I absolutely love Moon Knight. He’s a character that I only got really involved in a few months ago, but since then I have spent a great deal of time and many long nights reading and studying EVERYTHING about the character. With that said I am very lucky and honored to have the opportunity to talk with current Moon Knight writer, Mike Benson. Mike’s name can be found amongst the credits of popular TV shows like Entourage and The Bernie Mac Show, but he made the first step into writing comics with Punisher MAX Annual #1 and now scripts Moon Knight and co-plots with its former writer, Charlie Huston. So without further adieu, let’s talk about Marvel’s resident nutcase, Marc Spector a.k.a. Moon Knight.
Kevin Powers (KP): First off, thank you for taking the time for this interview. With the strike over, I’m sure you are very busy, so I really appreciate this opportunity.
You have said that growing up, one of your favorite characters was Moon Knight. What has it been like writing the character that essentially got you into reading comics?
Mike Benson (MB): The whole experience has been a bit surreal. Moon Knight aside, Marvel was such a big part of my youth and now being able to be a part of it in this capacity is really meaningful to me. The fact that I get to write Moon Knight makes it just perfect.
KP: In terms of Moon Knight and the character’s history, where does your (and Charlie Huston’s, for that matter) inspiration come from? For example, the original Moench and Sienkiewicz stuff? Chuck Dixon? The Resurrection War?
MB: No question, it was Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight . The writing and art complemented each other in such a seamless fashion. It was brilliant. Moench and Sienkiewicz had the perfect blend of hero and horror that was geared to mature readers.
KP: Your predecessor on this title, Charlie Huston, is also a fan of the character. You two are currently co-plotting the series together. Do you two share the same favorite Moon Knight stories?
MB: We both are big fans of Moench and Sienkiewicz’s run no doubt. However, when we work together, we tend to talk more about specific moments than actual stories. Personally, I enjoyed when Moon Knight went up against anything with a supernatural bent to it. Partially, Jack Russell (Werewolf by Night). That said I also dug the Black Spectre story too.
KP: That makes sense, especially since Moon Knight is based somewhat on the supernatural. I’m a big fan of the Chuck Dixon stories from Marc Spector: Moon Knight. A lot of fans I talk to seem to always reference that point in Moon Knight’s history, especially the arc where he’s fighting Bushman in Africa. He abandoned Khonshu, was probably at his most sane ever and was fitting into the classic crime-fighter role. Do you have any long term plans to take Moon Knight internationally again?
MB: Funny you ask that. I literally just started batting around that notion with my editor, Axel Alonso. There’s something very appealing about taking him internationally. It’s just way too early to discuss it with any authority, but it’s something that’s on my mind.
KP: A lot of fans were worried when you took over the main writing duties for Moon Knight, as is the case with many TV writers. A lot of your work has usually revolved around comedy like Entourage and The Bernie Mac Show. You clearly know what you are doing. Have you been satisfied with the fan reaction?
MB: Oh, yeah. For the most part, the readers have been extremely complimentary and that means a lot to me. For a number of reasons too. First off, comics are so freaking expensive, so it’s important that when you finish a book there is a sense of satisfaction. Of course, you can’t please everyone and a lot of readers are a bit weary when someone from TV crosses over. Maybe they think the writer won’t take the book seriously or just wants to put his thumbprint on the book or whatever. I just want to tell good stories. Stories that I would want to see as a fan of Moon Knight. Hopefully as I continue it’ll become evident.
KP: That’s always the best philosophy; all we readers can ask for is a good story. Marc Spector is clearly off his rocker. There’s a great mystery as to whether the ghost haunting him is Bushman or Khonshu, maybe even both. Are there any plans to resurrect Bushman or for Khonshu to restore Marc’s powers?
MB: Ha! Wouldn’t you like to know!
KP: You mentioned that you like the Black Spectre stuff back in the day. While we are on the topic of villains and the Black Spectre, you are currently in the process of bringing him back. So far, Huston killed off two of Moon Knight’s major villains, Bushman and Midnight. I won’t ask if Black Spectre (real name Carson Knowles) will suffer the same fate, but are there any plans for any new or more resurfacing villains for Moon Knight?
MB: Sure. I’m constantly looking to revive great old foes. A number of times I’ve inquired about a particular character only to learn someone else is using them in an upcoming arc. And some of these characters were pretty obscure too. So after the next arc, I’m planning on bringing in a few of my own people. It’s going to be fun.
KP: You are really doing a great job with the supporting cast. I always say that any writer who can play up the supporting cast as well as the main character has struck gold. Just to tease readers a little bit, Ray Landers, Moon Knight’s longtime friend and new pilot, finally re-emerges in this week’s issue. With the emotional toll of Marc’s relationship with Rob, Frenchie and Marlene, will we see Ray playing a larger role in the grand scheme of things?
MB: Thanks for the compliment. Yes, Ray is a great part of Spector’s arsenal. Remember, Spector has known Ray since he was a young kid. Now he’s a man. There’s an interesting dynamic between the two. Ray wants to get into the mix. He wants to take a more active role and become more than just a pilot. Quite frankly, he wants to bust some heads and f**k criminals up. But Spector doesn’t want Ray’s blood on his hands, nor does he feel he needs Ray’s help in this department. All he wants Ray to do is fly him from point A to point B and of course tensions are starting to mount.
KP: You have made a reference to Moon Knight’s time on the Avengers and his relationship with Tigra. Would you like to see him back on the Avengers in some form? Is he going to deliver some vengeance to the Skrulls?
MB: Not really. For me, Moon Knight is more interesting when he’s on his own. You put him among other super heroes – he ends up taking a back seat and be
coming a punch line. Not to mention, Moon Knight already has a team, they’re just not running around in tights. I’ve always said Moon Knight is a team book and I try and write it as such.
KP: Reasonable enough, I’d have to agree. Any chance for Marc to find some sort of mental stability and return to his old crime-fighting ways with the three distinct personalities, or are you having too much fun doing things like having him put on Bushman’s severed face?
MB: Would you believe I never looked at having three personalities as a sign of stability. Nah, I’m having fun with the way he is now.
KP: I believe that. I think it’s all how you look at the character. There are moments he appears sane and others where he’s completely nuts. I see the three personalities as an excellent crime fighting device, but it becomes much more of an escapist thing for Spector.
Mark Texiera has a very distinct style that fits your writing very well. What’s it like working with him?
MB: I have never spoken to Tex. He came on after I had about five scripts written. I’d like to meet him one day and I’m very pleased with the way he handles my scripts. He’s a very talented artist.
KP: Last, but not least, what else is on the plate for you? You did a great job with your Punisher MAX Annual and are doing great with Moon Knight. Any characters you want to and or will be tackling in the future? Or, now that the strike is over, do you have some projects planned?
MB: I just finished writing a “One-Shot” that you’ll be hearing about soon. I’d love to write a Punisher arc if the opportunity presented itself. Master of Kung Fu is a character I’d love to write. Same with Luke Cage, and there’s an Iron Man story I’d like to tell too.
KP: What’s on the pull list these days?
MB: Punisher Max, Thunderbolts, Daredevil, Criminal, Thor, The Avengers, Iron Man and as far as non-Marvel titles, I love The Boys and Scalped.
KP: We have many of the same tastes. The Boys is absolutely nuts. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I hope we can talk again as your run on the series continues.