The first volume of this title was entertaining enough, even if its lasting contribution was underlining just how much Warren Ellis’ dialogue is starting to irritate me with its familiarity. That’s not an issue I have with new writer Brian Wood’s style. Granted, his dialogue is not that distinct at all, but I don’t read his comics to see how his characters are saying their words. He’s great with pacing, action, and presenting socially conscious ideas in an accessible and entertaining way -- and this volume is a great showcase for his abilities. Wood even manages to find an engaging way to riff on the single-issue storytelling Ellis laid out for the first volume. While each issue tells a complete story, they’re all discrete parts of a larger story of revenge. It kicks off when General Alimar Lor, of the fictional nation of Akima, is set to address the U.N. and winds up being targeted for assassination. As he’s a night traveler at this instance, the general finds himself under Moon Knight’s protection. The superhero himself, however, finds that this plot has a close personal connection that will put his ties to the Egyptian god Khonshu in jeopardy.
A nighttime attack with a subsequent citywide blackout. An assault on building being held by a man with a grudge and a point to make. Revisiting past atrocities through hypnosis. Trying to escape a secure facility where enemies of the state are held. These are just some of the scenarios Moon Knight (a.k.a. Marc Spector, a.k.a. Steven Grant…) encounters in this volume. They’re all well-executed action setpieces accompanied by some genuine cleverness. The best of them is the building assault which is told entirely through the perspective of cameras associated with the action. It may sound like an awkward way to tell a story, but artist Greg Smallwood makes the unique perspectives work thanks to his layouts that keep the story flowing in a natural way. It’s also clear that the writer and artist work well together as it takes a certain amount of trust between the two to make the many fifteen-panel-grid pages in this series work as well as they do here. I wouldn’t say the art here is as relentlessly experimental as the first volumes’, but it’s always interesting to look at and does an excellent job of drawing you into the story.
It’s too bad this second volume didn’t arrive with the same amount of buzz the first one had as it’s the better of the two. If you were onboard with vol. 1 because of Ellis/Shalvey, then don’t skip this one simply because they’ve moved on. Wood/Smallwood may not have the same ring to it, but this team delivers.