Published July 13, 2023

Meet Black Spectre, Moon Knight's Polar Opposite

As Moon Knight faces a new Black Spectre in 'Moon Knight' #25, rediscover the Fist of Khonshu's history with the other villains who wore the mantle.

Ever since he became Moon Knight, the avatar of Khonshu, Marc Spector has faced off against tons of deadly foes. However, one among them quickly proved himself particularly formidable: the Black Spectre. With a mysterious new Black Spectre menacing the Fist of Khonshu in the pages of MOON KNIGHT (2021), here’s what you need to know about the history of that villainous mantle.

Carson Knowles, the Original Black Spectre

Created by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz, Carson Knowles—the original Black Spectre—debuted in MOON KNIGHT (1980) #25. The son of a failed politician, Knowles found his life destroyed after he returned home from a tour of duty overseas. When he was unable to get his old job back, the war hero's wife left him, taking their son with her. Soon after, their son passed away.

After those rough turns, Knowles killed a would-be mugger. This proved to be the last straw for him, and he decided to try and destroy New York City by using his father’s political connections to win a mayoral race. In support of that goal, Knowles became the Black Spectre, a villainous identity he created to be the opposite of Moon Knight. As the Black Spectre, Knowles intimidated various powerful people into supporting his alter ego's mayoral run.

In that story, Black Spectre proved a vicious foe for Moon Knight, and he almost succeeded in breaking the hero. However, during their climactic confrontation, Black Spectre lost his mask, revealing his identity as Knowles to the world. Spector’s longtime love interest, Marlene Alarune, added further fuel to the fire by releasing documents that confirmed Knowles’s plans, which she’d gathered while spying on Moon Knight’s behalf. As a result, Knowles ended up in jail and he lost the mayoral election.

Although Knowles did briefly return during a battle between Khonshu and Set, the villain remained imprisoned until MOON KNIGHT (2006) #15, part of the "God and Country" arc. Life on the outside wasn’t good for Knowles, and he quickly found himself being exploited by an unscrupulous parole officer. 

Knowles eventually snapped and murdered his parole officer. From there, he once again became the Black Spectre and turned his sights to Moon Knight. As revenge, Knowles attempted to frame the vigilante for several murders at a time when Spector’s increasingly brutal methods started to damage his reputation. 

The conflict between the two came to a head when Knowles stole a piece of Stark Tech nanotechnology with the aim of using it to kill attendees at a celebration of the 50-State Initiative. After a pitched battle, Knowles’s impending victory forced Moon Knight to push him from a rooftop, which resulted in the villain’s death. 

Ryan Trent, the Second Black Spectre

The second Black Spectre debuted in MOON KNIGHT (2014) #1. Created by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey, Ryan Trent had a rough upbringing; his competence and decisions were constantly questioned by those around him, leading him to feel as though he would never be good enough. Trent eventually became a police officer and first encountered Spector’s Mister Knight persona while investigating a slasher case.

Trent disliked the special treatment Spector received from Detective Flint, a police officer tied closely to the Moon Knight mythos. Flint also insulted Trent, which sent the lower-ranked officer on a downward spiral. Now obsessed with Spector, Trent became the Black Spectre with the intention of killing Moon Knight and replacing him. 

As part of his plan, this new Black Spectre murdered several people and attempted to kill Moon Knight with a series of car bombs. In the end, though, Trent failed, and Moon Knight put him in prison. While Trent remains in prison, a mysterious new Black Spectre has appeared, and they’ve been setting some of Moon Knight’s fiercest enemies against him.

To find out more about the new Black Spectre, pick up MOON KNIGHT #25, now on sale!

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