Moon Knight #22
The Were-Woman hunts! Tigra sets her sights on the Midnight Man, stalking her prey across the concrete jungle, while Moon Knight pursues new leads in a mystery that raises new questions with every answer!
Moon Knight #22 – written by Jed MacKay with art from Alessandro Cappuccio, colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters from VC’s Cory Petit – diverts from last issue’s masked villain attacking a vampire rave to focusing on a Tigra-centric story. As Marc and Tigra grow closer in the wake of the cat-themed hero shifting her allegiance away from the Avengers, an old-school Moon Knight villain, the Midnight Man, makes a sudden reappearance in New York.
Marc brushes off the villain’s crimes, as they’ve focused on stealing from the rich and corrupt with no signs of attacking the innocent or violating the tenets of the Midnight Mission. Tigra is less convinced and investigates, leading to a conversation with Hawkeye before confronting the Midnight Man. After pouncing on the villain in the dead of night, Tigra unmasks him and reveals Marc is the Midnight Man.
Taking a page out of Hawkeye’s plan from Hawkeye: Freefall, Marc adopted the persona to rob Maggia, Hydra, and the other criminals of the city to make up for the money lost during the first fight with Zodiac. Marc also reveals that his target has connections to the masked villain from the last issue, based on information from Jack Russell aka Werewolf by Night. Tigra snaps at the revelation, not angry about the plan but Marc’s deception, linking the lies with those told by the Skrulls during Secret Invasion, which leads to her giving birth to her son William. After a cool down, the two reconcile with Marc’s promise of honesty going forward.
MacKay delivers on multiple moments of honest character growth in the issue, showcasing a Marc that has made genuine strides in correcting some of his narcissistic tendencies. However, the core conflict of the issue isn’t a typical hero vs villain story and works as a reminder that Marc’s worst enemy is himself. MacKay illustrates this perfectly through the use of masks as a motif, first in the opening as Marc, Tigra, and William bond over a movie night. Here, Marc is still in full Mr. Knight costume, mask included.
The walls he’s built are fully intact, and a distance is established even as Tigra tries to get closer to him by sharing a family ritual. Later on, when Tigra catches the Midnight Man and reveals Marc, the mask is still present. Marc doesn’t take it off himself, instead allowing Tigra to slash it to ribbons. Marc has not attempted to change, only losing the mask as an opportunity to serve himself and his mission. After Tigra’s reveal, which Marc’s arc with a clear desire, Marc commits himself to change by showing up for movie night without his mask, letting the barrier break. It’s an excellent narrative choice, and a refreshing use of the mask to symbolize the (sometimes necessary but often regressive) decision to keep people at arm’s length.
The issue is much more than just an opportunity to grow Marc’s character and does what MacKay scripts do best, which is root itself in a supporting character’s perspective and dig deeper into that character. Here, Tigra gets ample time to showcase her unique perspective on the world, shaped by the experience of being a cat person. The animal instinct balances with the history of being an Avenger, and Tigra reflects on what being a mother has done to shape those two aspects of herself. Tigra also gets a cathartic moment that works on both a character and exposition level to reveal a key detail about William’s father and interject a fascinating byproduct of Marvel continuity.
Cappuccio’s art matches that emotional energy in the way the linework emphasizes expressions and close-ups. With less action than in previous issues, the art sells its emotion through character and reactions, ensuring that in moments like Tigra’s rage morphing to hurt the tears are on full display. The exaggerated linework that creates haunting images when Moon Knight breaks through windows or gives an epic quality to the horrors of the Midnight Mission building is used to wonderful effect here, and Cappuccio never wastes a panel, always working in service of character and emotion over pure action or plot.
There are still plenty of standout moments that feel in line with the typical imagery of the run like Midnight Man running across rooftops or a specific moment of Tigra perched on the peak of a tall building, bathed in the bluish light of the moon. Cappuccio’s composition in these moments is character focused even as they present that character from two different perspectives. One is filled with detail of the subject (Midnight Man) while the second plays on a less defined silhouette (Tigra) but are both effective as standout images that speak to the aesthetic range being offered by the book.
The book’s coloring also adds to that sense of perfecting a specific look while still playing, especially when Rosenberg deploys glowing green and yellows to highlight the unnatural aspect of Tigra’s eyes. Matching with MacKay’s running monologue for Tigra, the coloring keys into the hero’s perspective and how the animal instincts take over and influence the short action sequence.
There’s a primal, otherworldly spin on the way the eyes are colored, first introduced in the backgrounds as Tigra and the Midnight Man tumble across rooftops before the focus is switched to Tigra. The eyes glow with an iridescent green, wide and alert, contrasting against the orange and black of her design. Once the art shifts out of this panel and puts the city back into the background, the mist and vapors take the color and Tigra’s eyes dull back to their typical shade of green. The coloring remains and heightens the emotions charging the scene between Marc and Tigra, playing on her rage and instinct as he reacts to being lied to.
Moon Knight #22 is another excellent installment of a very consistent run, utilizing its supporting cast to propel the conflict and drama. MacKay’s script makes the most out of the change in perspective while still advancing the arc’s larger plot and showcasing a realistic sense of growth for Marc. Cappuccio’s art employs techniques that make the action and superhero moments sing and transposes them to the human, which leads to a ratcheting of emotion and infusing energy into dialogue scenes that grip the reader.
Rosenberg’s coloring plays into that as well, utilizing the book’s color palette to twist the knife of emotion in the rooftop sequence. This issue is a microcosm of what makes this book such an interesting read month to month and speaks to the serialized aspect of comics. It’s hard to steer readers wrong when recommending this book, as it delivers on all levels and offers something for everyone, whether it be classic comic references, strong character work, or stunning paneling and layouts.
Moon Knight #22: Cat’s Out of the Bag
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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