With issue #14, the current Moon Knight run comes to a close. Do we get answers for any of the several questions this volume has raised? If not, is the ending still satisfactory in its own open-endedness?
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Thus far, this volume of Moon Knight has walked a tightrope between sparse, yet compelling detail and incoherence. Marc Spector has frequently found himself unsure of what around him is real versus a delusion resulting from his mental illness. That ambiguity continues in this issue to mixed effect. On one hand, the frequent changes in time and location can easily be chalked up to Marc not fully knowing the truth himself. One could debate how many concrete answers this finale needs to deliver, but even if this issue doesn’t feature a lot of solid answers, I still feel a bit disappointed by the way the ending was executed.
I think the numerous changes in scene in this issue hinder the overall flow of the story. Many of the scenes feel underdeveloped, as Marc shifts from the past to the present to a different present to the past again, and it’s hard to feel grounded in any of the issue’s events. The final showdown with Khonshu feels rushed, and the ways in which Marc interacts with his alternate personas suffer slightly from a lack of narrative consistency. The final battle, which is essentially between Marc and himself, had the potential to be great, but felt shortchanged by a lack of build-up with regards to Marc’s thought process.
Artistically, this is a good issue. Greg Smallwood’s pencils are detailed without ever feeling too busy. He renders Marc’s facial expressions skillfully, and Khonshu has an otherworldly aura that is very fitting for a god. My main con with the artwork is that several pages use the exact same four-panel layout. This repetition staggers the visuals in a way that makes them feel a little less dynamic; the compositional choices don’t always feel optimized to fit the content on the page.
Even if the execution doesn’t feel perfect, I applaud writer Jeff Lemire for directly tackling Moon Knight’s mental illness in a new way. Marc addresses his struggles, and their inevitability, in a fight scene that is more about Marc finding peace with himself than taking down his opponent. The issue ends ambiguously, and for all the issue’s faults, there is a kernel of emotional truth here that still hits close to home. While I wish that certain aspects of the narrative had been paced differently, this is still a solid ending to a moving chapter in Moon Knight’s history.