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Moon Knight Volume 1: From the Dead Paperback – October 14, 2014
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About the Author
Warren Girard Ellis (born 16 February 1968) is an English author of comics, novels, and television, who is well known for sociocultural commentary, both through his online presence and through his writing, which covers transhumanist themes (most notably nanotechnology, cryonics, mind transfer, and human enhancement). He is a resident of Southend-on-Sea, England.
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Top Customer Reviews
Kidding...Ellis has ALWAYS deserved my time, attention, and money ever since I first saw him strut his stuff on Doom 2099 back in the 1990s. This collection is no exception with arguably the best version of Moon Knight since the classic Doug Moench/Bill Sienkiewicz run, a functionally crazy detective and vigilante whose sole life focus is his mission (which has some distant echoes of the classic pulp character, the Shadow).
Lazarus Churchyard collaborator D'israeli has talked about Ellis' implicit trust in his artists to deliver the story and it really shows in these six stories. Whether one is talking about the whited out panels of sniped victims in "Snipers" or the Fungi of Yuggoth inspired mushroom vision in "Sleep", Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire add a flavor to the scripts that would be missing in just plain text. One thing no one's commented on: there is a connection between the first story in this collection and the last. I suspect that Ellis was doing it that way to make things come full circle.
*whew* Well beyond that synopsis’, that same origin is summed up in two pages under writer Warren Ellis as to catch new readers up to speed without any prior knowledge. Warren Ellis’s name is what caught my attention to trying out this new relaunch, so I had to give it a try. Ellis is one of the more prestigious names in the world of comics with his work on Transmetropolitan, Planetary, IronMan: Extremis, Hellblazer, StormWatch, The Authority, Red, and many others under his belt and what Ellis has is a solid reintroduction of this character that is brilliant thanks greatly to the perfect art Declan Shalvey.
MOON KNIGHT VOL.1: FROM THE DEAD collects issues #1-6. Marc Spector is Moon Knight, a superhero who fights crime and many other weird things during the night. He’s returned from the West Coast to New York to help out. He only has two aliases this time: Moon Knight, the superhero who fights crime with gadgets, drenched in his traditional cloak, and very has little to say. And Mr. Knight, a street-level detective who uses his brains to deduce crimes while driving around in a white remote-controlled limo and wears an all white business suit (very similarly to Ellis’s other character, Elijah Snow from Planetary).
That’s the premise, simple as that because all six issues are done-in-one stories that highlight the various aspects that make Moon Knight an interesting character study from various situations. Knight spends all six issues doing numerous acts to highlight his character: one issues being a Sherlock Holmes mystery, stop a revenge-fueled sniper from killing every member of an old past, using his mystic armaments to fight ghost(?!), investigate a sleeping experiment driving its patients crazy by entering a mushroom planet (I kid you not), single-handily clearing an entire building of enforcers just to save a kidnapped girl (think 2012’s Dredd movie in a way), and going into the mind what makes an envious good man become a villain (a perfect issue that could explain any and all why villains come from). Each one of these stories are different from one another and yet showcase Moon Knight in unique ways, as well as giving some of Knights darker thoughts in a down-played manner without being bogged down in his own schizophrenic-mind (like Bendis run on the character Moon Knight thought he was Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America. Yeah that’s a little too much for me). And Ellis’s sharp wit comes through each issue with a distinct message and metaphor that sets this series apart from many comics out there.
Though there a few problems with this book do arise. Because these are done-in-one stories, they will fly by quick or leave readers cold expecting a typical 5-6 issue arc. Additionally, most of the endings are a bit too quick because of the short formats, and some would argue they might feel like Deus ex machina effect on one or two issues worth. About half of these issues have very little to no words, so you’ll skim through this quick. And Ellis’s metaphors might not fly well with readers in how he ends these arcs, some of which feel unfinished (the dream issue and sniper issue sort of feel that way).
So why am I giving this the coveted 5-star rating you’re thinking, right? I would give this comic a 4 star rating if this were done by a different artist maybe, but this book gets that 5-star rating from Declan Shalvey’s art. Not only because it’s gorgeous art, but of just how important it is for the narrative Ellis weaves here. This comic book pushes the art narrative style to extremes by challenging all traditional methods out there and it comes off beautifully. Take for example, the sniper issue. Every page has 8 panels with a separate character taking up just their own panel. As the sniper is picking off his targets, the killed people’s panels get blocked out in white and each page it has less and less panels. It’s pretty brilliant ideas there. Or the dream issue. Most of the issue has any words at all, and yet we see a trippy and alien-like mushroom world that is a feast for the eyes—and that’s not even describing the other 4 issues. It’s utterly hard to describe the art because it plays such a heavy hand in Moon Knight’s story telling and it’s gorgeous. And I have to mention industry legend colorist Jordie Bellaire does the art and it blends perfectly with Shalvey’s art. Seriously, the art pushes this book to the 5-star rank for me. It’s that good and important.
So MOON KNIGHT VOL.1: FROM THE DEAD is a gripping 6-issue collection of stand-alone stories that new and old readers should try out. We get numerous perspectives of Moon Knight, brilliant artistry and colors, and some of the most daring and unconventional art narratives in current comics. The issues might put some people off for their short done-in-one style, very little wording, art-heavy, and quick endings. So it’s a 4 ½ star book, but again, I’m going with 5-stars. This is phenomenal book that, sadly, Ellis and Shalvey are leaving after this volume. Ellis is known for doing short comic book arcs and he does it here with Moon Knight. Writer Brain Wood and artist Greg Smallwood take over. So I am nervous for the new creative change, yet excited for this character (and I’ve heard the current issues by Wood/Smallwood have been just as great as Ellis/Shalvey’s work. Have to wait and see on that.)
Either way, this is a great peak at the potential for Moon Knight.
Warren Ellis is perhaps my favorite comic book writer, and I've been wanting to read something drawn by Declan Shalvey since his work first caught my eye months ago. These guys are basically the best in the business. Ellis' writing is sharp and crisp, and the stories are genuinely interesting. He always seems to have a fresh take on whatever established properties he takes over. Everything is beautifully choreographed, and Shalvey's action sequences are incredibly graceful, even when they're brutally violent. And it would be impossible to properly praise this book without mentioning the gorgeous colors by Jordie Bellaire. Her palettes are beautiful, with a painterly quality to them. It's hard to tell if there's inkwash on these pages or if the effect is achieved digitally, but the result is some of the best coloring I've seen. There's also a striking effect here where everything is colored in lush, textured hues-- except for Moon Knight himself, who stands out in pure white. It's perfect for the hero who "wants you to see him coming" and it just plain looks awesome.
Moon Knight is the crazy superhero. Not in a zany, madcap, Deadpool sort of way, but in a quiet, eerie sort of way. But he's an inherently noble character, never so creepy as to be unsympathetic. I've seen him written several different ways, and this is my favorite depiction yet. Purists might complain that Ellis doesn't get the character right, but I think there's a lot of leeway when writing a character whose defining characteristic is mental illness. This series has him tackling mysteries in Marvel's dark underbelly, which is a good role for him. Each chapter is an individual story (the last chapter circles back to previous ones, but it still stands alone), and the variety is impressive. There's something truly great in every one of them, including a particularly brilliant storytelling technique-- one I've never seen before in decades of reading comics-- to start chapter two. There's just a supreme confidence in every aspect of this book, and it's well deserved. I mean, just look at the cover. It's nothing but eyes and a crescent moon, and it's one of the most striking covers on my bookshelf.
I really can't recommend this book enough. It's pretty much a masterpiece in every respect and a real joy to read. Perhaps the highest praise I can give it is that I bought this book with no intention of continuing with the series (since this comprises Ellis and Shalvey's entire run), but it was so good I'm genuinely considering picking up the next volume when it comes out. If the new creative team studied what makes this so good and can emulate it in any way, this should continue to be one of the best comics on the shelves. Five stars. Six if they'd let me.