Retro Tuesdays – Moon Knight Vol.1

Written by Doug Moench and a host of other artists – namely a certain Bill Sienkiewicz, Moon Knight Vol 1 came out in 1978 and ran for 44 issues. The reason I regard this series so highly is because it was one of the first “adult” comic book runs that I read, yes even before I read Miller’s Daredevil.

The first few stories definitely took Marc Spector, Moon Knight’s alter ego (one of four) in darker directions than previously featuring mythology, CIA mind control and even a very well written serial killer story, which had some dire implications for our “hero”. The ending is truly horrific and quite unheard of at the time. Moench’s dark story telling would be evident in his Batman run as well, plus he did write one of my favorite Elseworld stories Red Rain and the followups.

Speaking of Batman, all those people who essentially think that Moon Knight is a Batman clone, they cant be more wrong. To boot, Moon Knight had four identities – the superhero one; Steven Grant, the millionaire; Jake Lockley, a taxi driver; Marc Spector, the soldier-of-fortune who’s the original personality. And speaking of clones, Sienkiewicz kicked all kinds of ass on this series, as he continues to do so – gradually shifting away from a Neal Adams clone to a Frank Miller clone to an absolute asskicker in his own rights. You could see Marvel dabbling in something unique with Moench and Sienkiewicz.

Marvel pretty much let Moench get away with anything (something that is sorely lacking at current Marvel) at the point when Moon Knight became an on going. The creative boundary pushing in this series was astounding for the time. It became such an influential work that it sort of became the blue print for – what I feel became Spawn later on.

But to wit, Moench isn’t necessarily a writing wizard in terms of breaking the narrative structure. What he did have was a way with words, solid plotting and extremely well done characterizations. Although at points it does feel wordy. With the thought bubbles and speech bubbles over Sienkiewicz’s art can be sometimes a sensory overload. But the most unique thing about it is the multiple identities of Moon Knight, it created brilliant plot situations and enabled Moench to use the characters as exciting plot devices.

I have spoken about Sienkiewicz’s art throughout this piece, but I can’t overstate how beautiful this book could sometimes. Bill was kicking ass and taking names on this book. The wild experimentation was the first time you saw glimpses of a giant in the making. I don’t claim to understand all the workings of how art is created, but you could tell his was experimenting with different media and tools to create what would be ultimately his style. I have the essential series of books, with the black and white art, it looks great. But as a colorist I do love the colored version more. If there is no other reason to read it, but to watch a master come into his own, this is the book for you. For me this was not just Moon Knight’s journey but Bill’s as well.

Overall, this highly underrated and often emulated run is one of the best done on any character. And we at Thwip! highly recommend you give it a shot. And maybe one of these days Netflix can give us a series. Pretty please.

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