The wait is finally over; the new Disney+ original series Moon Knight has landed, and episode 1 was a perfect introduction to a little known character. But who is Moon Knight? Where did he come from? And what should you read to prepare for the newest addition to Disney+? Well, dear reader, never fear! Because we’re here to help you answer all of those questions.
Moon Knight first graced our pages in Werewolf by Night #32 & #33 (1975) as a mercenary for hire, out to bring the lupine form of Jacob Russoff to the Committee. We are given a brief introduction to a different Marc Spector and his impressive resume as a mercenary, martial artist, and marine. And while he’s the best in the business and does his job perfectly, the good man and protector we will all come to love shines through at the end of issue #33.
After his brief foray into Van Helsing like escapades, Moon Knight was given a two-part adventure in Marvel Spotlight #28 & #29 (1976). While the story does tie in with his conflict with Werewolf by Night, our mysterious merc is given a more detailed and heroic story than our first encounter, as well as our introduction to Marc Spector’s other aliases.
After a few more appearances in other comics, such as Spectacular Spider-Man #22 & #23 (1978) and The Defenders #47 – 51, (1977), amongst others, Moon Knight was given his own ongoing series in 1980-1984 . This series gave us a more in-depth origin story, as well as once more bringing in Steven Grant and Jake Lockley, and showing us more about who these different identities are. Along with his crime fighting aliases, this is where Spector’s resurrection in the tomb of Khonshu is first introduced. After a heroic deed finds him stranded in the desert, Marc makes his way to the recently unearthed tomb of Khonshu, where he immediately dies. But the Moon God has other plans for him, and he brings him back to life so he can go on to be the saviour of the innocent.
This first volume is a great introduction to the character, and it explores Marc’s relationship to himself, his aliases, his helpers, and to the spirit of Khonshu. While these connections will change in later runs, it’s a great look into where this character originates and what he will become in the future.
After Moon Knight’s success and popularity, he quickly became a common feature of the Marvel line-up and had many appearances. From numerous miniseries, to ongoing runs, and appearances alongside our other favourite heroes, Moon Knight was welcomed into the Marvel myth from the start. And, like many of our favourites, his origin story and abilities have changed over time, giving us a wide variety of Moon Knight content to choose from.
A consistent feature of Moon Knight history is Khonshu. Resurrecting Marc Spector many times, the Moon God has always had a strong hold over him, but he becomes more involved in later runs. In Fist of Khonshu: Moon Knight (1985), a 6-part miniseries, we start to see a greater power entrusted to Moon Knight. Not only does he have stronger ties to Khonshu and his priests, he is also given an arsenal of Egyptian themed weaponry. In addition to this, Moon Knight’s strength is tied to the phases of the moon, and is at its highest during the full moon. Their connection grows, and in later runs they communicate on many different levels.
Over time, Moon Knight starts to battle with his own identity – something that is briefly looked at in earlier issues, but doesn’t become a part of him until later. While he has taken on a few different personalities (including Spider-Man in the 2011 run) Jake Lockley and Steven Grant eventually became a stronger part of him, and Marc Spector is portrayed as having dissociative identity disorder (DID).
Jake Lockley is a New York cab driver, using this job to find clues, befriend people on the streets, and hunt down hidden locations. Moon Knight will often turn to this identity in order to figure out his next move.
The Steven Grant of the comics is very different to the Steven Grant we have seen in episode 1 of the TV show. In the comics, Steven is a millionaire who uses his influence and wealth to hobnob with the upper echelons of society, while also being able to acquire many relics from Egypt, and Steven’s mansion is also used as a sort of headquarters at times.
The 2014 Marvel NOW! Run of Moon Knight took a different approach to Marc’s mental health issues, by treating his DID as brain damage suffered due to his connection to Khonshu, but this was then changed back in the 2016 ‘All-New, All-Different Marvel’ series. In this run, Marc started showing symptoms of DID as a boy, and his connection formed with Khonshu at a younger age than in other iterations of his story.
These runs also show how each part of Moon Knight makes up the 4 roles of Khonshu – Pathfinder, Embracer, Defender, and Watcher of Overnight Travellers. This leads to Moon Knight taking on the different personalities depending upon which role he is needed for at that time.
No matter which version of Moon knight’s origin you look into, his DID and struggles with mental health have always been a part of him. It is something that adds an extra element to this character, and makes him so likeable and relatable.
While Moon Knight and his alternate personalities are, of course, the main characters in the comic, he’s not the only one. At every stage, he is helped by a whole host of friends who play a big part in his story.
Jean-Paul ‘Frenchie’ Duchamp has been with Spector since the very beginning. A fellow mercenary and long time friend to Marc Spector, he becomes his personal pilot and trusted ally when he is out on the mean streets of New York – and further afield! The pair have been through many scrapes together, and after a brief glimpse at his name in the recent Moon Knight TV premiere, it’s a good sign that Spector’s oldest friend will be back to help out.
Marlene Alraune is the daughter of esteemed archaeologist Dr. Peter Alraune. In the first issue of Moon Knight (1980), Dr. Alraune is murdered to try to convince Marlene to show Bushman where the tomb of Seti is. When Marc steps in to save her, this sets in motion the path to becoming Moon Knight, and Marc and Marlene become an item. Throughout all of his comics, the pair are in an on-again, off-again relationship, but she has been a consistent character throughout his time in the Marvel universe.
Bertrand Crawley is another one of Marc Spector’s allies, who will often help the cab driver Jake Lockley find out hints and leads. A man who lives on the streets of New York, he is able to find the information that Moon Knight needs, and forms a formidable part of his team. While Crawley is believed to be taking on a different role in the TV show (hello human statue), it’s a perfectly eccentric part for the Crawley we know from the comics.
So, now we know all we need to know about Moon Knight, his alters, and the friends who help him along the way, what should we read to prepare for the rest of his TV show? Here are some of the best comic runs and miniseries, and the ones that will be essential reading to get to know more about Moon Knight.
Werewolf by Night: The Stalker Called Moon Knight – Issue #32 & #33 1975 (Doug Moench, Al Milagros, Don Perrin, Gil Kane): The first ever appearance of Moon Knight. While the story hasn’t been fully formed yet, and his history isn’t in line with the Moon Knight we know, it’s always good to start at the beginning. This is a 2 issue story that gives us a very quick introduction to our new favourite character.
Marvel Spotlight: Moon Knight #28 & #29 1976 (Doug Moench, Don Perrin, Irene Vartanoff) – Another 2 issue run that gives us a brief introduction to the moon-lit mercenary. In this run, we also meet Marc Spector’s other personalities, and his friends and allies who help him along the way.
Moon Knight Volume 1 1984 (Doug Moench, Bill Sienkiewicz) Moon Knight finally gets his own series, and we are given a deeper look into the origins of Marc Spector and Moon Knight. We also get a brief introduction to some key players in the Moon Knight world. While it isn’t essential to read the full run, it’s always worth checking out his origin story here to see how it evolves over time.
The Fist of Khonshu: Moon Knight 1985 (Alan Zelenetz, Chris Warner) – A 6-part miniseries that gives us a different look into the origins of Moon Knight, and the different personalities that make him up. We also see a deeper connection with Khonshu, a different arsenal, and Moon Knight’s connection to the phases of the moon. We also get the only appearance of Arthur Harrow in the comics, and although he is quite different from what we’ve seen so far in theTV show, it will be interesting to see where the show takes him.
West Coast Avengers: #21-#41 1987-1989 (Steve Englehart, Al Milagrom)- While this isn’t a pivotal part of Moon Knights history, it’s an interesting look into how he works as part of a team. Although this was a short lived adventure for Moon Knight, it’s a good insight into who Moon Knight is.
Marc Spector: Moon Knight 1989-1994 (Chuck Dixon, Sal Velluto, Tom Palmer, Neil Yomtov, Ken Lopez, Mark Farmer) – The longest run of Moon Knight so far. There are many story lines in this run (some of which went unresolved for some time after Dixon left) but it’s a great run that really brings this character to life. A fantastic origin for all the characters involved, it’s a perfect read for not just Moon Knight, but all the people involved with him.
Vengeance of the Moon Knight 2009 (Gregg Hurwitz, Jerome Opena) This is a well rounded mini series that shows Moon Knight at the top of his game, fighting to bring down a formidable foe.
Marvel NOW! Moon Knight 2014-2015 (Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, Brian Wood, Gregg Smallwood, Cullen Bunn, Ron Atkinson) One of my personal favourites, this changes the story of Marc Spector a little, but it’s a great read. We have the addition of Mr. Knight into the mix as the consultant to the police. Overall, the design and style of the comic is different, a little darker, but overall a fantastic read and interesting story.
All-New, All-Different Marvel: Moon Knight 2016-2018 (Jeff Lemire, Gregg Smallwood, Max Bemis, Jacen Burrows) A more recent run that gives us a better insight into Marc Spector’s history with DID and his mental health issues, as well as a great story and a fascinating read. There have been lots of rumours about how this run is the best one to read as a companion piece to the TV series, and the writer of this series really tackles the issues of the characteristic of Moon Knight and his counterparts. An excellent run that’s a brilliant story, this is a must for any. New reader looking to explore this character.
COMING SOON: Moon knight: Black, White, and Blood May 2022. After the TV series ends, a collection of stories depicting some of Moon Knights finest moments will be collected in the Black, White, an Blood series. This series will collect several stories from some of the finest creators in the marvel collective. While we don’t have many more clues at this time, it’ll be interesting to see how the story progresses, and what happens with the character from this point on.
We Are Moon Knight
Moon Knight has a long and colourful history, bringing different characters and storylines to life. There’s a wealth of material to dive into in preparation for the TV show, and a variety of stories to keep you interested. Whichever Moon Knight you choose, just know that you will always be in for a fascinating read!
Marvel’s “Moon Knight” is coming to Disney+ from Wednesday 31st March 2022.