Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 October 30 • Friday

Tomorrow is Halloween so we spent a little time with a sort of werewolf superhero: Moon Knight.

Bill Sienkiewicz has been one of my favorite artists and comic creators ever since I first stumbled upon Elektra: Assassin in The Million Year Picnic back in the '80s.

I had never read Daredevil and everything I knew about S.H.I.E.L.D. I had learned from the late-'70s Godzilla, King of the Monsters comic.

But Elektra: Assassin amazed me and I would get almost anything that Sienkiewicz contributed to.

Over the years I kept hearing about a comic book called Moon Knight that he had worked on but it was only fairly recently that I picked up this collection of the earliest Moon Knight stories, which includes Sienkiewicz's first work for Marvel.

Moon Knight first shows up in an issue of Werewolf By Night, as a mercenary hired to capture the werewolf main character, who of course is a good guy who happens to werewolf every so often. (Hey, I've been there.)

In an effort to give Moon Knight a super power, and thus make him less like Batman, the idea is floated that the werewolf bites him and after that Moon Knight has enhanced speed, strength, reflexes, etc., and they actually wax and wane with the moon.

Moon Knight doesn't get his own book for the first five years of his joining the Marvel universe, so his early appearances vary widely in style. Some of them are very bright and colorful and endearingly goofy.

And it seems that Marvel comics creators at the time liked to have fun with hiding little bits of humor in the panels.

One of the Sienkiewicz Moon Knight storylines, "The Mind Thieves", takes its central premise from the CIA's MK Ultra experiments, which had been revealed to the nation—despite the agency's best efforts to destroy all traces of the program's existence—in 1975 and, to greater effect, in Senate hearings in 1977.

"The Mind Thieves" is from 1980.

Earlier on one of the villains has some pointed things to say about "societ" which, you know, are not exactly all wrong.

When Moon Knight gets his own book the writers more or less reboot the character, but I found this origin story to be dull and conventional. The werewolf angle was much better.

And the original Moon Knight was the kind of character who rolled his eyes at superhero goofiness.

But it's worth going over every frame carefully for Sienkiewicz's art. This panel of a car exploding, for instance, is incredibly dynamic. (Credit also due to the colorist. I'm not sure who it was.)

Mr. Sienkiewicz also gives himself a job as a newspaper photographer. I wonder if he knows Peter Parker?

At the end of the book is a portfolio of Sienkiewicz's art, with some really nice pieces.

And I guess that's enough Moon Knight for now! The character looks cool and has potential. I supposed there are a hundred other appearances since the end of this collection and maybe I'll check some out one of these days.