Moon Knight #4 Review

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Warren Ellis has been taking a different approach with Moon Knight, telling short, done-in-one stories that reflect the character’s personality.  Both the writing and art have been top notch, with a bit of odd thrown in.  Does the latest issue live up to the previous?  Your review awaits!

Moon Knight_4_coverMOON KNIGHT #4
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Editor: Ellie Pyle, Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Moon Knight:  After dying in the desert under the statue of Khonshu, a moon god, Marc Spector adopted the name Moon Knight and fights crime for redemption.  He’s also completely insane, and these are his adventures.

ALMOST DRIVES ME AS MAD AS MR. SPECTOR

Warren Ellis has been both entertaining and frustrating me with Moon Knight.  I’ve loved the stories, especially their short, single issue lengths.  It’s rare to see a comic story nowadays that is only told in one issue.  As with much of Ellis’s work, the tales are bursting with creativity and originality.  Concepts are high and it’s certainly a unique take on a superhero book.  My biggest complaint is these stories could be told with any character as well as Moon Knight.

This issue has Marc Spector helping a scientist specializing in sleep research figure out why his patients are having the same nightmare.  As Moon Knight slips into his dream, crazy things happen and he soon discovers the dark answer.  Of course, that’s the simplest summary for a deeper story, but you get the idea.  Just like the others, this feels like a short story that Warren Ellis has been wanting to tell and is doing so with Moon Knight.  You could replace Moon Knight with Batman (lets not go into that ordeal) or other “dark” hero in this and get the same result.  None of it comes across as distinctively Moon Knight, other than a mention of Khonshu.  Ellis has also developed the habit of abruptly ending the issue.  As with the last, I thought this issue came to a jarring end.  Mystery solved, cut to black.  It left me frustrated, thinking there were some loose ends that needed tying.

None of it is bad, which is the most maddening thing.  I really enjoyed the book but there’s certainly an odd “air” about the book as mysterious as Moon Knight himself.  Is this Ellis just pulling out old stories and throwing Moon Knight in, or is there a bigger plan?  It may make me pull my hair out, but I still want to read more to find out.

HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL

By far the best thing about this series has been Declan Shalvey’s art.  Before Moon Knight, I wasn’t much of a fan, but Shalvey is using such different and original techniques that its blown me away.  This issue is the best to date, bursting with images that only get better the further in you go.  Once Moon Knight enters his dream, art jumps to life and completely blew my mind.  There’s so much detail in the pages it’s stunning and the whole issue has a cinematic scope.  Moon Knight is drawn and colored in such a way that he looks as if he’s been cut and pasted into the scene.  Colored in only black and white, it’s a contrasting effect that, even though may not always work, is effective.  Jordie Bellaire’s colors cannot go ignored.  The last portion is fantastically colored with the whole gamut and is unlike anything I’ve seen in a comic recently.  Even better is that these pages have no word balloons or captions, leaving the reader to take the haunting beauty in.

BOTTOM LINE:  IS IT ME, OR AM I CRAZY?

I both love and hate Warren Ellis’s Moon Knight.  The stories are dark, engaging and the art is phenomenal, but something about it rubs me the wrong way.  Any similar hero could be dropped in place of Moon Knight and it wouldn’t change the story at all.  I’ve no problem with episodic tales, but Ellis seems to have so many ideas packed into an issue that he leaves little room for an end.  It drives me crazy being entertained and dissatisfied at the same time.  Maybe Ellis’s intention is to make the reader feel like Marc Spector?  If so, well played sir.