Ellis, Shalvey, and Bellaire’s run on Moon Knight concludes with issue 6, with a story that holds a mirror up to our main protagonist and explores the central theme: who is Moon Knight? The answer is as much in who he isn’t, depending on the perspective. It’s an excellent cap on a run that has played with the character’s varying identity issues and his connections (or lack thereof) to the world around him.
No man is all things to all people. It’s not possible. But whether a man is good or bad, friend or foe, is a matter of your point of view. This issue follows NYPD officer Ryan Trent, who aims to make himself Moon Knight’s opposite – Black Spectre. He resents his department’s reliance on a masked “freak” to solve crimes. The problem is that Ryan’s motives are all wrong, an ugly reflection of his own traumatic past and a complete lack of understanding of Moon Knight himself. He wants fame and recognition. He wants to prove he’s better than those who doubted him.
While Moon Knight is no angel (despite being the one in white), he is aware of how fractured and damaged he is, and he’s aware of how that has alienated him from the people once closest to him. Marc’s awareness of his damaged state is what separates him from Ryan. He uses his awareness to try and limit the fallout from the mayhem that surrounds him, from his own emotional isolation. Recognition and love don’t enter into the equation. Ryan Trent is an inversion of Marc Spector; a shadow of something that wasn’t complete to begin with.
The art this issue plays with the reflection/opposite theme in some great ways, starting with the cover. It’s a perfect bookend for the run, not only providing symmetry with the cover to issue 1 but also making it feel like a complete story even though each installment was a one-shot. Declan Shalvey has been an absolute marvel on this arc, and he will be missed. Especially in the fire scenes, Moon Knight pops of the page so boldly it’s like he doesn’t really belong there – like he’s above his surroundings and could easily walk between the panels if he chose.
The alternation between warm and cool colors for Trent/Black Spectre and Moon Knight gives a nod to the differing temperaments of these men. If I had to pick one thing I will miss most of all from this art team, it would be their cityscapes. Somehow they make NYC simultaneously shiny and grimy, which is fitting for a city with as many personalities as Moon Knight himself.
Before this book, I had no experience with Moon Knight. Ellis was able to take a complicated character with an involved continuity and streamline him, making him more accessible to new readers like myself. For all that, he didn’t sacrifice any sense of depth. The one-shot format was a great asset in this case; each issue examined a different facet of Moon Knight’s broken mirror of an identity – a bunch of jagged pieces that look different depending on who you are and where you are standing. The sparse dialogue and the bare bones elegance of the art make this issue and this arc a stand-out piece of storytelling.
The Verdict: 10/10