Writers: Scott Mescudi and Kyle Higgins
Artist: Marco Locati
Image Comics, January 2024
Ramon Townsend is ready for a quiet life. Whatever went wrong on that failed moon mission, whatever happened in the missing minutes the cameras didn’t capture, all he really wants is to settle down back home. But those missing minutes hold an Earth-shattering secret – and, with all eyes turned to him, Ramon will soon find himself becoming something the world has never seen before.
The paragraph above is the promotional copy for a new title from Image Comics, Moon Man. The comic has the distinction of being co-written by a world-famous musician, Scott Mescudi, who goes by the stage name “Kid Cudi”. (It is not the first time a very high-profile musician has entered the comics industry. Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy, taken up as a television series, is perhaps on the same commercial scale as Mr Way’s musical career in his capacity as lead singer for the band My Chemical Romance. Such twinned success we think is an indicia of raw creative talent.)
In any event, Mr Mescudi, with the help of Kyle Higgins of Radiant Black fame, has taken off from the blocks at a pace. Moon Man is a very good start to a side career in comics. The creative team work hard to produce a story which is very grounded in its dialogue, and yet harbours a cosmic mystery: what happened to a group of astronauts, on a privately funded space mission, during seven missing minutes? Mysteries in space have a long pedigree, and the idea that astronauts find themselves confronted by existential crisis in orbit was best explored, we think, in the horror science fiction movie The Astronaut’s Wife. Mr Mescudi and Mr Higgins have created a sympathetic protagonist in the form of Ramon, who studiously avoids questions from everyone about what happened during those seven minutes of the space mission. It evolves that Ramon has manifested a new talent, some form of combustion driven flight where the exhaust is a kaleidoscopic burst of stringed colour. We assume this was acquired during the missing seven minutes. More Fantastic Four, then, than trans-lunar nightmare. Ramon at the conclusion of this first issue confronts the luminous enigma which he met in space: its looming, silent presence reminds us of the interaction in Warren Ellis’ New Universal between an unknowable interdimensional monolith and its human agent, Night Mask (see Revisiting newuniversal (2007-2008) – World Comic Book Review) .
Contrary to most reviews, we were not impressed by Mr Higgins’ superhero title Radiant Black. We thought the concepts and the dialogue were too wooden. Moon Man demonstrates that Mr Higgins’ skills have substantially improved since then. The plot does jump around at stages, however: the confrontation at the end of this first issue with the alien miasma was too sudden, and the rescue by Ramon of his younger brother seems crammed into a small space. There is the cliched reliance upon an evil corporation (one which seems quite similar to Space X, but called Janus), and unnaturally up-and-down sibling tensions. But otherwise, the creative team executed their brief well.
That observation applies especially to Marco Locati. Mr Locati’s artwork is a pleasure to follow, and it reminds us of Tim Bradsheet’s line-focussed art. (Mr Bradsheet is perhaps most famous for DC Comics’ The Unknown Soldier, published in 1997.) Mr Locati’s facial expressions in particular are natural, evocative, and varied. We do not quite trust the assertion by Image Comics that Mr Locati is a “break out artist”. He seems too skilled to be new to the commercial comic book industry.
We enjoyed this first issue, and look forward to the mystery of the Moon Man being revealed in due course.