Every other week, Jason Shayer will highlight an issue or a run of issues pulled from the horde of comic book long boxes that occupy more room in his house than his wife can tolerate. Each of these reviews will delve into what made that issue or run significant as well as discuss the creative personalities behind the work. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.
The first Moon Knight series was cancelled in July 1984 and almost a year later, a new series, Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu, hit the stands and was an attempt to rebrand the character. Moon Knight writer Alan Zelenetz stayed on for the new series, kicking off this new direction.
Marc Spector had retired as Moon Knight and discarded his Steve Grant and Jake Lockley alter-egos. Unfortunately for Spector, the Egyptian moon god Khonshu still had a need for him. Khonshu’s rival Anubis had himself an avatar and he set in motion a plan to strike at Khonshu. Of course, that introduced conflict between Spector’s lady-friend Marlene and led to their break-up.
Spector, haunted by nightmares and visions of Khonshu and Anubis, made his way back to the Valley of Kings where his journey as Moon Knight began years ago. Despite his initial attempts to refuse his role, the priest of Khonshu convince him that he was their man and Spector is reborn as a new Moon Knight with assortment Egyptian weapons that would make Batman proud. And there were modifications to his new costume giving it a bit more of an Egyptian feel, and new powers allowing him super-human strength when the moon is out.
Moon Knight then took up the battles against the avatar of Anubis and defeats him. The victory restored Spector’s faith in his role as Moon Knight and in Khonshu.
One of my great comic book memories of the late 1970s was reading the Marvel Classics Comics, retelling classic stories like Time Machine, Treasure Island, She, and The Prince and the Pauper. E.R. Cruz was one of the artists that contributed to that series and to see him inking Warner’s art was a nice touch. This issue had a great Indiana Jones pulp feel to it and was a dramatic and refreshing change from Moon Knight’s usual urban city setting.
Unfortunately, the concept wasn’t terribly well executed and the series would be canceled after only 6 issues and several creative shufflings. I think that if Marvel had tried to give Moon Knight more of an international setting with global emergencies and villains, it might have been more successful. But, they simply returned Spector to New York with his new powers and costume, and went back to the status quo, abandoning the high concept of that first issue. Perhaps even something as simple as continuing the rivalry between Khonshu and Anubus, having Anubus choose another avatar and have him plague Spector’s life, might have keep that new concept alive and caught readers’ attention.
Jason Shayer has been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blog at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com.