8 Essential Facts About Marvel's Mentally Unstable Hero, Moon Knight

By Charles Webb in Comics, Daily Lists
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

4. The Batman Effect 2, or Look at Those Wonderful Toys

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Look, he's not Batman, but he does a terrific impersonation. Besides using moon-shaped throwing knives (Batarangs), enlisting the aid of a more mature, European backup man (Frenchie, Alfred), hanging out in his own cave, and working alongside a costumed sidekick, the two characters are very, very different.

Oh, yeah, and Moon Knight also has a helicopter shaped like a crescent and I'm pretty sure he's running around as I type this yelling "I am the night!"

3. Praise Khonshu!

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A lot of pieces on Moon Knight will focus on his Jewish heritage (his father was a rabbi), but as far as the character's religion goes, he acknowledges only one true crazy and vengeful god: that'd be Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god in whose service Moon Knight has operated for most of his career.

Did I mention Khonshu is a blood god? And kind of a nagging one at that? While early appearances had Khonshu serve the kind of supernatural mentor function of the long line of Phantoms or the Ancient One for Dr. Strange, helping center our hero and washing off the corruption of the modern world, Khonshu has had an increasingly toxic effect on Marc Spector, and if Marc won't commit violence on the god's behalf, Khonshu will find someone who will.

2. That Time He Cut Off His Nemesis' Face

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It wasn't enough that Moon Knight was scarring repeat offenders out there on the street - when it came to his personal big bad, our unstable hero was out to make a statement.

In what's clearly a deliberate riff on a similar scene in the Bendis-written Daredevil from a few years back - you know, where DD carved an actual bullseye in Bullseye's noggin* - writer Charlie Huston takes things a step farther, having Moon Knight make his nemesis' warpaint permanent.

It gets real in Moon Knight Vol. 4, #6, when we learn one of the reasons behind Marc's continued retreat from crimefighting and the world was his last, bruising battle with archenemy and former merc, Bushmaster. Bushmaster's whole visual schtick was a skull tattoo of a skull outlined by red ink on his face.

Beaten, bloodied, and having no more of it, Moon Knight cuts off Bushmaster's face, thus ending the villain's need to ever use Chapstick again.

* Todd McFarlane would do something similar in Spawn when his demonic hero met the ailing assassin and Youngblood member Chapel for the first time since the Chapel, you know, killed poor old Al. Or so we thought until a temporary falling out with Rob Liefeld required a quick retcon.

1. Identity Crisis

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What started out as one of the character's cooler traits - his ability to move seamlessly between several identities - has proven, in recent years, to be one of his greatest weaknesses, as Moon Knight struggles at any given time to know exactly who he is.

It's not enough that Moon Knight has a single alter ego: he has three. Not only is the tortured Marc Spector knocking around in there, but also his billionaire cover identity Steven Grant, as well as the one-time cabbie Jake Lockley. Taking a page from the gritty yet sophisticated soldier of fortune paperbacks of the 70's, in his early solo appearances Marc was was written as a man who could jump back and forth between the worlds of the rich and powerful, gun-toting badasses, and street-prowling avengers.

Sure, other heroes have multiple personas they use to fight crime, but in Moon Knight's case, these additional personalities have a tendency to assume control and wreak havoc on the hero's personal life. Basically, at any given time, it's hard to tell which personality will wrest control and which version of Moon Knight will be dominant.

It's not enough that Marc has the voice of a dead Egyptian deity in his head all day - he's also plagued by his dueling cover identities, each of which wants to live their own lives.

Fun fact: over in the Ultimate universe, Brian Michael Bendis played around with Spector's dissociative personality disorder, again giving the vigilante three identities - this time in the forms of two men and one tough-talking little girl. Bendis would do something similar in his 2011 series which saw the hero creating personas based on Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America to help guide his crimefighting mission.

Previously by Charles Webb

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