Moon Knight #9 — Bendis/Maleev — March ’12/Marvel

If you haven’t been following the latest incarnation of Marvel’s crescent-cowled crime fighter, and sometime Avenger, perhaps this issue isn’t the best place to jump on board; for those of us who have been on this kooky ride from the jump … hoo boy.

No longer skulking around the eastern seaboard in the Secret Avengers and/or Heroes for Hire, Marc Spector has surfaced in Los Angeles as the producer of a hit TV show loosely based on his adventures as Moon Knight. What hasn’t made the scripts is the fact that Spector hears voices. More specifically, he imagines that his old pals Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine appear to him to offer sage advise whenever the going gets rough.

To better expedite the imaginary trio’s helpful hints, Spector has entreated his ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. tech buddy to build him his own shield, web-shooters, and metal claws. The problem, of course, with asking someone to do that is running the risk of having that person figure out that you are more than a little nuts.

With the help of Echo, another ex-Avenger without special powers, Spector has been on the trail of traditional Avenger nemesis, Count Nefaria … yea, that Count Nefaria, Madame Masque’s crazy daddy Count Nefaria. Needless to say, the pair is punching out of their weight class. When Nefaria crosses the line, the voices in Spector’s head start to fight amongst themselves—the Cap persona arguing against going completely berserk, the Wolverine persona … well, not so much.

Writer Brian Bendis had been given the latitude to let this title slow cook and with this issue, the crock is about to blow. Alex Maleev’s edgy inks combined with Matt Hollingsworth’s subdued palette continue to give Moon Knight a distinctive feel, calling to mind Michael Gaydos’s work on Alias. Maleev’s painted, and often abstracted, covers add to the overall feeling that there is more going on here than the usual spandex punch-up.

No matter if you’ve never heard of this character, or haven’t cared for how Moon Knight has been handled in the past, if you enjoy not being able to guess where in the heck your psychotic super hero noir is going, you owe it to yourself to give this book a shot.

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