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Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Moon Knight (Review/Retrospective)

This March, to celebrate the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we’ll be taking a look at some classic and not-so-classic Avengers comic books. Check back daily for the latest updates!

One of the more endearing aspects of comic book publishing is the way that the “little guys” occasionally get a shot. There are mountains of titles published each month featuring iconic characters like Batman or Wolverine, but the major companies are occasionally willing to check chances on more quirky and unknown characters using top-tier talent. One of the big surprises of DC’s “new 52” relaunch was the decision to put superstar writer Geoff Johns on pop culture joke Aquaman.

Despite the fact that he has never quite set the world on fire, Marvel seems willing to invest in repeated attempts to launch the character of Moon Knight. Most recently, writer Warren Ellis has launched a new volume of the comic with artist Declan Shalvey. However, before the latest relaunch, Marvel tried another high-profile take on Moon Knight written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Alex Maleev, the duo responsible for one of the best-loved runs ever published on Daredevil.

The series made it to twelve issues, before Marvel cancelled it due to disappointing sales. Bendis has insisted that it was always the plan to end the series after twelve issues, but it seems strange that the series was not announced as a miniseries. Still, it’s easy to understand why Moon Knight struggled to find an audience. It’s great to have Bendis and Maleev crafting an on-going street-level comic book, but the series seems almost at war with itself, struggling with the difficulties of fitting this character in this particular role.

Oh what a knight...

Oh what a knight…

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Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus, Vol. II

I still stand by my assessment of Daredevil as the most consistently well-written comic book of the past decade. Sure, there have arguably been smaller runs that have been more experimental (Grant Morrison’s New X-Men), slightly more easily accessible (Mark Millar’s Ultimates), or more important for the medium as a whole (Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern is perhaps most responsible for general trends in the medium), but none is as consistently satisfying as the relaunched Daredevil title, in particular the two runs by Bendis and Brubaker. Here we have the second half of Bendis’ iconic run collected (along with some Daredevil-related miscellany). It’s a great collection that might not be as breathtakingly incredible as the first half of his run, but it certainly delivers on what was promised.

He's also The Man Without Shirts...

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Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Omnibus, Vol. I

It took me a while to write this. Because it took me a while to figure out what to say. I honestly believe that the combined Bendis/Brubaker run on Daredevil has been perhaps the single most impressive run on mainstream comics in the past decade. It isn’t post-modern or retrospective, it isn’t flashy or innovative. It’s just a collection of good and clever stories, well told. Some of them reflect the state of the superhero in popular culture, some of them explore the role and function of the media as a supreme court of arbitration, but most of them are just good and clever noir stories. If you are looking to pick up a single collection of comic books, I would recommend this. It’s nominally a superhero story, but at its heart it’s a gritty urban thriller. But that’s enough hyperbole, don’t you think?

Better the devil you know?

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