I get the feeling that Gregg Hurwitz would rather be writing a Batman comic. Read the opening pages of “Vengeance of the Moon Knight” #7 and see if you can spot all of the similarities to Batman. I’m sure someone with a vast library of Batman comics, solid Photoshop skills, and far too much time on their hands could go through that sequence of Moon Knight learning of a problem at a local hospital, suiting up, and leaving his residence and replace every Moon Knight element with something from Batman. And the similarities continue throughout the issue, but don’t add up to anything, leading me to wonder what the point is. Is this supposed to be its own book or simply a Marvel Batman comic?
What’s sad about that idea is that this issue shows some promise with a Deadpool guest appearance. While Deadpool may be appearing in three other books this week alone, he acts as an interesting twin to Moon Knight, with Deadpool embracing everything that Moon Knight rejects: killing and his fractured psyche. The two characters offer two approaches to very similar mental states and that could make for an interesting story if Hurwitz focused on that instead of a fairly ho-hum clichéd plot where Deadpool is hired to kill a comatose criminal and Moon Knight deals with the morality of saving the life of a murderous scumbag. It’s a story that’s been done a thousand times in superhero comics and offers little insight into Moon Knight’s mental state as it’s barely hinted at that he has a history of using lethal means when fighting crime.
Deadpool’s purpose in the story isn’t clear beyond him acting as a reminder of what Moon Knight used to be, but without ever really saying that. I’m not one to criticize subtle storytelling, but when more time is spent on the boring, clichéd backstory of the comatose criminal than the contrast between Deadpool and Moon Knight, maybe it’s time to be a tad more obvious about the point of the story. And, if the point isn’t to contrast the differences between these two similar characters, but just to have a wacky killer appear in a straight-laced Batman-esque comic, I’m left wondering why I should care, because the execution is mediocre and dull.
Even Tan Eng Huat’s art lacks the usual flair and verve that it normally has, seeming more restrained than usual. Huat is great at showcasing off-beat characters and, given Moon Knight’s history, he’s a pretty off-beat urban vigilante, but with the current version of the character, he’s too subdued. The fight in the hospital with Deadpool is energetic and Huat gets good expressions out of the masks of both characters, much like he was able to draw out of the Ghost Riders recently, but that only lasts so long. Even lacking the usual vigor of his art, Huat’s work here is still good and makes the issue worth looking at.
“Vengeance of the Moon Knight” #7 has the right elements to be a great comic, but the focus is skewed so that the boring, clichéd parts get the emphasis, while the interesting ones are obscured. Instead of using Deadpool to highlight the fractured psyche of Moon Knight and his inner conflict, Deadpool is merely a comedic foil to Marvel’s answer to Batman. Well, guess what, there are already Batman comics if people want to read them; This issue shows potential to be something different and good, but isn’t. And that’s a shame.