Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Declan Shalvey
Published by Marvel Comics
“Then I thought that I would hear no more about him
But his friends found his tomb empty
Claimed that he rose from the dead
Then the Man in White, appeared to me
In such a blinding light it struck me down
With its brilliance, took away my sight,”
The Man in White- Johnny Cash
Warren Ellis returns to the world of serialized comics with one of Marvels oddest characters. Faced with trying to encompass a multitude of variations, of both the continuity and the character himself, Ellis wisely acknowledges and discards in equal measure. Paying homage to what has gone before, while not afraid to carve out his own vision for the series. Moon Knight purists may not enjoy the titular character dropping his usual mercenary for hire for more of a heroic vigilante. But even they would be hard pressed to deny that taken as a standalone story, this issue hits all the right notes and stays true to the essence of Moon Knight, if not the mythology. The inevitable comparisons with the other “Knight” will be given more fuel with the addition of a Jim Gordon like character in Detective Flint, but there is far more going on to differentiate this as Marvels answer to Batman.
The reintroduction of the character is wonderfully handled as the reader is teased with glimpses of him preparing in the back of his driverless Limo that looks eerily similar to David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. The full page reveal of Moon Knight as he swaggers into a crime scene in a three piece all white suit is so effortlessly cool you half expect the page to start playing Stevie Wonders “Superstition”. Artist Declan Shalvey has been Marvel’s go to guy for breathing new life into stagnant characters for a while now, with his runs on Venom and Deadpool revamping old favourites. Paired with a titan like Ellis and with a wave of publicity behind this run, the spotlight on Shalvey has never been brighter; suffice to say he doesn’t wilt under it. Faced with two of an artist’s biggest challenges, an expressionless mask and a titular character devoid of colour, he turns these obstacles to his advantage by using grey washes to give a city a realistic lived in feel. This means that Moon Knight is automatically the focus of any panel he enters without ever looking out of place. The artist and colourist Jordie Bellaire uses the titular character’s attire constraints not as an absence of colour, but instead uses it as every colour. He is also able to convey Moon Knights thought process and mood with a nuance and subtly, without ever resorting to cheap inner monologues or having other characters speak for him.
The plot itself focuses on a monstrous serial killer, which contains a cool visual nod to a certain spy agency. However, this is merely a backdrop, as Ellis is in the process of building his own Moon Knight universe. He retains much of the previous incarnations of the Moon Knight Mythos Egyptian gods and references to the characters possible dissociative identity disorder, split/multiple personalities. This includes a wonderful homage to Bendis’s run, featuring a cameo of a trio of well known superheroes. However, this feels very much like an Ellis book more than just a revamping of an existing character. Amazingly after just one issue Ellis and Shalvey have made the character firmly their own and are now poised to start taking the character to some new and bizarre places. It has been a long time since a first issue has left me giddy with anticipation of what is next. With a fast paced story and razor sharp dialogue (“I died once, it was boring”) this issue was nothing short of stunning. With a perfect blend of writer and artist that is hopefully the beginning of long partnership, which promises to deliver something truly unique. For now though, we can simply sit back and enjoy what, for my money, is the best single issue of the year so far and hope that this level of quality continues throughout the run; highly recommended.
5 out of 5 nerds