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Longbox Junk Marc Spector: Moon Knight Part 6A (Issues 51 55)

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I DID IT AGAIN!  I BROKE COMIC BOOK REALM'S WORD LIMIT, SO I HAVE TO POST THIS ENTRY IN TWO PARTS.  I GUESS I NEED TO WORK ON MY EDITING A LITTLE BIT. . .

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you've never asked for!

Well, here we finally are! The last batch of ten issues from my epic dive into Marc Spector: Moon Knight.  It's been fun immersing myself in the world of the Silver Avenger, but at the same time, I'll be glad to move along to something different after spending a couple of months with Moon Knight.

To read where I've been so far, you can click HERE (Part 1)  HERE (Part 2) HERE (Part 3)  HERE (Part 4)  and HERE (Part 5)  With each part a ten issue review. Here's a short recap of my thoughts so far. . .

We started things off with Chuck Dixon giving us a stripped down version of Moon Knight as a classic two-fisted adventurer without any of the supernatural or mental health trappings usually associated with Moon Knight.  It was pretty basic, but fun.

Then J.M. DeMatteis took over for a short while, giving us a Moon Knight that tried and failed to emulate the psychodrama of the character's previous run.  Ultimately, it was a confusing mess.

After DeMatteis departed, Terry Kavanagh jumped into the writer's seat and has been with us ever since.  His turn at the wheel has been characterized by constant attempts to put a permanent mark on the Moon Knight mythos.  Unfortunately for Kavanagh, none of his efforts have stood the test of time.

I've been told by my comic-lovin' daughter that my last batch of reviews were a little overboard on length, so I'm going to try and boil things down a bit more for this final sprint toward the finish.  It's just that sometimes when I consider that I'm literally the ONLY person who's ever done an in-depth look at a comic, I get invested in even the most average of Longbox Junk and turn into a kinda lousy editor.

ANYWAY. . .

Enough introduction.  Let's see what this final handful of Marc Spector: Moon Knight comics has in store for us.  Ready? Let's do it!

MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT

PART SIX (ISSUES 51 - 60)

MARVEL (1989 - 1994)

 

ISSUE FIFTY-ONE

 
SILVERBIRD
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Dave Hoover
INKS: Keith Williams
COVER: Dave Hoover
 
THE STORY:
 
When Satellites begin crashing to Earth, Moon Knight becomes involved after the destruction of a large part of South Brooklyn.  His Shadow Cabinet contacts set him on a trail of clues leading to a reclusive Billionaire named Harlan Silverbird.
 
Moon Knight makes his way to Silverbird's private manmade Caribbean island, where the billionaire has forced NASA scientist Randi Moore to help him create a vibranium ray to shoot down satellites, as well as a "Silvermoon" satellite he plans on launching that will prevent any other satellites from being launched without permission/payment.  All part of Silverbird's nefarious plan to hold the world's satellite communications hostage.
 
After Moon Knight fights his way to Silverbird's compound, he battles the mad billionaire, but finds that Silverbird has a vibranium force field that prevents any of Moon Knight's weapons from touching him.  When Moon Knight is told by the captive scientist that Silverbird is just stalling him and the Silvermoon satellite is launching, he leaves Silverbird and rushes to stop the launch.
 
Moon Knight is too late to prevent Silvermoon from launching, but he turns the vibranium ray onto the island's control tower, causing a massive feedback that destroys the satellite and begins melting the island itself!  Moon Knight manages to rescue the kidnapped Dr. Moor, but despite his best efforts, Silverbird is destroyed along with his island.
 
The End. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
An extremely obvious and almost aggressively average filler issue starts off this final handful of Marc Spector: Moon Knight comics on the wrong foot.  The letters page explains that a filler was needed for the regular art team so they could have a break, and the cliffhanger with Gambit and Werewolf by Night that issue #50 ended on would be back on deck starting next issue.  
 
I think this might be the first time I've ever seen an editor just flat-out admitting that readers were getting a filler issue.  It's just sort of a strange thing to see and actually the most interesting thing about the issue in general.   The story itself looks like it was randomly-generated by some sort of chart where you pick one thing from this column and two from that one.  The art isn't bad, but it doesn't even try to be anything but average.

Overall, what we have here is a filler issue with a story and artwork so utterly average that I had to go back and read it a second time for the review because I'd already forgotten the details immediately after I got done reading it the first time (which was only about 10 minutes before I started writing this).  This will probably be the most word space that anyone will ever devote to this issue.  You're welcome.
 
MOVING ALONG. . .
 

ISSUE FIFTY-TWO

 
KNIGHT'S GAMBIT
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
We continue directly from the previous issue. . .er. . .Issue #50. . .with Jack Russell (AKA Werewolf by Night) and Gambit fighting in the deserted Spector mansion.  
 
The scene shifts to Shadowkeep, where Marc Spector has decided it's time to turn some attention to his Corporation.  He makes a rare appearance at the office and discovers a state of chaos.  After taking control of the situation, he's informed that the newest corporation in town, PhalkonCorp, is making moves to take over SpectorCorp.  Marc assigns a team to investigate the threat.  Back at Shadowkeep, Frenchie decides to try and track down Chloe for more answers about his new Templar abilities.
 
MEANWHILE. . .At PhalkonCorp, Marlene Alraune (AKA Marc's former lover) is upset when she learns she's going to head the team to take down SpectorCorp.  She informs Mr. Phalkon (AKA Seth The Immortal, Templar Troublemaker) that she refuses to be used unfairly because of her previous relationship with Marc Spector.  Phalkon agrees. . .for now.
 
After the chaos at SpectorCorp, Marc heads out on patrol as Moon Knight, glad for a night of nice, peaceful punching.  In Central Park, he encounters two strange superhuman beings. . .Glaze (who is able to secrete a gel that hardens around her target) and Cubist (who emits pheromones that confuse his enemies).  Moon Knight defeats them pretty easily and gives chase when they retreat.  But his pursuit is interrupted by a riot at a homeless camp.  Moon Knight helps the police save the residents before heading home for the night.
 
Back at Shadowkeep, Frenchie tells Moon Knight that he's discovered an unknown problem in the base's computer systems, but before they can investigate more, the intruder alarm from Spector Mansion goes off!  Moon Knight quickly heads out and arrives to find Gambit and Werewolf by Night fighting in his parlor.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
First off. . .great cover!  I really like the playing card frame and Werewolf by Night looks fierce!
 
This issue seems to be trying to set up a lot of upcoming story beats. . .I'm thinking they MIGHT have tried to cram too much into it.  Unfortunately the promised three-way crossover between Gambit, Moon Knight, and Werewolf by Night promised by that sweet cover AND the cliffhanger ending to issue #50 is barely to be found, with only a couple of pages devoted to it.   A bit disappointing because I was looking forward to Werewolf by Night showing up (as I'm sure many other fans were at the time).
 
James Fry and Chris Ivy make a welcome return on the art side of things, but for some reason there are places that their usually-stellar visuals take a severe dip in quality (For example, the police cars in the page scanned below).  Maybe they needed a longer break?  Or maybe they weren't putting in their best effort, knowing they only had two more issues to go before being replaced?
 

Overall, we have an issue that's jam-packed with story threads for the series moving forward. . .maybe TOO jam-packed, because the main event advertised (a Moon Knight, Gambit, and Werewolf by Night crossover) is barely even there.  Hopefully things open up a bit more next issue.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FIFTY-THREE

 
WEREWOLF BY KNIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, responding to an alarm at his unoccupied mansion, Moon Knight discovers Gambit and Jack Russell (AKA Werewolf by Night) fighting in his parlor.  Moon Knight jumps into the fight and it becomes a three-way brawl until he uses the weapons on his "Angel Wing" aircraft to bring things to a halt.  
 
Moon Knight demands explanations and Gambit tells him that he's there to inform him that during their fight at Four Freedoms Plaza a while back (in issue #41, part of the Infinity War crossover), Psylocke discovered some severe health problems, as well as something even darker, when she probed his mind.  Moon Knight tells Gambit that the problem is taken care of and now get the %#$* out of his house.
 
Turning to Werewolf by Night, Moon Knight learns that he's there because he's tracking some sort of supernatural demonic stench that led him straight there, and since he's now got a mission to destroy unchecked supernatural demonic creatures, Moon Knight has to go down!  
 
Again, Moon Knight says that the problem has been taken care of, but if the Werewolf REALLY wants to take down some monsters, he can help Moon Knight hunt down the two strange beings he fought in Central Park earlier that night (last issue).  The Werewolf agrees and it's team-up time!
 
On the way to Central Park, Moon Knight has Frenchie contact the Shadow Cabinet for leads on their prey.  He learns the location of Glaze and Cubist, but suspects that they may be more Hellbent sent to hunt him on the orders of Seth the Immortal (AKA Seth Phalkon).  He keeps the information from Moon Knight because he wants to follow up on it himself as he tries to learn more about his new Templar powers.
 
After arriving at Central Park, Moon Knight and the Werewolf stumble onto a large group of superhuman creatures that announce themselves as Hellbent before attacking!  There are seven of them and the heroes are severely outnumbered. They quickly find themselves on the losing side of the fight!
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Downtown, we see SpectorCorp's investigators begin looking into PhalkonCorp and quickly discovering that there's a lot more going on than they thought.  At the same time, at PhalkonCorp, Marlene Alraune is also beginning to discover the same thing, and is becoming uneasy with her role at PhalkonCorp.
 
BACK AT CENTRAL PARK. . .With Moon Knight and the Werewolf all but defeated, Gambit's timely arrival to the fight turns the tide in favor of the heroes!  As the heroes battle the demonic Hellbent, the Templar creature known as Manx jumps in and slaughters the fleeing demons before informing Moon Knight that this was only one small enclave and the city is in extreme danger of being overrun by the Hellbent.  After relaying this news, Manx disappears.
 
Gambit leaves to inform the X-Men about the Hellbent danger, and Werewolf by Night promises Moon Knight to come if needed to fight more Hellbent before also leaving.  Moon Knight returns to Shadowkeep, where Frenchie is still trying to track down the source of the mysterious failures that have been plaguing their equipment and computers recently.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
What we have here is an issue that packs in threads of FIVE different storylines. We have (1) Frenchie trying to learn more about his new Templar superpowers. (2) A potential invasion of New York City by the demonic Hellbent. (3) The SpectorCorp investigation of rival PhalkonCorp. (4) PhalkonCorp moving into position to take over SpectorCorp with the help of Marlene. And (5) The mystery of Moon Knight's equipment and computers at his base being sabotaged.  All that PLUS crossover action with Gambit and Werewolf by Night.
 
It seems a bit overstuffed and heavy, with not enough time being spent on any one storyline to give any of them much weight, and giving the comic a rushed and hectic feel as the story skips back and forth between them for short scenes.  Worse, what SHOULD be the focus of this issue (and the last one as well), which is the advertised crossover with Gambit and Werewolf by Night, suffers from the same rushed, cramped feeling as everything else because it has to be running alongside all the other story threads.
 

Overall, we have an issue that isn't BAD, it's just really unfocused.  The writer is trying to run too many storylines at once and they all suffer for it.  The crossover aspect was almost buried and was pretty disappointing for something that SHOULD have been an exciting reunion of two characters with an interesting history together (Moon Knight and Werewolf by Night).
 
MOVING ALONG. . .
 

ISSUE FIFTY-FOUR

 
MECHAMORPHOSIS
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin in Shadowkeep, where Moon Knight and his Shadow Cabinet medical expert are dissecting the corpse of Network, one of the Hellbent assassins defeated by Moon Knight and Bloodline (AKA Frenchie) in issue #50.  She confirms that the creature is demonic in nature.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .Frenchie tries to find Chloe (AKA his former lover and Templar warrior) at her apartment. Everything is locked up, so he decides to climb the fire escape to the roof despite his not being able to use his legs.  He's unaware that Chloe is observing his efforts from across the street without interfering, as some sort of test of Frenchie's resolve.
 
Back at Shadowkeep, a strange creature somehow possesses Moon Knight's new *sigh* "Moonmobile" and begins to wreak havoc through the city using the high-tech weaponry of the car.  Moon Knight sets off in pursuit, only to witness the car transforming into a tank!
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .We see the final pieces being moved into place for PhalkonCorp's takeover of SpectorCorp, with Marlene witnessing her mysterious employer Seth Phalkon (AKA Seth The Immortal) meeting with two of the more human-looking Hellbent agents.  We also see SpectorCorp's investigators breaking into Phalkon Tower and discovering that Marlene Alraune is employed by PhalkonCorp.
 
Back with Moon Knight and the possessed *sigh* Moonmobile, the battle rages.  The Moonmobile/Tank transforms into a gigantic robot, and then a huge crab-like construct before Moon Knight manages to defeat it and discover the strange creature at the controls, which manages to escape and begin taking over the whole city by possessing the power grid!  Moon Knight stops it by shutting down the power in a ten-block area.
 
After the battle, at Shadowkeep, Moon Knight and his Shadow Cabinet contacts determine that the creature was a gremlin, and was surely also the cause of all the recent mysterious equipment and computer failures.  Moon Knight probably accidentally picked up the gremlin after visiting Doctor Strange (in issue #47), because Strange's Sanctum is know to be crawling with gremlins.
 
Back with Frenchie, he finally makes it to the roof, only to be confronted by two Hellbent!  Chloe decides to leave and let him survive or die as a test of his new abilities.  She's got some other stuff to do and doesn't have time to be fighting Hellbent.
 
To Be Continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
What the %$#* did I just read?  This was bad.  It was "Moonmobile" bad.  Just linger there a moment, folks. . .Moonmobile.  Mooooooooooooooonmobile.  Swish it around a little.  Terry Kavanagh decided to give Moon Knight a silver convertible with moon-shaped headlights and a gigantic fin on back.  
 
Moon Knight has suffered a few indignities during the course of this series.  There was the whole teen sidekick thing. . .then there was the time he realized he'd been worshipping the wrong Khonshu all this time (whoops!). . .and let's not forget getting hauled into Avenger's Headquarters by fake Thor to get verbally abused by fake Captain America.  Those aren't going onto anyone's list of top ten awesome Moon Knight moments.  
 
But while those moments weren't great, giving Moon Knight a Moonmobile (and actually just CALLING it a Moonmobile) just sort of makes me feel bad for Moon Knight. . .like I want to give him a hug and tell him things will get better in the future after this series is done.  
 
Bear witness, good readers.  This existed. 
 
Overall, there's a lot wrong with this issue (which is a pretty obvious and fairly obnoxious filler before bringing in the new art team next issue), but I can't get past the Moonmobile far enough to get into anything else.  I think this might be the first time I've actually felt sorry for a fictional character.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FIFTY-FIVE

 
PHALKCON CORPSE
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Chris Ivy, Al Vey & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin at PhalkonCorp, where Marlene is regretting her decision to help take down SpectorCorp.  At the same time, Marc Spector's investigative team have broken into PhalkonCorps headquarters.  They unknowingly trip an alarm and Seth Phalkon (AKA Seth The Immortal) himself confronts them. . .draining the life force of one of Spector's men and leaving the other an insane wreck.  Marlene also hears the alarm and discovers the two investigators, but Phalkon has already left.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Frenchie (AKA Bloodline) is getting severely beaten by two Hellbent (named Agony and Flare) at Chloe's apartment.  After being thrown out a window and hanging from a fire escape, the pain and stress activate the Bloodline link and he transforms into the gigantic, savage form of his insane great grandfather, Pierre Latrec.
 
WHILE THAT'S GOING ON. . .Marc Spector is downtown at the police station identifying the body of his dead investigator and seeing the insane shell that the other has become.  Blaming himself for their awful fate and now knowing there's something EXTREMELY shady going on at PhalkonCorp, he vows to avenge his friends and get to the bottom of things as Moon Knight!
 
BACK WITH FRENCHIE. . .ER. . .BLOODLINE. . .In his gigantic, transformed body, the two Hellbent are no match for the savage creature that Frenchie has become.  He kills one of them (Flare) and brutally injures the other before the police arrive and he makes a quick escape.
 
LATER THAT NIGHT. . .Moon Knight breaks into PhalkonCorp headquarters and has to fight his way through an extremely extensive gauntlet of high-tech automated security measures as he makes his way to Seth Phalkon's office.  When he arrives, he confronts Phalkon, but is shocked to discover that he looks exactly like Marc Spector!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Remember back in the review for issue #46 where I said that after Marvel failed to pull the trigger on a 90's style replacement Moon Knight they came up with a different 90's specific solution for the character later on? 
 
Well. . .HERE WE ARE!
 
Image Comics hit the scene in 1992 (about a year before this comic came out) in a big way, kicking the door in on the comics industry with a defection of major comic talent (primarily artists) from DC and Marvel (mostly Marvel) by way of the sweet siren song of (among other things) independent ownership of their work.  Their comics were blowing up the collector market and making a HUGE splash in the comic shops.  Marvel and DC were left scrambling to catch up to the new kid on the block. . .especially Marvel, who were pretty much specifically targeted by Image.  
 
These days, Image has carved out a well-deserved niche as the publisher to read if you're tired of superheroes.  But in Image's early days, it was all superheroes, all the time.  Nothing but spandex.  You could almost hear every title scream, "LOOK! WE WANT TO BE THE NEW MARVEL!"  Honestly, most of their output was directly aimed at trying to capture Marvel's audience with thinly-disguised "edgier" versions of Marvel's properties with a heavy focus on action and artwork instead of story.
 
Marvel (and DC to a lesser extent) fought back by. . .well. . .copying Image.  They brought in a new batch of "hot" artists and started making edgier and more action-oriented comics of their own.  Marc Spector: Moon Knight was one of the many titles involved with this 90's comic book artist arms race.  
 
So what we have here is one of the more "collectible" issues of this run with the introduction of artist Stephen Platt.  I'm not entirely sure if Marvel brought Platt in for an 11th hour effort to save the title, or as a way of testing reader response to his work before moving him to a more popular book.  
 
In any case, Platt didn't stay with Marvel long (just these few Moon Knight issues), thanks to a second wave of Image luring Marvel talent to their company. . .sort of hilariously letting Marvel do all the work of finding and recruiting hot new artists in order to compete and then grabbing THOSE artists as well.
 
Platt's comic debut with this issue made a pretty huge splash.  Sales of this title surged upward and the few issues that Platt did both covers and interiors for hit the top of Wizard's Top Ten list (I miss Wizard), with Platt also hitting Wizard's Top Ten artists list for a respectable amount of time.  His style is an exaggerated, hyper-detailed style that is pretty obviously "inspired by" (putting it kindly) Todd McFarlane. . .who at the time was pretty much a comic book deity in the eyes of many fans, so ANYTHING close to his work was red hot.
 
Okay. . .enough about the elephant in the room.  Let's look at the comic itself.
 
Honestly, it's not good.  Not quite "Moonmobile" bad, but still not great.  Platt's art is a major distraction from the story, and you can tell that he's got a way to go before he reaches the level of Todd McFarlane that he's trying to get to.  The story is continued from threads laid out in previous issues, but you can pretty easily tell that the writing has been sort of shoved into the passenger seat in favor of the new superstar artist driving this series.  You can definitely feel Terry Kavanagh shifting gears. . .especially in upcoming issues. . .to try and emulate the "Edgier" and more action-packed Image style that the art is pushing.
WELCOME TO THE 90's, FRENCHIE!

Overall, we have a pretty bad change in direction late in the game for this series.  Marc Spector: Moon Knight basically becomes an Image comic for these final few issues, and it just ain't a good fit. Artist Stephen Platt may have made a big entrance with this issue, but reading it 28 years down the road just makes me sort of shake my head and chuckle in a somewhat nostalgic way as I remember the 90's.
 
MOVING ALONG. . .
 

ISSUES 56 - 60 POSTED IN PART 6B BECAUSE I'M A LOUSY EDITOR

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