Moon Knight (2014-2015) Vols. 1-2

Much like the personalities of its titular character, the comic series Moon Knight is all over the place. There've been multiple reboots with a host of different artists, with no one ever landing a long tenure on the character. As a result, it's hard to pin down exactly where Moon Knight fits in the Marvel Universe, and who exactly he is. Some might say that's a good thing about the character. Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey took a stab with their own Moon Knight in 2014 for a mere six issues, and those six issues were golden. Today we look at those and the 6 issues that followed for the 12-issue series that started in 2014.

I'm not sure what can be said of their run that hasn't been said already -- but if I'm the first person you're hearing about this series from, we can start here: All of the issues are standalone stories, except for maybe the 6th and final issue which compiles tidbits from a few of the prior issues. It has some kickass moments that establish for the new reader, just who Moon Knight is. He's an insane dude that's adopted the four aspects of Khonshu, Egyption God of the Moon: Defender, Embracer, Pathfinder, and Watcher of Travellers of the Night. To go with the four aspects, he's got a few personalities as well -- but immediately they debunk the previous "Dissociate Identity Disorder" explanation. Rather...this time he's got brain damage; and he was raised from the dead by an outerterrestrial consciousness beyond space-time. Gnarly.
Moon Knight Vol. 1: From the Dead
by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey

Watch your favorite schizophrenic superhero take on those who would harm overnight travellers, including but not limited to: a boardroom assassin, punk rock ghosts, and psychoactive mushroom nightmares. Double gnarly.

What follows is a cascade of style and panache in comic book form. Ellis's Moon Knight oozes confidence and insanity. The scripts give Shalvey's pencils room to breathe and it's so fresh. It's the perfect synergy in the first 8 pages of issue 2, where a sniper takes out 8 targets from a late-night work meeting. Each member has their own panel in a 2x4 layout, and every time the sniper kills a person, their panel goes white. By the 8th page, it's only a single panel left showing the final kill. It's a brilliant use of the comic book layout, toying with our sense of time and demanding rereads with a focus on a single space of the page.

Another favorite of mine is the fifth issue, basically every freakin' page. It's the Moon Knight version of drug-fortress movies like Dredd or The Raid: Redemption. Moon Knight's got 6 floors to get through to save the kidnapped daughter of a crime family: Six floors of carnage. Great action story with great lines.

Or the third issue, where he dons ancient Egyption bone armor in order to deal with punk rock ghosts terrorizing the neighborhood at night. It has the strangest ending that I would love to hear people's thoughts on. Moon Knight traces the ghosts down to an abandoned apartment room in the city. "Johnny" has a note on a music box that says, "Be good Johnny. Love, mom." with a gun in his skeleton hands and the skeletons of his crewmates beside him. What happened there? Did Johnny commit suicide and kill his friends? What did he do in his past life that demanded that violence? It's ridiculously open-ended, with Moon Knight dropping the box in the river. Supposedly it's the end of that story.

Issue 6 pieces together parts from the last 5, and attempts to introduce a new nemesis for Moon Knight. In my opinion, it comes off a little hasty and contrived (and ends as hastily as it started), but the sheer style of the series as a whole kept me from minding it that much.

Overall, if you haven't read From the Dead, it's definitely worth it however you read it, whether it's in single issue format, trade paperback, or online. Myself, I borrowed the digital version from, which I've recently discovered has partnered with my local library. You enter your library information and voila, you have access to borrow digital items. Their library is insane, and I intend on maxing out my borrow limit every month.

Moon Knight Vol 2: Dead Will Rise
by Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood

Spoiler warning if you plan on reading this

The second volume of the 2014 series collects issues 7-12. It's kind of an international affairs spy thriller that includes Moon Knight. Looking back at the 6 issues as a whole, it's kind of brilliant how tightly plotted it was. There really are two acts in the storyline. First act is a trio of individual stories that contribute to the main story of the second act. Issue 7 has Moon Knight protecting the newly minted leader of a country in Africa, from a high-tech assassin. Issue 8 involves Moon Knight preventing a presumed terrorist attack at One World Trade Center. There, because of the heightened threat around terrorism, Moon Knight unleashes the "Mr. Grant" persona, a ruthless vigilante who brutalizes the would-be terrorist. There's also some commentary on the digital age, as his whole assault is captured and streamed on mobile phone. That episode starts a manhunt for Moon Knight, and leads him to consult with his doctor in the 9th issue, who claims the Khonshu persona for her own purposes.

Which first of all, is a great twist that I didn't see coming. It's here that they explain the fifth and "bonus" persona of Khonshu, "the one that lives on hearts." It's like Khonshu needs a host to take form, and that person needs to be alive (has a beating heart). That begins the second act, which has her carrying out her plan to assassinate the leader from issue 7 herself, with the help of Khonshu.

The story kind of retains its one-shot format for another issue, but after that it's a decompressed climax between issues 11-12. It puts all the pieces together and reveals the truth to you. The first six issues were always going to be tough to follow, but they really did a great job here that shakes up Moon Knight's world. Worth your read.

The series continued for 6 more issues with a different team. If it's at the library, maybe I'll read it, maybe not. But I do know this: you just haven't lived until you've seen a dude get kicked in the stomach so hard that he projectile vomits.
Moon Knight #5

More highlights:

White costume means you can take advantage of whitespace:

"Who are you supposed to be?"
"The one you see coming."

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JLA Vol. 1

When I was a kid, there were two big games in town. You had the DC animated series with WB studios, or you were with the Marvel camp at FOX kids. Batman the Animated Series was an instant hit. There was no doubt about that. I had the sneakers the stickers the toys. It span off into multiple series, a sequel, and eventually they made it to the big time -- cable. That was the point that I couldn't stomach it, mainly because we weren't a cable family.

Justice League Unlimited was one of those TV series that was a treat to me. Only if I were at a friend's house, or if we were on vacation could I watch it. It depicted the crises that only the universe's mightiest heroes could overcome, threats that no one hero could defeat.

I get that same feeling from the 1997 series, JLA. You can find all this from the wiki entry, but, at the time there were multiple disparate JLA titles each going their own direction. In 1997 DC consolidated them and recruited the original cast of the Justice League, under the direction of Grant Morrison and Howard Power. It rose again to best-seller under their pens. Join me as I visit these stories for the first time.

JLA Deluxe Edition Vol. 1
By Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and more

Issues 1-4: Mars Attacks! But it's under the guise of the glossy Hyperclan, a group of super powered beings here to help solve the Earth's various crises of climate, crime, and famine, among others. The newly formed team of the JLA are suspicious, but by the time they can act on it, they're overpowered and it's too late -- the villains have them in their adorably kitschy "Flower of Wrath." 

Well, all of them except the one they overlooked: Batman. It's here that you appreciate the power a superhero can have, when he has no powers.

Everyone gets a chance to shine here and you get to establish who the characters are along with who they are to each other. Kyle Rayner is the fanboy who happens to wield the most powerful ring in the universe, and gets to work alongside his idols. So when he's paired with Wally West the new flash, they both geek out and have schoolboy contests with each other.

It's a team book so there isn't room for deep introspection, but you become familiar with everyone. Everybody gets their time to shine.

At the time, the Martian Manhunter was thought to be the only remaining Martian, so it must have been the shock to reveal that there were more. However, even with the first issue I could tell who the real culprits were, presumably because I've already absorbed so much JLA lore by sheer osmosis. J'onn doles a punishment for them that is both humane and cruel, and lays the scene for a potential sequel. Comics at its finest and a great start to the trade.

5: This is a done-in-one that introduces the "Tomorrow Woman," and it's my favorite of the paperback. It's a slice-of-life story in my eyes, as much of a slice as you can get when your "life" is intergalactic adventures concerning the very fate of mankind! In a bid to slough off claims of elitism, Superman holds auditions for the JLA to expand their roster. The "Tomorrow Woman" makes the cut but little does the JLA know, she's an android designed by the evil scientists T.O. Morrow and Anthony Ivo. In her heart lies an atomic bomb designed to destroy them!

In her short week spent with the JLA, the Tomorrow Woman grows sentience and then, a conscience. She uses her atomic bomb heart not to destroy the JLA, but instead, sacrifices herself to defeat the flavor of the week, the "Implicate Field" ("If" for short) which is rampaging across the nation like a sci-fi tornado gone rogue. The scientists, at the failure of their creation, actually rejoice -- they've created an android with a soul -- before the JLA easily dispatch them.

Superman holds a ceremony for the Tomorrow Woman, not as an unfeeling android, but as a
full-fledged JLA member. It's a great done-in-one with a strong emotional core.

6-7: This is a two-parter that introduces "Zauriel," a literal angel who's traded his immortality to live in man's world, to warn them of something. What that is...they never get to, but the actual plot revolves around Zauriel's quarrel with "Asmodel," another angel who's been ordered by the Pax Dei to "erase Zauriel from the book of creation," ...or so we're told. There's a subplot as well that Asmodel has other intentions, but that too, is never addressed.

This main plot is all framed by what appears to be the workings of Neron, a demon who is meddling with Earth for fun.

That's a lot to throw at the uninitiated, and it's only two issues to tell it. This story hits a lot of epic JLA moments, but it does lack in giving us all the details, and sometimes just whiplash from giving too many details. So here's Electric Superman using his powers to generate a magnetic pole on the Moon to repel it from the Earth after a couple of archdemons are using a magical replica of the moon to hurtle it toward the Earth. Whew!

Superman wrestling an angel! Yes, Superman does a lot of cool stuff in this one!

Here's Green Lantern rigging a sonic treadmill that, as long as the Flash runs in it at the correct speed, generates a frequency that attunes the angel's warship to the plane of their original existence! Comics, everybody.

8-9: Off of their win against the angels, a supervillain known as the Key ambushes the JLA at their satellite headquarters and hooks them all up to a dream machine. Each JLA member is given some alternate reality dream sequence that, eventually when they all wake up, the conscious energy will generate a "doom chair" (my paraphrasing, not the story's) that will allow him to control reality. Superman's dream, for example, has him as the guardian of sector 2813 as the Green Lantern -- including the not-so-blown-up planet of Krypton, saved by the technologies created by his father.

Little does the Key suspect, a candidate for the JLA was beamed up around the same time. Connor Hawke, son of the original Green Arrow Oliver Queen. So it comes down to a bit of a "Die Hard" situation, one man against an army in an unfamiliar building, with nothing but his wits to save him and the Justice League.

Somewhat reminiscent of the first arc, but instead of Batman v. Martians, it's Conor v. Robots. Needless to say, he aces his audition. I really like that it highlights how it's not the powers that make you a JLA member. It's your grit, your perseverance through adversity and your creativity. These are all traits to admire that anyone could have. So while we can't all walk through walls or run at the speed of light, these are some great takeaways for any readers.

See you guys at Volume 2.

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