Moon Knight Monday

By Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@dragonkingkarl.com)

I think we can all agree Mondays suck.  The start of the work week, everything seems to go wrong.  Nobody wants to be there.  Yuk!  So how about we make it a little bit better by celebrating one of Marvel comics most maligned and misunderstood characters - Moon Knight!

Yes, I am a Moon Knight fan as evidenced by this previous article.  I am often critical of how IDW has handled the G.I. Joe property over the last three or four years, seeming to have no idea what direction to take the characters.  Well, the original "all over the board" character in comics might be Moon Knight.  Presently, and for the last few years actually, he has been portrayed as a mentally ill superhero with multiple personalities.  This wasn't always the case and shouldn't be the case now.  Let's look at the many faces of Moon Knight and decided whether the character is actually a mentally ill character or if it's actually that the writers have never kept him on a consistent path.

Moon Knight #1 - Im'ma gonna fight Werewolves and such Moon Knight.

Werewolf by night issue 32 - 1975

Werewolf by night issue 32 - 1975

Moon Knight first shows up in the pages of Werewolf by Night in issue 32 in 1975 as a man clad in silver (a weakness to a werewolf) hired to take down the character.  We end up finding out that Moon Knight is not a villain but, rather, a mercenary manipulated into trying to capture Jack "Werewolf" Russel.  He eventually turns on his employers and is largely portrayed as a hero from then on.

I've always felt that Moon Knight fits best into the "monsters" corner of the Marvel Universe.  A monster hunter more in line with Blade the Vampire Hunter than the mainstream Marvel characters.

Moon Knight got his first solo series in 1980 after a brief straight forward superhero tryout in Marvel Spotlight.  The original Moon Knight series was a critical success.  The Bill Seinkiewicz art was perfect for the book and the character and the story began to flush out his back story and introduced us to his multiple-identities for the first time.

Moon Knight was actually Marc Spector, a mercenary who died (presumably, it was always kind of a grey area if he actually died or just thought he did) in Egypt only to be resurrected by the Egyptian deity Khonsu- the god of the Moon.  Thus, he became Khonsu's fist of justice on Earth.  Spector developed multiple personas to assist him in this quest- Marc Spector (military mercenary), Stephen Grant (millionaire playboy), and Jake Lockley (cab driver).

At no point was this ever portrayed or hinted at as mental illness as Moon Knight had exactly one more alter-ego than DC Comics Batman (Batman, Bruce Wayne, Matches Malone).  Moon Knight's early stories were similar to Batman's actually, in that he was basically doing detective work to fight crime at a street level.

Fist of khonsu (1985)

Fist of khonsu (1985)

Moon Knight #2 - Ankh's and Powers

Moon Knight was largely revamped by 1985 and Marvel Comics "superhero-ed him up".  Moon Knight had always had vague super powers.  Originally, it was indicated that he had low level super strength which waxed and waned with the phases of the moon.  This was explained to be a result of being bitten by the Werewolf but eventually was dropped all together.

In 1985, a short series that ended abruptly with no warning nor conclusion, recast Moon Knight in more of an Egyptian motif with multiple Egyptian iconographic weaponry.  It was during this phase that he was a member of the West Coast Avengers, though he was still often portrayed as a loner.

Mainstream moon knight

Mainstream moon knight

Moon Knight #3 - Main Stream Moon Knight

Moon Knight's third, and longest running, series - Marc Spector: Moon Knight cast him firmly as a mainstream super hero in the Marvel Universe.  During the run of the series from 1989 well into the 1990s, Moon Knight often crossed paths and teamed up with other major Marvel Comics characters like Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, The Punisher, and others.

Most of the early stories were straight forward superhero fare.  Later in the series, Moon Knight's costume was updated to add more armor and weapon elements.  His series, like many in the mid-1990s, ended up suffering from extremely over-wrought artwork.  The stories were a bizarre mess and eventually Moon Knight "died" again.  But like most comic book characters, he wouldn't stay dead.  Again, there was never a hint of mental illness about the character.  Occasionally, his multiple alter-egos would be portrayed as complex and difficult to maintain, but not any sort of mental disorder.

Moon Knight #4 - The "I Don't Know What I Am Doing Here" Moon Knight

In 1998 Moon Knight was resurrected for... well... no apparently good reason.  He got a couple of short mini-series which were all over the place story wise.  Including a bizarre series that is sometimes called "High Strangeness" and "High Strangers" depending on which issue you are reading.  It was evident there was no clear plan in reviving Moon Knight, yet again, and he floundered without direction.

i'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and i don't have a mouth so i guess one of those is out.

i'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and i don't have a mouth so i guess one of those is out.

Moon Knight #5 - I'm Bad, I'm Bad, Chum-on Moon Knight

After letting Moon Knight rest in peace for several years, he was finally dug back up in 2009 and made EXTREME with guns and violence and brutality.  At least it was a clear direction and, as bad as it sounds, wasn't a terrible series.  Moon Knight was again back in armor and this time he was packing heat.  This series lasted for ten issues before coming right back as...

Moon Knight #6 - Mama, we're all crazy now Moon Knight

Moon Knight.  Just simply- Moon Knight.  This 2011 series (and the following two series after that) began a never ending exploration of the mental health of Moon Knight.  Somewhere along the way, writers began to associate Moon Knight's multiple alter-egos with multiple or split personalities and ran with that ball.  Now, along the way we got some pretty cool Moon Knight stories.  The "Mr. Knight" stories from 2014 were actually some of the best Moon Knight stories ever told and the Mr. Knight redesign is pretty amazing.  Sadly, Marvel had to veer off that path back onto the crazy train and the current (began in 2016) series of Moon Knight is 100% an exploration of the mental health of the character.

Mr. Knight.  the best thing to happen to moon knight in years.

Mr. Knight.  the best thing to happen to moon knight in years.

2017 marvel legends 3.75 inch moon knight action figure.  which moon knight era is this from?  your guess is as good as mine.  they are just calling it "modern moon knight" which honestly could be anything.  still, a pretty cool design.

2017 marvel legends 3.75 inch moon knight action figure.  which moon knight era is this from?  your guess is as good as mine.  they are just calling it "modern moon knight" which honestly could be anything.  still, a pretty cool design.

modern moon knight sneaks up on totally not tiny lister G.I. Joe figure for scale.

modern moon knight sneaks up on totally not tiny lister G.I. Joe figure for scale.

If you found this article interesting consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  That is how When It Was Cool keeps our website and podcasts online, plus you get lots of bonus content including extra and extended podcasts, articles, digital comics, ebooks, and much more.  Check out our Patreon Page to see what's up!

If you don't want to use Patreon but still want to support When It Was Cool then how about a one time $5 PayPal donation?  Each donation helps keep our content online. Thank you!