After two issues of plot and action, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev slow things down a little in “Moon Knight” #3 to explain some of the support system Marc Spector has set up for himself in Los Angeles. Conceptually, it works, but, in execution, it comes off as too slight and doesn’t leave a strong impression of Spector’s new life in LA. All that’s given here is an impression of the man himself and it’s not a flattering one – to him or Bendis’ writing.
A mentally ill superhero that thinks himself other heroes and spends his days as a producer on a TV show based on his own life is a good idea, and this issue tries to shed some light on Spector’s down time a little more. Except, all that it reveals is a mercurial jerk who’s biggest fault is that he’s not an entertaining mercurial jerk. Many great stories have starred charismatic, entertaining jerks and that’s what Bendis appears to be going for here, and it never lands. Spector seems to be trying to be that sort of person in his regular life, almost like he’s trying to act how he thinks a TV producer should act. It gets old quickly.
A big part of the issue is taken up with explaining Buck Lime, Spector’s right-hand man in his off hours and consultant to the TV show officially. Lime is a smart character to introduce: a former S.H.I.E.L.D agent who got the boot when H.A.M.M.E.R. began, he thought it was a simple TV consulting job he was applying for. Instead, it’s being kidnapped by Bullseye and being threatened. The interplay between Spector and Lime is good, but falls too quickly into Bendis’s regular ‘buddy buddy’ shtick.
Alex Maleev’s art runs a little hot and cold in this issue. A big problem is that there’s nothing about Marc Spector that is recognizable. Three issues in and I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line-up. Spector doesn’t appear in costume in this issue and I still had no idea what he looks like beyond a white guy in his thirties. That lack of distinctiveness or visual impression carries over to every scene he’s in, taking away from it. Part of that is that Maleev doesn’t seem to have a handle on him and never quite provides a facial expression that isn’t a variation on ‘blank stare.’
It’s hard to believe that a Bendis and Maleev comic is this bland, but “Moon Knight” #3 practically drowns in it, mostly because of its leading man. Marc Spector doesn’t seem to have any character except a little bit of craziness and a stereotypical TV producer personality that’s probably a sad little act. While many comics have managed to be great without a strong, compelling lead, this issue shows just how much of a problem that could be heading forward.