TITLE: Moon Knight: From The Dead
Writer and Artist: Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Protagonists: Moon Knight
Antagonists: Black Spectre
Never let it be said I am not a man of the people, because this actually came in as a request! Back in volume 22 where I reviewed Mystique, 411mania.com (where I cross-post these articles) user Adam specifically requested a review of this book. It took me a bit of time to get my hands on it, read it, and then sit down to pump out my thoughts, but here I am, reviewing your book, Adam (and, Adam, I’m sorry for the delay in getting this out to you; to be fair as of this writing volume 25 was just published… I just have this article written well in advance).
The first thing I will say here is that this is an interesting book because it’s very “Monster Of The Week”-ish in at least this first volume. There doesn’t appear to be an overarching story developing across these first six issues; each one covers a singular threat that Moon Knight encounters and finds a way to thwart. It’s not necessarily bad, but it feels slightly directionless. There aren’t even any subplots I can recall building in the background. It’s just… Moon Knight finds a crime; Moon Knight throws moon blades at that crime until it stops.
The first issue sees MK working with local cops in the city and stopping a former SHIELD operative who is stealing body parts from people to rebuild himself. From there, he deals with a sniper, some ghost gangsters, a weird dream monster, some kidnappers, and then comes full circle when one of the resentful cops from that first issue adopts the identity of one of his rogues to kill and replace him. The series bounces from one-off tale to one-off tale to establish the current iteration of Marc Specter as disturbed, but capable. He has his issues with stability and sanity, and admits to himself he is missing time or not remembering things he has done, but he is also your typical street level super hero, more than up-to-the-task against relatively minor threats.
Declan Shalvey does a nice job as an artist of establishing the unreliability of the world the reader is immersed in. He occasionally shows characters giving Moon Knight a sinister grin, and he frequently plays around with lighting and shadows. The art as a whole is wonderful. It is stylized, yet detailed; I thought it might have been David Aja at first until I glanced at the cover again. Moon Knight is drawn as sinister, and Shalvey’s ability to convey emotion and expression through a man wearing a full mask is impeccable.
Just because the story hops around without establishing much long-term doesn’t mean anything here is bad. The individual stories are well interesting and well-done. If you are in to trippy 70’s dorm room posters kinds of things, the fourth issue would be of particular interest wherein Moon Knight gets attacked in his dreams. If you dig low-level heroes smashing crime, the fifth issue where he saves a kidnapped girl might be your jam. If you are a fan of character studies to see what drives a person to being a costumed villain, issue #6 gives you the story of someone adopting the Black Spectre mantle to fight Moon Knight. That one was my favorite of the lot, and without knowing what happens further down the series, I do hope that character returns (it’s hard to tell if he dies or not, but I’ll assume the general comics rile of thumb where if it’s not obvious… he did not). There’s a supernatural confrontation with the ghosts of some gang members… the stories here are truly all over the map, and that’s a credit to Ellis for it all feeling connected.
That’s really the story of this book, though. Some stuff happens, and then the next issue, some different stuff happens. In that sense, it does feel very much like the first few episodes of a television show where they are more interested in establishing the cast and building the world than arranging a long-term story.
Talking Point: What is your favorite character who has been around forever or had multiple series, but just never quite caught all the way on?
It’s a weird series that doesn’t have much of an overarching arc, though there may be one later on if I can find more volumes of this to keep going with it. The stories it tells are certainly worthwhile, and if you want an easy-in, easy-out type of story, this could be the trade for you. The art is certainly worth the price of admission.