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Evil Geek Book Report – Moon Knight By Bendis & Maleev

Last year I had asked you all for some recommendations regarding bat shit crazy Moon Knight and what I got was a lot of indifference. Which is kind of a shame because Moon Knight is actually an interesting character, one that Marvel I think knows and continually tries to get into the lime light only to watch it fail miserably. He’s certainly come a long way since his 1980’s series where he was pitched as kind of a Batman/The Shadow hybrid.

Things got noticeably weirder and darker for him though particularly bottoming out with Charlie Huston’s take on him in the 2006 series. Mr. Arthur Harkness lent me the follow up series Vengeance Of Moon Knight  from 2009 written by Gregg Hurwitz. By this point, the character was a mess. They took him from donning multiple identities so he could have his ear to the ground of the criminal underworld to actually believing he was all of these people and just losing his mind. In the 2006 series he actually carves off his enemy’s face! What they needed was a fresh start for Moon Knight and who better to do it than recent Marvel comics wonder boy, Brian Michael Bendis?

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I have to give credit where credit is due, because Martian Luthor Kang has been trying to get me to read this series forever. Going as far as to give me a copy of the first trade, which I kept in my “to read” pile for close to a year hoping it would disappear. I didn’t want to be disappointed again. So with great trepidation, I launched into what was Moon Knight Volume 5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

Wisely Bendis cleaned house. He relocated Marc Spector form NYC to L.A. and had him creating a terrible television show based loosely on Moon Knight called Legends of the Khonshu. NYC is a crowded place; being an East Coaster myself it’s nice to see heroes in other locations. This might be a Marvel curse because Scarlet Spider was in Houston, Agent Venom relocated to Philadelphia and both those series (along with this) were prematurely canceled.

Moon Knight had recently been given membership to the Secret Avengers and this plays a large role in the series. You see Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine all visiting him near the start of the story. As it goes along you realize that this may not be the actual Avengers he’s talking to but that they are a product of his mental stability and it blurs the lines a bit between fantasy and reality.

119a0ead9a116fee2b56d7c283d60b48As a whole the series is set to one of Bendis’ default modes as an author but luckily it’s one that he does pretty well, the espionage tale with noir undertones. Here Moon Knight tries to get involved in stopping a new kingpin who is setting up shop in L.A. He intercepts the transport of Ultron and manages to return with the head. He can then use said Ultron head as a bargaining chip as he slowly unravels the case piece by piece. He’s aided by the help of former Daredevil love interest and brief Avenger, Echo. This works two fold; it gives Moon Knight a love interest and some room for comedic banter. It also is basically like having Daredevil in your book so (to me at least) that’s a bonus. We are also introduced to Buck, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Marc Spector hires as a consultant for his tv show that he integrates into helping him create tech for Moon Knight.

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The story while engrossing and certainly a page turner it was far from a true mystery, the L.A. kingpin reveal was also pretty hollow to me at least. It was a villain I wasn’t familiar with and had to consult Wikipedia. Regardless, it was an excellent and fun read and far and away the best Moon Knight series I’ve read yet. It just worked, and you didn’t really need to posses much of a past knowledge of the character either, you could just jump right in. I don’t really have to get into Alex Maleev’s art do I? I’ve gushed at length about it. If you must know for this series, it’s striking and gorgeous. Bendis and Maleev have proved to be quite a team over the years. If anything I would say this is closest to their work on Spider-Woman.

Ultimately, the series was planned as an ongoing but canceled after 12 issues making it a nice full story miniseries. Nothing feels rushed and it comes to a natural completion. Apparently, it serves as a little prologue to the Age Of Ultron. I’ve never read it, but it is referenced at the end of the series.

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With wave 2 of Marvel Now announced we’ve recently found out that Warren Ellis will be taking a crack at Moon Knight and it looks like he’s going in a completely different direction. I’ve got high hopes he could help bring this character back where he deserves to be.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on January 17, 2014, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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