Writer Mike Benson Gets (Moon) Knighted

Moon Knight is a Marvel Comics hero known for hearing many voices -- usually in his head. Starting with issue #14, which hits stores in the Fall, there will be a new creative voice on "Moon Knight," television writer Mike Benson, who will begin co-writing the book with current scribe,Charlie Huston. CBR News spoke with Benson about the book.

If you glance at Benson's profile on the Internet Movie Database, you'll see that his television writing work has been primarily in the field of comedy, which may leave some readers wondering why he's tackling a dark, psychological book like "Moon Knight." "That's my true sensibility," Mike Benson told CBR News. "I love the work of people like Paul Schrader, Walter Hill and Martin Scorsese. I love dark toned stuff."

Benson landed the "Moon Knight" assignment as a result of being introduced by a mutual friend to editor Axel Alonso. "I started talking to Axel and we started talking about how I would sort of break into comics," Benson explained. "I was always fascinated with Tony Stark and Iron Man, not so much with the high-tech gadgets and stuff but with this tortured guy. If you're tortured, I'm interested in you. Then we started talking about that which sort of drifted into Punisherland. We came up with what I think was a good, self-contained story [Which will be available in September in "Punisher MAX Annual" #1]. Axel liked my writing and we hit it off from there.

"I was also reading 'Moon Knight' at the time and I was always talking with Axel about the book," Benson added. "I love reading other people's scripts, primarily of movies that I love like 'Full Metal Jacket,' 'Apocalypse Now,' 'Rush,' all different types. So I started reading Charlie's 'Moon Knight' scripts and I just loved the way the guy wrote. Then one day Axel asked me if I would be interested in co-writing the book and I was all over it."

In addition to enjoying Huston's "Moon Knight" scripts, Benson was also a fan of the character from way back. "I only really knew Doug Moench's 'Moon Knight,'" Benson explained. "I didn't know the books in the '90s but I was already enjoying Charlie's run strictly as a fan with no aspirations of writing the character."

Benson has always harbored aspirations to write comics, but it was something he never acted on until he started writing television. "As a kid I read comics religiously up until I was about 14," Benson stated. "Then I was playing sports and I started dating. So I sort of put away the comics until like 2000-2001, and then I started reading them again. During that hiatus there was such an evolution of comics and all these characters that I loved that it was like seeing an old friend again. It really got my juices going."

Benson lives in the Southern California area, and two things he looks forward to are his weekly visits to his comic shop, DJ's Universal Comics, and his story meetings with his "Moon Knight" co-writer, Charlie Hutson. "Usually we'll go to some dive bar or a deli," Benson said. "Charlie is a great guy and we'll sit there and talk about everything but the book. We've got similar interests and tastes in films and we'll talk about our families. Then, slowly, we'll transition into talking about 'Moon Knight.' I love the character and so does Charlie and we really care about writing a good book. So we spend a lot of time on it and we just riff of each other.

"Then I'll go off and write a draft and Charlie will give me some notes," Benson continued. "Then I'll go to Axel and he'll give me some thoughts. Being a television writer, I'm very used to collaborating. That's really what that medium is. So, if somebody comes back and they have a bigger or better idea, I'm never bummed out about it. It fuels me and I'm excited about it. I want the book to be as good as it can be."

One of the reasons Benson finds Marc Spector so compelling to write about is the character's vulnerability. "What I love about Moon Knight is this is a guy who has trouble in an alley with two other big guys," Benson stated. "It's not a sure thing that he's walking out of there and it's not a sure thing that he's walking out of there unhurt. What I don't love in comics is the characters that no matter what you throw at them everything is going to work out smoothly."

When Benson begins his run with Husdon on "Moon Knight" #14, Marc Spector finds himself in a world where things aren't going smoothly for Moon Knight's rough and tumble brand of crime fighting. "Moon Knight will be in a post-Registration world," Benson said. "So it's really where does that character fit into this world? Can he play nice? There are rules and regulations now. What happens when you have to abide by them?"

Moon Knight's relationship with his supporting cast will also become more complicated when Benson's run begins. "I can tell you that his relationship with Khonsu gets more contentious and thorny," Benson confirmed. "Also, now that Marlene and Frenchy are back in Marc's life they have to deal with the consequences of being back there."

As for Marc Spector himself, he'll evolve in certain ways but readers shouldn't expect the dark, psychological tone of "Moon Knight" to change at all. "The tone is what drew me to the book," Benson said. "It's funny, I wouldn't even know how to be true to the character and go in a different direction because tortured people remain fairly tortured. They sort of change their habits or maybe have a more optimistic way of looking at things but deep down inside that's who they are. It's in their DNA.

"What I'm not trying to do is come in and put my thumbprint all over the book," Benson stated. "What I love so much about what Charlie did was how he sort of honored Doug Moench's origin of the character and I don't know if the word is 'updated' or made it more 'contemporary' but I want to stay on that trail. I don't want it to be that, 'I'm taking over and now it's going to be a bumpy ride because I need to make my mark.' This is a character book and I'm not going to compromise the character for any wacky plots."

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