When I was a kid, I bought a few copies of Moon Knight off the racks (probably enticed by the covers – especially that painted Earl Norem cover), but never truly became a fan of the characters. Things just seemed too complicated – the multiple personalities, the guy with the tea bag etc… I used to hear people talk about how Moon Knight was just a Batman rip-off, but I never really got that. Sure they are some similarities (work at night, rich) – but that also applies to about 99% of heroes. Don’t forget, Batman piloted his own chopper.
The Essentials series gives me the chance to take a second look at a character I’ve glossed over at a very reasonable price. This volume starts off rather slowly with the initial Werewolf By Night issues – nothing special there. The early solo MK stories (in the Hulk Magazine) are pretty hit and miss, as Doug Moench doesn’t quite seem to have a good feel for where he plans on taking his creation just yet. The team-ups with Spidey and The Thing are pretty standard late 70s Marvel fare – pretty good fun, but nothing groundbreaking.
As far as I am concerned, things improved significantly with the launch of the regular series – the Sienkiewicz art really began to take off, very moody but still great with the action. Moench’s writing improved as he began to steer away from using hard boiled pseudo-Spillaine dialogue for MK that he used in the earlier issue. MK’s supporting cast is also fleshed out a bit more – although in including Gena’s kids seemed like overkill. There’s some really good stuff here. It ain’t Watchmen, but it’s pretty solid compared to some of the books Marvel was putting out in 1980. It also works very nicely in the black and white format. Gene Colan fans take note that the master did a very nice job on one fo the Hulk back-up stories. I love the fact that these books have hidden gems like that. I look forward to the second volume.