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  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

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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!

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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. . .

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the blog stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with comic reviews nobody asked me to write! Say a prayer and pass the gravy!
 
Before we begin, I want to wish a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to all of my Longbox Junk readers, and to take the opportunity to say that I'm thankful for each and every one of you who takes a bit of time from their busy lives to read my unsolicited ramblings on comic books!
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
I've got a lot of Longbox Junk on my plate!  I decided to do something I haven't done in a while and review a whole series from issue one to issue done.  I spooned out a hefty helping of comics by choosing sixty issues' worth of Marc Spector: Moon Knight.  I'm not sure I'll have room for pie.  
 
Ah, who am I kidding. . .there's ALWAYS room for pie!
 
So far I'm a third of the way in at 20 issues down.  You can read the first two batches of reviews  HERE (Part 1) and HERE (Part 2), but I'll recap my thoughts a bit. . .
 
So far what we have is a stripped down version of Moon Knight, portrayed as a two-fisted urban crimefighter without any of the usual supernatural or psychological trappings associated with the character.
 
Some might think writer Chuck Dixon's take on Moon Knight is a bit basic, compared to other series runs or writers, but personally I find it sort of refreshing to see such a simple take on what is usually a pretty complex character.
 
But enough introduction!
 
Let's get into this next batch, which includes the final few Dixon issues, and see what happens next.
 
Ready?  LET'S DO THIS!
 

MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT

PART THREE (ISSUES 21 - 30)

MARVEL (1989 - 1994)

 

ISSUE TWENTY-ONE

 
NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Denys Cowan
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue. In the aftermath of their attack on the hidden Secret Empire compound, the Secret Empire leadership manage to escape Spider-Man, Punisher, and Moon Knight.  Punisher has his assistant, Microchip, search ownership records connected to the original base Punisher tracked Secret Empire to (in issue #19) and discovers a link to a midtown Manhattan construction project.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .we find Jeff Wilde (AKA Midnight) alive and waking up tied down to a bed in some sort of laboratory.  He's terribly burned and under the care of a nurse who claims she was kidnapped.  The remaining Secret Empire leadership watching him on monitors talk about turning their captive into some sort of living weapon.  
 
We also see that Secret Empire is planning on launching a low-orbit satellite called "Skyclaw" that is capable of grabbing other satellites from orbit.  Part of a plot to hold the world's communication network for ransom.  They decide that due to the interference of the heroes, they need to launch immediately.
 
BACK WITH THE HEROES. . .After a fight between Moon Knight and Punisher over whether or not Midnight is alive and worth saving if he even is, the three heroes move in on the Secret Empire construction project. . .with Spidey taking the high road and working his way down while Moon Knight and Punisher work their way up.  
 
It doesn't take long for Moonie and Punisher to raise the alarm, and against Moon Knight's better judgement, Punisher starts shooting his way through the building.  Up top, Spider-Man discovers the launch silo for the missile carrying the Skyclaw satellite and destroys the launch doors, making the missile unable to launch.
 
As the Secret Empire leader realizes his plans are done for, Moon Knight and Punisher confront him.  After a short fight, Moon Knight almost kills the Secret Empire commander, who insists that Midnight is dead.  Spider-Man stops Moon Knight from going too far, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is contacted to take over the remnants of the Secret Empire cell and the hidden launch facility.  The heroes part, with Moon Knight mourning the death of Midnight.
 
The story ends by taking the reader back to the laboratory where Midnight is held captive.  He's convinced that Moon Knight left him to die and vows vengeance if he ever sees him again.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This last issue of the Spidey, Moon Knight, and Punisher team up is pretty much just an extended fight scene that ties up the Secret Empire threat.  It's a fairly standard comic book punch fest that gives each of the three main characters a few good action moments.  
 
But like the previous issue, it's not the fighting I enjoyed here, it's the play of the three characters off of each other.  We've got Spider-Man on the side of good old fashioned heroics and the classic "with great power comes great responsibility". Then there's Punisher on the side of black and white justice with no grey area between the guilty and innocent, a "They get what they deserve" simplicity. And Moon Knight caught in the middle between the two.  He eventually falls on the side of Spider-Man, but you can see how easily he might go the other way.  It's just some really good writing in between the fight scenes.
 
The scenes with Midnight seem to be a bit of a cop-out after I was impressed with Dixon's handling of the unwanted sidekick previously.  That said, it's interesting to see the "Sidekick who everyone thought was dead turned into a villain" story path that we saw started with Batman's Red Hood, and then polished with Captain America's Winter Soldier, show up years before either of those stories were published.  I wonder if either of them might have taken a bit of inspiration from this storyline.
 
 
Overall, despite some backpedaling on Midnight's "death" I really enjoyed this last issue of the Spidey, Moon Knight and Punisher team-up.  Not so much for the action-packed fight scenes, but for the moments of character interaction between the three heroes.  I don't normally like Spider-Man very much, but his role in reminding Moon Knight of what kind of hero he CAN be was really very nicely done here, so credit to Chuck Dixon for giving me a Spidey appearance in someone else's comic that I actually like, for once.
 
TEAM UP TIME OVER! MOVING ALONG. . .
 

ISSUE TWENTY-TWO

 
THE HATE FACTORY
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: Denys Cowan
 
THE STORY:
 
Moon Knight returns to the Secret Empire launch facility (from last issue) and evades the S.H.I.E.L.D. guards to hack into the mainframe, trying to get any information he can on Midnight.  Unfortunately, what little he does find only convinces him that Jeff Wilde is dead.  
 
In the process, Moon Knight discovers a name he recognizes. . .Bo Ollsen.  He was the other mercenary with Marc Spector the night he killed the Presidente of Bosquverde, and the only other person who might know the truth of what happened!  He is in the city and connected with a Secret Empire White Supremacy splinter group called "The Pretorians".
 
ELSWHERE. . .We see a terrified man being pursued through a maze and eventually murdered by a masked man on a motorcycle as a crowd chants the man's name. . .CHAINSAW!
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .We see that Midnight is alive, but still near death as Secret Empire troops hustle him and his nurse to yet another hidden location.  The few remaining members of the Secret Empire leadership fight among themselves over who will take over as "Number One" and discuss their plans to make Midnight into one of their agents.
 
BACK WITH OUR HEROES. . .Frenchie manages to infiltrate the Pretorians, posing as a possible recruit for the white supremacist organization.  Marlene (keeping watch on the front of the building) is captured while Moon Knight sneaks in from the rooftop.  Moon Knight spots his target, Bo Ollsen, while "Chainsaw" delivers a hate-filled speech.  But the recon mission suddenly turns into a rescue mission when the captured Marlene is thrown into Chainsaw's maze.  Moon Knight jumps in for the attack!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
You can sort of tell that Chuck Dixon's run on this title is starting to wind down to its finish.  This issue (and, not to get ahead of myself, the next as well) feels like filler meant to begin wrapping up some dangling story threads. . .Midnight's fate, as well as the resolution to "The Trial of Marc Spector".  As a villain, "Chainsaw" is a pretty generic homicidal maniac that you just KNOW is going to be Moon Knight's punching bag next issue.  The new inker brings a scratchier, grittier tone to the art that I really like, but other than that, this issue is pretty forgettable.
 
Overall, this issue just feels like filler meant to start tying up loose story threads as Dixon coasts toward the finish line of his time on this run.  It's not BAD, just sort of generic.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-THREE


THE MAZE
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: Denys Cowan
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight jumps into the maze to face Chainsaw and rescue Marlene while Frenchie fights his way through Pretorian thugs above to clear the way for a getaway.  Moon Knight gets the upper hand on Chainsaw and the killer attempts to escape, only to be gunned down by Moon Knight's original target, the mercenary Bo Ollsen!
 
Moon Knight pursues and captures Ollsen, taking him along as Frenchie and Marlene rendezvous with him for their escape from the Pretorians.  Moon Knight interrogates Ollsen and learns that he was infiltrating the Pretorians because he has a score to settle with Secret Empire after one of their schemes he was hired for went wrong and he spent 5 years in a Southeast Asian prison.
 
Moon Knight makes a deal with Ollsen, he'll tell him where to find what's left of the Secret Empire leadership in exchange for the truth of what happened 10 years ago in Bosqueverde.  Moon Knight learns that Presidente Dominguez and Raposa were actually working together, but Raposta double-crossed him and used Marc Spector to do his dirty work, with both Ollsen and Dominguez's wife in on the plot.  
 
Finally, Ollsen tells Moon Knight that Raposa is in Miami and running a cocaine cartel.  Moon Knight and Ollsen part ways after keeping his half of the bargain and telling Ollsen that "Number One" is being held on Ryker's Island awaiting trial.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .We see Jeff Wilde (AKA Midnight) waking up after an operation and discovering to his horror that his arms have both been amputated and replaced with robotic limbs, we leave him screaming in terror and denial as we return to see Moon Knight beating his way through the underground, looking for information on Raposa and his operation.
 
At the end of the issue, Moon Knight leaves for Miami alone.  Raposa is personal, and Moon Knight doesn't want to put Marlene or Frenchie in danger for a personal vendetta.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Like last issue, you can sort of see Dixon coasting on this one as his time writing this series comes to a close with next issue.  Chainsaw was basically the most generic of throwaway villains and the rest of the comic is pretty much an exposition dump leading to Dixon's final issue on the run.  
 
It's not badly-written. . .Dixon keeps on his established straight and narrow here, showing Moon Knight as a two-fisted street hero punching his way "Batman-Style" through underground informants until he learns what he wants to know.  It's just that you can TELL that Dixon's about done with Moon Knight and there wasn't really much effort put into things.
 
 
 Overall, a pretty forgettable filler issue that serves as more of an information dump than anything else.  It's not BAD, but you can tell that Dixon is phoning it in at this point and ready to move on to writing The Punisher.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-FOUR

 
BLACK TIDE
Trial of Marc Spector Epilogue
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: Denys Cowan
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, we find Moon Knight in Miami, attacking drug shipments and working his way up from the bottom toward his target, former Bosqueverde Dictator Emmanuel Raposa.  Hearing that Moon Knight was also targeting his biggest competition, Rory Valdez, Raposa decides to also strike Valdez, making him fight two battles at once.
 
BACK IN NEW YORK. . .We see the mysterious leader of Secret Empire, "Number One", being held and awaiting trial on Ryker's Island, where he is killed by Bo Ollsen, who is disguised as a prison guard and acting on Moon Knight's information from last issue.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .We see Midnight, now more machine than man, brought out before the Secret Empire leadership for a demonstration of their new Cyber-Warrior.  Unfortunately, Midnight's human rage makes him go into a killing frenzy and Secret Empire are forced to shut him down until they can find a better way to to control him.  And that's the last we see of Midnight in this series. 
 
HEADING BACK TO MIAMI. . .Moon Knight has infiltrated the Valdez compound, seeking information on Raposa when Raposa pre-emptively attacks!  Moon Knight makes his escape as the gunmen of the two drug lords battle it out, and then tries to follow Raposa back to his hideout, but he's discovered and a battle in the air over the streets of Miami between Moon Knight in his stealth fighter and Raposa's thugs in a trio of gunship helicopters breaks out.  
 
Moon Knight defeats two of Raposa's copters and follows the survivor back to Raposa's hideout, where Bo Ollsen has also arrived, with plans to kill Raposa.  Moon Knight stops Ollsen from killing the former dictator, but Ollsen is badly wounded during the fight.  Ollsen reveals that he knows that it's Marc Spector wearing Moon Knight's costume, and that he was trying to make amends for setting him up all those years ago.  
 
Marc forgives Ollsen and the wounded mercenary holds off Raposa's gunmen while Moon Knight makes his escape with their leader.  The issue ends with Moon Knight bringing Raposa to a waiting ship, so that the former dictator can be returned to Bosqueverde for trial, fulfilling Marc Spector's promise to Presidente Silva to bring Raposa to justice.  
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And so we come to the end of Chuck Dixon's time writing Moon Knight.  Where the previous two issues in this final arc felt a bit loose and lazy, this one was tighter and seemed to have a lot more effort put into it.  Yes, it basically serves to tie up two big loose ends, but this was a slam-bang adventure that brings Dixon's run to an end in fine form.  
 
Midnight's ultimate fate isn't revealed until later in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man (and his death even later in Moon Knight vol. 5), so the resolution here is a bit unsatisfying, but the main story of Moon Knight finally bringing Raposa to justice is a very nice epilogue to "The Trial of Marc Spector" that I enjoyed quite a bit.
 
Overall, Dixon goes out in style with a two-fisted action-packed adventure tying up loose ends from his run and leaving a blank slate for incoming creative teams.  I have to say that I really enjoyed Dixon's stripped down, simplified take on Moon Knight, even though I might be in the minority on that opinion.  So let's see what the next team does with that blank slate Dixon left them with, shall we?
 
WE SHALL!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-FIVE

 
GHOSTS OF THE PAST
SCRIPT: Howard Mackie
PENCILS: Mark Bagley
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Denys Cowan
 
THE STORY:
 
Our story begins with Moon Knight fighting terrorists attacking the Statue of Liberty.  Just another night out on patrol except that the thugs are wearing costumes very similar to his and keep shouting about how they are the "True Knight of the Moon" as Moon Knight punches them.
 
AND THEN. . .Ghost Rider shows up out of nowhere to finish mopping up the remaining terrorists.  He interrogates one of them and discovers that there is another attack planned on Grand Central Station.  That means it's TEAM UP TIME!
 
At Grand Central Station, there is a charity benefit party going on for the homeless, which is interrupted as more "Knights of The Moon", as well as other mercenaries attack and take the guests (including Moon Knight's lover, Marlene) hostage.  It is revealed that the mutant known as Plasma is the leader of the terrorists.  
 
By the time Moon Knight and Frenchie arrive on the scene, the hostage situation is in full swing and the police have blockaded the whole area.  Moon Knight decides to infiltrate using the train tunnels.  He discovers more Knights of The Moon fanatics placing explosives to destroy the terminal and takes them down.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Plasma receives news that some of her men aren't reporting, and she assumes it's the police, which means it's time to start killing hostages.  Below, Moon Knight is fighting his way through her henchmen, encountering several mercenaries that he had once worked with.  He isn't able to make it up top fast enough to stop Plasma from blowing a hostage's head off with her powers.
 
BUT THEN. . .Ghost Rider finally makes it to the scene! As the Spirit of Vengeance wreaks havoc on the terrorists, Plasma joins the fight and seemingly vaporizes him with a blast of her power.  Plasma decides to leave before more superheroes show up and abandons the hostages as she gets on a train with her remaining men.
 
Moon Knight arrives to find the police in charge of the hostage situation, hears what happened to Ghost Rider from Marlene, then rushes to pursue the mutant leader and her religious fanatics.  Ghost Rider returns and Moon Knight hitches a ride on his bike in order to chase the escaping train.  The two heroes board the train and proceed to pound the Khonshu out of anyone standing in their way until they get to Plasma.
 
Ghost Rider is blasted out of the fight again and Plasma shouts out her entire history and power set while Moon Knight mercilessly kicks her around the cabin of the train.  Her exposition distracts Plasma from the fact that the train is heading too fast into a curve.  Moon Knight jumps out onto Ghost Rider's bike just in time as the speeding train plows into the wall and explodes, taking Plasma along with it!
 
At the end, Ghost Rider and Moon Knight part, having served a mighty fine dose of both justice AND vengeance this night.  
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
*Sigh* Not good.  Not good at all.
 
What we have here is a one-off filler issue coming between the departing creative team and the incoming one.  Unfortunately, despite the great talent involved in this double-sized issue, it's really not that good. I'd say it's just "okay". With the team up of Moon Knight and Ghost Rider fighting an X-Men villain, this actually reads sort of like a leftover script from the "Acts of Vengeance" crossover that got dusted off and used on short notice.  
 
It's pretty much a standard superhero punch-fest all the way through from page one to page done.  You can see that there's very little effort to actually make this issue good.  Instead, it looks like Marvel was hoping the Ghost Rider appearance would coast this one along until next month when the new regular team takes over.
 
What's especially disappointing is that usually I like Mark Bagley's art quite a bit.  He's one of the most solid artists Marvel had at that time, but here it looks like he hurried up and illustrated this issue in between better things he had to do.  
 
 
Overall, this issue was the first actual clunker of this series.  It's a shame because there's some good names working on it, but the whole thing obviously looks like a rushed filler issue padding a month between regular creative teams.  Nothing to see here, let's move along. . .
 
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-SIX

 
SCARLET REDEMPTION PART ONE: SINNERS
SCRIPT: J. M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz 
 
THE STORY:
 
Our story begins as a mysterious woman cloaked in red attacks one of Moon Knight's informants, Mr. Crawley, badly wounding him with a crossbow bolt.  Crawley barely makes it to the diner his (and Moon Knight's) friend Gena owns.  The woman pursues him into the diner and blows it up using explosive crossbow bolts.  It is shown to the reader than she calls herself Scarlet and she attacked Moon Knight's friends to try and get his attention.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Moon Knight is back on patrol and we see him fight a group of young thugs, but he shows them mercy, explaining to Frenchie and Marlene that since HE got a second chance at life, everyone deserves the same.  
 
THAT NIGHT. . .at the altar of her church hideout, Scarlet receives a fiery vision of Moon Knight replacing the crucifix.  At the same time, Marc Spector is awakened and receives a vision of Scarlet replacing the statue of Khonshu in his mansion.
 
Later, Moon Knight visits the hospital to check up on his wounded friend, Mr. Crawley.  He learns from Gena about the attack, and combined with his earlier vision, he realizes that Scarlet Fasinara (AKA Stained Glass Scarlet), is back in New York after being gone for many years.
 
He immediately heads to the grave of Scarlet's son. . .who she was forced to kill, making her mind snap and turning her into a murderous vigilante.  There, Moon Knight is attacked by three of Scarlet's disciples.  They fight until Scarlet herself appears, telling Moon Knight that she just wanted to be near him that night, but there would be another time for her to reveal her true purpose.  Moon Knight lets them all leave for some unknown reason.
 
We end the issue with Moon Knight receiving yet another fiery vision at the statue of Khonshu.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Well, alrighty then.  Talk about a major switch in. . .well, pretty much everything!  
How do I begin to unpack this? Even the COVER is completely different.  Okay, here goes!
 
Chuck Dixon departed this title after two years of solid superhero action, with his stories nicely tied up and leaving a blank slate for the incoming creative team.  But instead of building on or refining what had been the status quo for Moon Knight for 25 issues, DeMatteis and Garney decided to take things in a completely different direction by making this issue a direct continuation of the 38 issue 1980 run of Moon Knight!
 
This issue features characters and story beats from issues almost ten years in the past!  In particular, Stained Glass Scarlet was featured in issues #14 and #24.  Gena and Mr. Crawley were frequent supporting characters of that run as well, even though they've never been mentioned until now in this one.
 
Frankly, it's a jarring disconnect from the series I had been reading.  These days, Marvel would have just ended the series at issue #25 and made #26 a brand new #1 reboot of the series, but the semi-predatory practice of rebooting a series every couple of years for that shiny and collectible #1 (with 27 variant covers, of course) is still a ways down the road for the comic industry.  So what we get instead is basically an entire change in a series between one month and the next.
 
I'm pretty sure that fans of Moon Knight pining for the earlier run. . .which, credit due, IS some fantastic work from (mainly) Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz. . .were excited for a return to that series.  Unfortunately, it's a pretty abrupt departure for readers who might have jumped on Moon Knight from the first issue of THIS series.  Put kindly, this new creative team and direction pretty much abandons new Moon Knight fans of the time for established fans from almost a decade previously.
 
Okay, so the complete change in direction is jarring and somewhat unwelcome. . .what about the story itself?  Let's put it this way. . .J.M. DeMatteis is no Doug Moench and Ron Garney isn't anywhere close to being Bill Sienkiewicz.  Their attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle falls flat.
 
The most obvious problem is that Stained Glass Scarlet herself is written almost completely different than seen previously.  In the earlier Moon Knight issues this storyline attempts to continue, Scarlet is a former nun who left the church to marry into the mob.  After her husband is killed and she is forced to kill her own son, something snaps in Scarlet and she begins to hunt down and kill anyone in the mob connected with the tragedy her life became.  She ran afoul of Moon Knight, who sympathized with her, but didn't approve of her methods, and the two connected before she disappeared. 
 
 In other words, she was Marvel's version of DC's Helena Bertinelli (AKA The Huntress), right down to the religious aspect (that DC has since abandoned), mob connection, and crossbow as a favored weapon.  
 
But HERE, Scarlet is written as someone willing to kill innocents just to get Moon Knight's attention.  Also, she seems to have gained some sort of mental super powers as well.  She's able to manipulate Moon Knight's mind, drawing him to her and making him unable to act if she wants to (that's how she and her disciples escape the graveyard fight).  The original Scarlet was a street level vigilante on a specific mission.  This Scarlet is an indiscriminate killer with mind control powers.
 
As far as the rest goes, the running internal monologue of both Spector and Scarlet (that tells most of the story) is overwrought and pretentious almost to the point of comedy at times.  Ron Garney's art is wildly inconsistent. . .with some pages standing out as borderline great, while others look sketchy and incomplete.  The combination really makes me a bit discouraged from continuing on with the next issues in the story.
 
 
 
Overall, we have a jarring change in direction that completely abandons the established status quo (and new Moon Knight fans at the time) in favor of returning to a previous series.  The writing is pretentious and laughable where it's supposed to be dark and dramatic, and the artwork is uneven.  Chuck Dixon left a blank slate, and instead of going forward, this issue takes the series a step backward.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-SEVEN

 
SCARLET REDEMPTION PART TWO: SNARES
SCRIPT: J. M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz 
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, we find Frenchie and his new lover (Marc Spector's housekeeper, Chloe) enjoying some time together in one of Marc's penthouses that he rarely uses.  Scarlet and a group of her disciples attack, badly wounding Frenchie and taking him captive and sending Chloe to Marc with a message to meet Scarlet on the Brooklyn Bridge.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Since encountering Scarlet, Marc has been plagued with constant thoughts and visions of her, as well as random hallucinations of Khonshu.  We see that Scarlet is also suffering from constant hallucinations of beings who want to punish her for her sins.  Moon Knight follows a lead to an abandoned church, but discovers that she's already gone.  
 
LATER THAT NIGHT. . .Chloe finally makes to to Spector's mansion to deliver Scarlet's message, Moon Knight goes to the Brooklyn Bridge and confronts Scarlet, who lets him know that Frenchie has already been released and that she wants Marc to save her soul.  They embrace and kiss, but Scarlet becomes overwhelmed with shame and stabs Moon Knight in the back, pushing him off the bridge and into the water after declaring that she doesn't deserve to be saved.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
The pretentious and overblown nature of the running internal dialogue in the previous issue was pretty bad, but DeMatteis says "You ain't seen nothin' yet" and steps it up a notch to the point that the story in this issue is practically unreadable. 
 
 Scarlet's new powers are also inconsistent with the previous issue.  Last issue, she was able to draw Spector to her with her psychic ability, in this issue, she has to take Frenchie hostage and send someone with a message for Spector to meet her.  So not only does the character barely represent the original material, the writer can't even keep her straight over the course of TWO issues. 
 
With this treatment of Stained Glass Scarlet, I can definitely see why creators (Like Tony Isabella with Black Lightning) get upset when others change characters they create completely from their original vision.  BUT I DIGRESS!
 
Thankfully, the uneven art seems to have been straightened out to the point that I can now call it "Pretty Good" as a whole and even saw a few panels that are downright great.  Plus there's a very nice cover by Sienkiewicz, so at least the comic is good on the eyes.
 

Overall we have a story that's practically unreadable without eye rolls at the constant cribbing of William Blake's poetry posing as deep and dark inner dialogue (That's right, DeMatteis, I see where you're pulling it from.  I don't just read comic books.) and featuring a character that is not only a hollow shell of the original, but inconsistent from issue to issue. 
 
 Three more issues of this PLUS an epilogue? All I can say is. . .
 
The flames of that round me roll;
If she refuse, I still go on
Till the Heavens and Earth are gone
Because I ain't a quitter, son


(See, I can do it too 😉)

NEXT!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-EIGHT

 
SCARLET REDEMPTION PART THREE: COMING FORTH
SCRIPT: J. M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz 
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight has been stabbed by Scarlet and pushed off the Brooklyn Bridge.  As he sinks into the river, bleeding out, he has visions of Khonshu, his father, and his dead brother, Randall. . .all berating him for being worthless and weak.
 
While Marc struggles against his inner demons, Scarlet is wracked with guilt and prays to Jesus to help Marc, while at the same time, Marlene prays to Khonshu for the same thing.  Or at least I think that's what is going on.  At this point, the story is such a mess with three simultaneous running internal dialogues that I can barely stand reading it.  ANYWAY. . .both of the women are somehow physically touched by the statues they are praying to.
 
By the intervention of Khonshu, Jesus, or both (Or neither? Maybe? Who knows?), Marc struggles through the hellish visions of disappointment and failure and is guided by a beam of light to the surface, where he is rescued by Frenchie and Marlene in his copter.  Marc is skeptical when Marlene tells him the statue of Khonshu told her where to find him, ignoring the fact that he wears a weird costume and fights crime every night because that very same statue told him to.
 
AT THE END. . .We see that Scarlet has also been led (by Jesus?) to where Moon Knight was. . .Even though she should have already known because SHE was the one who pushed him off the bridge in the first place.  Just one of the many plot holes to be found. BUT I DIGRESS! 
 
When she realizes that she's arrived too late and he's already been rescued by Marlene, Scarlet gets mad that seems to take delight in constantly punishing her.  She begins to summon fire (adding pyrokinesis to her new set of superpowers) and declares that now the world must burn!
 
To be (unfortunately) continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This story just gets worse as it goes on.  Sort of like a drunken uncle at Thanksgiving who ropes you into a political discussion.  Yeah. . .that bad.  
 
There are there three separate running internal monologues that converge and overlap each other at times, making it hard to understand who's thinking what (Scarlet and Marlene's visuals and dialogue mirror each other through the whole issue, as you can see in the page scan below).  
 
There are gaping plot holes. . .For one example: This issue starts exactly where the last left off, but Scarlet has been able to return to her hideout, change clothes, pray to Jesus, AND return to try and rescue Marc in the time it takes him to fall and sink to the bottom of the river.  Just one of several holes in the plot where it's obvious that the writer was more concerned with the FEEL of what he's trying to say than with telling a cohesive story.
 
Adding to the confusion, Scarlet now seems to be able to summon fire. . .which begs the question of why she had to burn down Gena's diner with explosive crossbow bolts in the first issue of this arc.
 
Look, I understand.  DeMatteis is trying to tell a dreamlike (nightmarish?) story that takes place mostly in the heads of the characters.  Unfortunately, the execution falls flat.  The artist does a decent job in trying to keep up, but as it stands, this story is a meandering mess.
 
 
Overall, we have a story that's just getting worse as it goes on.  DeMatteis is trying hard to say SOMETHING, but it's hard to tell exactly what that is because he keeps adding new elements to an already muddled narrative.  That's not good when you just want to read a decent superhero story.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE TWENTY-NINE

 
SCARLET REDEMPTION PART FOUR: THE CLOUD
SCRIPT: J. M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz 
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, we find Scarlet in her hideout, still wracked with guilt and conflicting emotion.  She begins to have nightmarish hallucinations and memories of killing her abusive father, her failed bid at salvation by becoming a nun, her failure to change the ways of her abusive mob husband, her being forced to kill her own son.  She blames , but begs for His forgiveness at the same time.  She implores Satan to take her soul to . . .ANYTHING to atone for her past.  But no answer comes from either Heaven or .
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .we see that Scarlet's mental torment is affecting Moon Knight as he recovers from his injuries.  As Scarlet's rage with being ignored by both Heaven and grows, she sets fire to her hideout, sending her disciples fleeing into the night.  Feeling himself drawn to Scarlet against his will, Moon Knight suits up despite the protests of Marlene and heads into the night for a final confrontation.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
As you can see from the abbreviated summary above, this issue leading up to the big finish is a bit light on story and heavy on hammering the reader with the inner torment of Scarlet. . .basically a very pretentious and overwrought exposition dump of her origin story, but without any explanation of what she's been up to for the past ten years or where her shiny new mental superpowers came from. . .which is sort of what I was wanting to know.  
 
I mean, she leaves New York as a somewhat successful street vigilante with a vendetta against the mob and then returns a decade later as a murderous psychic powerhouse?  Where's THAT story?
 
On the good side of things, Garney's art has been improving with each issue, so as the story gets worse, the visuals get better.  He does a lot of interesting things with panel layout in this issue as he tries to fit four pages of story into a thirty page comic book.  I gotta give credit where credit is due.  He does a fair job of it.
 

Overall, what we have here is too little story for too much comic.  Thankfully, Ron Garney is up to the task of making it work.  Unfortunately, there's not much some decent art can do to improve this half-baked origin story that doesn't even really tell the story it needs to tell.  All I can say is thank it's almost over.
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 

ISSUE THIRTY

 
SCARLET REDEMPTION PART FIVE: THIRST
SCRIPT: J. M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Ron Garney
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Bill Sienkiewicz 
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, we find New York City is plagued by a spree of firebombs.  Scarlet has written a letter to the Daily Bugle claiming that she is purifying the city with fire in the name of .  Which, of course, begs the question of why firebombs when in the previous two issues she was able to summon fire?  And where are all the other NYC superheroes?  Spidey WORKS at the Daily Bugle, right? BUT I DIGRESS!
 
We see that Scarlet is plagued by a vision of a man and a woman dancing around a campfire, with lots of extremely pretentious and wordy mental monologuing about the ecstasy of burning and ancient priestesses which makes no sense at all, but at this point, I'm just sort of rolling with things.  All I know is that if I were actually subscribing to this series in 1991, I probably would have cancelled it around #28.  BUT THERE I GO AGAIN!
 
Moon Knight is busy saving people from burning buildings on his own because I guess he's the only superhero noticing dozens of buildings blowing up in New York City.  He encounters a group of Scarlet's disciples setting a bomb. . .because I guess she's lost her magical fire powers since last issue. . .he fights them, but the group of four young girls beat the superhero martial arts master unconscious. Probably not Moon Knight's finest moment.
 
When he wakes up from his beating at the hands of teenage girls, Moon Knight starts having visions of the same thing that's been tormenting Scarlet. . .but thankfully minus about half of the cribbed William Blake internal anguish she was having.  This somehow tells him exactly where Scarlet is, because, well, just because?
 
We switch scenes to the hospital where Moon Knight's friend Mr. Crawley has been recovering from Scarlet's attack in the first issue of this merry mess.  Scarlet is standing over the bed with a lit match (Her fire powers once again mysteriously absent in the exact issue where she would have been using them the most) and muttering to herself about .  
 
SURPRISE, CRAZY LADY! Moon Knight jumps up out of the bed, where he'd been hiding, and grabs her.  He demands to know just what the is going on with her. . .exactly the same thing I demand!  She tells him that it's too late for love and. . .blasts him with her friggin' fire powers that have been absent until now!  The whole hospital goes up in flame due to her plot-specific moment of  fire rage.
 
Scarlet makes her escape while Moon Knight saves people from the hospital.  She waits for him to get done and find her by dancing in the rain and lightning on top of the Brooklyn Bridge while having visions of an ancient priestess dancing around a campfire. . .visions that Moon Knight is also having back at the hospital.  Once again, they somehow tell Moon Knight were to go.
 
Moon Knight confronts Scarlet on the bridge again (hopefully this time standing away from the edge) and they start talking about past lives, reincarnation, and how there's no salvation for her.  Scarlet begs Moon Knight to kill her because she doesn't deserve to live, any more than this comic deserves a decent review.  
 
Moon Knight calms her down a bit, but then she pulls the old surprise knife again!  Moonie ain't falling for that game a second time, seeing as he's still got stitches from the last time she pulled a sticker on him.  He grabs her hand and tells her to stop acting crazy. . .he's just a man and he can't save her soul, and he sure isn't going to let her stab him again.
 
Scarlet sees a vision of flames in the water below and decides it's time to finally end this rotten story by jumping off the bridge.  Moon Knight dives in after her, but comes up empty.  He looks for her all night, before saying a prayer for her soul and giving up.
 
The End 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Thank it's over.  I've read reviews of this series that bag on Chuck Dixon as the worst writer of the whole run.  I heartily disagree.  Dixon may have been a bit basic, but at least he was consistent and his stories were actually readable.  In the course of Longbox Junkin' you can believe I've read some pretty bad stories.  This was one of the worst that I've read in quite a while.   
 
The writer was so far in his own headspace that he forgot he was writing for other people.  There might have been a point to this story DeMatteis was trying to make, but I can't see it.  Hopefully, this is a low point for this series, because I've still got a LOT of issues to go.
 

Overall, the finish to this story was all over the place.  Scarlet's flame powers come and go as needed by the story.  Moon Knight gets the Khonshu pounded out of him by teenage girls.  Buildings are exploding in New York City and Moon Knight is the only superhero on the job.  DeMatteis doubles down on the pretentious William Blake-infused inner monologue with each issue.  Summed up: This was a hard story to get through.   I feel like I've accomplished something by actually reading every word of it.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Talk about contrast.  This batch of Marc Spector: Moon Knight issues is a study in contrast.  Two good issues, three "okay" issues, and a solid FIVE bad issues.  We go from straightforward two-fisted superhero action to overwrought internal drama.
 
Look. . .I've read good stuff by J.M. DeMatteis.  Captain America, The Defenders, Weird War Tales, even : Apocalypse (No, really. . .it's pretty good. Check it out).  This is not good.  I'm not sure where his head was when he was writing this, but the decisions made here and the inconsistency of the whole story where DeMatteis is normally a lot tighter make me wonder if he was going through something that was distracting him from his work.  This is so bad that I don't know what to make of it.
 
Whatever was going on with DeMatteis when he wrote the stinker of a story that makes up half of this batch of Marc Spector: Moon Knight, it made getting through the back half of these issues a hard row to hoe.  
 
The first half was pretty good.  Yeah, Dixon was coasting along toward his finish line, but at least his last issues were decent, with the Spidey/Moon Knight/Punisher teamup showing some really good writing.  
 
The filler issue between Dixon and DeMatteis was a bit of a clunker, but I highly suspect that it was actually a leftover unused "Acts of Vengeance" story that was dusted off and thrown in on short notice.
 
SO. . .here we are, halfway through.  Thirty more issues to go.  What happens next?  Let's find out!
 
Up Next. . .
 
More Marc Spector: Moon Knight!  
Issues 31-40, heading down the back half of the series.
Will it get any better?  I sure hope so!
 
Be there or be square.

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

I've decided to return to one of the things that makes Longbox Junk special by reading and reviewing an entire series from issue one to issue done. .. something I haven't done in a while.  I chose a pretty epic chunk of comics with SIXTY issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight.

To recap the first ten issues (or you can just go HERE ), so far writer Chuck Dixon has given us a very straightforward and simple interpretation of Moon Knight, dispensing with most of the supernatural elements and not even touching on the mental health issues that usually define a Moon Knight story.  

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews that nobody asked me to write!
 
Since AUGUST, we've been on a bit of a "Retro Review" spree here at Longbox Junk. . .shining the spotlight on some of the older and/or more "Valuable" comics in my collection as a nod toward the fine and friendly folk of Old Guys Who Like Old Comics.  Just my little way of thanking them for all the education and entertainment I've gotten since being a member there.  If you are in ANY way a fan of comics from before 1986, then check them out on Facebook.  I promise you'll be hooked!
 
BUT. . .
 
I think that it's time to get back to what Longbox Junk is really all about. . .Longbox Junk!  Those comics you can find in the bargain bins for a dollar or less.  Those unloved comics that fly WAY under the radar of collectors looking to make a buck.  I'm talking comics that are good for reading, but not much else, as far as serious collectors are concerned. Comics that are rarely (if ever) reviewed by ANYONE.  Longbox Junk!
 
Now, there's a LOT of Longbox Junk out there, but one of the things that sets THIS blog apart from others who have fun with some of these unloved comics, is that I like to review limited series and even full series from issue one to issue done.  Here at Longbox Junk, I like to give you the whole story, whether anyone has ever asked for it or not!
 
That said, it's been a while since I threw down a review on a full series.  Looking back in the blog, I see it's been about a year since I went through anything with more than six issues. . .May 2019, when I reviewed BOOM! Studios' 16 issue Planet of The Apes run.  
 
Well, I'm fixing that here and now!
 
The series at hand deals with one of my favorite Marvel characters, Moon Knight.  It's his longest running series to date, published from 1989 to 1994, for a total of 60 issues. . .and I'm gonna read and review every single one of them!
 
I picked this fairly long series for a few reasons.  First. . .like I said above, he's one of my favorite characters!  Second. . .this is a pretty easy series to collect while Longbox Junkin' through the bargain bins.  Only a couple of the issues are "worth" more than cover price, and you can even find those few in the dollar boxes.  Third. . .running through six years' worth of issues, there's a pretty good variety of creative teams to look at.  
 
And finally. . .I see that Moon Knight is about to get some long-overdue screen love with an upcoming live action series from Disney+, so this series might be getting a little reader interest from people taking note of Moon Knight for the first time in the near future.
 
SO. . .
 
Moon Knight.  Sixty issues broken up into ten issue chunks.  Let's do this!
 

MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT

PART ONE (ISSUES 1 - 10)

MARVEL (1989 - 1994)

ISSUE ONE

New Moon
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Mark Farmer
COVER: Carl Potts
 
THE STORY:
 
Upon his return to New York following a stint in the West Coast Avengers, Marc Spector (AKA Moon Knight) takes right back up where he left off fighting street-level crime.  After taking down some street thugs with the help of his pilot and best friend, Frenchie, Marc returns home for a reunion with his lover, Marlene.
 
After a short recap of Moon Knight's origin story. . .Spector was a mercenary killed by a rival and then brought back to life by the ancient Egyptian Moon , Khonshu, to be his avatar and servant on Earth. . .Marc and Marlene have an argument and she leaves, only to be attacked on the road.
 
Moon Knight and Frenchie rush to her aid, but they are too late to prevent her from being taken by Moon Knight's old foe, Bushman (the rival mercenary who "killed" Spector in Egypt).  
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a bad introduction issue at all!  Dixon gives JUST enough exposition to let readers know who Moon Knight is, who his main allies are, and who his main foe is without bogging down the story.  It's well-written, moves at a snappy pace, and shows Moon Knight as a street-level brawler backed up with a pile of money without any of the mental health or supernatural/mystic trappings that tend to pop up in Moon Knight tales. 
 
The art isn't spectacular, but it has a nice sense of motion, and does a good job telling the story.  The cover is also very nicely done, showcasing the main character in action and catching the eye with some interesting color choices.  
 
 
Overall, Marc Spector: Moon Knight #1 is just about everything a comic fan could want in a first issue.  It's not the greatest story I've ever read, but it's a great introduction and a solid foundation to build on.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE TWO


Hunter's Moon
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Mark Farmer
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, after kidnapping Marlene and telling Moon Knight to wait for his demands, Bushman retreats to the heavily-fortified Burundan Embassy.  As Moon Knight stakes out the Embassy, he is spotted by some of Bushman's henchmen and attacked while Spider-Man takes pictures of the battle.
 
A messenger from Bushman tells Spector that he wants ten million dollars in exchange for Marlene.  Marc Spector is rich, but doesn't have that kind of cash money laying around, so he opts for a rescue mission instead.
 
He sneaks into the Embassy disguised as a cable man, but is quickly discovered and is forced to fight his way through Bushman's security goons, only to discover that Bushman has already returned to Africa, and has taken Marlene with him!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Now that introductions have been taken care of in the previous issue, this second issue gets right down to business by delivering an action-packed story that only slows down a couple of times.  The Spider-Man appearance seems sort of tacked on just so Spider-Man could be on the cover, just a few panels and he doesn't interact with Moon Knight at all. . .typical Marvel cover bait, but what ya gonna do?  
 

 
Once again, the art does a fine job of carrying most of the weight of this action-heavy rescue mission story.   Overall, a very solid second issue that keeps the story going at a snappy pace and makes me want to see what happens next.  This series is off to a pretty good start!
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE THREE


Butcher's Moon
SCRIPT:  Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Mark Farmer
COVER: Marcus McLaurin & Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
Continued from last issue, in pursuit of Bushman and the kidnapped Marlene, Marc Spector travels to the African nation of Burunda in disguise as a British photographer.  After night falls, he makes his way to Bushman's military compound and blows up a fuel truck and ammo dump as a distraction.
 
Hearing the commotion outside, Marlene takes the opportunity to escape with a guard's weapon.  Moon Knight fights his way through the compound until he finally discovers and confronts Bushman, who challenges the hero to man-to-man combat, promising to free Marlene if Spector wins.
 
A brutal battle ensues between the two bitter enemies.  Bushman gets in a few good strikes with his sword, but Spector is the superior fighter and wins the fight just as Marlene arrives.  Bushman breaks his word and orders his men to kill Spector and Marlene.  Frenchie arrives in a helicopter and Spector uses Bushman as a human shield in order to escape, but lets him live.  
 
The End. 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And so we come to the end of this series' first story arc.  It's pretty much all action and Dixon writes it at such a fast pace that it's over before you know it as our heroes fly away.  Taken as a whole, this first arc was a great introduction to this straightforward and heroic version of Moon Knight, his friends, and his enemies.  Dixon's writing is very nicely backed up by some art that actually seems to be improving as the story goes on. 
 

 
 Sal Velluto was a great choice for this version of Moon Knight. There's a fluid feeling of motion across the panels that is a good fit for the action heavy sequences, but also looks very nice during the few calm moments to be found.
 
Overall, this issue was a great end to a really good three issue introduction arc.  This series is off on a good foot and has captured my interest enough to make me want to see where it goes from here.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FOUR


Wild Midnight
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Russ Heath
INKS: Russ Heath
COVER: Russ Heath
 
THE STORY:
 
Following a series of robberies of companies connected to Marc Spector that put him under suspicion by the authorities, Moon Knight's own investigation points toward Anton Mogart (AKA Midnight), a former foe that Spector had thought was dead.
 
In order to draw the thief out, Marc decides to throw a high-dollar charity dinner.  Felicia Hardy (AKA The Black Cat) takes the bait and makes an appearance, as does Midnight.  During the confusion of Midnight's heist, Marc (as Moon Knight) is mistaken for the perpetrator, allowing Midnight to escape as Black Cat confronts Moon Knight.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
So now that the first few issues are done, we're into the second story arc and starting to see the real Longbox Junk of this run. . .those issues that nobody cares about that make up 90% of ANY long-running series.
 
That said, Dixon continues to throw down some good, fast-paced superhero action, maintaining the tone he established with the first issue. . .Moon Knight as a two-fisted hero without any of the mental health or mystical aspects found in other runs.  It's a bit basic, but it works!  How long it will work before getting stale is the question.
 
In this issue, we also get our first artist change-up, with the legendary Russ Heath in fine form!  His thick inks and expressive faces are perfect for a story that has a heavy focus on a high-society party.  Too bad it's only for one issue.  Velluto is a fine artist for this series, but I think Heath could have REALLY made it shine.
 
Overall, moving past the first arc and into the monthly meat of the series, Chuck Dixon continues to deliver some good, fast-paced superhero action that makes me want to keep reading.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FIVE

 
Rockin' At Midnight
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Mark Farmer
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from the previous issue, Moon Knight manages to escape the scene of the charity party (and the undercover F.B.I. agents chasing him) and continue his pursuit of Midnight, unaware that Black Cat is hot on his trail, still convinced Moon Knight is carrying the stolen loot from the party.
 
During the chase, Midnight drives his car into the East River and Moon Knight loses him.  Black Cat gives up the chase as well and Moon Knight returns home, only to find Midnight waiting for him!
 
Midnight and Moon Knight get into a fight that Moon Knight wins.  Midnight is unmasked and it's actually teenager Jeff Wilde, the original Midnight's (who is indeed deceased) son. . .he's trying to get Moon Knight to notice him and take him on as a partner to make up for the bad deeds of his father.
 
Unfortunately for Jeff, Moon Knight doesn't want a partner and sends the kid on his way.  Elsewhere, we see a strange man in the subway confront a group of drug dealers, and despite being shot several times, he manages to kill their leader. 
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Black Cat's appearance here is a little more substantial than Spider-Man's in issue #2, but not by much.  Despite the tacked-on feel of the guest star, Chuck Dixon gives us another fast-paced Moon Knight adventure, continuing to deliver on the two-fisted hero tone he started off with in the first issue.  It's nice to see this sort of consistency when so many other series I've read have started to shift after five issues (or less) in.  
 
That said, I'm not so sure about what looks like a sidekick setup for Moon Knight.  There's some opinion that Moon Knight is basically "Marvel's Batman" (and I'm gonna talk about that a bit in the Conclusion below).  Giving him an orphaned teenage crimefighting partner doesn't do much to dispel that opinion.  I guess I'll have to wait and see.
 
 
Overall, despite a tacked-on guest appearance and an uneasy feeling about Dixon throwing a teenage crimefighting sidekick into the story, I enjoyed this issue.  It moves at  breakneck speed, is action packed, and is just fun!  Weighty subjects and complicated storylines are fine, but sometimes you just want to have a little FUN reading a comic.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE SIX

One Hand In The River
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Mark Farmer
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
Jericho Drumm (AKA Brother Voodoo) pays Marc Spector a surprise visit in his office at Spector Enterprises.  He's not in great shape and tells Spector that he needs Moon Knight's help because he's followed the "Cult of Death" to New York City and there's gonna be some zombie problems!
 
When Voodoo reveals that he's been partially turned into a zombie himself, Spector agrees to help and the two of them start on the trail by tracking a nearby zombie, unaware that they in turn are being followed by Midnight.
 
Voodoo and Moon Knight follow the zombie into a restaurant, where two drug dealers are having a meeting.  The heroes fight their way through the criminal's security, but are too late.  The zombie reveals he is wearing a suicide vest, but Midnight shows up just in time to kick the zombie through the window as the vest detonates, saving everyone from the explosion.
 
Moon Knight is furious at Midnight for following him, but Voodoo's condition gets worse and the three of them take him to Spector's mansion to give him time to recover from the poison that has made him a partial zombie.  
 
In the meantime, we see that the leader of the Cult of Death and creator of the zombies (Doctor Friday) has been hired by a drug dealer named El Brutale to take down all his competition. . .but their relationship is strained by Friday's unusual methods.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
So now we get our first REAL guest appearance with Brother Voodoo.  This issue also begins to introduce some of the supernatural elements that tend to become a part of Moon Knight stories.  Dixon seems to be introducing these elements slowly, which is a good thing.  I don't know much about Brother Voodoo, but this seems like an interesting team-up so far.  Unfortunately, my bad feeling that Moon Knight will be getting a "Robin" is getting worse as Midnight returns and works his way into Spector's confidence.  I have confidence in Dixon as a writer, but this just seems like sort of a bad idea.
 

Overall, despite my misgivings about Moon Knight getting a teenage sidekick, this was a pretty good issue.  Dixon slowly begins introducing the supernatural into the series through an interesting team up, setting up a story arc that I want to see more of.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE SEVEN

Zombie Saturday Night
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Mark Farmer
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
After fighting his way through the zombie poison and recovering his strength, Brother Voodoo tells Moon Knight and Midnight how he was captured in Haiti while tracking Doctor Friday, forced to drink zombie poison, then shipped to New York with a large group of zombie slaves.  He only managed to escape with the aid of his dead brother Daniel's spirit.
 
Now that his mind is clear, Brother Voodoo remembers where Doctor Friday's hideout in the Bronx is.  The three heroes arm up and head out to assault Friday's stronghold.  Voodoo takes the front, blasting his way up from the ground floor through Friday's zombies and El Brutale's henchmen with a shotgun, while Moon Knight and Midnight fight their way down from the roof.  
 
While the battle rages, El Brutale shoots Doctor Friday for his failure, then makes his escape.  When the heroes arrive to find Friday dead, Brother Voodoo summons his dead brother's spirit to break the zombie spell on Friday's remaining slaves.  Moon Knight and Brother Voodoo part on good terms.
 
In the end, the reader sees that Doctor Friday's spirit has inhabited an escaped zombie and he is on his way to take revenge on El Brutale for "killing" him.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Another great, action packed issue that moves at a brisk pace.  I really liked Brother Voodoo's role in this issue.  He's one of the most powerful mystics in the Marvel Universe (even taking on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme from Doctor Strange at one point), but here he's blasting his way to Friday's inner sanctum with a dang shotgun! 
 
This is also the first issue where Midnight is in full sidekick mode, with banter between him and Moon Knight about "learning lessons", which Midnight ignores because he's a teenager who knows everything of course. . .your typical "Hot Headed Sidekick" comic trope that you just KNOW is going to end up with Midnight getting a valuable lesson in just about getting someone killed at some point.
 

Overall, I'm still not sold on Moon Knight having a hotheaded teenage crimefighting sidekick, but really enjoyed the unusual take on Brother Voodoo during this short two-issue story.  It was an interesting team-up where I usually cringe a little at seeing guest appearances in comics.
 
AND SPEAKING OF GUEST APPEARANCES. . .
 
The next three issues are all tie-ins to Marvel's massive "Acts of Vengeance" crossover event that hit just about every Marvel title out at the time.  In a nutshell, a bunch of Marvel villains teamed up to take down heroes by making them fight enemies that they normally wouldn't be prepared for.  For example, the next three issues feature Moon Knight teaming up with The Punisher to fight some of Captain America's villains.
 
In other words. . .It's a Marvel series, which means there HAS to be a crossover at some point.  
 
LET'S DO IT!
 

ISSUE EIGHT

Devils In The House
(Acts of Vengeance Tie-In)
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
As rampaging criminal gangs bring death and destruction to New York City, Moon Knight takes his new partner, Midnight, out on a training mission.  Midnight doesn't appreciate Moon Knight's measured and steady approach to crimefighting, and rushes headlong into a situation where the two heroes are pinned down by multiple gunmen.
 
Fortunately, for Moon Knight and Midnight, Frank Castle (AKA The Punisher) was staking out that location and comes to their aid.  After the battle is over, Punisher informs Moon Knight that the gunmen they just stumbled into were members of ULTIMATUM. . .anti-nationalist fanatics that are normally a thorn in Captain America's side.
 
Moon Knight sends Midnight home and teams up with Punisher to take down the ULTIMATUM cell by first paying a visit to an informant, who is killed by ULTIMATUM villain Anarchy before he can tell Moon Knight and Punisher the location of the group's leader, Flag Smasher.
 
Anarchy manages to escape the heroes, and Punisher informs Moon Knight that the night is long from over as the impromptu team continues the hunt for Flag Smasher. . .
 
To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay.  Not bad.  One of the things that makes me more of a DC fan when it comes to my mainstream superheroes is that Marvel INSISTS on these huge crossovers involving almost every title they've got on the stands, no matter what.  
 
Fortunately, Chuck Dixon inserts Moon Knight into "Acts of Vengeance" in a pretty natural-feeling way.  Okay, yeah. . .it's the good old "One Hero Comes To The Aid Of Another, And Then They Join Up" Team-up crutch that's only slightly less used than "Two Characters Fight Until They Realize They Should Actually Be Working Together", but Dixon makes it work better than it usually does.  In other words, I normally don't like crossovers, but this one is okay, so far.
 
Special mention goes to the art on this issue.  It's the same penciller, but the addition of a new inker elevates what was already pretty good art on this series upwards a notch!  It's always interesting to me to see the difference an inker can make.  Here it makes a pretty big difference, giving the story a darker, grittier tone that I REALLY like!  
 
Overall, despite this being part of a massive crossover "event", Dixon keeps the stakes here fairly small. Basically Moon Knight and Punisher teaming up to hunt down a domestic terrorist cell bringing weapons into New York City.  It's fast paced, exciting, and I want to see what happens next!  On top of the good story, a change in inker brings an almost completely new look to the party that I really like.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE NINE

Called To Heaven
(Acts of Vengeance Tie-In)
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Tom Palmer
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight and Punisher have managed to track down Flag Smasher's ULTIMATUM hideout. . .a heavily-fortified warehouse in the Bronx.  Moon Knight calls in his pilot, Frenchie, to take down anyone who escapes while he and Punisher go in for the assault.
 
They sneak onto the grounds, then attack!  As the two vigilantes fight their way through ULTIMATUM gunmen, Frenchie strafes escaping trucks loaded with illegal weapons from above.  Moon Knight gets to Flag Smasher first, but the terrorist leader manages to escape after Anarchy arrives to join the fight.
 
Punisher and Moon Knight take down Anarchy, and Moon Knight stops Punisher from killing her.  They return to their pursuit of Flag Smasher. . .Punisher in a boat and Moon Knight in his copter with Frenchie.  Moon Knight drops into Flag Smasher's boat from above, but as the two fight, the boat crashes into a larger ship and explodes!
 
Moon Knight is rescued from drowning by Punisher, and the two vigilantes part on uneasy terms regarding methods, but with respect for each other as fighters.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Once again, I like that Dixon doesn't shove the crossover aspect of this team-up in the reader's face.  It's pretty much just Moon Knight wondering if this might be part of all the villains attacking the city.  Punisher's like, "I'm just here to take down some weapon dealers that Captain America should have had his eye on." and Moon Knight is like, "Fair enough.  What's the plan?"  That's it for "Acts of Vengeance" connections in this issue.
 
As a team, I really liked Dixon's take on Moon Knight and Punisher.  Their methods may differ, but they respect each other enough that Moon Knight manages to convince Punisher not to kill one of the villains.  I like the way they play off of each other during this short team-up.
 

Overall, this was an action-packed and enjoyable conclusion to Moon Knight and Punisher's short team-up.  It didn't push the "Big Marvel Crossover Event" at all, concentrating on the interaction between Moon Knight and Punisher instead.  I really appreciate how Dixon handled this.
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 

ISSUE TEN

Trouble Times Three
(Acts of Vengeance Tie-In)
SCRIPT: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Sal Velluto
INKS: Keith Williams
COVER: Sal Velluto
 
THE STORY:
 
After saving a young woman from suicide and rescuing victims of a fire set during the riots and confusion of a massive attack on New York City by multiple villains, Moon Knight finds himself fighting Killer Shrike, The Ringer, and Coachwhip. 
 
The three villains have temporarily teamed up and quickly gain the upper hand over Moon Knight until Frenchie, piloting Moon Knight's aircraft, rams Killer Shrike, giving Moon Knight the edge in the fight.
 
Unfortunately, Killer Shrike strikes back, crashing the Moon Copter and severely injuring Frenchie.  Killer Shrike manages to escape as Moon Knight takes down The Ringer and Coachwhip.  As the issue ends, we see paramedics fighting to save Frenchie's life while Moon Knight watches, helpless. . .
 
To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Well.  I guess they ALL can't be winners.  Ten issues in and we finally hit the first clunker.  Actually, I'm surprised it took this long, which is a decent testament to the good job Chuck Dixon has done writing this series so far.
 
This issue reads like Marvel told Dixon that the team-up with Punisher didn't feel like Moon Knight was engaged enough with the "Acts of Vengeance" event. . .so Dixon threw out an issue that is basically an extended fight scene with three villains belonging to other superheroes (This was the first appearance of the "new" Ringer, but still pretty much a Spider-Man foe).
 
It boils down to a typical superhero punch fest, with the villains shouting out exposition explaining their powers as the battle goes on.  Dixon tries to add some stakes with the cliffhanger ending of Frenchie possibly dying, but even that doesn't save this issue from being average and pretty forgettable.  
 
By completely embracing the "Acts of Vengeance" event, this issue of Moon Knight is definitely the weakest of this first batch of ten.  Fortunately, I have confidence in Chuck Dixon as a writer and am hoping he can keep a steady hand on the wheel going forward.
 

CONCLUSION

 
And there you have it. . .the first ten issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight.  Overall, even with the weak final issue of this bunch, I've been enjoying this run of Moon Knight so far.  Writer Chuck Dixon dispenses with most of the supernatural elements and hasn't even mentioned any of the mental health issues that normally inhabit Moon Knight stories. . .instead concentrating on Moon Knight as a two-fisted fighter using his wealth to take on street-level crime.
 
Dixon's take on Moon Knight gives the reader fast-paced, action-packed adventures with quick story arcs covering only two or three issues at a time.  There's nothing very deep or convoluted to be found here, just some good old fashioned superheroics.  To me, that's a good thing.  To readers that are fans of the more introspective or supernatural aspects of Moon Knight, maybe not so much a good thing.
 
See. . .here's the problem, and it's really the ONLY problem I have with this series so far.
 
I mentioned above that Moon Knight is often seen as "Marvel's Batman".  Fans (like myself) who have read just about everything Moon Knight has starred in know this isn't really true.  In MY humble opinion, Moon Knight is actually closer to Golden Age mystic heroes like The Shadow.  I don't want this to get too long or off the point I'm trying to make about THIS series, so I'll just point you to a pretty in-depth (for me) analysis of Moon Knight I did in another review HERE .
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Moon Knight is often called "Marvel's Batman" and this series doesn't do a thing to try and change anyone's thinking.  So far, this could have EASILY been a Batman series.  Right down to the hot-headed teenage orphan that Marc Spector takes in for training.  By giving us a very straightforward version of Moon Knight, Dixon doesn't do the reader looking for a little more meat on the bone any favors.   This Moon Knight really does resemble "Marvel's Batman" in so many ways that the casual comic fan would be just as well served reading some Batman comics instead. 
 
Looking forward, I can see different writers (Dixon leaves after issue 24) dig a little deeper into Moon Knight. . .swerving him more in the direction Moon Knight fans are familiar with, but for now we have the two-fisted adventures of "Marvel's Batman".  Don't get me wrong. . .they're fun adventures, and this is a good series so far, but I sort of expect things to be a little deeper in the rabbit hole when I read a Moon Knight comic.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Marc Spector: Moon Knight Part Two!  Issues 11 - 20.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place where I write comic reviews that nobody ever asked for!

 
It's almost Halloween!  That special time of year when kids taking candy from strangers is actually encouraged!  Here at Longbox Junk, we've been handing out all sorts of Halloween treats. . .a lot of candy corn to be sure, but there's been a few full-sized Snickers bars in there too.
 
Unfortunately, the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party is almost over.  Just this last one to go.  I think I did pretty good this year.  This post is #15. . .one more than my Halloween Horror comic spree last year, so there's that.
 
But enough of that!
 
On to the comic at hand.  We're heading back to the Bronze Age for a look at a comic absolutely STUFFED full of legendary comic talent.  Just LOOK at the credits below!  Bernie Wrightson, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and more. . .All in ONE comic!  How can this NOT be good?
 
Let's dig in!

CHAMBER OF DARKNESS #7

MARVEL (1970)

 

COVER: Bernie Wrightson
 
THE COVER:
 
Bernie Wrightson is rightfully regarded as a legendary comic talent, and a cover like this tells me why.  It's not the greatest cover I've seen from him (My personal favorite is Swamp Thing #9), but it's still a really good cover.  It has an awesome, dynamic style that gives the figures a sense of movement and life that is so recognizably Wrightson that you don't even need to see his signature on it.  A Bernie Wrightson cover is a great start to ANY comic!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Four stories in this one.  Two of them reprints from ten years earlier.  I look at the credits here and find it hard to believe all these great names are under the cover of a single random Bronze Age "horror" comic!  Let's check these stories out. . .
 
GARGOYLE EVERY NIGHT
SCRIPT: Roy Thomas & Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
PENCILS: Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
INKS: Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
 
After a series of grisly murders, an old craftsman known for sculpting gargoyles and other strange monstrosities comes under suspicion.  During a search of his workshop, the constable find nothing, but two townfolk discover a solid gold gargoyle hidden in a back room.  
 
They return later, and over the desperate pleas of the old man they have subdued and tied up, the two of them dismember and melt down the golden gargoyle.  But when the clock strikes midnight, the old man transforms into a terrifying creature.  As it closes in on the two thieves, it tells them that the golden gargoyle was the only thing keeping him from killing more people!
 
A great start!  It's a tale following the well worn path of "Greedy fools get what's coming to them", but the writing is engaging and lively.  What REALLY makes this story great is the fantastic artwork by Bernie Wrightson. . .who even puts himself in the story as narrator (see the splash page above).  There's a reason Wrightson is regarded as a legendary comic talent, and it's very plain to see why here.  The detailed, yet exaggerated and darkly inked figures with expressive faces almost seem to move across the page with a life of their own.  Every panel is worth lingering over for an extra moment or two.
 
BONUS:  A little research shows me that this is Bernie Wrightson's first work for Marvel!
 
We're off to a great start. . .NEXT!
 
I WORE. . .THE MASK OF DROTHOR!
(Reprinted from Tales to Astonish #11 - 1960)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
 
A renowned mask maker uses ancient books to mold his greatest creation, the Mask of Drothor, replicating the face of a legendary sorcerer despite warnings of a curse on any who try to do so.
 
Realizing that he has made a mask so lifelike that it actually resembles a human face down to its finest detail, the mask maker decides to use it to get rich by robbing wealthy clients.  
 
During his first robbery, he trips an alarm and is forced to flee the police.  He returns to his shop and tries to remove the mask, but to his horror, he discovers that his own face beneath has taken on the appearance of Drothor.  Unable to disguise himself again, the police catch up and arrest him.
 
Okay. . .not a bad story.  It follows the paths of "Greedy fools get what's coming to them" AND "Fool ignores the ancient curse". But like the first offering in this issue, although the story is well done and engaging, the real appeal here for me was the fantastic art. . .this time courtesy of Steve Ditko.
 
Honestly, I've never really been a fan of Ditko, but delving into some of these older comics in my collection has slowly been changing my mind.  Where I find a lot of his art to be a bit basic (yes, I'm talking about Spider-Man, please don't hurt me), I've seen other examples of his art that show me exactly why Ditko is considered a comic legend.  
 
This little story is a fine example of some great Ditko art that I've seen.  It's dark, fluid, exaggerated, yet lifelike.  There's a great sense of movement and action to the characters.  Ditko's art here elevates an otherwise pretty average story.
 
MOVING ALONG!

THE MASTERMIND
SCRIPT: Tom Sutton
PENCILS: Tom Sutton
INKS: Tom Sutton
 
A mad scientist brings to life his greatest achievement. . .a supremely intelligent creature, impervious to disease, injury, and age. . .presumably immortal.  As the scientist rages with glee that he finally has the means to conquer his enemies and all mankind, his creation turns on him.  If the creature is indeed superior, then he has no need for a master!
This great little twist on Frankenstein takes up only two pages, but Tom Sutton manages to give us a complete and compelling story in a very small space!  I've gone on a bit about the comic legends to be found in this issue like Bernie Wrightson and Steve Ditko, but in my extremely humble opinion, Sutton is a bit of an overlooked legend in his own right. 
 
He's possibly not as well known as the others to the general comic audience because he worked less with superheroes (except the more supernatural ones like Vampirella,  Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night).  But his art has a frantic, cartoony and vibrant style that brings dynamic life to his characters.  It's a style I really enjoy and this is a fine little example of it.
 
AND FINALLY. . .

I FOUND THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN!
(Reprinted from Tales to Astonish #13 - 1960)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
PENCILS: Jack Kirby
INKS: Steve Ditko
 
A criminal called "Big Carl" Hanson steals what is supposedly a genuine photo of the Abominable Snowman.  Deciding that he can make more money off of actually capturing the creature than just off the photo, Hanson heads to the Himalayan mountains.
 
As he begins his search for the creature, Hanson is repeatedly warned that the picture is cursed, but he ignores the warnings as superstition.  Eventually, nobody will come near him and he has to continue his search alone.
 
As he heads higher and higher into to mountains and his supplies run out, Hanson slowly turns more and more savage until he is little more than a wandering beast himself.  He has become the Abominable Snowman.
 
 
Yet ANOTHER story following the "Greedy fools get what's coming to them", but with some "Don't ignore the natives" thrown in. . .officially making this entire comic about the follies of greed, with four out of four stories following the same lines.
 
That aside, this is actually another well written and engaging story that I really enjoyed.  But like the other stories in this issue, what makes this little tale sparkle is the fantastic artwork. . .this time courtesy of comic legends Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
 
I think this might possibly be the first time I've ever seen non-superhero work from Jack Kirby, and I have to say that I liked it a lot!  Maybe it's Ditko's inks here, but this little random story really grabbed me, where a lot of his superhero work doesn't (I know. . .I know! Please don't hurt me!) 
 
I wouldn't mind seeing more of Kirby's non-superhero work, based only on the strength of what I'm seeing here.  Overall, this was a great finish to this comic!

CONCLUSION

 
Just looking at the credits on this one, I KNEW it was going to be good, which is why I saved it for last.  My prediction turned out to be true.  Story for story, page for page, and panel for panel, this comic was probably my favorite of the entire Halloweeen Retro Review bunch!  
 
There is so much great talent on display here, that I am happy that this comic even exists.  The stories are all very nicely done and engaging, but what really shines here is all the great art to be found!  Every page in this comic is a feast for the eyes.
 
If you're looking for a single comic absolutely PACKED with legendary comic talent, then this is what you're looking for.  The actual issue in good shape is a bit pricey, but I found mine in decent condition in a back issue bin for ten bucks, so they're out there.  If not, then it's been reprinted in a couple of different collections as well.  
 
WELL. . .
 
That's it for the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review Party for this year.  I hope you had as much fun as I did checking out a some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics with a supernatural twist in my collection!
 
So what's next, you ask?
 
With all due respect to the fine and friendly folk of Old Guys Who Like Old Comics, I think I've spent enough time on the other side of 1986 for now. It's time to get back into the dollar boxes and some actual Longbox Junk!
 
Something I haven't done in a while that is one of the unique things I do here at Longbox Junk is reviewing an entire series from first issue to last.  I think that's what I'll do next.  But which one?
 
So many to choose from! Suggestions are welcome.
 
In any case, I'll figure it out.
 
Be there or be square!

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asks me to!

 
It's October!  As we head toward the final stretch, just a few days before Halloween, I feel the need to provide a very important public service announcement:  
 
Ladies.  Just because there IS a "Sexy Hand Sanitizer" Halloween costume, that doesn't mean anyone should wear a "Sexy Hand Sanitizer" Halloween costume.  Okay?  I shouldn't have to tell you this.  Just sayin'.  
 
Public service announcement over.  Let's talk about comics!

I've got the Longbox Junk paper time machine prepped, fueled, and ready for a little trip backward 67 years to the Golden Age of comics for a look at some of the late, great Stan Lee's horror writing.  Ready?
 
*Puts on ridiculous steampunk goggles*
 
Let's do this!
 
*Pulls gigantic lever*
 
Here we GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


MENACE #7

ATLAS (1953)

 
(Wait. . .is that Phil from Modern Family?)

COVER: Carl Burgos
 
THE COVER:
 
I'm gonna be honest and say that I got this comic in an estate sale auction lot of about a dozen comics I mainly bought for the 1968 Dell King Kong one shot (probably the LEAST "valuable" comic in the lot).  I've never read this comic because the cover just isn't that interesting to me.  
 
Until now, all it got was a quick flip through to judge condition, and then off to be forgotten in the depths of my many longboxes.  The cover is okay, I guess, but nothing special.  Beyond the bold yellow on black of the title and the nicely done female figure, nothing really grabs my eye.  Let's get inside this thing. . .
 
THE STORIES:
 
The Golden Age never disappoints when it comes to getting your money's worth out of a comic.  Four full comic stories and a two page text space filler for a single 1953 dime.  Not a bad stack of stories.  Let's see what they're about!
 
FRESH OUT OF FLESH!
SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS: Syd Shores
 
In the future, a bounty hunter tracks and kills humanoid robots after their failed bid to enslave mankind.  At the end of his mission, only one robot remains.  The bounty hunter discovers that it is him.
 

A great start to this comic!  Stan Lee provides us with a tale that is strangely similar to sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" fifteen years before the story it was based on (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. in 1968) was even published!  But even without the similarities, this is a great little nugget of science fiction with a Twilight Zone twist.  
 
NEXT!
 
THE DREAM CASTLE
(Text-Only Story - 2 pages)
SCRIPT:  (?)
 
A writer by the name of Henri Drago is haunted by constant nightmares of being chased through a castle by ghostly creatures. . .the dream always ending at a certain door before he could run through it. 
 
 Eventually, the dreams interfere so much with his work that, on the advice of a doctor, he takes a vacation to Italy.  One day, after a mysterious storm, he finds himself taking shelter in a ruined castle. . .the castle from his dreams!
 
Sure enough, he is pursued through the castle by spirits after being told that he is the last in the family line of the evil nobleman who lived in the castle long ago, and that the spirits can only be free if he dies.
 
He finds himself at the door where his nightmares always end, but when the throws it open and runs through, he falls to his death and frees the innocent spirits.
 
 
 
Actually, this story is pretty long and elaborate, compared to other text pieces I've seen during this little Retro Review journey I've been on.  It's a decent enough story following the well-trodden path of "Nightmares become reality", but what REALLY caught my interest was the "Polio Precautions" public service announcement at the bottom of the second page (scanned above).
 
  It was an interesting reminder that the world has been through pandemics before, and not so long ago.  This tiny little thing in a 67 year old comic book actually brought me a moment of peace and reflection on the ability of mankind to make it through the worst times.  Sometimes, a little hope can be found in the most unexpected places.
 
NEXT!
 
THE PLANET OF LIVING DEATH
SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS:  Russ Heath
 
An alcoholic first officer accidentally causes his star ship to crash on the deadly planet of Osirus.  The survivors are met by hostile aliens that telepathically communicate that they will free the humans and repair their ship if they are given the secret of atomic energy.  
 
The rest of the crew refuses, but the first officer (knowing he will go to prison if he returns to Earth) bargains with the aliens to give them the atomic secrets in exchange for a ship of his own and the Captain's beautiful daughter.  
 
The aliens agree, but as the traitor prepares to take off, he finds to his horror that the Captain's daughter isn't HIS Captain's, but the alien Captain's. . .a hideous and deadly creature!
 

Another engaging and entertaining science fiction story from Stan Lee!  It follows the very well-worn path of "The traitor gets what he deserves", but the twist ending actually took me by surprise.  Not an easy thing when you've read as many comic stories as I have!  But what REALLY makes this story is the outstanding artwork of Russ Heath!  It's just a fine example of some great Golden Age artwork, with thick inks and interesting designs.  Every panel is worth lingering over for an extra moment.
 
MOVING ALONG!
 
THE WITCH IN THE WOODS
SCRIPT:  Stan Lee
PENCILS: Joe Sinnott
 
A young boy's father decides to break his son's habit of reading scary comic books by reading him fairy tales, starting with the story of Hansel and Gretel.  But he discovers that the stories from his childhood are even worse than what can be found in comics.
 

During the bit of research I did into this comic, this story is actually the only one that anyone seems to mention because it was written by Stan Lee (along with a few other stories along these lines) in direct response to the unfolding drama that led to the Comics Code.  It ruthlessly mocks the idea of censoring comics by comparing them to "innocent" fairy tales that are actually quite gruesome when you take a close look at them.  
 
The story itself is mostly just a comic adaptation of Hansel and Gretel bookended by the boy and his father.  It's a decent enough story with some really good artwork by Joe Sinnott, who I know more as an inker than a penciller, especially from his work with Jack Kirby.  
 
AND FINALLY!
 
YOUR NAME IS FRANKENSTEIN!
SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS:  Joe Maneely
 
Frankenstein's Monster rises from a long entombment and wanders, looking for companionship.  Unfortunately, despite saving a couple from their burning farmhouse, the Monster is judged only on his looks by the townfolk, who attack him.
 
As the Monster lays dying, the couple he saved reflect that perhaps it is they who are the monsters.
 
 
This comic goes out on a good note with a well-written tale following the "Man is the monster" path that Stan Lee followed a LOT during his later years writing superhero tales.  It's a familiar message, but Lee gives this story some interesting pathos by writing it in the first person.  Joe Maneely brings the story to life with some great, creepy artwork that really catches the eye.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, I have to say that this was a great comic!  Not a single clunker to be found and very readable despite being almost seventy years old, with lots of great art to be found through the whole thing.  
 
This is probably one of the best Golden Age comics I've read.  I hate to admit it, but a lot of the older comics I have seem like not much effort was put into them.  This one just feels different, like some thought and creative energy was given by Stan Lee and the various artists.  Is this the best comic I've ever read?  Not even close.  That said, it's definitely something I can point to when someone asks about good Golden Age comics I've read.
 
If you're a fan of Stan Lee, Horror comics, Golden Age comics, or any combination of the above, I can heartily recommend this comic.  Unfortunately, good copies of the original seem to be pretty pricey. . .you're not going to find this one in the bargain bin!  The good news is that it's been reprinted in collections a couple of times, and it's also on ComiXology, so it won't break the bank if you want to check it out. 
 
Up Next. . .
 
Halloween is just about here, but I think I have time to squeeze in one more bit of Longbox Junk Halloween fun!  
 
Join me on a trip back to 1970 for a look at a comic featuring Bernie Wrightson, Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and MORE!  IN ONE COMIC!  That's a heck of a lot of talent for one comic book.  
 
Marvel's Chamber of Darkness #7.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place where I just keep on writing comic book reviews even though nobody asked me to!
 
It's October!  It's that special season where the vegetable nobody cares about any other time of year suddenly costs three bucks a pound.  But here at Longbox Junk, we aren't carving pumpkins, we're reviewing comic books!
 
This year, I've decided to add a little pumpkin spice to the Longbox Junk Halloween party by taking a look at some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics in my collection with a supernatural twist.  So far, it's been a mixed bag, but I've been having fun.
 
So let's keep the party going with a trip back to 1973 for some more spooky Bronze Age fun from Marvel Comics, shall we?  We shall!
 

CHAMBER OF CHILLS #5

MARVEL (1973)

 
 
COVER: Rich Buckler (?)
 
THE COVER:
 
In my extremely humble opinion, this one is just sort of okay.  It's not bad, the figures of the old man and the woman are nicely done, and I really like the bright red background on the title, but for some reason this cover just isn't connecting with me that much.  I guess they ALL can't be winners, so let's just get inside and see what else is going on.
 
THE STORIES:
 
A pretty hefty handful of stories. Not bad for two thin dimes, even if one IS a reprint. There's some great names on the credits, so here's hoping there's some good stuff to be had!
 
THE DEVIL'S DOWRY!
SCRIPT: Larry Lieber
PENCILS: Jay Scott Pike
 
In a small Central American country a ruthless and ambitious Colonel enlists the aid of a local sorcerer to first gain control of the military, and then to become El Presidente.  Once he has risen to the height of power, he imprisons the old man and forces his beautiful daughter to marry him. . .not realizing that without the sorcerer's power to keep her under control, his new bride changes into a bloodthirsty creature with the full moon.
 

 
 
It's a good old "Greedy fool gets what is coming to him" story.  Even though the path is well-worn, this story is pretty engaging and well written.  The art is very nicely done. . .not the best I've ever seen, but not too bad at all.  Overall, this is a decent story and a good start for the comic.
 
NEXT!
 
HAUNT AND RUN!
SCRIPT: Tony Isabella
PENCILS: Paul Reinman
 
After a drunk driver accidentally kills a hitchhiker, he and his wife are tormented by her spirit and doomed to drive forever, never arriving at their destination. . .
 
A very short, but chilling story that's a twist on "Ghostly Hitchhiker" urban legends.  Tony Isabella manages to pack a lot of terror into a little space here. . .really making the reader feel the growing fear of the doomed couple.  I especially liked the humorous contrast between the caption boxes and the dialogue balloons at the beginning (on the page scanned above). The art here is good, but not great.  It tells the story nicely, but doesn't reach much higher than that.  Overall, the best story in here and a very nice little nugget of spooky fun!

NEXT!

IT CAN'T MISS
(Reprinted from Journey Into Mystery #1 - 1952)
SCRIPT: (?)
PENCILS:  Jay Scott Pike
 
A desperate criminal on the run to avoid being locked up in prison discovers the solution to his problem in the form of a dead man who looks exactly like him.  Unfortunately, the dead man happens to be an escaped patient of a mental institution, as the criminal discovers when he apprehended and locked up for life. . .
 

Okay, not a bad little tale.  It would make a great episode of The Twilight Zone.  But what interested me most about it was the art, which is by the same artist that did the first story (above), but twenty years earlier.  The difference is so great that it actually looks like two different artists worked on these stories.  It's interesting to me to be able to compare two stories done two decades apart by the same person in the same comic.  I'm not sure I've seen that before.   Truthfully, Pike's earlier art seems pretty crude and basic compared to his later work. 
 
Overall, not a bad story at all.  Moving along!
 
AND FINALLY!
 
A TOMB BY ANY OTHER NAME!
SCRIPT: Don McGregor
PENCILS: Syd Shores
 
After a bank robbery gone wrong with a murdered guard, the robber flees into the blistering hot desert, where his dying mind breaks from reality and convinces him that he is freezing to death. . .
 

Another pretty good story.  The twist in reality between thinking he's freezing while dying from the heat reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode (A little Wiki Walk tells me it's called "The Midnight Sun") where the earth is heating up beyond a livable state and it's seen at the end that the main character actually has a fever and the earth is freezing.  Pretty obvious "inspiration" aside, it's a decent enough story.  The art is good, but nothing spectacular.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, what we have here is a pretty good comic that has a couple of standout moments. . .Tony Isabella's creepy little twist on the old "Ghostly Hitchhiker" story and the interesting comparison of decades-apart artwork by Jay Scott Pike.  
 
This is a fine example of a comic that is good, but not great.  Riding straight down the middle of the road from cover to cover (except for those couple of interesting standout moments).  I'd say that if you're looking for a pretty good handful of  Twilight Zone-style stories, then keep your eye out for this one in the bargain bins.
 
Up Next. . .
 
We're getting close to the end, but it ain't Halloween yet, so the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party keeps going!  Let's take another trip back to the Golden Age, shall we?  We shall!
 
Atlas Comics' Menace #7 from 1953, featuring Stan Lee wearing the writing hat on all the stories. . .
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, where you can find all the comic reviews you ever, er. . .NEVER. . .asked for!

 
It's October!  It's that time of year when you can buy a ten pound bag of candy and not feel a single bit of shame!  Here at Longbox Junk, we've been having a fine little Halloween party.  All this month I've been taking a look at some of the older and/or more valuable comics in my collection that lean toward the supernatural.  It's been a bit hit or miss so far, but it's been a lot of fun digging into the darker corners of my longboxes.
 
Let's keep the party going with another visit to the Bronze Age!
 
Ready?  Let's do it!

SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #3

DC (1975)

 
COVER: Ernie Chan
 
THE COVER:
 
Another great Halloween cover!  The top is a little cluttered, but that doesn't take away from the creepy image of a hand. . .reaching. . .slowly. . .toward. . .YOU!  Ernie Chan does a great job of bringing this nightmarish scene to life!  Let's see what's inside. . .
 
THE STORIES:
 
There's just two stories in here this time.  Let's hope they're good ones!
 
PATHWAY TO PURGATORY
SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck
PENCILS:  Ruben Yandoc
 
A cruel Duke who rules his fiefdom with an iron fist despite being born without legs desires to marry his young and beautiful ward, which is against the religious law of the land.  Determined to win her love by being a "whole man", he tries to gain legs by appealing to a monk purported to have the power to perform miracles.  
 
When he is spurned by the monk after revealing that he wants legs in order to marry his young ward, the Duke flies into a rage and beats and imprisons the monk before throwing in his lot with the powers of evil and going to a witch to try to gain legs.
 

  Initially, the witch refuses, but after she is tortured by the Duke and her daughter is killed by the cruel man, she relents and uses her powers to give the Duke legs, but she also delivers a curse upon him before he kills her to hide his secret.
 

Now whole, the Duke proclaims his love for his ward, but since he has raised her from the time she was a child, she sees him as a father figure and rebuffs his proposal. 
 
 Infuriated, the Duke goes ahead with the wedding plans, even if he has to force the girl to the altar.  The religious authority of the realm refuses to go along with the Duke's sinister plans, but relents after being threatened with torture and death. 
 
And so the wedding takes place, but on the wedding night, the young bride rushes from the Duke's bedchamber, screaming!
 
 
The Duke's subjects quickly seize their cruel ruler and drag him to the gallows, hanging him once it is revealed that he has the legs of a goat.  And so the witch has her final revenge from beyond the grave!
 

The End.
 
Okay, not bad at all!  I really enjoyed this little story a lot.  It follows a pretty well-worn morality play story path of "If you deal with evil, you get what you deserve", but the setting and writing. . .the sinister tone of "You KNOW this isn't going to end well" , grabbed my attention and kept it from start to finish.  
 
But what really brought this little story to life was the beautiful, detailed art!  Just look at those pages scanned above!  I've never heard of this artist, but a bit of research shows me that he's a Filipino artist whose main U.S. comic work was on DC's "horror" titles (such as this one).  I'm definitely going to keep my eye peeled for more of this fantastic artist's work!
 
Overall, a great start for this comic!  A well-written story backed up by amazing art. What more could any comic fan ask for?  Nothing!  I couldn't ask for anything more than what I got right here!  
 
NEXT!
 
THE SWINGER
SCRIPT: Mike Pellowski & Maxene Fabe
PENCILS: Ramona Fradon
 
Carlton Phipps is a "Playboy" Millionaire, but is also a huge coward. 
 
After being embarrassed one night, he trains in martial arts until he becomes an expert.  Wanting to show off his new skill, he goes to the worst part of town and accidentally kills a man. . .worse, it's a police officer!  
 

 
He quickly blames the killing on a nearby homeless man and is hailed as a hero after falsely testifying at the man's trial, which leads to his execution. . .
 

But after the innocent man's hanging, Carlton begins having constant paranoid feelings of being choked and becomes convinced that the ghost of the homeless man is trying to get its revenge by killing him. . .
 

Finally, a doctor tells Carlton that he needs to forget his delusions with a long trip and change of scenery.  But as he pilots his private plane to Rio, a terrible storm strikes, forcing Carlton to bail out.  The next day, he's found hanging from his parachute, dead.  The ghost of the innocent man has finally gotten his revenge!
 
 
The End.
 
A very nice little "Revenge from beyond the grave" story!  It's short, sweet, and a bit predictable, but I really liked it a lot. . .mainly because of the standout artwork from Ramona Fradon.  She's an artist I just learned about not long ago, and I decided to keep my eye out for more of this remarkable woman's artwork.  Her cartoony, yet detailed, style reminds me a lot of Will Eisner, and I haven't seen a single panel of bad art from her yet!
 
Overall, we have another winner!  It's a well-written little morality play story with a "He got what he deserved" ending backed up by some simply amazing comic art.  There's nothing I don't like about this story!
 

CONCLUSION

 
There's only two stories to be found here, but panel for panel they're some of the best I've seen during this little Longbox Junk Halloween party.  They aren't really "Horror" stories, but are more along the lines of something you might see on The Twilight Zone, but both of them are well written and engaging.
 
The best part of this comic for me was the art!  First, some fantastic super-detailed art from an artist I've never heard of, but am definitely interested in seeing more of based on the strength of what I see here.  And then some amazing cartoony art from remarkable female comic artist Ramona Fradon, who is someone well worth looking into for those not familiar with her work.
 
Together, the art and writing deliver the kind of storytelling that is the reason that I'm a comic fan in the first place!  This isn't just a good Halloween comic, this is a good comic, period.  It's definitely a nugget of Longbox Junk gold.
 
Up Next. . .
 
We're going to stay in the Bronze Age, but head back over to Marvel for a look at 1973's Chamber of Chills #5.  Voodo Magic! Ghostly Hitchhikers! Criminal Insanity and More!
 
Be there or be square!

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!
 
It's October!  I love this time of year, even though in all the hustle-bustle of Christmas shopping, Christmas music, and holiday crowds it's hard sometimes to remember to keep the peaceful spirit of the season in mind. 
 
But THAT'S Wal-Mart.  
Here at Longbox Junk, we celebrate Halloween in October. . .I know, crazy, right?  
 
This year for the Longbox Junk Halloween review party, I've been taking a look at some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics with a supernatural twist lurking in my collection.  It's been fun so far, so let's keep the party going!
 
It's just NOT Halloween without a werewolf howling at the moon!  So let's take a look at a comic featuring Marvel's own Bronze Age Lycanthropic anti-hero, Jack Russell, AKA. . .WEREWOLF BY NIGHT!
 
AAAAAAAAH-WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! 
 

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #11

MARVEL (1973)

 
 
COMES THE HANGMAN
SCRIPT: Marv Wolfman
PENCILS: Gil Kane
INKS: Tom Sutton
COVER: Gil Kane & John Romita
 
THE COVER:
 
I absolutely love this cover!  The transformation from man to monster reminds me of some of my favorite Incredible Hulk covers.  John Romita's inks bring out the best in Gil Kane's pencils.  I'm not usually a big fan of Kane's art, but this is probably one of my favorite things by him I've seen.  It's just a great Halloween horror cover!  Let's get inside. . .
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale at an unknown location and in a laboratory of the mysterious organization known as "The Committee".  They have captured Jack Russell's father, Phillip Russell and are torturing him in order to discover the location of Jack.  Phillip refuses and the torture continues. 
 


IN THE MEANTIME. . .
 
In Venice Beach, Jack decides it's time to move out of his friend Buck Cowan's bungalow before his personal (and werewolf) problems become everyone else's problems too.  
 
He moves into an apartment complex called Colden House.  There he (and the reader) are introduced to several female neighbors, as well as the mysterious Mr. Coker, who likes reading books about the occult and werewolves (Dun-Dun-DUN!)
 
 
ELSEWHERE. . .
 
A masked character calling himself "The Hangman" saves the life of a young woman after she is attacked by a drug addict.  After killing the attacker, he brings the terrified woman back to his secret lair, where he claims to be protecting her from "evil" by keeping her (and several other women) in cages.
 
WHILE THAT'S GOING ON. . .
 
Jack manages to elude his new neighbors, who want to party with him, and make his way to the beach, where the full moon transforms him into The Werewolf!  He stumbles onto a group of young men partying on the beach.  Jack wants to avoid conflict, but they attack!
 
The Werewolf easily takes down the attackers, even though they outnumber him 5 to 1.  Inside the wolf, Jack keeps himself from killing any of them.  The police show up and The Werewolf flees the scene.
 
 
MEANWHILE. . .
 
In the Hangman's secret lair, the vigilante removes his mask and reveals his whole origin story to his newest terrified captive.  He was a young man who believed in good vs. evil, but when he went overboard killing Ratzi's during WWII, he was court-martialled and sentenced to prison for six years.
 
After being released, he couldn't find a job because of his criminal record and came to the conclusion that "The System" and all those within it were corrupt, and so he decided to fight back by becoming the costumed crime fighter known as The Hangman!
 
LATER ON. . .
 
As The Werewolf continues to elude the police after the attack at the beach, he runs into his sister, Lissa, and his friend, Buck.  As he approaches, The Hangman (who was patrolling the area looking for evildoers to take down) mistakenly thinks he is going to attack them and jumps down to their defense!  Lissa knows that Jack is the Werewolf, and she tries to stop the fight from  happening, but nobody listens and the Werewolf and Hangman go to it!
 
A brutal battle ensues between The Werewolf and The Hangman, with both of them taking a beating, but still coming back for more!  The police arrive on the scene and Jack convinces the Werewolf to retreat. 
 
 
BUT. . .
 
As the Werewolf flees through the city to avoid the police, The Hangman follows and manages to capture him with a rope, hanging him from a streetlight!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Obviously, this comic is right smack in the middle of an ongoing story, but even so, it was a pretty good read.  The Hangman seems to be a bit ridiculous in execution, but his origin (man whose illusion of good vs evil is shattered by the reality of war) is actually interesting as an idea.  
 
Despite the somewhat weak villain, I really liked the rest of the story.  Like the cover, the storyline reminds me of something that might be found in Incredible Hulk in that the Werewolf just wants to be left alone, but everyone keeps attacking him and he's forced to fight back. . .which just makes people want to keep attacking him!  Marv Wolfman does a great job making the reader feel the frustration of Jack/ The Werewolf, and that's the best part of the story.
 
On the art side of things. . .
 
I have a confession to make.  I'm not a fan of Gil Kane's art.  
 
Look, I KNOW that he's a legendary comic talent that stands SO high on his pedestal of admiration in the eyes of some comic fans that my humble opinion doesn't really matter. . .and I'm not here to try and knock anyone off their pedestal, but I've always found his art to be a bit. . .basic.
 
THAT SAID. . .
 
I'm more familiar with Kane's work from Silver Age issues of Green Lantern.  The difference between his work there and here is like night and day!  Looking at the cover and the interior art here, and then comparing them to his Silver Age work, I think I can safely say that with a good inker, Gil Kane's art is actually pretty impressive!  
 
Please don't hurt me.  It's only my humble opinion, and I really don't have much of Kane's work to base it on!  Suggestions of issues or series to MAKE me a fan of Gil Kane are welcome.
 
Whether it's Gil Kane or Tom Sutton making it look good, this is one good looking comic!  The Werewolf is snarling and , a truly nasty looking creature of the night unlike some of the later issues of this series.  The opening splash page of Phillip Russel being tortured is just awesome in its creepy detail, and really one of the best splash pages I've seen in a while!
 

CONCLUSION

 
Even though The Hangman is a somewhat weak villain, this story is well written and engaging.  It ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to see what happens next, so it hits a good mark in managing to draw me in even though it's part of a continuing storyline that I don't know what came before.
 
The art is dark, it's brutal, it's nasty.  For an artist I don't normally like, Gil Kane delivers on the promise of the awesome cover by throwing down some great horror visuals that I wasn't expecting in a mainstream Marvel comic.
 
Overall, this isn't the best comic I've ever read, but I really liked it.  If you're looking for some good Bronze Age Mighty Marvel Monster fun, then I can certainly recommend this issue!  
 
Up Next. . .
 
We've been on the Marvel side of the Bronze Age for two posts now.  
Let's head over and see what DC was up to with 1975's  Secrets of Haunted House #3.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

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