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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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Longbox Junk - One-Shots (part 1)

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

I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again.  Of all the different kinds of comic books out there, I'd have to say that my ultimate favorite is the one-shot.  To me, the one shot is a supreme test for a creative team. 

 By giving a team one and ONLY one issue to tell a complete tale, their storytelling ability is put to the test.  There's nowhere to hide.  No room for error.  To fail the test is easy, and actually pretty common.  There's PLENTY of bad one-shots haunting the bargain bins.  But when a team succeeds?  It's often pure Longbox Junk gold!

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

So for the last few months I've been on a bit of a journey. . .a deep dive into the 60 issue Marc Spector: Moon Knight series.  In years past, I've come across about a dozen random issues of this series out Longbox Junkin' through the bargain bins, but recently I was able to fill the gaps and complete the run thanks to another comic shop going out of business and selling all their back issues for a single lousy buck.

Yeah. . .it was a serious case of Longbox Junk overload THAT day.  I spent about $800 on comics.  I think I MIGHT have a problem.  No, not that sort of problem. . .a storage problem!  BUT I DIGRESS!

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I HAD TO SPLIT THIS REVIEW UP INTO TWO PARTS BECAUSE I'M A LOUSY EDITOR AND BROKE COMIC BOOK REALM'S WORD LIMIT AGAIN.  YOU CAN FIND PART 6A (Issues 51 - 55) IN THE BLOG LINKS TO THE LEFT.

ISSUE FIFTY-SIX

 
SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Chris Ivy, Al Vey & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight is fighting Seth (The Immortal) Phalkon, who looks just like Marc Spector!  During the fight, Moon Knight reveals that he's actually Marc Spector, leading Phalkon to reveal in turn that he is Marc's great-grandfather, and that Marc is the last of a line of Hellbent/Human hybrids!  Seth tries to drain Marc's life force, but there is some sort of bio-feedback explosion that sends Moon Knight out the window. . .
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Frenchie (AKA Bloodline) is using Shadowkeep's computers and Shadow Cabinet medical contacts to try and find answers as to why he transformed into the brutal form of Pierre Latrec instead of the swashbuckling Henri Remont, and if there's any way to control the Bloodline transformations.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .we catch up with Chloe (AKA Frenchie's former lover and a secret Templar warrior) training with three renegade Hellbent (called Vortex, Shard, and Dementia) who have joined the Templar cause and now call themselves "The Cadre".
 
BACK AT PHALKONCORP. . .Moon Knight survives the fall through the window and begins to make his way back up to keep fighting Seth.  On the way, he tries to contact his Shadow Cabinet and discovers that PhalkonCorp ALREADY has a direct link to Shadowkeep. . .one of the Shadow Cabinet is a traitor!  
 
He calls them together for one last meeting, but when he's unable to discover the mole, he severs all contact with them permanently.  As he does so, he accidentally discovers that Marlene is actually the one who gave PhalkonCorp the inside connection!
 
WHILE THIS IS GOING ON. . .Frenchie is interrogating the captured Hellbent called Agony, desperately trying to find answers about the Templar/Hellbent conflict and his place in things.  He discovers that the Hellbent originate from a place hidden in the Amazon rain forest called Hellhole, so he takes the jet and heads for South America to investigate. At the same time, Marlene is at her penthouse apartment, agonizing over her part in helping hand over SpectorCorp to Phalkon.  Marc Spector appears, but he's acting strange.  
 
BUT THEN. . .Moon Knight ALSO appears at the penthouse and the other "Marc" is revealed to be Phalkon.  To Marlene's horror, Seth reveals his true demonic nature as he and Moon Knight battle.  She helps to defeat Seth by attacking him with the weapons of Moon Knight's Angelwing aircraft, but before Marlene and Marc can talk about what's happened, a mysterious voice calls out to Moon Knight and he disappears (for an Infinity Crusade crossover next issue) into thin air!
 
Before Marlene can begin processing what just happened, a reptilian Hellbent called Hook attacks, rescuing Seth and throwing Marlene off the roof!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
First, there's no denying that's one SWEET cover! It makes fairly regular appearances on my rotating "Wall O' Covers" display in my office at work.  Probably the best cover of the whole series, in my humble opinion.
 
Like I said last issue, it's pretty clear that Kavanagh is having to shift gears in order to emulate the edgier and action-packed Image style that Platt's art is pushing.  This means a LOT of exposition as he changes focus toward the demonic Hellbent becoming the main antagonists of the story. . .giving Moon Knight (and by extension, Stephen Platt) plenty of awesome monster fights to engage in as this series staggers toward the rapidly-approaching finish line.  
 
And yet, even as the story takes a back seat to the art, Kavanagh STILL can't give up on the idea of making a permanent mark on the Moon Knight "canon".  His making Marc Spector discover he's actually a demon/human Hellbent hybrid himself in this issue is ridiculous and reeks of a writer desperately trying to make ANYTHING he's done stick.  Unfortunately (for Kavanagh, anyway), this ill-advised Hellbent "revelation" was never referenced again outside of this series.  
 
 
Overall, it's a mess.  Ridiculous revelations out of nowhere about Marc Spector's half-demon Hellbent ancestry fly in the face of just about everything that's EVER previously been established about the character. Add in distracting art and a new all-action. . .all monster-fightin' focus and it makes this issue a hard one to get through. At this point, I'm only still in this because there's just 4 issues to go and I ain't a quitter!
 
AND NOW IT'S CROSSOVER TIME AGAIN!
 

ISSUE FIFTY-SEVEN

 
BLACK SHEEP
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Chris Ivy, Al Vey & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Marlene is rescued from falling to her death by Marc Spector's personal assistant, Donna Kraft. . .who just so HAPPENS to be an old friend and college rival of Marlene's.  They decide to team up and prevent PhalkonCorp from taking over SpectorCorp.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .Moon Knight arrives at Paradise Omega, where he is informed that he has been chosen (along with many other heroes) for a chance at redemption for his sins by a being called "The Goddess" (Who is actually another manifestation of Adam Warlock left over from Infinity War).  He waits at Goddess' Cathedral to be called to duty.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .Frenchie and his captive Hellbent, Agony, are flying over the Amazon rain forest toward Hellhole. . .the realm of the Hellbent.  Agony taunts Frenchie to the point that the stress activates the "Bloodline" trigger in his DNA, transforming him into his pirate ancestor, Henri Remont.
 
Agony uses the confusion of the transformation to make her escape by ejecting from the jet, while Bloodline/Remont struggles with the unfamiliar controls of the aircraft before crashing in the jungle!
 
Agony makes her way to the nearby hidden temple entrance to Hellhole, where the badly-wounded Seth Phalkon (AKA Seth the Immortal)  has been taken by the Hellbent Hook after his losing battle with Moon Knight in New York.  Agony sacrifices herself to Seth, letting him drain her life force to atone for her failure and letting herself get captured.
 
WHILE ALL THAT'S GOING ON. . .Back with Moon Knight at Paradise Omega, the Goddess calls a group of heroes from the gathering to "Enlighten" a non-believer in their ranks.  Moon Knight isn't part of the group called, but he demands his chance for redemption and jumps into the portal they are teleporting through.  When they arrive, Moon Knight is informed that even though he wasn't invited, the Goddess is amused and willing to give him his chance.  All he has to do is take down his old friend, Spider-Man!
 
Moon Knight (along with X-Factor mutant, Multiple Man) pursues Spider-Man, trying to prevent him from reaching the Goddess' Cathedral. . .but in the end, Moon Knight loses the running battle and is teleported away from Paradise Omega for his failure.
 
BACK IN NEW YORK. . .Chloe's "Cadre" of turncoat Hellbent are attacked by the Templar Shadowspawn called Manx.  They put up a good fight, but are defeated.  Chloe steps in at the last moment and prevents Manx from killing the Hellbent. . .telling him that since she's the only Templar in New York, she's in command of him now and he'll be joining their fight that they plan on taking to Seth The Immortal in Hellhole.
 
At the end of things, we find Marc Spector in some sort of limbo begging for another chance at redemption and being taunted by The Goddess until he finally admits that he's not even fully human and doesn't deserve her mercy.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This issue is probably the most "valuable" to collectors who care about these things.  It has a very nice Todd McFarlane "homage" Spider-Man cover, and it's a tie-in to "Infinity Crusade", the third part of the MASSIVE "Infinity" Trilogy of crossovers (thank goodness it's only one issue).  Even so, I fail to see why this muddled mess of a comic is worth about $70 raw (according to the fine folk of COMIC BOOK REALM ) and upwards toward $200 for a graded copy (According to Ebay).  I got mine from a dollar box, so how-bow-dat?
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Collector "Value" aside, there's honestly not much to like about this issue.  Beyond the crossover aspects. . .which receive absolutely NO context in the issue itself, unlike the Infinity War issues where there was at least an ATTEMPT to get readers up to speed. . .just about all that's going on here is herding Moon Knight and his supporting cast toward "Hellhole" in Brazil for what promises to be a climactic showdown with Seth the Immortal.  Okay.  Fair enough.  It's set-up.  
 
The problem here is that the main villain and the conflict around him just isn't very interesting.  90% of this issue is action. . .it bounces from scene to scene and doesn't give the reader time to care about ANYTHING.  Hardly surprising. Since issue #55 the story has taken a back seat to the artwork anyway. The convoluted and ridiculous plot only serves as an extremely flimsy framework to hang monster-fightin' action scenes on at this point.
 
Unfortunately, for a comic trying to lean hard on the new artist, his work in this issue is pretty inconsistent. . .with a few panels looking sketchy and unfinished.  Generally-speaking, compared to the past couple of issues (where the art was distracting, but pretty good in a 90's-tastic way), this one looks a bit half-baked.  
 
Nice cameo by "unfortunate 90's costume with that infamous bewb window" Sue Storm, though.
 
Overall, we have a comic that is inconsistent in both art and story (the "rules" for Frenchie's Bloodline transformations are just swingin' in the wind), with about half the issue (the Infinity Crusade elements)  having almost no context at all.  This may be a pretty "Valuable" issue to comic collectors, but for actual comic READERS, it's pretty lacking.
 
CROSSOVER DONE.  NEXT!
 

ISSUE FIFTY-EIGHT

 
DEATH IN THE FAMILY
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Fred Haynes
INKS: Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight is teleported away from the Infinity Crusade and back to Earth. He very conveniently appears in the Amazon, right where all the rest of his supporting cast are at, right in the tunnels leading to Hellhole!  He doesn't know why he's there, all he knows is that there's a bunch of monsters he needs to punch standing in front of him!  So he starts punching monsters.
 
MEANWHILE. . .Above Hellhole, we learn the Frenchie survived the crash of his jet by bailing out in a high tech "Micro-Tank" that he just HAPPENED to have aboard.  He uses the tank to storm the entrance to Hellhole, blasting his way through the Hellbent guards.  Unknown to Frenchie, Chloe, Manx, and the three rogue Hellbent calling themselves "The Cadre" are following behind Frenchie. . .letting him destroy the guards as he assaults Hellhole in search of the missing Templar archives.
 
Frenchie eventually runs into Seth The Immortal and his bodyguard of more powerful Hellbent known as Hellbent Primes.  A battle breaks out and Frenchie is defeated by the greater power of Seth and the Hellbent Primes.  But as Seth tries to deliver the killing blow, Frenchie's Bloodline DNA triggers and he transforms into the savage form of his insane ancestor, Pierre Latrec!  He begins punching monsters with renewed vigor!
 
AND THEN. . .Chloe and her rogue Hellbent allies jump into the fight, giving Bloodline/ Latrec, the chance to escape while they take over punching monsters so he can continue searching for the hidden Templar archives . . .even though it's not really clear WHY.  Seeing that the battle is lost, Seth teleports away.  
 
WHILE THAT'S GOING ON. . .Moon Knight has managed to fight his way through the Hellbent guards, but then runs into Bloodline/ Latrec. . . not realizing it's actually the transformed Frenchie.  Moon Knight thinks Bloodline is just another sort of monster that needs punched, while at the same time Bloodline thinks Moon Knight is ALSO some sort of new Hellbent guard keeping  him from the archives that needs punched.  The two begin punching each other.
 
Moon Knight is all but beaten by the savage Latrec, but just as he's about to be defeated, he embraces his Human/Hellbent nature and drains Bloodline's life force. . .only to watch, horrified, as Latrec transforms back into Frenchie, who is apparently dead!  Seth steps forward from the shadows where he's been watching the fight the whole time, congratulating Marc on finally giving in to his true nature.
 
To be continued. . . 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Most of this issue revolved around Moon Knight, Frenchie, and Chloe fighting their way through Hellbent and converging on the Templar archives, so there was very little story to be had. . .most of the dialogue was various Hellbent monsters shouting out what their powers are as they attack, and Moon Knight and company shouting back as they punch their way through.  The climax is wrapped around Marc Spector embracing his hybrid Hellbent/Human nature by using his new demonic powers. . .and that's the biggest problem with this issue.
 
Terry Kavanagh's last minute "Hail Mary" attempt to put his permanent mark on Moon Knight by turning him into a half human/half demon hybrid with life-draining powers is SUCH a big pill to swallow that I no longer find it surprising that this run of Moon Knight comics is hardly mentioned or referenced ANYWHERE.  Even the general Wikipedia article on Moon Knight comics barely touches on this series and is mostly a reference to Stephen Platt in the FOUR sentences devoted to the entire 60 issues.  It seems that the comic world just sort of wants to forget this run ever even existed, for all the information there is to be found on it NOT mentioning Platt.
 
Speaking of the only reason this series is ever even mentioned in passing. . .Stephen Platt just does the cover on this issue (and the next).  It seems that Mr. Platt was notorious for missing deadlines and even on his big comic debut, he needed a fill-in artist for 1/3 of the issues he worked on.  No wonder he pretty much vanished from the comic business in 2003 after taking roughly 3 years between issue #5 and #6 of his own Image series, SOUL SAGA .
 
To tell the truth. . .I like the simpler, cleaner lines of fill-in artist Fred Haynes better.  A shame when a comic's biggest selling point gets outdone by a temp.
 
But I think someone forgot to tell Haynes that Moon Knight is supposed to be wearing armor.
 
Overall, we have an issue that stands as a sort of testament as to why this series is barely mentioned. Terry Kavanagh trying to create a half human/half demon Marc Spector as a last-ditch effort to make a permanent mark on the character finally broke the camel's back.  He should have quit trying after the Moonmobile.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FIFTY-NINE

 
BAD BLOOD
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Fred Haynes
INKS: Fred Haynes & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight is horrified do discover that he used his new demonic powers to drain the life from his best friend, although to be fair, Frenchie WAS attacking him in the form of a gigantic humanoid monster.  Moon Knight's rage kicks things up a notch and he renews his attack on Seth the Immortal (AKA Marc Spector's half-demon great grandfather).
 
Chloe, Manx, and her Hellbent Cadre show up and save Frenchie. . .er. . .Bloodline as Marc and Seth fight their way toward the Templar Archive and you know what?  This story has become so  unhinged that I don't even want to continue.  It's just basically an extremely flimsy framework to hang the constant monster-fightin' scenes on that the new hotshot artist couldn't even bother to come in and draw.
 
But I guess here we are, so I'll boil it on down quick just so I can be done with it.  Everyone discovers that the Templar Archives are nothing more than a mirror.  Moon Knight defeats Seth.  Bloodline reveals that the Archives were inside him this whole time.  For some reason, the whole place starts falling in. Seth dies in a most anti-climactic way as he's buried in rubble. Moon Knight and Company escape via a hidden magical Templar portal just in the nick of time.  Then we get an epilogue showing that Donna Kraft and Marlene Alraune are now the joint owners of SpectorCorp. Aaaaand. . .that's it.
 
To be concluded. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I've spent more time than literally ANYONE else trying to decipher the bizarre plot of this series and write it out so it makes sense as it gasps and wheezes its way to the finish line.  The nonsense in this issue has FINALLY made me lose patience. 
 
It's a strange thing in that the storyline is convoluted, yet at the same time, flimsy and weak.  I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.  The writer just keeps piling more and more stuff on!  I called it bizarre a few line up, and that's really the best way to describe it.  How else to describe a narrative that introduces a NEW story thread about a powerful "Hellbent Prime" leader called Nightshadow (his introduction pictured below) out of nowhere, with literally no context. . .POOF!  HERE'S THIS NEW GUY! In the next to last issue of the series?  
 
And that's just one example! There are actually two MORE storylines starting in this issue that I'm not even going to get into.  The series is almost over and it's time to tie up story threads. . .not to just keep on adding them!
 
Reading this issue is sort of like secretly listening in on three nine year old kids having a G.I. Joe battle in a backyard sandbox and trying to make sense of their rambling narrative as they slam their toys into each other.
 
Wait. . .now who is THIS guy? Isn't this series all but over?
 
Overall, trying to make sense of this issue made my head hurt.  The flimsy, yet overloaded, story in this issue would definitely be a contender for a "Top 10 Worst Longbox Junk Comics of The Year", if I decided to actually make such a list (and now I'm thinking about it, I might just do that). As far as I'm concerned, I'm just glad that this whole misguided storyline will be put out of its misery soon.  This went really wrong really fast.  
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 

ISSUE SIXTY

 
THE FINAL PHASE
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Stephen Platt
COVER: Stephen Platt
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, Moon Knight and Company have escaped the destruction of Hellhole through a Templar portal that sends them all directly to Moon Knight's Shadowkeep headquarters, where Marlene is waiting for them (dressed in a spandex superhero costume for some reason. . .making this issue a teeth-gritting read right from the FIRST couple of pages).
 
While Marlene reunites with Marc and tells him that he's no longer in control of SpectorCorp, Chloe, Frenchie, and their Hellbent Cadre allies discuss the future.  Frenchie revels in his new Bloodline powers unlocked by the discovery of the Templar archives (powers that will never be mentioned again in any Moon Knight story).  Chloe and the Cadre decide to carry out a mission to search out any remaining Hellbent and either destroy them or try to recruit them to the Templars (A mission that we will never know anything more about since this is the last time Chloe or the Cadre are ever mentioned).
 
Marc and Frenchie have a heart to heart talk, where Marc reveals that he's half-demon (something never mentioned again) and THAT might be what saved him from death all those years ago instead of Khonshu.  Frenchie tells Marc that he's to call him Bloodline from now on (until the next Moon Knight series, where he's just Frenchie again) and that he's now just as much a bad@$$ hero as Moon Knight (Again, until the next series where he's just a helicopter pilot).
 
BUT THEN!
 
Seth The Immortal (who everyone thought was dead) appears on Shadowkeep's computer monitors, along with a countdown to "Zero Hour", which Seth (somehow now alive as a computer construct) gleefully informs Moon Knight is when his electronic "techno-mutation" consciousness will spread from Shadowkeep and ACROSS THE WHOLE WOOOOOOORLD!  
 
Moon Knight sets the self-destruct as everyone evacuates.  Shadowkeep is destroyed in a massive explosion, but the Hellbent Cadre use their powers to keep the damage to the surrounding area to a minimum.  Unfortunately, Marc didn't make it out in time, and. . .well. . .he's dead, Jim.
 
A sad epilogue at Marc Spector's grave tells us that Marlene will use SpectorCorp's money to be the force for justice that Moon Knight tried to be (At least until the next Moon Knight story, where SpectorCorp is dissolved by Marc after he rises from the dead AGAIN. . .but THAT'S another tale).  
 
An epilogue to the epilogue gives Moon Knight fans one final last moment kick in the teeth by revealing that the powerful Hellbent leader called Nightshadow that appeared out of nowhere last issue is actually. . .wait for it. . .wait for it. . .here it comes. . .Randall Spector! And we're finally done with this mess.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Thank Gawd it's over.  
 
These final two issues have been some of the hardest comics I've gritted my teeth through in quite a while.  There's a LOT of dangling story threads here that lead me to believe that either Marvel had plans for another series focusing on Chloe and the Hellbent that never happened or that Terry Kavanagh was being a bit petty and trying to make it hard on the next Moon Knight writer.  Maybe a bit of both. But if it WAS Kavanagh being petty, it didn't work.  The next Moon Knight story pretty much just ignores this whole run, beyond Moon Knight being dead and having to be resurrected again.
 
The "story" in this issue is beyond ridiculous. . .starting right off with Marlene wearing a skin tight spandex superhero suit (see below) for no apparent reason.  There's no explanation given for why or how Seth has suddenly transformed from an immortal vampiric demon into an electronic "techno-mutation" consciousness.  
 
There's no real reason given as to why Moon Knight can't outrun a guy in a wheelchair to escape an explosion, or for that matter, why his shiny 90's Adamantium Superhero Armor couldn't save him from the blast. . .especially since it saved him from gigantic explosions in previous issues at least twice since he got it.  
 
And then there's Kavanagh's final middle finger to Moon Knight fandom on the last page of the issue. . .Randall Spector somehow brought back to life as an armored superhuman demonic creature.  
 
This issue was a sloppy mess from start to finish, but that final epilogue was just insulting.
 
 
Overall, this was probably one of the absolute worst final issues I've ever read.  The story is bizarre and, even in the LAST issue, Kavanagh can't resist trying to make permanent changes to the Moon Knight "canon" with dangling story threads and a last moment ridiculous reveal.  Worse, Stephen Platt's art (especially with him inking his own pencils) is extremely distracting and sometimes doesn't even fit what the characters are saying or doing.  
 
Between the continued attempts to force change to the permanent Moon Knight narrative and the over-indulgent artwork, this whole issue positively reeks of egotistic posturing by the creative team.  It's a pretty poor finish, to say the least.  The only good thing about this issue is that it's the last one.
 

CONCLUSION

 
And here we are. . .the end of Marc Spector: Moon Knight.  It's been a pretty long and strange trip from the beginning, but this final handful of issues pretty much tells me what I've been wondering from the first issue:  Why is there so little mention of this title, even though it stands as Moon Knight's longest-running series to date?
 
Well. . .now I know why.  By the time Marc Spector: Moon Knight limped over the finish line, writer Terry Kavanagh had twisted the character SO much in his constant efforts to make a permanent change that would stick, that Moon Knight was pretty much damaged beyond repair.  This is NOT the Moon Knight that Moon Knight fans wanted.  I would even go so far as to say that Moon Knight fans NEVER got the Moon Knight they REALLY wanted from issue one to issue done.
 
This last handful of ten issues pretty much boil down to a self-indulgent writer with an agenda of his own. Instead of trying to give fans what they wanted, Terry Kavanagh was obviously more concerned with what HE wanted for Moon Knight.  Add in a self-indulgent artist and the final few issues went from being a mess to being an egotistical disaster.
 
Frankly, I see it as a bit of miracle that Marvel didn't pull the trigger on a replacement Moon Knight or giving up and killing the character off earlier than they did.  Kavanagh must have been working some favors in the Marvel offices to keep this series staggering along past issue #47.
 
Up Next. . .
 
I didn't want to make this entry TOO much of a scroll bomb, so I'm going to go over my final thoughts on all sixty issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight taken as a whole before I move along to something else.
 
Be there or be square!

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

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

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

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

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CONTINUED FROM PART 5A BECAUSE I WENT OVERBOARD AND BROKE THE COMIC BOOK REALM WORD LIMIT AGAIN!

PART 5A IN THE BLOG LINKS TO THE LEFT. . .

ISSUE FORTY-SIX

 
DEATH WATCH
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, we find Moon Knight at the mercy of Demogoblin.  Realizing that he has very limited time and that in his weakened condition, he has no chance of defeating Demogoblin, Moon Knight gives in to the demonic entity inside him, allowing it to give him the strength to escape.
 
As the partially-transformed Moon Knight makes his way through the prison, he encounters DeZoan.  A fight breaks out and Moon Knight loses his adamantium staff to DeZoan, who flees the battle with the Demonic Moon Knight in hot pursuit.
 
Moon Knight runs into a mob of rioting prisoners that DeZoan freed, and fighting his way through them delays him long enough that he loses DeZoan.  At the end of the battle, the exhausted Moon Knight collapses.  He's taken too long to escape!
 
Luckily, Frenchie has been monitoring the situation and rescues Moon Knight with the Angel Wing, rushing the dying hero and the sample of Demogoblin's DNA back to Four Freedoms plaza, where Doctor Strange and Mr. Fantastic use a combination of science and magic to remove the demonic creature living inside Moon Knight.
 
Unfortunately, Mr. Fantastic reveals to Moon Knight that he got to them too late to completely remove all traces of the demonic virus, and that the next 48 hours would tell them if Moon Knight will live or die!
 
With Moon Knight's ultimate fate unknown, he returns to Shadow Keep with Frenchie to discuss the next step in his "Legacy Quest" protocols. . .choosing the next Moon Knight from a list of candidates the computer has created.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a bad issue.  Most of it is spent with Moon Knight fighting his way out of the prison he broke in to.  Once again, the new art team does most of the heavy lifting by elevating this story with some fantastic visuals that make a sort of "Meh" issue into something interesting.
 
The story itself is leading into a somewhat interesting direction even without the great art backing it up.  I know from reading ahead that (SPOILER ALERT) Marvel didn't pull the trigger on a replacement Moon Knight, but I can see from the last few issues that it was a definite possibility, especially given the time that this comic was published. . .the era of Knightfall, Reign of the Supermen, Thunderstrike, Danny Ketch Ghost Rider, U.S.Agent, and many others.
 
1993 was smack dab in the middle of the years of both DC and Marvel rolling out replacement heroes in an attempt to shake up the status quo that was already shaking from Image coming on the scene with newer "edgier" characters and blowing the roof off of sales figures with every new #1 issue (and expanding a speculation collector bubble that just about took down the comic industry as a whole when it finally burst).
 
They eventually came up with another "solution" for Moon Knight that was also a trend in the 90's, and we'll see what THAT was in the final batch of issues.  BUT I DIGRESS!
 

Overall, a decent issue that leans heavily on the new art team to keep things on the good side of average.  The most interesting part of it for me was seeing what looked like Marvel setting up for a replacement Moon Knight that never happened.
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FORTY-SEVEN

 
THE LEGACY QUEST SCENARIO
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, with his survival in doubt and Frenchie in a wheelchair, Moon Knight and his Shadow Cabinet test three likely candidates to replace Moon Knight in case he dies, each of them unknowingly put into situations where Moon Knight will judge their abilities and character.
 
The first candidate is a baseball player, but he is taken off the list after Moon Knight discovers that he's addicted to drugs.  The second candidate is a construction worker, but Moon Knight finds his courage lacking and takes him off the list.  The final candidate is a reporter that makes the grade in every way, but when Moon Knight tells him he was being tested and for what, the reporter declines. . .because he's Peter Parker and Moon Knight doesn't know he's actually Spider-Man!
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .While Moon Knight and company are out testing possible replacements, we see that a female agent of the Templars is watching Shadow Keep, waiting for the signal to approach Frenchie.  As she waits, the demonic allies of Seth The Immortal (who destroyed the Knights Templar leadership in issue #44) attack her, proclaiming that they are there to destroy Jean Paul DuChamp! The Templar Agent barely manages to defeat the demons, but they promise they will return.
 
Disappointed with not being able to find a replacement, and not having time to test any others, Moon Knight returns to Shadow Keep to count down the final hours that will determine Marc Spector's fate with his best friend Frenchie.  At the appointed time, Moon Knight removes his armor to reveal that he has been healed!  
 
Frenchie and Marc's celebration of his recovery is short-lived, though.  A Shadow Cabinet alert tells them that John DeZoan, the serial killer that escaped during Moon Knight's break in at Brinkstone Prison (in issue #45 - 46) has been spotted calling himself "Deadzone" and attacking the henchmen of villainous crime lord Tombstone in New York City.  Moon Knight is back on the clock!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This was a pretty good issue.  I think Terry Kavanagh is beginning to get Moon Knight on a little more solid ground as his time on the series goes on.  I'm still not sold on the whole Knights Templar storyline, but in this issue there's only a couple of pages about it.  Most of it is spent on Moon Knight and his Shadow Cabinet putting three possible Moon Knight replacements through their paces without their knowing it.
 
I really got a kick out of the final candidate being Peter Parker!  It was a great way to throw in a Spidey cameo without screaming about it on the cover, and it actually took me by surprise. . .so a job well done to Kavanagh for using one of Marvel's most popular heroes in such a humorous and understated way!
 
This issue also steps back from the edge of bringing in a replacement Moon Knight.  I'm not sure if it was ever REALLY a serious consideration, but like I said in the reviews of the past couple of issues, it really wouldn't have surprised me, given the time when these comics were written.  Still, whether it was a genuine possibility or not, it was an interesting hook to make me think a little while about the 90's wave of Replacement Heroes.
 

Overall, I liked this issue quite a bit.  Not only did it make me think a little about the 90's era of Replacement Heroes, but it also gave me a surprise chuckle by making Moon Knight's best possible replacement none other than Spider-Man!  
 
NEXT!
 

ISSUE FORTY-EIGHT

 
WHEN THE WHIP COMES DOWN
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, after Moon Knight receives reports of John DeZoan (now calling himself Deadzone) on a killing spree against organized crime, he arrives at the scene of the latest murders, only to be attacked by the henchmen of villainous crime lord Tombstone.
 
Moon Knight makes quick work of the hired help and Tombstone himself arrives on the scene, trying to convince the hero to work with his organization to take down Deadzone.  Moon Knight declines.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .while Moon Knight uses his Shadow Cabinet contacts to find out information on DeZoan and predict a pattern to his madness, Deadzone is busy attacking a mob meeting in Chinatown.  In the background of all of this, Frenchie is convinced by his lover, Chloe, to stop moping around the Shadow Keep and go out on the town with her.
 
As Deadzone continues his attacks on organized crime around New York, Moon Knight finally catches up to him at a secret crack factory.  Deadzone tries to convince Moon Knight to join his crusade of "purifying" the wicked, but Moon Knight declines, giving his "We're nothing alike and I work alone" speech for the second time in one day.
 
Moon Knight and Deadzone start to fight.  Moon Knight has a rough time of it because he's still not up to 100% after his near death scare, plus Deadzone is armed with the adamantium staff Moon Knight lost in his escape from prison a few issues back.  The hero goes down hard, and is left for dead by Deadzone.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .Frenchie and Chloe go to their favorite restaurant and encounter a lack of wheelchair ramps, but that's the least of their problems as they are suddenly attacked by the Templar traitor Seth's demonic "Hellbent" allies!
 
The badly wounded Moon Knight manages to make his way back to Shadow Keep, but when he tries to contact his Shadow Cabinet organized crime inside man, he discovers that he's been killed by Deadzone!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I found this issue to be pretty average.  It's basically setup for the conclusion of this "Deadzone" story arc that was started in issue 45 and ends in the next issue.  Honestly, Deadzone just isn't that great of a villain.  Certainly not good enough to carry five issues' worth of story.  Once again, the problem with Moon Knight's slim "Rogues Gallery" rises to the surface.  I guess it's just hard for writers to come up with a good villain for Moon Knight that's able to last more than a few issues (the last we ever see of Deadzone is next issue).
 
Once more, the art team does most of the heavy lifting.  The visuals elevate a pretty "meh" story into something better than is should be.  The question now becomes how much longer will the art be able to continue carrying this series? With just twelve more issues to go in the run, I'd say not much longer.
 
 
Overall, we have a pretty average story propped up by some very nice artwork.  Deadzone is yet another example of the difficulty every writer on this series has had so far with giving Moon Knight some decent enemies to fight.
 
NEXT!

ISSUE FORTY-NINE

 
WHIP HAND!
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from last issue, with Deadzone killing mob bosses in New York, their gangs go to war against each other as they try to fill the power vacuums being left.  Moon Knight finds himself distracted from finding Deadzone as he fights to stop gang battles in the streets.
 
During a short break in the action, Moon Knight thinks back on how he recruited a former mob boss (now murdered by Deadzone in last issue) into his Shadow Cabinet.  He decides against the advice of his Shadow Cabinet to work with Tombstone to lure Deadzone out and bring him to justice.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .we see a group of remaining New York City crime bosses hiding together in a fortified mansion.  Unfortunately, their security isn't enough to keep Deadzone out and he attacks, killing them all.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .Frenchie and Chloe have temporarily escaped their demonic attackers, and Frenchie desperately tries to get Chloe to safety.  The "Hellbent" attack again and Frenchie manages to hold them off using weapons built into his wheelchair, allowing Chloe to escape.  As the demons go in for the kill, a mysterious woman jumps into the fight. . .the same Templar agent that's been watching Shadow Keep!  After she defeats the demons, she knocks Frenchie out when he seems to recognize her.
 
BACK WITH MOON KNIGHT. . .The hero has teamed up with Tombstone, posing as the crime lord's chauffer as he pays a respectful visit to the grave of Moon Knight's murdered Shadow Cabinet organized crime connection.   Deadzone takes the bait and he and Moon Knight fight in the graveyard.  This time, Moon Knight is better prepared and he manages to take Deadzone down. . .but then Tombstone steps in and snaps the neck of the helpless villain!
 
Filled with a near death frenzy, Deadzone attacks Moon Knight again, allowing Tombstone to make his escape.  Moon Knight almost beats Deadzone to death, but manages to stop himself from killing his enemy and becoming like him.  Moon Knight leaves the horribly beaten villain for the police.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
All in all, a pretty weak ending.  It almost seems like the writer wasn't exactly sure of what was going to happen until the last minute, making this issue seem disjointed and a bit sloppy.  Once again, most of the blame rests on the antagonist just not being an interesting or worthy adversary for Moon Knight in the first place.  
 
This wasn't the worst issue of this series so far, and it's not BAD. . .it's just sort of average and forgettable.  Not what I want in a comic that's supposed to wrap up a conflict that's been brewing for five issues. . .five months if you were buying these as they came out.  That's almost half a year!  
 

Overall, this was a pretty forgettable issue.  It hinges on the reader needing to suddenly place emotional weight on a character that until now has just been a face on a computer screen (Don G.  Moon Knight's murdered Shadow Cabinet contact) and leans on a throwaway villain that will never be heard from again.  The art is still great, but I ask again, how long can a good artist be expected to prop up average storytelling?
 
AND FINALLY. . .GIANT-SIZED 50TH ISSUE TIME!
 

ISSUE FIFTY

 
BLOODRITES
 
SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: James Fry III
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
 
THE STORY:
 
Buckle in, folks. . .they packed a LOT into this issue!
 
We begin with Moon Knight training in Shadow Keep's Danger Room. . .er. . .Holo-Gym.  He's going up against a "Best Of" list of enemies from the entire series. . .from Bushman to Doctor Doom to Deadzone.  One after the other until it gets to his brother, Randall Spector. Marc isn't ready to face those memories and shuts the simulation down in order to return to the investigation at hand. . .trying to find his missing friend Frenchie.
 
Between his Shadow Cabinet contacts and witnesses on the street, Moon Knight follows a slim trail of clues that lead to a dead end with a stolen police car (That Frenchie had Chloe run for her life in during the attack by the demonic "Hellbent" last issue).  During the investigation, Moon Knight ignores several calls from the Avengers demanding that he meet them at their headquarters.
 
Finally, the Avengers get tired of being put off and send Thor (actually "Replacement Thor" Thunderstrike) out to bring Moon Knight in the hard way.  A short battle between the two begins as Moon Knight tries to dodge Thunderstrike's pursuit, but he finally surrenders after enlisting the Thunder 's aid in stopping the murder of a prostitute by her pimp.
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .In a secret New York Templar base, we catch up with Frenchie as he wakes up with the mysterious woman who saved him last issue from the demonic Hellbent talking about a civil war in the ranks of the Templar and how she was assigned to protect him.  He suddenly realizes that the woman is actually his lover, Chloe in disguise!
 
BACK WITH MOON KNIGHT. . .The Avengers, currently under the leadership of Black Widow since Captain America (now operating as Nomad) decided to quit and let Replacement Cap (AKA U.S. Agent) take his place (The 90's wave of "Replacement Heroes" was an interesting time), are discussing why they've dragged Moon Knight to headquarters.
 
It seems they don't like him working with Punisher at all. They frown upon using a reserve Avengers I.D. to access resources to attack a sovereign nation's leader (Doctor Doom in issue #40). They didn't appreciate him starting a prison riot and accidentally allowing a psychopathic killer to escape custody. And they certainly don't approve of him teaming up with a known villain like Tombstone to capture that same killer (instead of enlisting the aid of the Avengers) and then almost beating Deadzone to death before dumping him off on the police.  And honestly, when they put it out there like that. . .I think I agree.
 
Moon Knight doesn't speak up in his own defense while Black Widow lays the charges down, because. . .well, they're all true.  Moon Knight has been a bad, bad, boy.  As they discuss what to do with their problem child,  Moon Knight gets a message from a Shadow Cabinet contact that they've picked up Frenchie's trail.  He decides that he doesn't have time to waste and ends the Avenger's debate by burning his I.D. card and showing himself out the door.
 
ELSEWHERE. . .We see Seth The Immortal in France at a hidden Templar base where he's briefing a new group of "Hellbent" demons on their mission to capture "Bloodline" (AKA Frenchie) before his full power can be activated by his Templar watchdog (AKA Chloe) before teleporting them to New York City for the attack.
 
At the same time, Chloe is explaining to Frenchie that he is "Bloodline", the last of a Templar family that has long been entrusted with the knowledge and secrets of the Templar, and that she has activated a hypnotic command that has begun Frenchie's transformation.  The final piece of the process is that Frenchie has to speak the final command words himself.  Chloe finally sells him on the idea by telling him that if he does, he will be able to walk again.  He speaks the phrase and begins having visions of long-dead ancestors, but nothing else happens.
 
WHEN SUDDENLY. . .The Hellbent strike team materialize and attack!  Taken by surprise, Chloe is quickly defeated.  Frenchie puts up a good fight, but being in a wheelchair is a bit of a hamper on his fighting ability.  BUT THEN. . .the adrenaline of the fight finally activates the hidden Templar code in Frenchie's DNA and he physically transforms into a sword-wielding pirate ancestor named Henri Remont, who skillfully continues the fight against the demonic attackers!  WAIT! WHAT? 
 
JUST THEN. . .Moon Knight finally manages to track down Frenchie's whereabouts and jumps into the fray!  Together, Bloodline and Moon Knight are able to better fight the Hellbent team.  At the last moment, yet ANOTHER creature teleports into the battle. . .but this time fighting on the side of Moon Knight and Bloodline!  After dispatching the final Hellbent, the creature introduces himself as "Manx", a "Shadowspawn" and informs Bloodline that there is a trial by fire coming for him, and that they will meet again. . .then he jumps out of the window and flies away!
 
After trying and failing to pursue Manx, Moon Knight returns to find Henri Remont gone as well, with Frenchie transformed back into his usual self, but hardly appreciating the rescue attempt and demanding that his friend now call him by his actual name instead of Frenchie from now on.  Moon Knight is a bit confused (ain't we all?) but agrees.  They return to Shadowkeep with one of the Hellbent bodies to examine.
 
EPILOGUE:  We find Seth the Immortal now in New York City and presiding over PhalkonCorp, making plans to wrest control of SpectorCorp from Marc Spector in order to build his financial base for his new Templar Order, and still plotting to gain the knowledge of Bloodline for himself.  We also meet his newest assistant. . .Marlene! Someone we haven't seen since she dipped out on Marc in issue #38 after his maniac brother kept trying to kill her.
 
BONUS EPILOGUE/ PROLOGUE!  At the newly-rebuilt, but still empty, Spector Mansion, we discover the mutant thief known as Gambit AND Werewolf by Night squaring off for a fight! 
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Sheesh!  Like I said before the plot summary, they packed a LOT into this issue!  
Let's break it on down.  
 
It's a hefty hunk of story, but when you boil it down, there's two main things going on here.  The first is disengaging Moon Knight from the Avengers.  The second is the full transformation of Moon Knight sidekick Frenchie into "Bloodline", a Knight's Templar superhero able to transform into his ancestors in times of need.
 
The Avengers storyline is actually pretty good.  I liked the cameo appearances by the likes of beardy Thor (AKA Thunderstrike), aggressive jerk Captain America (AKA U.S.Agent), and Short hair "I didn't ask for this lousy job!" Avenger leader Black Widow.   I liked that Moon Knight himself realized he wasn't much of an Avenger in the first place and showed himself the door.  I'd say that it read like a pretty natural reaction for this character.
 
On the other hand. . .
 
Most of the issue is devoted to the Frenchie/Bloodline origin story, and I gotta admit, I'm not thrilled.  I'll venture a guess and say that not many other fans were either, because there's barely a mention of it to be found when looking for information on the internet. Once this series was done, it seems it was never referenced again, and in later Moon Knight runs Frenchie was just Frenchie.  I'll venture to say that when they're done, THIS set of reviews will probably be the most information on "Bloodline" to be found.
 
It's just a really strange and convoluted sort of thing, but it looks like Terry Kavanagh was all in on the idea because he's been laying the groundwork of this origin issue for seven months of real-world time (since issue #43).  The retcon of random Marc Spector housekeeper/ Frenchie love interest Chloe into a bad@$$ Templar secret warrior is pretty jarring. . .especially since when Stained Glass Scarlet attacked her and Frenchie on a date (back in issue #27, the last time we saw her prior to this arc), she was reduced to a whimpering, sobbing messenger.  And then there's Frenchie's ability to transform (clothes and all) into a swashbuckling pirate through the power of a hypnotic phrase that activates something in his DNA.
 
It just really seems like a bad idea that Kavanagh is having to over-explain.
 
One interesting thing that DOES stand out to me when reading about Frenchie/Bloodline, is the strong resemblance to the story beats of Assassin's Creed. . .which (for those reading who might not be gamers) is a video game franchise (the first released in 2007) that is based on secret orders of Templars and Assassins locked in eternal struggle, with the most recent strife being around technology that allows time travel via DNA, where the modern day ancestor actually transforms into their descendant in the past.
 
It's not note for note, but there's enough of a resemblance that it raised my eyebrow a bit, considering this storyline came out 14 years before the first game.  As a fan of Assassin's Creed, I can't help but wonder if this strange, practically-forgotten storyline in a barely-acknowledged Moon Knight series might have been part of the inspiration for the video game story.  If not, then it's a heck of a coincidence.
 

Overall, this issue could be described by me as "interesting".  Moon Knight quitting the Avengers was pretty good, but the new hero "Bloodline" that Kavanagh is transforming Frenchie into just seems to be a convoluted mess requiring so much explanation that it took up most of a double-sized issue.  In this strange (and pretty much forgotten, it seems) storyline, I can definitely see the writing on the wall for the end of this series in less than another year.
 

CONCLUSION

 
I've gotta admit. . .Marc Spector: Moon Knight is getting to be a bit of a grind to read and review at this point.  Overall, the ten issues in this batch were, on average, a pretty decent bunch.  There really isn't a BAD issue here, but on the other hand, there isn't a really GOOD issue either.  There's some pretty bad IDEAS to be found, but on the whole Terry Kavanagh is riding right down the center line of quality, with occasional small swerves toward the good or bad side of the road.
 
The art team switch-up in issue 45 certainly managed to breath a little life into the series, with the art actually carrying a few issues that swerved a little off toward the bad side of things.  Unfortunately, the art can only carry so much weight, as we will clearly see in the next batch of issues with the introduction of (then) superstar artist Stephen Platt.  But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
 
Almost half of these issues were part of the massive "Infinity War" crossover, but I was pleasantly surprised to find Moon Knight's part to be pretty small and painless. . .actually some of the better issues of the bunch!  After that, we got issues hinting that Marvel was preparing to introduce a "Replacement Moon Knight" that never came to anything, but were an interesting look back to the 90's wave of hero replacements.  If you have an interest in comic book history, then those might be some of the better issues in the batch.
 
And then. . .
 
It's been pretty clear since Terry Kavanagh came on board as regular writer that he REALLY wanted to put a permanent stamp on the Moon Knight "Canon".  From resurrecting Marc Spector's brother, Randall, to giving Moon Knight a high-tech base, to giving Moon Knight a shiny new suit of 90's armor and his Shadow Cabinet group of contacts and confederates.  None of these efforts really survived into any future versions of Moon Knight, and are barely referenced at all today.
 
His biggest attempt at making his own permanent change to the Moon Knight mythos was turning long-time Moon Knight sidekick Frenchie into a superhero in his own right. . .a member of a secret Knight's Templar family that are able to tap into their ancestor's abilities and even their physical form in times of need.  So far manifested to readers as a duel sword-wielding swashbuckling French pirate named Henri Remont.
 
This "Knights Templar" storyline continues to the end of this series, and in my extremely humble opinion, it's what finally sank the whole thing into cancellation.  Once again, I'm getting ahead of myself a bit, but Kavanagh's final "Hail Mary" attempt to make a permanent change to Moon Knight never made it into the end zone.  I've found while trying to do a bit of research on this series that there is only the briefest of mentions of Frenchie as "Bloodline" to be found today.
 
In other words. . .it was a bad idea.  
 
Up Next. . .
 
This is it, folks! The FINAL ten issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight!
 
Come with me and observe the STEEP downward slide of this series as Terry Kavanagh tries hard to push his new hero "Bloodline" into the permanent Moon Knight narrative, Marvel brings in a big gun artist to try and save things, and then they just throw their hands in the air in defeat and end the series!
 
Be there or be square!

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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!

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