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Moon Knight as bumbler – Power Man and Iron Fist #87

August 15, 2011

You have to love Luke Cage and his masked pal Iron Fist. They’re the great “we can all get along” tag-team in comics history, setting aside racial barriers to kick ass and take names. On this blog we’ve seen them battle hapless vampires and Marvel’s softball team, and there are no characters that better embody 1970’s comics than they do. Why, it’s all enough to make Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder croon some platitudes.

And they’re even kind enough to bail out their fellow heroes when they’re in tight spots. For the right price, of course.

Enter Moon Knight. Marc Spector always struck me as a reasonably resourceful individual. Rescued from death by Egyptian deity Knonshu, with mutable moon-based powers, multiple aliases, a mercenary past and great wealth, he’s one of the more visually appealing members of Marvel’s third tier. That’s meant as a compliment. It doesn’t sound like one, but it is. I’ve always had a favorable impression of Moon Knight.

Until now.

“Heatwave” (Denny O’Neil, Denys Cowan & Carl Potts) opens with Moon Knight doing his thing, chasing a low rent thug who’s connected to a larger terrorist/smuggling operation. The chase ends, as so many do, on a NYC rooftop, and one with a water tower:

One would expect Mr. Spector to de-gun the goon and go on his merry crime-fighting way. But no. The thug gets a shot off and clips him as they both tumble into the depths of the empty tower. There they lay, as our titular duo engages in their normal witty repartee:

They’re interrupted by Moon Knight’s civvie compatriots, who explain their need for assistance as well as discretion:

Oh, Luke. You charmer.

Meanwhile, Moon Knight wakes up and has a genuine super-hero freak-out:

I might suggest removing the cape to help cool down, but that’s just me.

It doesn’t take long for the boys to track down the honchos of the gang, including a Kingpin-y sailor called Commodore Planet. They do their thing, to wit:

They get a good workout, but no info, and head back to the ranch. All the while, Moon Knight is making a series of hapless attempts to bust out, each one to no avail. It looks grim, but then a vital clue falls right into the laps of the Heroes for Hire:

Off to the tower they go, and just in time too, because it’s rapidly filling with rainwater. Moon Knight is pulled from the deluge, and our left-standing heroes are left to ponder his “fortitude”:

I’m a bit conflicted about Moon Knight’s portrayal here. On the one hand, I welcome the portrayal of a hero as a human being. He finds himself (literally) in over his head, and that can be a welcome alternative to the “always on top” framework that these things can easily fall into. But his ineffectiveness is so over the top, it comes across as Aquaman-esque. Remember that episode of The Office where Michael Scott goes out into the woods to get in touch with himself? Where his imbecility is fully on display, as he turns his suit into “a crude hut,” gets hopelessly lost and decides to snack on some mushrooms, all in the span of a couple of hours? Well, Moon Knight’s plight reminded me of that. Inept. The Limpwrist of Knonshu, as it were.

I’m having a hard time making up my mind on this one. I’m pretty sure I’m being too hard on poor Marc Spector. Even heroes need heroes now and again. Maybe we should just leave it at that.

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