Vengeance of the Moon Knight #4

Story by
Art by
Jerome Opena
Colors by
Paul Mounts
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

This is a sparse story. Even for a comic book paced for the trade paperback, even for a decompressed, cinematic comic, this is an issue without much substance.

The issue began with such promise too. After a text-heavy introductory page which ended with the lines, "Together with the psychotic contortionist called the Scarecrow, the men lobotomize the inmates of the Ravencroft Asylum for the Criminally Insane, organize them into a small army and unleash them on an unsuspecting city in an attempt to draw Moon Knight out of hiding," one might think that some kind of crazed events would ensure.

But what happens? They draw Moon Knight out of hiding. And...that's it.

The lack of plot development in this issue is absurd. There's just not much here. It's a scene with Frenchie getting beaten up, a scene with Moon Knight gearing up, and then a scene where he shows up to face a bunch of mindless non-zombies. It's a one-page montage stretched to 22 pages, with a couple of jokes thrown in (one joke about homosexuality and/or superhero fashion, and one joke about how pathetic Khonshu is nowadays). And in this incarnation of Moon Knight -- in this incarnation of the series -- he's trying to keep up with Batman's recent movie costume changes. There's even a scene where the character slides down a chute into his "cave" to don his combat gear.

Moon Knight creator Doug Moench has gone on record refuting claims that the character was created to be Marvel's version of Batman. And while that may have been true originally, in this version, it's Marvel's version of Batman. Only a little bit crazier, and with a bit slower pacing.

And it really is just the pacing that's a problem here. Jerome Opena's art is a bit scratchier than normal, but it still looks good and makes for a gritty action comic. And Gregg Hurwitz creates an appropriate mood here, a sense of instability and dread that works well. It's more pulpy action than the deranged Charlie Huston version of the character, and that seems like a good fit.

But it's just not enough forward movement for an entire issue. Marvel's Scarecrow appears here and it makes me think of Jason Aaron's use of the character in the current "Ghost Rider" mini. That series started off slowly too, but it's moving five times faster than this comic. This comic is at turtle speed compared to that one.

And though slow and steady may win the race in the cartoons, in the genre of superhero action comics, it just ends up stalling out. And readers lose interest, no matter how much you make a character look like a popular movie.

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