Moon Knight (2016) #1


Rating: 4.5/5 – To Be or Not To Be… Insane
by ComicSpectum EiC Bob Bretall

I’ll be right up front with the fact that I am not a fan of “clinically insane Moon Knight”.  I’ve been reading Moon Knight since his first appearance in Werewolf by Night #32 back in 1975.  My love for the character was cemented in 1978-1983 while written by Doug Moench, particularly the stories illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz.  This was a character who had multiple identities, but they were mere masks, kind of like when Batman would assume the Matches Malone identity back in the day.  Somewhere along the line it was decided that Marc Spector actually had Multiple Personality Disorder.  Many stories from that point forward seemed to focus more on his struggles with his mental illness than they did with his adventures and crimefighting.  I loved the 2014 run written by Warren Ellis because it went back to focusing on Moon Knight fighting bad guys and righting wrongs (a spectacular run, if anyone out there has not read it).

So here we are with a new Moon Knight series, the ninth if I am counting correctly, this time written by Jeff Lemire with some spectacular art by Greg Smallwood.  Marc Spector spends the entire issue in a mental institution.  Is Moon Knight real, or a sad delusion of his troubled mind?  Why did I like this issue so much if I don’t like insane Marc Spector?  Well, the story Lemire is telling is leaving a lot of things open to interpretation.  It may actually be the case that Spector is not insane and it’s all a plot by his enemies.  Maybe (I fervently hope) we will get a ret-con where it turns out he was NEVER insane, and the series that had that focus were all products of his manipulation by an enemy. The situations Lemire has Spector face in this issue are gripping.  Smallwood’s art is scratchy and rough around the edges in the dream sequences, crisp and minimalist in the “reality” scenes, and I loved the notebook pages we see when he is talking to the psychiatrist.  The art was, for me, a visual feast.  Definitely not “super-hero standard”, which is why I loved it so much.  The book has it’s own unique feel.

I hold out hope that Jeff Lemire will give me “my Moon Knight” back.  If he doesn’t, that’s OK too.  I can walk away again and leave the character to those who like the struggling against mental illness version of the character.  While it lasts, I’m holding out hope that the story will go in a direction I want it to, but I cannot deny the craft in the writing and art even if I end up not liking the story at the end of this arc.  This is a well-done comic and well worth a look.  I didn’t pre-order this book, I flipped through it at the comic shop and bought it because of Greg Smallwood’s art.  I’m adding it to my monthly reading list for the remainder of the first story arc because of Lemire’s story.  The conclusion of this arc will determine if I stick around or not.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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