Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!
So for the last few months I've been on a bit of a journey. . .a deep dive into the 60 issue Marc Spector: Moon Knight series. In years past, I've come across about a dozen random issues of this series out Longbox Junkin' through the bargain bins, but recently I was able to fill the gaps and complete the run thanks to another comic shop going out of business and selling all their back issues for a single lousy buck.
Yeah. . .it was a serious case of Longbox Junk overload THAT day. I spent about $800 on comics. I think I MIGHT have a problem. No, not that sort of problem. . .a storage problem! BUT I DIGRESS!
ANYWAY. . .
I've spent the last few months reading and reviewing every single issue of Marc Spector: Moon Knight. I'd go so far as to say that I have spent the most word space on the series than ANYBODY else except the creators themselves. And in realizing that, I began to ponder. . .WHY is there so little information on Moon Knight's longest running series to date? Why hasn't it been collected? Why so few reviews? What the heck is going on with this series that has caused it to become something that everyone KNOWS exists, but yet nobody wants to talk about it?
Wait. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
If you want to read the reviews before coming back here for my final thoughts on this strange comic book journey, then click the links below. I'll wait. It'll be a while, though. It's okay. Go ahead.
PART ONE: ISSUES 1 - 10
PART TWO: ISSUES 11 - 20
PART THREE: ISSUES 21 - 30
PART FOUR: ISSUES 31 - 40
PART FIVE: ISSUES 41 - 50
PART SIX: ISSUES 51 - 60
You're back. Sheesh. . . Now THAT'S a hefty stack of Longbox Junk, right?
So those are the individual reviews of each issue. . .once again, the most that ANYBODY has ever written about this oddly-ignored Moon Knight series. Let's get into some final thoughts on the series as a whole, shall we? We shall!
MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT
THE LAST WORD
If I had to boil all sixty issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight down to one single word, that word would be "Inconsistent". This series was all over the place. There was only ONE thing about this Moon Knight run that stayed the same from issue one to issue done. . .and it was that the multiple personalities found in other Moon Knight stories were absent, with Marc Spector being the ONLY "secret identity" of Moon Knight. Other than that and the names of the characters. . .everything else was fair game. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.
All three of the main writers on this series tried (and failed) to put their own mark on the Moon Knight "canon". Terry Kavanagh (who wrote the whole back half of the series) was the worst. . .his issues were characterized by a pretty obvious obsession with permanently changing Moon Knight. But the other two main writers, Chuck Dixon and J.M. DeMatteis, did their best to put their stamp on the character as well. Let's get into each of these writers a little bit. . .
The series started off in the hands of Chuck Dixon. He gave us a simple, stripped-down version of Moon Knight. A two-fisted urban crimefighter with his loyal friend Frenchie at his side and his lover Marlene there to support him. It seemed a little basic, compared to previous Moon Knight runs, and truthfully, I could easily see where Moon Knight got his "Marvel's Batman" label from.
What little information on this series there is seems to indicate that Moon Knight fans generally consider Chuck Dixon to be the worst Moon Knight writer. I disagree. I found Dixon's time on this series to be simple, but fun. There was never anything GREAT about Dixon's stories, but I found his end of the series to be the most engaging and consistent of the whole thing.
BUT. . .
Dixon tried to make his mark on the permanent Moon Knight narrative by giving him an orphan teenage crimefighting sidekick called Midnight. In other words, grinding hard on the Batman comparisons by giving Moon Knight his very own Robin. It was pretty weak, but I have to give Dixon credit for listening to the fans and stepping back from the ill-advised idea fairly quickly. And I have to admit that Midnight DID make a pretty good enemy for Moon Knight in later series.
Other than the sidekick thing (and compared to what came later, even that wasn't TOO bad), I'd say that Chuck Dixon's issues of this series are the most enjoyable as a whole. Not great. . .not bad. . .just a nice, steady, pretty good. Basically "Marvel Batman" stories.
But then Chuck Dixon left, and for a short time, J.M. DeMatteis came on board.
What little reader opinion I could find on this series seems to agree that DeMatteis was the best writer on this run. I honestly can't see why. The only reason I can come up with as a possibility is that DeMatteis' handful of seven issues were characterized by an attempt to directly follow up the fan-favorite original Moon Knight run by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz.
Unfortunately, although DeMatteis is generally a fine writer, he was NOT at his best on this series. Instead of Moench's superhero-noir, we got a muddled mess of psychodrama and mischaracterization that was heavy on style but extremely light on actual story.
DeMatteis tried to make HIS permanent mark on Moon Knight's narrative by adding a new enemy to his rather slim list of recurring foes. He took a character from the original series (Stained Glass Scarlet) and completely changed her from a pretty basic street vigilante with a vendetta against organized crime into some sort of mutant with unexplained mental and fire powers. Stained Glass Scarlet played a big part in the next Moon Knight story, and DeMatteis' changes were completely ignored, and for good reason, in my humble opinion.
J.M. DeMatteis didn't last for long, but once again, for some reason, he's the writer that is generally remembered the best on this series. Personally, I see his issues as pretty much standing alone, like a strange and unconnected mini-series thrown into the middle of an ongoing title. . .sort of like "Old Man Logan" sitting in the middle of the ongoing Wolverine title of the time, or "Batman: Year One" sitting in the middle of the ongoing Batman title instead of being published separately, for some unknown reason.
AND THEN. . .
Terry Kavanagh took over. From his first issue (#35), his time on Marc Spector: Moon Knight was characterized by constant and obvious attempts to permanently change the Moon Knight "canon". And when I say constant, I mean he was STILL trying to make changes in the final issue of the series!
Every story arc Kavanagh wrote was wrapped around some sort of attempted permanent change. The stories themselves didn't seem to matter as much as these changes he kept trying to make. I would go so far as to say (just from memory without going back and reading them all) that there might not have been one single issue from Kavanagh that wasn't structured to support some sort of permanent change to the character.
From Marc Spector's brother coming back from the dead, to Moon Knight's new armor and base of operations, to Frenchie being a secret Templar superweapon, to Marc Spector being a half demon hybrid with life draining powers, to the MOON-MOBILE! And on and on and on. Kavanagh's issues were just a constant and ongoing litany of changes to Moon Knight.
Unfortunately for Kavanagh (and fortunately for Moon Knight fans) none of his changes stuck past the last issue of this series with the exception of Moon Knight being dead, which was quickly remedied in the next Moon Knight story.
In my extremely humble opinion, it was this constant state of throwing changes at the readers that sort of erased this series from the Moon Knight narrative. . .which is sort of ironic in that the only permanent change Kavanagh achieved was to pretty much delete a sixty issue run of comics from the history of a character.
Kavanagh did such a good job at defeating his own purpose that even the official Moon Knight Wikipedia article devotes a mere FIVE sentences to the sixty issues of this run, and one of those sentences is a reference to artist Stephen Platt leaving Marvel to work for Image!
Knowing the hard work Kavanagh put into deleting this whole series from the convoluted history of Moon Knight, it came as no surprise to me when I learned that he was one of the minds behind Marvel's infamous "Clone Saga" Spider-Man storyline. I'm not even a Spider-Man fan and I know just by comic fan osmosis that the Clone Saga is regarded as one of the worst stories in Marvel history. But you know what? At least THAT story is remembered, while Marc Spector: Moon Knight seems to have been unconsciously wiped from comic fandom memory almost completely!
*stands and slowly claps* Well done, sir. Well done!
Taken as a whole, this Moon Knight series is extremely inconsistent and characterized by constant attempts to permanently change the character. None of the individual issues or storylines ever manage to raise above the level of "Pretty Good", and the final five issues are some of the absolute worst comics I've forced myself to read front to back in quite a while.
I can recommend the first 24 issues (those written by Chuck Dixon) as simple superhero fun, but I wouldn't suggest punishing yourself with anything past that.
This series has never been collected, so if you REALLY want to experience the strange sensation of slowly realizing WHY this series has never been collected, you'll have to hunt down the individual issues. . .with some of the later (and ironically the worst) issues being a bit pricey. Fortunately, most of them can be found in their rightful place in the bargain bin.
Up Next. . .
MORE Moon Knight!
Just kidding. I'm ready to move along. Maybe some one shots?
Sure, why not. Tasty little bites of comic book fun that challenge creative teams to give readers a full story in one and only one issue. . .I love one shots! Let's do some one shots!
Be there or be square.