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By Marc Strom
Have you met the new Moon Knight?
After "killing" Marc Spector, writer Mike Benson leads the Fist of Khonshu into his next life as alter ego Jake Lockley—and welcomes new artist Jefte Palo to the series—beginning with MOON KNIGHT #26 on January 21.
In the past, mercenary Marc Spector—after the Egyptian god Khonshu chose him to uphold the mantle of Moon Knight—has used other guises to go about his crime fighting business: Lockley, a streetwise cabbie, and millionaire Steven Grant.
However, as Benson tells us, the recent "Death of Marc Spector" storyline has changed things considerably for our cowled hero.
"Spector was cornered, caught in the crosshairs of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Thunderbolts," Benson relates. "His friends were being closely watched. So, in his eyes, 'killing' Marc Spector—his one publicly-known alias—was his best option. There was no way out for Marc Spector, but there might be for Jake Lockley."
In the past, whenever Spector changed from one persona to another, he fully embraced that personality, and as the closing pages of MOON KNIGHT #25 revealed, that still holds true now that he's reverted to Lockley.
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"Marc Spector is considerably more uptight than Jake Lockley, more consumed with rage," Benson says of the two characters' differences. "Not to say that Lockley doesn't have a healthy helping himself, but he is closer to a character you'd find in a [Raymond] Chandler novel: a blue collar guy with his ear to the street. He's going to have a very different relationship with Khonshu, which should be evident from the very first scene of issue #26.
"I don't know if [the change from Spector to Lockley] will change the stories I'm trying to tell," the writer elaborates. "More so, it will just change how the character will handle the story I'm telling. Lockley doesn't have all the baggage Spector has. Hopefully that will work to his advantage in certain situations, whether in combat or his personal dealings."
The notion of killing Spector and replacing him with another of his personalities had its beginnings in some of Benson's earlier conversations with his collaborators.
"This idea came back when I was working with [previous MOON KNIGHT writer] Charlie Huston," Benson reveals. "It was something that [series editor] Axel Alonso, Charlie and [I] were toying with and I played it out [with] where we want to take the character next year."
As for Moon Knight's supporting cast, Benson says fans shouldn't expect to see much of them in the upcoming storyline.
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"Right now, Moon Knight is MIA, hiding out down South as Jake," he explains. "So Frenchie, Marlene, Ray and Rob are not going to have much of a presence in this arc. But they will play a significant role in the following one."
Fans won't have a chance miss MK's friends and allies, though, with all the action Benson has planned for his next arc.
"In 'Down South,' Jake has gone off the grid," the writer informs us. "To make ends meet, he's entering bare-knuckled brawls and kicking ass. Which catches the attention of a man who's searching for someone with his particular skill-set. Next thing he knows, Jake is involved in a complex scheme that involves a wealthy land baron, his kidnapped daughter, corrupt Federales, the biggest drug cartel in Mexico, a Mexican vigilante with a very unique signature, a pair of Mexican bounty hunters who've got to be seen to be believed, and—as if things weren't complicated enough—the Punisher, who's traveled down south on the trail of some Russian mobsters. So everybody's there."
Throwing the Punisher into the mix offered up an interesting dynamic for Benson to play with, setting the blood-thirsty vigilante against Lockley.
"This isn't a 'team-up' per se," Benson warns. "Jake and Frank Castle aren't going to pool their resources against a common foe or anything like that. They have different targets and very different modus operandi. Frank is all about killing the bad guys who deserve it; Jake is desperately trying to put his killing ways behind him—to be the hero that Marc always aspired to be."
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Artist Jefte Paolo, who recently illustrated the Secret Invasion tie-in issues of BLACK PANTHER, joins Benson with this story, and the writer couldn't be happier.
"I'm absolutely blown away by Jefte's style," he proclaims. "It's so unique. I feel his gritty tone is a perfect fit for MOON KNIGHT."
Benson also promises that any new fans curious to check out MOON KNIGHT #26 will discover a perfect jumping-on point for the series:
"It's a good place to job on because someone new to the series will not have to learn the back stories of Moony's crew, [since] this arc introduces a bunch of new characters."
Among those new characters will be a number of new villains to menace Moon Knight.
"With substantial input from Axel Alonso, I am introducing a few new characters for Moon Knight's rogues gallery," Benson announces. "First up is a character who is kind of like the Punisher crossed with Keiser Sosa from 'The Usual Suspects,' a vigilante with a unique signature and a mythical reputation that's got all the criminal underworld in a tizzy. Next up is the Zapata Brothers, a pair of vigilantes that I am so excited about. I really don't want to say too much about them other than they are totally unique unto themselves and I think the fans are going to eat them up!"
MOON KNIGHT #26 soars into stores on January 21, but you can get caught up with the series with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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