I’ve always enjoyed Moon Knight when he turned up in my comic reading. Mostly, I was familiar with his guest appearances, especially his time in the West Coast Avengers. I never knew too much about him, other than what I read in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. I always thought he was sort of like Batman, but with an Egyptian twist to his origin.
My experience with Bill Sienkiewicz was pretty much the same: I really enjoyed anything I read that he worked on. For the most part, that was cover art, usually quite striking and memorable. I particularly love his cover to Transformers #1 and the covers he did for the Starriors limited series. I knew Sienkiewicz was famous for New Mutants and Elektra, as well as Moon Knight, but that was the extent of my knowledge.
This past spring, I decided it was high time to educate myself on Moon Knight and Bill Sienkiewicz at the same time. All of Sienkiewicz’s work on Moon Knight has been collected in three massive volumes of Marvel’s Epic Collection series. Doug Moench was the writer for the run, and he’s great, producing stories well ahead of their time. I don’t mean to diminish his input, but I appreciate art first and foremost. Sienkiewicz’s art changed dramatically over the run, and I thoroughly enjoyed tracking his growth as an artist as I read through the three volumes.
The first Moon Knight Epic Collection is called, appropriately enough, Bad Moon Rising. Sienkiewicz’s work with the character began in Hulk Magazine, which accounts for the deluxe coloring work in those issues. The first four issues of Moon Knight’s first solo series are also included. Solid work here, with clean lines and a great sense of motion throughout the panels. Great detailing, particularly in the faces, which can be a challenge for some artists.
The second Moon Knight Epic Collection, Shadows of the Moon, includes issues #5 through #23. It’s here where Sienkiewicz shifts from the more traditional style of the time into a look that is uniquely his own. Even when Sienkiewicz assumes the more classic Neal Adams style, his panel layouts and unusual perspectives shine through. Later in the run, when he moves to inking his own layouts, it’s like an explosion of creativity. The lines are loose, almost messy, and yet the storytelling is even stronger.
The final Moon Knight Epic Collection is Final Rest. It’s shorter than the other two, collecting only #24 through #38, when the series was cancelled. Issue #26 includes “Hit It”, probably the best single story in the whole run… and it’s only 16 pages! Sienkiewicz’s mastery of the medium is on full display. His use of contrast, negative space, and the unusual composition of his panels is simply breathtaking. Sienkiewicz’s last issue is #30, and the legendary run wraps up with an appearance of Jack Russell, the werewolf, which of course is where Moon Knight began.
I just can’t say enough good things about Bill Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight run. In the space of only a few years, he developed from a solid storyteller to a visionary, constantly changing and experimenting in the development of a style that is totally unique. Reading this series was like watching a beautiful butterfly hatch, to use a lame simile. I can’t recommend the Moon Knight Epic Collections enough. If you are at all interested in comic book art, each one is worth a read.