Moon Knight #29-30
Issue(s): Moon Knight #29, Moon Knight #30
I haven't looked in on Moon Knight since issue #13 but i thought i'd pick up these issues because they feature Werewolf By Night. And holy crap has Bill Sienkiewicz evolved since #13.
The story here is that some Satan-Klansman are after the Werewolf...
...because as a "beast" they consider him representative of their religion and even intend to draw power from him in a blood ritual. There are also some internal politics going on in the Satan church, and the leader needs to capture the Werewolf in order to keep people from splintering off (and they are sophisticated enough to use beepers, the kind "used to summon surgeons from the golf course").
Jack Russell is seeking help from Moon Knight, contacting him through police lieutenant Flint. But at this point Jack no longer has control over the werewolf (same as we saw in his last Spider-Woman appearance), so "helping" him is difficult.
But when he's in Jack Russell form, Moon Knight is able to bring in a doctor that confirms that the Satanists have put a chip in his head, which is how they keep finding him (one wonders how they got a chip in his head but failed to keep ahold of him).
The doctor is Dr. Lawson - a relative of Walter Lawson, the guy that Captain Mar-vell impersonated?
Also worth noting that Moon Knight claims he doesn't believe in the supernatural, and that Russell's condition is a "biological fluke".
After the chip is removed, Jack is hypnotized by Marlene into accepting Moon Knight as an ally even when he's in Werewolf form.
And with that, it's the world's most dangerous team-up.
When the Satanists are defeated, Moon Knight lets Werewolf By Night go.
That may seem irresponsible, but Jack Russell does seem to be doing what he can to prevent the Werewolf from hurting innocent people. There's a nice conversation earlier with Moon Knight and Jack "catching up".
The art on these issues speaks for itself, and it's the main draw here. Storywise, i'm a little surprised to see Marvel still doing stories about Satanism after running that kind of thing into the ground in the 70s, but beyond that, Doug Moench's writing here is good. The plot is simple enough, leaving room for Sienkiewicz to do his thing, but Moench is able to drop in some nice character moments and other nice touches, like this one where the Satanists have Moon Knight captured and they unmask him to find... that he's no one in particular.
Thanks to Sienkiewicz's later work on New Mutants, i can't help but think of Wolfsbane with the art here.
There's also this scene (of the Satanists gathering in New York) that is very reminiscent of Sienkiewicz's later even more experimental work.
The back-up in #29 has Moon Knight in his Steven Grant persona, being visited by the "ghost" of his Mark Spector persona.
Grant tells Spector that acting as Moon Knight is his way of atoning for the crimes that Spector perpetrated.
I suspect this back-up was a try-out for Kevin Nowlan, who is announced as the new artist for Moon Knight in an editorial in issue #30. Apparently Bill Sienkiewicz felt that the story he drew for issue #26 was as high a point as he was going to reach for the book and he was ready to move on. Nowlan seems to be emulating more of Sienkiewicz's earlier Neal Adams-ish style than what we're seeing in these issues.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #29 opens with a ten page sequence showing Werewolf By Night pursued by the Satanists that takes place "one month" earlier than the rest of the issue. Issue #29 also has the Kevin Nowlan back-up that can't take place between the main story in #29 and issue #30, so maybe we can assume it takes place during that same period as the Werewolf/Satanist piece, before Moon Knight first appears in the main story in #29. The MCP places this after Werewolf By Night is freed from Ticktock and Locksmith in Spider-Woman #50.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBetrand Crawley, Frenchie, Gena Landers, Lt. Flint, Marlene Alraune, Moon Knight, Samuels, Werewolf By Night
I think Sienkiewicz is near the height of his artistic prowess here. His art is heavily stylized, but still dynamic and understandable. I don't like his later New Mutants work at all, much of which I find ugly and sometimes incoherent. Some of his work after New Mutants is much better (mainly his graphic novels work).
I find it interesting that Moon Knight dismisses the supernatural here considering his own origins with a mysterious resurrection where he devotes himself to an obscure Egyptian god. I think it is a misstep. While I don't mind Moon Knight being skeptical when dealing with possible occult experiences, it should be a skepticism based on his experience with the real occult world as it exists in the Marvel Universe. Since the readers know Jack's curse is due to the Darkhold, it also makes him completely wrong.
As I mentioned elsewhere, I think Moon Knight as a series would have improved by expanding his involvement in the "low" occult world and dealing with low powered (for a superhero universe) occult menaces and monsters. Too often such monsters become generic supervillains and lose their uncanny aspect and lack horror, with Moon Knight that aspect could be emphasized. I would have loved to see a Moon Knight - Blade team-up against Marvel's Dracula.
Posted by: Chris | August 4, 2013 9:31 PM
What Sienkiewicz became later in the 1980s was, in my opinion, a great cover artist -- one of the best of that or any era. As a penciler of the interior of a book, less so. Whether you liked his extremely stylized later work or found it ugly as Chris does was a matter of taste; the "incoherent" charge is harder to knock down. Every carefully labored-over panel was becoming its own little abstract frame. The flow from panel to panel, the sense of the art working hand in hand with the script to tell a fluid, dynamic story...this was gone.
Also, what he was doing suffered from the confines of little boxes. Sometimes I would look at a page with half of a dozen striking yet disconnected images, and I'd think that any one of them could be blown up into a great cover. So, I that's it in a nutshell: he was *always* drawing covers, but there were dozens of them all over the inside of the book.
But of course anyone could see he was a great talent, and so it was only a vocal minority expressing this in the 1980s. Kudos to him for growing into something more than the Adams clone he was early on; I just don't think penciling a monthly title was the best outlet for him, by the point he had reached by NEW MUTANTS.
I'll admit, I thought his approach did work on the zany ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN, and Alan Moore's political graphic novel BROUGHT TO LIGHT. But that was a very different kind of storytelling.
Posted by: Todd | August 4, 2013 11:52 PM
You have Werewolf by Night here between issues of Spider-Woman where he's disappeared & a prisoner of Locksmith.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 29, 2013 2:30 AM
Thanks Erik. I've shuffled this after Spider-Woman #50, matching the MCP's placement.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 29, 2013 1:28 PM
You're making me want to dig out the Drean Demon Moon Knight issues now...
You wouldn't have a scan of the back page to MK #28, would you? It had an AMAZING tonal study of Werewolf By Night that blew my tiny min day back in '82 or '83. I can't find it anywhere online... Help!
Posted by: McRonson | March 18, 2014 4:41 AM
Just remembered something, recently one of the new Dr. Who toy series had a terrific Werewolf figure in the lineup. The prices came down eventually and I was able to give my Toybiz Moon Knight toy his very own Werewolf By Night to do battle with...
Posted by: McRonson | March 18, 2014 4:50 AM
McRonson, sorry, Moon Knight is one of the series where i still have some gaps, and i don't have #28.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 18, 2014 7:15 AM
Perusing your chronology for the Werewolf By Night, it seems that with this issue the Werewolf changes from its original Mike Ploog design (on the model of Lon Chaney Jr.'s "Wolfman," or the werewolves appearing on the original "Scooby Doo" cartoon) to the present Sienkiewicz design (reminiscent of "The Howling," or the werewolves in Neal Adams' "Monsters" and Berni Wrightson's "Swamp Thing"). As I recall, Marvel maintained the latter look at least up through the Cap-Wolf arc in "Captain America." Is this "Moon Knight" appearance its debut? And was there ever an in-story explanation given for the change? (I suppose if anyone has a right to transform his whole look, it's Jack Russell).
Posted by: Chris Z | February 7, 2018 3:05 PM
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