Moon Knight: Where Do I Start?

Calling Moon Knight a Batman clone would be crazy. And Moon Knight knows crazy. This caped crusader dressed in all white has been floating around Marvel since the 70s, set a part from the other heroes by his unique take on the world and how he interacts with it. Afflicted with dissociative personality disorder (some call it multiple personalities), Marc Spector has turned that affliction into a facet of his character using these personalities as sounding boards and confidantes to carry out vengeance against others. In the recent series by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, Moon Knight went so far as to have personalities of fellow Avengers like Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine “take over” his body and allow him to carry out deeds as if he were those people. Crazy, huh?

Originally created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin in 1975 as an adversary for the nearly-forgotten Werewolf by Night in his titular series, Moon Knight quickly came into his own with several solo stories inĀ Marvel Spotlight and backups in The Incredible Hulk before landing his first full-on series in 1980. There Moench teamed up with Bill Sienkiewicz to create what is still considered the definitive run on this sometimes wacked-out character Spider-Man has jokingly referred to as “Loon Knight.”But through it all, he’s become a vibrant, but off-center, addition to Marvel’s superhero line-up and someone worth knowing more about.

From Moench & Sienkiewicz character-defining run in the 70s to Bendis and Maleev’s work in the present day and everything in between, we’ve picked out five books that’ll help you get to know Marc Spector.

Essential Moon Knight, Vol. 1: Truly living up to the title “Essential,” this excellent tome collects everything from his first appearance in 1975 through to the first ten issues of his ongoing series. It really gets good with the backup stories from Incredible Hulk, going in a slightly more adult nature than the stereotypical superhero comic books of the time. It’s capped off with the first ten issues of the first Moon Knight series, where Moench first delves into Spector’s origins and the agenda of Khonshu.

Moon Knight: Divided We Fall: The rarity in the bunch today, this little-known one-shot by Bruce Jones and Denys Cowan puts Marc Spector in a Manchurian Candidate-style conspiracy against his primary arch-nemesis Bushman. Russian leader Michael Gorbachev makes an appearance here, really carving it into that heady time between the fall of the USSR and the rebirth of Russia. Although some people might complain about the characterization of Moon Knight’s confidantes Frenchie and Marlene here, it’s really one of Bushman’s defining stories and showing how Moon Knight fights against that is worth the cover price.

Vengeance Of The Moon Knight, Vol. 1: Shock & Awe: This more recent collection real puts Moon Knight face-to-face with the comparisons to Batman, and writer Gregg Hurwitz pushes the similarities but also the differences. This is set during the height of “Dark Reign” and Moon Knight is going straight for the #1 bad guy at the time, Norman Osborn. At the same time, Moon Knight is fighting with his supernatural benefactor Khonshu over the relative viciousness the demigod wants his avatar to dish out. This entire collection is supplemented by great art from Jerome Opena, who would jump into the big leagues right after completing this on Uncanny X-Force.

Essential Moon Knight, Vol. 2: After delving into Moon Knight with the first ten issues of his titular series, this collection shows Moench, Sienkiewicz and others really hitting their stride in issues #11-30. With four personalities inside his head and a handful of friends on the outside helping him, Moon Knight faces off against some of Marvel’s strangest villains like Morpheus and Stained Glass Scarlet. Moon Knight’s ensemble cast is definitely underrated, so seeing everyone from Frenchie to Gena, Crawley and the others chip in to help Moon Knight get the job done is great.

Moon Knight, Vol. 1: Described as a “complete reinvention” at the time by Bendis, this most recent series repositioned Marc Spector as a TV writer working on a fictionalized show based on his own superhero origin. At the same time as he’s working with Hollywood, he’s teaming up with the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine in what we later discover are just figments of his imagination. Real or not, they help Moon Knight take on some serious bad guys all in the pursuit of a Ultron head that villains and heroes alike are after. This is a genuinely new and inspired take on the character, with Alex Maleev’s art echoing the definitive days if Sienkiewicz without losing his own style.

 

 

Comments

  1. The David Finch & Duane Swierzcki version was excellent. It really brought the character back into prominence and had a huge push from Marvel. It fell apart in later issues but the first year was excellent.

  2. The definitive Moon Knight story for me is the first arc from the Huston/Finch run, “The Bottom”. It handles Moon Knight’s various personalities and general insanity in a really smart way. This particular run also holds the distinction of being the only David Finch artwork I like.

    While I think Bendis’ Moon Knight was pretty competently written, and a nice return to form for Maleev, it strayed a little far from Moon Knight’s character for my liking. That said, I thought Ultimate Moon Knight’s appearances in Ultimate Spider-man were a great take on the character, and I kinda wish that Bendis drew from this when he got to write 616-Moon Knight.

    Moon Knight is a great character, and I’m not really sure why he can’t hold onto a series.

  3. orsonrandal says:

    People who don’t know what they’re talking about shouldn’t speak. Did Chris Arrant even read the Bendis/Maleev run? The 3 personalities were Cap, Wolverine, and Spiderman. He said Iron Man twice.

    And like it or not, how do you write an article with the intent of turning people on to a character without mentioning the story that brought re-invigorated said character. It had been years since MK had his own title, and the Huston/Finch run gave him “new legs.”

    ** COMMENT MODERATED **

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      I see you skipped right over passive-aggressive and went straight for aggressive-aggressive. Also, Chris does lots of things on many websites and I’m sure he writes here on iFanboy for fun and not as a paying job.

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      Did Mr. Arrant kick your puppy or something?

    • TheSquirrel TheSquirrel says:

      You’re right. Arrant obviously did not read the entire 12 issue run of Bendis’ MK. More than likely, he was like me. Toiled through two issues and said “F this i’ts going at the end of the list”

      How about I make it simpler for you Mr. orsonrandal. Read everything on that list except for the Bendis run. Bendis was different, a new take on something old that did not work. How it got a vol 1 title I have no idea. Moon Knight is a cool character. He is a cool character that probably doesn’t need his own book.

  4. Zhurrie Zhurrie says:

    I have bought Moon Knight in every incarnation, I love the Marvel Bill Sienkiewicz run 1-30, and I really enjoyed the newest run but I think it was a fairly base premise that just couldn’t hold up or remain interesting for long. I wish someone would just do Moon Knight again, or if it has to be new and different go for a super gritty side that would go further than any Batman tale could. The character is one of my favorites despite him rarely getting solid effort behind him.

  5. JSAkid JSAkid says:

    I really thought Moon Knight fit well on the Secret Avengers, looked sweet swooping down in a gliding fashion with the cape, had good contrast next to the other members, and like Black Panther think he works well as a supporting character when written right.

    • Moon Knight was one of the best things about the Warren Ellis run of Secret Avengers, especially in the Michael Lark issue. That panel of him putting on his mask while wearing a white suit and tie and saying “It’s a secret” was a real “Fuck yeah” moment for me.

  6. Of course Doug Moench had a hand in creating Moon Knight.

    Multiple Personalities?
    Conspiracy stories?

    Sounds exactly like a Moench character….as a fan of the guy I’m surprised I didn’t know about this till now. Might actually try the Essentials thanks to that.

    • Those two Essentials volumes are excellent. Moench really created an interesting character with an underrated supporting cast. And the art is excellent.

  7. theWAC1 theWAC1 says:

    Huston/ Finch was awesome! The Huston run in general was great until Marc Spector faked his death. Bendis/ Maleev was just off and a disappointment. MK has lots of potential and I’m waiting for it to shine again.

  8. Those first two Essential editions are really the best Moon Knight has ever been. Always loved this character and wish somebody had a take on him that was as good as the original incarnation in the 70s. I never really got the Batman comparisons, though. They are both rich and both have no super powers. other than that, there really isn’t much in common between the two.

    Also, Moon Knight didn’t really have multiple personalities when he first started, he just had different identities he would take to help in his fight against crime. He didn’t do it because he was crazy, he did it because he had different aliases for different situations. If Bruce Wayne dressed up as Matches Malone to get information, he didn’t go insane, he was just playing a role to gather intel. I always thought the multiple personalities thing was a little forced, and a way to make the character unique. But he was a cool enough character it wasn’t necessary.

  9. Jdudley says:

    I really think that if you exchanged Bendis’s name on his Moon Knight issues with a lesser-known, up and coming writer, but kept everything else exactly the same, that comics fandom would be heaping all sorts of praise on that run.
    It really was quite well done. Re-read the whole thing collected and was very glad I did. So well done.

    • I liked a lot of Bendis’ run, but had problems with some of it. Not enough problems to ruin my enjoyment of it, though. I haven’t liked what Bendis has done on Avengers for years and years now, but this Moon Knight series reminded me why I loved him on Daredevil