Moth Special

Written by Gary Martin
Penciled by Steve Rude
Inked by Gary Martin and Andy Bish
56 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

The cover boldly asks the question, “Who is… The Moth?” That’s a dangerous question, though, and perhaps publishers should really keep from putting rhetorical statements on their covers. You see, the problem is, the reader just might decide to be a smart-alec and answer it with something like, “Who cares?” Never, ever let your cover result in a reader talking back at it.

Jack is a circus performer who dresses up like a humanoid moth, using his extraordinary skills to surprise and delight his audience. When a strange lion starts killing all of those who look for it, though, Jack must use his amazing strength to defeat it before it strikes again. But is the answer to the problem with Jack in America, or hidden in the depths of Africa?

I was a little surprised when I first heard that Gary Martin was writing The Moth. I’d always known him as one of Steve Rude’s primary inkers, and hadn’t realized that he had writing aspirations. After reading The Moth, though, I think that Martin’s primary talents are still with ink and not words. The story is unfortunately dull; it goes through the old chestnut of “man doesn’t want to use powers to stop foe; foe kills lots of innocents; man regretfully goes after foe and defeats it” but in an almost nonsensical manner. Why does Jack team up with the bikers that we’d seen in the opening pages to be unpleasant people (and whom Jack as the Moth even briefly terrorizes)? And in the end, did Jack even do anything to save the day? This is probably the most problematic aspect of this special double-sized origin story, where if Jack hadn’t been present I’m not sure that anything would have changed. That’s not good.

Steve Rude’s art is normally something to celebrate, with its slick, iconic feel. Here, though, it just didn’t seem to be at the top of its game. Now don’t get me wrong, even just average Rude art is still a pleasure. Rude’s character designs are always nice and simple, and there’s really no one else like him in comics. But here, well, the life just didn’t seem to be there. The only scene with energy seemed to be when Jack beats up the bikers at the bar, but other than that, it seemed really static. It’s really frustrating because Rude’s normally much more exciting, but this was just… all right.

Maybe fifteen years ago The Moth Special might have seemed a little fresher and exciting, but now it just seems like it’s been recycled from that time period. It just seems out of place and outdated, down to the stereotypical evil African tribes and the power of Jesus saving the day against the evil savages. It’s a shame that when Rude and Martin have created a brand-new character, it just doesn’t feel new at all. Hopefully future outings will have a little more pazazz, but this was ultimately missable.

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