SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
You gotta love the white suit, and you gotta love that strut, cleanly maneuvered. It’s all confidence, and Marc Spector – a damaged, misguided soul – has it unlike ever before, and it reads with a snap, being so certainly a sharp click in the opposite direction. He’s a pro, here – one who has no qualms of who he is or what he should worry about, taking the crime scene and diagnosing the details. A man straightened out, back from the brink, knowing the necessity of focus as to not unravel, and the suit – the one which breaks through everything else on the page – burns all other elements from line of sight and cloaks this protag in something unshakable: His own craziness. Finally, pride.
Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey captured a realized Moon Knight in this comic’s first half, and that’s unlike the other reboots. Those (Charlie Huston, Bendis, whatever the fuck that Vengeance series was) relied much more upon the character’s personality schism, and while each kept it interesting enough (besides Vengeance), we’ve come to a point of recursion and reliance, leaving little room for the so-called superhero-ing. Which is what this is, after all – a comic book about a dude who solves problems. And while it’s classic Marvel fashion to assert some of said problems as personal, it’s also fun to see Moon Knight acting outside himself.
Shalvey executes this change. He draws this character, when dressed, with such taunt, angled posture that he appears ever-calibrated, prancing about the page. There’s little hesitation to toss an index finger to make a point, and the eye slots drawn into the mask, empty and white, suggest a clarity from within. Sequencing rolls these shots quick and smooth. The pacing rejects bumps, missteps or baggage. Every panel reads like a fast, jaunty sentence, unconcerned if it does begin with ‘And.’
It all pairs so well with Ellis and his tightly mechanical telling. The opening reads like spillover from his Secret Avengers run in that it wishes to nix the decision making and go straight for the gun. A reverse of “decompression,” commercialized by titles like Hawkeye and Daredevil. Ellis and his influence. Still shifting the super hero pool when he plays so little in it.
Though, this precision further extorts the ‘crazy.’ Amplified, it’s not soaked through by any sort of dark contemplation, up front. It’s fast, barking, able to carry out as if everything were normal. As if Spector were just a detective named Mr. Knight. You can almost buy it, but as that suit suggests a sense of normalcy, away from the cape, it too is a bright, white suit worn by a man in a mask descending into the sewer to fight a serial slasher. A bouncy pace lets these sort of things occur because it gives little chance to stop and question what you’re seeing. You must purchase the confidence on display, even if it is the assurance of a madman.
But this shifts by the final page when Khonshu finally arrives, inserting the origin back into this superhero saga. It’s when the mask slips off you see the texture and complexion in Spector’s cheeks, and he’s not all smiles. Something’s still wrong, and maybe this time we’ll find out what. According to our authors, he’s just plain batshit this time. While I prefer the up front, limousine fiend we first meet, Shalvey and Ellis seem capable of examining the mind without being consumed by it. Maybe they’ll strike a wonderful balance. I hope so. Because I’m not yet tired of these fresh, taunt, issue-to-issue superhero comics, but I am of overblown head dramas. This comic book kept to a majority of the former, and that interests me.
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