Sunday, January 3, 2010

double review! Moon Knight and Witchblade ahoy!

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #4
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Art by Jerome Opena
Colors by Paul Mounts
Letters by VC's Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"In ancient times, the Pharoah slew his enemies and cut out their hearts. He burned them on the altar -- a sacrifice to me. The Pharoah. And you? A mere avatar and you won't grant me a single heartbreak?" -- Khonshu

This is slowly becoming my favorite Marvel book on the shelves these days. I understand that some people just shrug Moon Knight off as a C-lister at best, or a wannabe Batman or a half-ass Daredevil. His history is a bit, shall we say, convoluted. His powers seem to change on a whim. Also, is he Marc Spector, or going by another alias? It can be confusing at times, but man oh man, this book is just stellar. Gregg Hurwitz has spun himself something great, and an interesting note on this issue is that there's not a lot of dialog, but it is heavy on the fast-paced action.

MK is outnumbered after Ravencroft asylum inmates have been basically made into a small army, and are used to drive him out. Needless to say it works and MK does his best to take down as many of the inmates as possible, even going to lengths with him using Frenchie to pilot his jet as a sort of broom to sweep up a huge gathering. Of course, he goes hand-to-hand eventually, all the while not killing a single one much to the devil on his shoulder Khonshu's chagrin. Though with some creative plotting, the villains actually get the upper hand, leaving MK defenseless for Round Two.

That's one of the main reasons this book is as great as it is. Hurwitz wants you to keep coming back. It's a simple formula, but works all the time. Like I mentioned, there's not a lot of dialog, Opena's art does most of the "talking", and it speaks volumes. This is surely one of the characters, books, and creative teams to look out for in the coming year. Hurwitz and Opena have given us four great issues so far with a great set up, and there's no doubt the pay off will be worth the wait.


Witchblade #133
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Stjepan Sejic
Letters by Troy Peteri
Covers by Stjepan Sejic and Jeffrey Spokes
Published by Top Cow
Review by Lan Pitts

"My name's Sara. I'm a detective with the NYPD. But that doesn't really matter...I want to talk." -- Sara Pezzini

There's actually two stories going on in this issue. One being the resolution to the missing children from the previous issue, as well as a sort of "welcome back" for Aphrodite IV. As usual, Marz nails the dialog and brings subtle mystical elements to the story with an addition to a real-world problem. There's no intergalactic threat or demonic hellgate that will unleash an unholy terror...this time anyways, and the villain is not who you think at first. Much like the story of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" there is a troll under the bridge, but Marz didn't take the usual route and the real monster is in plain sight.

Sara and her boyfriend/partner Patrick find the missing kids, and after a bit of a brawl with the troll, Sara learns his true purpose: to protect innocents. Sara is informed of a nearby child molester and things don't go too well for him. The conflict from the "War of the Witchblades" isn't mentioned, but I wonder how long Sara will walk this darker path, that almost has her taking on a more of a Vic Mackey persona. Of course, after that ordeal, we see a set up for events to come with a couple pages of Aphrodite IV.

Now, I've discussed before that Sejic has trouble handling quieter moments of the book, but grand slams things like trolls and the imagery of Hell. In this issue, you can see improvements in how he does with figure construction and facial expressions. I love what he did with the countryside scenery, and it's a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the New York cityscape he's done for a while.

This has been one of my consistently favorite books since I was reintroduced to the series earlier this year. With recaps at the beginning of each issue, it makes it easy to pick up and dive in. I say, take the plunge.

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