Contents: Werewolf by Night #32 (August 1975) and #33 (September 1975); Marvel Spotlight #28 (June 1976) and #29 (August 1976); Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #22 (September 1978) and #23 (October 1978); Marvel Two-In-One #52 (June 1979); Moon Knight stories from The Hulk! #11 (October 1978) to #15 (June 1979), #17 (October 1979), #18 (December 1979), and #20 (April 1980); Marvel Preview #21 (May 1980); and Moon Knight #1 (November 1980) to #10 (August 1981)
Key Creator Credits: Doug Moench, Don Perlin, Bill Sienkiewicz, and others
Key First Appearances: Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Jake Lockley/Moon Knight, Frenchie, Marlene Alraune, Gena Landers, Bertrand Crawley, Samuels, Hatchet-Man/Shadowknight, Crossfire, Bushman, Khonshu, Ray Landers, Ricky Landers
Story Continues In: Essential Moon Knight Vol. 2
Overview: Introduced as the latest villain-of-the-month, mercenary Marc Spector has been hired to bring in Jack Russell, a.k.a. the Werewolf By Night. Given an armor covered in silver (the one element that’s deadly to werewolves) and armed with throwing crescents and other weapons, the Moon Knight works to bring in his prey to the Committee. From this humble beginnings, a new modern Marvel hero was born.
Following his initial appearance, Moon Knight made some scattered appearances in other titles before finally earning a regular backup feature in The Hulk magazine. With the ongoing story, writer Doug Moench was able to start fleshing out the character’s origin, tying it in with the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, as well as creating a supporting cast around Moon Knight.
As we learn more about Marc Spector, we find out that he has multiple personalities. Initially, the various identities seem to just be costumes that Moon Knight uses to solve his missions. As the stories develop more, we see that these various personalities (mercenary Marc Spector, millionaire Steven Grant, cab driver Jake Lockley) all seem to struggle for control of the body along with Moon Knight.
In response to his ever-growing popularity, Moon Knight finally graduates to his own ongoing title in 1980. The longer format allows for more detailed stories, as we get the all-new revised origin for Moon Knight. These issues also showcase the development of artist Bill Sienkiewicz’s art, as he progresses to the look that he would most be known for in the future.
What makes this Essential?: For years, I have resisted diving into the Moon Knight universe. My only interaction with the character was his brief stint with the West Coast Avengers. Add in that much of the series was as a direct market title, which made it unavailable on the spinner racks at convenience stores.
So reading this collection was truly a proper introduction to the character. I was fascinated to see the character, first introduced as a foe for the Jack Russell werewolf, go through a transformation to become a hero. Rather than just being a hired hand wearing a fancy suit, we find out in the main series that Marc Spector was “destined” to become Moon Knight by the Khonshu.
I’m going to keep moving forward with the Moon Knight volumes to see where this story goes and to marvel over the Sienkiewicz artwork.
Footnotes: Werewolf By Night #32 and #33 were also reprinted in Essential Werewolf By Night Vol. 2.
Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #22 and #23 were also reprinted in Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1.
Marvel Two-in-One #52 was also reprinted in Essential Marvel Two-In-One Vol. 2.
The Hulk & Moon Knight stories from Hulk! #15 are also reprinted in Essential Rampaging Hulk Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: the current ongoing Moon Knight series from Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood. The two creators really “get” the Moon Knight concept, and the output is pure comic goodness. Lemire’s initial story arc plays with the multiple identities of the man wearing the Moon Knight costume, placing Marc Spector in an insane ward. But the patients around him is his familiar group of friends in Frenchie, Marlene, Bertrand and Gena. Greg’s art has gone up a level or two with this book. He is presenting creative layouts, where the design of the panels contributes to the story. His art feels like an extension of the legendary work that Bill Sienkiewicz crafted on the original run of the Moon Knight title. The first story arc just completed, and a trade paperback of it will be released in December.