Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Mico Suayan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Knowing former partner turned obsessed and psychotic cyborg is hell-bent on tearing apart what's left of his life (literally limb by limb) a frustrated and furious Marc forces an alliance by force with the Profile to determine Midnight's location and confront him once and for all. Along the way he gets put in his place by Marlene and rejects good advice from old snitch and new pilot Ray, and for the sake of "The Initiative," cover teaser Tony Stark has to show up too.
Commentary: I've enjoyed and rooted for this comic from the beginning. It's been different while paying homage to stories past. It's been an exercise in multi-layered character development and razor sharp visuals (until recently) over straight forward superhero slugfests month after month. However, this issue of Charlie Huston's run is the weakest to date. That's disappointing since he only has two issues left to go out with a bang or a whimper. I'm not sure how much we can really blame him though. I suspect this issue suffers more from editorial intrusion than ineptitude on Huston's part. Huston's been thinking the character of Marc Spector/Moon Knight through while giving him foils such as the Profile and Khonshu and nods to the Doug Moench original run with cool updates such as Geena's weight gain and gray hair and her son Ray becoming his new pilot. Marc has clawed up from being physically crippled and now must crawl up from being emotionally and spiritually crippled. We know that's what Huston has been trying to achieve. We get that. The slow pace of the story at times has been a point of consternation for some readers who are used to more action driven shoot 'em ups week after week. Marc is the humpty dumpty of Marvel. You are not going to fix him overnight. With that being said, that's exactly why this issue was a let down.
Huston has made Marc a difficult character with lots of baggage to muddle through. Thanks for taking us inside his mind and giving him a cast to help tear away the scabs so that Marc can face his inner demons. However, because this exercise is so deep, we don't need to force the pace and do the flashing back and forth thing that's been done this issue. The story is already thought provoking and worthy of multiple readings without the confusing art and story telling tricks. That's just off-putting and tiring to us readers. It's good we have to figure Marc out along with himself but having to put the puzzle pieces of the actual pages together is a different story. The issue seems rushed, especially in the art. It doesn't bode well that only a few issues in, Mico doesn't seem able to keep up the quality with editorial demands. His first few issues were acceptable, and I was getting used to his work over David Finch's. This issue, as I said, feels rushed, and the fight scenes seem not at all well rendered and almost sloppy. There's a glaring lack of background visuals in some cases and some shadowy sewer scenes that I guess were supposed to hint at something but really don't. Wasted panels on shadows and different parts of faces abound. But maybe that's because Huston's script seems jam packed and rushed to tie up plotlines within the next two issues. Much like Spiderman 3, more is not always better. I took the time to put the pages in chronological order, and it just as well could have been scripted this way and would have been a more straightforward and powerful read.
Some people have complained about Khonshu's constant presence in the story. Well, they got their wish this issue. No sign of him, and the story suffers for it. You could say that Khonshu's taken a step back because Marc is bent on the trail of vengeance and retribution and Khonshu sees his work is being done. However, based on past issues I can't see his presence not showing up and giving some quip or commentary even on this development. On a side note I've always thought it would be great to reveal Khonshu as just another one of Marc's split personalities. I know there'd be lots of continuity to unravel to do this, but I still think it'd be worth the effort to pull off. Instead of Khonshu we get a cameo by Tony Stark at the end of the issue. Gratuitous? I actually hope so because otherwise I fear Tony is showing up to give Marc the edge over Midnight and it'll be revealed how next issue. I hope that's not the case. This struggle and battle should still be Marc's alone and the whole Iron Man helping Moon Knight wrinkle wouldn't be a good story. It'd just be shoe-horning Moon Knight into the company cross-over for its own sake which is sadly happening anyway.
Another thing is that 11 issues in we still have no idea who Midnight's partner is or what her motivations are. Obviously, she's been revealed to be a cyborg too this issue but other than that we still know nothing about her. Frankly, the fact she's a cyborg too is boring. I expected something more creative from Huston. The whole thing with the Profile putting up resistance to Marc's queries until Marc compels him by pummeling him is inconsistent with last issues pummeling and the Profile's resignation to help Marc then. Again, it just doesn't seem there was a lot of thought put into a lot going on in this issue, and I suspect Huston's mind and heart were divided because darn it, he had to make it fit into "The Initiative" somehow. Finally, another character we know nothing about is Marlene's new beau, and frankly after being with Marc though he's emotionally immature and then hooking up with what seems to be a gutless younger man, doesn't seem to ring true for her. I can understand her wanting some normalcy after being with Marc, but Marc for all intents and purposes invades her privacy unwanted and practically stalks her and the guy does nothing by way of confronting or off-putting Marc. I can't see it. I hope he is eliminated soon by whoever picks up the writing reigns on the book. And oh yeah, did I mention making Khonshu a fifth personality in Marc's head?
Marvel has two issues left to allow Huston to keep this character swimming or sink him. Those of us who've loved the Moench days on Moon Knight have been patient, but our patience is not infinite. I'd hate to see a promising title such as this be cancelled and touted as, "Oh we just wanted it to be a 13 issue maxi series anyway." There is no announcement of Huston's replacement to date. Don't crap on us Marvel. Charlie, I know what you're doing and wanted to do with Moon Knight. I hope you get the shackles taken off so you can go out with a Bang!
Final Word: A lackluster entry with clunky art and a story hindered by poor editorial pressures in an otherwise compelling series.
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