This month, Mike Benson guided Marvel’s Fist of Knoshu, Moon Knight, on a collision course with his past—coming full circle with the re-introduction of Jack Russell of Marvel’s ‘70’s horror series, Werewolf By Night. Moon Knight fans and long-time comic readers should recall that Moon Knight originally made his debut in Jack Russell’s ongoing in Werewolf By Night # 32.
Yes, we know the guy has a dog’s name. Ha-Ha.
Now, for a brief history lesson:
Originally introduced as a nemesis to Jack Russell, Moon Knight quickly developed an appeal to audiences of the time. After a series of appearances in various mainstream Marvel titles, Moon Knight was presented as a back-up strip in Hulk! Magazine; written by creator, Doug Moench and featuring artwork by Gene Colan, Keith Pollard, and Bill Sienkiewicz, this strip spawned the character’s first ongoing with Moench and Sienkiewicz and was actually one of three “direct market only” titles produced by Marvel Comics in the early ‘80s. Over time, the original title was cancelled and Moon Knight went through a series of misfires and mini-series. In the early ‘90’s, Marvel produced Marc Spector: Moon Knight for fans; but again, the series only lasted 5 years. In 2006, a new series was launched—which Benson took the reigns of just recently…
Newsarama contacted Mike Benson for a quick “lycanthropy-free” bite of things to come with Moon Knight and his first nemesis, Jack Russell. Oh, and he mentioned a little bit about this upcoming storyline called “The Death of Marc Spector”…somebody might want to tell Moon Knight.
Newsarama: It seems Moon Knight and Werewolf By Night came full circle with Werewolf By Night being re-introduced in the ongoing book of the guy who sprang from his old book in the 70's. Was this symmetry between these two characters planned? Or did you guys say, "You know...this would be cool..."?
Mike Benson: I have to confess this falls under the “wouldn’t it be cool” category. Jack Russell was always a character I wanted to use, but when Charlie and I learned Mike Deodato Jr. was interested in doing an issue, we wanted to give him something special to work with and I already loved his interpretation of a werewolf, so it was on.
NRAMA: Is this werewolf the same Jacob Russell from Marvel's past or is this a new character? Will we be seeing more of this character later down the road? Will he be a regular fixture in Moon Knight?
MB: Yes, it’s the same Jack Russell, but on steroids. The original Werewolf By Night was very much in the style of the old Wolf Man films. Mike’s depiction is much closer to An American Werewolf In London. I must confess I am a little nostalgic for the original version, but Mike’s version is a more formidable and intimidating force.
NRAMA: After Moon Knight's battle in #20--the next arc is titled "The Death of Marc Spector"--and he's going toe-to-toe with the Thunderbolts. The title alone sounds pretty bad--now he's up against a whole team of lunatic super-villains turned government agents. Is there any hope?
MB: I will say this. Moon Knight is totally outmanned and over powered but there is something to be said about being the underdog. If anything the Thunderbolts will underestimate Moon Knight and that’s something to work with.
NRAMA: Will there be serious ramifications following this arc in Moon Knight?
MB: Yes. Remember, Moon Knight and Khonshu have gone their separate ways. As a result things get turned upside down for Marc and things happen that can’t revert back.
NRAMA: Are these story arcs leading to something bigger in the title? Is Marc really in for a rude awakening?
MB: Yes. I can say the story is building to something big. Hopefully Moon Knight will be able to dip his toe into the deep end of the pool with the other big boys in the Marvel Universe. At the same time, I love that he’s a fringe character and wouldn’t want to give that up. Moon Knight’s never going to be Captain America or Spider-Man and you don’t want him to be. He’s a much darker, tortured, character and that’s what makes him unique.
NRAMA: Are there any villains you'd like to sink your teeth into and pit Marc up against?
MB: Yes, a bunch, but they’re either dead or being used. I always thought Death Stalker would be a cool villain to pit against Moon Knight. Morpheus would be another one.
NRAMA: Wrapping things up, are you currently working on any other projects at Marvel?
MB: Yes. But I don’t know if I can announce that yet.
Moon Knight #21 is due in stores on August 20th.