Moon Knight #1
Written by Jed MacKay
Drawn by Allessandro Cappuccio
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Review by Kris
Moon Knight re-emerges, bigger than ever. With a Disney+ show starring Oscar Isaac releasing next year, and a recent basically gambit to take out the Avengers, Moon Knight gets a new series. While he certainly has a devoted following, most are not familiar with the anti-hero, so let’s break down his story.
Moon Knight, created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, was a “villain” for hire by a group called the Committee to fight Werewolf By Night‘s Jack Russel. (I would be perfectly fine with the return of that guy). The uniform and name were The Committes’ idea, armored with silver. Moon Knight was a character invention to catch Jack, and the character was played by mercenary, Marc Spector. The cape was initially tucked into his writs, but otherwise, the character matched the classic look he would sport in his eponymous series. This story also introduces Jean-Paul Duchamp, aka Frenchie, Moon Knight’s best friend and pilot of the Mooncopter, though it isn’t how you think. (More on that later)
After his debut in Werewolf By Night, Moon Knight went on to show up in Marvel’s Spotlight #28-29, fighting the Conquor-Lord. These Spotlight issues introduced the alternate identities, Steven Grant, the playboy financier, and Jake Lockley, the nose to the street cabbie. The idea of Dissociative Identity Disorder started to be realized in these issues, though it was still in its infancy. The Moon Knight Family was also introduced: his on-and-off girlfriend Marlene, his diner owning friend Gena, Crawley the homeless informant, and Samuel, Steven Grant’s butler. Moon Knight’s early power set is influenced by the phases of the moon, with his strength highest at the full moon.
After Spotlight, Moon Knight appeared in Defenders #47-50, and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man. His big break was in Hulk #11, when Hulk began including mini issues of Moon Knight in the back. These short stories served as a springboard for Moon Knight to get his own series, years after his debut.
The first thing Moon Knight tackled was retconning. Moon Knight #1 divulged that the previous origin was a fake. Marc Spector was already Moon Knight before fighting for the Committee. Frenchie had infiltrated the organization to set it up, so that they thought they were the creators of the Moon Knight identity, when Marc was secretly already fighting under that title. The true origin of Moon Knight occurred in a tomb in Sudan.
The now accepted origin story is that Marc Spector and Frenchie were mercenaries for a mercenary and aspiring warlord named Raoul Bushman. When Raoul raids a dig site, he kills the professor in charge, Dr. Alraune, father of Marlene. (He bit into his neck with metal teeth like he was Jaws from the James Bonds movies.) Marc fights Raoul and loses. Left for dead, Marc drags his body to the dig site, and he dies in front of the statue of Khonshu, am Egyptian god. He is resurrected by the god, who makes him his avatar. From then on, Marc Spector is Moon Knight.
Moon Knight goes onto fight all sorts of criminals and creatures that go bump in the night for 187 issues. He befriends a Detective Flint, who serves as his NYPD liaison. He is an Avenger, Defender, and a protector of night travelers. Moon Knight is sometimes hunted, and he jumps at the chance to join Tony Stark’s Initiative during the Civil War. Norman Osborn then hunts him, and he flees with his fracturing sanity to Mexico. He runs into the Punisher, and after hiding for too long, Moon Knight comes back to New York City for Vengeance of the Moon Knight.
Moon Knight stays in NYC long enough to fight Bushman again, who was raised from the grave by the Hood at the behest of Osborn. He beats him, along with the Profiler, the Scarecrow, and an army of icepick lobotomized mental health patients.
In a run by Brian Michael Bendis, he goes to California. There, he finds an Ultron head in the possession of Count Nefaria. He masquerades as other existing super heroes, such as Captain America and Spider-Man to create the appearance of Avengers involvement. In an interesting move, Bendis has Moon Knight fall for one of the characters he popularized in New Avengers, Echo. She is unfortunately murdered, though has since returned and become the current avatar of the Phoenix.
Moon Knight goes back to NYC, developing another identity, this time Mr. Knight. Think Moon Knight, but in a suit instead of cape and a little more low key. The problem is this series of Moon Knight doesn’t keep a team for more than 6 issues at a time, and while well written, does little to evolve Moon Knight past the status quo.
In the next run, by Jeff Lemire this time, he fought Khonshu himself, with a battle for his mind with his friends and personalities battling space werewolves and mummies.
Finally, in the last run by Bemis, he fought the Sun King, avatar of Ra. The series introduced Moon Knight’s daughter with Marlene. Jake Lockley kept her a secret from the other personalities to protect her.
Moon Knights drops off the radar, before appearing in the current run of Avengers. In order to save the world, Moon Knight’s god, Khonshu, orders Marc to take the power of the Avengers in order to consolidate it with him and defeat Mephisto and his dark alliances. Marc steals and combines the powers of Iron Fist, the Sorcerer Supreme, and the Ghost Rider. Khonshu rules over the entire world for a few weeks. Marc attempts to steal the power of the Star Brand. Khonsu kills endless Mephisto variants. Moon Knight prays to the Phoenix to wield her power and defeat Khonshu, who has deceived him. The Avengers and he defeat the old god of Egypt. Thor knocks the Phoenix out of Marc.
This brings us to Moon Knight #1 (2021). Moon Knight runs a mission for night travelers. Any victims may come to him for help. Vampires need slayed? Zombies need chainsawed? Vermin need stomped? Moon Knight is there, judging who needs killed and who is innocent. Not everyone approves though. Marc might be the fist of Khonshu, but Khonshu, like most gods, has two fists.
This issue lays the groundwork for another series nicely. It briefs the reader on the character and his past, via a therapist session. He works with a woman named Reese, who despite what Mr. Knight might think, is not his assistant. May be a vampire, though. It introduces his rival, too. A doctor at a clinic who worships Khonshu and feels Moon Knight needs correction. The issue avoids the exposition dump though, but keeping any backstory concise. Instead, you get to know Moon Knight as a hero, unafraid to kill and maim. Deadly, yet eccentric, its hard to say how much of what he says is a performance. He walks into a monster bar; he might kill, he might arm wrestle.
Jed MacKay shows up everywhere now for Marvel. In the last year, he has written Black Cat, Taskmaster, Avengers: Mech Strike, and tie-ins and annuals. He writes well, too. His heroes always seem true to their established characters while never being too boring or predictable. Moon Knight feels like Moon Knight. Heroic, but with a code that stays open to interpretation. He forgoes the god but not his sacred duty towards night travelers.
Cappuccio’s art fits MacKay’s tone playful darkness perfectly. Emotive faces mix with bonkers scenes of violence. The art feels reminiscent to previous runs, while feeling fresh. Rosenberg previously colored Moon Knight in Avengers, so her colors mesh seamlessly with that arc. The duo’s work on shading Moon Knight keeps different parts of his suit in extreme shadow, giving the appearance of black on the all white suit constantly shifting. The dichotomy makes Moon Knight and Mr. Knight’s suits seem more striking.
So far, this comic seems to be avoiding the more problematic depictions of Moon Knight previous iterations have displayed. Some runs paint the character, and by extension, real world people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, as the villain from Split. A more nuanced depiction of mental illness would be refreshing and intriguing.
Verdict: Buy! This issue serves as an excellent introduction to the Moon Knight character for the unfamiliar, and a welcome return for his fans.