It’s hardly surprising that with the arrival of Moon Knight on Disney+, Panini Comics has released a number of collections featuring the troubled antihero, a character who has gone through more revamps than you can shake a crescent dart at. Here’s a look at three recent, very different, releases…
Three collections recently received are Moon Knight Omnibus (comprising Moon Knight #1 – 13, published in 2006); Moon Knight – Shock and Awe (Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1 – 6, 2009); and Moon Knight – Midnight Mission (Moon Knight #1 – 6, 2021), the latter out next week.
Thankfully, these collections arrived in the order above, because if I’d read them in any other order, I might have been woefully confused as to what was going on with one of the most tortured heroes in the Marvel Universe. Even so, there are bits missing to my knowledge of the character, in part, perhaps, because my memory of Moon Knight stretches back to his earliest appearances, in Marvel Spotlight, and the superb first Moon Knight series, his look back then defined by artist Bill Sienkiewicz, launched way back in November 1980.
Back then, Moon Knight was more Marvel’s answer to Batman than the multi-personality character he is now, and comparisons were regularly made. But despite this, there was clearly something about a character resurrected by an alien god (or god-like being) with a thing for Egyptian mythos that made him, unique and gave him lasting appeal. In recent years, every creative team who has handled him has found some new facet to his disassociated personality/ personalities, and his relationships with friends and enemies. They make for an entertaining read, although the more recent stories are, I’d argue, all the better for reining in in the on page blood and gore of much of the 2006 incarnation featured in Moon Knight Omnibus.
In this collection, comprising Moon Knight (2006) #1-13 – a 340 page extravaganza of stories from writer Charlie Huston and artists that include David Finch, Mico Suayan, Don Cameron and Tomm Coker – Moon Knight is in dire straits, at a low ebb in his “career”.
Khonshu – God of the Moon, God of Vengeance – saved Marc Spector’s life, brought him to glory, and made him Moon Knight. But what Khonshu gives, he also takes away. Spector learned this the hard way, spiralling into madness, depression and worse. Now, Spector wants back in the game. Will Khonshu hear his prayer?
Of the three Moon Knight collections received, despite an excellent introduction from editor Brady Webb, I did feel this story isn’t the best of introductions to the character. While Huston cleverly makes the most of the character’s multiple personalities, there’s far too much baggage from earlier stories carried into this one, and too characters poorly reintroduced on the assumption the reader will know who they are.
The story isn’t helped by on wider “crossover” events in the Marvel Comics Universe of the time, the interminable “Civil War”, pitting heroes against heroes; a thoroughly distracting event that proved as hard on the reader as it does on an increasingly unstable Moon Knight.
That said, once Houston’s take is given time to properly breathe, giving us some interesting villains along the way, especially the character “profiling” him for assorted crime lords, we do get some great stuff, enhanced no end by the arrival of Tomm Coker on art duties, delivering pages well suited to Moon Knight’s persona and setting.
In Moon Knight: Shock and Awe, drawing on stories first published in 2009, Moon Knight is in New York and, between the events of the Omnibus and Vengeance of the Moon Knight, looking to pick a fight with the man who chased him out of town in the first place: Norman Osborn. Freed of his demons and armed with an arsenal of incredible new weapons, Moon Knight is finally the hero he always aspired to be – taking out criminals with massive flair and throwing down the gauntlet to his old nemesis. Is Osborn ready for Round Two?
The leap between the Omnibus and this story, by Gregg Hurwitz and Jerome Opeña proved a little unsettling, Moon Knight and alter egos clearly hit hard by events “off stage” as it were, but aside from having absolutely no clue who The Sentry was, who turns up early on to confront him, Hurwitz more than delivers an entertaining storyline, complemented by fine art from Opeña. For all that he’s still plagued by mad god Khonshu, who wants him to turn again to extreme violence and killing in his name, this Moon Knight is more assured in his actions, and more sympathetic a character than the 2006 incarnation, and the better for it. Yes, you still can’t trust him to stay “sane” in a mad world populated by superheroes and villains, but you’ll probably be more on his side than others, after reading this.
Which bring us, finally, to Moon Knight: Midnight Mission, on sale in book and comic shops across the UK next week, the latest incarnation of Marvel’s nocturnal Avenger, written with aplomb by Jed Mackay, with stunning art by Alessandro Cappuccio.
Here, in a story echoing the oddity of some of Marvel’s weirdest superhero takes of the 1970s – no bad thing – the mysterious Mr. Knight has opened his Midnight Mission, his people petitioning him to shelter them from the weird and horrible. The Moon Knight stalks the rooftops and alleys marked with his crescent moon tag, bringing violence to any who would harm his flock.
Khonshu is gone, for now, a prisoner of the Aegis after he tried to take over the world before this story opens, but he’s far from forgotten, and there are those out there seeking to remind Marc Spector of his existence. Mackay takes to the task of reinventing Moon Knight once more with style, although I do suspect he might have missed a trick in not making one of MK’s multiple personalities the villain of the piece, – but perhaps that’s even more convoluted than some of this particular superhero’s history I’ve already missed out on down the years! (Perhaps that’s even already been done).
Reading these three Moon Knight collections has, mostly, been an enjoyable reintroduction to the character and supporting cast. I’ll be as interested to see where Jed Mackay takes him in the comics as I was intrigued by the opening episode of the new Moon Knight TV series on Disney+ last week. More, please!
• Moon Knight Omnibus | Panini | Released 1st March 2022 | ISBN 9781846533389 | Collecting Moon Knight (2006) #1-13
• Marvel Select – Moon Knight: Shock and Awe | Panini | Released 10th March 2022 | ISBN: 9781804910160 | Collecting Vengeance of the Moon Knight (2009) #1 – 6
• Moon Knight: Midnight Mission | Panini | on sale from 10th April 2022 | ISBN: 978184653349 | Collecting Moon Knight (2021) #1 – 6
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It’s an enormous shame neither the greatest Moon Knight author Doug Moench or Warren Ellis’ fabulous run aren’t represented in these collected editions.