Saturday, 13 June 2015

Moon Knight, Volume 2: Dead Will Rise Review (Brian Wood, Greg Smallwood)


After Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey departed Moon Knight, Marvel were determined to keep that readership with the new creative team of Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood. The cover to Volume 2: Dead Will Rise have two blurbs both reassuring readers that Moon Knight is still good and, given Wood’s awful track record of Marvel work-for-hire, I was surprised that, yes, his Moon Knight is actually pretty awesome! 

Unlike the first volume, Dead Will Rise is more of a sustained narrative than a series of (loosely connected but mostly) standalone issues. Marc Spector aka Moon Knight thwarts the assassination of General Aliman Lor, a warlord from the fictional African nation of Akima, who’s in New York to attend a conference at the UN. And then Marc discovers who’s behind the contract for Lor’s head and things get very dicey. 

A lot of the good stuff set up in the first volume is still here: the great new outfit, Mr Knight, the innovative artistic approach (it helps that colourist Jordie Bellaire stayed on), the James Bond-ish shenanigans thrown at Marc. But Wood brings his DMZ-tinged flavour to the story which is a heavily politicized narrative, focusing on third world atrocities and first world hypocrisies. He also explores the Khonshu identity further. 

One of the tried and true approaches to superheroes is: what are the characters without their superpowers? So it goes in this book as Marc and Khonshu have a “falling out” of sorts and Marc has to use his wits to save the day, which is always entertaining to see as there’s no safety net of powers or gadgets to do everything for him. 

Greg Smallwood’s art is very attractive and reminded me a lot of David Aja’s style on Hawkeye (I think there’s a lot of crossover appeal between the two titles). MK #8 is also mostly shot from the perspectives of mobile phones/security cameras which was very clever and imaginative. I also loved the way he drew Khonshu, mixing in samurai designs with Egyptian, topped off with that eerie bird’s skull - very interesting that this is part of the “hero’s” identity!

And then there’s Jordie Bellaire’s colours bringing it all to life, still keeping that brilliant choice of not-colouring Moon Knight, leaving him blank, rather than colouring him white, making him all the more striking a figure. 

I miss Ellis’ quirkier approach to Moon Knight - I still really like the idea of MK as a street-level detective solving weird mysteries - but Wood’s take on the character has plenty to recommend it also, particularly if you enjoyed the Jason Bourne movies. This is certainly still one of the best titles Marvel’s putting out right now. So if you like your superheroes a little more complex, unpredictable, and a lot more exciting, fellow travelers of the night, the Marvel NOW! Moon Knight is your guy!

Moon Knight, Volume 2: Dead Will Rise

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