You know how it’s pretty presumptuous of comics to call themselves “the best comic of whatever year it is” in their solicits? Yeah. “Moon Knight” #2 might have a point there. Mild spoilers ahead.
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Declan Shalvey
• The best new comic of 2014 continues with a story that has to be experienced to be believed!
Marc Spector’s been struggling with escaping from The Dark Knight’s shadow forever. Internet commentators saying “he’s just a crazy version of Batman” have shrouded Moon Knight in a muddled legacy that he can hardly flee, even on the cover of his own comic. Seriously, look at the orange space between the crescent moon and Spector’s cape. Knowing the creative team, details like that aren’t coincidental, especially since its the details that have made “Moon Knight” one of the hottest All-New Marvel NOW! debuts and the second issue one of the hottest single Marvel issues period. Here, Moon Knight isn’t ignoring his parallel, he’s embracing him and pulling off tricks Batman never could.
“Moon Knight” #2, in a stark contrast to the premiere issue’s noir detective storyline, is a blockbuster thriller. One sniper sets shop outside a Wall Street firm where his support team that left him to die in the field years back, a startlingly similar origin to Spector’s, and picks them off one by one. Every once in a while, some artists will come around and remind readers why we haven’t just abandoned comics in favor of adapting all superheroes and stories straight to the screen. Declan Shalvey’s layout in this comic is groundbreaking to the point of being unreasonable. The pages are at first overwhelming, as each target begins to head home from work. Each of them lives in an island, separated by a white borders, where time is flowing simultaneously for all of them. Then, as the sniper does his work, randomly making each turn of the page a wild guess at who will die next, the deceased’s panel turns to utter void, leaving a gigantic blank on the page occasionally filled in by narration that’s crazy-sounding enough to come from either the sniper or Spector. Eventually the white rivers running between each person’s lives grow into an ocean, surrounding the remaining staffers and engulfing them; the borders they had built up since leaving their sniper in the field have become demolished, absorbing them back into the pale maelstrom of violence they thought they’d left behind.
Then we get the title page. “Moon Knight” is wild, you guys.
Following said title page we’re treated to what is probably one of the most cinematic fight scenes in recent memory. I resent using the word cinematic, because it harkens back to that idea that comics have to strive towards film but the flow of motion in this issue is superb. Cast against Jordie Bellaire’s sickly twilight-night sky, inventive gadgets and deranged personalities clash in a brilliant fight, concluding with the white space returning to envelop the defeated.
Even though last issue focused on transforming Moon Knight into a typical suit-adorned Warren Ellis character, Marc Spector’s taken up his usual superhero garb to take on the weary sniper in this issue. The fighting style’s devolved into the Batmanesque, someone even gets a moon-rang in their hand that I feel was replicated exactly from “Year One.” However, it’s in the dialogue that Warren Ellis really sets apart his version of The Fist of Khonshu. Under the dark face mask, Moon Knight doesn’t become some shapeless predator. He just seems quiet. When he speaks during a fight, it’s not for the sake of banter or to lead on his target. The few sentences Spector lets out here are simple commands. “All right.”, “That’s enough.”, etc. But there is one line that Spector doesn’t seem to be saying to anyone but himself. As the sniper’s firing bullets off at him, he demands to know why he can’t hit him. Spector only replies a single sentence. Granted, it could totally be read as him just messing with the sniper but the sincerity in Moon Knight’s (admittedly obscured) eyes in that panel shows the truth Spector now believes in the wake of the mess his life has been, as well as the revelations from last issue: “I’m not real.”Continued below
Ellis and Shalvey’s “Moon Knight” is an uncertain ride between the line of what’s real and what’s not. Dreamlike in the most literal of sense (though I doubt the ending is a fake-out of any sort, it feels almost eerily clean, like when you need to wake up from a nightmare and everything resolves itself in seconds.) Removed of the certainty that drives other caped heroes, Moon Knight has become more singular than he’s ever been in a world that feels one-degree away of falling apart before our eyes. And for all we know it very well might.
Final Verdict: 8.8 – Buy!