A Retrospective on Moon Knight #1 (2014)
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
In 2014, one of my personal favorite interpretations of the Moon Knight character launched. Birthed from a collaboration between writer Warren Ellis, artist Declan Shavey, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Chris Eliopoulos, the collaboration provided a grounded and gritty perspective of the man behind the mask, Marc Spector.
Now, there are a variety of aspects that define these issues. One of them is the fact that a bulk of this series does not focus on theatrical supervillains, lengthy action sequences, or an underlying story arc. Rather, the series centralizes on Moon Knight coming face-to-face with the grittiest, most evil instances a human being is capable of maintaining.
With this, most of the issues in this run are straightforward and maintain their own narrative that are not necessarily intertwined with the other issues. Thus, this mode of storytelling allows us to live a day in the life of Marc Spector over and over again. We understand his habits and inclinations as they influence, and derive from, his identities.
Consequently, we obtain a unique understanding of the character and Moon Knight's self-perceptions a a hero and villain.
Thus, Moon Knight #1 opens with a brief analysis of Marc Spector's persona. A blogger contemplates Spector's beginnings as Moon Knight. Specifically, she recounts when Spector found himself fatally injured at the foot of a Khonshu statue in Egypt that ultimately reanimated him with unique abilities.
With these abilities, Marc reanimated with additional identities. These identities ultimately parallel the four titles of Khonshu, those of Pathfinder, Embracer, Defender, and Watcher.
Now, upon the opening of Moon Knight #1, Spector sits in the back of a limo, contemplating a case of a slasher as he approaches the culprit's latest crime scene. Upon arrival to the crime scene, Spector introduces himself as a new persona, that of Mr. Knight.
Clad in a white suit and mask, a strikingly different getup from his usual cloak, Mr. Knight goes forth in approaching crime in a more pragmatic manner than a violent one. Additionally, his vernacular is much more in akin to that of a police officer, truly exemplifying the role.
Thus, this introduction to Mr. Knight provides readers with a brand new iteration of the Moon Knight character, one that seems to maintain more investigative and intuitive tendencies.
After conducting analysis of the crime, Mr. Knight comes to the conclusion that the killer is more than just an ordinary slasher. Rather, he deduces that the killer executes planned ambushes and resides in a location close to the various crime scenes.
Ultimately, the characterization Ellis formulates in Moon Knight #1 is incredibly captivating. When analyzing a hero, one often asks what are the pillars by which that hero wishes to exist. When it comes to Moon Knight, those pillars may alter in accord to the identity he is emulating at the time. Overall though, one may be able to infer that righteous violence and a defined sense of order are among those pillars.
It appears as though the persona of Mr. Knight is intended to exemplify that order through his pragmatic and logical methods of solving a crime and enacting justice upon criminals.
With this, alongside the character and plot development Moon Knight #1's narrative depicts, the artwork also plays an enormous role in these developmental aspects.
The character of Moon Knight himself is colorless in nature. Thus, his backgrounds provide a mighty contrast that embolden Moon Knight's image.
One may have a variety of interpretations of Moon Knight's depiction in this issue. Though, I feel as though his image evokes that of a blank canvas. To say there are a multitude of facets to Marc Spector's various personas would be an understatement. Additionally, as aforementioned, one can infer that Moon Knight is seeking a sense of order within himself.
Thus, in a way, he is redefining himself as a blank canvas, which is exemplified in the artwork. He navigates a world of color he does not conform too. Also, he is surrounded by a world of darkness and violence he wishes to squash, particularly depicted when he literally descends into a void of red seeking out the killer.
It is also worth noting that there is never an instance in this particular issue where Moon Knight's background bleeds into his blank figure. It is as though he maintains the binary of his identity and collected chaos and keeps the influence of evil at arm's length, never letting it blend into his persona.
After descending into the underground, Mr. Knight finds the slasher, a man who reveals himself to be a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. It turns out that he was gravely injured in the field not too long ago.
Thus, he began hunting people for their own body parts, taking them and displacing them onto his own body. Mr. Knight responds by stating that he knows what he must do, stop this man who is preying on innocents.
So, Moon Knight does just that and outsmarts his opponent, overcoming him and enacting justice.
Now, following this confrontation, Spector experiences a flashback.
Upon visiting a doctor, Spector came to realize that he in fact did not have DID as he initially believed.
Rather, he has brain damage and thus, his mind has become a conduit of the four aspects of Khonshu. Thus, Marc Spector is an instrument of Khonshu, exemplified when Spector seemingly sits before the Egyptian god in his apartment, who tells him,
"You are my son".
Obviously, a primary motif of Moon Knight's character is the definition of one's identity, both internal to themselves and external to the rest of the world.
Throughout Moon Knight #1, we witness Marc Spector attempt to redefine the image of Moon Knight, the image of the hero he lived as. The exemplification of Mr. Knight appears to streamline the overarching Moon Knight identity.
However, the issue's conclusion proposes a different perception of Spector's quest for an established identity. When he comes to discover that he is in fact a conduit for Khonshu's, he expresses defeat.
The truth is, Marc Spector has no agency over his identity. He has no ability to redefine himself and reestablish Moon Knight as Mr. Knight or anything akin to that. The semblance of authority in regard to his persona is an illusion.
Khonshu maintains ownership over Marc Spector, and therefore the Moon Knight identity.
Stay tuned for what lies ahead in Moon Knight #2.