Moon Knight is one of the oddest characters in the Marvel universe. Sometimes described as Marvel’s Batman, he’s a white-hooded crime fighter with no “special abilities” and a large amount of income at his disposal.
Outside of throwing some moon-insignia gadgets and operating mostly at night, however, the two are very different when it comes to one particular aspect of Moon Knight’s character: he is possessed by Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god. Oh, and he also suffers from some kind of dissociative identity disorder where he lives as three different guys. Got it?
Before Oscar Isaac dons his white cape and strikes fear in the heart of whoever Ethan Hawke is playing, however, you can attempt to piece together Moon Knight’s complicated backstory by reading his most important comics below!
1. Moon Knight: Bad Moon Rising
Featuring the first appearances of Moon Knight fighting werewolves, getting haunted by the moon god, and teaming up with Spider-Man, Doug Moench’s early work creating Moon Knight in the 70s eventually got him a gig at DC Comics writing some of the best Batman stories of the 80s (further exacerbating the connection between the two crime fighters).
In these early issues, you learn about Moon Knight’s multiple personalities: Marc Spector, the son of a rabbi and an ex-CIA mercenary; Steven Grant, a billionaire businessman; and Jake Lockley, a taxi driver. Each personality helps him solve crime in tandem, even though keeping track often drives him to madness.
Important issues: Marvel Spotlight #28-29 (1976), The Spectacular Spider-Man #22-23 (1978), and Moon Knight #1-4 (1980)
2. Moon Knight: Shadows Of The Moon
Aided by writer Chuck Dixon (another future Batman writer and the creator of Bane), Doug Moench continued his work on Moon Knight by creating a rogues gallery for the crime fighter. Midnight Man, an art thief, originally tries to become Spector’s sidekick before turning into a villain. Morbius, a man who cannot sleep, also grapples with Moon Knight after a friend of his, archeologist Peter Alraune, gives him untested medications.
Marc Spector also gains a friend in Jean-Paul “Frenchie” DuChamp, a French soldier who was with him when they discovered Khonshu’s tomb, and Marlene Alraune, Peter’s sister and an on-again, off-again love interest for Moon Knight.
Gaspard Ulliel, the actor who played fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biopic Saint Laurent was cast as Midnight Man in the upcoming Disney+ MCU miniseries.
Important issues: Moon Knight #6-10, 12, 15, and 21 (1980)
3. Marc Spector: Moon Knight
In the 90s, former Spider-Man writer J.M. DeMatteis did a series on Moon Knight titled Marc Spector: Moon Knight, that saw the hero team-up with others including Brother Voodoo and Midnight Man to fight zombies and other supernatural entities that built off his connection to Khonshu, the moon god.
With art by Daredevil artist Bill Sienkiewicz, who had been drawing Moon Knight since his creation for nearly two decades, the series hit its peak when they pit Moon Knight against Scarlet Fasinera, a nun armed with a crossbow who wants to clean the streets of criminals and vigilantes.
Important issues: Marc Spector: Moon Knight #4-7, 26-30 (1989-1991)
4. Moon Knight (2011) Limited Series
Jumping ahead to 2011, Moon Knight comics had a revival with a story by Miles Morales and Jessica Jones creator Brian Michael Bendis, that placed him more securely within the confines of the Marvel universe.
Now living in Los Angeles and shooting a movie based on his life as a former mercenary, Marc Spector is dragged back into the superhero world when Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine tell him that they need the Moon Knight for a “special mission.” The only problem: they’re all in his head.
Without spoiling the conclusion, Bendis’ Moon Knight run also features a brief relationship with the assassin Echo, a.k.a. Maya Lopez. In the recent Hawkeye series on Disney+, Echo was portrayed by actress Alaqua Cox, and is set to be featured once again in her own, solo miniseries.
Important issues: Moon Knight Vol. 6 #1-12 (2011)
5. Moon Knight: From The Dead
Adding another persona to Moon Knight’s dissociative identify disorder, Warren Ellis’ Moon Knight comic sees “Mr. Knight,” a police consultant working with the authorities. The closest he’s gotten to Batman despite his character’s beginnings, Moon Knight is almost completely mad here following the events of Bendis’ run and focuses solely on what he does best: fight crime.
The “Mr. Knight” persona is also set to appear in the upcoming Disney+ series, according to the show’s description, along with his more upscale and flashier design.
Important issues: Moon Knight Vol. 7 #1-5 (2014)
6. Moon Knight: Lunatic
Two years after his adventures as “Mr Knight,” Moon Knight finds himself in an insane asylum with no memory of how he got there. Vision and Sweet Tooth writer Jeff Lemire lent his hand to this twisted story that dives into his relationship with Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god, more than ever before.
Followed by Moon Knight: Reincarnations, the story about what Moon Knight does once he finally gets out, Lemire pens what is probably the best comic run in Moon Knight’s history, exciting for new fans and long-time readers alike.
Important issues: Moon Knight Vol. 8 #1-14 (2016-2017)
7. Moon Knight: Crazy Runs in the Family
Moon Knight’s latest story for Marvel, the short run by Max Bemis pitted Moon Knight against the Sun King, a religious fanatic and supernatural opposite to our moon-based superhero. Said to be possessed by Ra, the Egyptian sun god, this new antagonist becomes the greatest enemy that Moon Knight has ever faced.
Ethan Hawke, who is set to play a character named “Arthur Harrow” in the new Disney+ miniseries, may take a lot of inspiration from the Sun King. According to Syfy, the show described Hawke’s character as “a religious zealot and cult leader who sees Moon Knight as an obstacle to him ‘healing the world.'”
Important issues: Moon Knight #188-193 (2017-2018)
Moon Knight premieres on Disney+ on Wednesday, March 30.
Looking for more reading orders? Check out the Hawkeye reading guide as well.