“Midnight Sun - Chapter One: The Woodwork”
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artists: David Finch (p), Danny Miki w/ Crimelab studios (i), Frank D'Armata (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Just what the new Moon Knight series didn’t call for: a Civil War tie-in. But don’t be put off by the “Casualties of War” banner which adorns the front cover of this issue, as writer Charlie Huston sidesteps the event for the most part, continuing to tell the story of Moon Knight’s re-emergence as a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Universe’s criminal underworld and introducing a couple of new elements to the series.
An early encounter with Spider-Man re-establishes the idea that Huston seems intent on making the core of the book: that Moon Knight is a violent, borderline deranged “hero,” driven by Khonshu (the god of vengeance), who will go further than most to keep the streets clear of crime. With the tone of the series established and the new “origin” arc out of the way, the book is free to plough onwards with a new story arc. Sadly, the pacing is still fairly slow: there’s not a lot of action this issue, and we still don’t get a good look at this arc’s villain (both literally and figuratively). However, the seeds are sown for some interesting future developments, such as the construction of a new base for Moon Knight, and the introduction of Spector’s surely-soon-to-be-sidekick in the form of a young mechanic.
Huston also continues to mine the seam of black humour which is a welcome relief from the book’s sometimes overly dour tone. Here, Khonshu appears to Spector in the form of a hellish showbiz agent who is interested in raising Moon Knight’s profile, noting that the hero’s crescent-shaped helicopter is “excellent signage” and how a team-up with an A-list hero “could really do wonders for the brand.” It’s the cynical, rougher gags like this which hit home in a way that the other more straightforward light moments sometimes don’t; a case in point is Huston’s comical take on the gay relationship between Marc’s friend Jean-Paul and his boyfriend, with puns on his “coming out” and a queeny monologue falling flat in their brief scenes together.
The artwork is as sharp and detailed as ever, unafraid to shy away from some of the nastier moments that Huston writes into his script, such as the bludgeoning of some criminals in the opening pages. The villain gets some great visual characterisation through the sequence in which he does appear, and I can’t wait to see what David Finch’s take on him looks like when it’s finally revealed to us in full. Indeed, I hope he gets the chance: with only one issue left of Finch before his replacement takes over, we’d better enjoy it whilst we can, as taking over this book is going to be a tall order for any artist. Finch has made the book his own through the artwork just as much as Huston has through the writing, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the book can maintain its success through the change in creative teams.
The book’s final page suggests that Civil War will be more important in the next issue, and I can only hope that Huston manages to combine the big crossover with his own story as successfully in the next chapter. If there’s one book that didn’t need to be slowed down any further, it’s this one, and this issue falls foul of the same slightly irritating pronounced pacing that will probably read better in a collected edition, but doesn’t work quite so well on a monthly basis. Also, it’s a shame to see that there’s no letters page this issue, as it’s a feature that I enjoy.
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