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Longbox Junk Marc Spector: Moon Knight Part 5A (Issues 41 45)

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place where I review comic books even though nobody asked me to!

Sorry I'm a bit late with this one.  It's been super busy at work, with a surprisingly-active season of holiday travel despite health care professionals practically begging Americans to just stay home this year.  The longer I work in this hotel during the pandemic, the more I'm convinced that Americans have an almost psychotic resistance to being told what to do.  I'm not being political. . .I'm just sayin' what my own two eyes are seeing.

BUT I DIGRESS!

My epic journey through the (until now) uncharted comic review territory of all sixty issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight is about two-thirds of the way finished.  To read where I've been so far, you can click HERE (Part 1)  HERE (Part 2) HERE (Part 3) and HERE (Part 4)  But I'll give a short recap. . .

Things started off with Chuck Dixon giving us a stripped-down version of Moon Knight as a two-fisted crimefighter without any supernatural trappings or mental health issues normally found in Moon Knight stories.  It was simple, but pretty good.

Then Dixon left and J.M. DeMatteis took over for a short while.  He attempted to continue an earlier volume of Moon Knight (from a decade previously) with a deep dive into psychodrama that ultimately was just a muddled mess.

Next on board as regular writer was Terry Kavanagh.  He put his own stamp on Moon Knight by making him much more of a mainstream Marvel superhero. . .a high-tech urban crimefighter with advanced weaponry, an expanded network of supporting characters, and a shiny new suit of armor.  So far, Kavanagh's "New" Moon Knight has been struggling to find some solid footing.

My overall view of the series so far is that it's been a sort of schizophrenic reading experience, with three different writers delivering three almost completely different versions of the same character in the same series.  

These days,  Marvel probably would have broken things up into at least two different series (each with that sweet, sweet number one collector issue and multiple variant covers), with DeMatteis' offering as a mini-series between.  But in the 90's they just rolled on like a character almost completely switching up from one issue to the next wasn't even a thing to notice.

BUT ENOUGH OF THAT.

Let's move along to what we're looking at this time. . .

I've been sort of dreading the batch of comics at hand.  Almost half of them are tied into what was at the time Marvel's biggest and most ambitious crossover event. . .Infinity War.  With six main issues in the story and a whopping FORTY-SEVEN crossover issues of various titles (including these), not to mention that it's the middle part of a TRILOGY of massive crossovers,  Infinity War was a mighty pile of comic books!

As far as the story of Infinity War itself. . .let's just say that even the abbreviated Wikipedia synopsis is enough to make me dread jumping into even this small corner of it.  I'm not a fan of gigantic crossovers in general, and this was one of the biggest ever attempted.  But for the sake of a little bit of context, I'll boil it on down to what's needed to know HERE.

When Adam Warlock gains control of the Infinity Gauntlet, in an attempt to try and wisely control it, he splits himself into two parts. . .one of them a being of pure logic and the other a manifestation of pure chaos called Magus.  Magus manages to collect five cosmic cubes and uses them to open up another dimension that contains evil duplicates of Earth's superheroes (including Moon Knight) that he uses to attack Earth.  

There's a LOT more that happens after that, but Moon Knight doesn't really have much of a part in the rest of the story (which makes my head hurt just reading the short version), but spends most of his Infinity War time fighting an evil version of himself called Moon Shade through multiple dimensions.

Okay.  There's the background.  Let's do this!

MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT

PART FIVE (ISSUES 41 - 50)

MARVEL (1989 - 1994)

 

ISSUE FORTY-ONE

 
THE DARK DOPPLEGANGERS DESCEND
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale at Four Freedoms Plaza during a meeting with the Avengers, West Coast Avengers, X-Men, X-Factor, New Warriors, Fantastic Four, and Alpha Flight.  Moon Knight has been reactivated as an Avenger and is present at the meeting as the superheroes discuss the current crisis of attacks by evil versions of themselves.  
 
The discussion becomes heated as Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man blame the situation on some sort of unknown mutant menace.  Then suddenly out of nowhere, Daredevil appears and attacks Mr. Fantastic, setting off a full-scale superhero brawl!
 
Even though Moon Knight is "officially" an Avenger, he doesn't take sides as he fights his way through the Mutants vs. "normal" superhero battle, trying to make his way to where Daredevil and Mr. Fantastic are fighting in order to find out what's really going on.
 
On his way, he is forced into a fight with Gambit and Psylocke, who uses her mental powers to dig into Moon Knight's mind.  She discovers that Moon Knight is no enemy of the mutants, so she lets him go. . .but she ALSO discovers something horrifying inside him.  Unfortunately, she's unable to tell Moon Knight as he continues to fight his way through the room.
 
As the battle rages, it's revealed that Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man are both evil versions of themselves, and that the meeting was a trap!  Evil Mr. Fantastic attempts to set off a gamma bomb, but the heroes stop fighting and join together to prevent the destruction of themselves and the city.  Thanos appears and Evil Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic make their escape with him. A pursuit force of combined heroes and mutants is quickly formed to follow Thanos through his lingering dimensional corridor.
 
After the pursuing force departs, a group of evil duplicates appear and another battle begins!  Moon Knight's evil twin appears to have a separate agenda, and Moon Knight pursues it through the Four Freedoms building to the room of Franklin Richards, where Franklin's own evil version is using a device called a "Psi-Phon" to drain the boy of his "dream state" powers.
 
Moon Knight jumps to Franklin's defense and is forced to fight his evil self, but manages to drive off Franklin's evil twin during the battle, so that Alicia Masters can grab the boy and run.  Moon Knight's evil twin kills Evil Franklin, triumphantly declaring that with the Psi-Phon and some of Franklin's powers, he alone can now travel through dimensions and absorb the powers of his duplicates, becoming the greatest Moon Knight in the Multiverse. . .MOON SHADE!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I am SO glad that Marvel decided not to give Moon Knight much of a part in Infinity War.  Here, he's sort of constantly wondering what the heck is going on before most of the other heroes just leave him behind as rear guard while they pursue Thanos.  Even the West Coast Avengers ditched him!  It's pretty bad when you get ditched by the Avengers back-up team.
 
But even though most of the crossover passes by Moon Knight, he's still got his small part to play.  It's sort of a strange little part, but it actually looks like it might be interesting.  What's MOST interesting (having looked forward already) is how much it resembles an abbreviated version of the current DC "hot" property of "The Batman Who Laughs".  A story about a dark version of Batman that travels the multiverse recruiting to his side or destroying any version of Batman he can find.  
 
You'll see more of what I'm talking about when we get to the next issue.  The story in this one was basically framed to take Moon Knight out of the main Infinity War storyline and set him up for his own adventure.  I liked the MANY superhero cameos in here, but am I glad I don't have to keep up with them all during these crossover issues.
 

Overall, this first Infinity War crossover issue wasn't nearly as painful to get through as I thought it would be.  It actually separates Moon Knight from the main story and sets it up for him to be doing his own thing. . .part of the crossover, but not TOO much a part of it.  And for that, I liked this issue!
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FORTY-TWO

 
MULTIVERSE MADNESS
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz, James Fry III, Norm Breyfogle, Kelley Jones, Klaus Janson
INKS: Tom Palmer, Klaus Janson, Kelley Jones, John Beatty, Ty Templeton
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight is somehow tethered to his evil twin, Moon Shade, as he hops through multiple dimensions in search of different versions of Moon Knight in order to absorb them and become the most powerful version of Moon Knight in the multiverse.  
 
Moon Knight desperately battles Moon Shadow, trying to find a weakness as he is dragged to realities containing Moon Knights that are analogues to other heroes (but mostly Batman), including Darkmoon (gritty Dark Knight Batman), Moon Fang (Red Rain vampire Batman), Crescent Moon (Laser-shootin' far future science fiction female Moon Knight), The Spector (Will Eisner's Spirit), Moon Ghost (Hanna-Barbera's Space Ghost), Dino-Knight (Devil Dinosaur), and Moon Maid (Underwater world with a female Moon Knight based on Aquaman's Mera). 
 
They finish their strange trip in the exaggerated comic book world of Moon Man and Moon Boy, analogues of goofy Silver Age Batman and Robin.  Moon Man is the last remaining Moon Knight other than the original, and once Moon Shade absorbs him, he will finally have the power to absorb Marc Spector himself!
 
A brutal battle between Moon Man, Moon Knight, and Moon Shade ensues as Moon Knight tries to keep his evil doppleganger from draining the life force of Moon Man.  Moon Knight finally wins the day by using his staff to electrocute Moon Shadow from the inside. . .but he's too late to save Moon Man's trusty teen sidekick, Moon Boy, which mentally breaks Moon Man.
 
Unfortunately, with the defeat of Moon Shade, Moon Knight finds himself stranded in the strange Silver Age world of Moon Man, with no way to return home!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I'll be honest here. . .the story in this issue made absolutely no sense, but I still really liked this comic!
 
Moon Knight gets a bit of flack for being "Marvel's Batman", so Terry Kavanagh and a roster of five artists lean HARD into the joke. . .dragging Moon Knight through worlds where there is (for example) literally a Frank Miller gritty aged Batman version of himself, with visuals and dialogue in the same style as Dark Knight Returns. . .and a twisted Vampire Batman/Moon Knight done in the style of Red Rain. . .and a handful of others as well, finishing off with the hilariously innocent Batman and Robin duo of Moon Man and Moon Boy.  Kavanagh and company don't just let you know they're in on the joke, they rub it in your face!
 
This was probably my favorite issue of this series I've read in a while.  The story itself is convoluted and nonsensical to the point of just absolutely making no sense, but I have the feeling that MIGHT be another layer of commentary behind the obvious joke of Moon Knight basically being Batman, but one aimed at a street-level character like Moon Knight being forced to take part in a gigantic cosmic crossover.
 
I haven't had much respect for Kavanagh up to this point, but his meta-commentary in this issue gives me a bit of hope for what he might give us going forward in this series.
 
 

Overall, this issue was a lot of fun!  Terry Kavanagh and company give us short looks at the Moon Knight of multiple different realities. . .and most of them are Batman!  I really liked how both the art style and the dialogue in different worlds switched up. . .from the gothic angst of vampire Moon Knight, to the Silver Age banter of Moon Man and Moon Boy.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FORTY-THREE

 
MULTIPLE MANIACS
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Jimmy Palmiotti
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight is briefly stranded in a strange Silver Age version of reality, but after Moon Shadow's body completely dissolves, he is transported back to his own version of New York, back where he started from at Four Freedoms Plaza in the middle of a fight with multiple evil versions of other heroes.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .back at Shadow Keep, Frenchie is extremely concerned with Marc's deteriorating physical condition and consults with the Shadow Cabinet, where he learns that Marc was somehow infected during his fight with Hobgoblin, and that the only has about a week to live!
 
Quickly working with the Shadow Cabinet, Frenchie starts pulling together a plan to gets some genetic material from the imprisoned Demogoblin in hopes of finding a cure for Marc's condition.  Frenchie isn't confident in their chances of success, so he begins activating Marc Spector's protocols he put in place in case of his death, meant to find a possible replacement.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .We find ourselves in the depths of an ancient Scottish castle, looking in on a rare meeting of the modern day Knights Templar's leadership, where they are discussing a dire situation (as yet unknown to the reader) that has made it necessary to consider activating one of their hidden agents, a secret weapon known as Jean Paul DuChamp. . .AKA Frenchie!
 
FINALLY, BACK IN NEW YORK. . .Moon Knight and his fellow heroes that had been left behind at Four Freedoms Plaza are fighting what seems to be a losing battle against a relentless horde of evil versions of superheroes.  They are all but beaten when suddenly the dopplegangers begin to dissolve, letting Moon Knight and company know that SOMETHING has happened elsewhere to help them win the day.
 
As the victorious heroes ponder how to contact the Avengers (last seen entering an interdimensional portal in pursuit of Thanos), time and reality both somehow come to an abrupt halt!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Although this is still part of the Infinity War crossover, Moon Knight continues to play an extremely small role as he returns to the Fantastic Four's headquarters to continue fighting evil duplicate superheroes until things happen elsewhere that end the battle. . .with Moon Knight completely out of the loop as to exactly what is going on or where it's going on at.  
 
What this issue is REALLY doing is setting up three separate upcoming storylines. . .trying to cure Marc's demonic infection, Kavanagh's bid to make Frenchie a superhero himself (more on that interesting attempt to put his own permanent stamp on the Moon Knight mythos later), and the search for a new Moon Knight in case Marc dies (This was the earlier era of both Marvel and DC trying to replace their heroes with new "edgier" versions, so a very real possibility that this was being planned for Moon Knight as well).  
 
The first story thread of finding a cure for Moon Knight's malady is just a continuation of the story so rudely interrupted by Infinity War.  It's the other two story threads that hold a bit more interest for me.  They BOTH seem like pretty clear signals that Marvel already knew that Moon Knight was on borrowed time, even about a year and a half out (17 issues) from the end of the series.  It just seems to me (especially with the "replacement Moon Knight" story thread teased here) that Marvel was trying to figure out what to do with the character.
 

Overall, we have an issue that is interesting not so much for the extended fight scenes that make up Moon Knight's tiny part in Infinity War, but for the story threads hinting at Marvel not quite knowing what they were going to do with Moon Knight going forward.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FORTY-FOUR

 
THE END HAS JUST BEGUN. . .
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Gary Kwapisz
INKS: Jimmy Palmiotti
COVER: Gary Kwapisz
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, reality returns to normal as Adam Warlock wins the ultimate battle for the Infinity Gauntlet.  The Fantastic Four are somehow returned to New York, and the cleanup from the battle at their headquarters begins.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .In Scotland, the Knights Templar debate over whether or not to activate their secret operative, Jean Paul DuChamp (AKA Frenchie), but the discussion is cut short as one of their own (Called Seth) suddenly attacks!  With the aid of two demonic beings named Basilisk and Agony, (together called "The Hellbent") Seth makes short work of the other Templars.  Seth and his demonic allies plan their next move against the still-unaware Frenchie.
 
BACK IN NEW YORK. . .With the "Infinity War" at an end, Moon Knight turns his attention back to his own condition.  He tries to enlist the Fantastic Four for aid, but his previously misrepresenting his Avenger status (For help against Doctor Doom in issue #40) makes Mr. Fantastic reluctant to help until Alicia Masters informs him about Moon Knight's rescue of his son during the battle at the Four Freedoms building (Issue #41).
 
As Mr. Fantastic begins to run tests on Moon Knight, Doctor Strange appears.  He's sensed that Moon Knight's problem is based in magic.  His own tests reveal a demonic creature inside of Moon Knight.  Once revealed, it possesses the hero and attacks!  Doctor Strange is able to restrain the creature long enough for Mr. Fantastic to use a device to bring Marc Spector back into control.  
 
Strange and Fantastic working together determine that Moon Knight is afflicted by something that is a combination of human and demonic sources.  There's only one thing Moon Knight has come into contact with recently that matches that description. . .Hobgoblin (now called Demogoblin).  
 
Moon Knight returns to his Shadow Keep to consult with his Shadow Cabinet, unaware that Frenchie had already done so.  The Shadow Cabinet act like it's not even a thing as they repeat the same exact information they did in last issue. . .a cure MIGHT be possible with some of Demogoblin's DNA to work with.  
 
Moon Knight sets about making a plan to break into the special high-security wing of Brinkstone Prison where Demogoblin is being held. For some reason, Shadow Cabinet doesn't tell him that they ALREADY made a plan a few days ago with Frenchie.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
First off. . .what a great cover for Halloween on this one! Now THAT'S nasty!
 
This issue is less of an Infinity War crossover and more of an Infinity War epilogue, with only about one page of actual Infinity War to be found.  I have to say that I'm happy with the way Kavanagh handled Moon Knight's part in Infinity War, keeping him in the crossover, but just barely enough to have it on the cover.  From the letters pages in upcoming issues, I see that there are plenty of fans who wanted Moon Knight to have a larger part in Infinity War, but in MY humble opinion (coming from almost 30 years down the road), this was just enough, because he really had no business being in it in the first place.
 
As for the issue itself, once the small bit of Infinity War is done with, it's pretty much a continuation of the triple story thread setup that began in last issue.  It's a little strange that Moon Knight basically calls on his Shadow Cabinet allies for exactly the same information that Frenchie did in the previous issue and none of them wonder why. . .so the story actually seems to be spinning its wheels and repeating itself during those sections.  
 
I'm also not particularly sold on the idea of Frenchie being a Knights Templar secret weapon without his knowledge.  It just seems like the sort of idea that could easily swerve things right off the tracks when the series is barely holding on as it is.  
 

Overall, I'm surprisingly satisfied with the way that Moon Knight's part in Infinity War was handled, but now I'm a little nervous about some of the upcoming storylines that are being teased. . .Frenchie being a Knights Templar secret weapon in particular.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see, because I ain't quittin' now!
 
CROSSOVER DONE. . .MOVING ALONG!
 

ISSUE FORTY-FIVE

 
GOBLIN KNIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight hurries to Brinkstone Prison to break in and try to gain some of Demogoblin's DNA.  Knowing that he might not succeed in the little time he has left (less than 7 hours), Marc orders Frenchie to begin implementing the "Legacy Quest" protocols he came up with to find a replacement Moon Knight in case of his death (even though Frenchie already started them up in issue #43).
 
At the Prison, a controversial execution is about to take place. . .that of serial killer and religious fanatic John DeZoan (AKA Deacon John).  In order to facilitate Moon Knight's break-in of the prison, the Shadow Cabinet has one of their contacts already inside the building orchestrate a power blackout.  He triggers it right in the middle of DeZoan's execution by electric chair!
 
The blackout gives Moon Knight the cover he needs to sneak into the prison, but the interrupted execution that also results from it has the strange effect of somehow resurrecting DeZoan and giving him electric powers.
 
Not knowing the unintended side effects of his prison break-in, Moon Knight makes his way toward the superhuman high security wing of the prison while DeZoan slaughters his way out of the prison.  Upon reaching Demogoblin, Moon Knight is overwhelmed by horrific hallucinations brought on by the demon's connection with him.  
 
By sheer force of will, Moon Knight manages to fight past the hallucinations and attack Demogoblin, gaining the DNA he needs, but as he attempts to escape, Demogoblin takes Moon Knight down, determined not to let his new human host get away so easily.  We end the issue with Moon Knight at Demogoblin's mercy!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
In the last batch of issues I mentioned that, in comics, sometimes good art can carry a story.  This issue's art team change gives us great example of exactly that.
 
At the heart of things, this is a pretty simple story. . .Moon Knight breaks into a prison, not knowing he's accidentally released a dangerous killer in the process.  He fights Demogoblin, gets what he came for, but is taken down as he tries to escape.  BUT. . .the new art team kicks in the door with the kind of visual swagger that makes even such a simple story something that grabs your attention!
 
It's too bad it took 45 issues to FINALLY get some really good art on this series.  Up to this point, it's sort of swung in the wind from pretty good to pretty bad, but mostly following a fairly average path straight up the middle of the road, telling the story, but not trying too hard to do any better than that.  THIS pencil/ink team goes beyond just telling the story, they amplify it.
 
The thick inks, sparse backgrounds, and use of large patches of negative space sort of reminds me of  Scott McDaniel's style during that time (the artist who gave us Daredevil's 90's armor makeover ). In any case, this new art direction has definitely renewed my interest in this series.
 
 
Overall, we have a fairly simple story about Moon Knight breaking into a prison and fighting with Demogoblin that is elevated by some really good art. . .good enough that I'm actually looking forward to the next issue for the first time in quite a while on this series.
 
NEXT!
 
OOPS. . .IT LOOKS LIKE I WENT A LITTLE OVERBOARD AND BROKE COMIC BOOK REALM'S WORD LIMIT AGAIN!  I'VE GOT TO BREAK THIS ONE IN TWO.
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