Moon Knight was a hero who, before to the publication of the series on Disney+, had a limited amount of public awareness. As a result, the series has garnered quite a bit of attention. Doug Moench, who co-created Moon Knight with Don Perlin in the pages of Werewolf by Night before writing Moon Knight’s solo adventures in a variety of places before Moon Knight received his own ongoing series in 1980 that Moench wrote until Moench left Marvel in 1983 due to a disagreement with Marvel’s then-Editor-in-Chief, Jim Sclavunos, and who later took over the writing duties on Shang-comic Chi’s book, Master of K Both the Master of Kung Fu and Moon Knight series came to an end not long after Moench left each book, but writer Alan Zelenetz brought both series to a climax with story arcs in which the primary hero retired from their role as a crimefighter.
In 1985, Marvel began publishing a second Moon Knight series that was written by Zelenetz. This series featured a dramatic reboot of the character Moon Knight.
When did Moon Knight Gain Superpowers?
In the first issue of Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu, written by Zelentz, Chris Warner, and E.R. Cruz, Marc Spector comes out of retirement to become Moon Knight once more. Mysterious priests of Khonshu provide him with brand new Egyptian weapons and a new costume, as well as the ability to wield special new Egyptian weapons (years later, in an interesting time travel twist, we learned that these weapons were actually created by a time-traveling Hawkeye, as noted in a recent CBR post by Ashley Wilson)…
Spector did not only obtain these magical weapons at the same moment, but he also did acquire superpowers at the same time. Now, Moon Knight’s strength would increase proportionally to the amount of moonlight that was present on Earth at any given instant.
As depicted in the first edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Moon Knight existed solely in his human form up until this point in the comics (with the exception of his earliest comic book appearances, which will be the subject of a future article; in those appearances, he very momentarily possessed superpowers before Moench decided to change his mind)…
However, as seen in Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu #1, his new abilities, which were based on the phases of the moon, granted him superhuman levels of strength.
It took some time to adjust to these new abilities, as shown in the second issue of Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu (by Zelenetz, Warner, and Crus), in which Moon Knight recalls that, wait, he actually COULD bend steel bars with his bare hands now.
In the Deluxe Edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Moon Knight could now lift up to two tons with his newfound super-strength!
Afterwards, Moon Knight took his new arsenal and abilities and joined the Avengers for a while (at a peculiar time that I’ll write about in the future – as you might imagine, I’ll have a lot of Moon Knight-related articles coming out in the next few weeks), but he eventually left the team and returned to his old ways after being inspired to do so by Khonshu (after having already sort of leaving the Avengers to join a sort of rogue team of Avengers with Mockingbird and Tigra).
Why Did Moon Knight Lose His Superpowers?
In Marc Spector: Moon Knight #1, a new 1989 ongoing series by Chuck Dixon, Sal Velluto, and Mark Farmer, Moon Knight returned to New York in his previous costume. This issue focused on the more human aspect of Moon Knight.
In that first issue, Moon Knight even remarks that it is nice to get back to just fighting regular crooks…
Moon Knight lost his superpowers throughout this run because, as previously mentioned, the focus was squarely on Marc Spector. Nonetheless, the run never made an effort to explain WHY he lacked superpowers; it simply wasn’t a focus of the series. Simply put, Moon Knight had reverted to his former habits.
In spite of this, the 1991 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Master Edition noted that, since no one ever explicitly said that he LOST his powers, it was assumed that he still possessed them.
Not until the critically acclaimed Moon Knight series by Charlie Huston in 2006 did we finally get some answers.
We learn that Spector kept the Egyptian weaponry but disregarded them in Moon Knight #7 (by Huston, David Finch, Danny Miki, and Frank D’Armata).
The series centered around Moon Knight’s journey back to superhero status after severe leg injuries had rendered him useless in the fight against crime. Moon Knight #9 shows that Spector has been working out so hard that he is able to once again battle crime, but he confesses to his trainer that he has no abilities…
However, he now freely reveals that he once possessed moon-related superpowers (the hallucination is Khonshu ostensibly talking to Marc)…
Huston doesn’t really explain what happened, but it’s very clear that Marc’s loss of power is due to him angering Khonshu.