Written by Joel T. Lewis
How does the greatest Moon Knight Story end? How does the most anticipated clash between Priest and Deity conclude? How does Marc Spector break free of the manipulative shackles of his vengeful benefactor? I can tell you it doesn't end with a crash, not with a dizzying crescendo. The pages that lie beneath that beautiful cacophonous cover don't show a cataclysmic battle with legions of Spectors, Lockleys, and Grants tumbling over each other in a battle as much against self as it is against Khonshu. And to be perfectly honest, therein lies the brilliance of Lemire’s finale.
As Marc makes his way back through the halls of his hellish asylum, he flashes between the present reunion between himself, the jackal-headed hospital attendants Bobby and Billy, and the sinister Dr. Ammut and his cold painful journey to the temple of Khonshu many years ago. As Marc succumbs to the chemically-induced paralysis imposed on him by the bumbling Jackals, Khonshu carries his body in the past to the foot of his own statue, explaining the fluidity of time and space in the Othervoid. After being subjected to a nasty shock courtesy of Dr. Ammut, Marc awakens back in Egypt as he did so many years ago and Jeff Lemire lifts Marc’s words straight from Doug Moench’s very first issue of Moon Knight back in 1980. This callback resonated with Lemire’s characteristic respect for the origins of Moon Knight and it was incredible to read those words again. The weight of Lemire’s retelling and the freshness of Smallwood’s art really breathed new life into the fantastic dialogue Moench wrote almost 40 years ago. After Marc takes up the mantle of the Moon Knight, he breaks free of his restraints and quickly dispatches Ammut and her cronies one last time before reaching the roof to confront Khonshu.
Khonshu can no longer pit Marc Spector against the separate aspects of himself. So he attacks him with shades of past enemies instead; flickering shadows of werewolves, stained-glass femme fatales, armor-plated politicians, twisted mirror images, and cruel mercenaries. Khonshu twists and warps reality as Bushman, Black Spectre, Stained Glass Scarlett, and Midnight Man attack Marc from every angle. Marc’s surroundings shift from rooftop, to moonscape, to New Egypt as Khonshu bombards him with figures from his past. Instead of folding under the fear these specters are meant to inspire, Marc faces down his God and fights in a way we've never seen before. As he cuts through the false forms of his old rogue’s gallery, his hands tighten in a grip around the now fragile looking bird skull of Khonshu’s Othervoid form. In this moment he is not merely Spector. He is Marc Spector, he is Steven Grant, and he is Jake Lockley. They are one. They are Moon Knight. And they are enough. Powerful and united Moon Knight emerges victorious over the infectious madness Khonshu inflicted on them. The four panels that Smallwood uses to illustrate Moon Knight’s final moment of self-awareness are focused, flawless, and spectacular.
The quiet calm of this series’ conclusion speaks to how Moon Knight has grown throughout the course of this run. It is through measured collaboration with all aspects of his personality that Moon Knight finds his strength and it is his self-acceptance that allows him to overcome the fear Khonshu has employed to manipulate him over the years.
How do you say goodbye to a series as important, thoughtful, groundbreaking, and perfect as this one has been? I’m not sure I know how dear readers. What Lemire, Smallwood, and Bellaire were able to bring to this chronically underrated superhero is nothing short of poetry. Their understanding of the character transcends and enhances all that came before, their vision for the psyche of this hero has been thoughtful, kind, and honest, and their synchronicity of vision with every panel, letter, and splash of color is among the highest order of art I’ve had the pleasure to experience. This is the first comic book series I’ve ever collected every month as it’s come out and it was a pleasure to follow. I’d like to thank Greg Smallwood for capturing the pain of a man constantly running from his fear of madness. I’d like to thank Jordie Bellaire for giving a hero clad in white so much brilliance. Finally, I’d like to thank Jeff Lemire for treating my favorite hero the way I’d like to think I would, like a dear old friend. Before closing the door on this outstanding series of Moon Knight I wanted to share something pretty special that I discovered on the second to last page of issue 14. I wrote a letter to the creative team of Moon Knight. I’ve never done that before, and when I sent it I figured that because I had waited so long to send anything I was too late to have it published in the final issue. Turns out I wasn’t too late and the letter I wrote is on the second page of the 'Moonie Missives' section of the last issue of the series. Trying to describe what it feels like to fall in love with a character as obscure as Moon Knight, to luck into reading the most important of his stories month-to-month, and then to have my name printed in the final issue is impossible. Comics do that to you. They inspire you, capture you, and make you part of the adventure in a way few works of art can. Until next time, Geek On!