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For Khonshu and Country: Benson Talks “Moon Knight”

by  in Comic News Comment
For Khonshu and Country: Benson Talks “Moon Knight”
“Moon Knight” #14 on sale January 14, 2008

Being the avatar of a God of Vengeance is complicated in the post-"Civil War" Marvel Universe. There’s all kinds of rules you’ve got to follow; you’ve got be sane; and you’ve got to work for the government. So what’s going to happen when a loner with mental problems like Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight joins the ranks of the U.S. government’s registered heroes? New writer Mike Benson and co-plotter Charlie Huston, along with new artists Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira, explore that question in a six-part story arc titled "God and Country," which begins in "Moon Knight" #14, shipping January 4, 2008. CBR News spoke with Benson about the storyline.

If Moon Knight had his way he’d keep to the shadows and continue to mete out his own brand of bloody justice, but he’s answerable to the Egyptian God of Vengeance, Khonshu — or, at least, Moon Knight thinks he is. It’s unclear whether Khonshu is indeed a god or just a voice in Spector’s head, but either way, Khonshu wants his avatar to have the higher profile that comes with a superhero registration card.

"Khonshu has only one agenda: to spread the gospel of Khonshu," Mike Benson told CBR News. "And Moon Knight — being his avatar, the physical incarnation of Khonshu — gets to spread his word to the masses by being visible and inflicting pain. Are Marc and Khonshu’s agendas in alignment? Not as much as Khonshu would like. Remember, Khonshu wants his word spread — and the best way to do that is through bloody public spectacle. If Khonshu had his way, his avatar would bathe in the blood of his victims under the moonlight — and that’s something that Marc is reluctant to do."

Exclusive Pages from “Moon Knight” #14

"God and Country" picks up a couple of weeks after Moon Knight became a registered hero in issue #13, and finds Marc Spector and Khonshu’s conflicting agendas wreaking havoc on Moon Knight’s fragile psyche. "Marc is off the deep end," Benson remarked. "And on top of that, being accountable and following rules is clearly not something that comes naturally to him. Yes, Spector is going to be brutal. People are going to get hurt.

"The arc will focus on Moon Knight as he navigates through uncharted waters and continues to rebuild the wreckage of his past," Benson said. "Spector doesn’t have the best track record, so not everyone is dying to embrace him. [Former ‘Moon Knight’ writer and current co-plotter] Charlie [Huston] hit on this on his run, and I’m going to play it out and let it run its natural course."

In "God and Country," Moon Knight must overcome a number of obstacles and adversaries if he’s going to be successful on his new heroic career path. "Here’s a guy who made his name by fighting dirty, throwing darts at people’s heads, and now he has to be accountable," Benson stated. "As far as adversaries, I’m bringing back some old-school Moon Knight foes. I’d rather not say whom, but I think the fans will appreciate them."

Exclusive Pages from "Moon Knight" #14

A superhero registration card means Moon Knight is now a member of the Initiative, and as such he’ll interact with other members of the U.S. government’s superhero army, especially Initiative architect Tony Stark, Iron Man. "As we’ve seen in Charlie’s run, there’s no love lost between Stark and Spector," Benson remarked. "We’ll see how this dynamic between the two changes now that Moon Knight’s a registered hero."

Moon Knight’s status as a registered hero has opened the book up to interactions with the larger Marvel Universe, and Benson is enjoying the space — but he doesn’t want Moon Knight’s universe to become too big. "I’m not going to rely on outside characters popping in and out if they aren’t truly germane to the story that’s being told," the writer explained. "For me, movies like ‘The Limey’, ‘Sexy Beast’, and ‘No Country for Old Men’ are more satisfying than something grand like, say, a ‘National Treasure.’ Not that those types of films aren’t great — it’s just once the playing field becomes too big — it becomes more about the concept and less about the characters. Same holds true for ‘Moon Knight.’"

"God and Country" will also check in with some of Moon Knight’ supporting cast. "’Moon Knight’ is a team book," Benson stated. "Some characters, like Frenchie, Marlene, Samuel and Ray, will all play active roles in the telling of this arc. Does Moon Knight’s new status affect them — sure. How? You’ll just have to wait and see."

Exclusive Pages from "Moon Knight" #14

When crafting Moon Knight tales, one element Benson carefully considers is tone. "Tone is one of, if not the most important things to me," he said. "You may have a great concept with highly developed characters, but if the tone is off, it takes the reader out of the reality of the world. To me, ‘Moon Knight’s’ tone needs to be borderline macabre, like an Edgar Allen Poe tale. It was [writer] Doug Moench’s tone that got me excited about the character when I was a kid — that and one of the best costume designs ever. The same holds true with Charlie’s run. He nailed it."

Benson feels the new "Moon Knight" penciling team of Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira get the feel of the book. "What can I say; they’ve very talented artists and I’m fortunate to have them on the title," Benson remarked. "As far as working with them, we really don’t have much interaction. Mostly because I finished the first arc before they came on board. I’d love to meet them one day, however."

Now discuss this story in CBR’s Marvel Comics forum.

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