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 in 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.