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Moon Knight #4

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by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire

Moon Knight’s current creative team are crafting wonderful crime, horror and suspense novellas. Each issue is a short story with a first, second and third act. The first act contains the premise, second is the conflict and then the finale in the third act. Moon Knight is a unique comic offering in which the only carryovers from issue to issue are the main character, the short story motif and the title’s highly talented creative team.

Dreamscape stories are tough to pull off and attempting to tell one in the confines of a single issue does not make the task any easier. This month Moon Knight investigates a plague that infects the participants of a sleep study. The first act provides the details and dangers, the set up is provided quickly and to the point. The second act takes readers into the bizarre and beautifully illustrated dream state. These scenes have sparse dialogue and imaginative imagery that require more than just a quick glance. A careful inspection of each panel, especially in the second act, is required. Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire layer the pages with images within images. Texture, depth and motion are skillfully captured on each page and are remarkable in the second act. The third act has a fantastic reward for readers that absorbed the narrative and imagery in the first and second acts. Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire have a composed a single issue story that is Edgar Allan Poe infused with a touch of the non mythos X-Files episodes, and the result is both thrilling and entertaining.

Even with very little expository character development, Marc Spector is a definable character; the more is less approach pays off, especially considering the murky continuity of this character. Not having knowledge of Moon Knight’s history will not hinder the enjoyment of this title. Ellis brings the character to the story, not the story to the character. Some comics use the vast history of its protagonist(s) to provide an A-Ha moment for long time readers. Ellis gives readers that moment regardless of the history the reader has with the title. This creative team has given an A-Ha moment at the end of every issue.

Shalvey and Bellaire’s gorgeous and highly detailed art work are equally if not more important to the success of this book. Ellis’s scripts rely heavily on the art to tell a majority of the story. Both artists far exceed the challenge that Ellis gives them month after month. The dreamscape is lush with an ethereal beauty as previously stated in this review. The bookend chapters are of equal merit. Shalvey’s subtle character feature provides great expression and matches the tone of the panel nicely. Both artists shift styles to match the act changes. Shalvey’s pencils and inks along with Bellaire’s colors are reminiscent of Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., the art is psychedelic when called for and shifts nicely to a shadowy and violent tone when needed.

The most difficult stories are sometimes the stories that are shorter and have a finite ending on the last page.  Moon Knight is testament to the abilities of this creative team that the short story, done in one issue can be a masterpiece. The creative team has two issues left before leaving the title, however if past performance is any indication, these will be two incredibly crafted issues not to be missed.

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