Moon Knight: Personalities Conflict

After a brief détente, Moon Knight’s personalities seem to be in conflict once again.

The cracks between Marc Spector’s identities have begun to be reveal themselves…and in MOON KNIGHT #190, they threaten to fracture. On December 27, writer Max Bemis and artist Jacen Burrows send The Sun King to turn those cracks into yawning gulfs.

We reached Max in the middle of the night in a foreign country—really!—and he filled us in on the conflicts to come.

Marvel.com: So it seems that the honeymoon of Moon Knight’s personalities may be drawing to a close in MOON KNIGHT.

Max Bemis: Sure, yeah, that’s definitely an element to it.

In a way, the discourse between his personalities has been almost healthy. People who don’t have dissociative identity disorder would experience it as a clash within their own personality and that can be confusing, but for Marc it feels almost normal and literal. Obviously, then we take it to an exaggerated place.

I’m interested in telling a story about what it is like to be mentally ill in general. I think [writer] Jeff Lemire did a really good job of examining what it’s like to suffer from that disorder and he sort of resolved that part.

Now it’s about Marc trying to function with these disparate parts of him that all have such strong identities. Now, he’s okay with being “crazy,” but it’s really difficult.

Marvel.com: How does it feel to see The Sun King—a character you createdfully realized on the page?

Max Bemis: It’s always wonderful. I do this job because I love it. And because I’m obsessed with comic books. As most comic readers are.

I think any fan of Jacen Burrows or MOON KNIGHT or comic books can imagine what it might be like to see a character that you’ve come up with becoming canon in a MOON KNIGHT comic…in the Marvel Universe…with an amazing artist bringing it to life. It’s a rush.

You see people like Mark Waid who are comic book obsessives, and still are, after doing comic books for all these years. It is such small industry relative to music or movies. It feels easier to hold on to that fresh perspective; “Wow, this is a really amazing thing.” Not everyone in the world understands how cool it is to see Jacen Burrows draw a character you created. It’s a niche thing. But for me, it feels like the biggest thing that could happen at this point in my creative life. So it’s hugely humbling. It actually makes me feel more humble because I am working amongst people who have been doing this for so long and I’m at the beginning of my career relative to most of the people involved in this comic and it’s an honor to work with them on it.

Marvel.com: From what we know of issue #190, it seems The Sun King plays into some of the problems Moon Knight tends to experience between his personalities. Without getting too into spoilers, can you give some insight into how the King triggers those conflicts?

Max Bemis: Basically, The Sun King admires Marc, I think. But he also despises him.

His modus operandi is to try to turn Marc’s flaws and the things that make him a great hero into liabilities. That includes his dissociative identity disorder and that includes his nature of being a tortured soul.

Sun King is pretty much a psychopath. So he’s very overly confident, whereas Marc is neurotic. I think it seems easy to see Moon Knight as stoic but he’s actually pretty tortured. I think that’s how Sun King will use that division. Marc worries if he’s a good person while Sun King feels very assured that what he does will always be the right thing.

Marc’s separate personalities act as a way for him to deal with his trauma and the way the world works—and Sun King wants to exploit that. He sees it as a weakness; I see it as a strength and a beautiful thing.

Marvel.com: A very interesting and prominent feature, especially in the last issue, was how Mat Lopes seemed to use coloring to differentiate Sun King from the all other people.

Max Bemis: Yeah! For me, he’s the odd man out in those situations even though he blends in “in real life.”

Like, if you stood in a soup kitchen and Sun King was there, you probably wouldn’t notice him. He would just be another similar looking street dude. But he’s a bringer of death. He’s a primal dark force.

So, for me, it became about singling him out in these situations where people would blend in. I think that was my reasoning. Only our focus as readers singles him out. For anyone else, he’d just be another person on the street.

Marvel.com: You’ve mentioned that Bushman might end up as Moon Knight’s main villain. How does Sun King, representing Moon Knight’s opposite, change Bushman’s place in the cosmology of Moon Knight’s nemeses, if at all?

Max Bemis: As a MOON KNIGHT reader, I did always see him as the main bad guy and I think he is to a degree.

For me, the creation of Sun King was about trying to create the opposite of Moon Knight. So for me, he’s the person in the world who probably has the most sort of like “I love him but I hate him. He’s defined me but I want to kill him. I feel less than him but I want to be more than him” kind of relationship.

I think Bushman is a really scary powerful person. I think he gets off on petty power plays. He’s a murderer. He’s been a paid mercenary. He’s held positions of power and used them to ruin entire countries just to get his way. I see him as more of a bad dude rather than this completely spooky case that Sun King feels like. I think of Bushman as an angry, terrorizing individual.

Also in our story, he’s been ravaged by Moon Knight repeatedly. And the Marvel Universe outside of Moon Knight. I wanted to explore what it might be like to almost be yesterday’s news when it comes to being the bad guy.

Marvel.com: The cover of MOON KNIGHT #190 promises a physical confrontation between Moon Knight and Sun King. For you, what could that conflict herald? How might it affect the book and the players?

Max Bemis: I think just the idea of someone so metatextually opposed to Marc coming to a place where they actually fight, it carries some weight—a different weight than all the other people Marc has come up against.

He’s fought Khonshu in his mind; in his head he’s fought larger than life concepts. In life, he’s fought werewolves, he’s fought all kinds of things. But to fight something directly tailored to be his polar opposite will be an interesting confrontation.

Also the situation where they finally get into it will be a very heightened situation and it’s certainly more than just them about to fight.

In fact, most of issue #190 presents much more than just their physical confrontation. In terms of what happens leading up to it, it is actually even more explosive.

MOON KNIGHT #190, by Max Bemis and artist Jacen Burrows, catches fire on December 27!