Moon Knight #1 (1980) Retro Review

Writer: Doug Moench

Art: Bill Sienkiewcz, Bill and Franki S, T Orzechowski, and B. Sharen

Price: $.50 cents

Release Date: November 1, 1980

On the heels of the announcement of a Moon Knight show on Disney+, let’s dive into the history of one of Marvel’s most complex characters, Moon Knight!

After appearing in Werewolf by Midnight, and a handful of issues of the Defenders, Moon Knight gets his own ongoing series in late 1980. A quick look at the credits will show some of the biggest names in comics. From Doug Moench and Denny O’Neil to the absolutely fabulous art of Bill Sienkiewicz, this is a top creative team!!

We open the issue in Sudan as a group of mercenaries led by the Bushman and his second in command, Marc Spector, attack a rebel camp. The mercenaries quickly kill the rebels. Bushman tells Spector that fear is the key to his enemies as well as his followers and that he tattooed his face as a face of death to further terrorize people. Marc throws his rifle away as a chopper being piloted by his friend Frenchy appears. Marc quickly tells Frenchy that they’ve been fighting for the wrong side, and they need to plan on escaping Bushman. Bushman proceeds to tell Marc that their next attack will be on an archeologist site at a pharaoh’s tomb. Bushman wants to steal all the gold and artifacts from the site. This plan confirms Marc has made the correct choice in leaving Bushman’s gang.

At a house in town, the archeologist from the tomb and his daughter have heard grumblings of the Bushman’s plan and worry that all their findings will be stolen. The archeologist grabs a golden dagger and goes to confront Bushman. Bushman kills the archeologist as Marc goes to warn the archaeologist’s daughter. She escapes thinking Marc killed her father. As Bushman kills civilians in town Marc confronts him. Marc is quickly knocked out and brought out to the desert to die.

He walks through the day and night and finally collapses at the tomb that the archeologists were working at. It is the tomb of Pharoh Seti. He’s taken into the tomb and dies as the archeologist’s daughter believes he got what he deserved for killing her father. As his body lies in front of a statue of Khonshu one of the gods of the moon, Missy, the archeologist’s daughter, realizes that Marc saved her life and he may have died as a result of it. Suddenly Marc comes back from the dead, or was he really dead at all? Marc seems to be a completely different person than before he “died”. He quickly grasps a cape off the Khonshu statue and declares himself the Moon’s Knight of vengeance!

Moon Knight quickly goes back to the town and beats up all Bushman’s thugs and confronts Bushman. Bushman escapes as Frenchy and Missy arrive. Moon Knights breaks down into Missy’s arms as all of these events have finally taken their toll on him. Missy says her real name is Marlene.

We then jump forward an unspecified amount of time. Moon Knight has not only regained his strength but acquired a couple of new identities too. This is where this character starts to get confusing! He’s not only Marc Spector, but also millionaire Steven Grant, and a cabbie named Jake Lockley. What hasn’t been explained yet is if these identities existed before Marc was in Sudan, or if they’re a result of his near-death experience, or if they’re a gift from Khonshu. Basically, Marc switches his persona depending on whichever one suits the situation he’s in. He, Frenchy, and Marlene are now a team fighting as Moon Knight and live in a mansion in Long Island, NY. He’s got a fancy helicopter shaped as a Moon too! Moon Knight has found evidence that Bushman is in New York looking to kill Moon Knight. He heads out as Jake Lockley to see if he can get some more tips as to Bushman’s whereabouts. What makes this even more confusing is that as “Jake” heads out he’s in contact with Frenchy who calls him Marc. It makes sense for Frenchy to call him Marc, as this is the name he knows him by, but it’s very confusing for this reader. As Jake heads out in his cab, Frenchy follows in the chopper while in contact with Jake over a radio. Jake follows a lead to a nightclub in Harlem with Frenchy giving him a lift in the chopper. He busts into the club as Moon Knight and fights his way to a confrontation with Bushman.

As Moon Knight and Bushman fight Marlene shows up and is wounded by a gunshot from Bushman. Marlene convinces Moon Knight to not kill Bushman, and they both realize they were a little crazy with hate-filled rage, and that they’ve together made Moon Knight into something better than an evil vengeance seeker. The issue ends as Marlene exudes Moon Knight to remember what a good, powerful man he has become. The end!

This is a really really good first issue. We get the origin of the Moon Knight as well as setting up his current life as a crime fighter in New York.

I really can’t say enough about the art. It’s dark and moody, but the highlight is the penciling by Bill Sienkiewicz. His drawing of Moon Knight brings the character to life. My favorite panel as seen below is just a shadow of one of Moon Knight’s crescent darts creating a shadow of a moon over Bushman. It’s SO good!

Sienkiewicz has done groundbreaking work on not only Moon Knight, but the New Mutants, and Electra among others. I HIGHLY recommend checking out his work!

In coming weeks I’ll continue to dive in the history of Moon Knight and take a look at the perceived notion that Moon Knight is Marvel’s Batman. I didn’t see that at all in this issue. Being rich and fighting bad guys doesn’t equal being Batman. If that were the case Professor X could also be considered Marvel’s Batman, no??

Final Thoughts:

This issue number one did the job it was supposed to do. It got me so interested in Moon Knight that I want to read literally every issue he’s ever been in. A great origin story brought to life in a spectacular way by Bill Sienkiewicz


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