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  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

October 2021




Longbox Junk - One-Shots (Part 3)

388 views • 32 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and the reviews are free!

Let's cut the introduction short this time and take a look at another handful of one-shot comics from my collection.  If you're a regular reader of Longbox Junk, then you know that these are my all-time favorite kind of comic book.  One issue. . .one story.  Nowhere for a creative team to hide.
This time out I've got a half and half mix of superhero and science fiction comics. Let's do it!

ONE-SHOTS (Part 3)




Marvel (1997)

SCRIPT: Paul Jenkins
PENCILS: Steve Erwin
COVER: Hajime Sorayama
For some reason, this cover seems to be trying a little TOO hard.  The main figure seems stiff and the "Collector's Item Issue" spatch on the left oversells the comic a bit and just dates this to the 90's more than anything.  That said, it's not a BAD cover.  It's nicely-drawn and I like the muted colors.  A Romulan Borg is also an intriguing promise, so let's get inside!
Moliok, Proud Daughter of the Seat of Tarek, patrols a backwater sector of Romulan Space near the Neutral Zone. . .in command of an outdated ship and tasked with putting down petty rebellions against Romulan Rule, far from the action and excitement of those preparing for the inevitable confrontation with The Federation, thanks to her political misfortune.
Suddenly, Moliok's luck changes when an unidentified ship intruding in Romulan space offers her a break from the grinding routine of frontier patrol.  She moves in to confront the giant cube-shaped ship as it destroys a scientific outpost.  Moliok quickly discovers that her attacks are incapable of harming the unidentified intruder, which is capable of repairing itself.
Caught in a tractor beam, Moliok is commanded to surrender her ship.  She refuses and decides to ram the cube after setting the self-destruct, but before she can do so, strange cybernetic beings transport aboard her ship.  A brutal and desperate hand to hand battle breaks out, but Moliok is unable to defeat the invaders.
She is taken aboard the cube and subjected to agonizing surgery, forcing her to join the collective of the alien "Borg".  When we next see Moliok, she is serving as a Borg emissary as the cube continues to destroy Romulan outposts.
The End.
This one-shot serves as a prequel to the late first season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Neutral Zone", which re-introduces the Romulans as a Federation foe to be reckoned with as outposts in the Neutral Zone are destroyed by an unknown enemy (revealed later to be the first off-screen appearance of The Borg).
The story itself is pretty straightforward and honestly a bit light.  It feels more like the first issue of an unfinished mini-series than a complete standalone story.  It's well-written and the character of Moliok is interesting, but it just feels like there should be more to it.
On the art side of things, it's not bad, but it's not particularly great either.  It's the kind of art that just tells the story and doesn't try to do anything other than that.  In other words, pretty average.
Overall, the most interesting thing about this story is seeing the Borg from another point of view that we didn't get from the T.V. show. . .which is one of the things I love about comic books!  And for that alone, I can recommend this story to any Star Trek fans (like me) out there who want just a LITTLE more background to the Borg arrival in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  If you're NOT a Star Trek fan, you'll probably just wonder where the rest of the story is.
So not a bad start.  Let's see what else we've got. 



DC (2011)

SCRIPT: Pornsak Pichetshote
PENCILS: Marco Castiello (Pgs. 1-5); Ig Guara (Pgs. 6-20)
COVER: Viktor Kalvachev
The Flashpoint stories were all pretty much "Elseworlds" tales, and that's what this cover promises. . .a gun-toting Green Arrow with a fiendish grin who might or might not be a hero at all in the twisted world of Flashpoint.  It really makes me want to jump right in and see what's going on!  I also really like the green tone of the cover.  Very nicely-done.
Billionaire Oliver Queen has made a fortune through Green Arrow Industries by using paramilitary teams to take down supervillains and transform their high-tech weaponry into military equipment for sale to the highest bidder.
When Queen's top secret testing facility comes under attack and his best friend, Roy Harper, is killed (along with a group of visiting U.S. Generals), Oliver equips himself with some of his retro-fitted villain weaponry and sets off in pursuit of the leader of the attack.
During a brutal battle in the jungle outside of the island facility with a strange woman armed with a bow, Oliver learns that the attack is to draw attention to the secret facility.  Green Arrow's weapons have caused death and destruction throughout the world and their inhumane corporate testing methods must be stopped.
Suddenly, Oliver realizes that HE'S become the villain!  He promises to end dealing in weapons and to use the technology for other purposes, but the mysterious woman just laughs at Queen's new pledge of "responsibility" before revealing that she's his daughter from the supervillain now known as Vixen and that he's been paying child support since she was born but has never seen her face before now.
Chastised, Oliver tries to allow his daughter to escape, but his security forces arrive on the scene and gun her down. . .devastating him as he resolves to change his life over her dead body.
The End.
Hmmmm. . .interesting.  Like I said above, all the Flashpoint stories are basically "Elseworlds" tales.  This one gives us Oliver Queen as. . .well. . .pretty much a Tony Stark clone.  I'd have to say that this was an interesting little slice of the overall Flashpoint "universe", but it's very derivative and feels incomplete, like it was meant to be the first issue of a 3 issue mini.  It's not BAD, but to be perfectly honest, the cover is the best part of this comic.
As far as the art goes, this is another comic with art that just tells the story and doesn't really try anything harder than that.  There's a few places that the art manages to elevate itself to just above "Pretty Good", but there's not many.

Overall, as a small slice of the short-lived Flashpoint "Universe", this is an interesting look at a decidedly unheroic Oliver Queen being forced to face his part in the suffering of the world.  As a one shot "Elseworlds" story, it feels incomplete and has an abrupt ending.  Like the Star Trek story above, it feels more like the first issue in an unfinished mini.  
I don't think I can recommend this to anybody except Green Arrow or Flashpoint completionists.  It just sort of feels like a fragment of an unfinished story.  It's interesting, but ultimately forgettable. 



Dynamite (2007)

SCRIPT: Brandon Jerwa
PENCILS: Jonathan Lau
COVER: Photo
A very nice photo cover of actress Michelle Forbes as Admiral Helena Cain, Commander of the only other remaining Battlestar, from Battlestar Galactica's second season.  If you're a big fan of the "re-imagined" BSG like I am, then this photo alone promises a chilling look at the dark places the fight for survival can take a story.  The "Pegasus" storyline was one of the best of the whole series and getting even a bit more of it is an exciting proposition that makes me want to jump right in!
Set about a year before the events of the 2004 Battlestar Galactica SyFy mini-series, we begin our tale aboard the Battlestar Pegasus in spacedock undergoing maintenance and a refit of her Viper attack ships.  
Her commander, Admiral Cain, is given an emergency mission to travel to the Cylon/ Human armistice line to investigate the disappearance of the Battlestar Chronos. . .which vanished while responding to a distress signal believed to have been from a stealth ship lost on a previous secret mission across the border between Cylon and Human space.
Setting out with severely-depleted fighter forces, Admiral Cain is taken by surprise when Cylon ships attack as the Pegasus approaches the wreckage of the Chronos.  After being severely damaged, the Pegasus flees the battle and follows a distress signal coming from a Colonial supply depot.
After a brutal battle between Cylon forces waiting in ambush near the depot and Pegasus' outnumbered Viper pilots, Admiral Cain sends a ground team to investigate the distress signal.  The ground team discover a scene of carnage and are themselves attacked by Cylon troopers laying in wait.  After narrowly escaping the ambush, they discover the lone human survivor, Admiral Tong, commander of the destroyed Battlestar Chronos.
Back aboard the Pegasus, Admiral Cain attempts to gain information from Admiral Tong, but he suffers a mental breakdown and commits suicide in front of her.  Seeing the amount of death and suffering from this single encounter with the Cylons, Cain realizes that the threat waiting for mankind is far greater than anyone has imagined.
The End.
Okay. . .not bad.  This is a nice, solid little piece of hard military sci-fi action.  Like the Star Trek comic above, it ties into the T.V. show (The 3rd season episode "Hero", which expands on the failed stealth ship mission mentioned in this comic). Existing Battlestar Galactica fans will get more out of this because, also like the Star Trek comic above, if you aren't a BSG fan, you'll just end up wondering where the rest of this story is at.
That said, if you ARE part of the target audience, then this comic reads like a lost episode of the series!  We get to see Admiral Cain in action before she became the hard and empty shell of a person we are introduced to during the "Pegasus" storyline on the show.  Here, she's shown simply as a strong, confident commander and it really sort of drives home how far into the darkness she went after the Pegasus escaped the Cylon destruction of the Colonies.  But like I said above, if you aren't a BSG fan, all that won't mean much to you.
On the art side of things. . .I'm a fan of Jonathan Lau's dynamic art style from his work on Dynamite's Green Hornet and Bionic Man series.  Unfortunately, this is not his best work.  It's not BAD, and his signature style is definitely on display for the more action-packed scenes, but for some reason a lot of the non-action scenes look sketchy and rough.  That and he never manages to capture the likeness of Michelle Forbes (the actress who plays Cain on the show).
Compare the top and middle panels to the cover to see what I mean
Overall, this is a comic that was definitely written for a specific audience. For existing Battlestar Galactica fans, this is a great little prequel story that reads exactly like a missing episode of the series.  So being a big BSG fan myself, this comic is a winner!  Unfortunately, if you aren't a BSG fan, the connections will mean nothing and what you'll end up with is a fragment of a decent hard military sci-fi story that (in its favor) MIGHT be good enough to make you want to check out the source material. 


DC (1996)


SCRIPT: Ron Marz
PENCILS: Scott Kolins
COVER: Scott Kolins
Meh.  This one's just not doing much for me.  It seems a bit cluttered and messy.  I do like the brilliant colors of the main characters, but other than that, there's not much to write home about here, in my extremely humble opinion.  Let's hope what's inside is better.
We begin our tale as an isolated magnetic research station at the North Pole is attacked by a mysterious figure.  We then switch scenes to New York City, where Kyle Rayner (AKA Green Lantern) finds himself needing to rush an art assignment to Japan after missing a deadline.  
In the meantime, at a Philadelphia park, we find Ray Terrill (AKA The Ray) in an argument with his girlfriend over his never being around when she needs him.  The argument is interrupted by a strange magnetic event and Ray once again leaves his girl to follow the magnetic trail to its source.
After destroying a small island with a tidal wave, the mysterious figure from the North Pole heads to Tokyo, where he proceeds to wreak havoc before confronting and easily defeating Japan's newest hero, Arashi.  Green Lantern saves Arashi and then joins in the battle after recognizing his foe, Doctor Polaris.
As the battle rages through Tokyo, The Ray arrives on the scene to help Green Lantern and there's the team-up!  Leaving The Ray to fight Polaris, Green Lantern saves Tokyo from another tidal wave.  After Green Lantern returns, the two heroes compare notes from their solo battles against Polaris and attack him together, forcing Polaris' multiple personalities to fight themselves.
After Polaris falls victim to his inner battle, Green Lantern leaves him in the hands of The Ray as he finishes his own errand and recognizes the woman he was delivering his assignment to as Arashi, the Japanese superhero he rescued earlier.  We end the story knowing that Arashi also recognizes Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern.
The End.
Hmmmm. . .okay.  What we have here is a pretty straightforward and extremely well-worn story path of "Heroes team up to fight a common enemy".  I'm actually surprised to find the "Heroes fight until they realize they're on the same side" team-up trope missing. . .so extra points there, I guess?  
What I'm trying to say is that this is a decent enough story, but one that's been told over and over and over and over and over and over and. . .well, you get the idea.  Most of the book is taken up with fight scenes, and at the end of the day nothing has changed for either hero.  It's a story you've read many times.
The only REAL interesting part of this was the Japanese hero, Arashi.  She's got a cool look and it seems like there was some potential there for her to be an interesting high-tech hero. . .unfortunately, when I searched for more stories with her in them, I discovered that this was her first, last, and only appearance.  DC sort of hit a foul ball there. Check her out. . .
As far as the art goes, I'd say it's probably the best part of this one-shot.  There's a lot of detail and interesting, cinematic angles that give things a great sense of motion.  The only thing I didn't like much art-wise was that the artist gives the youthful Kyle Rayner a grizzled look that makes him appear about forty years old.  Other than that, this comic has some great art and very nice colors.

Overall, this is a pretty by the numbers superhero team-up.  It's the sort of thing you read and forget about not long afterward.  It does have some very nice art, it's a sort of unusual team-up, and it's pretty fun, but it's basically comic book junk food.  If you're a big Green Lantern or Ray fan, then definitely keep your eye out for this one.  For anyone else. . .don't pay more than a buck if you REALLY want to check it out.
So there you have it.  Another handful of Longbox Junk one-shots.  Overall, I'd have to say that this bunch didn't fare as well as the last couple of batches I went through (Read HERE and HERE ).  There aren't any BAD ones, it's just that the only one that doesn't feel like an unfinished mini-series is the Green Lantern/Ray team-up.  The rest read like unfinished story fragments.
Granted, if you're a big Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica fan like myself, you'll get significantly more mileage out of those two one-shots. . .but not everybody is going to know where and how those stories connect with their television counterparts, so it's not fair for me to judge them any differently as one-shots needing to tell a complete story in a single issue.
Up Next. . .
I think I'm done with one-shots for now.
It's been a while since I dug into a mini-series.  But which one?
So many to choose from! I'll figure it out, though.
Be there or be square!

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

It's been a while.  How about we crank up the paper time machine and take a little trip back in time for a Longbox Junk Retro Review?  Ready? 
*Puts on ridiculous steampunk goggles*
LET'S DO THIS! *Pulls gigantic lever*
And here we are. . .1966!  Watch your step when exiting the cabin.  
We've come to the sixties to take a look at the single issue Gold Key put out featuring a character called G-8 and his sidekicks, The Battle Aces.  I bought this comic as part of an auction lot several years ago and have absolutely no idea who G-8 is. . .but part of the fun of doing these Longbox Junk Retro Reviews is being able to educate myself a little bit through these older comics in my collection, and then passing that along.  So bear with me for a moment.
A bit of research shows me that G-8 is a character hailing from the pulp fiction era, with 110 (!) books featuring the character written by Robert J. Hogan between 1933 and 1944. . .meaning he wrote a full book roughly every month for ten years straight!  I can barely manage to get a blog post out every week, so I stand and give the man a round of well-deserved applause!
G-8 himself is an American adventurer, spy, and aviator operating in the thick of World War I.  There's not much representation of WWI in comics. . .the only thing that jumps to mind are the "Enemy Ace" stories. . .so the setting is definitely an interesting choice.  
G-8 seems to have been fairly popular, but without the staying power of pop culture stalwarts such as The Shadow, Green Hornet, Tarzan, Zorro, and The Lone Ranger. . .characters also hailing from the same period.  I'd say he's more on the level of a Doc Savage, The Spider, or The Avenger. . .pulp fiction characters that were very popular in their time, but faded from view as the years went by.
One of the interesting things about G-8 is that through all the stories written about him, his true identity was never revealed!  He was always just G-8.  I'm not sure if there's any other character that I know of that can claim the same thing.  So I give a nod of appreciation toward Robert J. Hogan for keeping the mystery going for so long.
I'm not sure exactly WHY this comic exists.  It seems a bit of a strange bird.  It doesn't adapt any of the published G-8 stories, and even though it was written 20 years after the last G-8 novel, it seems to assume that the reader knows everything about the character already.  
That tone of assumption is sort of interesting and makes me wonder where the demand for this story came from.  It doesn't look like any of the original stories were reprinted until the 1970's, when Doc Savage reprints started fueling a resurgence of interest in pulp fiction, so it's a bit of a mystery to me how this obscure character was even in mind for a comic book.  Maybe someone on the editorial staff was a fan of the G-8 stories when they were younger.
Enough of that.  Let's take a look at this comic and see what's going on.


GOLD KEY (1966)

SCRIPT: Leo Dorfman
PENCILS: George Evans
INKS: Mike Peppe
COVER: ??? (George Wilson)
There's no information out there on who painted this cover, but I'm going to hazard a guess of prolific Gold Key artist George Wilson, based on the resemblance of the main character to Wilson's version of Tarzan (and Korak, Son of Tarzan).  Wilson was also sort of fond of using dark orange as a background color.  So I'm fairly confident in my guess on this.  It's not exactly a burning question demanding an answer, but feel free to correct me if you have information otherwise. 
The cover itself is a glorious example of Gold Key's trademark painted covers.  I love the orange background, and the explosions are EPIC!  This is a cover packed full of motion and action brought to life by the painter.  It's not my favorite Gold Key cover (I'd say the King Kong one-shot from 1968 is my favorite I've seen so far), but it's definitely a great piece of eye-catching art.  Let's get inside and see what this is all about!
We begin our tale during World War I, deep behind the German lines, as G-8 parachutes through the darkness after his plane is shot from the sky. . .

Disguising himself as a woodcutter, G-8 makes his way to the German field headquarters at Feldhausen.  His mission: to gain solid information regarding rumors of a massive German offensive.
Once inside the base, G-8 trails a German Lieutenant he overhears saying that he works in the planning department.  At the Lieutenant's house, G-8 knocks him out and then skillfully disguises himself as the German.
The next morning, G-8, in disguise, goes to the planning department. He quickly discovers that he's too late and the plans for the offensive are already being delivered to the front lines!
G-8 quickly pursues the German messengers in a stolen car.  He runs them off the road and steals the secret battle plans.  As he reviews them at a nearby inn, G-8 is baffled by a missing piece of information.  The plans call for a massive attack carried out by dozens of units. They are to strike after something first occurs. . .but that something is not described.
After making copies, G-8 heads to the front lines to deliver the plans to their original destination, to avoid suspicion.  While he is there, the allies attack.  G-8 uses the artillery fire as a distraction so that he can leave the German trenches and make his way across the dangerous stretch of no man's land in order to deliver the battle plans to the allied command.
Once across friendly lines, G-8 returns to his home base at Le Bourget Airfield, where he is reunited with his "Battle Aces" comrades. . .wingmen Nippy and Bull, and his manservant, Battle.  Reporting to Chief of Staff General Frazier, G-8 discusses the stolen battle plans and his concern over the missing information.  
Over G-8's protests, General Frazier decides to attack before dawn on the day of the planned German offensive, hoping to take them by surprise.  He orders G-8 and his men to take part in the attack.

The next morning, G-8 receives a frantic message from General Frazier.  It seems that G-8's fears of the missing information being part of some sort of German secret weapon have come true.  The allies are under attack and being decimated by an unknown force!
G-8 and his wingmen rush to the scene to find the allies in disarray as German forces move in to take over their abandoned positions.  G-8, Nippy, and Bull dive in on the attack!
A fierce battle against German fighter planes leads to G-8 being shot down over no man's land.  After making his way back to friendly lines, G-8 visits the field hospital in search of information about the attack. 
He discovers from terrified survivors that the weapon threw off showers of sparks and made a weird howling sound before massive explosions caused panic along the allied forces.

Wanting to learn more about the strange German weapon, G-8 once again disguises himself as a German soldier and infiltrates the units at the abandoned allied positions.  While there, he discovers a clue. . .a piece of metal in a bomb crater marked with the name of a manufacturing plant in the town of Steussel, behind enemy lines.
After evading suspicious German officers and killing a guard, G-8 escapes the German trenches and begins making his way toward Steussel to investigate the new information.
Once at Steussel, G-8 infiltrates the Rouse factory and witnesses trucks being loaded with crates of tiny aircraft engines.  Not sure what to make of it, he dodges guards and goes deeper. . .not realizing that the front lines have called the German Intelligence Director about a possible saboteur who killed a soldier on the front line and that might be headed toward Steussel.

G-8's companions, Nippy and Bull are flying patrol when they spot a German Fokker.  After shooting it down, the dying pilot deliriously mumbles directions.  Nippy and Bull quickly realize that they have just been given the information that G-8 is risking his life behind enemy lines trying to gain. . .the location of the German secret weapon!

Back at Stuessel, G-8 has taken over a truck, disguised himself as the driver, and is following a convoy of vehicles that he believes is heading for the location of the German secret weapon.
Overhead, Nippy and Bull, flying a captured German plane that had been stored at their airfield, are headed toward the same destination.

As G-8 follows the convoy, they arrive at a hidden mountain valley with a base carved into the cliffs.  G-8 finally spots the German secret weapon. . .a gigantic zeppelin, but also having the wings of a heavier than air craft, all done up to look like a huge eagle!

As G-8 investigates the huge hangar containing the hybrid zeppelin bomber, he discovers that the miniature engines are being fitted onto bombs to make a kind of guided missile.  He also discovers his wingman Nippy in disguise as a German officer.  
Nippy leads G-8 to where he and Bull have hidden their captured German plane and the three of them form a plan. . .attack with the German plane and drop down onto the zeppelin during the confusion and take it over, then use it and the guided bombs to attack the German front lines after destroying the base.

The plan to capture the hybrid zeppelin and destroy the hidden base goes as planned, with the bomber raining complete destruction down on the Germans, but before they can turn the weapon on to the front lines, a stray shot ignites the hydrogen gas.

Nippy and Bull manage to escape before the gigantic bomber explodes.  Afterward, as they survey the wreckage and consider the devastating guided bombs, G-8 knows that the Germans aren't done with their diabolical schemes, and this is just the beginning.

The End.
Hmmmm. . .okay.  Not bad.  Not great, mind you, but not too bad. 
What we have here is a decent little war story that remains very readable even 55 years later and me coming in with very little information on the main characters (just what was in a Wikipedia article).  
G-8 is an interesting character that reads like a WWI James Bond as he dons disguises, infiltrates the enemy, and makes narrow escapes by using misdirection and his own considerable wit.  Throw in some aerial combat in rickety WWI biplanes and you have a pretty exciting war story in an interesting setting.
Unfortunately, no comic is perfect and this comic is no exception.
While the main meat of the story is good, there are a couple of elements that fall flat.  The objective of G-8's efforts. . .the German secret weapon. . .is the worst offender.  There doesn't seem to be a clear reason as to why their gigantic hybrid airplane/airship has to be done up like an eagle.  It just seems silly and doesn't make sense except as a visual cue that the Germans are insane.  And really, it just seems like putting a hat on a hat when you consider that the rocket-powered bombs are the ACTUAL secret weapon.
The tone of assumption that the reader already knows everything about the character (that I mentioned above in the introduction) is the second most obvious stumbling block keeping this story at the level of "Pretty Good".  The comic reads less like something meant to introduce and interest readers in a new character and more like an issue of a comic in the middle of a long-running series.  There ARE small bits of exposition scattered here and there, but no more than a few sentences of it before heading back into the story.
That said, even with those two major missteps, the writing is good.  The dialogue is snappy.  The story moves along at a brisk pace from scene to scene.  It's not a bad little story at all. . .it just could have been better with a bit more attention from the editor.
On the art side of things. . .
It's a sad fact that although Gold Key had some of the greatest covers in comic history, the interior art can never come close to what is promised on the front.  This comic is no exception.
That said, the art in this comic is actually better than what's to be found in many Gold Key comics.  It follows a rigid and unimaginative panel structure, but the art itself is dark and moody.  Nicely-inked and surprisingly well-colored where a lot of Gold Key comics can be a bit sloppy and heavy-handed on the colors.  The scenes of aerial combat are particularly well-done.  It's not the best comic art I've ever seen, but it tells the story well without distracting from it. . .for the most part.
There IS one strange thing about the art that caught my eye and brought me out of the story a bit wherever it popped up.  If you scroll up and look at the scanned pages above, take note of the German helmets.  They look oddly different. . .like they were added later, possibly by the inker.  They just don't look right.
Other than the strange German helmets, the art in this comic is pretty solid.  


Overall, G-8 and His Battle Aces is a pretty good war story with an unusual WWI setting and featuring a main character that makes his way through the tale with an interesting mix of disguise, deception, and wit.
Assuming the reader knows everything about G-8 coming into the tale, as well as some pretty ridiculous visuals on the German secret weapon that is the main narrative drive, keep the story down at the level of "Pretty Good". But even with those couple of stumbles, this is still a decent read.
I got this comic as a random part of a comic lot at an estate sale auction, but I see that there are copies to be found for sale online for around twenty bucks.  If you are a fan of war comics and want something a little on the unusual side, then definitely keep an eye out for G-8 and His Battle Aces.
Up Next. . .
I don't think I'm quite done with one-shots yet. 
Let's take a look at another handful, shall we?  We shall!
Be there or be square.

- read more

Longbox Junk - One-Shots (Part 2)

585 views • 35 weeks ago • (1) Comment

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and nobody asked me to review them!

 After spending several months grinding through all sixty issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight, I've decided to cleanse my palate a bit by returning to my favorite kind of comic. . .One shots!  Tight little packages of comic book goodness where the creative team is tasked with giving the reader a complete story in one and only one issue.   

With a single issue to work with, the creative team has nowhere to hide.  It's easy to fail, but when the team is up to the task, the results can be some of the best stories to be found in comics.  

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Longbox Junk - One-Shots (part 1)

449 views • 36 weeks ago • (0) Comments

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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SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Chris Ivy, Al Vey & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
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. . .
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!


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Chris Ivy, Al Vey & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
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. . .
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?
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.


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Fred Haynes
INKS: Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
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. . . 
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.


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Fred Haynes
INKS: Fred Haynes & Scott Koblish
COVER: Stephen Platt
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. . .
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.  


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
PENCILS: Stephen Platt
INKS: Stephen Platt
COVER: Stephen Platt
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).
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.
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.


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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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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SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
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. . .
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.


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
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. . .
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!  


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
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. . .
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.


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
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.
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?


SCRIPT: Terry Kavanagh
INKS: Chris Ivy
COVER: James Fry III
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. . .
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.


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.


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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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