The holidays are a busy time for everybody, even costumed vigilantes tasked with cleaning up the mean streets of the Marvel Universe. This December, writer Peter Milligan and artist Lawrence Campbell chronicle the Christmas Eve exploits of one of the Marvel U's most brutal and unhinged street-level heroes in the one-shot, "Moon Knight: Silent Knight." CBR News spoke with Milligan about the project.
Moon Knight -also known as Marc Spector -- fights evil for two reasons: One, to atone for his violent past as a mercenary. Two: because he believes he's the avatar of the Egyptian god of vengeance known as Khonshu. Much to Spector's chagrin, Khonshu often manifests to urge Spector to be even more brutal in the way he metes out justice. On these occasions, only Spector seems capable of seeing Khonshu, and it's still unclear if this is because Khonshu is indeed a real god or a figment of Spector's twisted psyche.
"What makes Marc compelling is his constant need to struggle with himself and with Khonshu, who I see as some kind of evil Jiminy Cricket," Milligan told CBR News. "Marc is not normal (obviously) but what makes him interesting, where his tragedy lies, is that I think he wants normal things. Maybe he wants to be a normal person, though we know that that is never going to be the case."
Of course, Moon Knight isn't the first character with a fractured psyche that Milligan has tackled. The writer is also known for his acclaimed run on Vertigo's "Human Target," which starred Christopher Chance, a master of disguise who wrestled with some serious identity issues. "Any demons that Christopher Chance has are buried very deep. On the surface he is in control, flipping from one persona to another. Marc's problems by contrast seem to be very much on the surface," Milligan explained. "I mean, to all extent and purposes this guy is insane. And though he might be tough and good at beating up bad guys, he never really seems to have much control over his life."
Given the character's mental problems and his penchant for crippling criminals, Moon Knight isn't exactly a superhero that comes to mind when people think of Christmas stories, which is why Milligan felt Christmas Eve was the perfect setting for "Silent Knight." "Christmas Eve is a time when all things can seem possible, when one might be overtaken by a possibly naive feeling of hope or optimism," Milligan stated. "This story deals with those kinds of feelings coming up against tough reality - something that Marc Spector knows about only too well."
"Silent Knight" takes place just prior to the "The Death of Marc Spector" arc, which is currently unfolding in the pages of the main "Moon Knight" ongoing series. When the one-shot begins, it's not punishing evil that's on Marc Spector's mind. "He's thinking about making a dinner date," Milligan said. "His immediate goals are to deal with some shitbags so he can get showered and changed and keep his date."
In "Silent Knight," Milligan has lined up a number of obstacles and adversaries to test both his protagonist's mettle and holiday spirit. "He's up against some nasty street types, and they give him a rough ride," Milligan explained. "But mostly he's up against Khonshu and his own limitations. "
It's natural to want to spend the holidays with your loved ones, and in "Silent Knight," Marlene Alraune, Moon Knight's sometimes girlfriend, is hoping to do just that. "This is as much Marlene's story as anyone's," Milligan remarked. "She's a great, complex character and it might surprise you but even Marlene is being affected by that fuzzy feeling of hope that pervades the streets on Christmas Eve."
With a title like "Silent Knight," some readers might be expecting a quiet or even dialogue-free story like the famous "Silent Night" tale from Frank Miller's "Sin City," but Milligan's yuletide Moon Knight adventure is full of both sound and fury. "Silent Night is an ironic title. In fact, there's a lot of noise and screaming and bloody mayhem in this story," Milligan confirmed. "The title also refers to the Christmas carol. There is quite a bit of dialog in this story-but there are some meaningful silences, too."
Milligan described the tone of "Silent Knight" as being similar to that of a breezy uncle who's had too much to drink and is likely to pick a fight with someone. "You know, sweet one moment and violent to the next," the writer said.
Peter Milligan has been incredibly pleased at the way Lawrence Campbell has brought to life all of the holiday cheer and mayhem of "Silent Knight." "He's incredible," the writer stated. "Laurence brings a lot of brilliance, depth, and narrative verve. The guy is great."
"Moon Knight: Silent Knight" is Peter Milligan's first crack at Marc Spector but the writer would love the chance to revisit the anti-hero some day. "There is so much there to be explored," he said. "And I had a great time writing this little 'anti-Christmas' special."