The first Marvel Disney+ show of 2022, Moon Knight, kicked off today, which is a perfect excuse to check out some Moon Knight comics!
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Warren Ellis
Art by: Declan Shalvey
Collects: Moon Knight Volume 7 #1 – 6
So, as mentioned, today saw the release of the first episode of Marvel’s Moon Knight:
A solid opening to the series, the first episode introduced us to Steven Grant, the sleep-deprived Londoner thrown into a dangerous situation beyond his understanding. It was a fun, intriguing start to the show, and personally, I can’t wait to see where it goes.
If you’re like me, and are currently craving more Moon Knight, then there are a lot of places to start.
But first, here’s a little background on the character:
Real Name: Marc Spector
Affiliation: The Avengers
First Appearance: Werewolf by Night #32 (August 1975)
While taking a job watching over an archaeological dig in Egypt, mercenary Marc Spector was betrayed by his fellow merc Raoul Bushman, who planned on looting the site. After killing their client, Dr Alraune, Bushman beat and left Spector for dead in the desert.
However, as fate would have it, this was not the end for Spector, as the dig had unearthed an ancient temple of the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu. Assisted by his followers, Khonshu granted Spector a second chance at life if he agreed to become his avatar.
Revived, Spector took revenge on Bushman and returned to America with Dr Arlaune’s daughter, Marlene Alraune. There, the stress of Spector’s adventures took their toll, causing dissociative identity disorder, as he developed alters such as entrepreneur Steven Grant and cab-driver Jake Lockley. With the aid of Marlene and his friend and personal pilot, Frenchie DuChamp, Spector began fighting crime as ‘the Fist of Khonshu’ – a brutal white-clad vigilante known as Moon Knight. However, while Spector is sure of his new purpose, others question whether Khonshu is just another figment of Spector’s fractured mind.
There are a lot of places to start with Moon Knight.
Originally, the character was introduced as an antagonist to the hero Werewolf-by-Night (who’s getting his own Disney+ special later this year), but after a brief tussle, quickly saw the error of his ways.
After a few appearances in other books such as Marvel Spotlight, Marvel Two-In-One, Spectacular Spider-Man and Defenders, Moon Knight graduated to his own ongoing series.
Since then, Moon Knight has had eight ongoing series (six simply titled Moon Knight, plus two others, Marc Spector: Moon Knight and Vengeance of the Moon Knight) as well as a number of limited series. At the time of writing, the current ongoing is on Moon Knight Volume 9.
But today, we’re looking at Volume 7 (which would be the seventh series titled Moon Knight, but not necessarily the seventh ongoing series – comic volumes are confusing).
The opening six issues were written by Warren Ellis, before the series was taken over by Brian Wood and later, Cullen Bunn.
Moon Knight is back in New York, and is trying to get back to basics. Carving out his own niche among the superhero community, Moon Knight and his alters take on the weirdest mysteries New York City has to offer, as the ‘Fist of Khonshu’ takes on mobsters, cyborgs, parasites and ghosts!
From the Dead is an interesting story because of how episodic it is. Back in the early years of Marvel superheroes, issues and stories were largely self-contained. As time went on, stories became more decompressed. Especially as we entered the 2010s.
So it’s something of a rarity to pick up a Marvel Comic where every issue tells its own story, moves on, and more or less doesn’t touch on it again. Yes, the final issue of this book ties into some stuff set up earlier, but each issue is pretty much its own thing.
In fact, it’s so self-contained that some of the stories seem to end rather abruptly. But maybe that’s just a case of me being used to the current Marvel style of storytelling.
Another thing about this is that these self-contained stories are very to the point. Warren Ellis isn’t a writer known for drawing things out. There’s a very brief bit of exposition at the start of the book about who Moon Knight is, and from there on, things barrel forward with the understanding that you know the score, and the book won’t stop to explain things. There are allusions to Moon Knight’s past, but only when it’s relevant. Things aren’t explained. They just happen.
Fortunately, it’s not a comic that needs much explanation.
From a storytelling perspective, things are relatively simple. A threat emerges. Moon Knight eliminates it. Rinse and repeat.
The depth here comes from the unique ways Moon Knight tackles a threat, which in many ways tells you more about the character than pages of exposition ever would. We witness his brutality. His motivations. His psyche. His gadgets and his mysticism. With very little in the way of long expository dialogues, and much more focus on the way the character moves and fights.
As such, a big part – the biggest part – of why this comic works as well as it does is the art.
First off, the way artist Declan Shavley and colourist Jordie Bellaire picture Moon Knight as a simple, black and white figure amidst a sea of more colourful characters and surroundings really hammer down the character’s ethos that he wants to be seen – for the villains to see him coming. His look is a stark contrast to the rest of the comic that’s really effective.
The world around him is also spectacularly realised, as each issue skips between different locales and harnesses different art styles to capture the lunacy that is Moon Knight’s world. One issue he’ll take part in a gritty, grounded and realistic series of fights with mobsters. The next, he’ll careen over the rooftops in something that is the perfect depiction of superhero spectacle. He may be adorned in ancient armour as he gets into a fistfight with ghosts. Or take an otherworldly voyage through a trippy dream landscape.
It’s all so beautiful and fascinating, really great art. It’s bold. It’s uncanny. It’s unique.
The action, when it comes to that, is also really well-plotted. We get to see every movement; the cause and effect. The visceral brutality of Moon Knight’s wrath. Honestly, even if you’re not a fan of Warren Ellis as a writer or understandably, as a person (he didn’t fare so well in the #MeToo era ), this is probably a case where you should separate the art from the artist (or rather the writing from the writer) as this is worth reading for the art alone.
As such, all-in-all, I give From The Dead a…
Thanks for reading! Are you excited for Moon Knight? Let me know in the comments below!
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