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Longbox Junk Marc Spector: Moon Knight Part 4 (Issues 31 40)

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I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where you can find more comic reviews that you never asked for than you could ever ask for!  

I recently decided to take Longbox Junk back to what makes it stand out from other comic review sites and review a whole series from issue one to issue done (and all the issue fun in between).  I have to admit that I did bite off a big ol' mouthful of comics by deciding on the sixty-issue run of Marc Spector: Moon Knight, but here I am, still chuggin' along and halfway done!

If you want to check out the issues I've reviewed so far, then click  HERE (Part 1)  HERE (Part 2) and HERE (Part 3)  But here's a short recap of my thoughts. . .

We started off with Chuck Dixon giving us a stripped down, two-fisted street hero version of Moon Knight.  It might seem a little basic to many Moon Knight fans, but I liked the straightforward nature of  the series.  

J.M. DeMatteis took over after Dixon's departure with issue #24 and totally ignored the previous two years' worth of issues and took the series back ten years as an attempted continuation of Moon Knight's earlier ongoing series.  I say attempted because DeMatteis gave us a muddled narrative that WANTED to be deep and dark and ended up being just sort of a confusing mess.

BUT ENOUGH OF THAT. . .

The batch of comics at hand are going to take us through a few more DeMatteis issues and a couple of fill-in  issues by Chuck Dixon and Howard Mackie before new regular writer Terry Kavanagh jumps in, so there's a pretty fair amount of creative team hand-off through these ten issues.  Let's take a look!

MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT

PART FOUR (ISSUES 31 - 40)

MARVEL (1989 - 1994)

 
ISSUE THIRTY-ONE
 
EPILOGUE
 
SCRIPT: J.M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our story following Moon Knight on patrol.  We see him talking down a veteran who has snapped and starts shooting from a rooftop, bringing a runaway boy back home, keeping a man from committing his first murder, and finally, saving a crime boss from an attempted assassination.
 
When Marlene asks why he's pulling his punches and letting obvious criminals go free, Marc explains that he actually died after Stained Glass Scarlet stabbed him and pushed him off a bridge (in issue 28) and he was brought back by Khonshu again and given a new mission. . .no longer as the vengeful "Fist of Khonshu" but as an agent of redemption.  If he can give someone a second chance, he will.  Marlene is skeptical about the change in Marc's crimefighting direction.
 
At the end of the issue, it's revealed that the Hobgoblin has been shadowing Moon Knight during his patrol.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
When I saw that this was a "Scarlet Redemption" epilogue, I didn't have high hopes for this issue at all.  But it seems that someone (whether it was Marvel or DeMatteis) decided to swerve back away from the failed high-concept direction this series had been taken in over the past five issues.
 
This is much more of a straightforward superhero comic.  It still very much wants to be a continuation of the previous ongoing series by including Gena and Mr. Crawley. . .as well as some of the mystical weapons he last wielded in the six-issue "Fist of Khonshu" series, but haven't been seen or mentioned in this series until now.  
 
Even with the connections to past runs and being an epilogue to what is arguably one of the worst comic stories I've read in quite a while,  this issue was a surprisingly decent read.  It's not great, mind you, but at least I could get through it without gritting my teeth.
 
 
Overall, despite connections to previous runs (without any editorial notes) that still say "New Readers Not Welcome", this was a pretty decent return to crimefighting form for Moon Knight. 
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE THIRTY-TWO
 
HALF-LIFE
 
SCRIPT: J.M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
 
THE STORY:
 
Our story begins as Hobgoblin attacks and kills a former mercenary while ranting about how all who make a living killing for money must die.  In the meantime, at Marc Spector's mansion, during a sparring session that gets out of hand it's clear that a rift has been growing between Marc and Frenchie. . .who doesn't approve of Moon Knight's new "second chance" crimefighting philosophy.
 
Shifting scenes back to Hobgoblin, we see that he is actually a human possessed by some sort of demonic spirit as the villain keeps shifting back and forth during a mental battle.  We also see that Spider-Man (In his NEW BLACK SUIT! As the comic keeps reminding us) is on the hunt for Hobgoblin.
 
While out on a date with his lover, Chloe, Frenchie is attacked by Hobgoblin, who is ranting about Marc Spector being next.  Frenchie puts up a good fight, but he's no match for the demonic villain.  Luckily, Spider-Man arrives on the scene and saves Frenchie even though Hobgoblin escapes. 
 
Spider-Man and Frenchie rush for Spector's mansion, knowing Marc is Hobgoblin's next target, but the villain beats them there.  Moon Knight is forced into a running battle through his own home, all the while being watched by a mysterious unknown figure.
 
During the fight, Marc recognizes Hobgoblin as another mercenary named Jason Macendale during one of Hobgoblin's temporary transformations back into human form.  Moon Knight tries to help Macendale, but in doing so instead of fighting, Hobgoblin gets the upper hand and Moon Knight is defeated!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
It's been six months (while this comic was on the stands in 1991) since Moon Knight had a team-up, so here's Spider-Man! IN HIS NEW BLACK SUIT!  I've never really been a fan of Spider-Man, so I'm not familiar with Hobgoblin.  A little research shows me that I don't really WANT to be familiar with the character. . .he's got a sort of confusing history full of retcons that includes there being two versions of the same character existing at the same time and Marvel having to write a story where one kills the other just to keep things straight.
 
Here, Hobgoblin is a former mercenary possessed by a demon who is obsessed with killing mercenaries.  For the couple of issues he's in this series, I can dig it.  I'm not digging any deeper, though.
 
This is the last issue by DeMatteis before he left to write Spider-Man, and it continues the backpedal away from the muddled psycho-drama he tried to turn Moon Knight toward.  The issue focuses more on the strained relationship between Frenchie and Marc (set against the background of Hobgoblin's rampage) than on Moon Knight himself, which lets DeMatteis get into the heads of the characters without me wanting to punch myself in the leg to keep awake while reading the story.
 

Overall, we have an appearance by another hero I'm not a big fan of, bringing a villain I really know nothing about along for the ride.  Despite that, I enjoyed this issue.  By digging into the relationships between the characters, it's a pretty decent look at how DeMatteis COULD have put a better mark on this series than the -Awful "Scarlet Redemption".
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE THIRTY-THREE
 
TORN
 
SCRIPT: Howard Mackie
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing directly from last issue, Hobgoblin and Moon Knight are fighting in Marc Spector's mansion.  Moon Knight goes down because of his desire to help Hobgoblin instead of fighting him, but he barely manages to escape. 
 
Despite almost getting beaten, Moon Knight insists on trying to help Jason Macendale/Hobgoblin as the two phase in and out during the battle.  Frenchie and Spider-Man arrive on the scene, but not before Hobgoblin wounds Moon Knight.  A brutal battle ensues as Frenchie, Moon Knight, and Spidey try to take down the demonic Hobgoblin.
 
After being thrown from a window, the shock temporarily allows Macendale to take over.  He tries to take Marlene hostage in order to escape, even while Moon Knight begs Macendale to let him help.  
 
It's only after Marc realizes that Hobgoblin is a threat whether the demon or Macendale is in charge that he finally proceeds to beat the living Khonshu out of Hobgoblin to the point that Spidey has to pull Moon Knight off before he kills him.
 
At the end, Hobgoblin is defeated, Moon Knight is torn between the path of Redemption and Vengeance, and we see the next threat quietly observing all, unseen.  PLUS we got a guest appearance by Spider-Man IN HIS NEW BLACK SUIT!
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay, not bad!  I like how fill-in writer Howard Mackie used the fight between Moon Knight and Hobgoblin to walk back DeMatteis' "Second Chance" crimefighting philosophy he tried to pin on Moon Knight before he left the title.  The issue itself is mostly just a running battle through Marc Spector's mansion, but the character moments of Moon Knight forced to choose between Redemption and Vengeance were worth the read.
 

Overall, this was mostly just a long fight scene, but in between the punches Howard Mackie manages to undo a bit of the damage that J.M. DeMatteis did to Moon Knight during his short time on the title.  I really liked the "Redemption vs. Vengeance" angle through this issue.
 
MOVING ALONG!
 
ISSUE THIRTY-FOUR
 
THE GRUDGE
 
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Joe Brozowski
INKS: Joe Brozowski
COVER: Joe Brozowski
 
THE STORY:
 
When Frenchie receives word from a contact that Killer Shrike has resurfaced in Atlantic City, shaking down a casino owner involved in organized crime, it's revealed that Frenchie has secretly been hunting Killer Shrike for over a year since the villain almost killed him during the "Acts of Vengeance" attacks (clear back in issue #10).
 
Frenchie takes the specialized gear he's been working on and leaves for Atlantic City on his own to get some payback.  Shortly afterward, Marc Spector notices Frenchie's absence.  He follows a few clues and, once he realizes what his best friend is up to and the danger he's in, Marc immediately follows with Marlene in tow.
 
In Atlantic City, Frenchie takes Killer Shrike by surprise in the middle of a heist.  Wearing electricity-damping body armor and using high-caliber weapons, Frenchie initially gains the upper hand, but Shrike recovers quickly and a brutal battle ensues between the two.
 
Moon Knight and Marlene arrive during the fight, but Frenchie demands that Marc stay out of it. . .win or lose, this is personal!  Moon Knight respects Frenchie's wishes and makes himself useful by taking down Killer Shrike's henchmen to also keep them out of the fight.
 
In the end, Frenchie wins the day by injecting Shrike with a chemical that disrupts his mental control over his electricity powers.  As Killer Shrike is taken in by the authorities, the victorious Frenchie returns home with Marc and Marlene.  Frenchie lets Marc know that, by letting him fight his own fight instead of treating him like a sidekick, all is now forgiven between the two friends.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Chuck Dixon comes back on Moon Knight for a one-and-done filler issue before the new regular writer comes on board. . .and it's sort of like seeing the guy who quit at your office rolling in a month later to finally pick up his last paycheck.  Yeah, it's great to see him, but at the same time, things have carried on without him, and you know you won't be seeing him again.
 
The story itself is basically an extended fight scene between Frenchie and Killer Shrike.  I do like how Dixon's brief return is focused on Moon Knight's best friend rather than Moon Knight himself, which gives this otherwise throwaway issue a slight feeling of being a "Special".  
 

Overall, despite this being an obvious filler issue, Chuck Dixon makes it feel less like a throwaway and more like a "Special" issue by focusing on Frenchie instead of Moon Knight.  The brief return to the simple two-fisted adventure Dixon gave us during his run on this title was a welcome one.
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE THIRTY-FIVE
 
BLOOD BROTHER PART ONE:
THE FAMILY THAT SLAYS TOGETHER. . .
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
 
THE STORY:
 
Our tale begins as Marlene and Marc return from a night out only to see Marc's mansion rocked by explosions!  Marc quickly jumps into action as Moon Knight, searching the collapsing building for his friend, Frenchie.  As Marc escapes the devastated mansion with his best friend, Marlene is attacked outside and left for dead.  
 
Marc finds his severely injured lover clutching a familiar Halloween mask. . .the same mask his brother, Randall Spector, wore during his murder spree as the serial killer Hatchetman before Moon Knight witnessed his brutal death years ago!
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .We see Randall Spector returning to a lavish hideaway guarded by the same "Knights of The Moon" that Moon Knight and Ghost Rider teamed up to fight a short while back (in issue #25).  There, "Princess Nepthys" and Randall discuss an upcoming ceremony and their successful plan to draw Marc Spector to them.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .The Punisher attacks the hideout of some A.I.M. weapons dealers.  He interrogates one of them and discovers that the buyers of the illegal weapon shipment he's been tracking are the Cult of Khonshu.  At the same time, Moon Knight is also following a trail of clues that lead him to the Cult of Khonshu's hideout.
 
After Moon Knight assaults the hideout and fights his way through the Knights of The Moon guarding it, Randall and Princess Nepthys reveal themselves, telling the shocked Moon Knight that the man he fought and saw die that he THOUGHT was Randall Spector was ACTUALLY an imposter made to look like Randall through plastic surgery and implanted with the memories of the REAL Randall Spector through drugs and brainwashing.  
 
But before Moon Knight can get any answers as to WHY, the Punisher arrives on the scene, guns blazing!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
The first issue of new regular writer Terry Kavanagh starts with a literal bang and doesn't slow down much from there.  It looks like THIS version of Moon Knight will be swerving back to the two-fisted, action-packed adventures this series started off with. . .but with more of a superhero tinge to things as Moon Knight is now packing multiple adamantium weapons instead of just his martial arts skills.
 
That's okay.  Well, maybe it's a BIT of adamantium overload, since just about every weapon Moonie pulls out this issue is described as being made of "indestructible adamantium", but I can dig a little superhero swerve.
 
What I CAN'T dig is the ridiculous retcon of Randall Spector's "death".  Look. . .I get it.  Moon Knight's "Rogues Gallery" is pretty slim on the recurring villains side of things, mainly because his rogues tend to die (Punisher also has this same sort of problem). You've got your Bushman coming and going somewhat often, but after that, things get sketchy as far as returning bad guys go.   
 
But to say that Moon Knight was fooled into believing that he directly witnessed his own BROTHER'S death when it was really an imposter just to bring back an interesting antagonistic relationship is definitely a long stretch in my suspension of  comic book belief.  
 
And it wasn't like Randall was killed in an explosion, fell over a waterfall, or something vague like that. He was rammed onto a tree branch during a fight and Marc was standing right there watching his own brother bleed out, and then was left alone with his impaled corpse.  No WAY he was fooled by some imposter in that kind of situation.  He was right there!
 

From HULK! Magazine #18 (1979)
 
At least the new editor also coming on board with this issue believes in editorial notes and issue references to keep track of the story beats from comics written TWELVE YEARS before this one.
 
 
 
Overall, new writer Terry Kavanagh is starting off on somewhat shaky ground.  While time will tell on his swerving Moon Knight in a more mainstream superhero direction, his ridiculous retcon of Randall Spector's death being faked by an imposter is extremely weak. . .not a good place to start when the next three issues look like they're going to be propped up on the story hook of Randall Spector's return.
 
MOVING ALONG!
 
 
ISSUE THIRTY-SIX
 
BLOOD BROTHERS PART TWO:
NOTHING CAN STOP. . .THE PUNISHER
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue. The Punisher invades the same Cult of Khonshu hideout that Moon Knight has discovered, but as Punisher begins shooting at Randall Spector and Princess Nepthys, Moon Knight stops him because he wants answers as to what's going on.
 
The two heroes take a moment to fill each other in on why they are there. . .Punisher following a trail leading to an illegal A.I.M. weapons shipment, Moon Knight following a trail leading from the destruction of his home and the near death of his friends, Marlene and Frenchie.
 
Punisher decides that Moon Knight's personal reasons aren't as good as his wanting to keep illegal weapons off the street and resumes his attack.  Moon Knight intervenes again and the two heroes fight.  Their battle allows Randall and Nepthys to escape.  The two stop fighting when Moon Knight shows Punisher where the weapons he's looking for are stored.
 
While Punisher destroys the weapons, Moon Knight hacks a computer in the hideout and discovers where Nepthys and Randall are headed.  Punisher and Moon Knight agree to a truce and ride out together. . .It's TEAM UP TIME!
 
Punisher and Moon Knight end up sneaking into a hidden laboratory beneath Central Park, but they quickly learn they've fallen into a trap. . .part of Nepthys' plan to draw Marc Spector to her.  As Moon Knight and Punisher fight their way through Knights of The Moon, Randall comes out of a strange glass chamber wearing a costume similar to Moon Knight's.
 
Nepthys gleefully shouts exposition about how Randall brought back some scrolls from Egypt describing a ritual dedicated to Khonshu that would produce an invulnerable warrior. . .and that Randall was destined to be that warrior once the "False" Moon Knight was dead.
 
Punisher doesn't care about Moon mumbo jumbo, though.  And as Randall proclaims himself to be "Shadow Knight", Punisher blasts him point blank with one of the high-tech A.I.M. laser rifles, seemingly killing Randall Spector again!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
First, how about that cover?  It's about one of the most 90's-Tastic things I've seen in a while!
I'm not sure if I mean that in a good way or a bad way. . .maybe a little of both.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Punisher didn't really show up much in the previous issue, but here it's full on team up time, so we get a good look at Kavanagh's version of the character.  Unfortunately, his take on Punisher just doesn't hit the same sweet spot Dixon managed to from the last two times Moon Knight teamed up with him.  It's not BAD, but where I really enjoyed reading the dialogue between the two vigilantes on Dixon's run, here Punisher is just sort of grating and single-minded. . .which is a shame because I really DID enjoy Moon Knight and Punisher as a team previously and wanted to see more of it.
 
That aside, most of this issue was action and fighting.  The return of Randall Spector still doesn't sit right with me, and Nepthys' exposition dump doesn't shed any light on WHY she supposedly went to all the effort of creating an elaborate ruse to make Moon Knight think he'd seen his brother die a decade ago.  You know what?  I don't think the writer has even really thought it through at this point.  He just wanted to use Randall Spector in the story, no matter what.   
 

Overall we have an action-packed team-up that falls a little flat in between the fight scenes.  The return of Randall Spector is still the weakest part of the whole thing, and feels like it's happening just because the writer wants it to happen.  He'll come up with a reason (maybe) later.
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE THIRTY-SEVEN
 
BLOOD BROTHERS PART THREE:
THE RISE AND FALL OF MOON KNIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, after getting shot point blank by Punisher, Randall Spector (AKA Shadowknight) rises, seemingly unharmed!  As he attacks Punisher, a stray shot hits a weak point in the ceiling and water from the lake above begins to flood the chamber.
 
Moon Knight wakes up tied to a tree. . .the same tree where he thought he saw his brother die many years before.  Randall tells Marc that he saved him and Princess Nepthys, but left Punisher to die.  He goes on to throw down a hefty chunk of flashback-illustrated exposition. . .
 
It turns out that, BY COINCIDENCE, Randall was ALSO working as a mercenary during Marc's final mission as a soldier for hire, but on the other side.  Without realizing it, Marc shot his own brother during the gun battle!   AND THEN after Marc was betrayed and left for dead by Bushman, BY COINCIDENCE Randall found his way to THE VERY SAME temple of Khonshu and, unknown to Marc, witnessed his brother dying and being resurrected by Khonshu.  But when Randall crawled before the statue, expecting the same healing magic, nothing happened! 
 
BUT. . .Randall DID find some mysterious scrolls he couldn't read.  Later on, he hooked up with Nepthys and she translated them for him.  LO AND BEHOLD they found out there were actually TWO Khonshus!  Brothers! One dark and one light! JUST LIKE MARC AND RANDALL SPECTOR! CRAZY, RIGHT?  More, they ALSO discovered that one Avatar of Khonshu could gain the power of the other by killing him when the stars were right. . .AND BY CRAZY COINCIDENCE THEY WERE RIGHT THAT VERY NIGHT!
 
*deep breath*
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Randall cuts Marc free so it can be a fair fight and they proceed to punchin' each other.  In the meantime, Punisher has made a desperate escape from the collapsed laboratory thanks to some handy explosives. . .because he's The Punisher and he ALWAYS has some extra explosives stashed.  Unfortunately, when he gets to the surface, there's Nepthys and what's left of the Knights of The Moon waiting for him.  He proceeds to killing them all and letting the Moon sort 'em out.
 
While Punisher is busy teaching the Knights of The Moon the error of joining cults, Nepthys escapes, and with Punisher hot on her trail, they all end up where Moon Knight and Shadowknight are still Kung-Fu fightin'.  Moon Knight has come to realize that his brother's skin is now INDESTRUCTIBLE AS ADAMANTIUM!  But since he JUST HAPPENS to have some Adamantium weapons, he manages to hurt him enough that Shadowknight makes a run for it when Nepthys distracts Moon Knight with the good old surprise knife to the back!
 
Fortunately, Punisher is on the scene and he finishes Princess Nepthys' ambitions  once and for all with an Uzi reminder to not stab dudes in the back while they're having a man to man fight with their brother.  
 
At the end of things, Marc looks at the scrolls Randall had and realizes he can SOMEHOW read them perfectly!  They say that he's been doing it wrong. . .he's been following the wrong Khonshu this whole time! The Khonshu he's SUPPOSED to be following isn't a G-od of Vengeance. . .He's a G-od of Justice!
 
Whoops!
 
We end the issue with Moon Knight and Punisher both doing their victorious (yet weary) hero pose and getting ready to go find where Shadowknight ran off to.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay.  I gave this story the benefit of the doubt.  I liked the more superheroic direction, even though the story prop of Randall Spector's return was a pretty shaky one.  BUT. . .I didn't realize just HOW shaky until this issue, where everything just goes to exposition .
 
At the heart of things, this is one of those comic book battles where the combatants shout explanations at each other between blows.  Terry Kavanagh has to jump through so many hoops to retcon Randall Spector's death that the whole story structure becomes a laughably flimsy house of cards built on a loose foundation of coincidence.
 
As you can probably tell by my summary, the more I read of this issue, the less respect I had for it.  It's just. . .well. . .it's ridiculous.  There's really no other way to put it.  And worse, there's STILL another issue left in the story!  
 
 


Overall, there was way too much effort to retcon Randall Spector's death from twelve years ago.  Under the weight of coincidence the narrative pretty much just collapses.  The sudden reveal that Marc Spector has been following the wrong Khonshu is like a rotten cherry on top, because it spits in the face of every single previous Moon Knight series.  The best thing about this story is the "Concluded Next Issue" tag on the last page.
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE THIRTY-EIGHT
 
BLOOD BROTHERS PART FOUR:
THE AVATAR OF KHONSHU
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Ron Garney
 
THE STORY:
 
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. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
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!
 
NEXT!

 
ISSUE THIRTY-NINE
Looka-that SHINY new 90's armor!
 
IMPENDING DOOM
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh & Ron Garney
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
 
THE STORY:
 
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. . .  
 
THE REVIEW:
 
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.
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE FORTY
 
ENDGAME
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh & Ron Garney
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
 
THE STORY:
 
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.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
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.
 

CONCLUSION

 
And there you have it.  Issues 31 - 40 of Marc Spector: Moon Knight.  I have to say, it was a pretty mixed bag, but taken as a whole, beyond a few moments, there wasn't anything to be found that climbed up past "Pretty Good". 
 
I liked Terry Kavanagh's taking Moon Knight back into his two-fisted adventuring mode.  Unfortunately, he fails to recapture the simple and straightforward nature that Dixon brought to the character.  Kavanagh tried to put his own stamp on the character by molding Moon Knight into a mainstream marvel superhero, but ultimately wastes the potential of the "New" Moon Knight on some pretty bad storylines.
 
With the last issue, I saw some improvement, but there's still PLENTY of room for more.
 
Up Next. . .
 
We're two-thirds or the way through, but we ain't done yet!
My epic journey through Marc Spector: Moon Knight continues with issues 41 - 50.
 
Moon Knight crosses over with just about every hero in the Marvel Universe as he plays a part in one of Marvel's most ambitious and massive crossover events they've ever done. . .It's INFINITY WAR!
 
Be there or be square.
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