Next week, the opening "Shock and Awe" arc of Marvel Comics' "Vengeance of the Moon Knight" comes to a close with issue #6 and a major throwdown between the masked vigilante now known as Jake Lockely and his arch-nemesis Bushman. But the adventure of the Fist of Khonshu won't stop there, as Moon Knight barrels directly into the Marvel Universe's Heroic Age with June's issue #9 from writer Gregg Hurwitz.
"What 'Shock and Awe' was about was Moon Knight reinserting himself in the Marvel Universe and seeing if he could hold his demons at bay," Hurwitz told CBR in discussing the new arc. "It's a logical escalation for him to move into this new Heroic Age, because my plan with Moon Knight is to take this terrific character with multiple personalities who's a little unstable and put him under more and more pressure. We've seen those cracks start forming, and the question is, can he become a real hero in the Marvel Universe or will he shatter and return to his old ways? That's really the ticking time bomb I'm playing with. How long can he adhere to the rules of the new superheroes arriving in Manhattan?"
The writer explained that part and parcel of pushing Moon Knight up against the out in the open superheroes who will be operating as part of the Heroic Age is threading a string of guest stars into the book, including Deadpool in issues #7 and 8 and then the return of the Amazing Spider-Man in #9, who last crossed paths with the vigilante in last month's issue #5.
"We have seen this entry and ripple effect through the Marvel Universe. Deadpool is coming in, and you're seeing some more contained stories coming up immediately rather than a a big, ten-part story. Moon Knight's going to play in the Marvel Universe with his new status, and then I'm going to pick up these bigger questions of identity, the impact and blowback of his new status. And we're also going to see a fairly big event within Marvel Universe happen that will involve him, but I'm not at liberty to talk about that yet."
What Hurwitz could say about Lockely's future is that, despite his best efforts, the superhero may not be done with the god Khonshu or his past life as mercenary Marc Spector just yet. "Khonshu is the monster banging on the cellar door," he said. "For me, Khonshu is a representation. It's not that he isn't real, but how he works thematically is that he's the voice of all the things that Jake is trying to repress. The stronger that Jake tried to repress his urges and his past and how he is, the more the monster grows. That's something you'll see carried out through the next arc, and that's not a relationship that's ever going to be put to rest as long as I'm writing the book. It's a part of him. It's his shadow – his darkest fears and desires whispering in his ear."
While the character continues to sweat the pressure of a god constantly whispering in his ear, his relationships with fellow superheroes and anti-heroes will move forward as well, for better or for worse. "Moon Knight has arrived, and people are aware of him in a way that is comprehensively different than it's been in the past," Hurwitz said. "There's some stuff coming down the pike that's the fulfillment of Moon Knight being back in the Marvel Universe in a big way. We're going to see the full range of Moon Knight as things move on. One of the things I've been playing with in this first arc was that, when he came back, it was more street level, even though he has all these gadgets, but a large part of it was him not wanting to acknowledge the specific history that's been tied to Marc Spector.
"He has all these files from his assassinations, and the sitrep reports from his military career are buried away in this closet, almost like they're in repression. It's not a coincidence that they're guarded over by Khonshu. That's the past he's been not wanting to face or acknowledge, but he wanted to see them to know what The Profile could get on him to try and track him down. He's called back to them strategically in the plot. This first arc has been about 'How long can Jake be Jake?,' because if he starts to take on Marc again, it's the insanity of multiple roles. And there's a rich history there of being a mercenary – a killer for money. That's what he's been trying to lock up in the cellar."
Ultimately, , explained Hurwitz, that's the point. Even in a Heroic Age where the moon-clad vigilante isn't on the run from the authorities, there's still plenty of darkness lurking at the edges of his life. "I'm not going to send him in an age where there's calm and order and no conflict. No one wants to read about that. With Moon Knight, things rarely stay calm for long. That is one of the promises of the character. At his heart is the struggle for his identity."
And readers interested in finding out what the next phase of the lunar hero's identity crisis will be can see his ultimate breaking point in the issue on sale March 17, according to Hurwitz. "#6 is the ultiamate confrontation between him and his original nemesis, Bushman. The question is, when these two finally go face-to-face and have a knock down, drag out brawl...which way will Moon Knight go? This is his original, hated enemy. It's key to the mythology of Moon Knight. Last time they met, he cut Bushman's face off. This is the big temptation of his life as a hero. We have an expectation when these two characters get together that one is going to kill the other. How far can you go in the face of your rage and your history?"