COMIC REVIEW: Moon Knight 1 – Welcome to New Egypt
By Jeff Ayers
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Moon Knight has never been one of my favorite characters. He one of those Marvel characters that exists on the fringe, sometimes teaming up with the A-listers, but mostly keeping to his own unique corner of the Marvel universe. When I heard they were giving him another reboot after the events of the recent Secret Wars, I didn’t pay much thought to it, until I heard Jeff Lemire was attached. I really like the way he writes, and he doesn’t disappoint with the story in this first issue.
We meet up once again with Marc Spector, the man who is crazy enough to call himself Moon Knight, but most of the time, is just crazy. That is the premise of this new take on the character. He is confined to the walls of a creepy and rather unsettling insane asylum, and isn’t quite sure what is real anymore. The voice of the Egyptian god Khonshu is still ringing in his head, egging him on to be what he believes is right: the titular Moon Knight. But as you traverse the story with Marc, it is increasingly difficult to figure out what is the truth, and what is fantasy.
Marc sees some faces he remembers from past lives among the inmates of the “hospital”, and he also is plagued by two surly wardens. Marc finally meets with his case worker/doctor of sorts, and asks if Moon Knight, his aliases Jake Lockley and Steven Grant, or Marc Spector are real. She surprisingly informs him that only Marc is real, and he has been incarcerated in this facility since he was twelve years old. This seems to check out with the readers as well, as we see a news report of “Moon Knight” battling an old foe, Stained Glass Scarlet. But is it all a trick?
Khonshu has a rather large role in this issue, and is also pretty accommodating towards Marc, telling him to believe in who HE believes he is, and to see the world for what it is. This leads to a fun action sequence where Marc escapes to the roof, only to see a desolate city overrun by Egyptian monsters. Pretty creepy stuff, even for someone in an insane asylum. We are no closer to discerning the truth by the end of the issue than Marc is, yet that is a beautiful way to start a compelling story.
The “Best There Is”: The story by Jeff Lemire is ripe with twists and turns, and it feels like something out of a nightmare. Marc Spector, in my humble opinion, has never been a compelling character, and always comes off as a little crazy, and a lot pretentious. Lemire makes sure to find his own voice in this story, and it is a rollercoaster ride to figure out where the truth lies in it all. Also, the artistic style of Greg Smallwood is keenly intrinsic to the story as well, as he weaves slight artistic variations into the panels depending on what Marc is remembering or experiencing. The first few pages, for example, depict a more fuzzy, hurried style, as if we are witnessing a dream that Marc is having. Then later, that same style crops up a a few times to really hammer home the feeling of uneasiness.
The “Isn’t Very Nice”: The recent trend of panel-in-panel work, so that specific parts of a picture can be accented, can be good and bad at times. There a few times where this technique can be used quite well, but a lot of the time I find myself being pulled out of a story, and wondering exactly where I need to look next. About half way through the story, when Marc believes he is seeing the world for what it truly is, the panel-in-panel work gets a little out of hand, which is a shame, because that is a pivotal part in the comic. You don’t want to make your readers work too hard for the story you are portraying, but you want to find the balance between interesting artistic choices and safe ones.
FBI Score: 8 out of 10. For a character that usually isn’t that thrilling, this first issue was pretty exciting to read. Like an amalgamation of the themes of The Matrix and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Moon Knight 1 has definitely set up a compelling story that will entice you to pick up issue two.