Who is the Moon Knight?

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A perenial “cult favorite” superhero, Moon Knight was first imagined by writer Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin as the “villain-of-the-month” in Marvel’s Werewolf by Night #32 (August 1975). The character floated around the fringes of the Marvel Universe for the next several years, appearing occassionaly in titles such as Werewolf by Night, The Defenders, The Hulk Magazine, Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-in-One and some solo stories in Marvel Spotlight .

Over the years, small bits of information regarding his origin and identity trickled out, but it wasn’t until the launch of the ongoing Moon Knight series (November 1980) that the character developed a distinct identity under the guidance of Moench and artist Bill Sienkiewicz. 

Mixing elements of Batman and The Shadow with original material, Moon Knight began his career as mercenary Marc Spector. During a mission to steal ancient artifacts from the Egyptian temple of the vengeance-god Khonshu, Spector had a bought of conscience. After defying his employer who ordered the deaths of an archeologist and his daughter, Marlene Alraunne, Spector was savagely beaten and left for dead. At the foot of Khonshu’s statue, Spector’s heart stopped at which point he experienced a vision of the deity. Miraculously, Spector arose, driven by the belief he had been granted a second lease on life as the “Fist of Khonshu”, the Moon Knight. Filled with a righteous fury, Spector crushed his former employer’s base of operations. Teaming with Alraunne and friend Jean-Paul “Frenchie” Du Champ, Spector took the statue of Khonshu back to the United States to begin a new life.

Once back in New York City, Spector established three distinct alter egos. In addition to his new guise as Moon Knight, Spector invested his mercenary earnings to become millionaire Steven Grant (probably one of the reasons why many comic fans equate Moon Knight as a “poor man’s” Batman). The third identity was that of Jake Lockley, a cabbie that allowed Spector to keep connected with the street. By the end of the first Moon Knight series (after a respectible 38 issue run, ending in 1984), the strain of maintaining these multiple identities moved the protagonist to surrender all of his personas and devote his time to be simply Marc Spector.

In June 1985, Marvel launched a new Moon Knight limited-series, that built on the supernatural aspects of the character’s existence. Brought out of retirement by worshippers of Khonshu, Spector was convinced that he was indeed the literal avatar of the vengeance deity (a belief that alienated him from Marlene and Frenchie). During this period, Spector would gain superhuman strength that waxed and waned with the cycles of the moon. At this time, under the control of Khonshu, Moon Knight also joined the West Coast branch of the Avenegers (West Coast Avengers #21, June 1987). Moon Knight remained a fringe member of the group, eventually leaving when Khonshu was exorcised from Spector’s body by Damian Hellstorm.

In June of 1989, Marvel launched a third incarnation of the Moon Knight series, this time titled Marc Spector: Moon Knight . As part of Marvel’s “direct distriubution only” line of titles, this book was published on a higher quality of paper and explored stories that were more mature in tone. The series was a decidedly darker comic, embracing the original spirit of Moon Knight’s character (re-teaming him with Marlene and Frenchie) but was criticized by some for ignoring the Grant and Lockley identities.

As the series progressed, Moon Knight quickly returned to his “superhero mode” frequently teaming up with other Marvel heroes and becoming embroiled in company wide cosmic crossovers. The series was eventually cancelled with issue #60 in March 1994 (despite receiving a sales boost with the addition of then-red-hot-artist, Stephen Platt). The series ended with the death of Moon Knight (although he was then later resurrected again by the statue of Khonshu).

Moon Knight returned in 1998’s four-issue mini-series, The Ressurrection War as well as a 1999 series, High Strangeness (both written by Moench). In 2000, Moon Knight joined a loosely organized group of heroes in the short-lived series Marvel Knights. Moon Knight quickly became the team’s financer, but by the conclusion of the series in late 2001, he had lost his fortune and been forced into retirement following a serious injury at the hands of Zaran. Since that time, Moon Knight has popped occassionally throughout the Marvel Universe in cameo appearances.

In September 2005, a non-continuity version of Moon Knight debuted in Ultimate Spider-Man #79, although little has been revealled of this character’s past. The name of “Marc Spector” has also been mentioned in context of the June debuting live action television show, Blade. Whether or not this character leads to a live-action version of Moon Knight remains to be seen.

On April 5th, 2006, a new Moon Knight series launched, this time by artist David Finch and writer Charlie Huston. While Huston has remained somewhat vague about his interpretation of the character, he has spoken with high regard to Moench’s vision of the character and has promised that all previous aspects of the Fist of Khonshu will be awcknowledged. The first 6-issue arc, “The Bottom”, focuses on reestablishing Moon Knight and his supporting cast (and multiple identities), while the second will address his role in the larger Marvel Universe.

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