Moon Knight! He’s Batman in a white suit! He’s Daredevil but SUPER CRAZY! He’s Oscar Isaac, in the near future. The Fist of Khonshu isn’t one of Marvel’s most famous characters, nor one that has really ever broke through to the upper echelons of the Marvel Pantheon. He’s been an Avenger and a Hero for Hire, had solo ongoings and minis for decades, and is the proud owner of some of the greatest outfits in comics. But…is he any good?
The answer is: Yeah, kind of! While Moon Knight doesn’t share the same deep well of classic stories as many other Marvel standouts, he has absolutely had several well worth reading. Which is why you’re here, probably, so, without further preamble: Here are the 10 Best Moon Knight Stories!
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The early days of Marc Spector’s first ongoing were rough. Doug Moench hadn’t quite cracked the code that would make Moon Knight stand out amongst Marvel’s Street-level vigilantes, and Bill Sienkiewicz was still restricted to a more traditional superhero comics aesthetic that was nowhere near the heights he would later reach. The first signs of change came in this two-parter, where a drugged water supply leads to chaos and riots throughout NYC, with Moon Knight being among the affected. Blending horror, an unreliable grip on reality, and gritty, grounded violence, it set the stage for the type of series Moon Knight would become and still holds up as an exciting, formative tale.
This one starts with a preface. In the years since its release, Warren Ellis has been outed as a serial harasser and abuser of women. This behavior is horrifying, and the inclusion of stories by his pen on this list is not an endorsement or free pass for it. I, personally, am no longer buying Warren Ellis stories, but the fact that his run on Moon Knight was a high point for the character cannot be denied. Please use your own judgment and decide what you feel comfortable reading and purchasing.
Moon Knight #1 was something of a rebirth for the character. A pair of mostly unsuccessful ongoings in the 2000s had left Spector stagnant and dated. The revamp, with absolutely career-defining art from Declan Shavley and Jordie Bellaire, modernized both his aesthetic and motivations and put Moon Knight back on many fan’s radars. From the iconic Mr. Knight redesign to the slick new suite of gadgets, this Moon Knight series is effortlessly cool and incredibly fun to read.
Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood had some big shoes to fill when relaunching Moon Knight in 2015. The Ellis/Shavley/Bellaire run was an undeniable hit, but both of the subsequent creative teams were significantly less successful and left many wondering if the resurgence of Moon Knight was a fluke. Thankfully, they proved more than up to the task and crafted a tale more than worthy of those expectations.
Placing Marc Spector in an otherworldly insane asylum, the story immediately established a unique tone and take on the character that is almost utterly divorced from the Marvel Universe as a whole. With some jaw-droppingly gorgeous art from Greg Smallwood (as well as some surprise guest artists in the final issue) and an almost upsettingly clever script from Lemire, Moon Knight‘s first arc set the stage for some of the character’s most incredible stories ever. Which…you might see later on this list.
Now with Moon Knight‘s horror-tinged tone and eerie aesthetic firmly established, Moench and Sienkiewicz tackled another hallucination-filled two-parter. Pitting Marc Spector up against the dream-altering Morpheus, Perchance to Scream is a perfect encapsulation of what makes Moon Knight such a memorable character. Shifting levels of reality chills grounded in both the scientific and the fantastic, and some absolutely gorgeous Bill Sienkiewicz art makes it an easy recommendation if you want to see what Moon Knight is all about.
The second arc of Lemire’s run on the title makes an immediate impression with its outstanding artist line-up. Greg Smallwood is joined by James Stokoe, Wilfredo Torres, and Francisco Francavilla to tackle the four distinct personalities forming the shattered mind of Marc Spector. Hollywood Producer Steven Grant produces a Moon Knight film for Marvel Studios while Jake Lockely cruises the neon-soaked streets of 1970s New York City in his cab. Marc Spector, first of the Moon Knight squadron, clashes with General Lupinar’s star-fleet above the moon’s surface while Moon Knight waits for his other selves to finally come home.
A visual delight in so many ways, the story proves itself a classic in its final issue where Moon Knight’s long-standing mental illness is, finally, treated with respect and tact. No longer a gimmick or a sign of insanity, but a part of him as a person and something he must learn to live with and move forward with his life. Something that is fully realized in the volume’s next arc.
Vengeance of the Moon Knight (2009) #1-6 – Shock and Awe
Gregg Hurwitz and Jerome Opeña’s 2009 relaunch tried something new with the character: making Moon Knight a big damn superhero. Following in the wake of an incredibly bleak and dreary run that broke Marc down to his miserable core, Vengeance has Moon Knight respond to the rise of Norman Osborn’s HAMMER by becoming more visible than ever.
While it falters a bit towards the end, the dynamic of Spector trying to be a better man and prove to the superhero community that he is as good as any one of them is delightful. A run-in with The Sentry, another hero with infamous mental health issues, is a clear highlight as well as a showcase for Opeña, who would quickly become one of Marvel’s most prominent artists after graduating from this series.
The most straightforward story in the Ellis/Shavley/Bellaire run, Moon Knight #5 doesn’t have any supernatural threats or metaphysical horrors. It has a little girl being held for ransom, a condemned apartment building full of bad guys, and one very angry all-white wearing superhero.
Ellis wisely takes the back seat here, letting the bulk of the issue be an action spotlight for Shavley and Bellaire. Taking its cues from The Raid and Dredd, the story is full of memorable, exciting fight scenes on nearly every page from an artistic duo at the height of their game. It isn’t anything wild or outlandish, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better action-focused superhero story in the past decade or two.
Power Man and Iron Fist (1978) #87 – Heatwave
Yeah, believe it or not, one of the best Moon Knight stories is in a series he wasn’t even a part of. Written by the legendary Denny O’Neil (who also edited the original Moon Knight ongoing) with art from Denys Cowan, the Power Man and Iron Fist tale manages to focus on Marc Spector in a uniquely human and vulnerable light. Following a pretty routine rooftop chase, Moon Knight is left with a busted knee at the bottom of a water tower in the middle of a NYC summer heatwave. The focus of the issue is split between Luke Cage and Danny Rand’s search for the missing hero, split with Moon Knight slowly coming to grips with his situation and the fact that he may very well die there. An unorthodox but incredibly effective guest appearance that is a surprise highlight for the character.
An extra-sized anniversary issue and one of the strongest outings from Moench and Sienkiewicz as a creative duo, Moon Knight #25 serves as their definitive take on the character. Introducing the Black Spectre, a returning Vietnam War veteran turned supervillain and would-be mayor of NYC, the issue is crammed full of still-relevant social commentary, great action, and a harsh look at our hero’s loose grip on his own mind and how it affects those closest to him.
The climax of Lemire and Smallwood’s (plus Bellaire, whose quality of work never once faltered) run on Moon Knight also happens to be the best story the character has ever had. Managing to incorporate the disparate elements that Spector has grown over the years, his Jewish heritage clashing with his service of an Egyptian God, for example, into a cohesive whole that redefines the character. Respectful of both Spector’s role as one of Marvel’s more prominent Jewish heroes and its handling of DID using modern medical understanding and care, it is a love letter to everything Moon Knight is and could be. You should probably read the first two arcs first for maximum effect, but you cannot do better than this when it comes to Moon Knight tales.