Even the most powerful of men can have their mistakes come back to haunt them. Take Norman Osborn for instance; before his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe, he was the head of the U.S. government’s Thunderbolts program and he had a problem with the renegade vigilante known as Moon Knight. Osborn tried to solve that problem by having the Thunderbolts kill Moon Knight, and he believed they succeeded. However, it turns out all they killed was an aspect of Moon Knight’s fractured psyche.
Instead, Moon Knight let Osborn believe that the megalomaniacal government official had won. Disappearing, Moon Knight went down to Mexico and took a freelance job there that gave him two things – a lot of money and a burning desire to topple Osborn’s empire. In “Vengeance of Moon Knight” #1, by writer Gregg Hurwitz and artist Jerome Opena, the title character returned to New York with better equipment and a seemingly stronger grip on sanity. The reinvigorated Moon Knight has targeted both street crime and Norman Osborn’s agents; something that has made the former Green Goblin furious. CBR News spoke with Hurwitz about “Vengeance of Moon Knight” and what both he, and Norman Osborn, have in store for the title character.
Part of the reason Osborn feels threatened by Moon Knight is because the vigilante is sort of a kindred spirit, with a psyche that is just as fractured as the former Green Goblin’s. However, as opposed to Osborn’s more criminal path, Marc Spector adopted the guise of Moon Knight as a way to atone for his violent past as a mercenary. As time wore on, Moon Knight’s guilt over events from his past began to manifest itself in the form of delusions and outbursts of extreme violence. In the aftermath of his confrontation with the Thunderbolts, Moon Knight’s psyche fractured further. He now believes that Marc Spector died in the clash with the Thunderbolts and that he’s Jake Lockley, a cover identity that Spector created for himself years earlier.
“I don’t think Moon Knight is a classic multiple personality disorder case. I think he drops into bouts of greater insanity, and as we open ‘Vengeance of Moon Knight,’ it’s like he’s barely keeping himself stitched together. So people are waiting to see if he’s going to be able maintain his current mental state or explode,” Hurwitz told CBR News. “Throughout his history, Moon Knight has known when he’s on his game, but then as he starts becoming unhinged, he’s prone to a psychotic break.”
Since Moon Knight adopted the persona of Jake Lockley, he seems to have become better equipped to be a hero. He’s no longer savagely beating criminals within an inch of their lives, or mutilating their bodies by carving crescents into them. Hurwitz feels there are several reasons why Lockley is able to maintain control. “The Jake persona is a little more street wise; he’s a touch more blue collar and he’s a better street level investigator than Marc was,” the writer remarked. “I think his biggest advantage, though, is Marc has always been haunted by his mercenary past. It tears at him. So being Jake Lockley has distanced him from that horror of having killed for money, though we don’t know for how long.”
Throughout his career, Moon Knight has also been haunted by visions of the Egyptian God of both vengeance and the moon: Khonshu. It has yet to be revealed whether Khonshu is a deity or delusion, but Khonshu feels that Moon Knight is his avatar and urges him to commit acts of bloody violence in his name. When Moon Knight was Marc Spector, Khonshu was a man-sized manifestation, but since he’s become Jake Lockley, Khonshu has appeared as a much tinier figure.
“That means Jake has more control, but you’ll notice Khonshu is growing. He started out the size of a spider when Moon Knight became Jake. Then he grew to size of a cockroach, and is now the size of a rat,” Hurwitz said. “It’s like a form of repression. We all know that when you suppress something, it can grow and come back to explode onto the surface.”
Fighting Khonshu’s influence and being a hero are just two of several major goals for Moon Knight. In “Vengeance of Moon Knight” #2, he pursued another aim – reconnecting with his friend, Jean-Paul “Frenchie” DuChamp, and his former flame, Marlene Alraune. “When Moon Knight was out carving crescents into people’s flesh, he was really alienating the city and his friends. It was like being with somebody who constantly borders on being a psychopath,” Hurwitz explained. “Now he’s back, and Frenchie has a line where he asks, ‘Do we dare to believe again?’ They’ve had their hearts broken by him a number of times, and they’ve been disappointed by his inability to walk on the bright side. Here he’s back, though, doing just that, and better than he’s ever done it before.
“And Marlene is hopeful because it’s a big turn on. The way he’s acting is really appealing,” Hurwitz continued. “So she’s liking Jake Lockley a lot, but everyone is also aware that there is a part of him he’s not acknowledging.”
Moon Knight will be forced to confront that part of himself on November 11th, when “Vengeance of Moon Knight” #3 hits stores, because Norman Osborn’s associate, the supervillain crime boss known as the Hood, has used his dark magics to resurrect Raoul Bushman, Moon Knight’s archenemy and Marc Spector’s partner from his mercenary days. “For me, Bushman is the original and ultimate Moon Knight nemesis. He’s a pure mercenary who kills for money,” Hurwitz remarked. “In the older Moon Knight stories, there was this narrative that Marc was too soft to be a mercenary. Bushman is the polar opposite. He doesn’t care. He will kill, maim, torture, and pillage for money. That little piece of Marc Spector, from when he fell to the dark side, is exemplified in Bushman, and now Bushman lives and breathes again. His resurrection means he’s coming back with the kind of vengeance and hatred you can only have against a former friend and ally.”
By resurrecting Bushman, the Hood isn’t just reigniting a feud between two foes – he’s kicking off a full scale war. “Bushman is a soldier and he’s all about building an army. Some of his troops are going to be rank and file soldiers, and some are going to be psychotic ‘officers,’ for lack of a better term,” Hurwitz, revealed. “So I’m adding some new quirky, bizarre, and threatening characters to the mix.”
Bushman’s resurrection comes in the third part of “Shock and Awe”, the first story arc of “Vengeance of Moon Knight.” The remaining chapters of the arc will see the action get bigger and bloodier, as Moon Knight and Bushman’s conflict explodes onto the streets of New York. Fans of ’90s Marvel Comics will recognize a location that is especially important to the conflict. “I love Ravenscroft Asylum. In some ways the insanity of that place is a great, twisted, fun house mirror for Moon Knight,” Hurwitz said. “He’s in a battle against his own internal insanity and trying to hold the madness at bay. So that constant struggle is one of the reasons why Bushman goes there.”
“Shock and Awe” will continue to feature gritty, grounded action done on an epic scale. “I came up writing crime fiction and crime novels. I just finished a book tour for my latest thriller, ‘Trust No One,’ and book thrillers are more grounded in the real world. My early Marvel stuff is like that. I wrote ‘Foolkiller’ and some issues of the ‘Punisher MAX’ series,” Hurwitz stated. “When I read Mark Millar’s ‘Ultimates,’ though, I came to the realization that you can write this stuff with an unlimited budget. So the imaginativeness, range, scope, and aesthetic of that series and the original Moon Knight stories were my biggest influences on ‘Vengeance.’
“When I took over ‘Punisher MAX’ after Garth Ennis, there was a particular type of aesthetic. I loved writing it, but I couldn’t write that series sky high. When my editor Axel Alonso and I were first talking about ‘Vengeance of Moon Knight,’ we were discussing what I could do to bring my full enthusiasm and energy to the book,” Hurwitz continued. “I wanted the series to be this big tent pole style blockbuster.”
Hurwitz feels that Jerome Opena’s pages for “Vengeance of Moon Knight” have perfectly captured the grand and gritty feel he wants the series to have. “Jerome is incredible. I love the way that he draws,” the writer remarked. “One of the things I say about Jerome is that he takes what I’ve written and makes me look smarter and better than I am. He’s got an incredible eye for detail and he’s also a stunning storyteller. That combination is really rare.”
Readers may have noticed that there’s no issue of “Vengeance of Moon Knight” coming out in January, but Moon Knight fans need not worry. Issue #5 will be released in February, and Hurwitz is already hard at work plotting out the series’ second arc, which finds Moon Knight continuing his quest to topple Norman Osborn. “Norman’s very crafty, though, and is going to start pulling in the people he needs to take Moon Knight down,” Hurwitz explained. “So he’ll be facing a few more nightmares from his past, much like the reconstituted Bushman.”
Moon Knight’s crusade against Norman Osborn means that the aftermath of the event story “Siege” will have some impact on “Vengeance of Moon Knight,” but the series won’t be tieing into the big Avengers family event.”We’ve had a lot of tie-in to the main events of the Marvel Universe; more than Moon Knight has had in a very long time. That said, my aim isn’t to write a Moon Knight series that’s strictly a plug into the Marvel Universe. I want Moon Knight to be his own character and have his own story,” Hurwitz explained. “So recent issues have included conversations with the Sentry and appearances by Osborn, but I’m mindful that those appearances are geared towards Moon Knight and all the things that make him unique.”
Hurwitz wants “Vengeance of Moon Knight” to be a series that resonates with both old school Moon Knight fans while still creating new ones. Fan reaction to the first two issues seems to indicate he’s been successful with that goal. “The response from readers, retailers, and really everyone has been terrific,” he said. “So I want to thank everyone for buying it. Launching this book has been really fun.”