Friday, May 1, 2015


Script: Doug Moench | Art: Bill Sienkiewicz & Tom Palmer
Additional Inking: Bill Sienkiewicz & Dan Green | Colors: Steve Oliff*
Editor: Lynn Graeme

The Plot: (part 1) At Steven Grant’s mansion, Marc Spector receives a box containing a corpse. Moments later, the mansion is firebombed by a mystery assailant. Having recognized the corpse as that of an old CIA ally named Amos Lardner, Moon Knight travels to a CIA facility in Montreal where Spector and Lardner had spent some time together. There, Moon Knight tussles with the same bomber, who escapes.

The next day, Spector meets with the facility’s director, who informs him that Project Cobra, the CIA mind control initiative which had led to Spector’s resignation, was shut down and its overseer, Charles LeBlanc, quit as well and returned to Paris. Spector orders Marlene to book a flight to France for Frenchie and himself.

(part 2) In Paris, Moon Knight confronts LeBlanc but their conversation is interrupted by Amos Lardner’s brother, James. Moon Knight stops the younger Lardner from killing LeBlanc and chases him out of the building. With Marlene driving his car, Moon Knight pursues Lardner until both vehicles crash. Moon Knight, Marlene, and Lardner are taken away by LeBlanc’s men.
Moon Knight awakens, drugged, at LeBlanc’s estate and escapes with Marlene, thanks to Fenchie’s aid. But LeBlanc had informed Moon Knight that he would be meeting the CIA that night at the Tatin Museum. Moon Knight, Marlene, and Frenchie head there to find LeBlanc, the corrupt CIA operatives, and Lardner, now brainwashed via operation Cobra, waiting. While Moon Knight fights Lardner, Frenchie and Marlene take out the G-men. Eventually Larnder turns on LeBlanc and both are killed when the latter’s car bursts into flames.

Moon Knight and the others clean up the bodies and return to the United States.

Continuity Notes: As noted above, part one reveals that Marc Spector spent two years working for the CIA (consistently referred to only as “The Company” in this story).
We get our first good look at Steven Grant’s palatial estate when Jake Lockley drives there at the story’s opening. Also, Grant’s butler is identified here as Samuels for the first time. He was previously called Samuel in all appearance prior to this one. His name will remain Samuels in all Moench-scripted stories going forward.
Grant mentions that he's from Missouri, but it's unclear if that's part of his cover or if Moench intends the “Show Me State” to be Marc Spector’s original home. For the record, the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE lists Spector’s place of birth as Chicago, Illinois.
Good thing the "Missouri" line is mentioned in this scene;
otherwise I'd have no reasonable excuse to post naked Marlene!
My Thoughts: This is another really good story. Moench hit his stride after the somewhat lackluster (but brilliantly illustrated Lupinar story), and hasn't let up since. “The Mind Thieves” is possibly the quintessential Moon Knight story, filled with plot twists, globe-trotting, and action. And the team of Sienkiewicz and Palmer, along with Steve Oliff turing in some of his best colors yet, give us the darkest, moodiest looking Moon Knight vehicle to date. If I needed to give someone a “pilot” story to introduce them to the best version of Moon Knight, this would likely be it.
The story is a bit grittier and more mature than any we've seen thus far as well (with the exception of the Hatchet Man, of course), even accounting for all the previous non-Comics Code approved stories from HULK! Magazine. Frenchie offs the two corrupt CIA agents, shooting them both during the final confrontation. Moon Knight rescues Marlene from what is clearly about to become a rape, though no words on the page indicate such. And Marlene herself has a number of her usual cheesecake scenes, appearing nude at the story’s outset and stripping to underwear in Paris and at the conclusion.

Speaking of Marlene, we also get the best version of her we've seen so far, too. In past stories she was shown to be competent and capable, even demonstrating some martial arts skills in the Conquer-Lord story. But she was also often a damsel in distress, and her eagerness to help even got her nearly killed during the Hatchet Man tale. But here, Marlene is practically Moon Knight’s equal. She chauffeurs him through Paris on a high speed car chase and later dons a skintight catsuit for the finale, where she demonstrates a flying jump kick that would put Batroc the Leaper to shame. Is it any wonder that, as I noted previously, Marlene is my all-time favorite superhero girlfriend? She's just the bee’s knees!

But sadly, this is also the end of the grittier, classic Moon Knight. There are still plenty of Moench-penned stories ahead, many of them quite good. Moon Knight’s ongoing series was one of Marvel’s first forays into the Direct Market exclusive route, and therefore it was also published without the Comics Code seal. But it's still a monthly comic rather than a magazine, and something, however minor, is lost in the transition. For most intents and purposes, this is the end of the first, in my opinion best, phase of Moon Knight’s career.

* This story was originally presented in black and white in the pages of MARVEL PREVIEW, but was colored by Steve Oliff for the MOON KNIGHT SPECIAL EDITION reprint in 1983. Every further reprinting since then has used the colorized SPECIAL EDITION version. I've actually never read the story in the original black and white.


  1. Are you moving forward into the regular series, or does this mark the end of your Moon Knight coverage (hopefully the former)?

    Tangentially, I'd love to see Marvel release an omnibus collection of MARVEL PREVIEW. It'd be a tonally whacky collection as all the different types of stories collide, but also, I'd think, tons of fun. But I imagine there's probably at least a few rights issues involved that would prevent it from ever coming to fruition, even if Marvel thought there was a market for it.

    1. My plan is -- strange as it sounds -- to end this retrospective for now with MOON KNIGHT #1 next week. That gives us the full ret-conned origin of the character and seems like a good stopping point. But with MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION 2 on the fast track for release later this year, I may move on with the regular series sooner rather than later.

      I agree, some collections of series like MARVEL PREVIEW, MARVEL SPOTLIGHT, MARVEL PREMIERE, and whatever else would be pretty cool. It's amazing to me that Marvel was able to sustain so many anthologies back in the seventies which frequently featured new and/or lesser known characters. Something like that would be cancelled within six issues nowadays.