Wisely working from all recent Moon Knight stories by referencing them not at all, Jed McKay’s new volume on the book looks to be easy to jump into without the clutter of one of the most uneven, incredibly off-the-wall character histories in the Marvel Universe.
The book manages to directly avoid all but the recent Age of Khonshu story from Aaron’s Avengers, wherein Moon Knight’s moon god buddy gets power-hungry and takes over the world in what is one hell of an amazing (if utterly implausible) ride. To catch you up, he gets locked away. This means we’re left with Marc Spector without the godly backup, a stripping down of the character in an even further attempt to streamline him.
Issue #2 sees us potentially growing our secondary cast — gone (for the moment) are our Frenchies and Marlenes — and villain pool. Last issue we gained Renee, a woman who was turned to a vampire against her will, as Spector’s begrudging assistant; in this issue we see the introduction of potential support character, Soldier. Yeah, his name is Soldier.
The issue also introduces the sort of antagonist that only a Moon Knight book could sell convincingly, a creepy janitor with mind-control sweat. Balding, pony-tailed, stooped and prone to condescending nicknames, the janitor reads as someone you might unnervingly bump into on a midnight walk.
This is the world McKay and artist Alessandro Cappuccio are building: one more rooted in the desperate night. Moon Knight is, after all, the guardian of those who travel at night, and that nighttime world is not a comforting one. Spector’s new headquarters, the Midnight Mission, stands as a place of refuge, light in all that dark. It’s a place for Spector to take on the dimension of priest.
As this is an issue more grounded in that version of the character — the ground level, face-to-face Mr Knight — don’t expect any of the Batman theatrics of Moon Knight Classic, which are generally more bombastic and flamboyant. This is a small-scale issue, with Mr. Knight being threatened by an army of mind-controlled geriatrics. Here, we see a Spector utilizing brain over brawn.
It’s smart of the book to take this turn, after the epic montage of cowled action of the first issue, to present the variety of stories available to the series, though the story does drop out of threads introduced in that first issue. Notably, the dialogue Spector had with his therapist that established a quick character overview might have been a nice through-line, here, to better carry readers into Mr Knight’s whole deal.
Instead, we’re treated to a look inside Spector’s moonglow mind, a horrifying vista he uses, while narrating, to mentally overpower our mind-control janitor. It’s as effective at presenting big, crazy concepts, and is rad as hell, but feels narratively inconsistent.
Also looming over the narrative is a puppet-master out to test Spector — they who hired the janitor — who may or may not be the mysterious Khonshu faithful Dr. Badr, introduced at the tail end of the first issue and teased again at the end of this one. This is a narrative model that works well in Moon Knight stories: the overarching mystery, a force Spector must both uncover and overcome. It must be said that Moon Knight has one up against more compelling villains, with much higher stakes; the quickly brushed aside vampire infestation of the first issue alone feels more interesting than the janitor.
Moon Knight #2 is an interesting issue, but I can’t help but wish it were a bit stronger — the first issue was so energetic, jam-packed with incredible imagery and action, that one might hope for that to roll over and resolve so that a quiet moment felt more earned. Regardless, this new volume of Moon Knight feels like it understands the character. Fingers crossed that it, unlike most volumes on the character, sticks around.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!