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Amazing Spider-Friends: Moon Knight

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Amazing Spider-Friends is a twice-monthly column, written by contributor Tyler Barlass, that highlights the rich and complex relationships that Spider-Man has built with just about every character in the Marvel Universe through the years.

If I counted right, Moon Knight’s new series debuting this month will be the 8th volume the character has been featured in since he received his very first book back in 1980. Before Moon Knight ever got the chance to show off his crazy solo adventures though, he met up with Spider-Man in one of his earliest appearances (an encounter I recently wrote about over at Spiderfan.org). Since then, these two vastly different vigilantes have shared some pretty interesting escapades together.

Moon Knight first appeared within the pages of Werewolf by Night in 1975. Originally introduced as a villain, Moon Knight eventually switched sides after tangling with the heroic werewolf known as Jack Russell. Moon Knight’s original origin story, being a creation of the Los Angeles crime syndicate called The Committee, was retconned when the white-clad hero got his first solo book. Within, it is revealed that his original origin was a ruse used to get close to the Committee so that he could bring them down. We find that his power was given to him by the moon god Khonshu in an ancient Egyptian tomb. It is also revealed that Moon Knight has three distinct alter-egos that he uses when he’s not crime fighting. His real name is Marc Spector, his rich financing persona is Steven Grant and his down-to-earth cab driver guise is Jake Lockley. The divulging of these multiple personalities was the first sign of Moon Knight’s impending mental disability.

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Soon after his introduction, Moon Knight relocated to New York and began using his cab driver persona to learn information about the organized crime syndicate known as the Maggia and their mysterious new leader named Big M. This particular lead gave Moon Knight and Spider-Man the chance to cross paths for the first time. While chasing down a pair of Maggia assassins, Moon Knight came into close contact with Spidey. Not knowing what side his future friend was on, Spider-Man attacked Moon Knight and the two heroes exchanged blows. Their fight was eventually cut short by the Maggia employed villain known as Cyclone. Putting their differences aside, Spider-Man and Moon Knight eventually joined forces and took down their mutual enemy.

From their initial meeting on, alliances between the stoic Moon Knight and the jovial Spider-Man generally involved the street-level organized crime rings of New York. The story depicted in Amazing Spider-Man #220 originally shows what seems to be Moon Knight relapsing back into the world of crime. In reality, Moon Knight was only pretending to work for the Maggia so that he could take them down from the inside. Moon Knight even went so far as to stage a fight with the wall-crawler before the two came together to beat up some bad guys.

roundrobinNot all of Moonie and Spidey’s team-ups involved gangsters and mobsters though. At one point the two heroes found themselves on the same side while fighting the cyborg-producing, mega-crime organization known as the Secret Empire. During the events of Marc Spector: Moon Knight #21, Moon Knight’s partner Jeff Wilde (also known as Midnight) was thought dead after tangling with the Empire but in reality he was reconstructed as an evil cyborg. With Midnight at the helm, the Empire captured the rocket-powered member of the New Warriors named Nova in Amazing Spider-Man #354. In an epic team-up for the ages, Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Darkhawk, Night Thrasher and the Punisher all battled through hordes of Secret Empire soldiers and cyborgs before finally taking out Midnight and saving Nova.

Like any Marvel hero, Moon Knight’s good fortunes would eventually turn to dire straits. After dying and being resurrected, losing his money, his friends and his health, Marc Spector would become a broken and angry man. Once he returned to crime fighting, his tactics became increasingly more violent (at one point he maims criminals as a calling card) which drew the attention of a disapproving Spider-Man. Sadly, Moon Knight’s misfortunes only made his already unstable mental state that much more volatile.

maleevAfter a brief stint with the Secret Avengers (where his mental illness became an issue among team members), Spector moved back to Los Angeles so that he could develop a television series based on his life. While on the west coast, Spector began to have hallucinations of Spider-Man, Wolverine and Captain America accompanying him on his missions. To make matters worse, Spector even believed himself to be these other heroes in certain situations. Despite his handicap, Moon Knight was surprisingly still able to take down Count Nefaria’s LA crime ring.

While Moon Knight is apparently moving back to New York (his new book is based in the Big Apple), an imminent team-up between the white garbed vigilante and your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler isn’t as inevitable as it might seem. Warren Ellis, writer of the new title, says that he is “more concerned with re-establishing Moon Knight” and that “the things (Moon Knight) is interested in dealing with are not necessarily the things other NYC characters are interested in dealing with, because he’s crazy and they’re not.” That may very well mean that Moon Knight’s recent team-up with an imaginary Spider-Man might be as close as we are going to get to an action packed reunion for a while.

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