Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
Moon Knight #1-5 – Ellis & Shalvey Run
Ellis, Shalvey & Bellaire
Moon Knight has seen plenty of re-launches over the years and the character has gone through plenty of transformations in addition to the new #1 on the cover. Marvel launched the Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey version of Moon Knight back in March and though it quickly became only a six issue run it has become an instant classic and one that should not be missed regardless of the reader's familiarity with the character. While this review only covers the first five issues (issue six hadn't shipped at the time this was written) it is safe to say that this run examines how to make a comic book a great and an individual read while sticking to the common anchors that make up a character. Find these issues or wait for the trade but I am willing to bet you will love what you read between the covers.
The premise is that Ellis takes a small idea or plot device and crafts a thought provoking and inventive story around the idea. There is nothing original about the ideas but it's how Ellis brings the character through the story that makes each issue so unique. The beauty of what Ellis has done here is that the issues are truly one-shots and can be read in any order.
The first issue, "Slasher", contains the most non-plot related material. Ellis provides a little background on the character and ties up the issue with some more origin-type information but the bulk of the issue is about Moon Knight tracking down a killer. Moon Knight dives into the situation head-first, not knowing what he'll find. He finds the killer but some surprises occur along the way.
The second issue, "Sniper", is my favorite. The opening of the book is absolutely perfect. The comic is designed where each page is divided into even panels, with each panel focusing on one character, all in different locations. One by one, as the pages turn, the characters are killed off. Eventually Moon Knight comes into the picture to find the killer and hopefully stop him before he's completed the mission.
The third issue is called, "Box", and this one is strangest of the bunch. Moon Knight finds himself involved with a gang of ghosts. After getting defeated by the bunch, Moon Knight does some investigating and figures out a way to punch the untouchable. This may be the only issue that truly deals with something out of the ordinary. I believe this is also the only comic where Moon Knight actually loses a battle as well.
"Sleep" is the fourth issue and this one is fantastic. Moon Knight investigates mysterious deaths at a sleep research facility. The person conducting the research is a helpful, but suspicious fellow. Moon Knight plunges himself into a deep sleep to determine the outcomes of the victims. He finds some very interesting results.
Finally we have "Scarlet". This is the classic tale that you've read in countless books, such as The Punisher or Batman. Moon Knight catches wind that a little kid was kidnapped as part of a gang war and he takes matters into his own hands. The part of this book that is so enjoyable is how Moon Knight finds and attempts to rescue her. It certainly makes this version of the child rescue story a memorable one.
The common items that these issues contain help to match up with the character. For example, Moon Knight is classy and elegant in every single issue. He is also extremely violent and driven. The books also contain neat little gadgets and that they have some level of investigative work involved. The books also deal with small time villains, bad guys that are on the absolute outskirts of the Marvel Universe. All of this helps to keep the book true to the character definitions of Moon Knight that Ellis seems to hold as constants.
The artwork plays a big role in making this comic so successful. Shalvey provides stunning pencils in each issue. The books all have a timeless look to them but in a classic horror movie kind of way. The contrast of stark white that is found with Moon Knight against virtually every background makes the art simply pop off of the pages. Shalvey shows an incredible range in his fight sequences, unique layouts and panel arrangements. These comics are truly storytelling masterpieces and it's no wonder that Ellis goes extremely light on monologue or dialogue. The comics definitely have a perfect pace due to the art.
Moon Knight is a character that I have had little interest in over the years. Even appearances in various events or crossovers haven't grabbed me as anything important. This series completely changes my view on the character. I find the character is engaging, tough, smart, clever, stubborn and driven. All of this from just five issues. I urge you to look for these comics and give one of them a try. It's helpful that only six of them will be produced but it is also extremely unfortunate. Marvel found an absolute winner with this team on this book.
5 out of 5 Geek Goggles