Was Moon Knight worth the publishing effort? Review of #9-12Posted: May 11, 2012
Authors: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (artist)
Shortly after my previous review of Moon Knight, I learned that the series was going to be cancelled with issue #12. Which wasn’t much of a surprise, given the low sales figures: the first eight issues are estimated to have sold little more than 30.000 copies on average. This review will cover the last four issues.
Previously in Moon Knight: Issue #8 ended with a cliffhanger suggesting that Count Nefaria, the villain of this series, was going to attack Moon Knight and his sidekick/love interest Echo.
Issue #9 indeed delivers this fight, and not much else. But contrary to what might be expected, this is a really good issue – easily the strongest of the series, and even generally speaking a fine comic book. This is due to a simple but striking concept: in flashbacks, we see his employee Buck Lime equipping Moon Knight with new weapons that imitate the fighting techniques of his multiple personalities (Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine). Following each of these flashbacks, Moon Knight puts his new tools to use against Nefaria. In the end, Nefaria kills Echo (talk about women in refrigerators), but is himself defeated by Moon Knight. What makes this comic book stand out from most others is that it is almost self-contained, and could probably be enjoyed without any knowledge of past (or future) issues of the series.
However, issue #10 isn’t half as compelling. The villain Nefaria is replaced by his daughter, “Madame Masque”. A lame introduction of a lame character (apparently also created in the 60s by Stan Lee).
Issue #11 basically consists of the fight between Moon Knight and said Madame Masque, giving Alex Maleev ample opportunity to display his knowledge of female anatomy. One of the low points of this series.
In the final issue, Nefaria is back to fight Moon Knight, but finally, the Avengers come to the rescue. In an unassuming and somewhat awkward scene, Nefaria is knocked out by Thor. In the end, we get three more pages of Moon Knight as his alter ego Marc Spector, the TV producer, saying “I’d rather die in a robot holocaust than spend another second in Hollywood.” This is the kind of media satire I would have liked to see more of. The series ends with the announcement, “Moon Knight will return in… The Age of Ultron”, which sounds like another “event” that I can’t say I’m excited about.
So what to make of this short-lived series? Was it something worth reading, and thinking and blogging about, or will it go down as merely a footnote in Marvel publishing history? Within the oeuvre of Brian Michael Bendis, who is currently shaping the Marvel universe in the current Avengers VS X-Men crossover, it surely isn’t more than that. For Alex Maleev, who doesn’t seem to have been doing much else apart from Moon Knight lately, this commercial (and, let’s face it, artistic) failure could be more severe. Some of his panels and pages in this series betray an unacceptable sloppiness, though others show a great deal of talent. I guess we haven’t seen the last of this artist yet.
Still, this series has something going for it: it is very much self-contained and will be collected in two trade paperbacks, and the creative team of Bendis and Maleev stayed the same throughout the entire twelve issues. That makes this series a compact, homogeneous work – an almost closed system still rooted in the Marvel universe that could thus lend itself to scholarly analysis. I even believe that these two Moon Knight volumes might be a suitable introduction to the world of superhero comics for someone who has seen a recent Marvel film and now wants to give a Marvel comic a try. However, fans of the Moon Knight character will probably find it hard to see this series as anything other than a step backwards from the previous Moon Knight series.
Rating: ● ● ○ ○ ○