Review: MOON KNIGHT #1

MOON KNIGHT #1
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 5, 2014

MOONKN2014001_DC11_LRMarvel fans, your new favourite book is here.

Moon Knight is back on the scene in a big way from Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire, bringing grit, intelligence and style to the world of solving crimes…in unorthodox ways. The creative team wastes no time diving into the thick of things in this first issue, giving readers a good sense of what Moon Knight we will be dealing with. This Moon Knight is very much his own character, not an analogue of Batman, and his history of mental illness is discussed at length. Fans of the Bendis run will be pleased with what they find in these pages, but readers who didn’t really enjoy that take have a lot to chew on in this story as well. This Moon Knight is unique to Ellis, Shalvey & Bellaire, with both style and some violent tendencies that is unlike anything else in the Marvel Universe.

Warren Ellis does an excellent job of letting information about Moon Knight’s past be disseminated to readers without resorting to flashbacks. Rather than spending time force feeding an origin story, Ellis allows details of Spector’s current condition to come to readers through sharp dialogue and actions of the man himself. This Moon Knight is dark and brooding, but also highly intelligent…the kind of character Ellis writes best. There are a ton of subtleties in this issue that build the world of Moon Knight, and what this character is going through/up against, and Ellis does an excellent job of letting them speak for themselves. He does not hold the reader’s hands through the story, but rather lets them make their own conclusions based on information in front of them, which keeps the mystery of “how loose a cannon is this guy” running throughout the issue. From the first page to the last there is a simmering tension surrounding Moon Knight and what mental state he is in, and Ellis does an excellent job of pacing the script for maximum impact when information is revealed. Ellis does not shy away from getting gritty, as Moon Knight is one of the darkest heroes Marvel has ever had (this guy did tear off someone’s face once upon a time) and the story is stronger for it. While not being completely in-your-face, Ellis deals with gruesome subject matter that sets the tone for what readers can expect from this series. Not all that far from being a super-powered noir, fans of crime comics or other media will feel right at home here with the subject matter and method of how Ellis has characters interact in the comic. His writing is, quite simply, excellent and it is a treat to read his work in the Marvel Universe once again.

Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire take Ellis’ strong script work and make it soar with fantastic artwork. The two bring a level of style to this character like readers have never seen, which brings a whole other level to his mental state. Shalvey’s pencils are the perfect compliment to the story being told and create a visually intriguing world for the script to live within. His detailed work sucks you in and never lets your eyes loose, delivering the grit the story needs without being gratuitous or falling back on cheap theatrics at any point. This is the strongest work of his career and if this arc continues at this pace Moon Knight will be a career defining run for Shalvey. This is the sort of work that artists are remembered for, a new take on a known character that rips them from relative obscurity and makes them iconic. This issue looks like it is an HBO drama brought to life by a skilled visual storyteller with colours from Bellaire that make the world feel rich and lifelike. Her work on the issue is excellent, creating a situation where Moon Knight is striking when he is on the page. The character shines almost like a beacon when in costume, and at other times is muted brilliantly for effect. Bellaire’s choices set the tone for the reading experience and elevate excellent artwork to superior levels.

Moon Knight #1 is a fantastic read from start to finish, and the perfect issue for any reader to jump into the world of Moon Knight. Ellis, Shalvey & Bellaire are cooking up something really special here, and exploring a gritty part of the Marvel Universe that we haven’t seen in a while. Get your hands on a copy of this as fast as you can on Wednesday…that first printing won’t be around for long.

The Verdict: 10/10

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