Written by Joel T. Lewis
There’s a used bookshop in Breckenridge that my family visits every year when the international snow sculpture competition is in town. It's everything that you want in a bookshop: it has the smell of dust jackets living up to their name, books are precariously arranged on every surface you can see, and there’s a vague sense of organization but finding anything is an adventure and this is where I discovered Moon Knight. Actually, this is where I rediscovered comics through Moon Knight.
Growing up I owned a handful of comics: a few obscure issues of Batman that came along with an action figure or from somebody who just picked one up for me on a whim. I didn’t follow massive continuities or wide sweeping story arcs but I did read those 4 or 5 issues over and over, wishing I knew what had come before and what would happen next. I just never had the access to comic shops so I wasn’t able to pursue that curiosity. So it was with this fascination and unfamiliarity that I approached a dusty long box full of old comics, intending to flip through just to see if there were any cool Batman covers that I was interested in taking home with me. But as I was flipping through the faded issues I came across a cover that infected my brain, one that I couldn’t put down, and one that I would eventually purchase along with every other issue I could find of this new hero I had discovered. That cover was Moon Knight no. 17.
In the months that followed I bought trade paperbacks, drove out to comic shops, and poured over everything the internet had to offer on my new favorite superhero: Moon Knight. I’m obsessed. I’m using the present tense here deliberately because mine is a constant state of fascination when it comes to Moon Knight. I have read nearly every issue that bears his name, I own the issue in which he makes his first appearance, and I am well on my way to owning every comic in which he makes an appearance. So when I tell you that what follows is the short version of what Moon Knight is about and why I love the character, rest assured that I am telling the truth.
Marc Spector was a Mercenary. An ex-marine who decided that his combat training could prove more profitable if the operations he staged were auctioned off to the highest bidder. But when confronted with a fellow mercenary’s willingness to harm truly innocent people, Spector had a change of heart, which proved fatal. Left to die in the middle of the desert, Spector stumbled into a forgotten temple, collapsed at the feet of the Egyptian God of the Moon, Khonshu, and died. Khonshu, taking pity on Spector, intervened and resurrected him, molding him into his avatar on earth, his warrior-priest, his Moon Knight of Vengeance.
Spector returned to the United States and rebranded himself as the millionaire Steven Grant by day and Moon Knight by night, funding his affluent playboy lifestyle and moon-themed gadgets with the spoils of his mercenary days. But here’s where the character gets truly interesting: Spector willfully suppresses his true identity as Marc Spector the soldier for hire and affects an affable millionaire playboy persona in his everyday life. This is not his sole performance, however, as he affects the gruff persona of New York City cab driver Jake Lockley. Lockley allows Spector to keep an ear to the ground and spy on the seedy underbelly of the city he protects as Moon Knight. One man: four personalities.
Now Moon Knight, or Moonie as he is sometimes called by his rogue’s gallery and writing team, has been through the the Marvel blender like most superheroes: he's been through reboots, redesigns and relocations like the best of them. What have remained constant are Spector's uncertainty of his own sanity and the support of his friends. Whether it's his brother-in-arms Jean-Paul DuChamp who serves as Moon Knight's mechanic and Moon-Coptor pilot, Jake Lockley's friends Gina and Crawley, or Spector's girlfriend Marlene Alraune, Moon Knight is never alone in his fight for justice, vengeance, or sanity.
Is he crazy or is he sane? Can he balance his crime fighting with his off-again on-again relationship with Marlene? Is the vengeful God Khonshu real or is he a delusion created by Spector's damaged psyche? These are the most prominent conflicts that Moon Knight's Comics have explored over the years and though they are revisited again and again they continue to fascinate me with every reexamination.
He's been bitten by werewolves, seduced by serial killers, and traded punches with Spiderman and the Punisher. He's been a Defender and a member of both the West Coast and Secret Avengers. He's carved crescent moons in the foreheads of his prey, he's taken on the personalities of other superheroes, and he's worn the face of his most hated enemy. Moon Knight is clever, brutal, and completely insane.
Over the next few weeks I will be writing review/recap articles on the most recent run of Moon Knight and I sincerely hope if you've never heard of Marc Spector before you'll consider picking up an issue and sharing in my obsession.