Written by Joel T. Lewis
While escaping the clutches of the ominous “reality” of the psych ward that Marc Spector finds himself in is the central plot of the second issue of Moon Knight, writer Jeff Lemire dedicates a substantial chunk of the issue to redefining a relationship that’s crucial to the Moon Knight mythos. Khonshu and Marc Spector’s relationship has been underdeveloped for most of Moon Knight’s history. Starting as an ominous statue which silently looms over Spector as he dies in Egypt, Khonshu loomed as a presence that impacted how Spector made difficult decisions in the earlier runs of Moon Knight. Spector does consult the statue in a way, cursing it and begging for its help, but Spector’s “prayers” if they can be called such, go unanswered, at least to the audience. There is some sense in the early comics that Marc hears a response in his own head but more recently Khonshu has begun to speak to Spector loud enough for the reader to hear.
This second incarnation of Khonshu served as a more sinister version of the shoulder devil we used to see in Bugs Bunny cartoons; spurring Spector to deal out as much pain and suffering as possible. This Khonshu is continually disappointed in his choice of Spector as an avatar especially when Moon Knight clashes with his arch-nemesis, Raoul Bushman or the Punisher. Khonshu lusts after these characters because they do not hesitate to kill while Spector is always reluctant to give in to pure bloodlust. While the questions raised about Spector’s psyche by this manifestation of Khonshu are interesting and the character is quippy and as carnage-happy as you would like, this version of Khonshu can be a bit of a one trick pony. Spector’s relationship with this Khonshu is mainly that of doormat as he is browbeaten into carving crescent moons into the foreheads of his victims and even murdering them.
Lemire’s Khonshu is more nuanced and rounded out than the previous incarnations. Even his fossil-bird appearance is more refined as he dons a white on white suit in his conversations with Spector. But what is most striking about Lemire’s Khonshu is the genuine fatherly affection he feels for Spector that comes across in this issue. This issue marks the first long form conversation between Spector and Khonshu in this run and it starts with a bit of “same song second verse” syndrome as Khonshu snaps at his disciple. But this anger melts away after a single panel and Khonshu actually apologizes to Marc. This is an unprecedented gesture that instantly shifts the dynamic of God and Priest into Father and Son. Khonshu is almost tender as he explains that his race, the race that the ancient Egyptians called their gods, came from the “Othervoid” a place separate from space and time.
During the reign of the ancient Egyptians Khonshu and his kind were able to travel freely between the “Othervoid” and the dimension where earth resides, but no longer. Now the old gods have to seek out hosts in order to act in Spector’s dimension. Apparently Spector’s weak mind attracted Khonshu to use him as a host and that same weak mind is what the other gods are using in order to find a way back to earth’s dimension. All of what Spector has been experiencing has been an elaborate illusion created by the god Seth. As Spector struggles to comprehend the scale of these revelations he asks the question on all of our minds, “How do I know if this is real?”
This is the question Spector and Moon Knight readers have been asking for years and the answer Khonshu gives us would be frustrating if it wasn’t so sincere: “You don’t. That is the hard part. Now you must have faith.” Khonshu knows how fragile Spector’s mind is, he knows what he’s put him through, and the compassion that was always missing from this God and Priest relationship finally shines through.
While the plot-driving events of this issue are compelling enough to make you pick up the next issue this expositional scene is a testament to how seriously Lemire takes his job. The affection he has shown for the history of Moon Knight and his creativity in breaking down the insecurity we and Marc Spector feel about his sanity is breathtaking.