In recent years, Moon Knight has been a recurring character at Marvel Comics, with different iterations of the character being frequent but short-lived. The most recent run of the series, by Max Bemis and Jacen Burrows, ended last October and the title has yet to be relaunched. For the next 12 weeks, in this summer plagued by a Moon Knight drought, I’ll be bringing you my thoughts on Bendis and Maleev’s run as part of our Summer Comics Binge.
“Moon Knight” #9
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencilled by Alex Maleev
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Moon Knight throws down with the Kingpin of Los Angeles! The Battle for LA’s soul claims a life – one that will be felt throughout the Marvel U, all the way to Avengers Tower!
This issue does not pull any punches. Three Avengers die in this issue. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Yes, two of those were only in Marc’s head, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of their deaths. But first, of course, is the real-life death of Echo. Having been a one of the main supporting characters in the series up until now, Echo’s loss is a big one. She’s acted as both a major part of Moon Knight’s missions and been an anchor for Marc in the real world. With her gone, Marc is going to struggle in his war against Count Nefaria and we see a glimpse of that future at the end of this issue, with Marc now consumed by the Wolverine personality and the rage that it channels. The Wolverine personality hasn’t just taken control though, he’s killed the Captain America and Spider-Man personalities. The three having frequently been at odds throughout the series, offering contrasting advice as to what to do, but this arguing has never had any big consequences. That is until this week where it makes Marc hesitate about killing Nefaria, who then kills Echo.
Bendis focuses the script for the issue on the dynamic in the personalities, with the issue showing flashbacks to Buck giving Marc the various equipment that provides the imaginary Avengers a physical manifestation. These scenes are cut between those from the surprise attack from Nefaria, with the equipment’s origins accompanying its use in the present. By showing us these scenes, it makes the deaths of the two Avengers personalities feel complete. Given this completion that the issue has, I’m left wondering when, or even if, the other two Avenger personalities will return, or whether Wolverine and all his rage will continue to consume Moon Knight for the rest of the series. Equally, will Marc feel that he has enough of a real life to return to now that Echo is gone?
Maleev’s artwork this week continues to impress, and I think that this week’s issue provides us with some of his best depictions of Moon Knight. The scratchy and unclean lines have served the series in making the city of L.A. look dark and menacing, but this week, these scratchy lines make a beaten Moon Knight look all the more broken. In the scene that shows Moon Knight using his web-shooters, Nefaria looms above, a silhouette in the moon, Moon Knight’s cape is torn and tattered and Maleev’s lines enhance the texture of it. Likewise, the closing splash page of the titular hero lunging towards Nefaria with bloodied Wolverine claws leaves me wanting to read the next issue. Finally, the double splash page that shows Echo die by Nefaria’s optic blast brings the turning point of the issue, potentially the turning point of the series, to the biggest scale that it could possibly be and gives the scene the weight it deserves. Something I also noticed when revisiting the issue is the lack of sound effects on this page. The decision to keep this scene silent, barring Spider-Man’s haunted “no,” only increases the scenes poignancy and when reading it, it happens in slow motion. It allows for the shock to set in and makes Moon Knight’s rage after even more understandable.
Beyond the main points I’ve spoken about so far, this issue does raise a couple of questions. Buck says that he can’t make the Wolverine claws, nor the Captain America shield fully as Adamantium (and Vibranium) are very scarce, and yet he had some to upgrade Echo’s staff. Part of me wonders if he’s somehow melted the Ultron head to use it for that, which then leads me to wonder where that Ultron head has gone. Is the real Ultron head with the real Avengers? Also, given that Detective Hall and Snapdragon were both absent this week, I’d expect them to return next issue and provide some sort of assistance to Moon Knight. Perhaps Snapdragon will turn on Count Nefaria and start to help Moon Knight in Echo’s place. He sure is going to need it.Continued below
Overall – “Moon Knight” #9 is another very strong issue that sees Count Nefaria get his devastating revenge and leaves Marc reeling and way out of his depth.