Friday, April 3, 2015

HULK! MAGAZINE #11 & #12

Script: Doug Moench | Art: Gene Colan & Tony Dezuniga (issue 11);
Keith Pollard, Frank Giacoia & Mike Esposito (issue 12)
Editor: Rick Marschall

The Plot: (issue 11) Moon Knight witnesses a murder, then becomes embroiled in a chase around the city involving a key stolen by the murderer, the hijacked taxi cab of Jake Lockley, and a statue of the Egyptian god, Horus, which has been replaced with a fake. Finally, Moon Knight’s investigation leads him back to the mansion of Joel Luxor, who was murdered earlier in the evening, and where Marlene is now at the mercy of Crane, Luxor’s ex-partner turned killer.

(issue 12) Moon Knight rescues Marlene, who’s been shot in the arm, from Crane. They fail to find the Horus statue, but learn that Chilean ambassador Alphonse Leroux has it. Days later, Steven Grant and Marlene attend a gala at the French embassy, where Grant introduces himself to Leroux and expresses interest in acquiring the statue. Leroux invites Grant to his embassy at midnight, but Moon Knight arrives first, learns Leroux is in league with terrorists, and disables Leroux’s guards. At midnight, Grant shows up and tells Leroux he will pay half a million dollars for Horus, but only on the condition that Moon Knight deliver the money to Leroux’s terrorist allies.

Continuity Notes: Everybody seems to know Moon Knight by name at this point, so perhaps his time with the Defenders did some good for his public image.

Throughout the investigation, Moon Knight is constantly exposed to various Egyptian artifacts, but makes no mention of the fact that he was resurrected by the Egyptian god of vengeance -- because, as a ret-con a few years down the line, that little tidbit hasn’t entered the character’s mythos yet.

Moon Knight also invites Marlene to Luxor’s mansion to investigate his artifact collection, telling her to “pretend [she’s] an archaeologist”. As it happens, in the pages of MOON KNIGHT #1, we’ll learn that she is an archaeologist -- if not formally, by way of accompanying her professor father on digs in Egypt. But that’s another ret-con yet to be implemented.

Moon Knight has decided that his old cape constricted his movement too much, so effective partway through the second story, he begins wearing a long, billowy cape not attached to his wrists (except in one panel as an artistic mistake).

My Thoughts: Sorry for the vague description of issue 11. To summarize it properly would require far too many paragraphs. It’s an overly dense fifteen-page tale of murder, betrayal, and Moon Knight’s investigation of same. In fact, for the first time since his debut, Moench quite clearly casts Moon Knight as Marvel’s answer to Batman. This story could have worked very well as an adventure of the Caped Crusader over at the Distinguished Competition. The moodily gothic artwork of Gene Colan, soon to become the regular artist on BATMAN, certainly helps with the idea.

And perhaps Moench realized this, because the next story in the serial dials back the Batman-esque elements to bring us an adventure much more in keeping with Moon Knight as we’ve seen him previously. And again, the artwork may play some role in this feeling, as the far more traditional Rich Buckler provides pencils which make the story feel less Batman-like and look more like the earlier efforts of Don Perlin.

Over the years, the subsequent chapters of this saga have been reprinted a couple times. In the early eighties there was a Baxter-paper series called MOON KNIGHT SPECIAL EDITION, and more recently Marvel produced a hardcover volume under the title COUNTDOWN TO DARK. Both reprints omit these opening installments, even though they’re clearly part of the ongoing serial, setting up Moon Knight’s interest in stopping the terrorist plot. Presumably they were left out previously due to the fact that all the following chapters are drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz while these two are not. Also, the following parts of the story are beautifully, lushly colored by Steve Oliff, where these earlier portions are done in a more traditional flat style. Nonetheless, I’ve always been a bit miffed that these opening chapters were left out, so it’s nice that Marvel has finally collected them, in color, in the MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION.
Finally, it’s worth noting that these stories appeared in Marvel’s HULK! magazine as back-up features. Marvel’s magazines were exempt from the oversight of the Comics Code Authority, allowing their writers to get away with more than the standard comics could permit. In the case of Moon Knight, it means we see Crane call Marlene a “slut” three times, and Marlene use the word “damn” (Jim Shooter had forbidden -- or soon would forbid -- all casual swearing in mainstream Marvel comics around this time).

Also, what’s up with the Chilean ambassador being involved with terrorists? Isn’t that usually the province of fictional countries? I’m certain something like this wouldn’t fly nowadays, but I’m amazed it even got published in 1978!


  1. because, as a ret-con a few years down the line, that little tidbit hasn’t entered the character’s mythos yet.

    Interesting, only that, in reading your summary, I guessed that maybe this was the start of the retcon, that Moench was laying the groundwork for it by bringing a bunch of Egyptian elements into the story. Guess not.

    so it’s nice that Marvel has finally collected them, in color, in the MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION.

    And, that Marvel gave Moon Knight an epic collection. Hats off once again to the Epic Collections, where my biggest issue with them is that they don't come out fast enough. :)

    1. It's funny, I didn't really register that all the Egyptian stuff hadn't been revealed yet until after I finished the story and went flipping back through it for this post. But, if nothing else, it sets up Moench's interest in Egypt, which I'm sure is the reason that stuff was later added to Moon Knight's backstory. It's still odd, though, to see the character completely glossing over all the Egyptian connections when he would later become so entwined with the mythology.

      Not only has Marvel given Moon Knight an Epic Collection, by the way, but another one has already appeared as a ghost listing on Amazon! I'm hoping Moon Knight is the first character to receive consecutive Epics, and this continues his solo series from where the first Epic leaves off.

      I agree with you, by the way, that these things don't come out quickly enough. Were I a completist, I might be satisfied with the pace, but since I pick and choose, I don't even always grab one a month, much less the two or so they usually put out.

      By the way, it may interest you to note that there's also a ghost listing for a new X-Men Epic, titled THE GIFT. Given that's the sub-title of the X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT mini-series, and given that was published around the same time as UXM 200, I would speculate this may cover some of the JR Jr. era. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if it butts right up against X-MEN: GHOSTS, which collects issues 199 - 209 (which itself fits into place beside the MUTANT MASSACRE TPB, covering issues 210 - 214).

      The JR Jr. era is finally getting some nice representation in color trades, and while I'm not a huge fan of that period, I will be happy to own it.

    2. Were I a completist, I might be satisfied with the pace, but since I pick and choose, I don't even always grab one a month, much less the two or so they usually put out.

      Heck, I've become a completist, and I'm still not satisfied with the pace. For the most part, they do one a month, and then in the fall double up (like with the WOLVERINE/X-MEN volumes in December), not counting the new Star Wars Epics (which seem to be their own thing in the same style). I'd be happy with two a month, every month, frankly.

      By the way, it may interest you to note that there's also a ghost listing for a new X-Men Epic, titled THE GIFT.

      I saw that (along with another WOLVERINE volume that sounds like it might be the stuff leading into "Age of Apocalypse"). Like you, with a title like that, I can't think of what else it would contain other than JRjr stuff, which is exciting.

      Does "Ghosts" contain the Asgardian War annuals? I suppose a collection of issues #177-198, plus X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT and probably at least annual #8, would be too big for one Epic, so maybe 189-198, plus X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT and the two Asgardian War annuals?

    3. Actually, no -- the "Asgardian Wars" annuals are not in GHOSTS. For some reason I thought they were. That seems odd now that I think about it, since issue 200 features the X-Men returning directly from that adventure. But then, GHOSTS is not an Epic, predating the program, so it's not all-inclusive. I wonder if those annuals would show up in THE GIFT, or if they'd be held for whatever Epic comes after that, which would also include the material from GHOSTS? Mostly Marvel has been good about making the Epics not overlap other recently issues collections, but that trend has to stop eventually.

      At any rate, I don't really care that those annuals aren't in GHOSTS, since I already own them in something like three different formats. But it's fun to speculate how the Epics will map out in the long run. I suppose my guess as to the content of THE GIFT, if it is indeed from that era (which seems a pretty fair expectation), would be based on these assumptions:

      1. It's produced specifically to line up with GHOSTS (which is at all a given);

      2. A future Epic would reprint GHOSTS and include the Asgard annuals there;

      3. It will contain roughly 22 issues, based on the nearest chronological Epic, IRON MAN: THE ENEMY WITHIN (collects issues from May '82 - Dec. '83).

      And my best guess would then be something like: UNCANNY X-MEN #184 - 198 plus ANNUAL #8 and X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT #1 - 2. That's 18 issues, but four of them are double-sized. Plus, this way the book begins with Rachel's arrival and ends with her meeting her dad, and also both "Lifedeath" stories would be included in one volume for completion's sake.

      The only wrench here is that, as far as I can tell, Marvel tends to publish the Epics in the best representation of the original publication orders, and XM/AF came out in Dec. '85 - Jan. '86, while the run of issues I mentioned above covers Aug. '84 - Oct. '85. So it's entirely possible this book will overlap GHOSTS at least somewhat; or Marvel will just stick XM/AF earlier in the Epic schedule so it fits where it actually goes chronologically.

      But who knows; I'm not an expert on these things. I always like to see how Marvel's books line up with my guesses, though. (HINT: I'm usually wrong.)

    4. But it's fun to speculate how the Epics will map out in the long run.

      Honestly, that's half the fun. :)

      I'm really interested to see where the WOLVERINE & X-MEN (and, I suppose, HULK) Epics end, given that they don't have the clean stopping point of "Heroes Reborn" that the other Silver Age titles do (and don't have a finite run, like MOON KNIGHT, IRON FIST, etc.). Will they just end with "Onslaught"? Or something else?

      And will any post-91 X-MEN volumes include the adjectiveless series, or does it get its own Epic?

      Only time will tell, I suppose...

    5. Well, if we were to use Spider-Man as a guide, his Epic line is specifically THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTION, and only includes issues from his other titles where necessary for stuff like crossovers. But I doubt we should go off of that. Spider-Man's sister series were usually only tangentially related to AMAZING, basically just doing their own thing all the way up to the Clone Saga (with minor blips like the cosmic powers and "Maximum Carnage" popping up here and there).

      But X-MEN was so entwined with UNCANNY throughout the Lobdell/Nicieza era and beyond, I think it would be a mistake to separate them. If you did, you'd be including issues from the other title in nearly every volume anyway for the annual crossovers and other minor stuff. Hopefully Marvel agrees. Though they've collected so much of the post-'91 X-Men already, that I personally doubt I will pick up Epics from that timeframe since I own it all already, often in hardcover format. But I'm curious nonetheless to see how they do it.

      I don't own the first X-Men Epic, but looking at it, it does appear to be called X-MEN EPIC COLLECTION and not UNCANNY X-MEN EPIC COLLECTION. That would hopefully point toward combining the two series when the times comes.

      (I know UNCANNY wasn't originally UNCANNY, but I would expect that with a long-running series like the Epics, they'd want all the spines to be uniform and not just randomly add "UNCANNY" after that becomes an official part of the title. But I suppose THE GIFT will settle that question in short order.)

      As for a stopping point, I would just end the X-Men epics right before Morrison's run starts. Even though there was no relaunch, I generally consider Lobdell's "Eve of Destruction" to be the end of the "classic" X-Men and "E is for Extinction" to be the start of the "modern" X-Men.

      That, or they could be controversial and just end the X-Men Epics with X-MEN 1 - 3, then let their existing body of collections from the post '91 era stand, maybe reprinting some of the big hardcovers as trades. But that seems unlikely.

    6. Funny, this talk of combining the series reminds me of when I bought the recent X-MEN INDEX, the one that was published just a few years ago. I obviously wasn't expecting all the X-title to be covered in that book, but there was not one single moment where I thought it would be just UNCANNY, without X-MEN. The idea never entered my mind! So I was quite shocked when I opened the index and saw that it only covered UNCANNY. I felt practically betrayed, like I'd bought a book with half the pages missing. It was absolutely incomplete in my mind. Even when they told separate stories, X-MEN and UNCANNY were still inextricable. The idea of not discussing them together at all times, in every format, is alien to me.

      Basically, if/when I re-read this stuff, I would never read only Lobdell's UNCANNY or only Nicieza's X-MEN. The very concept is insane. I would read them both at the same time, jumping back and forth. As opposed to Spider-Man, where I would gladly read just AMAZING or just SPECTACULAR without the other(s). Or, to keep it in the X-family, if were to go back to re-read the Morrison run (ha!), I wouldn't read Casey's UNCANNY with it. Those two runs stood mostly alone.

      But X-MEN and UNCANNY, throughout the nineties, belong together. To separate them, whether in an Epic or an index, is to completely miss half the story. It's an asinine notion.

    7. Actually, I shouldn't say "to completely miss" half the story. If you're the one who intentionally separates the two, then you're premeditatedly omitting half the story, which is completely unfair to readers.

      I love that all this is commentary under a Moon Knight post.