Who Is Moon Knight?
The comics history of masked mercenary Marc Spector. Read his latest series on Marvel Unlimited.
Moon Knight: a lunar legionnaire and the living avatar of a god. Steven Grant: a charming millionaire socialite. Jake Lockley: a hard-edged, cab-driving informant. And Marc Spector: the man, and mercenary, behind it all.
An Avenger, an anti-hero, and the occasional something-much-more-anti-to-a-hero, Moon Knight is a difficult character to crack thanks to a complex origin.
Take a look back at this crescent-clad crusader’s comic history on Marvel Unlimited, from his earliest appearances to his latest Avengers run. Here are the fast facts on Moon Knight, AKA Marc Spector:
WHO IS MARC SPECTOR?
A straightforward question with a non-straightforward answer.
Spector is the main identity of the antiheroic Moon Knight, a mercenary-by-night who was brought back to life by the Egyptian god of the moon. In addition to the Spector and Moon Knight identities, there are two other distinct alters—Steven “Steve” Grant and Jake Lockley. As revealed in Moon Knight’s origin, Spector was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in Chicago, the son of a rabbi and a Holocaust survivor. A traumatic incident in his formative years was the likeliest link to his Dissociative Identity Disorder, a condition later exacerbated by a supernatural encounter. Separating himself from this painful childhood, Spector sought a career as a heavyweight boxer, then a gun-for-hire, although his natural creativity also sparked Hollywood dreams.
WHO IS KHONSHU?
The Egyptian Moon god that transformed Spector into Moon Knight!
While on a soldier’s assignment in Sudan, Spector witnessed the murder of archeologist Doctor Peter Alraune at the hands of his first-in-command, Raoul Bushman. A noted terrorist mercenary, Raoul’s behavior horrified Spector, who quickly saw Alraune’s daughter Marlene to safety before she could fall to the same fate. Spector’s second encounter with Raoul didn’t go as well, leaving the soon-to-be Moon Knight declared dead in the tomb of Pharaoh Seti III. Until, a statue of Khonshu reanimated Spector with the vengeance of his light...
Khonshu is also the god of travelers, represented in four archetypes: the Pathfinder, the Embracer, the Defender, and the watcher. Depending on his whims, Khonshu has empowered Spector, de-powered Spector, imprisoned Spector, and has even used Spector’s Moon Knight as an omnipotent vessel to rewrite the world in his image. His relationship to Spector, and his appearance, is nearly almost in flux.
Canonically, Khonshu has been both a non-physical manifestation and an actual, living being. But there is no doubt that he motivates (and aggravates) Spector to be his disciple and tool.
HOW DID MOON KNIGHT GET HIS START?
While on the job! Steven Grant isn’t the only one with cash!
In his Marvel debut, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972) #32, Moon Knight is the muscle hired to take down Jack Russell, AKA the lycanthropic teen-horror known as “Werewolf by Night.” After a three-night battle under the light of the moon, Spector managed to drag off his bounty after using every silvery weapon in his utility belt. But being of the anti-hero mindset, bringing a kid in for his clients didn’t sit well with Spector. So, Moon Knight refused the major payday, instead setting his capture free because he admired a “beast with guts.”
Following this memorable first impression (and a successful solo run), Moon Knight put on the hero’s cowl to become a mainstay member of the West Coast Avengers, and later ran with a crew of street-level vigilantes including Daredevil, Black Widow, and Shang Chi before becoming a Secret Avenger.
HOW MANY IDENTITIES DOES SPECTOR HAVE?
The exact number is unknown, but three are clearly-defined with traits all their own: Hollywood’s elite producer Steven Grant, Jake Lockley (also the father of Spector’s daughter, Diatrice), and the vigilante Moon Knight. In issues #9-14 of his 2016 solo run, Spector reconciled with these alters in an effort to cleanse his consciousness and escape “New Egypt,” the mind field engineered by Khonshu to entrap Spector. Interestingly, yet another identity presented their case here, a space pilot version of Spector whose sole mission was to hunt a vicious race of space wolves. More of a dream than a developed persona, this identity was snuffed out.
MOON KNIGHT (2014) introduced another emerging identity: the measured Mr. Knight. Polished in an all-white suit and ready to cooperate with the law, this cleaned-up version of Moon Knight shares similarities to Steven Grant, but is more interested in sleuth work than movie-making. While Mr. Knight is not considered a primary identity, he does represent a clear shift in demeanor, breaking away from the super-heroic into more of a detective's role.
DOES MOON KNIGHT HAVE SUPER-POWERS?
Yes, but that depends on a few factors.
Recently, Moon Knight was granted god-like power by Khonshu, the result of a supermoon that the deity exploited to level-up Spector. Snatching up Thor’s hammer, the Iron Fist mantle, the Spirit of Vengeance, and even the magic of Doctor Strange, Moon Knight delivered these raw goods to his master, acting as a servant to build Khonshu’s image of “New Thebes City.” But once Moon Knight got his hands on the Phoenix Force, the arrangement was off.
In his initial contact with Khonshu, it was believed that Spector received a superhuman boost that granted him enhanced reflexes, durability, and strength. While the outer limits of these abilities depend on the phase of the moon (and Khonshu’s favor), the line between what is super-powered and what is Spector has become blurred.
Even without Khonshu’s power, Spector is an expert hand-to-hand combatant having served as a former Marine and CIA operative. He also excels at detective work, particularly in his Lockley and Mr. Knight identities. Plus, who needs a super-powered deck when you have an endless arsenal of themed weaponry like golden ankhs, scarab darts, grapples, and an actual Mooncopter?
WHO ARE HIS ALLIES?
Moon Knight has a crew! Outside of a select group of heroes, Spector has stuck close to three friends, plus longtime on-off girlfriend Marlene.
Marlene Alraune: The most consistent person in Spector’s life. Marlene’s love affair with Spector began shortly after he rescued her in Sudan, and she considers herself an inspiration to his Moon Knight identity. Upon their return to the United States, the two began living together in Steven Grant’s Long Island mansion, with Marlene acting as a confidant to Moon Knight’s work. While Marlene fell in love with all of Spector, she has a special relationship to Grant. She is also the mother of Jake Lockley’s daughter, although this was a long-kept secret to protect Diatrice from her dad’s dangerous life.
Frenchie: The best friend, and Moon Knight’s personal pilot. Frenchie, AKA Jean-Paul Duchamp, met Marc Spector during his fighting days, and a set of common interests pulled them into partnership. Frenchie acted as the getaway for Moon Knight during their first missions, also making sure that the vigilante was stocked.
Gena Landers: The owner of The Other Place diner in Brooklyn. Gena was an informant and friend to cab driver Jake Lockley, but is now aware of his moonlighting as a hero.
Crawley: One of Gena’s regulars. Bertrand Crawley is a philosophical homeless man with an unusual past. He was also an informant for Lockley, but was pulled into Moon Knight’s world too.
WHO ARE HIS ENEMIES?
Raoul Bushman: Time and time again, Marc Spector has had to deal with the man who killed him... even after he killed him. In MOON KNIGHT (2006), Spector finally caught up to Bushman and made him pay for the blood on his hands. This got Moon Knight’s hands bloody too. But Raoul Bushman didn’t stay dead and faceless for long—he was resurrected by The Hood’s underground empire and ended up on the wrong side of Moon Knight’s crescent darts, again, in VENGEANCE OF THE MOON KNIGHT (2009) #6.
Randall Spector: A mercenary known as Shadowknight and Marc Spector’s brother. Unlike Marc, Randall had a taste for killing innocents. At one point in time, he was “blessed” with supernatural abilities out of a link to Khonshu, but was still taken out by the Punisher. And later, his own brother.
Sun King: The pyrokinetic Sun King is a criminal arsonist who claims to be the avatar of the Egyptian sun god, Ra. After a life of abuse and violence, he found comfort in Egyptian myth and legend, a therapeutic suggestion by his doctor. He is currently in custody.
Want to read more of Moon Knight’s phases? Read his complete history on Marvel Unlimited, or start with intro series MOON KNIGHT (2016) by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Wilfredo Torres, Max Bemis, and Jacen Burrows to revisit his origin.
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