably, imbuing several sequences with fast-paced energy by depicting them through a succession of small square-sized panels; sometimes even populating a single sheet with as many as fifteen of these micro-images.
The Kansas-based artist’s pencilling is also consistently impressive throughout the book, with a bruised Spector’s plethora of facial expressions and furtive sideways glances really helping to show that despite the prisoner’s apparent submission, the captive is clearly mentally taking note of his surroundings and calculating an escape plan.
|Writer: Brian Wood, Artist: Greg Smallwood, and Color Art: Jordie Bellaire|