Fist of Khonshu. Lunatic. Avatar of Vengeance. Protector of those who travel by night. "Marvel's Batman."
Welcome to the compelling, confounding saga of Moon Knight. When mercenary Marc Spector was left for dead in the Egyptian desert, he was left at the feet of the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu. And Khonshu has a thing for vengeance, see, so he resurrected Marc and gave him a new mission as a vigilante superhero.
This fan-favorite is one of Marvel's least-known characters, though many are still anxiously awaiting his live-action portrayal. But even longtime fans may not know everything about him. Most people know he suffers from multiple personalities, but did you know he's manifested ten of them? His reputation is for down to earth, hand-to-hand combat, but do you remember way back when he had actual superpowers? This complicated, fascinating man is full of surprises, and here are fifteen of them.
It's impossible to avoid comparisons to Batman when talking about Moon Knight. Some fans insist that Marc Spector was created by Marvel as a direct response to Bruce Wayne. That may or may not be true, but the similarities are there for those who want to connect the dots.
One area where they differ strongly is their respective costumes. Batman most often wears an all-black suit with a few yellow or gold highlights. (He's sometimes known for dark blue, gray, and more, but stay with us.) Moon Knight's all-white suit is seemingly engineered to be a near-identical negative of Batman's dark duds. There are some differences, with Batman's suit emphasizing his flying animal namesake, while Moon Knight highlights his crescent moon motif. And on occasion, MK has been spotted wearing variations on his suit that have black parts underneath the white.
But white is unquestionably Moon Knight's signature color. Why would a brawler vigilante who operates on the mean streets wear a color that's diametrically opposed to stealth? According to Warren Ellis' 2014 run on the character's comic book, Spector intentionally wears white because he has no interest in stealth. He wants his enemies to see him coming — and to feel fear at the sight of him.
A long-running trend within the pages of Moon Knight is for the character to undergo significant changes whenever a new writer/artist duo take the reins. This happens in all superhero comics, but Moon Knight's creative team-induced alterations are especially pronounced. (We'll see more of these changes later.) Today's fans know MK as a powerless mortal who's a highly skilled fighter, but has no actual powers.
This wasn't always the case. In a six-part, 1985 miniseries, Moon Knight was shown to be the Fist of Khonshu. During this period, the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, who resurrected Spector and made him Moon Knight to begin with, bestowed him with special powers. They included greatly enhanced strength and durability, the ability to see the mystical plane, Riddick-style night vision, invisibility while in shadow, and accelerated healing.
But there was a catch. Moon Knight only had access to these abilities when the moon was out. What's more, they intensified or diminished as the moon waxed and waned. Does all that moon-dependence remind you of a certain supernaturally hairy creature? It's no coincidence; MK's first appearance was in a book called Werewolf by Night.
Like another Caped Crusader you may have heard of, Marc Spector is obscenely rich, and he uses his fortune to finance every bleeding-edge gadget a modern crime-fighter requires. His arsenal started modestly, with little more than toughened armor and a cloak that allowed for gliding.
These days, he's got several neat-o toys. First and foremost is his truncheon, a modular nightstick/staff that can separate into two fighting clubs — one for each hand — or remain tethered together to create a nunchuck-like device. A grappling hook can be fired from one end, and it's extendable up to eight feet long. The whole thing's made of adamantium, too — aka the toughest metal in the Marvel universe, and the same stuff Wolverine's skeleton is bonded to.
Moon Knight's signature doodad is his crescent dart. These are basically his batarangs — small throwing star-like weapons in the shape of a crescent moon. And much like the Dark Knight, Moon Knight keeps his attached to his belt. His transport of choice is his Mooncopter — although it stopped looking like a helicopter a long time ago. These days, it's a slick, hovering aircraft tricked out with all kinds of extras for stealth, tracking, weaponry, and more. MK's also used a moon-themed motorcycle and limousine.
So far, at least two attempts have been made to bring Moon Knight to television. The first was in 2006, while the Spike cable network was airing the short-lived Blade: The Series. The show's producers made plans to introduce Moon Knight there, alongside star Kirk Jones, even going so far as namedropping Marc Spector. The show's cancellation obviously brought that plan to an end.
In 2008, Marvel tried again, hiring television writer/producer Jon Cooksey to develop a Moon Knight TV series. Aside from the fact that this effort never panned out, nothing is known about how far along in the process Cooksey was able to get.
Persistent rumors suggest that Marvel and Netflix have been recently considering adding a Moon Knight series to their streaming TV partnership. The duo already produce Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the upcoming Iron Fist and Punisher, as well as the eagerly-awaited team-up series, The Defenders. Reports dating back to May of 2016 (and even further) have three more "street level" superheroes joining their ranks: Ghost Rider, Blade, and Moon Knight. Only time will tell if these reports have any element of truth — but we can hope. The characters in question would certainly fit right in alongside Daredevil and his pals, especially our boy MK.
In 1987, Marc Spector accepted an invitation to join the West Coast Avengers at the behest of Khonshu, serving alongside the likes of Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Wonder Man, and others. Spector got swept up in an adventure where the West Coast Avengers were transported back in time to ancient Egypt, and had to find a way home. (More on that later.) He stayed with the team for two years.
Since then, MK has been an official Avenger, with his own "Avengers Identicard" — that's the I.D. given to all Avengers that grants access to Avengers HQ, vehicles, gear, etc. — though it would be many years until he formally joined another team. Before then, he was among the dozens of Avengers past and present who answered Captain America's call during Scarlet Witch's apocalyptic attack in 2004's Avengers Disassembled.
By 2010, the Marvel Universe had been turned upside down, and Steve Rogers was given Nick Fury's old job. He recruited Moon Knight for a new team called the Secret Avengers, which focused on covert ops. His tenure there lasted less than a year before he returned to his lone wolf thing. In 2012, he agreed to help the Avengers in fighting the X-Men for the power of the Phoenix Force.
During his time with the West Coast Avengers in the late '80s, Marc struck up a relationship with Greer Grant, aka the fur-covered heroine Tigra. Their relationship was passionate, but problematic, as both parties valued their independence. Khonshu, the Egyptian god who resurrected Spector and has guided much of his life, disapproved of their romance, which caused tension between the hero and his god. It ended rather predictably, when Moon Knight departed the team to do his own thing.
More recently, Spector became involved with Echo (pictured), aka Maya Lopez, who saved his life and began assisting him in his crime-fighting efforts in Los Angeles. (Echo was once briefly an Avenger while disguised as Ronin.) They began by working as partners in crime-fighting, but quickly developed feelings for each other. They were both damaged goods, but found solace in each other.
Their relationship ended tragically when Echo was murdered in front of Moon Knight by Count Nefaria, who was the kingpin of Los Angeles at the time.
Take a deep breath, this one's a doozy.
In 1987, a West Coast Avengers storyline saw the team separated across several time periods throughout history. The mind-bending adventure had stranded Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra, and Wonder Man in Egypt 5,000 years in the past. With no way to get home, and the locals involved in a turf war against the current Pharaoh, the quartet holed-up in an obscure temple for safety.
There, they met a small group who just happened to be devotees of Khonshu, the moon god. (This was before anyone else knew of Moon Knight's connection to Khonshu.) Inside Khonshu's temple, Hawkeye — who was leading the WC Avengers at the time — used materials he found there to create "darts, boomerangs, and throwing irons" for Khonshu's followers to use to defend themselves against the chaos outside.
At this point in issue #23, the action cuts back to the present day, where we get a glimpse of Moon Knight's origin story. Apparently, after having given up on his vigilante lifestyle to preserve his sanity, Spector found himself drawn back to Khonshu's Temple in Egypt, where a group of priests bestowed upon him the very weapons that Hawkeye had crafted five millennia earlier. And the kicker is, they were still in perfect condition! Moon Knight went on to use them in his arsenal for years.
In 2006, novelist Charlie Huston began a modern run on Moon Knight that set out to redefine the character for the new century. Huston's grimy, gritty take focused on how Marc Spector's shattered psyche has affected his vigilantism, upping his brutality to all-new proportions. This Moon Knight was truly Khonshu's instrument of vengeance, though Khonshu himself, more twisted than ever, frequently showed up merely to screw with Spector's head.
During the series' first story arc, a group of nefarious businessmen called the Committee hired Taskmaster to take out Moon Knight once and for all. Taskmaster, as you may know, is a muscle mimic; any form of movement he sees, he can instantly recreate. This makes him one of Marvel's most formidable hand-to-hand fighters, as studying an enemy's fighting style is all he requires to beat them.
But it turns out, one person Taskmaster won't imitate is Moon Knight. After a confrontation between them in issues #5 and #6, Taskmaster learned that Moon Knight fights in a way that no one else will. Whether through his own insanity or his faith in Khonshu resurrecting him, Marc Spector doesn't block incoming hits. He takes blow after blow, even allowing arrows or bullets to pierce him, and just keeps fighting. Despite taking Moon Knight down quite easily in round one, Taskmaster was left reeling and begging for mercy in the end because Moon Knight was utterly relentless in his predatory advance.
As told in the tragic Moon Knight #37, Marc's father Elias Spector was a Jewish prodigy who was made a Rabbi at a very young age. When Hitler invaded Europe, Elias escaped to the United States, taking up residence in Chicago. Extremely devout in his faith, he refused to fight back when he was attacked one night by a group of neighborhood thugs, who carved a swastika into his forehead.
The event had a much more profound effect on young Marc than it did on his father. A small boy of perhaps eleven or twelve (the comics never specify), he criticized his father on the spot, calling him a coward for not retaliating against his attackers. Elias clung to his pacifist beliefs, but Marc was compelled to study self-defense and boxing at the local gym. By the time he was eighteen, he was a prize fighter in the ring. It was there one night that Elias tracked him down.
The old man climbed into the ring and ordered Marc to come home. Instead, Marc sucker-punched him. Elias disowned him, saying he never wanted to see him again. Marc obliged by joining the Navy the very next day. They would never again see one another in this life; Elias died from cancer in a Chicago hospital, using his last words to ask to see his son.
Another relic from Charlie Huston's 2006 run is this little gem meant to speak to Moon Knight's extremism, which is driven by his own bitterness and fragile state of mind. Marc Spector was in a very dark place during Huston's take on the character, so he had trouble drawing the appropriate line between "far enough" and "too far" — especially when it came to the worst elements of society.
Perhaps sick of serial rapists, child abusers, and their ilk, Spector leaped over the edge in taking the law into his own hands, meting out punishment as he saw fit. His punishment? Carving his crescent moon symbol into the foreheads of the guilty. Not only did he peel away a moon-shaped piece of their flesh, he did it more than once if the criminal was a repeat offender.
As depicted in Huston's Moon Knight #13, when a whiny criminal complains to the police about MK having dug a chunk out of his head, the detective investigating MK's work shows him photos of others the vigilante has doled out similar punishment to. And to the criminal's shock, some of the photos show men with as many as three or four moons cut into their heads. Ouch.
Fans know that Marc Spector first became the "Fist of Khonshu" when the moon god gave him back his life after Spector was killed in the Egyptian desert. Raoul Bushman had hired Spector for his mercenary skills, but his bloodthirsty nature soon reached a tipping point for our white-clad hero, and Spector challenged him to stand down. Instead, Bushman fought and killed him.
That was just his first visit with the Grim Reaper. An encounter with Stained Glass Scarlet (no, seriously) in Marc Spector: Moon Knight #28, left him on the receiving end of a deep knife stabbing to the back. His soul drifted into the beyond as his body plummeted into a river, but Khonshu restored him to life again. Later in the same series, a destructive computer virus was unleashed that Marc could only stop by quarantining himself with it inside his own headquarters. He died in the resulting explosion. And, you guessed it: Khonshu came through again.
In addition to death, Spector has repeatedly suffered crippling injuries at the hands of his enemies, injuries so severe that he was no longer able to function as a superhero. In every case, Khonshu restored him to full health.
Before he was a superhero, vigilante, or whatever you want to call him, Marc Spector was a mercenary for hire. And he wasn't just any merc, he was one of the best, and highly sought after. His career took him from the Marines to the CIA, which is where he met Jean-Paul "Frenchie" Duchamp. He teamed up with Duchamp when he became a mercenary, and the elder man's loyalty continued into Spector's superhero career.
Anyway, his training in the Marines and the CIA gave him expert-level skills in a wide variety of disciplines — more than most superheroes can lay claim to. Prior to his two tours as a Marine, he was already an accomplished boxing champion. His military time added expertise in Judo, Kung Fu, and Savate (French kickboxing), in addition to Olympian-level gymnastics. Beyond specific forms, he's gained a knowledge of how to damage the human body to the point that he can take down an enemy with a single blow to a nerve cluster.
Speaking weaponry, there's almost nothing he can't handle — and with great precision and exceptional prowess to boot. From pistols to machine guns and sniper rifles, he can even wield the heavy duty stuff like grenade launchers and bazookas. He's also highly proficient with swords, knives, bows, chains, and much more. Bottom line: if it can be used as a weapon, Moon Knight knows how to use it — with tremendous mastery. He's also an expert pilot, and has skills in deduction and interrogation.
Back we go again to Charlie Huston's 2006 run, which took Moon Knight to unprecedentedly dark places. Never was he darker than an infamous sequence in Moon Knight #2.
An extended flashback opens the story. It's virtually dialogue-free, focusing instead on Marc Spector's inner monologue as he bitterly remembers the fight that put him in a wheelchair — his last fight, presumably months or even years prior. In yet another confrontation with his arch-nemesis Bushman, their duel reached new savage heights as Bushman threw Spector off of a roof. Moon Knight crashed his legs into a fire escape as he fell, breaking and crushing his knees beyond repair. (Khonshu fixed 'em later.)
But just because he was down didn't mean he was out. As Bushman advanced for the kill, Moonie tossed a crescent dart, which sunk into Bushman's neck. After Bushman fell, Spector climbed on top of him and produced another razor-sharp dart. Bushman's supervillain mask was a visage of a face that had had its skin removed — but it was just a mask. Moon Knight made it permanent by cutting Bushman's actual face off.
One of the key character traits Moon Knight brings to the table, one which differentiates him from other comic book characters (especially Batman, who he's so often compared to), is his multiple personality disorder. Some writers have attempted to retcon this into mental manipulation by various aspects of Khonshu's personality, but whatever kind of label you want to put on it, MK has displayed at least ten distinct personas over the years.
Yes, ten. Count 'em: there's his original identity, Marc Spector. And Moon Knight, of course. Then there's Steven Grant, a new identity he created to divorce himself from Marc Spector's bloody past; Grant was a wealthy businessman. Simultaneously, he also created Jake Lockley, a cabbie who used his position to gain intel on criminal activities on the street. These first four identities coexisted, and in fact weren't seen as separate identities so much as pseudonyms. Eventually, the strain they put on Spector transformed them into something resembling markedly different personalities.
In 2011, a new Moon Knight series by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev tried to return MK to the good graces of hero-dom. Here, Marc moved to Los Angeles, where he manifested personalities for five different Avengers — Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Echo — who would "advise" him on his heroics. He even used facsimiles of their signature weapons in battle. In 2014, the character was reinvented yet again, this time operating back in New York and adding a new persona named "Mr. Knight" (although arguably, Mr. Knight was the same as Moon Knight, and everyone knew it). This white-clad detective assisted NYPD in an official capacity, while Moon Knight continued his clandestine vigilante work from the shadows.
In Marvel's Ultimate run, Spector even had another split personality: that of a red-headed little girl. And those are just the personalities we know about. Who knows how many others may be lurking in the deep recesses of his mind?
As noted previously, Marc Spector has suffered a great deal of mental trauma over the years. It began with his idea of devising separate aliases for different parts of his life. The strain caused him to suffer a break with reality, his mind fracturing in the process. As his methods became more brutal and his personalities multiplied, Spector suffered further breakdowns.
Suffice it to say: ol' Marc may not be all there. Writers have amped this up over the years to the point that the current series by Jeff Lemire has brought his instability to the forefront. Spector has become a textbook case of the "unreliable narrator," in that readers can no longer be sure that what they're seeing and reading in Moon Knight is actually happening. What if most or all of it is simply happening inside his head?
Lemire's storyline has found Marc in an insane asylum, where the entire staff is (at times rather vindictively) engaged in trying to convince him that he has never been Moon Knight, and all of the adventures he remembers never happened. It was sorted out in the end, but it doesn't seem that a cure is on the horizon for Marc Spector anytime soon.
What other obscure facts do you know about Marvel's Moon Knight? Does he deserve his own solo film, or is he better-suited for a Netflix series? Sound off in the comments.