Written by Joel T. Lewis
In issue 6 we catch up with Hollywood producer Steven Grant on the set of Marvel Studio’s newest film, “Moon Knight” and things are not running smoothly. Leading man Marc Spector storms off-set after a boom-mic operator ruins a take and an amateur director struggles to maintain control of his crew. Fed up with the day’s shooting, Grant and leading lady Marlene make their way home in an oddly familiar yellow cab.
As they drive away Marlene encourages Grant to take over the film as director and reminds him of a fundraiser he's organized later that night at Mercy Hospital. The same Mercy Hospital where Marc Spector was a patient just a few issues ago. Grant and the cabbie lock eyes at the mention of the mental institution and suddenly Steven Grant melts away and Jake Lockley emerges into the techno-noir world brought to life by artist Francesco Francavilla. After discovering Crawley by the side of the road Lockley discovers that jumping off the pyramid as Spector in issue 5 didn’t end his madness. He’s still being manipulated by Khonshu and can’t distinguish between his personalities or their respective realities.
Puzzled and frustrated by Crawley’s revelation Lockley opens the trunk of his cab to don the mantle of the Moon Knight, only to find himself Steven Grant again. As Grant struggles to make sense of what just happened, Marlene tries to reassure him, asking him if he’s taken his medication. Grant finds himself at the fundraiser at Mercy Hospital where he encounters the orderlies who abused Marc Spector in issues 1 and 2. Dismissing them as bumbling waiting staff Grant then discovers that he was once a patient at Mercy Hospital. Before he is able to learn more Grant is interrupted by the inept director of his film apologizing for the wasted day on set. Grant fires the director and informs him that he will be taking over the film. Marlene tells him how proud she is of him but calls him Marc not Steven. Confused, Grant retreats through a doorway to be alone with his thoughts but steps out onto a gritty Moonbase as the Starfighter Pilot Marc Spector. You didn’t forget the space werewolves did you? As Marc and his co-pilot Frenchie prepare to launch their crescent shaped Starfighter against the incoming threat of Space Wolves under the command of their one-eyed commander, General Lupinar, the issue ends with an ominous “To be continued…”
As Jeff Lemire takes us through so many transitions of Moon Knight’s identities it wouldn’t be difficult to get lost: between Grant, Lockley, and Spector, Lemire’s wouldn’t be the first Moon Knight series to be confusing. But somehow this run accomplishes the desired unease in the audience as we feel some of the confusion that Spector does but it also keeps us one step ahead. This is accomplished through the coordination of three very distinct artistic styles. In addition to the brilliant Greg Smallwood who has been the main artist of Moon Knight 2016, Marvel has turned to three talented artists to bring the worlds of Steven Grant, Captain Marc Spector, and Jake Lockley to life. Wilfredo Torres brings a crisp cleanliness to the world of Steven Grant: depicting film sets and movie stars that surround Grant as he navigates Hollywood. While Torres’ polished panels take up most of issue 6, James Stokoe’s cacophonous pages make up in density what they lack in number. Stokoe is given a mere ten panels at the end of this issue to flesh out the Moonbase world we were introduced to in issue 5 and he doesn’t waste a single frame. We know where we are, what Spector’s role in this world is, and who the enemy is very quickly. It is perhaps too clinical to describe an artist’s work as efficient, but Stokoe’s work in this issue certainly conveys a lot of detail in just a few pages.
While both Torres and Stokoe interpret Marc Spector’s separate identities with care and skill, the highlight of this issue, at least for me, is the world of Jake Lockley brought to life by Francesco Francavilla. While Jeff Lemire captures the gruff streetwise voice I’ve always associated with the Lockley persona, I have never seen an artist present a setting and atmosphere so well suited to a character. This technicolor noir world that Francavilla creates is Lockley through and through. The neon glow of the late-night clubs bathes every panel in its exaggerated light and I’m taken back to that first series of Moon Knight where Lockley investigated the seedy spots that were too rough for Steven Grant. In a series that I have time and again praised for its reverence for its source material, Francavilla’s artwork pays tribute to Jake Lockley in a way I’ve never seen before and it is simply stunning. Until next time, Geek On!