This Week’s Finest: Moon Knight #8

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By Jeff Lemire, Francisco Francavilla, Wilfredo Torres, James Stoke, Greg Smallwood, Micheal Garland, Joride Bellaire, VC’s Cory Petit

Marc Spector, Jake Lockley, Steven Grant; whatever you want to call him, he’s a broken man. That’s nothing new to Marvel characters, or even people that have a passing familiarity with Moon Knight, but it’s still on a whole other level from his peers…

My first issue reading the character was Moon Knight #7 by Charlie Huston and David Finch involving Marc Spector going through physical therapy after years of inaction, coming out of retirement, trying to get back in fighting shape, and then immediately getting attacked by his former sidekick turned cyborg. It was one of the craziest stories I’ve ever read in a Marvel comic, but was quickly topped by succeeding stories of Moon Knight.

Jeff Lemire’s take, following after Warren Ellis, Brian Wood, and Cullen Bunn, deals with both the supernatural and Marc Spector’s lack of sanity. Lemire’s being the most liberal with continuity, as characters’ ages and relationships change from one status to the next. It’s also one of the most ambitious takes, if I do say so myself. No longer is Khonshu the sole deity pestering Marc Spector, Ammit has come to conquer our plane of existence and Spector’s locus of identity has been splintered into three seemingly separate realities. One in which he is a rich movie producer Steven Grant (nice nod to Bendis and Maleev’s short run on the character), an undercover taxi driver named Jake Lockley and an astronaut/space fighter pilot Marc Spector dueling with Werewolves. Initially, I was weary of seeing Steven Grant and (the new) Marc Spector battle for spotlight in this new arc but slowly Lemire has made me reconsider it.

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There’s the fact that Lemire is only in the middle of an overarching narrative, eschewing the six issue one-and-done format by Ellis, Wood and Bunn to where we’re not even at the climax yet of what’s to come. For another thing, the first arc is still vital to this second, although you won’t know for sure until the last page. Thirdly, the level of talent that Lemire has conscripted is truly a Marvel (pun intended). Not to diminish Greg Smallwood’s talents or contributions, but in this issue Lemire is able to use four different artists telling four parts of one story to such dramatic effect that it feels entirely fresh despite being fairly common (in order to make up for one artist’s lateness, editors may hire other artists to finish pages so the book can go out on time).

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Like before, Francisco Francavilla handles the Lockley pages in a rich and noirish style as Jake deals with disappearing friends and bloody corpses. His pages make up the first half of the book, allowing the reader to settle in and enjoy what feels like a throwback take on the Doug Monech and Bill Sienkewicz run. Wilfredo Torres handles the Steven Grant Hollywood drama as Grant tries to make a superhero movie that actually “means” something while he finds himself becoming the main character spontaneously, in a style that is brighter and more glamorous than a mentally ill millionaire fighting crime. This is where the artwork and indeed the storytelling get really immersive, as they switch suddenly and hand the baton off as seamlessly as possible and it works to great effect.  When Grant becomes Lockley or vice versa, the art not only changes, but also has to transition to a new POV and this makes Marc/Steven/Jake’s mindset understandable, everything keeps changing but we’re unsure of what is real.

In a true prestige move, Lemire reveals (for now) that it’s all real. While I’m not crazy about seeing more space Moon Knight fighting space werewolves, I’m very curious to see how Lemire reconciles not just these disparate threads but also Marc’s personalities. I’m sure Ammit is behind part of this and the various Marcs/Stevens/Jakes will have to unite to defeat him.

While Marvel continues to reinvent or recycle things for its other series, Moon Knight feels very different but also true to its roots. Moon Knight was always a character who straddled the line between sanity and the supernatural, and seeing the current team honor that while moving him in new directions makes this issue The Week’s Finest.

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