This week Moon Knight gets a new ongoing from Jeff Lemire, and Brian Wood returns to the world of Vikings with The Black Road!
Moon Knight #1 (Marvel Comics)
Moon Knight has been a tough character to nail lately. It seems like no matter who gets placed on the book, be they Charlie Huston, Brian Michael Bendis, or even Warren Ellis, eventually they run out of steam. In fact, some might say that the different runs on the character are just as schizophrenic as Moon Knight himself. But that hasn’t stopped Marvel from trying, and this week brings us a brand new Moon Knight series from Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood. And unsurprisingly, Moon Knight #1 finds Lemire and Smallwood putting their own stamp on the life and times of Marc Spector.
Insanity has always been a big part of the Moon Knight character, but with this debut issue Lemire really drives that point home. The entirety of this issue finds Marc Spector in a mental institution. With his doctor and orderlies telling him that he was never the vigilante known as Moon Knight, who is Spector to trust? Why can he hear the voice of Khonshu, the Egyptian God who gave him his abilities? Is he really crazy? Has he been able to sneak out at night and pummel crooks like he thinks he has? Is he at the mercy of one of his enemies?
None of these questions are answered in this opening issue, but Jeff Lemire is still able to craft quite the compelling tale for Marc Spector. Lemire does a wonderful job of building up the paranoia around Marc, and even starts to turn the tables on the reader, causing us to question Spector’s sanity as well. While there isn’t a huge amount of action in this issue, the character work and premise from Lemire is really strong, and gives us a really great hook to jump into this series with.
Also strong is Greg Smallwood’s art, which adds a great level of depth to the feelings of losing control that Lemire puts into the script. Smallwood’s looser style is really well suited for this book, and the glimpses into the world that Moon Knight sees when he puts on his “mask” are fantastic. In fact, these moments alone make Moon Knight #1 a worthy purchase.
Moon Knight #1 is definitely one of the stranger premises for All New All Different Marvel, but I have to say, it’s also one of the stronger debuts too. Lemire and Smallwood have crafted a tight little mystery here, and it’s got the potential to be a really cool series in this line up. Sure, I’ll be waiting for Moon Knight to finally be beating the crap out of goons, but at the same time, this debut is really strong, and makes me really interested to see what happens in issue two.
The Black Road #1 (Image Comics)
Years ago, Brian Wood created Northlanders, an awesome comic that focused on Vikings, and now he’s returned to the world of Norsemen with The Black Road. A new Image series with art from Garry Brown, Black Road is a pretty different book from Northlanders. Yes, they both take place within the same general era of history, but Black Road is a decidedly different take on the Viking genre. In fact, it shares a lot more with classic Noir stories than with Wood’s previous Viking book.
The Black Road stars Magnus the Black, a massive wandering mercenary who is hired by a local priest to take him the Northern Coast, also known as (you guessed it), The Black Road. Despite Magnus’ repeated warnings of the dangers that will await them, the Priest is adamant that Magnus takes him along this road. Of course, things go awry for Magnus, which is one of the book’s few faults here. A lot of ground is covered in this opening issue, so much so that I got the feeling that Brian Wood just couldn’t wait to get to the events towards the end of this issue and just decided to hit fast forward on the middle portion of his script. It’s a little disappointing, if only because I was really enjoying the world Wood had created.
However, in the characterization department Wood doesn’t disappoint. While we don’t know everything about Magnus’ past after reading this issue, we are given just enough to understand his motivations, and he’s a pretty compelling lead character. There’s also a really great moment with Magnus and the Priest discussing baptisms, and while the Priest doesn’t know why Magnus is so curious, we do, and it makes for a really poignant moment in the book.
Garry Brown’s art is a great fit for this book, and he really captures the feel that Brian Wood’s script suggests. This is a down and dirty look into the times of Vikings and early Europe, and you get that feeling from looking at Brown’s pencils. There isn’t much action in this opening issue, but the one big pivotal fight on the Black Road is handled really well too.
The Black Road has a very solid foundation set down now, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this book. While it’s a little rushed in parts, the compelling lead characters and mystery behind what’s at the end of the Black Road make Brian Wood’s latest a good book to seek out.