Friday, April 27, 2012

Moon Knight - Where Do We Go Now?


Moon Knight - Where Do We Go Now?


Moon Knight can't seem to catch a break.  Marvel's street level anti-hero has always had a decent fanbase, but Marc Spector apparently can't hold his ground with Marvel.  Over the past few years, The Fist of Khonshu has had no luck with keeping a strong ongoing.

The fantastic 2006 series brought the hero back in an extremely dark and powerful way.  He was at the bottom and readers religiously followed the stories of Marc's increasingly difficult life.  This bleak period in his life spawned 30 issues (plus a special and an annual) before coming to an end with the entertaining stories "The Death of Marc Spector" and "Down South."

Marc would return with his own title in 2009, Vengeance of Moon Knight.  This had a promising start, sporting a heavily armored Marc with a renewed sense of justice.  He came back to New York in the Dark Reign infested world and was looking to make a difference.  But, a man can only do so much with just 10 issues.

For the latest take on the character, we have Moon Knight by the immensely popular writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev (cue raving about their take on Daredevil).  This run brought some huge changes to Marc.  He left his entire supporting cast behind in New York and traveled to Hollywood where he wanted to become a producer.  His mental well-being and case of multiple personality disorder went off the deep-end.  He was no longer restricted to being just Marc, Jake, Steven, and Moon Knight - he was now hallucinating and trying to be other Avengers.  But, with drastic change comes mixed results.  Lasting only 12 issues, this series received some pretty solid reviews.  However, a good chunk of Moon Knight fans (based on my conversations across multiple forums) weren't happy with such a massive change to the character.

You try to change the character too much and a good deal of the long-time fans protest... but if you try to do more of the same, it never seems to work.  So where do we go now with Moon Knight?  Is he simply a character that'll never stick, or is there a formula that can boost him to A-list status?  As a Moon Knight fanboy, I feel obligated to weigh in and share what I'd love to see for the character next time around.

-The Creative Team-
Moon Knight needs to strike a great blend of dark action and a strong connection to his supporting characters.  We know he can be more violent than the traditional hero, but we need a cast that'll evoke our emotions and make us give a damn about what's going on in his life.  Personally, I think Mike Benson (second half of the '06 run, Deadpool: Suicide Kings), Rick Remender (Venom, Uncanny X-Force), Christopher Yost (Scarlet Spider, X-Force) or Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Daredevil) would all be excellent picks and they could create exceptional Moon Knight stories.  As for the art, Mike Deodato Jr. or David Finch are without question the top picks.  Ryan Stegman has been absolutely delivering with Scarlet Spider, so he'd also be a great fit, too.


-The Character-
We've seen Marc at his worst (Civil War era) and we've seen him at his craziest (recent run), so how about we give the man's emotional scars a break and focus on returning him to a place inspired by his classic era (a la Dan Slott & Amazing Spider-Man).  He's once again loyal to Khonshu and a full moon increases his strength. But unlike recent events, this time around the God (who is real) doesn't call for Marc to create a body count... but instead demands for Marc to spread fear and respect for his deity.  This takes away the conflict he has with his agenda because that's something we've seen too many times before.  That story feels like it's on loop at this point and it would be nice to see a clear minded and focused Moon Knight doing what he does best: knocking out villains.

When it comes to his multiple personality disorder, I say throw the whole thing out the window.  He was never truly that crazy (before the current run, of course); he created Jake and Steven for tactical reasons.  Jake was around to obtain information at a lower level, and Steven was there to get high level information and pose as a front for how he obtained his wealth (which was done through his years as a mercenary).  The different personalities would sometimes suggest different things, but he was always able to take full control (best displayed in West Coast Avengers).  While I applaud Bendis' effort to bring new dynamics to the character, giving no solid explanation for the big change wasn't overlooked by many and I feel as though it was banking on most believing the stereotype that Marc is indeed bonkers.  After boosting the craziness in Hollywood, I say have him return to New York with a clear mind and finally realizes he doesn't need the personalities.  In the end, he's simply a hero, and his real personality (Marc Spector) proved that a long time ago in Egypt by doing everything he could to stop Bushman.  Casting aside these personal issues we've seen time and time again will allow the writer to provide a heavier focus on the supporting cast (Marlene, Frenchie, etc) and greater plots surrounding villains posing the real threat instead of his own emotions.

-The Villains-
His rogues gallery is in dire need of the New 52 treatment.  Many haven't been seen in awhile and others just aren't exciting.  Bushman is his main foe, but at the end of the day he brings nothing special to the table.  He gave Marc a deliciously brutal fight in Vengeance, but aside from that, the guy was never that big of an obstacle.  When we last saw the villain he was losing his mind, so it might be interesting to see Bushman be the man to fill the title's crazy quota.  Seeing the likes of Morpheus and Deadzone return would be most welcome, and, dare I say it, find a way to give him an equivalent of the Sinister Six.  If these villains with an agenda against Moony aren't stacking up individually, have this crazy Bushman unite them. Ultimately, Mr. Spector simply needs bigger adversaries with bigger agendas.  In my opinion this will be one of many critical elements for his success.

-Increase His Role-
Moon Knight has a rich history of interacting with a lot of characters, but as of late he hasn't really done anything of any importance in the 616 Universe. This should change if you want more people interested in him and having him fill the role of "supporting character #7" on a team book likely isn't going to cut it.  Giving him more respect and time in the spotlight among the superhero community will hopefully lead to more readers being curious about the character.  As much as I dislike forced cameos, make an effort to have him a part of the world he's in. New York is packed with characters and it shouldn't be uncommon for him to be bumping shoulders and appearing in other titles. 


Are these suggestions something you'd like to see in Moon Knight's next title or do you have something else in mind for the anti-hero?  Or, do you think it's finally time for Moon Knight to just call it quits and spend a few years in limbo?  Feel free to speak your mind in the comments section below!

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree with what you've written here. As a fairly new MK reader (2 or so years), I've had the pleasure of delving through Marc's entire history recently, and the issues you point out, the conflict of his faith being stuck on loop, his 'insanity' being overemphasised, are the things that ultimately prove the character's undoing as a headliner, I think. There are many elements to Marc that make him unique as a hero - faith in an Egyptian god (this religion, Kemeticism, actually exists, so Marvel might consider treating it a little more respectfully), multiple personalities (sometimes MPD, sometimes strategic), a good supporting cast and possibly the best superhero costume ever created, if we ignore the uncomfortable KKK associations. However, I feel it is some of these very aspects that make the character 'unrelatable'. How do we become attached to a guy who's three different personalities, one of which (Spector) is written with such little consistency, it's hard to grab hold of anything to like. So, yes, ditch Lockley and Grant (he doesn't need to be a Stark/Wayne clone) and focus on what could be an interesting character: Spector as a fully formed, healthy, if violent, ex-merc with an angle. Treat his religion as a true calling, and most importantly, have him treat it with respect, like you say. Even where there is conflict, this should be of the 'base' human needs vs faith variety, rather than hostility to his calling, I think (though this was used to effect by Huston, I don't think it's something to dwell on - and should have been resolved by the end of the first run, ideally). But ultimately, a hero is only as good as his villains, and in this sense....he needs the Batman treatment. A full-on rogues gallery that reflect different aspects of him, but with edge, with angle, with schtick! Thanks for helping keep the dream alive, true believer!

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