BearSleuth Opinion Piece: Why is Moon Knight Issue One The Best Comic Of 2016 So Far?

Picture Source: [Accessed: 18/04/2016]

This week I made Moon Knight Issue One by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood my BearSleuth Pick Of The Week but for the first time in the history of the feature I don’t feel like that award is fitting. In fact, my original review of the piece in the BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle felt a little lacklustre because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. There is so much I could say about this book that I could have never fitted it in a paragraph review. I tried my best but you can consider this an omission of failure. Now I have an unlimited word and paragraph count I’m going to give this another go. Needless to say Moon Knight Issue One blew my mind.

You and Marc Spector are one and the same.

Picture Source: [Accessed: 18/04/2016]

The first thing to note about the book is how it plays with layout to put you in the same position as Marc Spector. Spector suffers from schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, these mental disorders can be difficult to show in the pages of a comic book. However, from the beginning of the issue we are presented with swathes of black space and cryptic imagery that tempts us to make up our own stories around Marc and the situation he’s in. This continues across the first four pages before we’re dumped into a completely different, more ‘realistic’, reality and art style. However in this new section the white spaces creep in again and the panels themselves begin to form into the esoteric imagery. This creates the idea of two realities fighting to take over the book. It places us in Marc’s shoes, attempting to discern the correct reality.

Lemire and Smallwood are geniuses.

Picture Source: [Accessed: 18/04/2016]

Normally in a comic book a writer and artist become tied down to one style of panelling and art as to keep consistency and avoid distraction on the part of the reader. Using the visual representation of schizophrenia has allowed both artist and writer to constantly change the art and panelling style throw-out the book, shifting from a free-form style across the first pages to much more ridged style around the mid-point of the book and finally ending on a fluid circular style towards the end of the piece. This exploits the visual nature of the medium to maximise every single pages punch unlike most other mainstream books. But these techniques wouldn’t work as well as they without a fantastic story to utilise them.

What is really going on here?

Picture Source: [Accessed: 18/04/2016]

Lemire is creating a story built around the idea of mental uncertainty, to this end every character is written with a duality. Khonshu feels like he could be a god or he could just be a part of Marc’s psyche. The orderlies in the hospital feel like they could be horrible men or they could have been pushed to the limits by Marc’s constant attacks and escape attempts. Once we have been presented with these obvious dichotomies we begin to question less notable characters, especially the background characters in the asylum who are formed from the background cast of the classic Moon Knight books. This give the impression that nothing in this book is what it seems and causes us to doubt and question all the Moon Knight storylines to date. It’s at this point that we see Khonshu’s vision of New York and now we have to weigh up, just like Marc, which reality we believe. The one that’s obviously insane with flying Egyptian monsters or the one that is subtly wrong in the asylum. This is graphic fiction at its most powerful and I have to say it has a profound effect on me.

You should probably go buy Moon Knight, right?

Picture Source: [Accessed: 18/04/2016]

This book receives the highest recommendation from me. If you’re interested in comic books I have a feeling that this is going to be a landmark issue as it is the start of, what I am sure will be, a fantastic storyline. If you are interested in writing comic books then this is a book you need to buy and study as it uses every modern technique to tell a great story. If you’ve never read a comic book then this is a great place to start as it shows you the full power of a comic book. This is the book to buy and you need to grab it now before it becomes impossible to pick up a copy!

…That was this week’s BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!! Check back on Wednesday for a new Comic History 101!!!

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