Take a gander at what is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing comics events of the year: hot thriller novelist Charlie Huston’s reinvention of Marvel Comics’ ’70s superhero Moon Knight, with bone-crushingly good art by David Finch, hitting the stands April 4.
Moon Knight was always an odd hero — he had no fewer than three identities: a mercenary for hire, a millionaire playboy, and a ratty cabdriver. He had no superpowers except for his own hyper-developed athleticism; he had no weapons other than a few moon-crescent-shaped discs he threw like deadly boomerangs, and his silver cape, which he used as a parachute to leap from great heights without injury. In the ’70s and ’80s, you either bought into writer Doug Moench’s Moon Knight tales of crime-fighting and mumbo-jumbo supernaturalism, or you thought Moonie was pretty silly.
Huston is part of the wave of creators in other mediums, from novelist Michael Chabon to Lost cocreator David Lindelof, to reclaim their youthful love of comics by writing them as adults. And as you can see from this exclusive interview with Huston — author of novels including Caught Stealing (2004) and the vampire detective story Already Dead (2005) — he is totally into the Moon Knight mythos, and his enthusiasm about everything from comics to thriller-writing is contagious.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’d you get involved with Moon Knight?
CHARLIE HUSTON: Someone at Marvel liked my novels and called me in for a meeting. They brought it up like, ”We know this is a long shot, but do you know a character we want to revitalize called Moon Knight?” and my reaction was ”Hell, yes — bring him on!”
So you knew the character.
Oh, yeah. The first issue [featuring Moon Knight] was 1979. In so many ways [creator Doug] Moench was ahead of his time. He had Moon Knight thinking about the morality of his actions. This was territory that comics were just starting to edge into.
What appealed to you about Moon Knight?
Well, first of all, he’s got a great costume, which is always important for a comic book. But more than that, I was drawn to the crazy psychological aspects — I describe him [in my version] as a former mercenary, who once killed for money who now attempts to redeem himself by beating bad people up. That’s immediate tension: a person whose greatest skill is violence but who wants to atone for the violent crimes of his past. He doesn’t have any other tools at his disposal except for his one great gift, which is to hurt people. So I liked that tension, and Moench really loaded him up with all these great sources for crazy. He has these multiple personalities — cabbie Jake Lockley, millionaire Steven Grant, and mercenary Marc Spector. I’m not leaning too heavily on those characters, but they do give me a basis for other manifestations of his madness. I like troubled characters, broken toys with pieces that don’t quite work.
How’d you learn the craft of comics scriptwriting?
Axel Alonso, who’s editing the series, sent me sample scripts — specifically, he sent me Garth Ennis’ script for Ghost Rider, thinking that it would good, because (a) Garth is a great writer, and (b) it was a situation where they took an old character and tried to reintroduce him to new audiences. Some writers will be specific about how they want a page to be paneled — they’ll write into the script, ”Panel one: horizontal, spanning both pages…” I’ve got no sense for that; in my mind every page is a grid. David Finch has a real gift for that, and the way he’s arranged the art on the page is all him. It strengthens the storytelling in ways I couldn’t have thought of.