Meet Mark Spector. Mercenary. Bad Guy. And very… very dead. Things went wrong for him in Egypt, and Mark died under a statue of the ancient god of the moon Khonshu. Returned to life as an avatar of the moon deity, Mark fights crime as redemption for his past life. Then he went insane and disappeared. Or maybe not, at least that’s what From the Dead by Warren Ellis & Declan Shalvey claims, because…
Now he’s back!
You might shrug your shoulders and wonder why you should care…?
Because certifiably awesome English writer Warren Ellis and fantastically talented Irish artist Declan Shalvey are at the helm!
Welcome to a sanity defying re-imagination of one of Marvels most pulpy B-Movie characters. Get ready for a demented Frankenstein Agent of Shield. Ghost Punk spree hitters from the 80’s. And the answer to the question you have asked yourself your whole life. Do corpses dream?
If you haven’t run away yet, screaming and clawing at your eyes. Read on…
From Bad Guy to Avenging Avatar of an Ancient Egyptian God
“Mark Spector is Moon Knight! Or is He?” –says the back cover of Moon Knight Volume 1: From the Dead.
And the answer is yes. That and much more. You see. When Mark was raised from his eternal sleep, he had the consciousness of the extra-dimensional entity known to Khonshu slammed into his tiny monkey brain. Not able to cope, his brain split itself into four distinct personalities. Mark Spector. Khonshu. Moon Knight. And Mr. Knight.
In other words, our protagonists is clinically insane. He suffers from multiple personality disorder. Or what the cool kids call dissociative identity disorder nowadays. Never say that Ninth Art Delights isn’t educational!
Ah and Mr. Knight makes things… interesting. I mean this is a guy who wears a white suite so that the bad guys can see him coming. He’s also not shy to deliver them into the afterlife. Not very family friendly…
A Quest for Redemption -Quentin Tarantino Style
But bad-ass vigilante aside. Moon Knight is more than that. He is the protector of those that travel at night. So evildoers beware. Any villain, mundane or supernatural, that preys on New York’s nocturnal journeyers is likely to receive an unpleasant visit from Mr. Knight or one of other personalities.
From the Dead collects all 6 issues of the Ellis & Shalvey run on Moon Knight. Each issues is a complete story on its own. You don’t need to know anything about Moon Knight to enjoy them. Each story builds on the legend and backstory of Moon Knight and share re-occurring elements, e.g. Mr. Knight the mad investigative vigilante and his mischiefs.
To gives you an idea of the kind of insanity that Ellis & Shalvey put New York’s wildest ‘superhero’ through, these are some of the story’s you will encounter:
- In the first story Mr. Knight takes on a serial killer who only attacks huge bodybuilder type men.
- The second story involves a black operations sniper getting revenge and explains why you shouldn’t trust bankers.
- Punk gangster from the 80’s and inopportune attacks of conscious are the subject of the third story.
But my favorite is the 5th story. If you have ever watched the Indonesian cult classic martial arts/cop action film ‘The Raid’ (if not watch it now) or Judge Dredd (2012) –you’ll know what I mean! Moon Knight has to fight his way through an empty, dilapidated apartment block full of bad guys. He takes horrible damage and just keeps upping the level and ridiculousness of violence.
Awesome and silly action aside.
Moon Knight is the story of a man searching for redemption. A bad man with a (rediscovered) conscious who literally got driven insane by the same force that saved him. His quest for redemption may be the ‘death’ of him yet.
We get to see Mark Spector loosing himself bit by bit. We see his struggle to hang on to what is left of his sanity. Which isn’t easy when ancient Egyptian gods routinely chats with you.
The Writing and Art of Moo Knight Volume 1: From the Dead
Warren Ellis is one of those beautifully deranged madmen that the British Isles gifted to, some would say unleashed on, the world in the 80’s and early 90’s (along with Alan Moore, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison).
Like his compatriots, Ellis knows when to use dialogue and when to let the characters actions speak for themselves.
But he’s a wizard of words as well. Just when Mr. Knight seems to be making prefect sense, you pause and realize how completely and utterly koo koo he actually is. Then Moon Knight bursts onto the scene. Quiet. Relentless and Aloof.
But this contrast doesn’t take away from the fun of the novel.
What really impressed me was Ellis’ ability to develop the legend of Moon Knight and even pay homage to his past. This isn’t really easy considering that each part of the novel stands on its own and has no overarching story arch. Which works out surpassingly well. In an age of Game of Thrones complexity a simple, straight forward story line stands out.
I liked Moonlight. Like is an understatement. I love it!
Yes. It’s violent but not gratuitously so. And it’s fun plain and simple. If you are looking for an easy action read with a sharp edge –Moon Knight is the must read graphic novel for you. It’s not complex. But in simplicity it shines.
Ellis and Shalvey are a perfectly balanced creative team. If you were trying to build a writer and an artists whose styles perfectly matched and complemented each other. You could not come up with a better combination! The story is so intertwined and brought to life with its visuals… wow.
For an alternative look at an underappreciated superhero. For a crime fighting vigilante story with a twist. And for an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
A fun read and a nice addition to your library for dark winter nights or lazy summer days.
PS: If you like gratuitous violence, weird stories and fun read Moon Knight Volume 1: From the Dead.