Written by Joel T. Lewis
I thought I would never love again. I had honestly convinced myself that nobody could fill the void left by the departure of Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood from the Moon Knight series. I was sure that no matter how good Max Bemis and Jacen Burrows’ version of the Jet and Silver Avenger was it would feel like a shadow of the former series.
Now you can say what you want about Marvel misunderstanding the trends of the comic industry, you can speculate about the impact of an industry titan like Brian Michael Bendis transitioning to write for DC, you can even take issue with the whole philosophy behind the newest Marvel Legacy and Venom Universe events, but reader rest assured: when it comes to Moon Knight Marvel is firing on all cylinders.
Say Anything front man and budding comic book storyteller Max Bemis and Avatar Press regular Jacen Burrows pulled off a gutsy and spectacular first issue of their ‘Crazy Runs in the Family’ arc. Bemis’ first issue focuses on the mysterious origin of the newest addition to the Moon Knight rogue’s gallery, a villain called the Sun King from the perspective of Dr. Emmet, the therapist we met in Lemire’s run. While Bemis addresses Emmet’s obsession with Spector and his unique neuroses after their interactions in the previous series, Moon Knight himself is absent from the issue and only appears in a dream sequence. Now the dream sequence is outstanding and terrifying as it depicts a horde of mummies foiled in their attempts to attack Dr. Emmet by a Moon Knight who turns out to be the Sun King in disguise, but it’s pretty risky move to open a brand new Moon Knight series without the title career appearing at all. In this case, it was a risky move that paid off.
By depicting Dr. Emmet’s obsession with Spector and detailing how she uses him as a case study for trying to help her other patients, Bemis managed to put together an origin story for the Sun King that acts as a dark echo of Moon Knight’s birth. Dr. Emmet’s misguided attempt to provide her mysterious new patient with an Egyptian God metaphor to cling to as a stabilizer the way she thought Spector did with Khonshu leads to the birth of the Sun King. It’s almost the neurological equivalent of scientists trying to recreate the super soldier serum that made Steve Rogers Captain America and creating other superheroes. Emmet’s introduction of the Egyptian mythology as an anchor for her patient backfires and instead of mirroring Spector’s progress, the Sun King chooses, rather violently, a more extreme path. This is a villain origin story so well suited to Moon Knight and so unique that Moonie’s absence from the pages of the first issue doesn’t diminish it in the slightest.
I have to apologize dear readers as we embark on this second Moon Knight series together because, barring some major misstep down the line, you’re going to be subjected to another series of reviews from a gushing mess of a fan boy who was lucky enough to turn his reviewer’s gaze on Moon Knight during the character’s 2nd renaissance. Bemis has thoroughly impressed me with this first issue. His writing is a delicate balance of playful and poignant handling Emmet’s practiced bedside manner skillfully in one panel, and doling out insightful interpretations of Egyptian mythology in the next.
Artist Jacen Burrows is no slouch either. In this first issue Burrows presents us with his take on Khonshu, Ra, mummies, blood-stained asylum walls, Moon Knight himself, and a whole lot of fire. His work is excellent and the page-sized depiction of Moon Knight fighting off the mummies in Dr. Emmet’s dream is one of my favorite moments in Moon Knight artwork period. This is a great jumping on point for the character and I cannot recommend it enough. I can’t wait for the next issue! Until next time, Geek On!