REVIEW: Moon Knight #1

Steve McNiven and Frank D’Armata’s cover for Moon Knight #1 by writer Jed MacKay, artist Alessandro Cappuccio, colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, and letterer Cory Petit feature image depicting Moon Knight in the rain

Opening with a multilevel marketing scheme orchestrated by vampires, Moon Knight #1 hits the ground running. Or, well, Moon Knight (Marc Spector) hits a van while it’s running, fulfilling his duty as a Fist of (the absent, see Avengers) Khonshu and protector of those who travel (unwillingly in the aforementioned van) at night.

Moon Knight #1

Alessandro Cappuccio (artist), Jed MacKay (writer), Steve McNiven and Frank D’Armata (cover artists), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), and Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist)
Marvel Comics
July 21, 2021

Steve McNiven and Frank D’Armata’s cover for Moon Knight #1 by writer Jed MacKay, artist Alessandro Cappuccio, colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, and letterer Cory Petit depicting Moon Knight in the rain

I’ve read a few volumes of Moon Knight comics, more recently published than not, and nothing I loved or even really liked, so I appreciated how thoroughly this first issue reintroduced the character. It does so by introducing the fully costumed Moon Knight to his new (but not new), Avengers-mandated therapist, Dr. Sterman. This is supposed to be Andrea Sterman, but she doesn’t look like the Nomad character. There aren’t any captions to indicate names, which would have been profoundly helpful in a book whose characters are largely uncostumed, so I had to find an interview to confirm that it was her. This Dr. Sterman could just as easily be read as a person of color as the new, and very plainly non-white, characters introduced as the issue alternated between Spector’s sessions with her and his superheroics: Reese, Moon Knight’s antagonistic receptionist, and Dr. Badr.

Panel from Moon Knight #1 by writer Jed MacKay, artist Alessandro Cappuccio, colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, and letterer Cory Petit depicting Moon Knight and Dr. Badr in conversation

“Badr” is an (easily Google-able) Arabic name meaning “full moon,” which felt less “clever like a pyramid scheme in a book drawing on Egyptian mythology” and more “on the nose,” but it isn’t clear if Dr. Badr is Arab. I’ve written about the state of Arab representation in American superhero comics, and this character, an ethnically ambiguous member of the Cult of Khonshu, has me concerned, especially given the reveal at the end of the book and the fact that no one on the creative or editorial teams has an Arabic family name like Badr’s (or mine). Whether or not he is Arab, he is a man of color whose brown skin appears in stark contrast to Spector’s white costume. My gut and about 80 years of comics say this doesn’t end well for him, but I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong.

Although there are a few splash pages that felt utterly unnecessary, a lot of art telling very little story, Cappuccio’s dramatic linework is often incredible (there’s one not quite splash page involving Spector’s cape that I absolutely adored). Cappuccio’s Moon Knight stands out against Rosenberg’s colors, which are limited, often focusing on a particular temperature: warm fighting vampires, cool fighting Spidey villain(s), and mixed meeting up with Dr. Sterman, but well balanced. Rosenberg’s work highlights just how good Cappuccio’s inks are. Over the art, Petit is given too much dialogue and too little sound effects, but those few krashes that he does get to do are perfectly placed, visibly part of, but just enough apart from the issue’s artwork to stand out.

Although I’m concerned about Badr, I am intrigued by the way MacKay is writing Moon Knight. MacKay and Cappuccio’s Moon Knight employs Reese after rescuing her earlier in the issue. He responds to a request for help from a little old lady and a call about a supervillain attacking a free clinic. He is still the violent (more often than not) character that I’ve seen before, but he hurts to help others.

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