(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Declan Shalvey
Color: Jordie Bellaire
Things take a decidedly supernatural turn in Moon Knight #3, when a gang of ghostly punks begin terrorizing the streets of Manhattan. When Moon Knight’s initial attempt to deal with the gang proves to be anything but straightforward, he must instead turn to the fractured elements of his own psyche for a solution; one that will clothe him in the power of the afterlife and enable him to fight the dead. After confronting them again Moon Knight tracks the spectral gang members to their lair where he uncovers the haunting secret that sealed their fate…
The third issue of this new Moon Knight series is another real stunner from Warren Eillis and Declan Shalvey. In the space of only a few issues they have taken the character of Moon Knight to a whole new level. The way in which Ellis and Shalvey have skilfully reinvigorated the character, effectively wiping the slate clean, has enabled them to focus on what makes Moon Knight so compelling. “The Box” sees the “suited” version of Moon Knight tackling the gang of phantom punks, only to fall foul of his inability to actually touch them. What follows immerses us within the fractured depths of Mark Spector’s mind, enticing us with the characters bizarre abilities, and his links to the Egyptian gods. Perhaps most enticing of all though are the gaps in Spector’s memory. We can only begin to imagine what dark deeds from the past reside here, locked away in the shadowy domain of his own mind where even Moon Knight is reluctant, or unwilling, to tread.
Stylishly structured, with key scenes interspaced between pauses in the narrative, the tone and style of the first two issues is taken a stage further in the pages of Moon Knight #3, and it is this issue that arguably gets the balance just right. I like how Ellis constantly draws us further into the spliced and diced facets of Moon Knight’s amalgamated personality, with each issue actually reflecting many of the same elements and themes that we see playing out inside Spector’s head. In doing so we get a much clearer insight into the character and the world in which he operates that few have ever really managed to achieve before.
Declan Shalvey’s incredible artwork for Moon Knight #3 is stunning, and the colors by Jordie Bellaire are truly magnificent. The snow covered New York street on the first page alone has a remarkable level of detail, with the skyline glowing in the distance, the haze of streetlamps, fire escapes, signs, and people bustling along the slush covered sidewalks, this snapshot of reality is so clearly defined that it makes the sudden encroachment of such violent supernatural forces all the more unsettling. Bellaire’s use of color enhances the effect further; with the cold reality of the night air merging with the ethereal green hues that foreshadows the punk gang’s spiritual presence.
Items that Mark Spector has collected from Egypt are utilized to great effect, creating an entirely new visage for the character, one that seamlessly fuses these ancient artefacts with his hi-tech crime fighting persona. Retuning to the city on the remote controlled glider, this mummified warrior swoops from the night sky to confront the gang, cape billowing around his armoured form as he unleashes his wrath. I like how the cape and glider almost seem as to act as one entity during this issue, each mirroring aspects of the other, the advanced tech and spiritual forces mapped from the afterlife blurring the same lines as Moon Knight’s own splintered personality and inaccessible memories.
The fight between Moon Knight and the gang is bathed in the same emerald haze of their first encounter. Furiously intense and brutally graphic, this supernatural showdown between Moon Knight and the gang is an ectoplasmic splattered brawl that brilliantly showcases Shalvey’s and Bellaire’s version of the character.
The terrific closing moments of “The Box” lead into a coda that is both swift and beautifully poignant. For me, these last few pages sum up everything I enjoy so much about this series. Although the ending happens very quickly it leaves you with much to ponder over, so much so that when you read the issue again, it actually seems to bring even more gravitas to those earlier scenes. Warren Ellis is doing a tremendous job with the character of Moon Knight, together with the stunning work by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, this title has quickly become a must read for me, and its great to see the character being written and drawn so well again.
Paul Bowler is a self-Confessed Sci-Fi Geek, Doctor Who fan, and Zombie Disposal Expert. He likes movies, comic books, and all things PS3. He likes to write about his interests, would love to write a novel one day, and also enjoys chatting to the many people he has gotten to know on Twitter. When he’s not busy being an Impossible Astronaut, he likes to take a break from his adventures in time and space to enjoy some of his favourite tv shows and movies – preferably with a nice cuppa tea & a sandwich! You can follow him on Twitter @paul_bowler, or find him at his website, Sci-Fi Jubilee.