The relaunch of Moon Knight by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire has been critically acclaimed for good reason. Getting rid of the inaccurately portrayed mental illness Marc Spector had been shackled with, and shedding his supporting cast in favor of different characters and drone equipment, has worked out in Moon Knight’s favor. The structure of the new Moon Knight run is very simple — he protects travelers who go out at night, and he wears white so that bad people see him coming. There’s more to it than that, involving different costumes, the Egyptian multi-aspected god Khonshu, and the police unit that Spector works with occasionally, but each of the six issues that the initial creative team worked on is effectively a standalone done in one. Today, I’ll be focusing on my personal favorite of the run: issue five, Scarlet.
A young girl has been kidnapped by a gang of thugs, and Moon Knight doesn’t care why. He simply goes into the abandoned hotel that the gang’s taken over, and beats the hell out of them, wearing an increasingly damaged white suit and mask as he ascends the six story building.
The setup of one man versus an entire building full of bad guys almost certainly calls the reader’s mind to Die Hard, The Raid, and Dredd. When I read the issue, however, something else entirely came to mind. The song that came to mind, the music that I listened to on one of my several readthroughs of the issue, was Hydrogen by the electronic artist M|O|O|N.
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The track was used in the game Hotline Miami, a hyperviolent pixelated top-down game where you play as an unnamed masked character tasked to go to places and kill entire gangs of thugs occupying multiple floors of buildings. You’re given a wide amount of leeway when it comes to doing that task-there’s plenty of weaponry that you can use. The one weapon in the game that most people associate with the game’s main protagonist, and the weapon that Marc Spector demanded a thug hand over were one and the same: a baseball bat. This prompted me to grin pretty hard, I’m not going to lie.
The synchronicity of various aspects of the issue with Hotline Miami (the way human bodies are crumpled up in impressive/disturbing ways artistically, the use of the baseball bat, the story of a masked man going alone against a gang of toughs through multiple floors, and of course Marc Spector’s superhero identity corresponding to the electronic artist’s name) is something that intrigues me. I’m almost certainly making connections that don’t exist, though I am curious how many creators have played through Hotline Miami and had it influence them, just as things like Drive and Kick-Ass inspired the creators of Hotline Miami.
Regardless, I recommend listening to Hydrogen as you read issue 5 of Moon Knight, just as I recommend reading the entire first trade paperback if you can handle the violence.