One of these days, maybe soon, I’ll update my “Evolution of Moon Knight” series past 2011.
That would allow me to write about Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run, which was pretty different from any that preceded it, and the recent Warren Ellis/Declan Shalvey work, which was one of the greatest runs in comics of all time. And it was only six issues.
So, how do you follow that?
If you’re Brian Wood and Gregg Smallwood (along with extraordinary colorist Jordie Bellaire), you do something completely different. The Ellis/Shalvey run was a series of one-offs, each focusing on a different aspect of a character who has never been portrayed in any kind of consistent way. (If you’re curious, check out my “Evolution” series, which examines every major run and appearance of the character from inception to 2011.)
Instead, you create a thematically linked run of issues about a man who, instead of being a schizophrenic with many identities, is a blank slate. Marc Spector essentially loses all his identities, leaving him without a past, without a country, without an identity. But he retains a strong, militant sense of justice and a need to fight for what is right. In short, he becomes a terrorist.
In issue #11, after getting into international trouble, Spector is sent to a secret military prison. Now, he’s got no mask, and he’s vulnerable. Now, his captors have the masks. Us as readers, we know he was doing the right thing—but the authorities do not. And to hear them tell it, frankly, he does sound like a terrorist.
His old savior and empowerer, the moon God Koshnu, is also present—murmuring in his ears, mocking, debating philosophy, and telling Spector why he has been forsaken.
I have to say, I’ve never been to prison, but I imagine the thoughts that go through your head aren’t all that different.
With this issue, Wood and Smallwood’s run has finally revealed itself to be worthy of the more epic Moon Knight runs that have preceded it.
It’s interesting: Moon Knight and Punisher are two pretty simple characters. One is a Batman knock-off and the other is a Batman knock-off who kills. But some phenomenal stories have come out of them.
I’m going to be sad when Wood and Smallwood sign off, which will happen soon.