As a fan of his work for Avatar Press, news of Juan Jose Ryp doing some work for Marvel, beginning with “Vengeance of the Moon Knight” #9, caught my attention and made me give the book a look to see how Ryp’s style translates over to Marvel. After all, his work for Avatar has often had extreme violence, horrific images, nudity, and pretty much anything else that you can’t stick in a Marvel superhero book, even one that bears a ‘parental advisory’ label. He has demonstrated himself capable of superhero art on “Black Summer” and “No Hero” with Warren Ellis, but how does he fare with Moon Knight teaming up with Spider-Man to take down the Sandman?
Well, see for yourself! One thing that Ryp does very well is the body language of the two heroes. Their mid-air collision shows Spider-Man a crumpled heap while Moon Knight looks merely annoyed. For the rest of the issue, Spider-Man is lanky, while Moon Knight is a bit more stiff, despite both heroes moving almost constantly. They make for a good visual pairing, especially when Moon Knight busts out some grapples to swing through the city with Spidey. Ryp makes the duo look fun, matching the writing, which is meant to be a pretty standard superhero team-up story.
Where Ryp’s style doesn’t work completely is with the Sandman. Ryp never looks completely comfortable with the character, his movements often awkward instead fluid. Sandman’s face, in particular, looks strange, like a cross between Silvio from “The Sopranos” and Flattop from “Dick Tracy.” Ryp also doesn’t use much shading, requiring Andres Mossa to color the book with a shade of blue throughout to get across that the issue takes place at night. It’s definitely different and could be viewed as a way of brightening up the book as it enters “The Heroic Age,” but does seem a little too bright and shiny for an urban superhero book at night.
As I mentioned, Hurwitz’s story is meant to be a pretty typical superhero team-up tale and it never progresses beyond that. Worse, there’s no clear reason presented for using any of the characters. Moon Knight and Spider-Man both lack distinct, clear personalities. The writing is so generic that you could slot in almost any two heroes and it would read pretty much the same. The only attempt at strong characterization comes in the form of Frenchie, a pilot working with Moon Knight, but that never rises above the level of stereotype. Only in the epilogue to the story does Moon Knight actually gain a personality. Too bad it was missing throughout the issue.
Coming on the heels of the strong Sandman story in “Amazing Spider-Man,” this one is a disappointment as it doesn’t deliver anything new or different — except for Juan Jose Ryp, of course. His art translates well to the Marvel style as he’s always shown himself very able at detailed characters and backgrounds, and strong action scenes. Hopefully, his talents get put to better use soon.