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It’s been a long wait since the series’ first two installments, but Marvel has finally published Moon Knight Epic Collection: Final Rest. This nearly 500-page paperback collects the final third of Moon Knight’s original series, issues #24-38. These stories mark the end of an era not just for the series but also one of the character’s most celebrated runs. Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz’s final issues on the title make up about half of this volume, followed by various other creators who kept in going in their stead. The ’80s Moon Knight comics really established the character and earned him his fanbase, but do they still hold up now?
It goes without saying that the Moench and Sienkiewicz run is one of this volume’s highlights. Sienkiewicz’s art is just ridiculously good on virtually all counts. His unique style manages to at times look both sketchy and intricately detailed, and his sense of physical depth is great. The splash page to this volume’s first issue, which incorporates half a face into the black backdrop of night against which we see see hanging clotheslines, makes it clear from the get-go that readers are in for a visual treat. Sienkiewicz work also radiates fantastic energy, especially in fight scenes. His most consistently excellent issues are probably those featuring the Werewolf by Night, whose ferocity completely evokes animalistic rage. The Moench and Sienkiewicz run also features the return of Stained Glass Scarlet, who remains one of Moon Knight’s most compelling villains.
Fortunately, some of the issues after Moench and Sienkiewicz are also great. There’s a particularly good short run at the end written by Alan Zelenetz and drawn by Bo Hampton. One of their issues features a team-up with Doctor Strange, and it’s a fun dive into mysticism. There’s also a story that focuses on Marc Spector returning home after his father’s death and coming to terms with their estranged history. This provides a great look at who Spector is as a person, which helps differentiate him from other powerless crimefighters.
Of course, there are more members on a comic book’s creative team than just the writer and artist. Christie Scheele colors the vast majority of this collection, and her work is fantastic. Her color palette is pleasantly varied, but her work always matches the tone and brings out the best in the line-art. This is especially the case for the issues drawn by Sienkiewicz, where bright colors are juxtaposed with the dark and jagged subject matter. Most of the inkers and letterers in this volume also deliver solid work, although there are way more of them than there are colorists, writers, or artists.
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Unfortunately there are some weaker issues in this collection, especially in the period between the two runs I previously mentioned. A lot of the middle stretch just feels kind of pointless, with villains and stories that any superhero could deal with, not just Moon Knight. These issues do little to develop Moon Knight’s personal life, and they don’t gel well with his usual supernatural atmosphere either. There are also a number of brief backup stories throughout the volume that suffer from seeming insignificant. They strive to accomplish very little and actually deliver even less. These stories are also frequently done by different creators than usual, and these teams deliver much less polished work than the issues proper. There are frequently strange facial expressions and poor inking these sections, and the line-work as a whole lacks the unique flair and sheer skill found in Sienkiewicz and Hampton’s work.
As a whole, Moon Knight Epic Collection: Final Rest is an impressive book. It collects the end of Moon Knight’s original series, including both classic issues and some unexpectedly good although forgotten material. Unfortunately, the middle stretch of this volume is a bit dull and the backup stories throughout are a lot less polished than the series proper. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable read that proves decade old comics can be every bit as good, and sometimes even better, than contemporary series.
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