Review by Karl Verhoven
This third Essential Moon Knight mops up the remaining 1980s Moon Knight stories. It moves beyond the content available in the equivalent Epic Collection, Final Rest, not only completing Moon Knight’s first solo series, but featuring a few stories for anthologies and the entire Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu series. This is otherwise unavailable in a collected edition.
Bill Sienkiewicz’s last regular Moon Knight art was in Volume 2, but there are still a few covers and pin-up pages to salivate over, four of them otherwise unconnected loosely combined for a brief story. There are other noteworthy artists also. We have what must be among Kevin Nowlan’s earliest professional work, a rare series run from Bo Hampton, pencilling from the very under-rated Chris Warner, and a lovely single story from Brent Eric Anderson.
The opening content is the final stories from Moon-Knight’s creator Doug Moench, most collaborating with Nowlan, these all interesting and with a point to make. Nowlan’s work on a tragedy about gang pressure is sublime, and he’s also good illustrating a story about an irresponsible journalist, from which the left sample art comes. Tony Isabella’s subsequent plot incorporates superheroes, and while the idea of Moon Knight crippled has potential, Isabella drowns it in melodrama. The writing of Alan Zelenetz over the final issues of Moon Knight’s regular series don’t match Moench’s intensity, but are more interesting than Isabella’s work, while the ‘Fist of Khonshu’ material has its moments and three episodes are nicely drawn by Warner. Here Zelenetz refits Moon Knight with more superhero gadgets and drops him into workable thrillers, but characterisation is questionable and dialogue sometimes woeful: “Have no fear. Come worship mortals, and serve at my shrine”. It couldn’t be more pulp. As for the remainder of that series, Mark Beachum’s art on the final ‘Fist of Khonshu’ piece is nice, but what this collection exemplifies is the lack of a single creative vision working against Moon Knight’s success.
The remaining content is Moon Knight’s appearances from assorted anthologies. Anderson draws Ann Nocenti’s well intentioned, but heavy-handed ecological message, which is the best of the one-offs. The others have the occasional nice moment such as Robert M. Ingersoll’s extrapolation of how the lives of some supporting cast have progressed over the years, but none have a spark ensuring they’re memorable. It leaves this as the poor relation to the previous Essential Moon Knight volumes, with a few good stories from Moench at the beginning and the quantity of well constructed art being the selling points.