An abandoned hotel in New York contains a single abductee and upwards of twenty armed mob enforcers. Moon Knight is going to go inside and rescue the abductee. Alone.
Titled simply Scarlet, the night’s greatest detective is on the hunt for a missing girl in Moon Knight #5. Already known for its tight done-in-one plots, sparse dialogue and unique graphic execution, this is the kind of story that only works in Marc Spector’s strange and brutal world. While at times the brevity of Ellis’ scripting has left me craving more depth and character development, this issue is a masterful example of the self-contained narrative.
With the girl held captive on the sixth floor of an abandoned building, Spector launches a brutal one-man assault on the unsuspecting thugs holding her hostage. Floor by floor, Ellis and Shalvey’s collaborative beat-‘em-up unfolds through expert storytelling and dynamic combat, never falling flat as every page provides new foes for Spector to dispose of in increasingly visceral ways. The variety of weapons and attacks thrown at Spector keep the fight fresh as he loses own weapons along the way, forced to improvise with whatever he has at hand to satisfying results.
Interspersed with short and entertaining dialogue, Ellis once again proves himself to be a master of short-form storytelling, but the real strength of this issues comes from Shalvey’s page design. The continuous fight sequence takes up nearly all twenty-two pages and evokes many other well-known fight scenes; foremost in my mind is the long take hallway fight in Old Boy, for the sheer fluidity of the violence from panel to panel. Each movement or action is connected to the next, emphasizing the physicality of these clashes and never allowing the reader to simply get lost in the action.
Rarely do I encounter fight scenes in comics that read so thoughtfully, conscious of motion and space. Shalvey uses these elements to their fullest potential, and with Spector’s eerie white silhouette slicing through the drab palettes and textures of the abandoned building, he and Bellaire complement each other beautifully. Once again, this creative team has produced a dynamic and highly satisfying issue. One of the best yet, and it’s only #5.