Thursday, July 20, 2006

Essential Moon Knight

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.


Mickey Coalwell said...

1. Don Perlin did a fantastic costume design. It's one of the best, ever. He doesn't get enough credit for it. He may have been inspired by the Japanese tokusatsu hero Gekko Kamen (Moonlight Mask), who I grew up watching on Japanese TV in the early '60s.

2. MK reminds me of Hawkman, having been revised, retconned, rethought, relaunched, reconfigured and generally messed with since his first appearance. Fist of Khonshu? Schizophrenic mercenary? Self-delusional killer? WTF?

3. Charlie Huston might be on the right track. He appears to be bringing together the many contradictory threads running through MK's convoluted history with the goal of creating a more unified, sympathetic character.

4. IMO, aside from Sinkiewicz's art, the original series was really horrible. Moench tried to combine horror with superheroics and the result was just unpleasant. It was a failed experiment, as far as I'm concerned. The Marc Spector, MK series had a few high points, actually, and I actually much prefer it to the original run. Chuck Dixon did a great job launching the title, and his 24 issues stand up very well. Check out Russ Heath's art job in #4! Terry Kavanagh was not my cup of tea, but in his defense, he was obliged to cater to the stupid crossover marketing strategies of the 1990s and had to feature The Punisher in every other issue or some similar shit. Steve Platt may be to some people's liking, but his signature says it all for me: "SPLATT."


Scott M said...

I don't mind the first series - at least I saw it as an improvement on the earlier appearances here and there, but Moench's writing could be terrible at time, especially the dialogue. Too large a supporting cast as well and the split personality thing ends up being more of creative burden than a springboard for ideas.

That being said, there was still something that appealed to me - at least in half of the stories. That's why I like the essential format - not much of an investment for a good look at a title. I picked up the first half dozen issue of the 2nd series from the mid-80s - it's a bit too trippy for me. I've never read the Marc Spector series - I'll grab it if I can find a good deal.

I like the new series, but I am still waiting for it to really get going - not sure how long I'll stick with it.