Moon Knight Vol 1: From the Dead (Review)

Happy Friday everyone! We’ve got another comic book review this week, and because I’m obsessed, it’s another Moon Knight review. If you’re just getting caught up, I’ve been reviewing Moon Knight comics in preparation for the Moon Knight show on Disney+.

So far I’ve managed to read through the 3 books by Jeff Lemire, and a Moon Knight “Essentials” volume, and then of course I’m blogging about the show each week as the episodes come out in my Moon Knight Unwrapped series. It’s a lot of fun, and honestly I’m a little amazed I’m not sick of it yet.

Anyway, THIS week’s review is about Moon Knight Volume 1: From the Dead by Warren Ellis. It came out in 2014, before the Lemire books I read just before this.

In some ways, I felt like this take on the character deviated the most from anything that I’ve seen so far. First, there were lots of references to other marvel properties like Spiderman, Wolverine, and S.H.I.E.L.D. and a lot of allusions to past events which I assume are part of the Moon Knight cannon which I haven’t come across yet (I probably should not be reading these in reverse chronological order hahah). It was not as off-putting as I felt some of the allusions in Lunatic were because Ellis seems to have a more straightforward writing style (when it comes to dialogue at least). Things aren’t referenced so much as explained, and I never really felt all that confused although sometimes I did wish I had experienced them first hand.

I found the artwork in these volumes to be the most enjoyable of anything I’ve read so far. A lot more use of color, and many of the environments were quite surreal. It was great!

However, I also felt that this book was perhaps the most simplistic version of the character I’ve seen yet. Each story focuses almost solely on Mr. Knight, usually punching his way through a slew of enemies. YouTuber Matt Draper does an interesting analysis in Moon Knight – Burdened by and Unknown God, and manages to show the complexity of the Spector/Khonshu relationship as a metaphor for the unknowable nature of religions and their followers . . .

Perhaps this develops, or is more apparent in the books that follow, but to me, it seemed like Ellis rejected some of Moon Knight’s most interesting characteristics, his personalities, and the series’ other characters. Only at the end do we get any idea of where Jean Paul Duchamp (‘Frenchie’) and Marlene are (no mention of Crawley that I noted), and while it is hinted that there was a falling out, but we do not understand why. Ellis’ Moon Knight is a violent loner and that just wasn’t as interesting to me.

Wasn’t Khonsu a healer?

Finally, the violence of these issues actually inspired me to do a bit of research into the Ancient Egyptian God of the Moon Khonsu, because I just couldn’t reconcile this violent portrayal with a deity that in history was seen as a protector and healer.

In From the Dead, Ellis names five aspects of the god which Moon Knight supposedly embodies. They are: Pathfinder, Embracer, Defender, Watcher of Overnight Travelers, and The One Who Lives On Hearts.

Embracer, and Defender, seem to match up with a healing moon deity apparent in the Bentresh Stella, who’s statue healed Ramses’ sister in law. Watcher of Overnight Travelers, and Pathfinder is also quite understandable when we consider:

“. . . which is that it derives from the verb khenes which means “to cross over or traverse”. Khonsu therefore means “the wanderer” or “he who traverses [the sky]” “

But what of this last epithet, The One Who Lives On Hearts?

Well it turns out, Khonsu is represented as being violent and blood thirsty in two sources, the first being the “Cannibal Hymn” from the Pyramid texts, which describe a deceased Wenis/Unas killing and eating gods for sustenance with Khonsu’s help:

It is Wenis who eats men and lives on Gods
Lord of porters who dispatches messages.
It is “Grasper-of-Horns” who is in Khonsu who lassoes them for Wenis

Faulkner, R.O. The “Cannibal Hymn” from the Pyramid Texts, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology v10 no2 1924 pgs 97-103

But it is spell 258 in the Coffin Texts, which identify the moon deity as “Khonsu who lives on hearts“.

I suppose that it should not come as a surprise to learn that this god of the moon was not only benevolent but sometimes malevolent too. After all, most things in Ancient Egyptian epistemology have a duality.

Read this one?

Despite my disappointment, I would still recommend this one. It’s straightforward in it’s approach, and while I was dubious of such a violent representation of the moon deity bearing up to any historical scrutiny, it seems that the evidence is there and that Khonsu had a violent side after all.

I plan to continue on with the next books in this run. We’ll see how things develop!

Has anyone read these already? What were your thoughts? Enjoy this different take on the character? Please leave your thoughts in the comments! See you next week!

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