Not every superhero is alike, and readers of the Moon Knight series have found that Marc Spector fits best when he’s left to his own devices. Series writer Brian Wood calls the crescent crusader a “pretty immoral” man by design as a vigilante, but in that leaves the opportunity to define a set of tenants to live by – and die by. In Moon Knight #9, Spector found himself seemingly robbed of his connection to the god Khonshu by his psychiatrist, Dr. Elisa Warsame, in an over-arching plot with still mysterious motives.
Wood is bringing his and artist Greg Smallwood’s arc on Moon Knight to a close in February, as part of a schedule that will see a new creative team on the book for every six issues. Newsarama talked with the New York-based writer about his experiences on this book, about doing a concise six issue run, and the battles going on inside – and outside – Marc Spector’s mind.
Newsarama: In Moon Knight #9 readers saw Marc Spector’s bond with Khonshu seemingly usurped by his psychiatrist. Where’s Marc’s head at?
Brian Wood: Well, that's the thing. At the end of Moon Knight #9 he was seemingly engulfed in an explosion. I'm not going to insult anyone by trying to suggest that maybe he doesn't survive - of course he does. But the event of the actual explosion aside, this is Marc Spector's reality: he's all over the media as some sort of (alleged!) domestic terrorist, not that the alleged thing matters in the eyes of the public. His doctor, the woman who knows what's going on inside his head, is weirdly out to expose him, frame him, and even kill him. And Khonshu's exited his body. He doesn't have a lot going for him at the moment.
Nrama: Analyzing Marc Spector, what have you found in writing him that interests you most about him?
Wood: The multiple personalities thing is fun, and just writing a masked vigilante is pretty fun as well. Someone like Moon Knight is pretty immoral by design - he beats up people completely outside of the rule of law - so you have to define and exercise his own morality, or the morality of the title and the world he's in.
Nrama: And what about the psychiatrist Dr. Elisa Warsame… now that she’s seemingly got Khonshu on her side?
Wood: That's the other thing. I'm not sure the reader quite yet knows what the Doctor's master plan is. We've heard from her, we've heard her backstory and why she's out for General Lor, but her actions in #9 really suggest a larger game afoot. This is the thing that Marc needs to sort out.
Its interesting how all this came about, the plot with the Doctor. When I came onto the book, my editor and I talked a bunch of things over and it seemed wise to maintain that done-in-one format that the previous team started. I've written a lot of past comics in this format and I'm pretty comfortable with it. But at the end of #7, in a rough draft of the script, I threw in this scene where the Doctor is on the other end of an assassin's phone call, like she's calling the shots. Suddenly a whole bunch of story ideas came out, and we talked and decided there was a way to do both: have that done-in-one feel but with a storyline running through it. I think by the time we hit #10 or #11, that storyline will be the chief focus, though. This Doctor storyline ends with #12.
Nrama: There was a lot of talk about issue #8’s usage of the cell phone vantage point. How’d that come to you and Greg, and what was it like telling a story in that framework?
Wood: I came up with the idea of telling a whole comic where literally everything we see is an image on a screen. It’s the sort of concept that I sometimes give myself out of the blue just to test myself, to see if I can manage to figure out and execute something that initially seems either impossible or really difficult. But I went for it and I handed it in and it seemed like it would work. But as most people know, the script isn't the comic, it’s a draft. A comic isn't a comic until everyone's done their thing. Greg's been taking my scripts and doing magic with the layouts... the layouts are all him, 100%. I write a very conservative sort of panel progression for him as a baseline, knowing that he'll explode it into something innovative and gorgeous. And so he did. Then Nick Lowe, the editor, talked to Chris Eliopoulos about doing something cool with the lettering. At this point I still expected to see normal ballooning and captioning, but Nick and Chris saw a chance to do something different. And of course Jordie Bellaire, who made it all make sense by figuring out a color scheme to match up with all the various screens seen in the comic.
In my 16 years of making comics, I've never had such a collaborative experience on a comic, where every single person in the line exceeded expectations and took a role in turning a script into something remarkable. I'm really proud of it.
Nrama: Moon Knight exists off on his own since this series started, but Marvel makes a lot out of the inter-connectedness of its universe. Could you see Moon Knight becoming more involved with the Marvel U going forward in this series?
Wood: I'm not sure anyone's really looking for that to happen, to be honest. It’s never once come up in any discussions amongst the team, or in any reviews I've read.
Nrama: Let's explore that -- can you talk about the freedom you've had not to include a guest-star, or tie this into an event going on in another series?
Wood: I've enjoyed the freedom that Warren and Marvel and everyone has given me in allowing this title to be what it is. Clearly it’s a big part of its success, that it’s an accessible, unique voice that's not burdened by having to match events, rules, and timelines in any other book. I can't speak for Warren, but I've found it’s allowed me to be as good a writer as I'm capable of because I don't have anything getting in the way. 100% of my attention can be devoted to the story at hand. More “Big Two” books should be like that.
Nrama: Earlier this month we learned Cullen Bunn and Ron Ackins would be taking over Moon Knight with #13, making one of this series’ themes that of rotating creative teams for each six issues. How’s the experience been for you?
Wood: I'm done with #12, that was the gig that was offered to me and what I agreed to do. I can't speak for anyone else, though. It's been a blast, one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in my career. Following Ellis and Declan Shalvey on a book where no reader wants to see them go is not the sort of challenge that one goes looking for, so I'm happy that people stayed on and gave us a chance.