02 October 2007

I see Moon Knight rising

Some of this blog entry comes from an older one on my "Mach 1" blog that I no longer update (and keep hidden). But, as the Halloween season is upon us, and with a new volume of Essential Moon Knight Vol. 2, coming up, I thought I should return to one of my all-time favorite comic book characters, the Macabre Moon Knight.

If you aren’t much of a comic book reader, you probably have never heard of Moon Knight. However, I’ve known about old Crescent Head since I first started reading comics as a little kid, and he’s always remained a favorite of mine. Last year, along with the release of the first big hunk of reprints in Essential Moon Knight Vol. 1, a new original monthly series started, and rumors are knocking around about a possible TV series. I would much rather Marvel do a theatrical movie (hell, if Blade can get three movies, Moon Knight at least deserves a shot), but if the TV shows happens, I'll be a happy Lunaphile. (That’s right, don't you dare call us Moon Knight fans “Moonies”!)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMoon Knight has often been called a Marvel comics version of Batman; the two have much in common. Both are normal humans with no powers except their physical training, skill with weapons and specialized equipment, and the use of theatrical intimidation techniques. Both have immense independent wealth and “playboy” identities. They fight criminals in the dark underworld as avengers, and they have ideal “Halloween” personalities. However, Moon Knight has some crucial distinguishing characteristics that come more from the pulp character The Shadow (who had a huge influence on Batman as well). Moon Knight has a team of agents who work for him indirectly, and he also balances different alter egos he uses aside from Moon Knight. He is also Marc Spector, mercenary and adventurer (his original identity); Steven Grant, millionaire playboy; and Jake Locksley, gritty New York cab driver. Like The Shadow, and unlike Batman, the millionaire identity is a charade, a fictional persona invented as a cover. Furthermore, Spector doesn’t pretend to play these people; he truly becomes them and starts to manifest split personality disorder. This mental divide into four people makes Moon Knight one of modern comics most psychologically intriguing characters. Most interestingly, Marc Spector seems to really dislike Marc Spector, the original mercernary—and Moon Knight and the other two personas seem like his attempt to cleanse away the Spector personality and his sins as military man for sale. The stress of the multiple personalities would eventually cause Spector to have a breakdown.

The character has an Egyptian-themed background. Supposedly the Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu, rescued Spector from the brink of death after he was betrayed on a merc mission in Egypt by ruthless villain Raoul Bushman. During the first run of the Moon Knight title in the early 1980s, neither the comics nor Spector were ever certain if the rescue from Khonshu had actually happened or if Spector had hallucinated it. Nonetheless, the experience caused him to take on the mantle of Moon Knight as Khonshu's avenger.

The dark avenger, spilt personality, and Egyptian tinge give Moon Knight enormous appeal, but I believe that the strongest reason most of us fans love him is because he just looks so darn cool with his silver outfit, hood, and crescent cape. He embodies mystery and action, a perfect superhero of the night.

Moon Knight first appeared in one of Marvel’s horror comics of the 1970s, Werewolf by Night. Writer Doug Moench created him as an adversary for the title character. He got enough positive reaction to get two issues of Marvel Spotlight, a “try-out title” where the company auditioned characters who might get their own series. (Red Sonja appeared in a run of Spotlight issues and got her own title eventually.) Moon Knight was promoted to the supporting feature in Hulk! Magazine, a magazine-format non-Comics Code title that was part of Marvel’s expansion into more adult markets. Here writer Doug Moench teamed with artist Bill Sienkiewicz, who remains the quintessential Moon Knight illustrator to this day. Moon Knight got his own title at last in November 1980, which is when I first encountered him. It lasted thirty-eight issues—a pretty good run for a secondary character—and ran parallel to the thrilling noirish developments of Frank Miller in Daredevil at the time.

Moon Knight has come back several times in other titles, like the mini-series Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu, which gave him super abilities that waxed and waned with the moon, and Marc Spector: Moon Knight, which lasted longer than any other of the character’s titles.

I can see on the horizon of dusk the possibility that Moon Knight might start making a larger impact on the general public. A new comic book series…maybe a TV show…

And if Marvel does decide to make a movie, they need to contact me right away. I have a treatment already worked out, and I know I’m the perfect scribe for the big screen adventures of the Servant of the Moon.

(Shameless plug. Thank You.)