Moon Knight is a white-clad superhero who’s been around since the 1980s, a warrior who comes out under the light of the moon to dispense justice with the power and guidance of an Egyptian god. With three different identities and an assortment of weapons and equipment, Moon Knight has hunted down those who prey on innocents traveling at night, and bringing vengeance to those who’ve been wronged. At the same time, he’s suffered crippling mental illness and moments of self-doubt over his mission.
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Moon Knight isn’t one of the most well-known heroes outside of the world of comic books, but that may be changing. With rumors swirling that director James Gunn wants to develop a “Moon Knight” movie, it’s a good time for CBR to tell you everything you need to know about the Fist of Khonshu.
15. HE WAS A VILLAIN
Moon Knight first appeared in “Werewolf by Night” #32 (1975), created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, where he was actually a villain. “Werewolf By Night” was about Jack Russell, the titular monster who would transform and use his wolf-inspired powers to fight evil, especially against a group of corrupt businessmen calling themselves the Committee. In issue #32, Marc Spector was a mercenary who was hired by the Committee to kill the Werewolf.
To fight the Werewolf, Spector was given his moon-based costume and silver-based weapons, which the monster was vulnerable to. Moon Knight was successful at beating Russell, but when he found out the Committee planned to use the Werewolf as a weapon of murder, he freed the creature. Together, the two of them beat the Committee and escaped. Moon Knight proved so popular to readers that he returned in more appearances and eventually got his own series.
14. HE WAS A MERCENARY
In his guest appearances in “Marvel Spotlight” #28-29 and “Spider-Man” #22-23, it was retconned that Marc Spector had tricked the Committee, and they hadn’t really created his costume and weapons, after all. Instead, Spector had created his Moon Knight identity to fight criminals like the Committee. That turned him from a supervillain to a full-on superhero.
When “Moon Knight” #1 hit shelves in 1980, writer Doug Moench and penciler Bill Sienkiewicz created a new origin for the hero as a soldier-for-hire in Africa, working with a brutal mercenary named Raoul Bushman. Bushman had been searching for a lost Egyptian treasure, and when Spector tried to stop him from slaughtering a village, he knocked Spector out and dumped him in the desert to die. Spector wandered the desert and collapsed at the base of a statue in the lost tomb, but woke up and believed himself to have been reborn through the Egyptian god Khonshu. He wrapped himself in the ancient robes and became Moon Knight.
13. HE WORSHIPS KHONSHU
Now that we’ve brought him up, we need to get into the ancient Egyptian god, Khonshu, because it’s impossible to understand Moon Knight without knowing his relationship to the spirit of the moon. The tomb Spector stumbled into contained a statue and relics of Khonshu, and Moon Knight believed he owes his life to the mystic spirit. Not only did he take on the identity of Moon Knight for Khonshu, he also brought the statue all the way from Egypt to his New York apartment.
Unlike other superheroes who are driven by a sense of justice or honor or responsibility, Spector is motivated by his devotion to Khonshu, who is a god that represents the moon and vengeance, both of which his Moon Knight superhero identity is all about. When he roams the city under a full moon, beating up criminals who the police can’t stop, he’s performing an act of worship. It’s a little weird, but just wait. It gets even stranger.
12. HIS WEAPONS
Moon Knight began as a superhero without powers, who used a highly trained body, along with various weapons and gadgets, to fight criminals. His trademark weapon is a collection of razor-sharp throwing darts in the shape of crescent moons, but he also uses a truncheon that can turn into nunchucks and a grappling hook. In the first issue of his second series in 1985, written by Alan Zelenetz and penciled by Chris Warner, Moon Knight got new weapons from the Priests of Khonshu, like a boomerang, scarab-shaped throwing darts and a truncheon in the shape of an ankh.
He also uses a variety of vehicles in his work, like his signature aircraft, the Mooncopter. His costume has become more sophisticated, too, with carbonadium armor, spiked fists and a grapple gun. Even with all his weapons and equipment, Moon Knight’s greatest weapon is his gymnastic and martial arts skills that let him take down enemies quickly and easily.
11. HE IS NOT BATMAN
A billionaire superhero without powers who fights at night with themed weapons, gadgets and vehicles? If all that sounded familiar, you wouldn’t be the first to make the comparison to Batman. In fact, the arguments that Moon Knight is just a clone of Batman have dogged the hero since his beginning, despite Marvel’s continued denial. Marvel has a point, because there are some pretty big differences between the Dark Knight and the Fist of Khonshu.
While Spector is rich, his money came from sound investments and mercenary work, not from an inheritance like Bruce Wayne. Moon Knight also, like we said earlier, isn’t driven by childhood trauma or a hatred of crime, but a devotion to his god. Moon Knight also gained some superpowers later on, so he’s no longer just a guy in a costume. The biggest difference between Moon Knight and Batman, though, is that Moon Knight is crazy. Literally crazy.
10. HE IS INSANE
Moon Knight’s defining characteristic for fans is that he’s crazy. That’s not just a suggestion people make about him — like some people say about Batman — but an actual fact of his character. In his earlier adventures, Moon Knight took on two other identities of millionaire socialite Steven Grant and street-wise cab driver Jake Lockley. The identities were supposed to allow Moon Knight to get into the upper class and lower class communities to find out information, but it went way too far.
Over time, Moon Knight developed a split personality where he started to actually become Lockley and Grant, taking over his real identity of Marc Spector. Things got worse when his personalities began fighting with each other for control, leading to a total mental breakdown, and new personalities came out in the form of superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man. His sanity has collapsed lots of times, leaving him addicted to antipsychotic medications and institutionalized. Through it all, he’s still managed to fight crime, which is why we love him.
9. HE IS BRUTAL
Some superheroes like Superman are dedicated to fighting evil with as little bloodshed as possible. Moon Knight is definitely not one of those heroes. When he goes after the bad guys, he doesn’t hold back, driven by a passion that comes from his religious dedication. To get what he wants, Moon Knight isn’t above breaking arms and legs… or even worse. For a while, he became frustrated with seeing the same crooks over and over, so he started carving a moon into the forehead of repeat offenders.
By far, one of Moon Knight’s most brutal acts was his final revenge on Bushman. Beginning with his role in Moon Knight’s origin, Raoul Bushman became the hero’s worst enemy. Their fight came to a head in 2006’s “Moon Knight” #2, written by Charlie Huston and penciled by David Finch, where Moon Knight finally settled their score by using one of his moon-shaped knives to carve off Bushman’s face and held the severed hunk of flesh to the moon as an offering to Khonshu.
8. HE HAS SUPERPOWERS (SOMETIMES)
Spector was already at the peak of physical perfection and skill when he became Moon Knight, so he was a real terror to the bad guys, but things changed in 1985’s “Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu” series. Until that point, Spector’s mystical connection to Khonshu was kept vague. Did the Egyptian god actually exist? Was Spector brought back to life or did he just have a near-death experience? Was Khonshu guiding him in his fight against crime?
All ambiguity went out the window in his new series when Spector began having strange dreams that compelled him to go to Egypt, where he met a cult that worshiped Khonshu and gave him more Egyptian-themed weaponry and new abilities. When the Moon waxed and waned, Moon Knight grew stronger and faster, until he became superhumanly strong on a full moon. He could also see in the dark and turn invisible in shadows, but the powers came at a high cost and at the whims of Khonshu.
7. KHONSHU VS. MOON KNIGHT
Moon Knight’s relationship with Khonshu has never been easy, because Khonshu isn’t a kind or gentle god, but a brutal spirit who demands loyalty. Spector isn’t always happy with his life as an avatar of justice, and Khonshu’s demands on Moon Knight to fulfill his quest for vengeance have led to some pretty horrific things. Spector is constantly being plagued with visions of Khonshu making demands and scolding him for not following the god’s orders, leaving him on the brink (or crossing over the brink) of insanity. Then there’s the time that Khonshu decided to take over.
In 1987, “West Coast Avengers” #21 (written by Steve Englehart and penciled by Al Milgrom), Moon Knight rescued the Avengers from ancient Egypt, after which the team offered Moon Knight membership. Spector wasn’t really a team player, but joined anyway. He later discovered Khonshu had controlled his mind to get him to join the team. Khonshu doesn’t take no for an answer.
6. HE’S NO TEAM PLAYER
Like we said, Moon Knight has been a member of the West Coast Avengers, but he didn’t really enjoy his time there. That goes across the board, since Moon Knight is usually a loner, so he tends to work on his own, like Wolverine. Despite that, much like Wolverine, Moon Knight has been a member of a lot of teams. He’s been an Avenger, a Defender, a Hero For Hire, in the Secret Avengers, and a founding member of the Marvel Knights. It never lasts long, though, because he tends to get into arguments and fights with other members.
His most famous exit came in “Marc Spector: Moon Knight” #50 in 1993, written by Terry Kavanagh and penciled by James Fry. In that issue, Moon Knight had gone after Doctor Doom without authorization, and Thor brought him in to answer for it. Instead, Moon Knight burned his membership card and quit the team. Yeah, he’s not a team player.
5. HE DIED
As we mentioned in his original origin, Spector collapsed in the camp of the tomb of Khonshu, exhausted and dehydrated. The archaeologists who found him thought he was dead, but he rose up at the feet of the statue, alive. In early issues, it was suggested that Spector had just passed out and was just imagining he was resurrected. Later on, this changed so that he actually died and was brought back to life by Khonshu… and it’s not the first time.
In 1994’s “Marc Spector: Moon Knight” #60, again by Kavanagh and Platt, Moon Knight fought a computer simulation of an ancient enemy called Seth, who threatened to infect computers around the world and destroy them. In order to stop it, Moon Knight blew up the computer center and himself, or so we thought. With Greg Hurwitz writing and art by Jerome Opena in 2009’s “Vengeance of the Moon Knight” #1, it was revealed that he faked his death with the twist that his Spector personality died, leaving Lockley in charge of his body. He’s died every way you can imagine, this guy.
4. HIS PARTNERS
Moon Knight is a loner, but that doesn’t mean he fights alone, given that he’s had a lot of partners and team members over the years. One person who’s stood by him over the years is Marlene Alraune, one of the archaeologists who found Spector in the desert and whose father he tried (but failed) to save. When Spector took on the Moon Knight persona, she became his secretary, lover and occasional sidekick in crime-fighting.
His other most loyal companion is Jean-Paul DuChamp, better known by his not-at-all-offensive nickname, “Frenchie.” Frenchie was a pilot working for Bushman who joined Spector when they quit and fled the organization, and knew about the Moon Knight persona. He designed and flew the Mooncopter during missions, and fought alongside Moon Knight in battle. It was eventually revealed that Frenchie was gay and in love with Spector, who didn’t return his affection, but the Frenchman still fought for him.
3. HIS ENEMIES
Moon Knight has been fighting crime for decades, and gathered a unique group of villains to battle over those years. He tends to fight other enemies with extreme physical ability like the Daredevil baddies Bullseye and Taskmaster. Moon Knight has also fought Black Spectre, who was created by writer Doug Moench and penciller Bill Sienkiewicz in “Moon Knight” #25 (1982), and was inspired by Moon Knight’s heroism to become a master criminal.
However, Moon Knight’s ultimate enemy is Raoul Bushman, also known as Roald Bushman or simply Bushman. The brutal mercenary with the skull tattoo was the one who first killed Moon Knight, and continued to be the hero’s main focus for revenge. Bushman is a psycho with no conscience who will happily kill anyone for any reason or no reason at all. He even became the president of an African country, and ruled over a thriving cocaine trade. When Moon Knight finally killed him, Bushman was resurrected by the criminal Hood, and is still out there, waiting for revenge.
2. HIS SQUAD
As you’ve probably guessed, Moon Knight is one of those superheroes who claims to work alone, but sure does have a lot of friends. In 1992’s “Moon Knight” #39, written by Terry Kavanagh with Gary Kwapisz as penciler, Moon Knight used his wealth to build a command center he called the Shadowkeep. There, he would use holographic technology to teleconference with different specialists that he called his Shadow Cabinet.
Moon Knight also became a founder of the Marvel Knights. Now if you ask Marvel, the official name for the team was Daredevil’s Unnamed Super-Hero Team, but we think Marvel Knights has a better ring to it. Marvel Knights was a collection of street-level heroes like Daredevil, Black Widow, Dagger (minus Cloak), Luke Cage and Shang-Chi. They came together in 2000’s “Marvel Knights” #1, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Ed Barreto. Moon Knight not only joined the team but provided the headquarters for it. Not bad for a guy who hates teams.
1. HIS STRUGGLES
Here at CBR, we love Moon Knight, but he’s had a rocky relationship with readers. His first series was wildly popular, but sales tapered off until it was rebooted, then cancelled. Throughout the 1990s, Moon Knight appeared in a lot of one shots and team books, along with “Marc Spector: Moon Knight” as his longest-running series, lasting for 60 issues. Other series followed, but none lasted that long.
In 2016, a new “Moon Knight” series hit the stands, written by Jeff Lemire with Greg Smallwood on art. The series has taken a new direction on the adventurer, starting with Spector waking up in a mental institution where his adventures as Moon Knight were a hallucination. This Moon Knight series has begun sorting through his complicated history, including the source of his split personalities. It’s a more surreal journey, and we’re not sure if it’s where the TV series will go… but we kinda hope so.
What do you think of Moon Knight? Would you watch a Moon Knight movie or TV series? Let us know in the comments!
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