Moon Knight #16
While Moon Knight ventures into unknown territory to make a new friend of an ancient monster, Hunter’s Moon stalks the rooftops on his own, intent on his own definition of justice. Little does he know that he is far from the only one stalking the nighttime cityscape...
Moon Knight #16 – written by Jed MacKay, with art by Alessandro Cappuccio, colors from Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by VC’s Cory Petit – splits between two major plots, the first being Mr. Knight, Reese, and Soldier’s tense discussion with Chinatown’s head vampire. The second plot features Hunter’s Moon tracking down and fighting Grand Mal and the Nemean, the superpowered assassins that Moon Knight previously fought. As Hunter’s Moon silently fights his way through vampires and then mercenaries, Mr. Knight discusses Tutor’s goal with the head of the Chinese Vampires, who once served Yi Yang, predating even Dracula. She reveals to Mr. Knight that Tutor’s making a play for the big leagues, using his pyramid schemes to gain recognition in the vampire world before trading his way up to challenge Dracula for the vampire nation.
MacKay’s talent for writing to the larger Marvel Universe is all over this issue, the scribe taking events over the last few years and incorporating them into his plots. It’s done so well that there’s no question about the Tutor’s motivation; he’s building vampire pyramid schemes to play the long game and challenge Dracula for control of the Chornobyl Vampire Nation. Outside of having to know why there’s a legitimate nation of vampires in the wreckage of a nuclear disaster site, the book provides the necessary context for the notion to make complete sense in a title where a resurrected mercenary fights werewolves and thugs in the streets of New York. MacKay’s script also doesn’t undercut the plot with humor or call out the absurdity, treating it with the same gravitas as a regular crime story.
That fact centers the issue, and the larger run, in tangible stakes and emotion even as MacKay dips into the supernatural, with immortal Chinese vampires, European supervillain assassins, and avatars of mythical deities battling the forces of evil. Thanks to the establishment of interpersonal drama and the stakes from previous issues, the split focus between Mr. Knight’s talking scenes and Hunter Moon’s silent action is a dynamic contrast that fuels the tension of this issue’s cliffhanger. It’s a shocking moment that is earned and makes total sense based on the structure of the issue. It also delivers on MacKay’s talents for constructing a strong parallel between plots, which then propels the book into even further stakes as Mr. Knight makes his plans to fight Tutor and the assassins.
Cappuccio’s art just sings in this issue, working in perfect sync with Rosenberg’s colors to give both a menacing chat and high-octane action all at the same time. It’s just as compelling to see Cappuccio render the tense expressions of Mr. Knight against the mostly blank look on the vampire’s head, her expression only changing when she holds the vigilante by the throat. Cappuccio’s style gets even looser and the colors give pure darkness around the vampire’s face as it shifts into something more akin to a demon, signaling a visual shift from the typical look of Marvel’s vampires. There’s something dark and primordial in Cappuccio’s design and works well to infuse a notion of menace. It also helps that the moment plays with the sequence of panels, showcasing the vampire’s speed by illustrating their glass takes multiple panels to hit the ground as they grip Knight’s neck in a vice.
Outside of that explosive bit, the action is relegated to Hunter Moon’s plot, the other fist of Khonsu fighting his way through swathes of vampires, looking for the assassins. It’s a brutal fight that is continuously in motion, as though it’s using all of the kinetic energy saved by the discussion. Cappuccio’s linework is just as fluid, and words are irrelevant as the three battle across the rooftops of New York, the gold of Hunter Moon’s gauntlets clashing with the blues and pinks of the night sky illuminated masterfully by Rosenberg. The panel composition in the fight sequences even carries that similar dynamic status, with Cappuccio using slanted and diagonal boxes instead of the typical squares and rectangles in the Mr. Knight plot. It’s a strong technical choice that showcases Cappuccio’s range as an artist, and how much his style has refined over the course of the run.
Moon Knight #16 is an excellent set-up issue, reaffirming the stakes of the run while giving more insight into the current antagonist's plans. It also expands the supernatural underworld of New York, establishing a new subset of vampires and linking to various plots of other Marvel books. The true hero of the issue is Cappuccio’s art and Rosenberg’s colors, the two elevating the story through strong visuals and two opposed palettes that give distinct but similar aesthetics that speak to the cohesion of the two plotlines. This book is an excellent place for new fans to jump on, thanks to the excellent contextualizing MacKay’s script does. It’s also rewarding for continued readers, deepening everything that’s made the run so strong over the last 15 issues.
Moon Knight #16: It Goes All the Way to the Top
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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