Doug Moench

Moon Knight (2019, Caden Butera)

Technically, Moon Knight is awesome. Excellent composition, photography, editing. Director Butera also edits, also handles some of the photography. Unfortunately he also wrote the script, which is terrible.

Moon Knight is so terrible outside those technical qualities–sadly, costuming is not one of its strong suits either (no pun intended)–I’m going to take the time to set up a joke. Moon Knight, the Marvel Comics character (Moon Knight is a fan film, with technical qualities and special effects on par with most television), has never been popular. Marvel got forty issues out of the character in the early eighties but he’s never really caught on. He’s on his sixth series, which you’d think was pretty good but there’s still no crossover appeal.

Basically he’s a Marvel Comics Batman, just without the sidekicks and gadgets. He just beats up criminals at night in an outfit. A better outfit than what Butera uses here.

Anyway. So this fan film Moon Knight does the most important thing a Moon Knight fan film could do–it shows why you’ll never have crossover success with the property. Okay, so not a “ha ha” joke, but a sad one. Moon Knight shows exactly why no one would ever want to make a real Moon Knight movie.

Lead Tim Altevers doesn’t have much dialogue, but he’s got constant, terrible narration. Apparently a lady friend died or left him because he’s such a broody guy and so he tracks down mobsters and kills them. Some of them. Others get away to plot their revenge. All of the mob guys–the bosses and the little guys–are complete scum. Butera uses some “expository shortcuts” to get the characters there. The shortcuts are increasingly grotesque misogynistic rants. It’s utterly pointless, poorly written, and just a bad thing. At that point it becomes clear no matter how good Moon Knight can look, it’s never going to be any good.

Things get worse once Altevers puts on his silly costume and goes out to kill a bunch of mob guys outside a Habitat for Humanity ReStore (based on the truck). The fight direction is… okay, but not great. The special effects–lots of gore action–are good. The problem at this point is mostly Rylan Butera’s music, which actually has some good moments early on then gets bad then terrible then worse. Then goes on for another six minutes.

The script and superhero costume are a disaster. The music is a disaster–especially since if they’d gone heavy metal with Altevers’s vigilante spree killing it might’ve been a great scene, but whatever.

Moon Knight is a great example of excellent low budget, amateur filmmaking as well as a great example of terrible lower budget, amateur films. But it does show exactly what’s wrong with the comic book property getting exploited in other media.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed and edited by Caden Butera; screenplay by Butera, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin; directors of photography, Dashawn Bedford and Butera; music by Rylan Butera; produced by Butera and Joe Cruzaedo Wagner.

Starring Tim Altevers (Moon Knight / Marc Spector), Bill Bancroft (Thug Bill), John Risky Boltz (Thug Risky), Morcedes Brown (Bushman), and Ben Burke (Thug Ben).


Batman 400 (October 1986)

830781I hate this comic. I hate how DC used it, I hate how Moench writes it, even if it was an editorial decision.

There are nods to Moench’s run, but only so far as he gets to give each of his characters a page to sort of say goodbye. There’s no closure on any of the story lines, not a single one.

There’s also a lot of crappy art. It’s an anniversary issue with a lot of big names drawing either poorly or against their style. Rick Leonardi and Arthur Adams are some of the worst offenders, but not even Brian Bolland does particularly well. Ken Steacy is the only decent one.

Moench’s writing for a different audience than usual, the casual Batman reader, not the regular. Apparently he thinks the casual readers like endless exposition and incredible stupidity. It’s a distressing, long read; a terrible capstone to Moench’s run.

D- 

CREDITS

Resurrection Night!; writer, Doug Moench; pencillers, John Byrne, Steve Lightle, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Adams, Tom Sutton, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi and Brian Bolland; inkers, Byrne, Bruce Patterson, Perez, Larry Mahlstedt, Sienkiewicz, Terry Austin, Ricardo Villagran, Leialoha, Kubert, Steacy, Karl Kesel and Bolland; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, John Costanza and Andy Kubert; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 566 (September 1986)

5671I wish they had done a recap issue back when Colan was at the top of his game. This issue sets up the big anniversary special over in Batman, with he and Robin going over the villain files in the Batcave. Gordon got an ominous note.

One might think Batman should do that work during the day instead of when he should be fighting crime, but whatever. Moench uses the issue not to just give a recap of the villains in general, but how he’s used them in his run. Jason’s got a lot to say, but it seems like a major cop out Moench downgraded the character for months only to bring him back to spout exposition.

Still, it’s fine for what Moench’s doing, it just isn’t clear why he had to do it.

Cavalieri hits new silliness in Green Arrow but the art’s great. Except the goofy villain.

C 

CREDITS

Know Your Foes; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Todd Klein. Green Arrow, Old Enemies Die Hard; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 399 (September 1986)

844945It’s a depressing issue, but Moench’s ambitious in that depression. He plays some of the thriller scenes like a melodrama–a guy storming over to have it out with the murderer of his girlfriend–while having Batman moon over Catwoman.

Most interesting is the scene where Bruce Wayne, cowl off, calls Catwoman on the phone and comes off desperate. Moench’s trying real hard at it.

He doesn’t make it. Not with that scene, not with the two or three breakup scenes in the rest of the issue, but he tries real hard. It’s too bad because it feels like Moench doing a course correction for the series, which had toyed with bringing a female compatriot in for the boys.

Sadly, no, Moench just wasted months hinting at it.

As his run winds down, there’s not much left for him to resolve. Batman’s going from pre to post-Crisis very quietly.

C+ 

CREDITS

Strike Two!; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Albert De Guzman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 565 (August 1986)

5670Colan’s really slipping. His faces are getting lifeless and awkward. The scene where Jason is making out with his girlfriend, the girl looks like a mannequin.

Moench goes on and on about love this issue in the very close to Batman third person narration. He’s got a serial killer shrinking ex-girlfriends heads, all sorts of romance. Batman and Catwoman are fighting, she’s had enough of his lack of trust. On and on. But Moench hasn’t set up the series for this arc to have much impact. It definitely should, but it doesn’t. Maybe because the relationships–except Jason, who’s got game, apparently–are so chaste. I think Jane Austen would’ve gotten more indiscreet than Moench.

The story’s fine, it’s just meandering.

The Green Arrow backup has some nice Stan Woch art and a really dumb story from Cavalieri. It ends with some guy benevolently holding a woman hostage. Seriously.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Love Killing; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, Death by Misadventure; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Stan Woch; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 398 (August 1986)

2860Moench finally starts dealing with some things this issue–Jason finally stops being such a little turd and Catwoman finally stops letting Batman treat her like half a partner. There’s a big showdown between Batman and Catwoman; what’s unspoken is how Bruce Wayne figures in. Batman gets to know Selina’s life, she doesn’t get to know (or share) his. It’s a good scene.

The Two-Face story comes to an end with an intricate plan from Batman to capture Harvey. Except, in this plan, there’s very little interaction between them during the majority of the issue. They have a showdown. Until then, it’s sort of goofy because Batman and Catwoman are following him through Gotham on motorcycles. Mandrake draws Batman’s figure odd, so it reminds a little too much of the TV show.

Speaking of Mandrake, some of his figures are really rough, but his Catwoman pages are absolutely phenomenal.

B 

CREDITS

About Faces!; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 564 (July 1986)

5669Colan’s art seems to have stabilized quite a bit. In a lot of ways, it’s less ambitious and a waste of his talent, but at least there aren’t any awful Jason panels. Instead, Jason’s barely in the comic. Moench sends him out on a date because he’s so perturbed at Batman hanging out with Catwoman all the time.

Catwoman, in the meantime, is perturbed Batman doesn’t treat her as a full partner. Batman’s oblivious to all these things, of course. He’s too busy trying to work up a plan against Two-Face, which Moench hides from the reader to get a surprise (or two).

It’s an okay enough feature, but it feels padded. Moench’s either avoiding a lot–like Bruce Wayne–or he’s just bored.

The Green Arrow backup has a terrible story. Inker Steve Montano and Rodin Rodriguez give Moore’s a more static quality; it’s still good, but different.

C+ 

CREDITS

Double Crosses; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, This Masquerade; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inkers, Steve Montano and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 397 (July 1986)

2859Mandrake draws Two-Face’s head a little wide–probably to give himself room–but otherwise his art has gotten rather refined. There are some excellent panels this issue; Mandrake is able to do the more outlandish superhero ones too, which is nice. Moench doesn’t write many of them, but they’re there.

Speaking of Moench, he’s trying things again. While he’s again reduced Robin to whining about Catwoman, there is a whole subplot about Circe. She’s the model with the burned face; she’s stripping–in mask–to make ends meet. Catwoman has a reaction to it. Moench doesn’t seem to get having Catwoman, in scant garb, considered about the objectification of women is a little off, but it’s an honest response from her at least. Just problematic.

Moench’s focus on her in the supporting cast has reduced Gordon to background. Even Bullock gets a courting subplot.

Still, it’s perfectly serviceable stuff.

B- 

CREDITS

Binary Brains; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 563 (June 1986)

5668Finally, a villain Moench can write–he does a great job with Two-Face this issue, just great. It makes up for Batman not really having a story. He and Catwoman are out on case, there’s something mysterious going on with Jerry Hall. Sorry, Circe.

Meanwhile, Jason is ready to tell some girl he goes to school with all about Robin. As disastrously bad as Moench writes this particular character arc–all the anti-drug messages really make me miss Jason and Nocturna’s awkward, but at least ambitious, doomed relationship. Anyway, as bad as Moench writes Jason in high school… it’s nothing compared to how Colan pencils him. Jason’s this fat little cherub. Maybe Smith was overextended and couldn’t ink properly.

Generally okay art otherwise. Not great Colan, but decent.

Cavalieri tells the Green Arrow backup through flashbacks to cut down on action. It’s lame but Moore’s pencils are breathtaking.

B 

CREDITS

Free Faces; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. Green Arrow, Winner and Still Champion; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 396 (June 1986)

2858Robin is such a little punk this issue Gordon finally yells at him. Moench has given up on Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd the past few issues–given up on any Robin characterization besides him being impertinent–but it doesn’t actually hurt the comic much. Moench wasn’t good at the regular people stuff anyway.

Mandrake’s art has a lot of energy. I love the work he puts in on expressions, whether they’re full panel or just a medium shot.

This issue finishes the “Film Freak” story–probably the worst of Moench’s villains and most of them are so terrible, being worst is an accomplishment (the Night-Slayer was a doozy). There’s a lot of action, a tight pace, a surprise third act… right after a surprise in the second. Moench’s on his plotting game at least.

It took him too long to find the partner dynamics he could write well.

B- 

CREDITS

Box-Office Smash; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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