Let’s face it, Moon Knight is a sorely underrated superhero. There’s so much to love about him, but he doesn’t get nearly as much credit as he deserves. He has some seriously intriguing and entertaining stories; they’re some of the best from Marvel Comics. The character of Marc Spector is a gem. He’s a deeply flawed yet easily likable guy, and his alter-ego, though it may seem somewhat like a copy of Batman, is totally badass.
The most crucial part of Moon Knight’s character, though, is the illness that plagues his mind. Marc Spector suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID). This is a mental condition that causes peoples’ minds to split into multiple distinct personalities. Of course, it can go deeper than that, but that’s the gist of what we’re dealing within the case of Moon Knight.
For example, Marc Spector has created the alternate personas of Steven Grant and Jake Lockley. Generally, the personality of Marc Spector is the one that runs around as Moon Knight. Moon Knight is not a separate persona; he’s not a separate voice in Marc’s head. Marc Spector IS Moon Knight. On top of the other two voices in Marc’s head, though, he’s got the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu, guiding (and sometimes nagging) him along his path as a fearless vigilante.
Bring all of this together and you get one of Marvel’s most insane superheroes, both figuratively and literally. Moon Knight is a particularly creative Marvel character, and it’s easy to see why. Not only does he have an interesting history, but he’s also an excellent example of how anyone can suffer from a mental illness and man to overcome such an illness.
A Brief History on Moon Knight
To gain a better understanding of Moon Knight’s illness, it’s important to first know where it all starts. Moon Knight first appeared in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32 back in 1975. He is actually a villain at first, sent to kill the title character, but he later turns to the side of good. He wouldn’t receive his own solo series until 1980, in MOON KNIGHT #1.
Spector was originally a U.S. Marine, and later on, a mercenary. His nemesis, Bushman, left him to die in an Egyptian desert. He was found and brought to a temple to the moon god Khonshu. After receiving a vision from Khonshu, however, Spector is brought back to life, with the purpose of being the moon god’s champion.
From there, Marc Spector returns home. He establishes his alternate personas as a way to aid his own vigilantism. Steven Grant, a lavish millionaire, is created to help Spector build up a fortune for himself. Jake Lockley, a lowly taxi cab driver, is created so that Spector can make street-level connections.
Of course, over time, the line between these personas just being assets for Spector and them being entirely different people becomes increasingly blurred. Eventually, it becomes almost impossible for Spector to compartmentalize the three. But, we’ll get to more of that later.
Since his introduction into the larger Marvel Universe, Moon Knight has had a bevy of fantastic adventures. He’s the Fist of Khonshu, fights alongside the Avengers, has the voices of Wolverine, Captain America, and Spider-Man stuck inside his head, and, most recently, fights his way out of the insane asylum that is his own mind.
Getting Inside Moon Knight’s Head
With a basic understanding of who Marc Spector/Moon Knight is, let’s now take a deep dive into the fractured psyche of the character. Again, Moon Knight suffers from DID. It’s not entirely clear if he’s always suffered from this condition, or if it begins when Khonshu chooses Marc as his champion.
As we see in MOON KNIGHT #1, Marc shows clear signs of delirium when he’s awoken in Khonshu’s temple. It might seem obvious, then, that Marc hops aboard the crazy train when he wakes up. However, it also stands to reason that maybe Khonshu chooses Marc because he is already psychologically distressed. Being a soldier certainly comes with its fair share of psychologically traumatic moments.
Needless to say, Marc Spector’s mind has always been a bit touched. However, it’s this mental instability that propels him forward as an interesting character. Marc’s alternate personas are used to gain insight and resources for his activities as Moon Knight. Khonshu acts as Marc’s guide. It almost seems like a simple system for Marc to handle.
However, when you dig deeper, you’ll find that it isn’t simple at all. Marc Spector’s mind is, frankly, a mess. Writers such as Charlie Huston, Brian Michael Bendis, and Jeff Lemire have gone to great lengths to really make readers question what’s really going on inside Moon Knight’s head.
Huston had Khonshu appear to Marc in the form of a faceless Bushman, and have Marc questioning his surroundings. Bendis wrote the voices of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine panging around inside Marc’s head, on top of everything else. Lemire’s writing makes you question literally everything you think you know about Moon Knight.
So, to get an even better understanding of the character’s mind, we have to take a look at all the voices in his head.
As mentioned before, Steven Grant is Marc’s millionaire persona. He’s an entrepreneur who often donates his funds to charitable organizations. Otherwise, the money Mr. Grant makes goes towards funding the endeavors of Moon Knight. He’s got an estate and a cool cave to boot. You know, just like some other costumed vigilante we all know and love…
Overall, this persona is a decent guy. However, the Grant personality does the least for Marc Spector in terms of storytelling. Sure, he pays the bills and stuff, but he shows up the least, and, compared to Marc’s other personas, is far less interesting and involved in the story.
However, more recently, Grant has started showing up a bit more frequently. Writer Max Bemis has been using this persona more liberally, and shows Grant as being sort of light-hearted, compared to Spector and Lockley. There’s a fun moment in MOON KNIGHT #190 when those two personas are fighting, and Grant just wants them to cooperate with each other.
Grant is a smart guy who knows when he’s needed. Otherwise, Marc, Lockley, and all the other personas take the spotlight more often.
Jake Lockley is Moon Knight’s eccentric and violent personality. You might look at him as Marc’s repressed anger. He presents himself with a lowly style, but he’s always fun to watch on the pages. He’s also extremely useful, as he provides Marc with many street-level connections and insights.
One such connection is Bertrand Crawley, an elderly homeless man who often acts as an informant for Moon Knight. Crawley would often refer to Marc only as Jake, as the two first meet when Marc is under his Lockley persona. Crawley is essentially one of Marc/Jake’s closest friends, along with Jean-Paul, aka Frenchie.
Connections aside, Lockley is the more prominent of Moon Knight’s personas. For a long while, in fact, Lockley is the one running the show. After an encounter with Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts, Marc Spector “dies” and Jake Lockley takes over. It isn’t until the events of SHADOWLAND that the Marc Spector persona returns.
Lockley is often a very aggressive guy. Again, he’s the more violent persona. Many issues involving him show him trying to keep himself in check. More recently, though, Max Bemis introduced an interesting twist. For a while, Jake Lockley has been visiting Marlene, Marc’s ex-girlfriend. Marlene later has a child named Diatrice, who is, of course, Marc Spector’s daughter. This is an especially fun moment because Marlene even knew about Marc’s different personalities. The details of this entire affair can be found in MOON KNIGHT #190.
So, yeah, of all Moon Knight’s multiple personalities, Jake is certainly the most controversial. But, he’s probably also the most entertaining. It’s always enjoyable to see him in the pages of a Moon Knight issue.
Marc Spector recently added the persona of Mr. Knight. This persona was created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey. Mr. Knight is a secondary costumed persona for Marc Spector that operates very differently from Moon Knight. He dresses in an all-white suit and, as opposed to Moon Knight, acts very much in accordance with the law. In fact, he regularly works with law enforcement to deal with crime.
Mr. Knight utilizes a self-driving limousine and fewer gadgets than Moon Knight. In combat, he fights things out with his fists and some trademark crescent darts. More often, though, Mr. Knight deals with crimes that don’t involve much fighting. He typically deals with cases that required mindful detective work, providing a nice change of pace from the usual Moon Knight vigilantism
It’s assumed that Marc Spector is the one operating under the Mr. Knight alias. I say that Mr. Knight is a separate persona, though, because it’s very much separated from Marc Spector and his other personas. When Marc steps into the boots of Moon Knight, his mindset isn’t changed very much. You know it’s still Marc Spector under the mask.
Mr. Knight is something very different. He’s never raving on about visions from a moon god or fighting for vengeance. Usually, he just deals with a lot of lower-level street crime. He’s very detached from the madness of Marc Spector. This persona brings something new to the table in a very good way. Not only is it creative, but it also helps shine a brighter light on Marc’s unstable mind. Because, after all, Marc now has another persona to deal with.
Check out the entire Marvel NOW! run and Jeff Lemire’s run on MOON KNIGHT for everything featuring Mr. Knight.
When Your Allies Fill Your Head
Brian Michael Bendis had one of the most interesting runs on Moon Knight; it’s second only to Jeff Lemire’s run. During this story, Marc Spector moves his operation to L.A. He creates a TV show about his origins as Moon Knight. On the side, he continues his endeavors as Moon Knight.
However, at this time, Marc’s other personas take a backseat to some new arrivals. The voices of Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine make their way into Marc Spector’s mind. At first, the heroes appear before Marc as if they’re really there. That reality is quickly tossed to the wind, and we realize that they’re just more voices in Marc’s head.
In the same vain that Mr. Knight is a unique and creative new persona, introducing these new conflicting voices in Moon Knight’s head is downright genius. It brings such a striking new dynamic to the character. And it isn’t just the heroes’ voices. In some instances, Moon Knight fights using their specific tech and skills.
The ingenuity of this run is clear from the get-go. Not only did Bendis introduce a clever new dynamic, but he worked to further fracture Marc Spector’s mind. It’s both familiar and unfamiliar. We’ve seen conflicting personas before in Moon Knight, but this series is really refreshing in how it changes up the playing field. It’s a great highlight as to just how nutty Marc Spector may really be.
Crazy antics like this can be found throughout Brian Michael Bendis’ run on MOON KNIGHT.
Of course, there would be no Moon Knight at all without Khonshu. The Egyptian moon god is more than a voice in Marc Spector’s head. Khonshu is the presence that practically defines Moon Knight. Right alongside Moon Knight’s DID, Khonshu is a foundational pillar to the character’s story.
Khonshu plays many different roles and wears many different faces during the long course of Moon Knight’s story. In contemporary comics, he appears as a humanoid figure, wearing a white suit, with the bony skull of a bird (it reminds me of a crow). Like I mentioned earlier, during Huston’s run, he appears as Marc’s nemesis, Bushman, with his face carved off (something Marc did as a Marine).
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment. What’s more important to note, though, is what Khonsu’s done to Marc. To say Marc Spector and Khonshu have a complicated relationship would be a gross understatement. The two seem to be at odds with each other just as often as they are on the same side.
For example, early on during Huston’s run, Marc has to beg Khonshu to allow him to be Moon Knight again. Later on, Marc would realize that Khonshu has really just been toying with his mind, testing him in a way. Recently, during Jeff Lemire’s run, Khonshu puts Marc through the wringer. He sends Marc down a long, arduous path to come to reconciliation with his multiple personalities, thus helping bring some semblance of peace to Marc’s mind.
All of this madness is Khonshu’s way of trying to push Marc onward. He’s not evil. It’s just how he operates. I suppose this is the nature of most of the gods in the Marvel Universe.
Feeding the Madness
Though Khonshu may be responsible for the path Marc Spector is on, you still have to wonder if he’s even real to begin with. Does Khonshu really exist, or is he just another delusion of an abhorrently addled mind?
The comics usually imply Khonshu is in fact real. At least, to some capacity or another, he is. He’s real enough that Marc Spector believes in him. That is what’s important. Now, that may not sound like much, considering the man we’re dealing with, but the idea of Khonshu is still palpable enough for Marc that it constantly drives him forward. In this way, it almost doesn’t matter if the moon god is real or not.
It’s an interesting and difficult thing to analyze. Think back to Jeff Lemire’s run. During its entirety, you’re forced to question what’s going on. It isn’t until you reach the end that you realize the entire 14 issue arc is just an internal struggle for Marc, all essentially caused by Khonshu.
He’s Probably Real
Whether or not Khonshu is real hardly seems to matter in light of what Moon Knight accomplishes because of what he believes. The gravity of the character is the most important factor.
I know a lot of this may feel like I’m going in circles, but frankly, that’s what a lot of deep Moon Knight discussion dwindles down to. It’s hard to entirely grasp what’s real and what isn’t in Marc Spector’s world. Khonshu is one of the trickiest bits to discuss. Personally, I think he’s real. When you take into account all the other crazy shenanigans that go on in the Marvel Universe, the idea of Khonshu being real isn’t hard to grasp. Yes, Marc Spector is nutty, but so is most of the stuff that happens in the Marvel Universe.
Regardless, Marc has recently made peace with Khonshu, so for the time being, it’s probably okay that the moon god is sticking around. Only time will tell just how far he takes Marc Spector. If you’re ever looking for some good content featuring Khonshu, I once again recommend Jeff Lemire’s run, as well as the first 13 issues of the 2006-2009 run, written by Charlie Huston.
Making Peace with the Voices
Clearly, Marc Spector has a lot of rattling around in his mind. Multiple personas, voices of other superheroes, and, apparently, the voice of a vengeful moon god. In a recent story, though, Marc Spector achieves a massive milestone.
Jeff Lemire’s run should be marked down as the greatest Moon Knight run to date. It’s an impeccable series, with jaw-dropping storytelling and masterful art, thanks to artist Greg Smallwood. The 14-issue run culminates with Marc Spector facing down his demons and making peace with all the voices in his head; he reconciles with his multiple personas.
Now, Marc and his alternate personas work together. At least, for the most part. There are still some things that need to be worked out, but it’s mostly a positive relationship.
The bottom line is that Marc Spector has accepted his condition. He no longer denies or fights against it. He’s embraced it, and so far, it’s turned out to be a great thing. It’s an incredible, character-defining moment. It’s as definitive as every other part of what makes Moon Knight a great character.
And, it’s a moment many other people can share. On the surface, Moon Knight doesn’t seem like the kind of character who’s written to share an engrossing life story. But, really, that’s one of the things he does best.
Moon Knight Always Comes Out on Top
Marc Spector fights many battles during his career as Moon Knight. But, frankly, the most interesting one has always been the battle against his own mind. Marc Spector’s struggle against his DID has been a constant one. It’s also been the most difficult, but he’s never let it get the best of him.
Even at his lowest, Marc never really allows his condition defeat him. DID isn’t the easiest condition to deal with, but thanks to his friends, and the strength of his own mind, Marc manages to overcome it. His triumph at the end of MOON KNIGHT (2016) speaks volumes to the character’s strength and determination.
When you look at Moon Knight’s story as a whole, it appears to be more and more of a story about perseverance, endurance, and coming to grips with who you are. That’s an extremely universal story. That’s something anyone can relate to, in one way or another. It’s a call to believe in yourself and to never give up. And, really, that’s one of the most heroic tales you can get.
Who would have thought one of the most traumatized superheroes around could help teach such an important life lesson?