“Summon the Suit”
The first episode of Moon Knight really felt like a major jump away from the comic book antics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a welcome jump at that. The second episode still remains entirely separate from the MCU, with nary a guest star or continuity reference to be found, but it does feel remarkably like a comic book – just not a Marvel one.
Full disclosure: while I am a comic enthusiast, I have never read a Moon Knight comic. I am not even familiar with the character; I am aware that he exists, but that is honestly about the extent of it. This series may be an accurate representation of the Moon Knight of the comics, but as it stands it definitely feels like an early period DC Vertigo title come to life. Specifically this feels like the MCU through the lens of a Peter Milligan, for example. It is also reminding me tonally of a lot of older British telefantasy. It is oddly comfortable being weird. The overwhelming strangeness of the first episode has softened, but of course it needed to soften. Too much deliberate obfuscation and your audience will leave you in droves. As a result there is a modicum of back story and clarity to what is going on: duelling Egyptian gods, a secret agent disguised as a completely different personality, and now an ex-wife with whom Steven (Oscar Isaac) is awkwardly introduced.
Layla (May Kalamawi) thinks she knows Steven, but of course she does not – she actually married Marc Spector, Steven’s ultra-violent alternate personality. She is disturbed to find Steven shares her own enthusiasms, however; French poetry in particular. Kalamawi makes an immediate impression and is a welcome addition to the cast which, until now, felt remarkably male. Hopefully the series continues to grant her agency of her own.
The humour still underlines the action. Ethan Hawke gets some strong material and a background for the mysterious Arthur Harrow. A weird misstep with characters speaking bizarrely bad Mandarin Chinese aside, it is all exceptionally staged, played, and paced. By episode’s end, many mysteries remain – but there is a drive forward with the plot, and a solid story direction for episode 3. This remains wonderfully enjoyable, not to mention a valuable fresh approach for the increasingly homogeneic MCU.