What Was Moon Knight Doing, If Not Getting Money From Dracula?

What Was Moon Knight Doing, If Not Getting Money From Dracula?
Myth, reality, and Marc Spector collide. (Image: Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli/Marvel Comics)

Every time Marvel Studios makes an announcement about its upcoming Moon Knight show, social media is typically blanketed with one of the most famous panels featuring Khonshu’s fist: the hero hunting down Dracula, to get his goddamn money. But, as beloved as it is, it’s not actually a real panel from the pages of Marvel’s comics — but the story it’s from might be just as silly as Marc Spector being a vampire debt collector.

The modified panel that has now become one of the most defining images of Moon Knight on social media — in the way that famous panel of Watchman’s Doctor Manhattan isn’t actually from Watchmen — is taken from the pages of 1987’s Solo Avengers #3, an anthology series that told stories of individual members of the iconic hero group, anchored by monthly appearances from Clint Barton’s Hawkeye as one of the two stories in each issue. Moon Knight’s appearance in issue three of the series, in the story “Tower of Shadows,” by Tom DeFalco, Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli, does indeed see him slink into an ominous looking castle.

Image: Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli/Marvel ComicsImage: Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli/Marvel Comics

But he’s not there to find Dracula — who is, of course, still an honest-to-god character in the Marvel Universe — or money. He’s not even anywhere particularly fancy; it’s actually set in the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California. Moon Knight’s there at the behest of one of his first “foes” from the comics, quickly turned ally: Jack Russell, aka the Werewolf-by-Night, who believes he has a lead for a criminal mastermind the West Coast Avengers — who Moon Knight had just joined — were looking for.

“Tower of Shadows” is actually a story of a job interview gone wrong: Marc finds himself accosted by all the sorts of traps you’d expect in a spooky castle estate that very possibly would’ve been comfortable with Dracula as its owner. Spiked walls, dart-firing suits of armour, trap doors, you name it, Marc barely scrapes his way through it, until he encounters a masked vigilante acting as a mirror to himself: a man called the Shroud, who immediately leaps into battle against Marc. After a quick battle where the Shroud has the upper hand until Marc manages to briefly dazzle the shadow-loving vigilante with a flash bomb, the Shroud quickly finds himself conceding, and revealing that the real premise of the whole endeavour was that he wanted to recruit Moon Knight into the Night Shift, a team of nocturnal, supernaturally themed heroes (including Werewolf-by-Night), as a potential replacement for the Shroud as leader.

Image: Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli/Marvel ComicsImage: Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli/Marvel Comics

Alas, Marc declines — despite the hilarious pitch that Night Shift is more of his mood as a night-based squad of heroes, compared to the literal day job of being an Avenger — goes on his merry way, and the story ends there. He’s never actually fought Earth-616’s version of Vlad in his long comics history, in the pages of Solo Avengers #3 or otherwise — an occasional energy vampire like Count Nefaria, but no Dracula dust up outside of his most iconic meme.

Who knows though: Moon Knight has long served as a bridge between more supernatural elements of the Marvel Comics universe and its street-level vigilantism. With the MCU digging into more magical and sinister supernatural stuff right now, and with a Blade movie on the way at some point soon too, maybe Oscar Isaac’s white-cloaked hero can find away to beat up a vampire for spare change on screen at some point.