Monday, January 21, 2008

Pre-emptively defending a character I'm about to mock later...

Shoot, it's Monday? Holiday or no, I guess I should get to writing here...I had something else planned for today too, but then I got to thinking about the homemade comic I've got ready for Wednesday (really need a better name for those) because I make fun of a character I really, really like: Marlene Alraune, from Moon Knight.

As quick as I can: Marlene's dad was the archeologist who discovered the statue of Khonshu, Egyptian god of vengeance (or justice, depending on when you ask). Her dad then got killed by the mercenary Bushman, who also killed fellow merc Marc Spector. Spector, however, was either not quite dead, or brought back to life by Khonshu, again depending on when you ask. Spector became Moon Knight, and started a long-term relationship with Marlene.

Now, Marlene may have started as a pretty traditional girlfriend character, she quickly became both more supportive and more helpful. Mary Jane Watson seems about as supportive as J.Jonah Jameson when compared to Marlene. For example, let's check out Moon Knight #10, first series, "Too Many Midnights" Written by Doug Moench, art by Bill Sienkiewicz. This was still pretty early in their run, but well on the right track.

Deep in the sewers of New York, Moon Knight has just beaten the glorified cat burglar the Midnight Man (no, not that one!) only to discover it was all a trap orchestrated by his first villain, Bushman. Bushman's already flooding the trap, has MK's butler Samuels hanging from a rope in the waterfall, and has smashed up the aforementioned statue of Khonshu.
Bushman's facial tattoos are pretty ahead of their time, since this is from 1981.
Bushman is working on the theory that by leaving Spector for dead in the desert, he created Moon Knight, at least as much as any stupid statue. It works pretty quickly: Marc had already lost his "extra strength," as Marlene mentions on the next page, so it probably didn't take much to shatter his remaining faith in Khonshu or himself.

While Marlene and Frenchie begin to search the sewers, the panicked Midnight Man threatens MK at gunpoint to find a way out of their trap. That at least wakes him up for a moment, and he pulls it together long enough to loosen bricks and pull the plug on the rising water.

The Midnight Man escapes first, leaving Moon Knight to rescue the bound Samuels. (Interestingly, I always thought of Samuels as just a butler, but I think in the recent Charlie Huston relaunch, he was a bit more Alfred-like, helping maintain some of the equipment.) They end up washed into the river, and Marlene and Frenchie find only his cloak.

Sitting in bed crying isn't something you see Marlene do much more of in this book.Although neither are badly hurt, Spector is losing it, clutching the head of Khonshu and babbling, and Samuels can't convince him that he's not a failure. Spector wanders off, and Samuels gets back home to tell Marlene the good news that her boyfriend's alive, but insane.

Marlene sets the rest of Moon Knight's informants to look for him, and they don't have as much luck as you'd expect in finding a lunatic in a silver costume talking to a statue's severed head. Bushman escalates his crimewave, spinning newspaper-style, as the city believes Moon Knight either dead or deserted.

Spector is finally found, after several days of not eating and complaining about his multiple personalities. Taken back to his mansion (or rather, Steven Grant's, his millionaire identity) he laments that Spector, Grant, Lockley, and Moon Knight were "a four-faced fake, like the four phases of the moon, and the phoney moon god, phoney Khonshu...a fake all along..."

Marlene then admits he's right. About Khonshu being a fake:
Spector's 'Whaaat!' is a little too comedic, but you get the point.
Revitalized, Spector costumes up again, and wraps up Bushman in about four pages.

In the end, Marc suspects Marlene may have tricked him: was the original statue destroyed, and she had a replica made afterwards? Or was this still the original statue? Marlene shrugs it off: if he really wanted to know, he could have it carbon-dated. Marc admits he doesn't really want to know.
Marlene is caring, beautiful, smart, and willing to lie to her man for his own good. Awesome.
Now, I'm a pretty staunch defender of the Spider-marriage, but try to imagine how this would've played out if Spidey lost his powers and his faith: I really can't picture Mary Jane going out of her way to get Peter back in action. In fact, I rather see her giving Pete the want ads and getting him settled into a nice day job somewhere instead. (To be fair, I do recall once or twice MJ looking for a lost Spidey, like during Kraven's Last Hunt.) But Marlene knows Moon Knight is not only doing good, it's what Spector needs to do, and she supports him on it.

Of course, since this is comics, Marlene ended up in her underwear a lot more often than Marc did, but that's another post.

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