Friday, May 8, 2015


Writer: Doug Moench | Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz | Inkers: Bill S. & Frank Springer
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Denny O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The diabolical mercenary Bushman raids an archeological site in Egypt along with his second-in-command, Marc Spector. The lead archeologist is killed by Bushman, but Spector lets his daughter, Marlene, escape. Bushman exiles Spector into the desert as punishment and he apparently dies beneath a statue of Khonshu, the Egyptian God of Vengeance. But he awakens later that night as Marlene looks on, and adopts Khonshu’s visage to hunt Bushman. Bushman is beaten, but escapes.

In the following years, Spector amasses a fortune and assumes the identity of Steven Grant and then Jake Lockley, as well as that of Moon Knight. Then, in the present day, Bushman arrives in New York to work his way into organized crime. Moon Knight tracks him down with the intent to kill him, but Marlene convinces him to spare the villain and leave him for the police.

Continuity Notes: Issue 1 retroactively introduces the Egyptian backstory and the concept of Khonshu to Moon Knight. Going forward, these elements will be revisited and developed by Moench and succeeding writers.

The issue also features the first appearance of Bushman (alternately named Roald and Raul over the years), and we learn that Marc Spector and Frenchie (here inexplicably spelled as “Frenchy” through the entire issue) both worked for him as soldiers of fortune. Marlene’s father, unnamed in this issue, makes his first and final appearance as well.
Additionally, Moon Knight has a new, sleeker chopper in this story, taken on its maiden mission to hunt Bushman.

Besides all these debuts, the issue also features appearances by Moon Knight supporting cast stalwarts Crawley, Gena, and Samuels.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately, this is where Doug Moench begins to lose me, just a bit, with Moon Knight. Don’t get me wrong -- there’s plenty of good stuff upcoming in Moench’s Moon Knight stories. But up to this point Moon Knight was just a crime fighter in a costume who seemed to specialize in dealing with terrorists and, occasionally, the supernatural. That’s a pretty good niche and I think he could’ve enjoyed a successful career continuing along that route. But beginning with the ongoing series, he gains a new origin and, as stories proceed, becomes more of a street-level Daredevil or Batman type and less of a globe-trotting crime-smasher. In a way, the old Moon Knight was Daredevil on a bigger scale. But now he becomes more of a Daredevil clone bogged down with a quasi-mystical origin (and frequently coming up against the social issues of our time, which has never appealed to me as a story hook).

I should note that while I’m not a fan of the “resurrected by an Egyptian god” angle, Moench does a pretty good job with it going forward. Moon Knight believes he has some special connection to Khonshu, but he isn’t obsessed with him. Future writers, however, would take this concept way too far, replacing the crescent moon on Moon Knight’s chest with an Egyptian ankh and eventually turning the character into a living avatar for Khonshu’s spirit.
I guess what it comes down to is that Moon Knight worked just fine before the Khonshu angle was shoehorned into his story. True, he needed a new origin since his early WEREWOLF BY NIGHT appearances were at odds with Moench’s continuing characterization — but I don’t think this was the right choice.

On the other hand, there’s plenty to like in the story as well. Bushman becomes the first real member Moon Knight’s rogues gallery, and remains his most consistently used foe over the ensuing decades, appearing in some capacity in nearly every iteration of the character’s solo series to date. And we get Marlene jumping into the fray again in her skintight catsuit, as well as check-ins with all the Moon Knight regulars.

Bill Sienkiewicz continues to provide a great impression of Neal Adams, and the pages are packed with dynamic poses and great foreshortening effects. I must note, though, that there are several panels where backgrounds are basically nonexistent. I’m not sure if this is because Sienkiewicz was partially inking the issue and had less time for detailed pencils, but whatever the reason, it’s very distracting when the backgrounds vanish entirely just a page or two after a beautifully illustrated shot of Grant Manor or Bushman’s hideout.
And that’s it for our little trip into Moon Knight’s past. I could’ve stopped with his final appearance prior to the debut of his ongoing series, but I felt that covering his true origin would make a better conclusion for this exercise. Of course there’s still the matter of how this origin conflicts with the one from WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, and that’s addressed in MOON KNIGHT #4. I suspect that when the second MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION materializes, I’ll be back for another round of Moon Knight action.

But for now, the case of the macabre Moon Knight… is closed.


  1. I forget - does the first Moon Knight Epic conclude on this issue? Or just before it?

    The whole "resurrected by Khonshu"/Egyptian stuff is the only origin for Moon Knight I've ever known (I didn't even realize it wasn't established in his first appearance until I read your review of his first appearance), so I've always been okay with it.

    I do feel like the character, who already seems, on the surface, like a Batman knockoff, does need some kind of hook beyond "Moon-themed crimefighter for reasons", but I agree that plenty of later writers really take the Egyptian stuff too far. By the time he thinks he's talking to Khonshu and whatnot, the gimmick has gone from "reasonable hook to make the character unique" to "darn near unreadable."

    1. MOON KNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION volume 1 ends with issue 4. I nearly made this a "two-fer" post, covering issues 1 and 4 (to cover both his revised origin and the ret-conning of his original origin from WWBN), but I decided that, since I would like to do all of MOON KNIGHT an issue at a time someday, I shouldn't. So as of this post, I've covered all of the Epic except for the final three issues it contains.

      I maybe come down too harshly on the Khonshu angle above. I think it's fine in general; I just feel like Moon Knight was well-defined and cool before it was added to his backstory. And at this point, since it's so ingrained in his mythos, I'm okay with it. I just like him better before its introduction.

      I've always taken his hook prior to Khonshu to be simply that he became a superhero to make up for his past as a mercenary. And that's more or less the direction Moench goes post-Khonshu anyway; he just makes it quite explicit that Marc Spector has had two "lives". He died a mercenary and was reborn a hero. (Hmm... if there's ever a Moon Knight movie -- or, better yet, NetFlix series -- that must be its tagline.)

      And yeah, for all I rag on it, the Khonshu stuff does not permeate every aspect of Moench's later stories. It comes up sometimes, but it's not like it's mentioned every issue. It's really the later writers who take it way too far.