The premise of Moon Knight #5 is set up in the first two pages, in dialogue between Moon Knight and a nameless thug. A traveler-by-night has been kidnapped by the thug’s gang and is being held inside a rundown building of six floors. The third page gives us a very minimalist but cinematic four panels that show us what we are reading, that someone is about to get hurt, and why. From this point on, the issue shows Marc Spector, in his guise as “Mr. Knight” ascending from one floor to the next, kicking ass and taking names along the way. The cover depicts a side shot of our hero in the upper of two floors of the building, the stairwell to the far left. As he fights a pair of bad guys, a number of already defeated foes lie dead or dying on the ground on both floors. Upon first seeing this, I couldn’t help but think of an old side scrolling, brawler style video game. The kind where the whole point is to beat up everyone that got in your way. Honestly, that’s a pretty good summary of this issue. Moon Knight is known as The Fist of Khonshu and he really earns the title as pulverizes dozens of gang members.
Warren Ellis tends to be known for weird stories, more like the head trip we got in the previous issue, but #5 is pretty straight forward. There’s not much in the way of plot, but that’s okay. I’m not a violent person. I’ve never been in a physical fight, but sometimes I like to see violence, especially if there’s an artistry to it. This issue fills that need; it’s like watching a kung fu movie. You get to watch people get beaten and bloodied in ever more creative and impressive ways. In fact, this book very much reminded me of The Raid: Redemption or the staircase fight sequence in The Protector. We see Moon Knight use a baton, moon-shaped throwing blades (moonarangs?), his fists, his jacket, a baseball bat, and even a bannister to destroy bad guys. All of the fighting is incredibly well choreographed and Declan Shalvey’s art really shines here. Every punch, ever kick, ever bludgeon looks excruciatingly painful. When reading this issue, one word kept flashing in my big red letters in my mind: PAIN. One sequence in particular displays Moon Knight throwing a guy over his shoulder, only to have his spine cracked over the stairwell railing. I can’t quite explain it, but it is strangely beautiful and left me in silent admiration of Shalvey’s art, which really makes this issue a winner. I admire Ellis’s decision to ignore most, if not all, of Moon Knight’s past and forge a new path to making him a bad ass. The done-in-one story conceit served him well on his brief stint on Secret Avengers and is at least equally successful here. Declan Shalvey’s portrayal of Moon Knight as a spectral white figure is so simple, but so impressive. His work on this book has improved with each issue, and with this one in particular, is probably the biggest draw of the book for me. It’s a shame that this creative team only has one more issue to go.