|MOON KNIGHT No. 17, September 2015|
Anyone perusing this comic’s disconcertingly sinister opening third will arguably find it hard to believe that “Duality” actually saw its title’s circulation fall by almost a thousand issues in July 2015. For whilst the initial narrative lacks any of the spectacular “two-fisted justice” action set-pieces this series of “Moon Knight” is known for, it does contain a compellingly tense nervy trip through a rather creepily run Church of Khonshu. In fact for eight or so pages, Cullen Bunn’s writing is at its very best, as a heavily disguised elderly-looking Marc Spector slowly potters his way through the intimidatingly lengthy corridors of the murderous institution and discovers just how far “the welcoming committee” will go in order to “bring in tithes” for their saviour.
Sadly however the Bram Stoker Award-nominee’s narrative takes a decidedly dire turn for the worse, once the street-level crimefighter finds his way to the establishment’s basement basilica, and promptly flattens the three muscle-bound Egyptian warriors who were planning on slitting his throat with their curved sacrificial blades. Indeed in many ways it is actually hard to believe that this book’s later stages were scripted by the same storyteller, as having spent a considerable time building up a claustrophobic atmosphere of ‘dark doings’ within a ‘House of God’, Bunn suddenly has “New York’s wildest vigilante” going toe-to-toe with a half-naked homicidally deranged imitation of Laura Kinney, complete with X-23(ish) claws.
Admittedly this confrontation, which quickly shows Moon Knight’s female adversary to be as formidable a killing machine as she is a sadistic slayer, is as brutal and bloody as any of this twenty-page periodical’s 20,615 readers could want. But having initially intimated that his tale was going to concentrate upon Spector as “the night’s greatest detective”, the American author’s abrupt abandonment of such a ‘sleuth-story’ in favour of little more than a one-sided ‘punch-up’ exasperates the senses and even arguably suggests that this comic’s script is simply two separate ideas jarringly bolted together; “That must have been some night in Vegas…”
The artwork of (returning) penciller Ron Ackins would also appear to suffer from the ‘duality’ of Bunn’s somewhat contrived plot, as the self-taught illustrator’s rather unique ‘quirky’ style really helps accentuate the disconcerting happiness of the Moon Deity’s supposed followers. Regrettably though the Philadelphia-born graphic designer’s later drawings, especially those depicting Mister Knight’s ‘rip-roaring’ mêlée with his ‘sister’, are far less successfully sketched and genuinely suggest that (once again) the artist was in a rush to meet his deadline.
|Writer: Cullen Bunn, Art: Ron Ackins, and Inkers: Tom Palmer with Walden Wong|