Moon Knight #9
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Cover: Declan Shalvey
In “Doctor,” Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders) makes his first real play for the throne abdicated by the obscenely talented Warren Ellis, and sets the stage with a pivotal conflict for Marc Spector that challenges the very Idea of what it may mean to be “The Fist of Khonshu.” Wood picks up the title at issue #7, following Ellis’s page turning six issues with the frequently mishandled Moon Knight. Ellis’s run, which featured a single issue, closed-narrative style, first caught my attention on his all too brief run on Secret Avengers (16-21) where he debuted a version of Moon Knight that had never been seen before: The Badass in a Three-Piece Suit -A.K.A- “Mr. Knight” persona. Ellis’s Moon Knight was much less Batman and much more James Bond, who brought to bear more than a passing familiarity with the occult along with his fighting skills and obscene wealth.
The issue of Secret Avengers that brought Moon Knight to the forefront presented Marc Spector with a stone-cold smoothness that wasn’t even hinted at by any of the other writers who had great runs with the character (like Bendis and Huston), and it was this take on the character that carried over to the latest volume of Moon Knight under the Marvel Now imprint. Now in the more than capable hands of Brian Wood, the character seems to be leaving behind Ellis’s Fleming-esque take on the hero, which is a bit of a bummer, but brings in Wood’s great social-issue minded sensibility and his knack for telling stories that take place in a world that resembles our own to a challenging and potentially uncomfortable degree.
Wood’s ability to mirror the harsh realities of the world back at the reader has always made for compelling and enjoyable reading, and in issue #9 we get to see the Machiavellian scheme of Marc Spector’s brilliant psychiatrist come to fruition. Greg Smallwood’s artwork and Jordie Bellare’s colors continue to be haunting and visceral. Together they keep the book’s noir feel well intact through the writer transition, and the narrative is better for it. Some of my favorite art in the book is the “Khonshu” vestments, adorned with bone armor and some huge bird skull/death’s head that Moon Knight wears over his own blacked out mask, but their “Mr. Knight” is an iconic and intimidating interpretation of a character who has been depicted as little more than a “Dark Knight” pastiche for many, many years.
All and all I personally can’t think of a more nerve-racking task for a comic writer than to follow up Warren Ellis’s run on a title, but Brian Wood, being no lightweight himself, serves up a vigilante tale tinged with psychological drama and social commentary, filled with suspense right up until the amazing last page.
Pick this one up.