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"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

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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!

- read more

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. . .

- read more

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

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #11

MARVEL (1973)

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


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

CONCLUSION

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

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, home of comic reviews nobody ever asked me for!

It's October!  That means trick or treatin', candy eatin', and horror comics in Longbox Junk!

What we have here today is part of Marvel's short-lived effort at a bit of a monster comic revival a few years back.  This particular one shot is one of a set of three (the other two are Satana and Man-Thing) meant to re-introduce some Marvel Monster characters back into continuity in order to form a supernatural "Legion of Monsters" team.

Well. . .as you can probably guess by this comic landing here at Longbox Junk, it didn't really work out.  Legion of Monsters made just a few appearances as a team (most notably in the notorious Punisher "Franken-Castle" storyline and their own 4 issue mini) before they faded back into obscurity.

BUT. . .

Just because something didn't take hold and ended up in the bargain bin, does that make it bad?  That's the sort of question I started Longbox Junk to answer!  Let's take a look a closer look at this little relic of a failed Marvel experiment. . .

LEGION OF NIGHT:

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT

MARVEL (2007)

 
COVER: Greg Land
 
As usual, before we get into the comic, let's take a look at the cover.  And what a cover it is!
 
Greg Land is a sort of divisive figure among comic fans.  He's got a bit of a bad reputation that I'm not going to get into.  You either like Greg Land's art or you don't.  I happen to fall on the "Like" side of the controversy fence.  
 
Controversial artist or not, I LOVE this cover!  It simply screams Halloween at me.  It's a pretty simple composition, but just look at the werewolf's feral face and reaching, clawed hand!  There's a feeling of depth and motion. . .a story moment captured in one image that is simply outstanding. In my extremely humble opinion, the cover alone is worth grabbing this comic from the bargain bin if you spot it.  
 
Now let's check out the two stories inside. Fair warning. . .if you're a Greg Land hater, just skip to the backup because he's on art for the opener.  Everyone in that's staying in? Let's do it!
 
SMALLTOWN GIRL
SCRIPTS: Mike Carey
PENCILS: Greg Land
 
The story goes like this:
 
A young woman named Rhona was born a werewolf in a small Alabama town, but learned ways to control herself. Shortly after her mother and sister are killed by self-styled monster hunters, she goes to the local bar, knowing they will come for her too.  While there, she has a chance encounter with a handsome stranger. . .the only person besides her family who has ever treated her kindly.
 
 
 
It isn't long before the group of "Monster Hunters" shows up.  One of them uses tarot cards to briefly reveal the monster inside Rhona.  She calmly accepts that it's her fate to die that night. . .
 
 
 
What Rhona doesn't know is that the handsome stranger is none other than Jack Russell. . .Werewolf by Night!  He's not going to just sit there and watch Rhona let herself be killed by amateur Monster Hunters.  He takes them by surprise as he transforms into a werewolf and goes on the attack!
 
 
As Jack fights the rest of the Monster Hunters, Rhona is caught up in a deadly struggle with the woman who read her tarot cards and revealed proof she was a werewolf.  Rhona realizes the only way she can survive is to fully release the monster inside her for the first time. . .
 
 
After the battle is won, Jack comforts a traumatized Rhona as she looks over the slaughter she was part of.  Jack tells her that suppressing the beast just made it worse, and he can help her.  They leave together.
 
 
The End.
 
Not a bad little story.  Very short. . .really more of a vignette than anything.  But it was well-written and engaging.  That said. . .
 
For a re-introduction of Jack Russell to Marvel continuity supposedly aimed at new readers, there wasn't really much of an introduction here at all.  The story is told from Rhona's point of view and looking back over it again, I realize that Russell's name isn't even mentioned once!  This is much more an introduction to Rhona (who I'm not even sure even appeared anywhere else other than here) than it is to Werewolf by Night Jack Russell.
 
Does that make it a bad story? No.  I liked it quite a bit.  It just seems like a strange story choice for what's supposed to be an introduction.
 
As for the art.  It's Greg Land.  In the eyes of some comic fans, no matter WHAT he does it's not going to be good.  I'm not one of those fans.  I like his realistic style and I don't really care if he photo-references.  If you don't like Greg Land, you're going to hate this.  I didn't hate this.  Taking an honest look at just the art and leaving the artist's reputation out of it, I say it's pretty good.
 
NEXT!
 
TO BE A MONSTER
SCRIPTS: Skottie Young
PENCILS: Skottie Young
 
There's a backup story in all three of the Legion of Monsters one shots spotlighting one of the supporting characters of the team.  In Satana, it's The Living Mummy.  In Man-Thing, it's Simon Garth: Zombie.  In this one, it's Frankenstein's Monster. . .er. . .The Monster of Frankenstein.  Not sure if that's a copyright thing, but it doesn't sound right for some reason.  But I digress!
 
The story goes like this:
 
Our story begins long ago (it looks like maybe the story is set in the late 18th Century) as an escaped prisoner flees for his life from the men hunting him.  He stumbles upon a church in an abandoned town and seeks sanctuary, only to meet a fate. . .
 
 
In a neighboring town, local clergy have gathered to decide what to do about the false priest luring and killing people using the mask of the church to carry out his nefarious deeds.  It is known among them that one of their number hides a powerful monster in his own church. . .a monster that could be used to destroy the false priest.  
 
The priest who hides the monster protests, insisting that the creature has come to know peace through and has put aside his old violent ways.  He is commanded by his superior to set forth the monster upon the false priest. . .
 
 
 
The Monster reluctantly agrees to take the task given to him and leaves for the church in the abandoned town.  Inside, he finds evidence of gruesome experiments.  He discovers a journal and begins to read. . .
 
 
The Monster discovers the tale of a Doctor McCauley, who fell from good standing by using and furthering the research of the Monster's own creator, Doctor Frankenstein, to bring life to corpses.  Disgraced, McCauley left for the wilderness, where he poses as a priest in order to lure victims for his continued experiments. . .
 
 
As the Monster reads McCauley's journal, the false priest confronts him. . .along with several of his creations, more powerful than the original Monster of Frankenstein by virtue of having been created with freshly-killed bodies.  The Monster informs the mad scientist that he has been sent to end him.  Upon hearing this, a brutal battle between the Monster and McCauley's creations begins. . .
 
 
 
After defeating his creations, the Monster kills McCauley and sets fire to his laboratory before returning home.  The priest that had hidden him shows remorse for sending the Monster to kill again and begs for mercy, but the Monster kills the priest and leaves. . .knowing he will never have peace as long as the church knows where he is.
 
 
The End.
 
What a great little story!  As much as I enjoyed the opening Werewolf by Night story, I very much preferred this one.  Skottie Young does a great job writing (I know him more as an artist) a dreamlike, thoughtful tale of mankind as the monster.  Like the opening story, this one is very short, but seems longer because there's quite a bit more meat on the bone.
 
Like I said above, I know Skottie Young as more of an artist than a writer, but I'm used to a more cartoony, whimsical, humorous sort of art from him. . .so the art in this story took me by surprise as much as his writing did!  It's dark and twisted. . .adding to the heavy, dreamlike nature of the story and perfectly complimenting it.
 
The final full-pager of the Monster leaving yet another false sanctuary is a stunning portrait that I'd really like to have a poster of and is a fine piece of Longbox Junk Halloween fun!
 
 
Overall, I liked both of the stories in this one shot, but found the backup to be superior in almost every way to the main feature.  If you are a horror comic fan (and aren't a Greg Land hater) then do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for this little Longbox Junk gem in the bargain bin.  You won't be disappointed.
 
Up Next. . .
 
MORE Longbox Junk Halloween fun.
 
Be there or be square!

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