Marvel’s most unstable superhero may have been dreaming all along.
With the first two issues of the newest iteration of Moon Knight, writer Jeff Lemire wastes no time returning to the mentally unstable roots of the character. In fact, there’s very little ‘super heroics’ at all, as Marc Spector (the caped protector of those who travel in the night) find himself in an asylum for the mentally insane. It’s an interesting take on a character that has been shown to possibly suffer from multiple personalities, hallucinations, and a variety of other ailments. When Spector finally makes it to the roof of the building, past dog-headed guards with abusive tendencies, he finds himself in New York. Unfortunately, the city is buried in sand and pyramids, and Marc is quickly sedated and brought back to his cell.
One of the most interesting aspects of this new run is that, by the second issue, it’s entirely possible that Moon Knight is entirely a creation of a broken mind, and Spector has never taken to the streets to fight for the innocent. It’s even more believable due to the fact that the previous series ( an incredible run kicked off by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey) pitted the hero against threats ranging from a disgruntled bomber to a dream-invading fungus. Par for the course when you’re a mercenary resurrected by an ancient Egyptian god, for sure. But when these adventures are viewed through the eyes of medical professionals, and the technology and mystique of Moon Knight is shown to only exist as ball-point scribbles on college rule, Marc begins to believe that he might just be making it all up.
In the second issue, however, the appearance of some of his supporting cast, also held in the asylum, prompts Spector to believe in his costumed persona once more. With their aid, he begins to stage a patient’s revolt, leading to a fantastic full page moment that shouldn’t be spoiled, but will give fans of the series a definite reason to believe in his insanity.
Art wise, Greg Smallwood mixes a blend of styles, with several nods to the minimal design and color of the preceding series. When he really opens up, however, the world becomes a painted nightmare, with moving shadows and swirling colors. At times it takes away from the more subdued writing, but never in a bad way. Instead, we get an interesting look at how various character see the world, represented through angled strokes and piercing white suits. The various switches in styles may discourage some readers, but it wonderfully illustrates a fractured mind struggling to piece itself back together.
With only two issues under it’s belt, Moon Knight is setting itself up to be a mixture of dark fantasy, grounded character work, and beautiful design. On a shelf with so many paint-by-numbers superhero books, you can definitely see Moon Knight coming. And that’s the way he likes it.