Despite the recent defection from the East to the West Coast by the Punisher and Daredevil, the Marvel Universe’s Big Apple isn’t exactly short on street level vigilantes. Right around the same time Frank Castle and Matt Murdock left NYC, four heroes made their return. Of course, all four heroes are really aspects of Mark Spector, better known as Moon Knight, a costumed vigilante and avatar of the Egyptian God Khonshu.
When Spector’s latest mission began, writer Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey established that his neurology had been altered in order for him to be able to process the different aspects of Khonshu. Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood took over the title with Issue #7, and are currently challenging their protagonist’s relationship with Khonshu.
Now, CBR News has the exclusive announcement that in March, writer Cullen Bunn and artist Ron Ackins will take over the book with issue #13. Their five-issue run finds Marc Spector dealing with the fallout from Wood and Smallwood’s arc by embarking on five different “street-level supernatural” style adventures.
CBR News: Cullen, I know you enjoy many of the weird, strange and often horrific Marvel books from the ’70s and Moon Knight made his debut in just such a series, “Werewolf by Night.” What’s your familiarity with Marc Spector and Moon Knight? Were you a fan of the character? Were there any eras and takes on the character that you especially enjoyed?
Cullen Bunn: Cast your mind back to 2005, and you’ll find me attending the World Horror Convention in New York City. During the show, there were going to be “pitch sessions” with Marvel editors, and I was prepared with a couple of series ideas. One of these proposals was for “The Macabre Moon Knight” which would be a series of dark, horrific tales with Mr. Knight as the star. Of course, right before I walked into the pitch session, someone told me a new Moon Knight series had already been announced. So, I put the pitch back in my folder and mumbled my way aimlessly through the meeting.
So, yeah, Moon Knight is a character I’ve always loved. I remember reading and re-reading his first appearance in “Werewolf By Night.” At the time, I didn’t know it was his first appearance. I just knew this cool character was throwing little crescent-shaped blades at the werewolf. I thought he was kind of menacing and creepy, the way he threw these little knives, leaving them sticking out of the werewolf’s flesh.
Aside from the recent Warren Ellis issues, I have really fond memories of the “Fist of Khonshu” series from the mid-’80s. My friends and I used to read comics during lunch, and that was a favorite as I recall. As little later (and behind the times, I guess), I really got into those early ’80s Bill Sienkiewicz issues.
When Warren Ellis kicked off this new volume of “Moon Knight,” he gave the title character a new an interesting status quo by explaining that Marc Spector’s brain and nervous system were rewired to process the four different aspects of Khonshu. Can you talk about your sense of how this works? Does Marc’s altered nervous system affect his physical abilities at all? Is he perhaps superhuman?
I like the idea that we’re not really sure if Marc Spector is more than human or not. I think that works very well in the context of him being Khonshu’s representative on Earth. I also think the possibility of him being stark raving mad — or maybe just a conduit to the gods — works well if you think of him as a religious figure. Everything we think we know about Marc may be true. Or it may all be lies. As I’m writing the series, we’ll see Moon Knight dancing around these four different aspects, moving from one to the other as he sees fit. He’s almost using this insanity (if it is really insanity) to his advantage. It’s a dangerous gambit, though, and it might blow up in his face.
You’re picking up Moon Knight after writer Brian Wood’s run. I know you’re wary of spoilers, but what can you tell us about Marc’s state of mind when your arc begins? What are his immediate goals?
Without giving anything away, at the end of Wood’s arc, Moon Knight finds himself with a slightly different status quo. He’s been beaten down to some extent, and he has to rebuild not only his crime-fighting operation, but his own faith. We’ll be seeing a slight change of scenery for Marc, although he’ll still be accompanied by the aspect of Khonshu that seemingly haunts him. His faith, though, is faltering, and Khonshu may have some lessons to teach him.
What can you tell us about the structure of your “Moon Knight” run ? Are you interested in telling done-in-one tales like Ellis did, or a multi-part arc?
I’m approaching these stories as five done-in-one tales with a bit of thematic connective tissue to wrap it all up in a nice, pretty bow.
How would you describe the mood and tone of your “Moon Knight?” It seems like the psychological and often supernatural aspects of previous Moon Knight stories in this and other volumes would especially appeal to you.
Remember that “Macabre Moon Knight” pitch I mentioned? That’s really the approach I’m taking. The stories I’m telling are all pretty grounded, but they still feature a healthy dose of terror, horror, and weirdness. Is “street level supernatural” a thing? Because that’s where we are going. Not every story in the arc features mysticism, but they all have a shared undercurrent of horrific faith.
What can you tell us about the supporting cast of your “Moon Knight” run? Will characters like Detective Flint figure into it? Will you be introducing any new supporting players, or are you interested in bringing back some classic Moon Knight characters?
You’ll almost certainly see Detective Flint, but other Moon Knight characters will probably not be making appearances. I like those characters, but they don’t really fit in the stories I’m writing. That said, things tend to be a little fluid, so it is possible my plans will change! As for other supporting characters, I’m introducing some in the first issue of my run who should add a slightly different vibe to the book as a whole.
Let’s touch on Moon Knight’s adversaries. What can you tell us about the cast of characters that will clash with the Fist of Khonshu in your stories?
As with the supporting cast, I like some of the classic Moon Knight villains, but I wasn’t sure they fit into the stories I was interested in telling. So, we’re going to see some new adversaries, some of which I think will be interesting enough to become long-standing foes for Moon Knight. We’ll be seeing profiteering ectoplasm peddlers, bogeymen, vicious wild animals, and a rival Church of Khonshu.
Ron Ackins is illustrating your “Moon Knight” run. His first major published work for Marvel was this year’s “Uncanny X-Men Special” where he proved he can do some great super hero work, but he’s also done some fantastic sketches that feature gritty and powerful characters brimming with life. What’s your sense of Ron’s work? What do you think he brings to “Moon Knight?”
I haven’t seen any Moon Knight stuff from Ron just yet, but his work is really something special. This story needs someone who can dance along the line between the surreal and the grounded, providing the grittiness you mentioned as well as putting readers on edge with the creepy, horrific elements, then bringing these explosive kinetic elements to life. From what I’ve seen of his work, I know he’s the right guy for the job, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
You’re committed to a five issues of “Moon Knight,” but if you were to do more, what type of book do you want “Moon Knight” to be?
My goal is to use the time I have to tell a series of tales that highlight who Moon Knight is to me. Would I like to do something more long term with the character? You bet. I always want to tell bigger, more epic tales. But there’s a freedom in knowing you only have limited space to do your thing.
Beyond my run–who knows? I’ve heard scuttlebutt about what’s next, but that’s a mystery for another day.
If you’ve been a fan of the quick, bloody, violent and somewhat surreal stories you’ve seen so far, then I think you’ll enjoy these tales. My goal is to weave some of my own ideas into the Moon Knight legend along the way, and to make readers question what they think they know about Moon Knight as a hero, Khonshu as a god and faith as a weapon.
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