In recent years, Moon Knight has become something of a prestige title for Marvel, with high-profile creative teams including Warren Ellis & Declan Shalvey, Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev and most recently Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood all adding to the legacy of the vigilante.
With Marvel's post-Secret Empire "Marvel Legacy" publishing initiative nearly here, CBR has the exclusive first word on what's in store for Marc Spector -- a new series sporting a surprisingly high number, plus a new creative team. November brings Moon Knight #188, which like many Marvel Legacy series, combines the numbering of multiple past volumes. The new team on the book is writer Max Bemis, the lead singer of the band Say Anything who's already made an impact at Marvel with X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever and Foolkiller, and artist Jacen Burrows, best known for his horror work including co-creating Crossed with Garth Ennis and illustrating the Alan Moore-written Providence.
CBR has the first look at Burrows' cover for Moon Knight #188, along with the solicitation text for #188 and #189 -- the start of the "Crazy Runs in the Family" arc -- and an in-depth interview with Bemis on his "very weird" plans for the series. In our talk, Bemis discusses the imminent introduction of the "ultimate nemesis" for Moon Knight -- the Joker to his Batman -- how insight from his own history with mental illness helps him approach the title character, and adding elements of dark comedy to the character's frequently grim adventures.
MOON KNIGHT #188 & 189
- MAX BEMIS (W) • JACEN BURROWS (A/C)
- CRAZY RUNS IN THE FAMILY Parts 1 & 2
- A new day is dawning and with it comes an enemy unlike any that Marc Spector, Moon Knight, has ever faced. Moon Knight has always been a protector from the shadows, but this new enemy is looking to extinguish that shadow with blinding light and fire. Get ready for the introduction of Moon Knight’s greatest nemesis!
CBR: Max, definitely interested to hear what you and Jacen Burrows have planned for the book. Let's start with your own history with Moon Knight as a character -- were you a Moon Knight fan coming into this?
Max Bemis: Yes, I was, very much so. It's funny -- I had not, until I started realizing I was going to write this book, read the classic Moon Knight books. I started reading when it was Charlie Huston and David Finch on the first couple arcs. I really loved it. It was so dark and just messed up, and had a supernatural bent -- all stuff that I like. Weird and mystical, but not pretentious.
I think the modern takes on Moon Knight have been really amazing. Warren Ellis and that whole run; Lemire. I think people feel like the title is an invitation to explore the human psyche and get weird with storytelling, and readers can expect that in a Moon Knight book and it doesn't feel like a jolting thing.
I do think it's an original take that I'm doing, but I'm just honored to follow in a line of people that inspired me to make it a book with a lot of ambition.
Given everything you just said about all the great writers who have been on the character in the past decade or so, what kind of pressure does that bring to you? What are you looking to do that you haven't seen in recent years with the character?
There is some pressure, but it's mostly a positive feeling of pressure. I do care what people think of it -- I'm not the kind of person who makes art without any regard for what people think of it. I've always been honest about that. Let's say you're a Moon Knight fan for years, and you're expecting the caliber of stories you've been getting from those writers, you want to at least have it be as good. I'm going to try to make it better, just for fun -- which I probably won't be able to do.
In terms of what hasn't been done -- there's definitely been some weirdness and dark stuff. When Bendis did it, it was very Bendis-y, and amazing. Then Warren Ellis did it very "Warren Ellis;" sort of grim and weird and mystical. I feel like I take this as an opportunity very seriously. I've done some stuff with Marvel, and it's been really fun, and people have been really nice about those books, but it's my first time working on a big ongoing. I feel like the last few writers who tackled it, these were already established writers: Brian Wood, Warren Ellis. As much as they probably put their heart and soul into it, it's never going to be, "Oh my god, it's your first big book." For me, I want it to be remembered as something great, hopefully. This is the best it could ever get, possibly, so I'm not going to half-ass it in any way.
In terms of the tone of the book, I think if people are a fan of dark, Coen brothers-type comedy, there's going to be some of that. It's going to be trippy -- some Grant Morrison-esque stuff in there. There's going to be a lot of Moon Knight hitting people and fun action sequences, but people can expect it to be more along the lines of the weirder Marvel stuff.
I think Moon Knight has generally taken himself pretty seriously in a lot of the Moon Knight books. He's a lunatic, and I suffer from mental illness. I don't think it has to be such a stoic persona. I don't want to change his personality, but I think the fact that he's kind of unhinged allows him to be an interesting character, who isn't just this stoic, Batman-type guy who hurts people worse than Batman. I think the very concept of it is really amazing, and I want to try to tap into the cosmic craziness and fun and humor or something so dark and weird as mental illness, as opposed to just, "Oh my god, this is scary, this is weird." I want it to be surreal and funny.