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Bad Moon Rising
Moon Knight: The Bottom
Charlie Huston, David Finch
January 20, 2007
Kevin Forest Moreau
How do you revive a low-selling character who's never quite lived up to his
potential? If you're Frank Miller, perhaps you goose your character's backstory
-- maybe throw in some ninjas and a statuesque, deadly love interest. But what
if your guy's backstory is already, er, complex enough? What if he
worships the Egyptian god of vengeance, and courts a serious mental breakdown by
splitting his time between three different alter egos? What if his resume is so
spotty it includes an oil-and-water stint in the West Coast Avengers, of all
groups? In short, what if he's the nocturnal wraith known as Moon Knight?
Well, if you're Charlie Huston, an up-and-coming novelist known for gritty,
pulp-y works filled with mobsters and vampires, you go with what you know:
brutal characterization and concrete-hard, consequence-heavy action. You strip
the character of everything that matters to him -- his friends, his physicality
and, most important, his mission. You break him. And then -- then you
piss him off, as a sinister cabal known as the Committee does when it
hospitalizes his longtime pilot and aide de camp Frenchie. You throw a deadly
combatant -- like, say, the Taskmaster, with the ability to mimic the fighting
styles of everyone from Captain America to Wolverine -- at your hero for good
measure. And to top it all off, you make those last two the work of a freelance
profiler who prides himself on what seems to be a mutant ability to instantly
and accurately "read" other people -- including, apparently, people as mentally
unstable as Moon Knight seems to be.
Oh, yeah, about that: You'd probably also want to delve into your character's
muddled mental state while you're at it -- don't forget, not only is Moon Knight
the former mercenary named Marc Spector, he's also done time as millionaire
Steven Grant and cabbie Jake Lockley, all in the service of Khonshu, the
aforementioned god of vengeance (and the moon) who brought him back from death
to act as his instrument of retribution. Yeah, of course it sounds crazy;
so you play that up. Is Spector really doing the bidding of an ancient
deity? Or is he just an insane vigilante with serious delusions?
So far, so good: Now what you really need is a hot young artist to add the right
amount of gritty atmosphere (with a little help from colorist Frank D'Armata).
David Finch (New Avengers) is a good choice, except that every now and
then, all that grit and atmosphere (not to mention confusing layouts) obscure
the action, so that what is otherwise a smooth ride hits a speed bump as you
slow down to try to piece together what's going on. Ah, well -- you win some,
you lose some. Luckily, that's not a fatal flaw, and the resulting premiere
story arc proves appropriately visceral and compelling.
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