Compared to other Marvel characters like Spider-Man or Captain America, there haven’t been a lot of Moon Knight comics published. However, there’s still been enough to make knowing what you should pick up feel a bit daunting. After all, there are nine first issues of Moon Knight.
If you’ve been keen on the live-action adaptation of Moon Knight and are interested in reading one of the many comic series it’s drawn inspiration from, we’ve got the perfect place for you to start. Written by Jeff Lemire and mostly drawn by Greg Smallwood, if you’re going to pick up one Moon Knight comic after watching the TV show, make it this one.
Table of Contents
Who is Moon Knight?
Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a former Marine and mercenary for hire who died, only to be resurrected by the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu. Back from the dead, Spector becomes the moon’s knight, taking on the white-caped mantle while fighting crime and dishing out vengeance as the “Fist of Khonshu”.
But here’s where Moon Knight gets interesting. Moon Knight is also Steven Grant, a Wallstreet billionaire, and Jake Lockley, a streetwise New York City taxi driver. He’s all of the above because Spector suffers from a dissociative identity disorder.
Or maybe he’s none of these people and his entire life has been a lie.
What is this Moon Knight comic about?
What if you woke up one morning and discovered your entire life wasn’t real? That’s where Lemire and Smallwood’s Moon Knight comic starts, with Marc Spector awakening in a mental institute and learning that his entire life up to the point was just an extended hallucination. Moon Knight is a real hero, but Spector isn’t him.
But when Khonshu appears before Spector and tells him that this is all the scheme of Ammit, another Egyptian god who is looking to invade earth, he doesn’t know what to believe. Are Khonshu and his life as Moon Knight real or has it all just been a figment of Spector’s fractured imagination?
Why do you need to read it?
This Moon Knight series is the perfect introduction to the character because it takes a deep dive into who exactly Moon Knight is, both literally and figuratively. It combines the psychological with the supernatural, as Marc Spector attempts to piece together the fractured pieces of his many lives. Are all of these different personalities separate beings, or do they amount to a whole?
Lemire does a great job of planting seeds of doubt while you’re reading it by purposefully dissolving the line between what is and isn’t real. His friends and sidekicks? They’re just other patients at the institute. It’s an interesting character study and a somewhat idiosyncratic superhero story, where the bulk of the action takes place in a single person’s mind, and may or may not actually be real.
More than anything, this book looks incredible. Smallwood is one of the best comic artists working at the moment, and the combination of Jordie Bellaire’s amazing colours make his work sing.
Smallwood’s panel layouts don’t follow the rigid columns and rows of traditional comics. Instead, they overlap, are asymmetrical and use a lot of negative space. One page has the panels laid out in the shape of an exclamation mark, which led the reader’s eyes to a panel of Spector being given electroshock therapy in the exclamation dot. Combined with Lemire’s writing, it captures the disjointed state of Spector’s mind.
As the series progresses and Spector’s grip on reality begins to loosen, more artists are added to the fold to give each of his personalities a different aesthetic.
When he’s in the Jake Lockley persona, Francesco Francavilla draws a moody, 1970s-inspired New York, while Wilfredo Torres’ clean and simple lines capture the “real-life” normalcy of Steven Grant. The real treat of this rotating art team is James Stokoe’s bombastic sci-fi action for an alternate Marc Spector persona, who is now Moon Knight One, an ace spaceship pilot tasked with protecting the moon from an army of werewolves.
This combination of art styles is a fantastic example of how good comics can be as a visual medium. It gives the reader a vivid shorthand of how fractured Spector’s mind is – especially when the different art styles begin to clash on the same page.
Lemire embraces the entire history of the character and attempts to form it into a single, cohesive narrative. If you’ve never read a Moon Knight comic before, the final arc of this series also retells Spector’s origin story, from the first time his identity disorder manifests to his resurrection by Khonshu.
The series is also a fairly short one, clocking in at just 14 issues, and was recently re-released as a complete collection. If you want to read one of, if not the best Moon Knight stories ever published, or just want a great superhero book, this comic won’t disappoint.
Are there any other Moon Knight comics you should read?
The 2006 Moon Knight series written by Charlie Huston and drawn by David Finch, takes a more gritty, street-level approach to the character. With Finch’s grim art, Huston writes a considerably more brooding and violent version of the character than in previous stories and focuses on Moon Knight losing his connection to Khonshu along with his grip on his sanity. If you ever wanted to read a Marvel comic where a hero peels off a guy’s face, this is the book for you.
The most recent Moon Knight series by Jed Mackay and Alessandro Cappuccio has also been a real blast. This version of the character has opened the “Midnight Mission”, a temple dedicated to the teachings of Khonshu, while also embracing his role as “the defender of those who travel at night”. Mr. Knight takes it upon himself to protect anyone who requests his help, which involves him facing off against vampires and Hunter’s Moon, the second fist of Khonshu.
And, no, those comic panels where Moon Knight calls Dracula a “big fucking nerd” aren’t real. The truth hurts, I know.
Moon Knight will be streaming on Disney+ from 30 March.