At the end of the first issue of the revamped “Moon Knight,” there’s a subtle moment on the final page that I suspect a lot of readers missed because they assumed it was artist error. After conferring with Captain America, Wolverine, and Spider-Man for most of the issue, Moon Knight is suddenly and abruptly alone in the room. The insinuation was clearly supposed to be that these are some of his other personalities, and that he’s talking to himself. But because the final image is still tightly focused on Moon Knight, it could just have been that Alex Maleev didn’t bother to draw them onto the edges of the page.
But still, there was no obvious, “Hey guys, this is what’s happening!” moment, no massive exposition dump, no laying everything on the table in thirty foot letters. So I was sad, then, to see that subtlety discarded in “Moon Knight” #2. Not only does the credits page spell out for the reader that yes, these are just multiple personalities, but the story itself relies heavily on them.
In theory, the idea of Moon Knight pretending to be Spider-Man while breaking into an illegal establishment should be funny. You can easily see why Brian Michael Bendis centered the second issue around it. But the execution of it here is just so-so. It probably doesn’t help that Moon Knight as Spider-Man sounds exactly like Spider-Man, so there’s not a lot of humor in the scene behind the idea of one hero pretending to be another. And here, Moon Knight has rigged up all sorts of equipment and tools to mimic the abilities of the new personalities in his head. The end result? About halfway through, as Moon Knight is cracking jokes and squirting web fluid in eyes, you begin to wonder why you’re reading an issue of “Moon Knight” instead of just picking up the latest “Amazing Spider-Man” instead.
When the gimmick becomes this blatant, it robs the clever idea of its wit. Big name superhero personalities weighing in on everything Moon Knight does is a funny idea, and there’s a lot of drama potential behind it. Offering up different ideas and methods, arguing with one another, that sort of thing. Actually taking the driver’s seat down to the point of using the same abilities? Not so interesting. Even having Spider-Man steer Moon Knight’s body-but using the Moon Knight costume and demeanor and abilities-has some potential. What we get, though, feels like the easiest and simplest of any of the story possibilities. It’s just not that much fun. Add in the general lack of using the Los Angeles setting (one of the high points of the first issue), and a guest-appearance of an Avenger already, and it’s just not quite clicking.
Maleev’s art maintains the same skill from the first issue; excellent with character faces and expressions, and a strong visual sense on how to lay out a page. When Snapdragon is throttling Moon Knight, he genuinely looks like he’s going to pass out, both because of the individual images as well as the progression across the spread. I especially liked the shift to greyscale when we jump to the viewing gallery inside Moon Knight’s head; it’s a quick way to signpost the shift away from reality, and if anything it makes me yearn for a black and white “Moon Knight” comic drawn by Maleev.
I enjoyed the first issue of “Moon Knight,” which had a lot of potential and was taking a distinctly different route than most superhero books. Different setting, a fun twist, and a nice layer of subtlety. “Moon Knight” #2 just feels like an average superhero comic that brings nothing new to the table. If at all possible, let’s go back to the former rather than the latter, please.