Marvel Madness

That Time Moon Knight Reenacted Live and Let Die

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When I first decided I wanted to do this marathon of James Bond films, I knew that I was going to want to check and see if I could find various James Bond-related things that would fit in my normal types of articles. Not just to fill out the rest of the month, but because Bond is such a cultural juggernaut that examining how the franchise has effected other corners of pop culture could be interesting. So I of course set out to find something that could fit into my Marvel Madness project that was related to Bond. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that Bond was ever tossed into the Marvel universe, other than a couple movie adaptations they did in the 70’s, so I was unable to scrounge up some insane comic where James Bond met Spider-Man or something. Likewise, none of the obviously Bond-inspired Nick Fury books really kept my interest. But, as luck would have it, I came across a very interesting and goofy story featuring one of my favorite characters, and one who I oddly haven’t tackled yet. Good old Moon Knight. What an incredibly complicated character. He’s been going through a bit of a Renaissance lately, but that doesn’t really strip away the fact that Moon Knight isn’t really a character you can just jump into. The guy has four distinct identities, possibly even being separate identities caused by dissosiative identity disorder. Or maybe he’s just eccentric. Who know!? But I’ve had a soft spot for the character ever since college when I first stumbled upon him. I had never heard of the character until me and my buddies found him in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance videogame, and decided to research him a bit. This lead to several of my friends checked out the Charlie Huston and David Finch’s relaunch, which resulted in them all explaining to me that Moon Knight “ripped off people’s faces.” Which was certainly an interesting sales pitch. But I did give Moon Knight a shot, and was pleased to find a very weird and interesting character. And, wouldn’t you know, back in the early 80’s he and his gang basically ripped off the premise of Live and Let Die. So it counts!

The story begins with Moon Knight returning back to his palatial estate he owns as Stephen Grant, after a night of fighting crime. In case you’re unfamiliar with Moon Knight’s whole shtick, he was originally a mercenary named Marc Spector who got shot in the desert, and may or may not have been brought back to life by the Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu. He then created the identities of Moon Knight the superhero, Jake Lockley the cab-driver, and Stephen Grant the millionaire social gadfly. Anyway, Moon Knight returns home from fighting crime to hang out with his girlfriend Marlene and his buddy/helicopter pilot Frenchie, when he gets a telegram from an old friend from his past asking him to come help him. So Marc starts to build up a crew to head out to the Caribbean island of St. Lucien to help Marc’s friend Joshua. He of course is bringing Frenchie and Marlene along, but also decides to bring along some friends of Jake Lockley. He picks up a local diner-owner named Gena, her two sons Ricky and Ray, and an alcoholic homeless man named Crawley. And once that crack team is assembled they all head out to the beautiful island of St. Lucien!

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The crew then set up shop in a fancy hotel on the beach, rewarding Gena and Crawley for always helping out Jake Lockley while Ricky and Ray bemoan the clear economic segregation going on on the island. But this isn’t just a fun vacation, so after a bit of sitting around they head out to the office of Joshua Mendossi, the captain of police on the island. Marc and Joshua catch up a bit, with Joshua explaining that he once saved Marc’s life back when he was a mercenary. And he’s decided to call in the marker he was given for saving Marc’s life now, because things on the island have gotten intense. Apparently the people of the island are big believers in voodoo, and there’s been some mysterious disappearances lately that people have assumed is related to voodoo. Several poor people have been vanishing off the streets, while other claim that they’ve been kidnapped by a mythical being known as the White Angel of Death, where they’re then brought back to some secret location and turned into mindless zombies. Joshua doesn’t really believe in the zombie stuffy, but he is interested in the kidnapping of poor people. However, his superiors don’t want him “wasting time” on such a case, so now he needs someone to do what needs to be done, without worrying about the proper channels.

Marc is very intrigued by this  case, and agrees to help Joshua save the poor unfortunate people of St. Lucien. Which means he’s going to have to head off to the poorer section of the island and speak to the people who are actually being kidnapped. And it’s pretty obvious that everyone is too terrified to talk. Either they genuinely believe that they’re being controlled by voodoo forces, or they don’t want to talk about what’s actually going on. Either way, everyone is staying mum and refusing to talk to this white foreigner. So Marc doesn’t exactly have a lot of leads. Until he sees some dudes in skeleton costumes beating up poor people and kidnapping them. So he tosses on his Moon Knight costume and starts beating the hell out of them.

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So yeah, this is going to be harder than previously thought, because even though Moon Knight is able to beat up the skeleton’s he’s still running into a problem with the fact that the people of the island are terrified of a being called the White Angel. And it just so happens that he looks like he could be someone known as the White Angel. But that’s not going to stop him. He continues to save people around the island as Moon Knight, earning their fear, but also making it so they don’t get kidnapped. However, despite all of this he still doesn’t really have any leads.

Marc heads back to the hotel to hang out with his friends and relax after the evening of fighting skeletons. He sits around the pool with Marlene, letting Gena enjoy her vacation while giving out orders to the rest of his crew. Yeah, it’s not really a fun vacation for anyone other than Marlene and Gena. Everyone else has jobs to do now. He convinces Ray and Ricky to go infiltrate the locals to see if they can figure out who is kidnapping people, while sending Crawley and Frenchie out to investigate the island and see if they can figure out what’s going on. And after doing some recon Crawley and Frenchie make a pretty big discovery.

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Twist! Turns out that someone is growing a whole bunch of poppies on the island, hidden inside a plantation of sugar cane, which is worth a fortune in heroin. Oh, and it also turns out that the plantation that these poppies are hidden on belong to a guy named Norman Vidal, who is white. White Angel? Maybe. But they aren’t going to learn anytime soon, because while they’re snooping around the poppies they get captured by the army of skeleton guys who abduct them. Meanwhile, Ricky and Ray are wandering around mingling with the locals when they notice a group of poor people being loaded into a van from the skeleton folks. They decide to play along and get in the van, hoping to tell Moon Knight where they end up.

So things aren’t going great. Moon Knight sent out four partners of his to investigate the voodoo kidnappings, and now they’ve all been kidnapped. Great team Marc. So now it’s all up to Moon Knight to go investigate himself. But he doesn’t have any leads, and he has to just wander around looking for his team. Which is a bummer, because Marc’s team have hit pay-dirt. Ricky and Ray have been brought along with several of the locals to the source of the voodoo kidnappings. It’s at Norman Vidal’s plantation, where he’s dressed up as some sort of voodoo god while drugging all of the locals into being his unthinking labor force to harvest the poppies and turn them into heroin.

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Case solved! Now it’s just up to Ricky and  Ray to contact Moon Knight and get rescued. Luckily Marc gave them small transistor radios, so once they get a hold on where they are they whip the little radios out and send out a distress call to Marc. They were planning on being a little more subtle, but Vidal is hoping to prove that this new batch of zombies are obedient by having them kill Crawley and Frenchie. So the boys break their cover and send out the message to Marc, causing them to get attacked by the skeleton guys.

But Moon Knight was able to get the message, and he heads right over to Vidal’s plantation. He sees the army of zombified men and skeleton thugs guarding the plantation, but Moon Knight is pretty easily able to take them all out, making his way deeper into the compound. He saves Ricky and Ray, and then makes himself seen by the zombies, who are instantly terrified that the real White Angel has arrived. Vidal knows that this is all just bullshit, and realizes it’s just a guy in a costume, but that doesn’t really matter when Moon Knight starts beating the shit out of his guys. Ricky and Ray manage to free Crawley and Frenchie while Marlene calls the police and sends in the cavalry. Sensing that his whole scheme is unraveling Vidal runs back to his home, hoping to escape justice. But Moon Knight follows him, and they end up in his heroin refinery as Joshua arrives to stop everything. He follows Moon Knight and Vidal into the refinery, and just as Vidal is about to get the drop on Joshua Moon Knight shows up and knocks Vidal into a wall. This causes a loft full of heroin to collapse on him, crushing him under a mountain of heroin, killing him. So everything is solved, Joshua no longer owns a life-debt from Marc Spector, and the island of St. Lucien is safe once more.

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Okay, so this isn’t exactly a ripoff of Live and Let Die. We don’t have any psychics losing their abilities from casual sex, no racist sheriffs, and no shockingly long boat chases. But it does feature a plot where an evil rich person is running a heroin empire off of a fake Caribbean island while keeping the residents of the island pacified with fear of voodoo. Which is certainly enough for me to get reminded of Live and Let Die, and enough for me to justify including this story in the tail end of my Bondathon. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun. Moon Knight has always been an incredibly strange character, even for Marvel, and seeing him and his weird assortment of supporting cast members jet off to an island to fight an army of voodo zombies is certainly a weird experience. Spider-Man isn’t doing this kind of crap! No, you have to check out Marc Spector and his multiple personalities. It’s just a fun little story featuring a goofy superhero saving the day from a shitty white dude and his army of skeleton warriors, which is something that should always be appreciated.

 

Moon Knight #6 “White Angels” was written by Doug Moench, penciled by Bill Sienkiewicz, inked by Klaus Janson, and lettered/colored by Parker Gaff, 1981.

 

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