Off The Shelf — Brian Reviews Moon Knight #8

Stories are powerful. Brian reviews a great reflection on that point in Moon Knight #8 

Writer: Jed MacKay

Art by: Allessandro Cappucchio

Color by Rachelle Rosenberg

Welcome friends to another Off The Shelf, Church of the Geek’s review of recent comic book titles. I am Brian Bennett, campus pastor of the Lutheran Campus Ministry in Greater Pittsburgh and our student group PSALM serving Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Chatham and Carlow universities AND I’m also your regular co-host of Church of the Geek.

The way a religion understands its sacred texts says a lot about the tradition, I think. Even within Christianity, people understand the bible in many different ways. The fact that the bible is a collection of books doesn’t make it easy. But some traditions of Christianity treat the bible primarily as a source book of rules to follow. Some might understand it as a philosophical guide. And some see the bible as a large story that create a framework by which we make sense of the rules and philosophy.

Sometimes we want to say something is “just a story” to rob it of its power, but stories are powerful, and Moon Knight #8 written by Jed MacKay, with art by Allessandro Cappucchio and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg drives it home on this point.

It is interesting, of course, that this particular story, Moon Knight #8, does not even have Moon Knight in its pages. Instead, this issue features the other Fist of Khonshu, Hunter Moon, who arrived fairly early in this series to test and correct Marc Spector in his new Midnight Mission.

This series is in continuity with the Age of Khonshu arc in the Avengers. Khonshu has been imprisoned after his failed attempt to create a new reality, and Moon Knight has been working to make sense of his strained relationship to Khonshu. He doesn’t abandon his role as Khonshu’s fist, but he doesn’t quite know where he stands.

After a start that still leaves me scratching my head a bit, this run so far has been an interesting reflection on faith, religion and duty. Marc Spector runs The Midnight Mission to protect those in his neighborhood and those who travel by night. But he even protects vampires which initially put him at odds with the other Fist, Hunter Moon, a Doctor Badr, who sets up shop nearby to serve the community. If it was not known before, we learn that Marc Spector was Jewish. All of this to say that the last few issues have been rich in both action and reflection.

It all culminates in this issue with Hunter Moon (Moon Knight was arrested and is being held as part of the Devil’s Reign event) being asked to investigate events of a more paranormal nature. Someone seems to be copying the style of a former enemy of Moon Knight, Stained Glass Scarlet. There seems to be a bit of legend around her that is gathering a religious following behind it. Her symbol is painted on things as people seek her intervention for revenge. And now corpses are being found with crossbow bolts sticking out of them.

After this setup Almost half of the book is the encounter that Hunter Moon has with another deity that reflects on the nature of story and faith. And I found this immensely interesting. One of my theology professors at seminary once made the statement that every narrative makes a truth claim. A claim about truth. A claim that states whether something is true or not. Is redemption possible? Do human beings contain anything good? Do I have a duty to anyone other my self, my family, my tribe?

Stories are the center of these claims. We don’t start from a philosophical axiom and find stories to connect to them from there. The bible is a collection of stories that are helpful in questions of truth. How we understand that truth might be up for debate, but such is the nature of interpretation. Every story requires an interpretive lens. I can understand the two creation narratives in the first two chapters of Genesis as true, even as I admit they are not factual. Their truth is not wrapped up in how creation happened, but who does the creating. That truth is vital for me.

The nature of God is demonstrated in stories. The Exodus where God hears the cries of the enslaved Hebrews. The story of Jesus and the overcoming of death shows us a love that overcomes the brutality of the world. Moon Knight #8 quotes John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word” in an encounter that is as much a theological duel as it is a boss fight. In the end it seems the theology wins.

The battle revolves around the nature of story and the story upon which our faith rests. Is the Story, capital S, an immutable thing? Once set is there no ability to grow and move within that story? Or even if a narrative might change, can we ever engage a story as it is in the moment?

Ultimately though, Hunter Moon asks the question “For what is a god if not a story?” Amid all of our practice of the faith, I think this question gets us to the heart of truth. The story we tell about our God is the closest we might be able to get because it is the way we our God is revealed. Even when I encounter Jesus in a meal of bread and wine, we begin that meal by remembering “In the night in which he was betrayed…” The story of Jesus is at the heart of the power of that meal. Jesus shows up for us, feeding us on his very life. We might argue over Aristotelian metaphysics or claim some spiritual presence… but the story of Jesus reminds us again and again, Jesus shows up in bread and wine.

Stories are powerful. People find hope and meaning in all sorts of stories. Throughout the pandemic we have seen people return to stories they have seen again and again. In 2020, I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy six times through and three times in 2021. My wife wonders why I do that. Because even though it might be “just a story” it speaks of truth in hope in the midst of despair. That there is some good in this world with fighting for.

Moon Knight #8 struck a deep chord for me pondering the nature of story and faith. It had beauty both in the art and the writing that pulls out a deep truth. Our stories matter. They create faith. Faith creates meaning. Meaning brings about how we view the world and walk about in it.

Geek be with you.

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Theme song by @RickRackYouTube

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