By day, the Marvel Universe’s New York City is a concrete jungle full of predators. By night, things become even more perilous when the city’s most dangerous predators come out. Fortunately nocturnal travelers fall under the protection of the Egyptian God Khonshu and his chief follower, the wealthy mercenary turned costumed hero Moon Knight AKA Marc Spector who returned to the Big Apple in the debut issue of his All-New Marvel NOW! ongoing series by writer Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey.
Across a series of done-in-one stories, Ellis and Shalvey have thrown a bizarre collection of killers and villains that walk the night against the eponymous hero. That odd assortment of foes and single-issue format will continue this September when writer Brian Wood and artist Greg Smallwood take over the title. CBR News spoke with Wood about his plans for “Moon Knight,” what he plans to incorporate from the previous run and how his run will stand on its own.
CBR News: Brian, you’re no stranger to costumed heroes and characters who survive on combat skills and wits, but have you ever written a character who combines both the way Moon Knight does? He’s sort of a pulp, urban vigilante. What do you find most interesting about that archetype and the character?
Brian Wood: I might argue with that — I think I am a stranger to a lot of this, at least compared to a lot of my peers. A lot of people these days know my name in connection to the X-Men or Star Wars, but I have a 15-year career and nearly all of that time was spent doing creator-owned material. So I still feel like a rookie when it comes to these big company books. In the case of “Moon Knight,” the biggest reason I’m taking it on is because I love this iteration of the character that Warren [Ellis] and Declan [Shalvey] and Jordie [Bellaire] have created — I wouldn’t be pitching “Moon Knight” if that didn’t exist, you know? This Moon Knight I can get with — I’ve always felt an attraction to and affinity for this sort of Warren Ellis story.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the character of Marc Spector and his mental state. In the first issue of this new series Spector’s doctor revealed that his brain and nervous system was sort of rewired to process the four different aspects of Khonshu. What’s your sense of Marc’s mental state when your story begins? Can you talk about how his brain works? Does it allow him to do and perhaps process certain things that normal humans can’t? Or would talking about that tip your hand and spoil some of your stories?
[Editor] Nick Lowe and I have had conversations about this, and while I don’t want to get into details at the moment, it’s something that will be considered and developed going forward.
How important a character is Khonshu in your immediate plans? What do you find most interesting about the character?
Not to be boring, but I’m holding back on details right now. But I will say that I consider Khonshu to be important to the book, and I love what Warren’s done with it so far.
Khonshu sends Moon Knight out to protect the night travelers of New York, and recently two other street level heroes who did that, the Punisher and Daredevil, moved out to the West Coast. In terms of street level heroes now in New York, it feels like the primary ones are Spider-Man and Moon Knight. What’s it like writing the character in that kind of environment? What types of crime are you interested in having Moon Knight investigate and foil? Will you continue primarily with weird crimes like we’ve been seeing or will it be more grounded like organized crime and serial killers?
Well, I’ve said in other interviews that Warren writes the weird like no one else can, and even if I was as good a writer as he is, I wouldn’t be trying to mimic that. But at the same time we won’t be dealing with totally normal bad guys either.
If you look at the few issues that have come out, the villains or adversaries are heightened versions of otherwise normal people — a sniper, a street gang, a disillusioned soldier, etc. We’re keeping with that theme, with bad guys that fit into the grounded setting of the book but are elevated, altered, heightened in some way to be larger than life like that. But if you’re talking about “Moon Knight” #4, the dreamscape stuff? That is just so Warren that anyone trying to write like that would just come off as a lame copy. I’ll write to my strengths, using the city, military themes, media themes, socially-conscious themes, and so on. But this will not feel divergent or jarring. No one involved is looking to reinvent a book that is this good already.
I imagine the city of New York will be one of “Moon Knight’s” regular supporting characters, but who else can readers expect to see in your run? Warren brought back Detective Flint. Any chance we’ll see him or some of the other characters from Marc’s past? Or will your stories primarily feature new characters?
I have not written Flint into any scripts yet (I imagine I will, though), but the doctor, from back in #1, she reappears.
What’s it like following up Warren Ellis on “Moon Knight?” It seems like the done-in-one structure of his stories means it would be easier to start a new run on the book, but is that necessarily the case?
Well, that’s a big question! It’s funny, when Nick Lowe asked me if I wanted to pitch for this book, I was like, yeah, cool, I consider Warren a friend and I’m familiar with his work, it would be fun. I felt honored and greatly respect what the whole creative team had done so far. It wasn’t until the news broke that I realized, wow, I have to be the guy that comes in to a wildly popular book where no one wants a change to happen. So to some I’m already in the dog house, so to speak. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. But honestly, I’m writing to please Nick Lowe and to show my respect to Warren and Declan and Jordie, and to make Greg Smallwood and Jordie (so glad she’s staying on) look good, so that’s my goal.
And I love done-in-one stories, I have a history of writing in that format and I’m comfortable and confident. I asked Marvel if they would prefer I wrote a more traditional arc, but everyone seemed to prefer the book this way. I know I do.
The done-in-one format allows for a fun variety of stories and characters, but will these stories build upon each other? Will we see characters and situations come back and escalate over time?
We will. The doctor, like I mentioned, and other events will help cause later events to come to pass. I’m being vague, I know. The short answer is yes.
Artist Greg Smallwood will be joining you on the book. What do you feel he brings to “Moon Knight?”
This is such a common question to get, and really, there is no better answer than: loads of talent. That’s it, that’s what Greg brings. He’s terrific. Same with Jordie. And Declan’s staying on and doing covers, also fantastic.
Finally, your “Moon Knight” run begins in September with issue #7. What sort of hints and details can you offer up about the plots of your initial issues?
I’ll just drop some titles at you, for the individual issues. Warren’s had single word titles for the issues so far, and we’re keeping that. So we have (and subject to change, of course): “Blackout,” “Live” (as in, “on the air”), “Doctor,” “HQ.” That’s all I really want to say. I guess in another interview I’ve said that #7 is about a blackout in NYC, hence that title!
It’s been hard to ignore a lot of the e-mails I’ve gotten in the last few days and people really seem to think the book as they know it is over. And obviously I am not Warren Ellis, but everyone involved knows how perfect this book has been so far and is committed to delivering the same sort of reading experience going forward. I’ve used the word “respect” a couple times already, and it’s really true. I don’t just know the outgoing creative team; I’m friends with them, too.
Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood take over “Moon Knight” in September with issue #7.