Someone at Marvel is clearly determined to find this character a series that sticks. This is in spite of substantial evidence to the contrary that it may be a lost cause. To that end, let’s recap the recent history of the character’s publications:
In 2006, after years out of circulation, the character got a high profile relaunch courtesy of novelist Charlie Huston and artist David Finch. It got mixed reviews, but canny marketing by Marvel at the time got it to launch at 100K copies sold. Finch left the series a little way into the second arc and Huston also handed the writing duties over to Mike Benson. Under his watch, the series made it to thirty issues before they decided to call it a day.
Almost immediately after that happened in 2009 the title was relaunched as “Vengeance of the Moon Knight” with Greg Hurwitz writing it. This incarnation of the title lasted ten issues and was about as memorable as that sounds.
Then, in 2011, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev took a crack at things. I liked the first volume well enough and even though I didn’t get around to talking about the finish of their twelve-issue run, it’s worth picking up if you like their work. The tone was much lighter here than in their other collaborations and it was a refreshing change of pace for them. That said, the series didn’t set the sales charts on fire and was effectively cancelled. Bendis tried to put a positive spin on this in interviews, but when your twelve-issue run wasn’t solicited as a maxi-series there’s really no way around it. Your series was cancelled.
Now we have Warren Ellis bringing his unique touch to the character with Declan Shalvey providing the art. Recent evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, I’m feeling optimistic about this. Ellis has already said that you can really play around with a character who doesn’t have a fanbase in the hundreds of thousands. Since that “playing around” in the past has brought us work like “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.” I see good cause for optimism here.
If anything, it feels like Marvel has finally given up on trying to succeed with a straightforward take on the character and is shooting for the kind of well-regarded middle-ground success that the Waid/Samnee “Daredevil” and Fraction/Aja “Hawkeye” runs are enjoying right now. That’s a good thing and if the Ellis/Shalvey “Moon Knight” run is as good as I’m hoping, then this could lead to even more titles greenlit along these lines. I doubt that it’ll likely happen, but it’d still be nice to see.