by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (art), Matthew Hollingsworth (colors), and Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: Things go from bad to worse as Count Nefaria calls in some expert help from a family member.

The Review: I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but Moon Knight has become a truly good comic book.  Naysayers will refuse to be convinced, I know, but this book has come a long way over its run and I am genuinely saddened, frustrated even, that there are only two issues left to go, particularly given that it seems to have found its creative apex.  Make no mistake: this is Bendis, Maleev, and Hollingsworth firing on all cylinders; I am not looking forward to seeing the abrupt end of a very good thing.

This is the first issue where I truly felt that the whole “Avengers” slant to Bendis’ Moon Knight has really worked.  Wolverine has effectively become a part of Spector’s psychosis, just one more facet of a troubled mind.  Through the violence of Wolverine’s voice and the way he truly reflects a portion of Marc’s personality and character.  For the first time, I can say that it no longer feels at all like a gimmick.  Rather than a cheap selling point, it’s become a sincere and unsettling reflection of Marc’s mind.

The supporting cast also continues to really bolster this book.  Buck and Marc’s relationship continues to be surprisingly resonant and has developed, against all odds, into a believable friendship that is actually a pretty comforting presence in the book.  It’s enjoyable to read, Buck continues to be an unlikely hero and general badass, and it’s nice to see Marc having a bro looking out for him.  I also loved Bendis’ treatment of Echo’s death, or rather, its aftermath.  It’s dealt with in a brutally harsh and blunt fashion not often seen in superhero comics.  Indeed, I kept thinking that Echo couldn’t be dead, that there had to be some trick or ruse, but Bendis doesn’t hold back, showing Echo labeled as a Jane Doe on a slab, with morgue doctors chatting above her.  There’s a coldness to it that is incredibly effective and makes Echo’s death’s impact on Marc’s psyche and general guilt all the more impactful and believable.

Bendis also brings in one of his old favourites: Madame Masque.  He does a great job in making her seem like an urban predator, deadly and merciless.  She feels legitimately angerous and leads to the reader seeing Marc as all the more hunted and vulnerable.  There’s also an off-panel fight between Masque and Buck that is quite impactful, particularly given how well Bendis portrays Buck and Marc’s friendship earlier in the issue, effectively setting up that later, ill-fated fight.

Then there’s the artwork.  This really is Maleev and Hollingsworth doing what they do best: superheroics in a dark, harsh, gritty environment.  Maleev’s work is such that he’s really emphasized atmosphere, creating a very distinct world and tone for Moon Knight to walk in.  The result is a truly immersive book that pulls the reader into its world.  Much like Daniel Acuna’s work in this week’s issue of Avengers is evocative and full of feeling and provides for wonderful escapism despite its innate realism.  Simply put, it’s art that sucks you in.

Conclusion: Great issue that sees Moon Knight and its creators living up to their potential.  It’s just such a damned shame that there are only two issues left.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans