I happened upon a decades old ad for the first run of Moon Knight comics last week. It read: “It is a time of turbulence. The city streets are full of violence. Governments flounder. Societies crumble. Civilization itself seems to be one long, agonized scream. It is time for MOON KNIGHT.” Then below the image (a gem by Sienkiewicz) “On sale at newsstands everywhere. Fifty cents. Worth it.”
While the text is from close to forty years ago, the sentiment feels …relevant.
I became a Moon Knight fan in the early 80s, captivated by the “Fist of Khonshu” and wowed by not only the amazing standout issues (like #26) but by just about every incarnation of this odd, sometimes really odd, I mean really odd, superhero.
That vintage ad reminded me of a couple of truths. Our country has seen chaos and unrest in some way shape or form in every one of its many decades. Sometimes that disorder threatened the core of the country; often it sparked meaningful change. And even as we face uncertainty, battle for a cause, or strive to hold our own against stressors that can feel overwhelming, it’s healthy and human nature to allow ourselves some measure of escape.
I’m not advocating for abdicating responsibility or throwing up our hands and walking away, but sometimes taking time to listen to music, read a mystery, or step back for a breath of fresh air is more than a little okay.
For some that kind of escape is reality TV, for others romance novels, for some it’s painting, others baking, and for some nerdy folks like me it might even include comic books like Moon Knight.
I like that the world of Moon Knight is complicated, unexpected, and difficult at times. He may face antagonists who can manipulate dreams, turn into werewolves, or summon Cthulhu, but he faces them with an insanity of his own, an insanity different from the world I live in. Escape.
Moon Knight, like the kind of escape I like best, is a combination of edgy and goofy. Good wins, sometimes after a hard slog and sometimes with a quip. Sometimes both. And then I close the book and get back to work.
The point of escape isn’t staying away, but rather allowing ourselves room to take a breath and leave the day’s latest news aside for a little while. Sometimes that’s what we need to feel renewed enough to face the world again. Whether it’s the Great British Bake Off, Beethoven’s Ninth, or a hero in a cape, when it is a time of turbulence, the city streets are full of violence, governments flounder, societies crumble, and civilization itself seems to be one long, agonized scream, it’s okay to allow ourselves a little bit of Moon Knight …whatever that looks like for us.