Just like last time, the Marvel Unlimited subscription has put me on a binge read Charlie Huston’s run on Moon Knight was bloody fun. Over the last year or so, I’ve really started paying attention to the character, thanks to cheap back issue sets and paperbacks.
Moon Knight really feels like it flew under the radar at Marvel. Huston is best known for being a crime novelist, and at the time Moon Knight was a largely forgotten character in the Marvel pantheon. The 2006-2007 series was a lot of dark fun, so why should you read it?
- Gore factor. Now usually I don’t go for that sort of thing. But somehow Huston’s script and the way that David Finch illustrated it is just so gross, creepy and welcoming at the same time. I know I’ve said it before, but Finch really reminds me of Todd McFarlane with how he draws. And his art is so on in this series.
- Khonshu. If you remember, the premise of Moon Knight is that he’s an avatar of the Egyptian god Khonshu and that by worshiping this god (or just generally poor mental health) he has been slowly driving him nuts. Khonshu has taken the form of the late super villain the Bushman, whom Moon Knight literally defaced and killed. This vision appears, tormenting the hero from the side.
- Call backs. I don’t know if Huston was a fan of the original Moon Knight series but he certainly references a lot of the older comics, even down to the supporting characters. His former pilot Frenchie (who reveals that he has put up with Moon Knight’s crap for so long only because he had a crush on the masked vigilante), love interest Marlene and his supporting cast are all there. He even finds himself feuding with the current incarnation of the villainous the Committee and is faced to fight his former sidekick Midnight (now a villain) to the death.
- The second six issues. The main part of this arc is Moon Knight dealing with Midnight, but the subplot involves both Iron Man and Captain America trying to recruit him to their respective sides during the Civil War period. Moon Knight has his own views which happen to not go along with each side and he finds a way to express them clearly.
- It feels like an indie super hero book. This doesn’t feel like anything Marvel would put out. It’s just really different.
So there you have it. Read Moon Knight immediately. It’s dark, brooding and gory, but still a light and fun (if that’s possible with a hero that’s cutting up people) read. It certainly makes me want to see more super hero stuff written by Huston.
Remember how not too long ago I was professing my love of those early 1980s Moon Knight comics? I read that series’ 1985 follow-up mini-series Moon Knight: Fist of Knoshu and didn’t really enjoy it.
The whole purpose of this was to set up a new status quo and to reboot the character to a certain extent. The character’s origin is still the same; they’ve just added more ties to the Egyptian god Knoshu.
Knoshu’s rival, the deity known as Anubis has selected a new avatar to walk the earth. To combat this, Knoshu’s worshipers have recruited Marc Spector into becoming Moon Knight once again. To help sweeten the deal, the cult arms him with some magical weapons and cast a spell on him gives him supernatural powers tied to the moon.
Moon Knight goes on to stop Anubis’ avatar, but at the cost of alienating his girlfriend Marlene and much of his inner circle by re-donning the costume. But hey, he got some sweet powers out of the deal!
I really liked the previous take on the character, with Moon Knight having a much stronger pulp influence. This more supernatural based version really didn’t do it for me. I mean, I still like the character but in general anything that goes too much into supernatural and even horror genres turns me off. I do have more of the previous series that I want to look at. That said, I’ll recommend this for completion only.
Let’s look at some of the early issues of the original Moon Knight series! Issues two through five are a lot of fun. So why should you give this a chance?
Writer Doug Moench really makes Moon Knight a complicated and interesting character, much more like a Don Draper then I ever expected. I was always under the assumption that the character was former mercenary Marc Spector having had some sort of near death experience that made him moonlight as the Egyptian themed hero.
That is a big part of the character, but there’s more to it. Spector is publicly living as the fictitious millionaire Steven Grant in order to use his ill begotten fortune as a soldier of war. But he also uses another alias, that of the taxi driver Jake Lockley as well. Basically you start to wonder which of these is the real personality of this character.
Spector’s complexities are only balanced by how great his supporting cast is, all of whom support him and assist his mission. He has a girlfriend, Marlene Alraune, who is almost as adept a combatant as he is. There is also his longtime pilot/sidekick Frenchie. More privately in the Lockley persona, the old bum Crawler, a diner waitress named Gena and her two sons always go out of their way to help inform him of the latest street crime gossip.
The resulting stories have Moon Knight stopping various different criminals, including a psychopathic murderer, an antiquities thief and the criminal organization the Committee who armed Spector previously.
Covers and art in these issues was by Bill Sienkiewicz, who is such a great artist. I’ve always loved his more stylized work, but I never knew he used a more mainstream super hero comics style in his earlier projects.