Doug Moench, Moon Knight and the Story Behind the Development of “The Man of Many Phases”

may seem like a poor choice of a pet name for a significant other, but it works
well for American archaeologist Marlene Alraune. Jokes about her lover’s
fragile mental status are just one of the many coping mechanisms she employs to
deal with a life spent helping to save New York City from werewolves, dream
demons, and mind-controlling super weapons. This is because the man she calls
“schizo-darling” in the back of Hulk! Magazine #12 is Marc Spector, AKA Moon
Knight, a Marvel superhero co-created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin in 1975.

Moon Knight #32, art by Carl Potts

Comments about schizophrenia are common in stories about Moon Knight, a character who both maintains multiple alter egos and believes he may have been resurrected by an Egyptian moon deity. This psychological-religious hook means that the character is often referred to as a “crazy” or “insane” and regularly finds himself in mind-melting identity crisis adventures. And, while Moon Knight comics offer readers “delicious psychodrama” 23 the real-life story of the character’s development involves perhaps equally dramatic forces at work.

Central to the
story of both Moon Knight (the character) and Moon Knight (the 1980s
series) is writer and character co-creator Doug Moench. Moench wrote dozens of comics involving Moon Knight from
1975-1999, both in the titular series and a collection of other Marvel titles.
Many of the psycho-mystical themes are a direct result of his work: Like Marc
Spector, Moench has a deep interest in the psychological and believes he may
have experienced paranormal phenomena throughout his life. As Moon Knight
becomes more popular and goes from the comics page to Disney+ shows and video
games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, it’s helpful to explore what went
into the character’s creation. Moench’s own life greatly informed the
development of this character, and understanding his experiences helps show how
Moon Knight came to be the character he is today.

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