Friday, March 12, 2010

Chronic Review: Marvel Must Have - Vengeance Of Moon Knight # 1-3

Marvel Must Have: Vengeance of the Moon Knight
Marvel Comics

Scripts: Gregg Hurwitz
Pencils: Jerome Opena
68 pages for $4.99

All right folks, let's start where I usually conclude - with price point. I'm sure I've miscounted the number of pages in this book because I was an English major, not a viable human being. But I rag on Marvel quite a bit for their Satanic pricing practices, and nice. That's a lot of bang for the buck. Thank you, Marvel! More, please!

Not sure how I'd feel about that if I had purchased these just a few scant weeks ago for $3.99 per, but I imagine that blind rage might cover it. I picked this up on the recommendation of Monster Mike over at Where Monsters Dwell, because he reads a lot, he's a smart dude, and you could just tell by the way he pitched this title that it really connected with him. So I thought I'd give it a shot.

It's not unheard of for me to read Moon Knight, just so you know. It's one of my favorite concepts that just never seems to get done correctly. (Cloak & Dagger belong at the top of that list, too) I've been there through all of his many incarnations and reboots. I was there for the beginning in Werewolf By Night, I like the Moench stuff the best, I suffered through the "greater powers as the moon phases" nonsense, and the Terry Kavanagh stuff. And yeah, I was there when Stephen Platt took the world by storm (by blatantly aping Todd McFarlane) for about 5 minutes before retreating into obscurity again.

I really, really liked where Charlie Huston and Dave Finch were going when they had their shot at Moon Knight a few years ago. But like too many books, it didn't ship very often, and it took about 3.5 minutes to read an issue. I just couldn't abide waiting three months for three minutes, and dropped the book.

You can see now that Moon Knight is a character with some history and some baggage, and that's the problem. Gregg Hurwitz is in a tough spot, really. He could do the lazy thing and just plow with what he wants to do and ignore everything that's come before. There's precedent for that. He didn't do that, though. Hurwitz decided to recognize that the orphan Moon Knight left on his doorstep was a twisted, violent, bizarre son of a bitch. Hurwitz wants to radically alter that and turn him into a hero. For a little bit, at least. There's plenty of foreshadowing to suggest that this hero bit isn't going to last very long.

I respect that, and I understand that he needs to address the change of status quo inside the book that so that continuity obsessed readers can deal with it. If Hurwitz had mentioned the fact that this is a "new" Moon Knight once or twice, I think I could live with that.

Instead, Mr. Hurwitz takes the "New Moon Knight" horse, kills it stone dead, and then curb stomps it, chops off its balls, tears its legs off, turns it inside out, removes its knee caps with a Fisher Price screw driver, and then lights it on fire. You cannot go two pages in Vengeance of Moon Knight without being reminded that he used to be a psycho, but now he's trying his bestest to be super good.

Have the police mention it in the opener with dialogue, and then let the action speak for itself, please. It gets irritating to have the obvious re-stated over and over and over again.

Don't get me wrong, inside of all that slapping you in the face repeatedly with his attempt at redemption, this new Moon Knight rocks. Whenever Hurwitz is able to get out of his own way, the thing flows with passion and grace, and I'm 99% convinced that there is a really good book in there somewhere.

But it's like trying to date a moderately sexy born-again Christian chick. You're talking over dinner, and all night long all she can do is tell you the inordinate number of depraved things she used to do, but now it's all better and thank Jesus for that, don't you know.

You can tell there's something in there that you'd desperately like to nail, but you keep tripping all over the psychic baggage. "I used to just give head to every guy I ever met straight away, but those days are over now that I found Jesus. Isn't that great?"

"Yeah, thank God for that. It's a good thing I missed out on that mess." You want to respect it, but the past is being flung in your face the whole time, and mostly you find yourself wishing there was just a little of the old mentally damaged chick in there, so you could just swipe the bottomless bread basket off the table and drill her right there at the Olive Garden. But you can't, can you?

That's what it's like to read Vengeance of Moon Knight. There's just so much baggage on that character right now, I'm not sure if it's really possible to have a viable title right now. Although it's clear to me that if it were possible, Hurwitz would be a pretty darned good choice.

I don't know, perhaps I'm being unkind and too hung up on one particular gripe. It really seems like if Hurwitz would or could just let this thing BE what he wants it to be, instead of constantly having to worry about telling everyone what it ISN'T, we'd be just fine. I think if I could erase everything I know about that character and start with a clean slate, if everybody could start with a clean slate so he didn't have to announce to everyone how changed he is every five minutes, I would be as excited about this as Monster Mike.

But alas, I can't unlearn what I have learned. And that is why I fail. Or why Moon Knight fails. One or the other. Somebody be sure to call me when this chick irons out her issues so she can stop talking about them, or just goes back to being a giant whore, though. I'm in on that, for sure...

- Ryan

No comments: