Review: Moon Knight #1

Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev take one of Marvel's craziest vigilantes in a new direction.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

The underlying question of Moon Knight #1 is not "Who is Marc Spector?" The real mystery is "Can two of Marvel's  top creators take a C-list superhero and turn him into a star?"

It's too early for Marvel to declare Moon Knight's turnaround a complete success, but Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev get the title off to a strong start. Even in the first few pages, it's clear that most of Moon Knight's baggage has been left behind. His previous supporting cast is gone and his multiple personalities seem to be under control, with Marc Spector firmly in charge of himself.

There's even a clever way to recap Moon Knight's origin that helps set up Spector's new life in Los Angeles. But soon enough, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine call him in to investigate an increase in supercriminal activity on the West Coast, as well as a new Kingpin-like figure whose identity is hidden from us and Moon Knight. Our hero also comes into conflict with Mr. Hyde, a villain way out of his power class who has come into the possession of a particularly dangerous piece of technology. If Bendis wasn't writing the other book this tech recently appeared in, I'd think it was another case of Marvel writers ignoring each others work. But this may actually tie into a larger story that's playing out elsewhere.

We also get our first glimpse of the new LA Kingpin, who handles Mr. Hyde fairly easily and definitely has superpowers. I believe that Bendis has mentioned that it will be an established character in that role, but his identity isn't obvious yet.

The much maligned Bendis conversational dialog also shows up in the book. I personally don't mind it, as Bendis' dialog is usually pretty good. But it does seem to go on a little longer than it has to. And for the first few pages, Mr. Hyde seems to be a little bit out of character. But Moon Knight himself has a clear voice and Bendis has given Spector a little bit of a lighter personality than he's had before. Moon Knight is refreshingly angst free and he's enthusiastically embraced the idea of being an Avenger.

It looks like Cap, Spidey and Wolverine are also going to play minor parts in this book, although the nature of their roles was spoiled repeatedly by Bendis in interviews leading up to this issue. I don't know why he ruined what could have been a nice surprise, but when we finally come to that point in the book it doesn't have the power that it could have had.

I haven't mentioned the art yet, but Maleev does his usual stellar work. It's not as dark and noirish as his Daredevil or Spider-Woman runs. If anything, Maleev's pages here are more like a synthesis of his older style with a more conventional superhero look to it. The early pages with Mr. Hyde are a little murkier than they need to be, but it's not hard to follow the action. And some of Maleev's splash pages are among the best of his work to date.

Another point in favor of this issue is that there are 29 story pages instead of the usual 22. Seven extra pages may not sound like much, but the slightly longer length made the issue more satisfying to read. I'd like to see monthly comics add more pages instead of taking them away. Although I'm curious if the next issue will read as well if it drops down to 22 pages.

But if you like superheroes then you shouldn't miss this book. Bendis and Maleev are at the top of their game here. And they may have finally found a way to make Moon Knight more than Marvel's answer to Batman.