"The Bottom - Chapter Six: Glories Such As These"
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artists: David Finch (p), Danny Miki (i), Frank D'Armata (colours)
Is it me, or was last week a great week for Marvel comics? In the same week that we got our fixes of Astonishing X-Men, Civil War, the blimey-it's-good-again New Avengers and the long-awaited conclusion to Daredevil: Father, Charlie Huston wraps up the first arc of his rebooted Moon Knight series - and it's a strong ending for a series which has been something of a dark horse in Marvel's stable. This final issue sees Marc Spector confront the two villains who have been pulling the strings in his life for the last few months - but just as his life seems to be getting back on track, our hero gets a shock with the revelation that the Egyptian god of vengeance that has provided fuel for his fire might not be such a benign deity after all.
Considering the amount of violence we've seen in the book so far (and the bloody cover to this issue) it's a surprise to see Moon Knight hold back a little in his battles this month, with David Finch's artwork depicting a restrained, swift confrontation with Taskmaster and a sudden and equally brief encounter with The Profile. I think that Finch is an almost perfect fit for the kind of stories Huston obviously has in mind for Moon Knight, as he can really carry off the gritty, dirty detail of his world, the graphic blood and guts of his most gruesome fights, and the heightened, supernatural surreal drama of the scenes which feature the spirit of vengeance himself, Khonshu. I'm still a little put off by the fact that his faces are so "samey," but that's a tic that I'll just have to learn to put up with, and hope that the other identifying characteristics of the book's cast make it easy enough to follow the story. However, the trade-off is worth it if we're going to see more of Moon Knight in action over the next few issues, as it's these more traditional super-hero sequences which are the real highlight of Finch's work on the book.
As for the story, this is very much a wrap-up issue, but one which revels in a certain ambiguity with regard to who are the real heroes and villains of the series so far. Huston's choice to redeem Moon Knight's character whilst keeping him tortured by his god is a great way to retain the tension of the book without making his central character seem too brutal to really be able to root for, and it promises that future issues will keep a certain edge in a far more involving way than simply seeing how creative Spector can be in carving up his latest adversary. The long-term potential of Moon Knight's ideological conflict with the very essence of his soul is definitely a solid hook for the series, and as long as Huston keeps his plotting sharp and complex, his characters interesting and his dialogue involving, the book should be able to avoid getting stuck in the pretty-but-pretentious rut that ultimately blighted the not dissimilar Spawn back in the 1990s. He just has to make sure that he doesn't take himself too seriously, as some of the book's text skirts close to being so po-faced in its serious, punchy, noir-ish style that it almost feels like parody.
I haven't ever been a fan of Moon Knight before, and hadn't read a single issue of his own book before Huston took up the reins, but I'm very glad I gave this series a try. It'll be interesting to see how the writer holds our interest in the character now that his opening arc has played out and a certain status quo has been achieved, and the small tease at the end of this issue doesn't really give anything away about the next story he's got lined up, but getting Moon Knight back on his feet - both as a character and as a successful and commercially viable property for Marvel - is no mean feat. I don't know what kind of sales figures the book has been getting, but it deserves to do very well in the inevitable collected edition, as the story is the kind that will read even better as an entire completed arc. As Khonshu opines in this very issue, Moon Knight is a character who "dropped from the B-list to the D-list," but Huston and Finch have conspired to rejeuvenate the character with an A-list book. Let's see if they can keep it going.
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