Editor's Note: Moon Knight #26 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 21.
Before the Skrull Invasion, Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts were charged with disposing of Moon Knight. After a battle with Bullseye, Moon Knight, a.k.a. Marc Spector, made it appear as though he died in the destruction of one of his safe houses. Osborn not only accomplished his mission but also took a wild card out of the picture in the events following, i.e. killing the Skrull Queen and taking control of the Marvel Universe. Writer Mike Benson has done a superb job with Moon Knight, and as the landscape of the Marvel Universe changes, Benson gives Moon Knight a fresh start with brand new and exciting material for the character.
Things are very different in Moon Knight's world, and in his head. Marc Spector is dead, the dominant personality on the surface is now Jake Lockley, the former New York City cab driver and personality Spector used to obtain information on the streets back in the day. There are two advantages to the Lockley personality taking over: 1) Norman Osborn assumes Marc Spector and Moon Knight are dead, 2) Lockley is not a widely known personality of Spector’s, unlike the wealthy playboy personality Steven Grant. Whether intended or not, Lockley is the perfect cover for Moon Knight to lay low and stay off the radar.
But Lockley hasn't gone down to Mexico to drive cabs. In fact, this issue shows more of a pre-Moon Knight Marc Spector than has been seen in a very long time. Before becoming Moon Knight, Marc Spector was a Marine, a C.I.A. operative, a mercenary and a prize fighter. While the "no-nonsense" Jake Lockley personality has taken over, the activities that he takes part in here in this issue are very much Marc Spector-like. Case in point, the issue opens moments before Lockley steps foot inside a ring to take part in a fight. He's already bruised and battered as if he's been in a few fights over the past couple of hours already. And while the first few pages give readers a glimpse into a new, vicious lifestyle for our main character, some things never change and Khonshu has followed him south of the border. Khonshu appears both humorously and creepily as a Tequila worm, continuing to encourage Spector/Lockley to kill.
The fighting isn't the only thing Lockley is involved in that has shades of a classic Marc Spector. After the fighting, Lockley is recruited by a man who works for a powerful and rich figure in the area. Lockley is recruited because his fighting skills are impressive and the men who hire him assume he has some kind of Special Forces or mercenary background. It is really interesting to note that costumed heroes in Mexico seem scarce, making it all the more intriguing to have Moon Knight operating there for the time being. But what is most important to note is that Lockley is recruited to do a job for this man and he accepts, fully returning to his days as a mercenary. While it may be Jake Lockley's personality, it is still a life more inclined to Marc Spector, something that is surely going to wreak a little more havoc in that head of his.
It is truly an interesting concept in that Jake Lockley and not Marc Spector is now Moon Knight, although the way Lockley acts seems more like Marc Spector of old. I'm sure Benson has some psychological ups and downs coming for Jake, and I'm curious if the personality switch will alter the way Moon Knight operates. However, one can argue Moon Knight is separate from Spector, Lockley and Grant, but if you ask me, Moon Knight is the true Marc Spector. I have a feeling this is going to be a wild ride.
I really like where this storyline is headed. It's interesting to see a costumed hero working essentially as a mercenary in a real-world type scenario. Sure, the Marvel Universe is full of mercenaries, but few if any of them take on situations that could occur in the real-world. While many heroes get into similar situations as presented in this story-arc, none of them do it for a profit. I'm sure Moon Knight will get in deeper than what already appears on the surface, especially with the Federales and Cartels hinted at in this issue. There's going to be a lot involved in this story-arc, and Benson certainly plants a few seeds in this issue. There should be widespread corruption, drug-running, dirty money, plenty of action, plenty of violence and plenty of psychological thrills to keep this title steamrolling along.
Jefte Palo takes over art duties on this title, and his style is perfectly suited for the direction of this title and the tone of this story-arc. The more I see of Palo's artwork, the more I love it. Since his first work on Moon Knight in 2007's Moon Knight Annual to now, working on not only Moon Knight but The Punisher and Black Panther as well, Palo brings a distinct style to the page and creates a subtle sense of intensity and edginess with his work. I remember an iconic image of Moon Knight he did in a splash page in the Annual, and I can't wait to see his artwork once he puts our hero back in costume. Palo's artwork is not only unique in style but he also handles action scenes extraordinarily well. There are only a few in this issue, but they are very well done.
This title has undoubtedly been given new life by changing the status quo and presenting fresh material in a new area for a character. There's so much potential presented in this issue that Moon Knight could easily be kept busy for quite some time… or at least until it's time to stage a coup against Norman Osborn. This title consistently impresses me due to the quality of the story and the handling of the character and the world around him. I can't wait to see where Benson takes this title over the next couple of story-arcs, and I am excited for the continued evolution of the character.
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