In this week’s main Marvel Rundown review, there’s a bad sun rising in What If…? Dark Moon Knight #1. While this review contains SPOILERS, you can scroll to the Rapid Rundown for spoiler-lite blurbs of Alpha Flight #1 and Uncanny Avengers #1.

What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics issues, true believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out in the comment section and let us know what you’re thinking.

What If…? Dark Moon Knight #1

Writer: Erica Schultz
Artist: Edgar Salazar
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Letter: Cory Petit

In this one-shot, Marc Spector is felled during his battle against Raul Bushman in Marc Spector: Moon Knight #3. The deviation leads to Marlene Alraune, typically consigned to the role of “damsel in distress” or “hero supporter” in Moon Knight stories, rising to the role of the avatar of Ra, the Egyptian Sun God. As a huge fan of Moon Knight, from his backup stories in Hulk Magazine to his excellent currently ongoing run, I found this one-shot was an interesting twist on the Moon Knight mythos.

Moon Canon

While Marlene appears in many Moon Knight stories, she is often consigned to a supporting role. In multiple stories, she plays the part of “damsel in distress” or “hero supporter,” tending to Marc and/or training with him after he’s returned to the mansion after an evening of super heroics. 

But in What If…? Dark Moon Knight #1, a version of the timeline in which Marlene becomes something of a superhero herself unspools. After Marc falls in battle, Marlene is offered the opportunity to become “Luminary,” the avatar of Ra. This allows her to accomplish some good deeds, but it’s also pretty clear that the immense power that Luminary wields burns very hot indeed.

At the conclusion of the story, it seems as though Marlene’s humanity evacuates her body to be reunited with her late lover. In the final panels, the lettering suggests Ra has taken over her body, transforming it into a mere vessel for Ra. The rise of Ra is a suitably “dark” ending for this entering in the What If…? Dark line. 

More What If…?

My biggest complaint against this issue is the same problem I had with What If…? Dark Venom #1: there is so much story potential here that consigning the tale to a one-shot seems like a waste. 

The narrative necessities of a What If…? one-shot mean Marlene must accept Ra’s offer in the space of just a single page, but there could be some fascinating angles to explore in her motivation for acceptance. While the issue does a good job of demonstrating Luminary has a heroic career, the associated details could fill many issues. 

And while the ending does seem quite final, it isn’t like Khonshu hasn’t eclipsed Marc’s consciousness before. Remember West Coast Avengers? It’s possible Marlene could return as Luminary even after being temporarily subsumed by Ra. And far from being a redundant Moon Knight clone, Luminary could explore the ways that having a deity like Ra set up shop in your noggin is different than being occupied by one like Khonshu.

What If…? Dark Moon Knight #1

In addition to the elements discussed above, I enjoyed seeing some of Moon Knight’s supporting cast working for Luminary (but would have enjoyed seeing some of his other associates as well). And while I would have liked to see the reasons behind it explained a little bit further, having Khonshu narrate this story was an intriguing touch that was suitably distinctive for a Moon Knight story.

As discussed in my review for What If…? Dark Venom #1, there is precedent for multi-issue What If…? arcs (and in fact, we were even promised more of them that never seemed to make it to publication). What If…? Dark Moon Knight #1 would be yet another worthy candidate for such hypothetical expansion.

Verdict: Visit a timeline where this one-shot lasts for several issues.

Rapid Rundown!

  • Alpha Flight #1
    • I was intrigued when this was announced, and very curious where this was going to go, but I enjoyed the left-field perspective Ed Brisson and Scott Godlewski introduce to the Fall of X here. I’m not totally sure how to describe it, but this is a way more straightforward take on the turmoil post-Hellfire Gala than I think we’ve seen thus far (and I like that!). As pointed out on the podcast X-Plain the X-Men, Canada appears to be far more evil in the 616, and this issue opens with the Canadian government matching rhetoric that feels closer to American policies than what might be expected from the Great White North (at least from my naive perspective). Two Alpha Flight teams exist here, one working for Orchis and another composed solely of mutants, and they seem set up to go head-to-head in every issue. Godlewski, with colorist Matt Milla and letterer Travis Lanham, provides some great layouts, with panels that warp and twist when the action kicks off. The story doesn’t do anything crazy, and there’s a twist that I should’ve seen coming (though I still didn’t!), but as a person (me) who has very little experience with Alpha Flight, Brisson does a solid job of introducing us to the team and the long history that comes with them. I’m interested to see where this goes and how the two Alpha Flight teams interact. – CB 
  • Uncanny Avengers #1
    • Writer Gerry Duggan gets to play with this mixed team of X-Men and Avengers again as he and artist Javier Garrón revive the short-lived Avengers Unity Squad. That team was formed in the wake of Avengers vs X-Men to foster better relations between the teams, after the events of the Hellfire Gala this team is about better relations between Mutants and humans. For the X-Men that are free in this post-Krakoa era, the gloves are off and not killing humans is out the window as the remaining Mutants on Earth are hunted and forced into reassignment camps where they are either depowered or sent to Arrako/Mars. In addition to that, there is a concentrated media campaign to paint the Mutants as terrorists and subversives. While not as vicious as Shadow Cat’s fight in X-Men #25, Psylocke takes out at least 10 Orchis foot soldiers before meeting up with Cap and his newly reformed Unity Squad. This new era is bloody as F and leaves no room for appeasement, which brings me to my dilemma of not being sure if I’m delighted in the Mutants getting retribution or disturbed that Cap seems very ok with it and I don’t know if that’s in his character. Yes, he’s been at war, but at this point, he’s been an Avenger longer than he’s been a soldier. I’m curious what other lines will be crossed as this new underground team pushes back against Orchis, the new Stark Sentinels, and the New Mutant Liberation Front, a group of Mutants duped into fighting for Orchis. Still a little early to see how the Unity teams dynamics work, for now, Duggan’s plotting works well with Garrón’s clean dynamic storytelling. – GC3

Next week sees the arrival of Fantastic Four Annual #1, Immortal Thor #1, and Marvel Unleashed #1. Excelsior!

Catch up on past entries in The Beat’s Marvel Rundown archive.


  1. Canadian on the US side of the border here. Canada’s been bombarded by the same rhetoric from the Canadian equivalent of the Republican Party for years. It’s gradually gotten more and more American as time has gone on and, yes, that sadly means on political grounds as well.

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