This week on The Wal-Tor Weekly Review, we’ve two, awesome new titles coming your way! From Marvel Comics, we get the brand new Moon Knight series while Image Comics give us a blast from the past with The Black Road.

Moon Knight #1

moon_knight_1Marc Spector is a weird man. While in Egypt several years ago, he is killed, dying under the statue of the Moon God, Khonshu. Taking on the aspect of Khonshu, Marc became the vigilante Moon Knight, fighting crime like many of everyone’s favourite Marvel street level heroes. But Marc suffers from a unique problem, he has Dissociative Identity Disorder, meaning he thinks he is several other people as well as being Marc Spector. In short, he’s crazy. Marc awakens in a mental institution, rattled by his lack of clarity. He doesn’t understand how or why he is there, all he knows is that his mind is missing something of grave importance. The spirit of Khonshu reaches out to him, attempting to pull the Moon Knight aspect of his mind to the forefront to help him see what is truly going on in this mental institute.

Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire take Moon Knight down an all-new, crazy path with this first issue in his new solo series. Immediately, Lemire leverages an angle of confusion for his storytelling, choosing to leave the reader in the dark as much as Marc Spector is, choosing to let you put the pieces together as Marc begins to do so as well. Lemire makes this a perfect jumping on point for new readers to Moon Knight, as throughout the issue he gives you everything you’d need to know about the man behind the vigilante, Marc Spector. The issue itself is actually light on the “Moon Knight” aspect but his presence looms largely over the entire narrative, working alongside the presence of Khonshu to keep the reader guessing but still in the light as to something fishy occurring.  The plot itself still leaves a lot for the reader to pull together but you can pick up this issue and get what feels like a complete story even though it’s part one of a five-part arc. What makes this issue standout is most certainly the artwork, as Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire deliver in every way you could imagine. From the opening several pages, a mood is set just to have it abruptly shifted. As a reader, the sudden change is jarring, much like it is for Marc Spector. It’s worth noting how Smallwood and Bellaire make their work look so distinct from one page to the next, almost making it appear as if there are multiple artists on the book even though it all boils down to artistic tweaks to give different moods, as well as using unique panels for the storytelling. VC’s Cory Petit also deserves a shout out for the lettering on this issue, with the way the words fall within the panels being a huge part of setting the tones for this story. Top to bottom, this first issue has a nearly complete package. A solid story, gorgeous art, and a letterer that enhances the reading experience, I’d say Moon Knight is definitely worth trying out for the first arc.

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PROS

+Solid Introduction

+Variety On Art

+Excellent Lettering

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[threecol_two_last] CONS

–Left In The Dark

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Wal-tor_Rating_4_5Overall:

Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Jordie Bellaire, and VC’s Cory Petit step their game up for Moon Knight #1. Confusion and mystery is the angle that Lemire works towards, pulling it all together to keep the reader guessing and captivated. You get what is essentially a complete story that is still part of a larger piece of work with this first issue. The only reason some readers could be off put is that they feel they leave with more questions than answers but that’s exactly what you’d want from a first issue, giving readers an incentive to come back for more. Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire are simply amazing on this issue. You’ll be struck by the gorgeous artwork from both on the opening pages, and then be blown away how these two artists seem to reinvent themselves repeatedly throughout the remainder of the issue. The unique panel work for storytelling is also noteworthy here, having moments unfold in impactful ways because of how certain scenes take place due to the panel choices. Lastly, VC’s Cory Petit is exquisite with the lettering on this issue, especially during the comic’s opening scene. Moon Knight might have just become a must-watch title from Marvel, with a rock solid creative team to back it up.

 

Black Road #1

black_roadBlack Road follows Magnus the Black during the Viking Age in Norway, watching the rise of the Christian Church as he tries to find his place in the world. Magnus arrives in Iskfold and is immediately recruited for work, being asked to transport a Church official down the dreaded “Black Road”, a road known for its brutality and body count. A man struggling with where to place his faith, Magnus begins to develop a bond with the man during their long journey but everything changes when they encounter a group of bandits on the Black Road. Fighting for both of their lives, Magnus’ job becomes far more complicated than he ever would have anticipated.

Brian Wood and Garry Brown team up for a Viking era story with the Black Road. Brian Wood, top to bottom, is easily what I’d consider one of the best world builders in the modern comic scene, with that statement standing true in this issue. The comic opens with a prose piece that is so utterly captivating that you’d be content reading another twenty pages of the story written in that style as you would be with the rest of the comic in front of you. Everything you need to know about the lead character in Magnus is quickly learned by the reader, he’s a man who works hard and enjoys taking on dangerous jobs for the right price, but Wood still leaves a large air of mystery to the character. The plot itself is fairly straight forward but in a comic like this you don’t need some sudden, unnecessary twists, instead using character drama to drive the story. Wood’s use of an elegant mix of natural dialogue and captions works well to invest you in the lead character early on. Garry Brown’s artwork is top-notch, complimenting everything going on in this issue. Much like Wood’s ability to immerse you in a world with his words, Brown also possesses the same skill through his art. Garry Brown is afforded the opportunity to draw plenty of sweeping style panels that show you the countryside of Norway while also showing the quality of life at that time. Late in the issue, Brown is allowed to really cut loose during an action scene and, although it’s brief, the choreography of the fight is simple yet enticing. Everything about Brown’s artwork just demands your attention and rightfully so, as he knocks it out of the park with this first issue of Black Road.

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PROS

+Great Dialogue And Captions

+Excellent Artwork

+Solid Character Work

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[threecol_two_last] CONS

–Decent Plot

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Wal-tor_Rating_4Overall:

When it comes to creator owned content in comics, Brian Wood is one of the best, especially when he is working alongside Garry Brown again to bring us this new series in the Black Road. Wood and Brown build an immersive world immediately, drawing the reader in while they peel back the layers on the lead character of Magnus the Black. You come to understand the lead character quickly through Wood’s excellent dialogue and panel work. Although the plot is fairly straight forward, and nothing really exceptional at that, it doesn’t really need to be some complicated or complex tale that wrecks your brain. Instead, this creative team falls back on its solid character work to get the point of the story across and we’re all the better for it. Garry Brown works like a madman on this issue, drawing a bit of everything for our entertainment. Ranging from tight character moments, to gorgeous settings, and even some snappy action sequences, this issue seems to have it all. In terms of exciting, new comic series, Black Road is definitely one to keep your eyes on.