It may be a slight cliche, but in this case it rings true: Moon Knight is coming back to the Marvel Universe...with a vengeance.
That slightly cracked Marvel superhero who stalks the grittier side of Manhattan by night and shifts between a variety of personalities when outside his cowl dives into an all-new ongoing series this fall called "Vengeance of the Moon Knight," announced today at Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Written by crime novelist and "Punisher" scribe Gregg Hurwitz with art by Jerome OpeÃ±a, the new monthly provides something of a clean break from the recently wrapped ongoing written by Mike Benson, as the lunar-themed hero buried his Marc Spector persona in a quest for reinvention and revenge on the head of H.A.M.M.E.R.
"Benson took him down to Mexico and took Marc off the map. So Marc's gone," Hurwitz told CBR. "For me, Moon Knight left New York as Marc Spector, getting his ass chased out of town by Norman Osborn. And now he's returning as Jake Lockley to pick a fight. He made a ton of money while he was gone and spent that on different body armor, a whole arsenal of gizmos. He hired one of the Marvel Universe staples to make everything for him. So he's back and teched up - focused and on point and high amped."
After making his mark on the harder side of Marvel's publishing slate with two mature readers "Foolkiller" series and the unenviable task of following up the legendary Garth Ennis on "Punisher MAX" (which Hurwitz called his "sink or swim" job in comics), the writer itched to match his high action prose stylings with the bigger superhero picture that is the mainstream Marvel Universe. "I was starting to get a hankering for stuff that was broader or bigger in terms of the canvass of the Marvel U. And [Executive Editor] Axel [Alonso] was looking to do a major reboot on Moon Knight. It was something we talked about a lot to make sure we were on the same page. And the more we talked about it, the more excited we got."
The page Hurwitz and Alonso opened involved digging into Moon Knight's past for inspiration, unlike the more standalone stories Hurwitz had already told for MAX. "With 'Moon Knight' it's different because with the stuff that's been done, a lot of what I'm doing is more throw back to the big, sweeping earlier Moon Knight," Hurwitz explained. "It's a very different set of responsibilities where I'm saying, 'Let me send this guy back into the heart of the Marvel Universe. Let's have him come back to New York - when he left on the run from Osborn - and make a big statement.'"
In the series' opening arc, the reborn Moon Knight, his newly acquired arsenal, and his more street smart alter ego hit Marvel's Manhattan with a little more control and a little less psychosis. "Khonshu, this demon that had Marc Spector by the scruff of his neck, has got a different relationship with Jake," Hurwitz revealed. "Part of this opening is that everyone is trying to get a handle on 'Who is this new Moon Knight?' He's new. He's acting different. Everything about him seems to be different from his relationships with his past cohorts to his relationship with Khonshu to the way that he's approaching crime and the city. I think everybody is mirroring what the reader will be saying, which is, 'Who is this guy now?'
"Book 1 opens with him reintroducing himself to New York, and part of his vengeance doesn't mean he's going to come back and carve everybody up. Part of his vengeance means he's going to reinvent himself from obscurity in Mexico and come back to take his position as one of the great characters in the Marvel Universe."
And while longtime Moon Knight readers will know Lockely as the fast-talking cabbie that gathered information for the hero's many alter egos, Hurwitz plans to bring that archetype up a level, with respect to Moon Knight's past. "I like Jake Lockley a lot. He's a little blue collar. He's tough. But we paired that with him making all this money, so I get to have the tougher guy with a ton of gizmos and tools and technology at his disposal," he said. "I'm a big fan of Charlie Huston, both his novels and his comics, and when I was looking at what he did with Moon Knight, Charlie really put his own stamp on it. Then I looked at Mike's work on it, and I just thought, 'If I do this, I've got to do something totally different for the reboot.' Because those guys covered a lot of ground and did a really terrific job on it. My job is to come in and do something we haven't seen yet.
"Knowing going in that I'm doing a year-plus worth of issues and that it's an open-ended ongoing, I think the main difference is that archive work. You're looking for materials. We've got **Dark Reign** going on and all the stuff happening now, but I can also look back and go, 'Where did Moon Knight come from? Who are the figures that loom large in his past?' There's more of a grounding of yourself in this mythology. 'What's the nature of his relationship with Khonshu? What can I take from Charlie and Mike? What can I take from the past and ground this in?' It's like a buffet. Having that unlimited series allows you to go, 'How about this villain? How about this idea? How about this thing he's been struggling with?' I can tinker with those ideas for a really long time."
Coming off a recent gig penciling the Marvel Universe adventures of the Punisher, artist Jerome OpeÃ±a's eye for detail in weaponry and savagery both look to be on display in "Vengeance of the Moon Knight." "That guy is such a superstar. He's unbelievable. When he sends me pages, most of my notes are, 'That's exactly how I pictured it only way better,'" Hurwitz laughed. "Jerome is so skilled and intricate. He's such an artist that he's literally drawing a better version of what's in my brain. He's going to make me look really good."
Overall, taking a leading man like Moon Knight back to his roots as a crime-fighting vigilante has helped Hurwitz reclaim some of his earliest influences, much like his first big comics gig did. "I was a total comic book geek as a kid," the writer said. "I remember buying 'Punisher Unlimited' when it first came out. My head exploded. I just loved it. Then I went off, read a ton of comics, went off to college and had a lull period where I wasn't reading as many. Then I started writing novels very young. I started my first when I was 19 as an undergrad, and I had a lot of luck and got published early. Looking back now, I wrote four books - the Tim Rackley books - that all dealt with vigilante justice. Frank Castle in particular had a huge influence on those books, but at the time there was nothing overt [about comics] in them. Then as I've gotten back into comics -Â reading them, writing them and really playing around with them - I've started dropping in a lot more references. It's become more conscious at this stage because I've been playing in that clay."
"Vengeance of Moon Knight" debuts later this year from Marvel Comics.