Wednesday, 25 July 2012

It's not a review. It's just my opinion! #5 - MOON KNIGHT

I read a lot of graphic novels, more so than floppies. So I have decided to tell you all what I am reading and what I thought about those particular books. I want to stress though that I am not looking to review these books in the style of a critic, or to give them a rating, only to express my opinions as a fan of what I personally thought of what I have read. Please do not let my opinion sway you in any way, as I have always lived by the credo that I will make my own mind up about something and so should you. Plus, they say that critics are people that can't actually create themselves and that aint me.
Finally, this is my actual reading pile. All the books I have bought myself for the purpose of my enjoyment and as I am not tieing myself down to any kind of formulated structure, you may notice that I read whatever takes my fancy, rather than switching characters or publishers etc...

Anyhoo... MOON KNIGHT!!!

Without a shadow of a doubt, Moon Knight is one of the most unique super heroes, not only in the Marvel Universe, but in comics in general. A man with multiple identities; Marc Spector - the mercenary, Jake Lockley - New York City cab driver and millionaire Steven Grant. And lets not forget the identity that sells the comic itself - MOON KNIGHT! Sometimes confusing, but always gritty, the adventures of Lord Khonshu's chosen disciple are often compared to Batman's. There are many similarities to the Dark Knight, but this is far from a cheap carbon copy.

Countdown To Dark - (w) Doug Moench (a) Bill Sienkiewicz

This book collects a number of Moon Knight's back up strips from The Hulk magazine and is a collection of short stories, rather than one tale. The first story; The Big Blackmail/Countdown to Dark, didn't set my world on fire as far as an introduction to the character is concerned, but the narrative does break down the four identities of our titular hero for us, which is invaluable moving forward as I would have been lost without the explanation.
The second story is brilliant. It is the same tale, but shown from two separate perspectives as the Hulk unwittingly teams up with Moon Knight to thwart a gang of would be burglars during a lunar eclipse. Chapter one is told from Mooney's perspective and chapter two from ol' green skins. This story is fun and a joy to read.
The third story is without a doubt the most important of the book and one that probably deserves a higher page count. There is an axe murderer on the loose in New York City who is hacking up nurses and leaving clues for Marc Spector. We find out that the murderer is in fact Moon Knight's brother which leads to an emotional showdown between the two siblings. This is also the first point in which we are shown that Marc Spector must be the true identity of Moon Knight and that the others are fabrications.
The final story is a James Bond meets Batman style yarn in which we see Moon Knight jet setting across the globe to hunt down a mad scientist who is creating a method of brainwashing.
All in all this is an ok book and a decent enough introduction to the character. It isn't the most astounding graphic novel I have ever read, but it entertained me for the hour that I read it, Bill Sienkiewicz's are is glorious and it gives you an excellent grasp of the character.

The Bottom & Midnight Sun (w) Charlie Huston & Duane Swierczynski (a) David Finch, Mico Suyan, Tomm Coker & Jefte Palo

These two graphic novels showcase the Charlie Huston run on the book that re-launched Moon Knight back into the modern Marvel Universe in 2007. There is a massive gap between the Countdown To Dark graphic novel and The Bottom and as I have never read Moon Knight before, at least not in depth, it was a little disorienting at first. Luckily I at least had a grasp of his multiple personalities as there are times in this book where Crawley refers to him as Jake and Marlene calls him Steve, which I imagine would make no sense to the uninitiated.
The book starts with Marc Spector, crippled and battered after his last and final battle with his arch nemesis; Bushman, who he killed in an alley and it seems he cut his face off too. Reminiscing over the good old days of jumping out of helicopters and battling evil under the light of the full moon all for the sake of his Lord Khonshu. Now he is not only physically a wreck, but mentally too. He has lost all of his friends and loved ones and even Khonshu has forsaken him. Lured back into the costume by the new Committee who use the Profile to assess his state of being and send Taskmaster to kill him, Moon Knight returns and makes a statement by crashing one of his jets into the side of a building.
In the second volume Marc is approached by Captain America and Iron Man, who are in the midst of battling over the Superhuman Registration Act, only to tell him that neither side wants him. At the same time he is also dealing with the fact that as much as he wants Marlene back, she has moved on and found someone else. Then Midnight strikes and Moon Knight must stop his rampage of terror.
Neither of these arcs set my world on fire. I understand what Huston was trying to do with the character and I appreciate it, but it just seems like too much in too small an amount of issues, He is very wordy in his panels too, which is understandable from a writer of prose, but still a bit much for the introduction of a character. The art however is glorious all the way through.

The last issue of the second volume is the first Annual written by Duane Swierczynski and in my opinion says more about the character than the rest of the two volumes. In this story we are privy to a help group of women who have all been victims of rape. What they don't realise is that they have all been the victim of the same predator. As they reveal their individual accounts, we the reader get to see how their experiences interlock and how Moon Knight, who seeks retribution against this man, is involved. There is no personal vendetta in stopping this guy, instead we see for the first time in these two trades Moon Knight delivering justice to an evil man in defence of the innocent. I really enjoyed this chapter, even if at times it was uncomfortable to read, but then that is what sets Swierczynski apart as a great writer, his ability to emit emotion out of the page as well as great characterisation. In fact, do yourself a favour and read his runs on Cable and Iron Fist for more examples of this.

God and Country, The Death of Marc Spector & Down South (w) Mike Benson & Peter Milligan (a) Mark Texeira, Mike Deodato Jr, Laurence Campbell & Jefte Palo

The next run of Moon Knight is written by Mark Benson and begins with Marc Spector, now an official registered Super Hero in Tony Stark's new Initiative. But how did a nut job like Moon Knight get a card? And how does he manage to keep it when he is still roaming the streets and dispensing harsh vigilante justice onto the criminal underworld.
He is also still seeing visions of his Lord Khonshu in the guise of the faceless Bushman, who continues to goad him towards a breaking point that will have him go past the point of no return by killing his victims. On top of all this, Carson Knowles, aka The Black Spectre, has been released from prison and isn't having any luck going straight, so instead sets about on a killing spree whilst framing Moon Knight in the process. This all leads to a final battle that sees our hero pushing Black Spectre off of a roof, denying and abandoning his Lord Khonshu and becoming a fugitive from the law.
In the next volume, Moon Knight has escaped the law and is hiding in the sewers. Tony Stark and SHIELD are hellbent on finding and capturing him, but those higher up than Iron Man have taken the case away from them and passed it onto Norman Osborn and his group of Thunderbolts. Osborn, as we all know, is nothing if not completely ruthless and in an attempt to flush Spector out, sets his thugs onto Frenchie and hospitalises Rob. Battles ensue with Moon Knight squaring off against Bullseye and Venom and in a realisation that his existence is only hurting those that he loves, he fakes his death. Marc Spector is dead...
But Jake Lockley is still alive and has escaped to Mexico. In the final volume of this run, Jake Lockley is approached by a wealthy Mexican philanthropist to rescue his daughter from a bunch of crooked Federales. All is not as it seems, as once the girl is "rescued", she reveals that she was actually in protective custody and in hiding from her Father, who wants to kill her. So now her Father hires a pair of mercenaries in the guise of Luchadores to hunt both his Daughter and now Jake Lockley too. But one of them falls in love with the woman and they defect too. Throw in the Punisher and a Toltec assassin whose presence is never really explained and you have one giant cluster fuck of a story arc. At the end of the book, Moon Knight is watching the news only to find out that Norman Osbourne has risen to power back in the States and wanting vengeance, declares that he is returning home.

I found it very difficult and frustrating writing about these books as they left me with nothing but the feeling of a tonne of missed opportunities. His schizophrenia is never delved into in any deep way. His relationships with his friends/allies/accomplices are all grim and not in a fun way, as most of them have just completely given up on him which leads to a dead end in the story. As the disclaimer states at the top, this is only my opinion, but in my opinion this character has a massive wealth of potential that is just waiting to be tapped into.

Vengeance of the Moon Knight - Shock and Awe & Killed, Not Dead (w) Gregg Hurwitz (a) Jerome Opena, Tan Eng Huat & Juan Jose Ryp

This first volume of Vengeance of the Moon Knight is more about redemption than vengeance, as Moon Knight returns to New York and begins hunting down criminals, but this time making a concerted effort to not maim or kill any of his targets, but instead to just have them ready for the Police to collect. Norman Osbourne, who at this point is running HAMMER and is the most powerful man in the Marvel Universe, sees the return of Moon Knight as an obvious threat and insists that he be eliminated. So The Hood resurrects Bushman from the grave, who then teams up with Scarecrow and together with an army of lobotomised inmates from Blackgate Asylum, proceed to run amok in an attempt to lure out Moon Knight, who in turn is shocked by the return of his arch nemesis. Battle ensues and Moon Knight eventually wins the day and in doing so without using lethal force, scrapes back a bit of his dissipated dignity.
This first volume reads better than the previous few, but little things really took me out of the story. At one point the villain known as the Beetle is mentioned, but he went straight and is now working with the Thunderbolts. When speaking of Marc Spectors past as a mercenary, he claims that he used to accept Euros as payment, but the Euro wouldn't have existed at that point in time. I know I am nitpicking, but these little references that the editor at least should have picked up just knocked me out of the story for a bit.

The final volume was just a waste of time. In the first story Moon Knight has to stop Deadpool from killing an evil tycoon/mobster in a poor attempt to just wedge Deadpool into the book at the height of his popularity. In the second story, Moon Knight teams up with Spider-Man to take on the Sandman after a robbery at a museum and in the final issue, he joins the Secret Avengers and they stop a pirate. There is nothing outstanding about this book at all and there is certainly nothing between the covers that we haven't already seen one hundred and one times before!

All in all, other than Countdown to Dark, these book have left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth in regards to the character. I know he can be written well, as the aforementioned Countdown to Dark and Ed Brubaker's run on Secret Avengers has proved, but for some reason he hasn't been handled at all well in these previous two series. I have yet to read Bendis and Maleev's run, so hopefully they will show me a Moon Knight that I want to read.

Anyhoo... can't win 'em all!


No comments:

Post a Comment