Sunday, October 28, 2007

Moon Knight Reloaded: Counterpoint

Part 3 of 3: Under the Hood

Regarding Moon Knight #13: KUDOS to Charlie Huston for not only illustrating the "Old Testament" attitude we were speaking of earlier, but also for seeming to back up my next point.

Denny O'Neil, who wrote Batman in the 60s and edited Batman in the 80s, famously declared that Batman disguised himself as Bruce Wayne, not the other way around. He also said lots of other rubbish like Batman is impotent and he never caught his parents' killer, but that's an outraged rant for another day.

As Batman has Millionaire Bruce Wayne (and on occasion, Matches Malone), so Moon Knight has Millionaire Steven Grant and Jake Lockley (and Marc Spector, and Khonshu, and in the Ultimate Universe, a little girl with no eyeballs). Pretty much the primary way writers express the "Moon Knight is CRAZY" concept is by emphasizing his many identities.

Um...yeah. What say we leave the multiple-personality shtick to Bruce Banner, ok?

So who's really under the hood, Mr. Moon Knight? Jake Lockley?



You can't fool us. That's just how you pose as your own stoolie to the get the word on the streets. Steven Grant?

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Nah. That's how you infiltrate high society and finance your operations. Are you the Avatar of Khonshu?

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Nice try. You'd have to be an idiot to fall for that one. But are you Marc Spector, ruthless mercenary and killer?

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I submit that Marc Spector was dead inside long before he started wearing a cape. I submit there is nobody under the hood. And that may be even scarier.

A man who has no sense of self at all. Every face he shows is a tool, a step to carry on his mission. He is unknowable, because there is nothing there to know. He's a blank slate; only the mission of vengeance matters. I find this direction intriguing. However, it requires the supporting cast to carry the emotional load. Fortunately we have Frenchie and Marlene, and perhaps Doc's idea of "The Moon Knight Family" has a use after all. I say if you're going that way, the answer is move him into the realm of The Shadow rather than Batman. The earliest days of The Shadow, mind you, not the radio bastardization--back when he was an unknowable force operating behind the scenes, as his agents wondered just who that manipulative bastard was who gave them their marching orders and saved them from certain death.

Well, readers? What's your counterpoint? Who is this Moon Knight, and why has he endured this long?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moon Knight Reloaded: Counterpoint

Part 2 of 3: How do you solve a problem like the Moon Knight?

Villains. Moon Knight. This is an uphill climb. Still, Daredevil had pretty much nothing in the way of bad guys until Frank Miller stole Kingpin & Punisher away from Spidey and threw in a couple of hardcore assassins. What then can we steal for Moon Knight, who spent a lot of his career fighting a mercenary, a bunch of corrupt businessmen, and a werewolf?

Let's free associate. Moon...Knight...wolves howl at the moon...phases of the moon...moon sign, Sun sign, rising sign...knight to queen's bishop 4...Egypt...disguises...false faces...vengeance. Hmmm.

A vigilante who dealt vengeance on "criminals" with intense random violence. He was a crazy man, who only appeared during a full moon. He was...a LUNATIK.

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But that was just one face, one phase, of a more complicated man. Another face was a suave sophisticated fellow, Harrison Turk.
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But his true self was the evil wizard king Arisen Tyrk, arch-enemy of...the Man-Wolf.




Not bad for a start. We can do better. In Moon Knight's first solo story in Marvel Premiere, he fought the lame-ass "Conquer-Lord" (less said about him the better), who put him in a chessboard deathtrap. Let's remove everything from that last sentence except "chessboard." We can steal a page from Alpha Flight (who'd notice?) and bring in...the BRASS BISHOP and his CHESS SET.

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Oh dear. They're a little TOO "Batman" don't you think? King Coal?! Overknight?! Its a wonder they didn't have a guy named Pawn Cocktail. We are getting closer though. It's nice to have MK go against a group, have him outnumbered, make him the underdog. Yes...a team. Ya know, for a guy who isn't supposed to play well with others, he did manage to be on two super-teams. First a cup of coffee with the Defenders. Then a brief stint with the West Coast Avengers.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHey that's weird. He was on both teams just long enough to fight ZODIAC.

A-ha. now we're getting closer. Corrupt businessmen criminals, colorful outfits, ruled by the movements of the Sun and Moon. Now, all we need is someone to lead them. The world doesn't need another robot double of Nick Fury's brother though.

Fortunately, I have found another candidate. A real mastermind. Cruel and sadistic. Likes disguises. Always looking for vengeance on the world that created him. And best of all he looks like a GOD DAMN WEREWOLF.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you
the MAN-BEAST.


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Man-Beast, or Super-Beast. The Bastard Son of Wundagore Mountain. Evolution gone wrong. Tough enough to go mano a mano with Thor and Adam Warlock. Smart enough to create an army of animal-men (say...aren't most of the Zodiac animals?). His first words were "I live...AND I HATE!"

But why lead the Zodiac? Why not? Look at this guy's history. Put all of his insane plans together and you've got a guy whose sole motivation is f*cking with people for the hell of it. He fancies himself the modern-day Satan (back when Warlock was the Counter-Earth Jesus). He disguised himself as the Hate-Monger for a whole year in the 70s, and why?! BECAUSE HE COULD. Don't believe me?

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Ok, I admit it. My number one reason is still that he's a FRICKIN' WOLF MAN. Wolf man + Moon Knight = GOLD. You can't argue with science, folks.

Oh and what's that Egyptian deity with the head of a dog? Oh yeah, that's right: SET the Lord of Evil.

PS: Just to have some more Egyptian trappings around, steal OZYMANDIAS away from the X-Books.

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Cheers. In part 3 we look at Moon Knight's "multiple personality" shtick and see if it's worth saving.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Moon Knight Reloaded: Counterpoint

Part 1 of 3: "Bite Me, Doc"

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Adding more Batman trappings to Moon Knight? Is he gonna be a parody character forever?

There is one thing Doc and I are agreed on: Moon Knight is Old Testament. From Marc Spector's rabbinical dad to Khonshu the Egyptian god of vengeance, Moon Knight is all about an eye for an eye. This is how he can stand apart from the other street-level Marvels wandering New York City. He doesn't need colorful bank robbers, Spider-Man has that covered. He shouldn't be beating up mobsters, that's daredevil's job. Playing bodyguard for cash? There's at least 5 guys who've done the "Hero for Hire" bit. And the Punisher took all the guns.

Let the punishment fit the crime. With Moon Knight, killers get killed. Thieves have something precious taken from them. Combined with his crazy reputation, all the other Marvel heroes think he's that dude from "SAW."

That said, wreaking Mikado-like vengeance on petty criminals will get boring after a while. So this m.o. is just in the background. What epic battles should a Moon Knight have?

Quick, name as many Moon Knight villains as you can in 10 seconds.

Time's up. Right now you're amazed MK was ever popular. He's got fewer quality bad guys than Daredevil! He's gotten by for decades on a COLD look and Batman's gimmicks.

What are the building blocks of his rogue's gallery? In the next installment, we look into the past to find themes for the future...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Moon Knight Reloaded: The Moon Knight Family



Ok so me and Thad were talking and as often happens, a character comes up who we feel could use some working over. As usual Thad and I were of 2 diffent minds of how to do it so we are presenting our ideas here.
Here's Mine, The Moon Knight Family.

Moon Knight was basically created to be Marvel's Batman and I think there is nothing wrong with that. I just want to carry the idea as far as possible. He has the cool look but no real personality. He's Marvel's resident crazy guy. Like...all those other crazy guys...

I think he needs a stable of guys to help him on his mission and give him life. The same way Batman is energied by Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman and Oracle.

He already has Alfred in the form of Frenchie and a slew of cool gadgets like the Moon Copter.

He needs a Nightwing and a Robin. I nominate Silver Sable and Darkhark.

He's had dealings with both and Sable proved her skills by being able to capture the Moon Knight once and setting him up to stand trial in some banana republic or some crap. Everyone likes Darkhawk too and I can't tell you why. He flies, throws stuff and has a funky amulet and a cool helmet. I think he reminds me of that masked rider guy from Team America (the comic, not the movie).




At this point he needs a Batgirl but I'm going away from the theme slightly by using the Ethos of Moon Knight himself. The instrument of the Egyptian God of vengeance needs a mummy but Marvel is lacking in decent mummies these days soooo, I'm giving him this guy:

Yes, it's Frankenstein's Monster and yes, he is choking out Iron Man. Good enough for me...
After that all the man needs is to fall in love with the absolute wrong kind of girl and he's done except for his villains which I'll let Thad suggest.
Here's the wrong kinda girl though:
He needs Sabra as a bad girl pal and I'll post some semi relevant stuff about her from the Marvel site, leaving out a bunch of stuff about her joining all this mutant stuff. She was much more interesting in Union Jack's limeted series.
Ruth Bat-Seraph is an Israeli national who, along with her family, was taken to
a special community by the Israeli government when her genetic mutation
manifested. Bat-Seraph was subsequently studied and eventually became a member
of the Mossad's Super-Agent program. A highly trained special operative and
police officer, which became her cover identity, Bat-Seraph has since lost her
first-born son in a Palestinian terrorist bombing.
I give you all the Moon Knight Family!







Thursday, October 18, 2007

EW Spotlights 'Black Dossier'

October 16, 2007
The Entertainment Weekly Website includes a four-page preview of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier ($29.99), which Wildstorm will release on November 14th, and which promises to be one of the best-selling graphic novels of the fourth quarter (if not the entire year).

EW's Jeff Jensen puts the new graphic novel in the proper perspective with his first sentence: "Long before it became known for being a terrifically crappy movie starring Sean Connery, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a terrifically acclaimed comic book franchise created by one of the medium's most revered scribes: Alan Moore, the British writer behind Watchmen and V for Vendetta."

Jensen lays out the basic conceit of the LOEG series ("the entire genre of Victorian fantasy fiction treated as if it were a cohesive world akin to the Marvel superhero universe"), summarizes the plotlines of the first two books in the series, and then provides some insights into the somewhat obscure literary references (for Americans) included in the full color four-page Black Dossier excerpt ("the Greyfriars School is a nod to a series of popular mid-century stories about a British schoolboy named Billy Bunter"), though he doesn't mention the more obvious allusion to Richard Hannay and The 39 Steps (John Buchan's novel that was made into a hugely popular Hitchcock film in 1935).

All quibbles aside, Jensen provides an excellent introduction to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels, which should interest additional readers in what is already one of the most popular graphic novel series in the marketplace today.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Top 10 Heroes in Hats - #7 - Uncle Sam



Now I don't know how many of you realize it but one of the best things to
come out of DC and the Infinite Drama was a new version of the Freedom Fighters,
led once again by Uncle Sam. This new version of the Freedom Fighters are
updated versions of the old Golden Age team only this time there are other
updated versions of GA characters added like the Red Bee, Firebrand and Miss
America.

They beat ass and here's what you need to know.

I copied this stuff from wikipedia to save time.



The earliest version of the Freedom Fighters was assembled on December
7
, 1941. This
group, however, failed in its attempt to stop the devastation at Pearl
Harbor
. Neon the Unknown and Magno were
killed. This version of the group was a retcon and their deaths were
depicted in
the pages of Roy Thomas's two books
chronicling that era: All-Star Squadron and
the Young All-Stars.
I know this doesn't sound like ass beating but it had to happen and
everyone has to start somewhere.


The DC version of the characters were said to reside on the parallel
world
of "Earth-X," where Nazi Germany eventually won
a prolonged World War II due to a Japanese Empire invasion
of California and successful
Nazi nuclear weapon development (which implies that the successful Allied attack on Peenemunde
never happened in this world).

Since the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Freedom Fighters have been based on the main DC Universe Earth, and were all members of the All-Star Squadron.

A fourth, more modern version of the team appeared as an auxiliary
of the new Justice Society of America. The Human Bomb, Black Condor and Phantom Lady were killed by
the Secret Society of Super Villains in Infinite Crisis #1. Damage was
critically injured, Iron Munro was not there for some reason, and the Ray was captured by the Psycho-Pirate, and connected to Alexander Luthor's dimension-altering tower.



Current team

A new team of heroes debuted in the limited series Crisis Aftermath: The
Battle for Bl├╝dhaven, and later featured as Freedom Fighters members in the
miniseries Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, which premiered in July 2006.
This team consists of new incarnations of the Phantom Lady, the Ray (Stan
Silver), the Human Bomb, Doll Man, Bigfoot, Destroyer and Face.


It is part of S.H.A.D.E.,
a secret American government agency chartered under the USA
PATRIOT Act
, led by Father Time.

The new team conducts assassinations and other illegal acts against criminal
and terrorist organizations.

As issue #1 of Uncle Sam and the Freedom
Fighters begins, the team is tasked to capture the revived Uncle Sam, who is
in the process of forming his own Freedom Fighters team; Sam subsequently
recuits the S.H.A.D.E. members to his cause, openly disapproving of their
use of deadly force (although they continue to kill people even under Uncle
Sam's guidance). [1]

This version of the team is based on notes by Grant Morrison. Uncle Sam is
portrayed as an almost Christ-like figure, returning from the dead, with the
new Firebrand filling a John the Baptist role.

Father Time is shown as aiding in Senator Frank Knight's being secretly
murdered in the midst of his successful campaign for the Presidency of the
U.S. and replaced by a sentient robot double, Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard, who proceeds with an agenda to implant RFID chips in every U.S. citizen by law and control them to bring chaos to the world through war.



In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3, a team created by Father Time
called First Strike
attacked the Freedom Fighters but not before being stopped by the new Black
Condor.

It is worth noting that this Black Condor is essentially a flying, head busting version of almost any character played by actor Danny Trejo. He does not fuck around. He is not the weak little float around the skiy version of the Black Condor previously seen in DC Comics.

In #4, Condor manages to weaken First Strike long enough for the Freedom
Fighters to fight back. Human Bomb kills one First Strike's members,
Propaganda, and the team heads back to S.H.A.D.E. headquarters.

In #7, The Freedom Fighters face off against the Cosmigods as Uncle Sam calls
them. In the midst of the battle the traitorous Ray is confronted by the
returning Ray Terrill. As predicted Gonzo turns on the newly rejuvenated
Father Time, who proceeds to give Uncle Sam the evidence of to prove Gonzo's
true identity. Sam presents the evidence to the world, and seemingly the
final battle between First Strike and the Freedom Fighters begins.

In #8, The Freedom Fighters engage in battle against Gonzo's metahuman
taskforce at the Washington Monument, and quickly gain support from the
civilians. The public eye are now seeing them as real heroes, which was
later revealed to be part of Father Time's plan all along.

OK, feel free to call bullshit here. I know I did. It read more like the writer really wanted to keep Father Time available as a back ground DC guy but it was a swerve worthy of Vince Russo.

He tricked Gonzo into believing that S.H.A.D.E was against Uncle Sam, while
in truth he was preparing the Freedom Fighters to help combat a major threat
in the future. Father Time captures Gonzo and turns him into an 'Orphan Box'
in the shape of a pair of spectacles. He plan to use it against Gonzo's
creator, the Shadow Demons. All of the metahuman taskforce members disappear
into the timestream along with Father Time shortly thereafter. A week later,
the new President appoints the Freedom Fighters the new directors of
S.H.A.D.E.