Written by Joel T. Lewis
When we last left Marc Spector he was being confronted on the steps of a massive pyramid by someone claiming to be Moon Knight. As they grapple the imposter claims to be Marc Spector from a time before he lost his mind. Marc declares, “I am not insane!” as he stabs the imposter in the gut in a desperate attempt to end the fight, but his last ditch effort is unsuccessful. The imposter head-butts Spector saying, “you don't know what you are” and runs off with Marlene leaving Spector stunned and alone. As he rushes inside the pyramid after his attacker, Spector shoves open a heavy stone door and steps out onto the moon. That's right. Marc Spector finds himself in a space suit on the surface of the moon. Spector follows the trail of footsteps and blood to another door cut out of moon-rock but before he can open it he turns around to investigate a strange growling sound. He quickly discovers the source: a pack of blood-thirsty werewolves. On the moon. You read all of that correctly dear audience Jeff Lemire has indeed written a Moon Knight story in which Marc Spector is on the moon being chased by space werewolves.
This madness lasts a mere three pages before Spector makes it through a second door which opens onto a film set. Spector is approached by Marlene dressed as Stained Glass Scarlet (an old Moon Knight villain) and calls him “Steven Grant” (the name he took on as his first alias when he became Moon Knight). Spector discovers later that this version of Grant is a millionaire film producer who has cast Marlene in one of his pictures. Neither Spector nor the reader has much time to process this shift as the two asylum orderlies from issues passed appear and chase Spector through yet another door marked with a crescent moon. Through this door Spector finds himself in a neon-noir style New York dressed as Jake Lockley, another former alias of the Moon Knight. The orderlies continue to chase him through this technicolor world and even manage to catch Spector momentarily before being subdued by him once again. Spector makes his way through another door with a crescent moon and stumbles upon a jail cell occupied by the god Seth.
Remember a couple issues back when I made a heartfelt case for Khonshu as a compassionate fatherly figure? As it turns out I may have spoken too soon. The gauntlet of madness and reality that Spector has been running through was not orchestrated by Seth but by Khonshu. It was Khonshu who planned to use Marc’s weakened mind as a gateway to the real world. As heartbreaking as all of that is, Khonshu’s suggestion at the climax of this four-issue arc hurts the most, “Then let me take the pain away. Let me in and it will all stop. The pain. The confusion. You know you just want peace Marc. It can all end now. Give me your body, your mind. So I can be born into this world. You have served me well, child. Now you can rest. Your work is done. You can be free.”
Khonshu asks for a conscious sacrifice from a broken man. A man that Khonshu broke. As he listens to all of this you can trace the defiance, betrayal, and finally resolve in Marc’s face as the panels slip passed. His answer? No. Spector then hurls himself off the side of the pyramid toward a rough landing soaking the sand in blood. Though triumphant in this last act of defiance Spector’s journey is far from over. The final pages of the issue show Spector waking up as Steven Grant. Grant has been asleep next to the star of his latest film project Marlene and as he gazes out over the New York City skyline he smiles.
This final issue in the “Welcome to New Egypt” storyline was as fitting a conclusion as we could have hoped for. Shifting personas with corresponding art style switches, yet another layer to the twisted relationship between Marc Spector and Khonshu, and space werewolves. Let's not forget that those made an appearance in this issue along with all the other madness. Once again Jeff Lemire demonstrates his appreciation for the character of Moon Knight while sending him off into space. Literally. Until next time, Geek On!
Written by Joel T. Lewis
There are two Batmans as far as I’m concerned. There’s the dark, brooding titan of Justice whose shadowy silhouette strikes fear into the heart of Gotham’s criminal underworld, and then there’s the campy, silly, gadget-toting Batman portrayed by Adam West in the live action Batman T.V. series and the Batman ‘66 comics. I love them both dearly. Somehow Scott Snyder found the middle ground between these two portrayals in All-Star Batman and it is so much fun to read.
As Batman and Two-Face continue their journey cross-country they find themselves on the top of a high-speed train. Batman trades blows with villains whose size and madness increase as the train accelerates through scenery reminiscent of the old west. Killer Croc, King Shark, and Amygdala (a trio I was excited to see working together) attempt to rescue Two-Face from Batman with little success. With scenery whizzing by Batman dispatches each muscle-bound foe while balancing atop the speeding train in panels that feel like an old west train robbery sequence. Once free of the hulking villains, Batman scarcely has time to breathe before being accosted by toxin specialists Cheshire and Copperhead. The issue is fast-paced and exhilarating, and Snyder continues to do interesting things as he jumps back and forward in time. By showing us Commissioner Gordon just a few days in the future preparing a raid of Wayne Manor, Snyder expresses how tight Two-Face’s hold over Gotham really is. Even Gordon, Batman’s greatest ally in the GCPD cannot allow Gotham to weather the storm of what Two-Face can reveal. These jumps in time also build up tension, giving each panel set in the present a sense of immediacy and narrative weight. These glimpses of the future deepen our understanding of how corrupt and broken Gotham is and how desperate its citizens are to hide that fact.
Batman’s greatest asset is that he is always prepared for every situation so, naturally we have seen some strange and silly gadgets throughout his history. Snyder references two of Batman’s most ridiculous gadgets in two consecutive pages and elevates them, basking in their silliness. Issue no. 22 of the Batman and Robin (2009) series found the Dark Knight in a last ditch effort to come out on top while grappling with the White Knight. Out of options, Batman triggers spring-loaded ears which shoot up into the Knight’s head. Robin’s question in the following panel echoes the voices of the audience unsure of what just happened, “Are those your cowl ears sticking in his head?” Yes Robin, they are, and while silly, of course Batman has spring-loaded bat-ears! Snyder plays a variation on this gadget in All-Star Batman No. 2: as Amygdala holds Batman up to meet the fast-approaching tunnel roof on top of the train Batman reaches up and detaches his ears, revealing them to be wicked-looking knives. The panel transition is so quick that you nearly miss what Batman has plunged into Amygdala’s arms but after a double-take you accept the truth: of course Batman’s ears are knives!
When you think of silly Bat-Gadgets none is more infamous than the one that caused such an uproar in 1966’s Batman: The Movie. While dangling from the Bat-Copter and grappling with a blatantly rubber shark Batman calls for the one thing in his arsenal that can vanquish his finned foe: Shark Repellant Bat-Spray. The inclusion of this silly gadget in the movie from 1966 has endured years of criticism but it is not the first appearance of Shark Repellant in Batman canon (it appears in Batman No. 117). Nor was it the last.
Now remember that in this issue Batman finds himself on top of a speeding train, facing Amygdala, Killer Croc, and King Shark. After dispatching Amygdala with his cowl-knives Batman turns to King Shark and he’s got an old trick up his cape. Batman aims a few smoke pellets at King Shark’s head and he recoils, unable to handle the stench. This sends King Shark and Amygdala over the side of the train. In the next panel Killer Croc asks the question on all our minds, “What were those things? Shark-Repellent? Smells like--” Batman responds, detailing the exact formula of what he threw at King Shark, “Dead Shark Matter? Copper Acetate mixed with Boric Acid.” It’s shark-repellent Batman, we all know it’s shark-repellent.
Snyder continues to intrigue and innovate in his All-Star Batman series. Some have balked at the $4.99 price of every issue, which can be steep for DC fans tracing the lines of the Rebirth comic event. However, if you can swing the extra $2.00 per issue, at the end of every issue Snyder tackles the training of Batman’s newest sidekick Duke Thomas AKA Lark in little mini-issues. It’s very refreshing to read about Batman’s new training method and a new hero following the legion of Robins we’ve had over the years. Lark is all that you want and more in a Batman sidekick: complex, tragic, and rebellious in that classic Bat-Family way. Until next time, Geek On!