I’m not going to lie; Brian Michael Bendis is definitely responsible for a percentage of my economic instability. After 10 years of not buying comics, I bought the first couple of issues of his run writing Daredevil in 2001, and I was hooked. From there I tried to buy as much of his stuff as my meager means would allow. I wasn’t reading a ton of comics, but more often than not when I did, they had the Bendis name on them. Then I got a car, and that was the end of that. Fortune however, is on my side, since my car is now paid for and Bendis has just started writing Marvel’s new Moon Knight series.
Now, there’s going to be a some comic readers that aren’t going to be too familiar with the Moon Knight character. That makes perfect sense. To be honest, neither am I. Moon Knight is like, a third level Avenger. Let me put it this way: If the Avengers were the Peanuts gang, Moon Knight would be Shermy. He would be playing a shepherd in the Avengers’ Christmas Pageant. He has had previous series and whenever he’s popped up with cameo appearances or whatever he has always been kind of a cool character that was intriguing to me. That could be because of the basic similarities to Batman, I don’t know; but it has been a very long time since he’s had any kind of spotlight thrown his way.
In this newest incantation, we find Moon Knight’s alter-ego, Marc Spectre out in Los Angeles as a successful TV producer by day, and a mask vigilante with a multiple personality disorder by night. Wait…what? Yeah. See, that’s the thing with Moon Knight: He’s not so right in the head. Be that as it may, Moon Knight begins to act as an extension of the Avengers out on the West Coast, due to the rise in organized crime that seems to be plaguing the area. As a result of some rather large malfunctions on his first mission, he ends up teaming up with another Avengers third-stringer, Echo and they form an uneasy partnership while trying to figure out the identity and stop a mysterious new criminal kingpin.
Bendis is in his usual glory in all this. Bendis is fantastic at giving us someone whose senses are somewhat muddled by all the voices, but in such a way that Moon Knight uses his hindrance to his advantage. The interplay between the personalities (Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine), is great fun to read while not making it absurd or slapstick. The dialogue is spot on and at no point am I shaking my head at characters (whether real or imagined) saying things that are out of, well…character. The dialogue between MK and Echo is sharp and Bendis uses Echo as a great go-between reporting to the Avengers the goings-on out west. With all this working in his favor, Bendis tells a great story that’s easy to read, but not simple.
The other selling point of this series for me is Bendis has his old Daredevil artistic buddy, Alex Maleev back riding shotgun. I really enjoyed his work in the DD series and it has only gotten better over time. Maleev gives his audience a nice visual treat even though his artwork tends to be a good bit darker than the usual comic fare. I find it very stylistically appealing, in the sense that the lack of a lot of colour and the very sketch-like nature of his pencils do a fantastic job at setting the perfect mood for a hard-boiled detective caper.
In fact, to a certain degree anyway, that’s what Bendis and Maleev have given us with Moon Knight. Five issues in (haven’t got my hands on the sixth yet), and what we’re given is a new twist on the standard detective theme. While there are those parallels between Moon Knight and Batman, Bendis has done away with the anger that Batman has but hasn’t replaced that with something opposite, just very different. It’s Moon Knight’s struggle with his psychological weaknesses that make this series so interesting, since it’s these same issues that become his strengths as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how Bendis can keep playing with this aspect while not letting it get played out. I have complete faith in his ability to do, but even if he isn’t able to pull it off it’s going to be damn fun until he realizes he can’t.