Moon Knight is our latest Character of the Month, so that means we've been giving the vigilante a whole lot of love every week. While many have celebrated the anti-hero, there's still plenty of readers who want to learn more about the character. Well, you're in luck, because Comic Vine has your back! Marc Spector has been around since 1975 and he's appeared in dozens upon dozens of comics, but we've reflected on his history and we're ready to recommend a handful of collections. Sure, we could go on and on about individual issues we love, but seeing as he's a not the most popular hero around and those wouldn't be the easiest to obtain, we thought it would be simplest to recommend collections and trades that you can easily get your hands on and enjoy.
Essential Moon Knight vol. 1-3
The best place to start is almost always at the beginning. Sure, sometimes earlier tales don't stand the test of time, but these "essential" collections can still be enjoyed a great deal! As blatantly implied by the title, these affordable collections include all of Moon Knight's classic adventures that you'll need to read if you want to get a proper understanding of the character. You'll get to witness his action-packed first appearance in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, how he transformed from Marc Spector to Moon Knight, and you'll also learn all about the supporting cast and villains he's encountered during his earlier years as an anti-hero. Who's his brother? Why the multiple personalities? Why is Bushman is primary villain? These early stories hold the answers and will do a fine job holding your attention, too.
Bill Sienkiewicz's artwork looks great in black and white (he doesn't illustrate all of the chapters, but it's worth noting!) and the lack of colors is a solid fit for Moon Knight's haunting world. When it comes to someone like Spider-Man or the X-Men, it's understandable if you want to appreciate all of the vivid colors. But with Moon Knight, the shades of black and white feel right at home. Plus, these collections include appearances by the wall-crawler, the Thing, Hulk and more. If you really want to appreciate who Moon Knight is and what makes him unique, you need to read the classics. It's really that simple. And, luckily for you, a fair amount of them are packed right here in these essential collections!
Moon Knight (2006) vol. 1: The Bottom
Moon Knight's return to the modern era kicks off with a story that's dark, emotional, and downright brutal. Writer Charlie Huston's opening story is called The Bottom because it really is Marc Spector hitting rock bottom. He has one of the most vicious fights you'll ever witness with his archenemy and the savage battle takes a toll on both his body and mind. The bloody encounter puts Spector in an thoroughly twisted place. It's a compelling and emotional ride but also manages to paint Moon Knight as a truly formidable character. Just ask Taskmaster.
And then there's David Finch's impressive artwork. His style is the perfect fit for Huston's violent story arc and this chapter produces some of Finch's best work. Everything from Moon Knight looking fearsome to the hero being a total mess looks terrific and is just oozing with the appropriate atmosphere. The essential collections show Marc's history with Bushman, but this story shows what years of hatred can turn into and Finch did a stunning job handling the shocking brawl. And if you do end up enjoying this creative team, you should give volume 2 (Midnight Sun) a shot, too. That storyline takes place during Civil War, so it's interesting to see where he stands during the conflict and how other heroes feel about it.
Moon Knight (2011)
Okay, this one is going to be a polarizing choice. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's volume was met with mixed reactions from pre-existing Moon Knight fans. It's because the writer totally reinvents the character. We've seen Marc in a dark place and we've seen him try to be the good guy, but Bendis puts Marc's multiple personality disorder front and center and makes it much more severe. Moon Knight previously had two other personalities to help him obtain intelligence at different levels. Here, Moon Knight completely loses it and thinks Captain America, Wolverine, and Spider-Man are teaming-up with him. Obviously, they aren't and it's just all in his head (don't worry, that's a selling point of the series and not a spoiler). Additionally, he embraces what makes each of them special and tries to utilize that in combat. On top of that, Bendis decided to move Marc to the West Coast (Los Angeles) and has him use his wealth to produce a TV show about his life. But his time in LA is hardly spent soaking up the sun. There's a Kingpin of Crime out there (no, it's not Wilson Fisk) and, of course, he decides to investigate.
It's a drastic change from the norm for the character, but given the fact his modern volumes are (unfortunately) short-lived, it's a risk worth taking. If you're a big Moon Knight fan who doesn't like it, you can simply ignore it and pretend it's not a part of his mythos. For everyone else, it's a unique standalone story that certainly brought some new intrigue to his world. Because of this, it's absolutely new reader friendly (as are all of the other options in this article). It's also worth noting that the very awesome Echo plays a key part in this book, as well. And there's no way we would forget to mention how big of a selling point Alex Maleev's visuals are. He did brilliant work with Bendis over on DAREDEVIL and he once again delivers the goods. There's some truly excellent panels to enjoy in this one.
Vengeance of the Moon Knight (2010) vol. 1: Shock and Awe
It's a shame the 2006 run ended, but the following series, VENGEANCE OF THE MOON KNIGHT, made its debut with a very exciting story. Writer Gregg Hurwitz focused on Moon Knight being the best hero he can be. He gave Marc Spector a whole lot of new goodies, too! Sure, Marc's worn some nifty armors in the past, but this new look is made of carbonadium and he had some seriously cool weapons at his disposal. This opening story, Shock and Awe, was all about the Fist of Khonshu making his presence known again and it was full of thrilling action sequences. There's a unique encounter with Sentry and this is the one place you'll see Moon Knight surfing on a crashing van. But on a more serious note, Hurwitz used the tale to bring Spector's classic enemy, Bushman, back into the picture. The story has a hint of Batman's Knightfall and, as said above, it's full of fun action. However, things get particularly intense when Bushman and Moon Knight have a proper rematch. It's all kinds of crazy and definitely shows just how effective Moon Knight's pain tolerance and new armor can be. It's a fight that you're never going to forget.
To top it off, Jerome Opeña provided the pencils! Hurwitz's script has hints of darkness but, for the most part, aims to enthrall and Opeña does a tremendous job putting all of this energy into the panels. Also, you can't help but love how awesome Moon Knight looks in his carbonadium armor. There's a great scene where the vigilante is defeating one enemy after another and the whole experience is a blast. Opeña lays it all out in a way that's totally cinematic and flows so well. Want to see Moon Knight with a little more technology at his disposal and watch him punch plenty of bad guys right in the face? If so, this is something you should consider checking out.
Moon Knight (2014) #1-4
All of the other selections in this article are collections, but it will be very easy to get your hands on these individual issues. Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire are the masterminds behind the latest volume and every issue has proven to be a unique ride. Instead of crafting an extended story, Ellis is making sure we're treated to a concise adventure in each and every issue. And the best part is they feel completely different, too. This isn't seeing the same thing over and over. Instead, Ellis has an issue that's completely trippy, a gripping scenario with ghosts, a brutal encounter with a sniper, and a brief investigation that takes us below the city. Ellis is paying a lot of respect to Moon Knight's mythos while also introducing a few new elements of his own. More than enough is done to make the book feel refreshing instead of just coming off as a little too similar to any of Moon Knight's other volumes. Plus, the neat carbonadium armor from the 2010 run has undergone a very cool redesign.
As for the visuals, it's worth pointing out that Shalvey was recently voted by our community as the best Moon Knight artist (he took a narrow lead over Finch and Sienkiewicz). His distinct style serves as a strong compliment to the mood Ellis creates with every chapter. Whether it's Moon Knight dismembering ghosts or a psychedelic journey, Shalvey and Bellaire present it with a praiseworthy amount of talent. Ellis makes sure your mind is constantly engaged and the art team does a thorough job catering to our eyes with their panels. So far, this run essentially takes everything that's interesting about Moon Knight and juggles the elements well. Khonshu's presence is felt, Marc still has his various personalities, there's a touch of darkness, and it's a real joy seeing Moon Knight take on criminals.
These are just a few of our favorite stories and hopefully it'll motivate some of you to check them out! Do you have any "must read" Moon Knight stories? If so, share them with the community below!