Cover of a typical issue. Artist: Frank Miller.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1975
Creators: Doug Moench (writer) and Don Perlin (artist)
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In a world increasingly rife with superheroes (specifically, the world inhabited by Marvel Comics characters of the mid-1970s), a new guy needs a …

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… boffo gimmick to survive. Moon Knight had one, and it didn't matter that it had been anticipated decades earlier in pulp magazines. It was new to Marvel's readers.

Moon Knight, in many ways, seemed inspired by The Shadow, whose adventures in the pulps go back to the 1930s. Like The Shadow, he wasn't just a superhero solo act, but one with a few trusted agents, who worked to bring him information and set up conditions to ensure his victory. And like The Shadow, he carefully crafted multiple secret identities, so he could come and go in various parts of society without looking out of place.

The identity he started out with, Marc Spector, was a mercenary, who, as the origin story opened, was working for terrorist Roald Bushman. They had a falling-out, which made the two mortal enemies and led to Spector's superheroization. After Bushman left him for dead near an Egyptian archaeological site, Spector was rescued by workers who happened to be worshipers of Khonshu, the local Moon god, who doubled as a god of vengeance. He underwent a near-death experience at the foot of Khonshu's statue, then woke up suddenly, declaring himself the Moon's knight of vengeance. The fact that thereafter, he had super strength that waxed and waned with the phases of the Moon, lent a certain degree of credence to the claim. After wrecking Bushman's operation, he returned to America in company with Jean-Paul "Frenchie" DuChamp (his best pal in the merc business) and Marlene Alraune (whose father Spector had enabled Bushman to kill). They became his closest confidants and most trusted agents.

The first identity he created was that of Steven Grant, millionaire playboy. He financed that one with investment proceeds, but the seed capital came from his earlier way of life. (The fact that he operated out of the stately Grant mansion out on Long Island gave him a superficial resemblance to Batman, which led a few fans of the time to dismiss him as a mere imitation of an established character — true enough, in some ways, but that wasn't why.) His third identity was Jake Lockley, a Manhattan cab driver who knew all the people who provided the best street information. All this, plus he found time to maintain an active presence in the superhero community.

These items of background information were not set forth in his first appearance, Werewolf by Night #32 (August, 1975). There, he was merely the title character's monthly adversary, in a story written by Doug Moench (Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu) and drawn by Don Perlin (The Defenders). Over the next few years, he met Spider-Man, Morbius the Living Vampire and a few others. The first time he appeared under his own logo was in Marvel Spotlight (the try-out title where Ghost Rider, Son of Satan and others were introduced) #28 (June, 1976), but that didn't directly lead anywhere. In 1978 and '79, he had a series of his own in the back pages of a magazine-formatted comic devoted to The Hulk. During this period, bits and pieces of his background turned up here and there.

He finally got his own title with a November, 1980 cover date, and that's where the origin story was filled in. Moench continued to write it, but the artist most closely associated with it was Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants), who first drew the character during the Hulk run. It lasted only until July, 1984, but he was revived in the second half of the following year. During the next couple of decades, he's starred in his own comic during several brief periods, made numerous guest appearances with other Marvel stars, and generally been treated about like Ka-Zar, The Black Panther and any number of other minor characters Marvel has alternately promoted and forgotten over the years. In the late 1980s, he served a hitch in The Avengers, but repudiated his association with that group after finding out he'd joined only because Khonshu, who still maintained considerable influence in his life, was directly controlling his mind at the time.

Like most minor Marvel characters, changes in his life come and go — crises of faith in Khonshu, dropping superfluous identities, that sort of thing — but as long as the company is interested in maintaining his trademark, no alterations are likely to make much of a difference in his reader recognition.


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Text ©2004-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.