By Eric Drumm
Knight art by
Always a second stringer and never on the A-list, Moon Knight always struggled to carve out his own piece of the Marvel Universe. That all changed when crime novelist Charlie Huston catapulted Moony back into the spotlight with the relaunch of MOON KNIGHT. With his departure after issue #13, "Entourage" writer Mike Benson will be picking up the pen, and is more than pumped to continue the adventures of Marvel's white knight.
Since MOON KNIGHT has been flying off the racks since its debut, Huston and editor Axel Alosno wanted to pass the torch into a pair of more than capable hands. Alonso had met Benson through the comic grapevine, and decided to give him the gig.
"I met Axel through my pal Reggie Hudlin," Benson explains. "Reggie was working with Axel Alonso on BLACK PANTHER and told him about me and my desire to write comics. Axel liked the show I was on ('Entourage') and we started talking about working together. The first script I wrote for Axel was a MAX book, a PUNISHER one-shot, drawn by the talented Laurence Campbell. Axel and I hit it off and at this point he knew I was a huge Moon Knight fan. I was already reading Charlie's MOON KNIGHT and loving it. It was the perfect tone for my sensibilities and I loved how it was paced. So, when Axel asked if I'd be interested in writing MOON KNIGHT, I was all over it."
Alonso knew that he was the right guy for the job, and being a longtime Moony fan didn't hurt his credentials, either. After all, Moon Knight does in fact ride around in a helicopter and whack bad guys with nunchucks, so it's hard not to like him. The current MOON KNIGHT has brought in quite a few rookie fans to the character, but not Benson. He has been there since his beginnings way back in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.
"I was very familiar with the character. Remember when you're a kid, there are those covers that you immediately spark to for whatever reason?" Benson remembers. "Well, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32 blew me away. I remember just staring at the cover. Everything about it worked for me. Moon Knight's pose, the crescent darts. And so, when Moon Knight got his own book, I was a happy camper. Besides Miller's DAREDEVIL, it was
my pull list."
When it came to Moon Knight adventures he holds in particularly high regard, Benson hardly knows where to start.
"Oh sure, there are a bunch of stories I enjoyed," Benson states, starting to think back. "The Midnight run, Moon Knight facing off with the Black Spectre. How can you not like The Druid, c'mon?!" he shouts in disbelief.
Moon Knight #13
It may be a fanboy dream come true, but this fairy tale comes with some real pressure. Huston's run set the MOON KNIGHT bar pretty high, and the book has some big shoes to fill. Benson takes the pressure in stride, and hopes that his love of the character will shine through in the pages.
"I want the fans to respond to the book," he says. "Charlie has done such an excellent job honoring Doug Moench's original MOON KNIGHT, which I will continue to do. For me, it's about telling good stories, yet being true to the characters. Not compromising who they are in order to put my mark on the book. MOON KNIGHT is a character driven book, not plot driven. I really care about the book and the character, so sure, I don't want to let the fans down, but I know you can't please everyone."
Although Benson is excited to get to work and make MOON KNIGHT his own, Charlie Huston isn't quite out of the picture yet. Friends outside of the funny books, Huston will be still be plotting MOON KNIGHT and Benson will be writing the scripts. That's twice the awesomeness, kids! Benson likes to hang with his pal Charlie and think of how to put Marc Spector through the wringer at the same time.
"Charlie is not only a talented writer, he's a good guy," Benson says. "We get together every other week to talk plot. I look forward to it. We meet at some dive bar or deli every other week and just shoot the $@ about everything; sports, our families, film and ease our way into the book."
Thus far, the current MOON KNIGHT series has been darker than his previous incarnations. We've seen him as a wheelchair-bound, bitter meanie and a as a hero back on the wagon, who happens to talk to a possibly imaginary/possibly a visage of an Egyptian god that tells him to kill people. It's gloomy to say the least. Will Benson's run keep this tone or get Marc Spector to lighten up?
Knight art by
"Bottom line, Marc Spector is a tortured guy," Benson affirms. "And truth be told, most tortured people, and I know a lot of tortured people, stay tortured. That doesn't mean they can't evolve as people, but let's be real, they don't turn into a completely different person. Marc Spector was a mercenary and did some unspeakable $#!% and now he's trying to make up for it, but with that said, he doesn't have an off switch."
"As long as the character evolves, it will continue to feel fresh. I'm not looking to bring mystical elements into the character. I'd rather focus on the physiological elements."
Now that Moon Knight is somewhat back on track, he just has to figure out how to live in the Marvel Universe. While he was recovering, a little something called the Super Human Registration Act went into affect. Previously taking a standpoint of non-involvement (even cussing out Cap about it in a recent issue of MOON KNIGHT, Moon Knight may be changing his tune according to Benson. Aside that, he has some mending to do with former ladylove Marlene Alruane and old partner Frenchie, who dumped him for being such a Jerk of Vengeance.
"My run deals with where Moon Knight fits into the post-superhero registration world. This is a guy who never played by the rules now has rules he needs to play by," explains Benson. "It also deals with Moon Knight's contentious relationship with Khonshu, that will continue to build like a pressure cooker. And now that Marlene and Frenchie are back in Spector's life, what are the consequences of re-entry?"
"And as far as surprises, Moon Knight will face an old fan favorite nemesis. 'Nuff said. I always wanted to say that," shouts Benson as he climbs a rope ladder and flies off into the night in the BensonCopter.
It's a new moon and it looks like Mike Benson is the right guy to take Khonshu's Crusader on an all new adventure in MOON KNIGHT.