This Week’s Finest: Moon Knight #188

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By Max Bemis, Jacen Burrows, Matt Lopes, VC’s Corey Petit, Nick Russell

A new team takes on Marvel’s lunar legionnaire, and introduces a deadly new foe for him to face in this story arc…Ever since 2014, Marvel has been publishing Moon Knight continuously after Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey revamped he character to universal acclaim. Before that, Moon Knight would be published sporadically whenever a dedicated writer would come up with a new hook for the character.

Charlie Huston added an aged, and excessively violent, angle to Marc Spector while he came out of retirement. Gregg Hurwitz followed that with a redemption quest that tried to atone for Marc’s mercenary past. Ellis seemed to catch lightening in a bottle by upping the weird quotient, and making Moon Knight a night-time protector of travelers. Every run since then has been a reaction to those seminal six issues, to varying degrees of success. The previous volume by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood left Marc in a more well-adjusted state than we’ve seen him in almost thirty years, and so new-comers Bemis and Burrows have a clean slate to work with.

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From the perspective of Spector’s former psychiatrist, Dr. Emmett, the issue deals with her treating a new patient that reminds her strongly of Spector himself. A former military man with bipolar disorder and memory loss, patient 86 burned three of his squad-mates alive during a bullying incident. Dr.Emmett, dealing with an obsession over her encounter with Moon Knight/Marc Spector, decides to steal a page from his experience with mental illness.

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She encourages patient 86 to start studying Egyptian mythology, specifically the rivalry between the god of the moon, Khonshu, and the sun, Amon Ra. It’s this focus on Ra that catches patient 86’s attention, and puts him on the path to fighting Moon Knight.

Art-wise, this issue holds up to previous runs by Declan Shalvey, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire. While those are each incredible talents in their own rights, Jacen Burrows has a delicate, distinct line that sets his style apart from the others. In a sense, it reminds me of Johnathan Luna’s and Jerome Opena’s mixed time together.

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Burrows has a knack for storytelling, making ostensibly a “talking heads” comic compelling and visually pleasing. The pacing is very deliberate, and the lack of solid six panel grids keeps things from getting stale. I’m excited to see what other imagery Burrows can conjure when Moon Knight is actually featured in the story.

It’s a bold move starting off your first issue on such a high profile character, without said character in the story, and having it focus on a side character from the previous run. Yet, Bemis pulls it off beautifully. It reminds me of a plot from the original run in the 1980’s, in Moon Knight #33 by Doug Monech and Bill Sienkienwicz, where the story focuses on a female reporter and the lengths she’ll go to for a story. Both that issue and this one share a “playing with fire” theme, and instill in me a sense that Moon Knight is in good hands.

Bemis and Burrows have a high bar to meet from the body of work by previous creators, but if their future stories are this suspenseful and captivating, I’m confident they will meet the challenge.

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