If you’re a fan of Moon Knight, some unfortunate news came across the newswire this week. Sadly, with the series not eight issues old, Marvel announced it would be cancelling its Moon Knight title as of the twelfth issue in April. Helmed by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev, the team known for its classic Daredevil run and their creator-owned Scarlet title published through Icon, the latest Moon Knight series was launched alongside new Punisher and Daredevil books in early 2011 as part of Marvel’s “Big Shots” promotion.
“I look at it as a 12 issue maxi-series that kicked incredible ass!” Bendis said in a post on his forum. “Which was what me and Alex were hired to do. I do wish it had sold better and I do wish it was continuing with another team. But I wish that about every comic on Earth. But I am grateful we got to do our entire 12 issues. When you get to 12 you’ll see we got to tell our entire story uninterrupted, which is very nice. And for you guys that supported it, you’ll have a nice whole thing. As for me and Alex, back to Scarlet!”
Ultimately this puts the character in a bit of a predicament. I’ve been a fan of Moon Knight for several years, which although may not be as long as some, I count myself among those who consider Moon Knight among the more formidable forces in the Marvel Universe. Yet, with this latest cancellation, I believe the writing is on the wall for Marvel. Quite simply, Moon Knight as a character is not very interesting, providing only a single note of storytelling throughout his history. Moon Knight is effectively the epitome of violence, yet one who lacks the name recognition of the Frank Castles of the comic book world. Considering that, despite having an all-star team attached on the creative end, the book was doomed before its first issue was released.
I began reading part-way through Charlie Huston’s run and truly enjoyed his work with the character, but once Gregg Hurtwitz came on board and wrote The Vengeance of Moon Knight, it felt like something was missing, or that the tone of the book was just off. Either way, despite reading the series to the end, its cancellation spoke much towards its place in the Marvel Universe. Despite being heavily pushed by the company, and despite being loved by a core base of fans, there just isn’t enough demand or broad appeal in the character to warrant an ongoing series. I believe the Marvel brass began to understand this, why else would they put two of their biggest creative names on the title? It appears to be naught, however, and here we are again talking about Moon Knight in connection with a cancelled series. Perhaps it’s time we accept a reality.
Since the character’s debut, Moon Knight has starred in five different ongoing titles, in addition to a number of mini-series through the 1980s and 1990s. The reality is simply if the character were a lucrative asset, it would be able to hold its own title. Instead, in all of Marvel’s attempts to push the character, it hasn’t been able to hold a series longer than 60 issues, while all other attempts have been cancelled at about the three year mark. The cancellation of the series after Bendis concludes his run brings us to 22 issues over the last two volumes. Disregarding any internal and fan support, while considering the current landscape for comics, it’s not lucrative for Marvel to continue publishing books it can’t make its money back from. Although they may love the character, and although Moon Knight consistently pops up onto various top comic book character lists, there isn’t enough demand for a Moon Knight book; the character is at its heart a niche character which will always have a home in fans’ hearts, but not necessarily on the shelves at our local retailers.
I fully intend to purchase the 12-issue run when it’s collected, but going forward I feel Moon Knight is one of those characters who needs to be featured in a short mini-series or as part of a storyline, much like Elektra. Marvel simply needs to let the idea of an ongoing Moon Knight title go.