SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
We pick up the story from last issue six weeks later. Punisher has managed to track Randall Spector, who has resumed his habit of serial killing nurses (Even though SUPPOSEDLY the "serial killer Randall Spector" was actually an imposter, so the problems start on page one!) to the sewers. As Randall and Punisher fight, Punisher realizes his weapons can't pierce Randall's skin, so he rescues the nurse and makes his escape.
IN THE MEANTIME. . .While Punisher has been pursuing Marc Spector's sorta-superhuman serial killin' brother, Marc has been busy. . .building himself a new headquarters, since his mansion went up in flames. To be fair, it IS a pretty sweet setup. He's taken all the old buildings in a city block, gutted them, and replaced the insides with a high-tech superhero hangout he calls "The Shadowkeep".
We see Moon Knight conferring with his new network of assistants (AKA The Shadow Cabinet) to try and pin down Randall's whereabouts. I guess Moon Knight doesn't consider Punisher in the network because he doesn't realize Punisher has already done the legwork while he's been busy looking at color swatches for his new living quarters, BUT I DIGRESS!
Speaking of the Punisher, unknown to Moon Knight, he's disguised as a hospital worker and keeping an eye on Marlene and Frenchie, who are still recovering from Randall's attack that destroyed Marc's mansion. One would THINK Moon Knight would be doing this, but hey. . .I don't write these, I just read 'em. During this short scene, we also learn that Frenchie is in a wheelchair and might not walk again. . .you know, just sort of a throwaway thing that hasn't been mentioned yet about Moon Knight's best friend. It's a good thing the Punisher cares.
Moon Knight finally figures out that Randall plans on attacking the hospital where Marlene is at in order to finish the job he failed at more than ten years ago. . .even though the writer has already established that was another guy, but let's just try to get to the end of this. He rushes to the hospital in his shiny new armor. That's right. . .it's time for Moon Knight to get his "X-Treme" 90's makeover!
The power goes out at the hospital and Punisher ditches his disguise because it's time to get down to business! Randall begins killing his way toward Marlene's room, with Punisher one step behind him. Realizing he's being pursued, Randall goes to the roof of the hospital, where Moon Knight attacks him!
The two brothers fight on the rooftop until Moon Knight gets knocked over the edge. Lucky for him, he's got an awesome new set of glider wings! He crashes back into the hospital through a window and sees that Randall has taken Frenchie hostage. Punisher joins the fun at about that time, and Randall throws Frenchie out a window as a distraction. Moon Knight jumps out after him.
Since Moon Knight is out of the room and unable to tamp the Punisher down with his silly notions of not killing people, Punisher lets Randall have everything he's got. One of the bullets finds the crack in Randall's skin that Moon Knight made with his adamantium weapon during their fight last issue, and Randall falls out the window. Between the gunshot and what looks like about a ten story fall, Randall dies.
Later, we see Marc at the coroner, making a positive I.D. on his brother. Hopefully he's got it right this time. Wait? What? Randall somehow shows up again fifteen years later in THE THREE ISSUE SHADOWLAND: MOON KNIGHT MINI?
(Click the link for a review of a GOOD Moon Knight comic) Well, okay then. See ya later, Randall.
At the end of things, Marc takes Frenchie back to the new HQ after discovering that Marlene checked herself out of the hospital and left Marc a "Don't look for me, maybe I'll come back when the time is right" message. Meanwhile, at Spectorcorp an executive meeting is interrupted by none other than Doctor Doom, demanding to know where Marc Spector is!
The End. To be continued. . .
I'm having another one of those "Thank Gawd it's over" moments as I type this. I wanted Moon Knight to get back to his two-fisted adventures, but not like this. *shakes clenched fist* NOT LIKE THIS! This whole storyline was nothing more than a flimsy framework to hang two things on:
The first is the return of Randall Spector. . .which the writer went to a lot of trouble trying to bring back a character that wouldn't be used again for fifteen years! This was a bad idea that pretty much sunk this whole story under the weight of everything required for it to happen.
The second is a swerve toward Moon Knight being more of a mainstream Marvel superhero by giving him a high-tech headquarters, adamantium weaponry, and an expanded supporting cast (with his new Shadow Cabinet group of contacts and informants). And let's not forget Moonie's shiny new ARMOR!
Let's talk about the armor. . .
Check out the cover of this issue and the page scan below for a look. Yep. . .it was the 90's and a lot of characters got the "Let's give him some awesome armor!" treatment. Heck, even Daredevil and Spider-Man got some armor during this time. . .two characters that seem like armor would be the LAST thing they would need. Moon Knight got his very own 90's armor makeover starting right here!
To tell the truth, I don't mind Moon Knight's armor. I like the way it looks and it actually seems like more of a natural evolution than with some characters from the 90's whose armor makeover can be charitably described as. . .unfortunate. After all, he DOES have "Knight" right there in his name. In any case, good or bad, it's just something that screams "This comic is from the 90's!" more than anything else.
BUT I DIGRESS!
The swerve toward a more mainstream Moon Knight is still something that I haven't seen enough of to make my mind up about yet. The story this "New" Moon Knight was introduced in was sort of a mess, full of retcons, plot holes, and things thrown at the reader out of nowhere (Frenchie's in a wheelchair now? ) that make it hard to judge the new direction of the character himself. Maybe now we're past Kavanagh's initial stage-setting, we can get a better look at things going forward. Or at least I hope so.
Overall, this is a pretty sloppy finish to the "Blood Brothers" story. It has the benefit of not having nearly as much retcon shenanigans as the previous issue, but not much more than that going for it. I do like the way Moon Knight's 90's armor makeover looks, but the new, more "Mainstream Marvel" superhero version of Moon Knight needs a better story to prove himself. Will we get it? Let's find out!
Looka-that SHINY new 90's armor!
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh & Ron Garney
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
We begin our tale with Doctor Doom at Spectorcorp insisting that Marc Spector meet with him the following night at an event being held at the Latverian embassy. We change scenes and see the reason Doom was kept waiting beyond his limit of patience is because Marc and Frenchie are putting the new Moon Knight armor through its paces in a virtual combat training simulator. . .okay, let's just agree to call it a Danger Room from now on, shall we? We shall!
THE NEXT DAY. . .After Marc does some research on Doctor Doom and learns the layout of the embassy building (Courtesy of his new "Shadow Cabinet" group of contacts), Marc Spector attends the lavish event. Shortly after Doom introduces himself to Spector, the party is attacked by a team of cybernetically-enhanced terrorists!
Marc manages to escape and get to his car so he can suit up as Moon Knight and take down the terrorists, who call themselves "The Sensor Squad" as they are shouting what their various abilities are during the fight. Doctor Doom easily defeats two of the cyber-terrorists, while Moon Knight takes down the other two.
Moon Knight returns to Doom as Marc Spector, where he learns that the terrorists were targeting Spector. It turns out that they are part of a hardcore Latverian nationalist group that have discovered that Spectorcorp has come into possession of some Latverian artifacts (found while excavating for a new property they've recently purchased just across the Latverian border) that are precious to their movement.
Doom offers to take the artifacts off of Spectorcorps' hands and deal with the terrorists, but Marc declines and leaves. At the end of it all, we see The Sensor Squad coming to meet with Doom. He was the one behind the attack, and he expects better results in the future.
To be continued. . .
Before we begin, I'd like to mention the cover on this issue. The cape is a little extreme. . .or is it X-TREME! this IS the 90's, right? But other than that, it's a great showcase portrait of Moon Knight in his new armor! I like it a lot and I'll be finding a place for it on my office "Wall O' Covers" eventually.
MOVING ALONG. . .
So the cover is nice. The rest of the issue. . .not so much. Right off the top, we get a rip-off X-Men Danger Room. After that, the comic turns into a pretty typical superhero punch-fest against a team of villains that are SO 90's that the 90's are like, "Hey, buddy. . .tone it down". Big guns, spiky hair, pouches, open-face head "masks" (THIS, in case I'm being too vague because I really don't know what to call it).
So on and so forth. The "Sensor Squad" wins 90's comic trope bingo in both the visual AND dialogue categories. They have names like "Soundbyte" and "Impact", and yell about their powers while fighting. Moon Knight himself is constantly quipping like a discount Spider-Man as he punches the bad guys. It's nostalgic in a way, but at the same time, it's also pretty weak looking back on it from this far down the road. And when I see that this same writer is going to be with us until the end, I start to get a bad feeling about what's to come.
Overall, this is a comic that is SO full of the 90's that it's a little too much. With twenty-one more issues to go, the full on swerve to mainstream Marvel superhero is looking like it needs to find a middle ground pretty quickly before this series goes completely off the rails.
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh & Ron Garney
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
We begin at night, in Spectorcorp headquarters, where Doctor Doom's cybernetically-enhanced mercenary team, The Sensor Squad, are breaking into a safe in Marc Spector's private office. But it's a trap set by Moon Knight, who shows up and takes them down, using their own powers (that he learned last issue while they were shouting them out during their first meeting) against them.
Now that the Sensor Squad are out of the picture, Marc uses his Shadow Cabinet contacts to plan an assault on Doctor Doom in the Latverian Embassy. He also enlists the aid of Reed Richards (AKA Mr. Fantastic, of the Fantastic Four) to modify a cybernetic eye that Moon Knight pulled from one of the Sensor Squad. . .enabling it to be used to bypass Doom's security measures.
Once he is fully prepared, Moon Knight enters the Embassy, fighting his way past the remaining automatic security traps he can't use they cyber-eye to pass. He finally makes his way to Doom's inner sanctum, where he confronts the villain using a hologram to disguise himself as Reed Richards, enraging the tyrant.
A brutal fight between Moon Knight and Doctor Doom begins, with the two fighting over one of the artifacts that Doom has been trying to steal from Spector. . .a locket with a picture of his father in it. During the battle, Doom reveals that he has scanned Moon Knight and that he has a medical condition he is willing to help with, in exchange for the locket.
Moon Knight gives up the locket after realizing that it actually belongs to Doom and has caused enough trouble, but refuses Doom's offer of medical aid. Later, back at the Shadowkeep, Frenchie and Marc are both horrified to see that Marc's flesh seems to be rotting off his body! Marc thinks maybe he should have taken Doom up on his offer.
First off, another great cover! A very nice showcase of Moon Knight's new 90's makeover armor, with the menacing presence of Doctor Doom! I really like the contrast and colors on this cover. Another one definitely going up onto the "Wall O' Covers" one day.
Basically this comic is two fight scenes with a bit of high-tech battle preparation in between. I like the simplicity of the story, but it's brought down again by the X-TREME 90's of Doom's cybernetic supervillain squad (that are never heard from again after this issue). The back half of the issue, with the fight between Doctor Doom and Moon Knight, is better.
I like that Moon Knight takes the loss because it's the right thing to do. I'm not sure I'm sold on the "WHOA! MY SKIN BE ROTTIN' OFF!" cliffhanger (Spoiler: it was caused during Moon Knight's fight with Hobgoblin back in issue 33), but I'll admit I'm interested.
I haven't talked about the art on this series in a while. . .mainly because Ron Garney was doing a fine job and I had no complaints. That said, despite getting a couple of nice covers, new regular artist Gary Kwapisz isn't quite cutting it for me.
Generally speaking, his art is "okay", but nothing spectacular. But every now and then it gets down into "pretty bad" territory (Look at Marc Spector's face on the page scan below for an example). To me, good art can sometimes carry a bad story (and the other way around as well). Here, the writing and art just sort of limp along together, neither one really able to hold the other up.
Overall, we have an issue that's an improvement over the last. But the bar was a pretty low one to hurdle, so that's not saying much. I'm interested in where the story will be going (after the big crossover issues coming up, that is), and have a bit of hope that Terry Kavanagh will be able to find a middle ground for his mainstream superhero version of Moon Knight and be able to just tell some decent stories going forward. As for now, he seems to be trying a little TOO hard.