Murder Book collects a dozen or so crime comics by Ed Brisson and a coterie of artists. These are lean, dark, twisted tales, which take advantage of the genre’s flexible form, and delve into the many facets of society’s underbelly. They are not necessarily about bad guys; instead, they are about guys who’ve landed themselves in bad situations and are desperately trying to dig their way out.
The crime genre offers a plethora of narrative possibilities, and Brisson takes full advantage, offering stories about police detectives, carjackers, thieves, drug peddlers; you name an archetype, Brisson has it covered. Only they aren’t presented as archetypes. Even in this short-form, he manages to add a layer of humanity and depth to these people. We don’t need to know the full extent of their backstories to feel sympathy for them; even when that sympathy is twinged with disgust at their behaviour.
Artists Declan Shalvey, Michael Walsh, Jonnie Christmas – to name just three of a brilliant bunch – are all in top form, effectively utilising a black-and-white palette (or grey tones) to nail the dark, gritty atmosphere Brisson’s scripts demand. Each artist has a very distinct style, but the collection’s tone feels consistent, perhaps due to the implementation of simple layouts. Don’t expect double-page spreads or splash pages; by design many of these stories feel claustrophobic at times as the stories build tension.
Every story in Murder Book crackles with energy. Brisson and his cohorts have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to draw in the reader and make us feel every punch, every gunshot, every mistake. As far as crime comics go, this is one of the greatest anthologies out there. It’s a real treat.
Format: Paperback (259mm x 169mm x 13mm)
Imprint: Dark Horse Comics
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publish Date: 31-Mar-2015
Country of Publication: United States
MOON KNIGHT: FROM THE DEAD is one helluva good collection. Its architects – veteran scribe Warren Ellis, illustrator Declan Shalvey and colourist Joride Bellaire – radiate assuredness in their craft. The script is tight and nuanced – you won’t find overbearing narrative captions here – and the artwork is stunning, the sheer white of Moon Knight’s costume – or suit, as he’s more frequently clad in here – almost an eyesore. Few creators could pull of a scene involving Moon Knight dejectedly facing the glower of the skeletal Egyptian moon-god Khonshu, alongside the two ghosts of his disassociated identities, and have it pulsate with the underlying dread conjured by Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire. This is a team working at the peak of their powers. Together, they have rebooted Moon Knight for a new audience, and rejuvenated the character for fans of yore.
Moon Knight’s backstory is overwhelmingly convoluted, even for a reader who has invested more than twenty years in the Marvel Universe. Rather than focus on the history, and try to explain the unexplainable, Ellis chooses to press forward with his six loosely connected tales, and lean on Moon Knight’s past only when it benefits the thrust of his own narrative. In MOON KNIGHT: FROM THE DEAD, the vigilante plays the role of the Marvel Universe’s Batman. Equipped with Batarang-like throwing-discs and a sleek automobile, as well as a variety of gadgets (albeit with a supernatural edge) Moon Knight takes on a variety of evil forces, including a deranged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, a rogue sniper, intangible ghosts, and a psychotic police officer desperate to take Moon Knight’s place.
Ellis wisely strips his script of surplus, allowing Shalvey and Bellaire the space required to concoct stunning renditions of Moon Knight in action, and expertly story-boarded set-pieces. Our first shot of Moon Knight strutting towards a crime scene is worthy of framing, and a later sequence involving his slow climb up the stairs of a villain-infested apartment is possibly one of the finest combat scenes ever penciled.
MOON KNIGHT: FROM THE DEAD is the kind of reboot that made the MARVEL NOW! initiative so successful. By allowing super-talented creators the opportunity to tell the type of story intrinsic to their tastes they have borne something truly marvelous. Moon Knight fan or not, comic fans owe themselves the pleasure of this collection.