Moon Knight #197: Guess who's coming to dinner?
Image credit: Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego, and Matt Milla
Another month, another Moon Knight. I might have expected my obsession with the Fist of Khonshu to have faded by now, but instead, it has only grown. Since last issue, I've bought two more trades and pre-ordered the Lemire/Smallwood complete edition. I like Moon Knight. I talked about why last month, but in short, I mostly like how weird he is. Maybe it's because I'm weird, too.
Anyway, after defeating the freak behind the Collective in #196 (sort of, kind of, but not actually), Marc decides to class things up a bit with a fancy dinner party. With a room full of sadists. Himself included.
I should probably warn you at this point that I'll be talking spoilers. This issue—and, really, this entire run—isn't hurt by knowing what's going to happen; but, if you're the sort that desires a completely fresh take, then you should wait in the hall until you've had a chance to read it for yourself. Then come back and tell me how insightful I am. Thanks, kid.
The Société des Sadiques is basically a great big sadists' club. Led by a familiar—you might say foundational—person from Marc's past, the group is throwing an elegant dinner to welcome its newest members. I enjoyed Bemis's scripting quite a lot, with each inductee sharing his or her story in the present, but their words emanating from their mouths in the past. It's quite efficient, too—giving small pieces of the past visually, while taking advantage of more telly dialogue to explain the contexts we see.
Hi. I'm Moon Knight, and I'm a sadist.
Each of the four inductees are interesting in their own respects, and I hope that Bemis has plans to use them more in the future. The point of this particular story does not seem to have them in view, but maybe they're seeds for a future harvest. The real villain is someone more familiar to Marc—and to any reader who's been keeping up recently—and he's a large enough center of gravity for now. He doesn't have the physical advantage over Moon Knight that he once held over his alter-ego, but he likely possesses the psychological edge, having been a formative influence on Marc in his early days.
Jacen Burrows returns to Moon Knight this issue, and while I absolutely adore Paul Davidson's work on the last two, Burrows does an outstanding job here. His figures are fairly conservative on detail, but otherwise realistic in proportion and shape. They look pretty ordinary, but in a very good way: like Bemis's writing, they are a matter-of-fact method of storytelling in an absurd narrative, and the low-key technique only serves to accentuate the bizarre subject matter. And in the few moments where Burrows gets to draw Marc kicking the crap out of some bad guys, he handles it with ease.
Ortego and Milla complement Burrows beautifully, with clean lines and fairly-realistic rendering. As I said, the theater in this issue is situational, and messier inks and more abstract colors would have broken the deadpan that Bemis and Burrows are going for. Burrows did leave Milla quite a few blank backgrounds to work with, however, and the colorist does a nice job using those panels to add more expressive color throughout the book. About the only thing I don't like is the pattern fill for the tile floor on several of the pages—it just doesn't go with the rest of the artwork, and stands out much more than it ought to (which is "not at all").
Cory Petit letters the book just fine, often working with quite a bit of text (especially once Marc reveals himself)—but I particularly appreciate how he handled this panel:
The way the dialogue reads, there ought to be a pause between balloons three and four—but what we really need is a longer pause than the sort typically afforded by two separate-but-touching balloons. There isn't space for that, but because of the way Petit lays out the balloons—in particular with the fourth one ratcheting back to the left, the pause is extended as your eyes swing over to find the first word of the next sentence. Now, it's entirely possible that Petit was simply making all of the text fit, and that there wasn't any other option, pauses be cursed—but the end result is highly functional regardless.
Did I make the cut?
Through-and-through, this is another excellent, highly-entertaining issue of Moon Knight, and a fine jumping-on point if you're new to the character. Reading #194 helps give context to the final page, but it isn't necessary, as there is plenty of interesting story, witty banter, and solid artwork to help this one stand on its own. Whether you're a longtime fan or a curious newcomer, Moon Knight #197 deserves a look.