MARVEL KNIGHTS #2 by Matt Rosenberg, Donny Cates, and Niko Henrichon
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Henrichon's art and Rosenberg's writing combine for a very strong chapter in this mystery. The heroes are slowly coming together, but there are still no answers. Will they find them? Do they want to?
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Knights Come Together!
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MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2 is an homage to the gritty line that saved Marvel Comics 20 years ago. The MK line was a darker, grittier street-level corner of the Marvel U. Talents like Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Quesada, and Brian Michael Bendis debuted on book in that line and became the legendary creators they are today in part due to their work in the Marvel Knights world. This series is meant to pay homage, and Donny Cates and Matt Rosenberg have plotted an interesting story, one where all the Marvel heroes have had their memories wiped!

Remember Me

MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2 starts with a distraught Matt Murdock, who is seeing a former flame of his, Karen Page. The problem is that Karen is dead, and has been for years. Matt figures out that she’s a part of his subconscious mind, trying to help him remember who he is. Matt resolves to get to the bottom of everything and to be the hero he was meant to be.

MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2 time travels to the past a bit and establishes the connection between Frank Castle and Bruce Banner. Banner reveals how children leave him notes and he puts the clues together to figure out who the former heroes and villains were (there’s a Killmonger reference amongst his notes). Castle is skeptical at first until he sees the Punisher symbol amongst the notes. The two team up to find other people Banner has found.

That leads to an encounter with MMA instructor Elektra Natchios. Frank tries to convince her to join them, and a fight ensues between the two of them. Banner discovers his inner monster just as the two are wrapping up their fight, but Daredevil shows up to keep the peace. MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2 ends with a twist as Elektra also sees Karen Page.

The Noir Mystery Continues in MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2

MARVEL KNIGHTS 20TH #2
MARVEL KNIGHTS 20TH #2 Page 9. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2 follows in the tradition of the original Marvel Knights line: gritty, dark stories told with street level characters. Even Banner’s Hulking out is kept in the background. The focus is on the battle between the Punisher and Elektra.  The battle between the two characters is also interesting because Elektra’s personality is so different. She’s an assassin; she kills people for a living and does so dispassionately most of the time. With her mind wiped, she enjoys teaching women self-defense. Gone is the killer instinct, and indeed, Elektra fears remembering her past life.

Frank Castle, on the other hand, is very different. His family is alive and well, and yet he still has a need for vengeance. He goes out at night to hunt. Both Matt and Elektra denied their true natures, and yet Frank embraces his. It speaks to their inner psyches and what they think of their roles.

The only clue we get about anything is from Bruce Banner. Bruce tells Frank that he receives notes from children who break into his house. These notes contain clues to the identities of the former heroes, and Bruce pieces them together. Who are these children and where do they get the information from? Is Bruce lying?

We get no answers in MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2, but it feels like these children will come into play sooner rather than later. Also, what is up with the “ghost” of Karen Page? What role does she have to play in this mystery?

Cates and Rosenberg — An Intriguing Combination

If you were to name two of the hottest up and coming writers at Marvel Comics, chances are, you’d name Matt Rosenberg and Donny Cates. Rosenberg has worked on numerous X-Titles in the last year plus, including X-MEN: RESURRECTION OF JEAN GREY, ASTONISHING X-MEN, and MULTIPLE MAN. He also is helming the PUNISHER series. Cates is no slouch himself, with a high lauded THANOS run, along with DOCTOR STRANGE and COSMIC GHOST RIDER (itself a spin-off from the THANOS book). These two were an interesting choice to helm MARVEL KNIGHTS; their thematic styles and choices are very different, but they mesh very well so far in this series.

Cates and Rosenberg provided the story, but Rosenberg specifically scripted MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2. Rosenberg has shown an adept touch when it comes to reaching into Marvel’s past. His ASTONISHING X-MEN stories reached into the past, featuring characters like Proteus and Shadow King. It makes sense for Matt to handle the issue that featured Karen Page, a classic Daredevil character, as a plot point.

Henrichon Provides Gorgeous Yet Gritty Art for MARVEL KNIGHTS #2

MARVEL KNIGHTS 20TH #2
MARVEL KNIGHTS 20TH #2 Page 17. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Niko Henrichon has the art duties for this issue. Henrichon’s most notable work is on the excellent Brian K. Vaughn graphic novel PRIDE OF BAGHDAD. With MARVEL KNIGHTS #2, Henrichon strikes a delicate balance between vibrant color and dark grit. The early pages with Matt Murdock and Karen on the rooftops of New York and clean and bright, in line with what New York might feel like in Times Square at night. When we get to the Punisher scenes, there’s a rougher hew to the line work, and the backgrounds are scratchier.

The character that best highlights Henrichon’s mastery of balance is Bruce Banner. Bruce is drawn very detailed, but without the darker rendering that Henrichon gives Frank Castle. Bruce is not grit free though, as his tattered, bloody clothes are always visible, and show that this unassuming nerdy man has a darker side to him. The fight with Elektra also gets down and dirty, and the juxtaposition of the clean lines of New York in the background makes for brillaint artistic storytelling. The city is almost too clean, as if it were a façade, which kind of lends to the theme of the story: everyone’s memories have been sterilized of heroes and villains.

After MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2, Who’s Waking Up Next?

By the end of MARVEL KNIGHTS #2, Daredevil, Punisher, and Elektra have come together, and the Hulk may not be soon behind. What is this quartet going to do next? What role do the villains have to play? Who has the power to mindwipe the entire world? Can this team get more heroes on their side before the villains that remember get to them? The mystery continues in two weeks!

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