Episode 18 – The Truth Hurts

 

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Episode 18:  

Rebecca returns to join Connor and Rey for a look at the latest Moon Knight Vol.9 issue #189 – ‘Crazy Runs in the Family – Part 2’!

It’s another exciting episode as the High Priests of Khonshu are at their full compliment. There’s a smattering of news too, but apart we also have a spotlight on one of Moonies Big Bads – Bushman – to offer.

Added to that, we have yet ANOTHER very different and highly entertaining guest narrator this week. Fellow Loony Tommy gives us a great guest narration for the issue – it’s a really special one and we’re so grateful that in our small MK community, there are so many generous and enthusiastic fans of the character!

It’s time to get yourselves out of your hotel bed; iron that costume; and head into the gaping maw that is Into the Night – A Moon Knight Podcast!


The Bare Bones:

Written, edited and narrated by Tommy Kawel, Michigan, USA

Moon Knight Vol. 9 #189 – ‘Crazy Runs in the Family – Part 2’

Written by Max Bemis
Penciled by Jacen Burrows
Pages 1-9 inked by Burrows
Pages 10-20 by Guillermo Ortego
Colored by Mat Lopes
Lettered by Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit
Cover by Jacen Burrows and Mat Lopes
Edited by Jake Thomas

Released November 29, 2017, Issue #189 was previewed with the question: Can Moon Knight Handle The Truth?

Much to Nicholson’s chagrin, I think our Few Good Men can handle the Truth as we finally get our man (wait, men) in Marvel Legacy action.

A New York City subway. Friday. It’s quiet – at least as quiet as a 20-year-old subway train can be. A conductor is whistling while he works, safely conducting passengers on New York’s underground, thinking about his hot date with his stamp collection. Suddenly, the body of a huge, tattooed man appears behind the driver. Covered in mysterious markings, all midnight, this figure reaches for the driver from the shadows, oddly giving off a phosphorescent blue light. Offended by the driver’s content demeanor, this mysterious bulk says aloud that this victim will learn the truth.

With one touch, the shadowed figure infects the hapless driver with a nameless infliction. The driver’s skin turns a ghastly shade of blue while deep-azure veins crawl across the driver’s face. The disease spreads. The driver’s eyes are equally afflicted with the vine-like veins but glow with a deep, painful red glaze. Blood oozes from the sockets as the man screams out his new truth: the vision of the assailant. In a final panel, the driver accelerates the train-car, dooming himself and his passengers.

Previously in Moon Knight 188:

A mysterious nameless patient was admitted to Ravencroft after committing multiple homicides by fire. Seeking to understand his mental illness, his doctor, using Marc Spector’s case as a template, attempted to have her patient see how he too can use the allegory of the gods to better understand his obsession. Where Spector turned to the moon god, the man known as Patient 86 found meaning in Amon Ra, the sun god. He set fire to the asylum with his doctor inside, using nothing but his own body. Patient 86 left, convinced he is the earthly aspect of Amon Ra, and he is very upset at his son, Khonshu.

We’re thrown into a five-panel bar fight. As Burrows and Lopes’ washed out design suggests, the setting isn’t important, but there’s a fish mounted to the wall, closely watching the blood of drug dealers and slavers paint the broken tables and glass-strewn floor. Moon Knight has entered with a vengeance and easily takes out the four poorly-groomed thugs. After kicking a Carbonadium boot in one’s face, Mooney knocks out the clown by throwing another goon into a pile of depraved flesh. Moon Knight finishes the fray with a swift kick to the fourth man’s throat. The fish on the wall is almost smiling.

Khonshu has been narrating this whole time. He speaks as if everything we see has happened in the past. One can’t help but wonder if this legitimizes Khonshu as reality. Regardless, Khonshu’s voice employs alliteration and strong imagery to complement the surgeon-like precision that Marc Spector’s Moon Knight uses in the fight. After all, Marc Spector is crazy, but he’s also a, well, bloody-knuckled super hero.

Changing his nearly pristine, all-white tactical suit, cape, and cowl for street clothes, Spector returns to his apartment, beat-up but patched up, in a spotless white pea coat and a soiled white tshirt. He greets his elderly landlord, Mavis, and gets ready for bed. His studio hostel-like apartment is sparsely decorated. In fact, the peeling plaster and box TV give the appearance of an early-2000s roach motel. Yet, Marc seems content. Tired, but at peace. He carefully irons his Moon Knight regalia before bed and passes out in a tumble of bedsheets.

He awakens as Stephen Grant – Khonshu and Marc, presumably established as two of four identities, look on as Stephen gets ready for the day – Khonshu with his lifeless bird skull eye sockets, Marc with a resolute look of faith, neither content nor dismayed, neither proud nor angry. Stephen checks his watch and walks out of his Skid Row digs in a pressed suit, limo waiting for him. Stephen looks out his car window, we see a scowling Jake Lockley, complete with his jaunty cap and don’t-mess-with-me moustache, leering at Stephen in a reflection. Jake is crazy, by the way. If Marc is crazy, Jake is cwazy. Still, Stephen Grant seems happy. He has his wealth; he has his station; he has direction.

The page turns, setting changes. We move from the muted but colorful world of Stephen Grant to a washed-out soup kitchen. Patient 86 looks like an Orange Julius Messiah. He’s calm, moves slowly. He’s gracious. He, too, has direction. He’s looking for someone. Patient 86 questions a busker who leads him to a smack slinger in a Harlem Park, maybe Marcus Garvey. She hints that the man he is looking for calls himself “The Living Death.” He’s set up shop in the Bronx.

Patient 86 questions a drunk hobo – another veteran. That leads to Myra, an aged escort. She confirms the projects Patient 86 is looking for. Patient 86 has found his source. Now just to secure the fix.

Returned to Stephen Grant and Khonshu’s narration, we find out that Stephen Grant has maintained a successful enterprise, even while Marc and his other shades have been away at Ravencroft. Celebrating a great win for the company, we also learn that Stephen has divested himself of the company’s holdings and diverted his funds to the Lunar Lives fund. A cover for his work as Moon Knight? A charity for the youth of New York? We quickly learn how Stephen prefers to spend his time as he leaves an after-party and soars into the gaping maw of the night as a crescent-caped Moon Knight.

It’s Patient 86. His smile a clementine; his hands a blur of scarred tissue. He wants to see the man who acts as ruler of the projects and calmly places a hand on a thug’s shoulder. The thug reacts, but Patient 86 warns the grunt. “Please,” he says, “I don’t want to have to burn you,” all while that citrusy smile suggests unparalleled sincerity. The thug presses, 86’s eyes become flames, and the smile fades. Patient 86 ignites the guard with nothing but his hand. What was once the grunt is nothing more than cremated remains, and Patient 86 calmly walks through “The Living Death’s” door.

The crash scene. Flames everywhere. The dead strewn across a platform. Yet, others, crazed with blue liquid dripping from their eyes, are being restrained by the cops. Engineers inspect the crash.

Moon Knight isn’t there to clean up the mess. He’s there to take out the trash. He sneaks past the wreckage, walks down the tracks, and uses his singular detective skills to seek out his prey. The tunnel takes on a blue light; Moon Knight’s white regalia remains. Switching to a utility-light on his left gauntlet, Moon Knight enters a storage room and finds his prey. Like a cat keeping watch over its rodent quarry, the villain we come to know simply as The Truth broods in the darkness, his victims squealing their induced nightmares. One victim is self-aware, he claws at Moon Knight, pleading for help. Moon Knight presses forward, shining his wrist-mounted light on The Truth.

The Truth threatens Moon Knight and cracks his knuckles. Next page; different story. Moon Knight sneaks in a right hook, blood is shed and one of The Truth’s four lip rings is ripped from his flesh. Another cross, the left this time, and a right elbow to The Truth’s orbital. Finally, The Truth is frustrated; he raises Moon Knight by the throat and sends his blue sickness through the cowl. It seems Moon Knight is ready to succumb to The Truth’s truth, “There is no Moon God,” Moon Knight states, “Just another sick delusion…” But no, Moon Knight knows what’s up. He jabs himself in the face to wake from this misappropriated dream. Something changes, Moon Knight’s otherwise pristine mask shows blood. He loves the pain.

Grabbing a crescent dart, this newly energized Moon Knight slices The Truth in the forearm and shovel kicks the brute in the belly. There’s a breath, a beat. Moon Knight speaks to Marc Spector’s personalities and quickly switches from Marc Spector: Moon Knight to Jake Lockley: Moon Knight (or is it Mr. Knight?). Shedding the cowl of Khonshu, this new Moon Knight, controlled by Jake Lockley, rolls back his face mask and speaks to The Truth from a poorly shaven mug.

This caped Mr. Knight has had it. He instigates The Truth, suggesting he’s a sexual predator, spits a loose tooth at the bloodied Truth and triple-dog-dares The Truth to try to read Jake Lockley’s mind. Albeit with a few expletives. Like I said, Jake is flippin’ cwazy. Also, a cab driver.

The shadow of Marc Spector reminds Jake Lockley to refrain from murder, but there’s a strange energy in the air. The Truth is shocked (literally) by the darkness of Lockley’s mind, all hidden from Marc. Jake’s Moon Knight deftly throws two crescent darts at The Truth, piercing the villain in the eyes – two devil horned accoutrement. Is he dead? Disabled? Khonshu and Stephen Grant’s shades do not approve. A surprising departure for Khonshu – speaking more like Crawley than the Moon God of Vengeance himself. Regardless, Marc Spector’s Moon Knight shakes it off. The Truth’s victims awaken from their poisoned nightmare.

We return to the infiltrated projects. Patient 86 enters with a polite knock. He promises not to take much of “The Living Death’s” time. In fact, he gets straight to the point: “I was put on this earth to destroy Khonshu.”

Patient 86 states that he is the manifestation of Khonshu’s father, Amon Ra. Patient 86 is personally offended that Khonshu continues to breathe and spread his truth of dissent through the fouled avatar, Marc Spector. More than that, Marc is Hebrew, a Jew, a once slave of the Egyptian Empire. Yet, Patient 86 needs help. He needs The Living Death.

The mysterious man they call The Living Death speaks. He admits: Patient 86 is insane, but it takes more than a crazed mortal to take down Marc Spector.

A blaze of light, heat, and sizzling wires. Patient 86 ignites The Living Death’s console; this isn’t any man in a chair, it’s Bushman. Raoul Bushman; in the flesh. Laughing and pleased that he has a new alliance. Another partner in the task to end Marc Spector. Except, he’s gained some weight.

Sure: Passionate, crazed, stacked with firepower.

But probably real slow.


 

SPOTLIGHT:

Compiled by Tommy Kawel

Bushman, aka Raoul Bushman

APPEARANCES:

  • Moon Knight (1980) #1, 9-10
  • Marc Spector: Moon Knight (1989) #1-3, 11-16, 37
  • Moon Knight (1998) #1, 3, 4
  • Moon Knight (2006) #2-4, 6
  • Vengeance of the Moon Knight (2009) #2-6
  • Heroic Age: Villains (2011) #1
  • Moon Knight (2016) #12-13

POWERS AND ABILITIES:

  • No superhuman powers
  • Peak human physical strength; highly athletic and agile.
  • Expert in hand-to-hand combat; no known discipline in fighting arts. Assumed that he has received some formal training.
  • Expert in guerilla warfare and deception techniques; highly proficient in the use of most conventional firearms
  • Depicted with sharpened metal teeth in certain appearances; teeth serve as hidden weapon.

BIOGRAPHY:

Basics:

Raoul Bushman is a former soldier of fortune who worked predominantly within African states.

Ultimately, he was admitted as a patient at Ravencroft Asylum in New York. Prior to Moon Knight’s presence on American streets, Bushman led a team of mercenaries with Marc Spector as his lieutenant and Jean-Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp as another mercenary in the corps (history presented below). Bushman was admitted to Ravencroft after an important battle with Moon Knight in Vengeance of the Moon Knight #6. Based upon later Moon Knight series, it has been implied that Bushman is of western decent – perhaps American-born or from western Europe.

History:

Bushman’s role as Marc Spector’s mercenary commander originates in Moon Knight (1980) #1.

Yet, Bushman and Spector’s origins have been rewritten several times throughout Moon Knight’s run. Generally, Bushman’s history with Spector follows this account:

Once, venturing into North Eastern Africa (sometimes depicted as Egypt; sometimes depicted as Sudan), Bushman and his mercenaries came upon Dr. Peter Alraune (also: Alruane; Alrune), an American archaeologist, and his daughter Marlene. The Alraunes were excavating a mysterious tomb that seemed to be of Egyptian heritage. Recognizing that the researcher may be uncovering an archaeological find of great value, Bushman attempted to kill both Dr. Alraune and Marlene to steal the riches kept within the nondescript tomb. The mercenary succeeded in murdering Dr. Alraune, but Marlene evaded Bushman’s attack and escaped.

Refusing to participate in the murder of innocents, Marc Spector fought Bushman and his mercenaries to protect Marlene (in some accounts, Jean-Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp serves as a compatriot of Spector and assists in the battle). After an intense and prolonged fight, Bushman brutally beat Spector and left him for dead. In some accounts, this happens in the unidentified tomb at the center of Alraune’s excavation. In others, Spector crawls (up to seven miles) to end up in the unidentified tomb. Arising as Moon Knight, Spector fights and defeats Bushman.

Months later, Bushman attempted revenge against Spector stateside. Defeated once more by Moon Knight, Bushmen established himself as General and President for life in the African People’s Republic of Burunda. Funding his campaign on the cultivation of coca plants, he is continually established as an enemy of the everyman. He poses a threat to Spector and Moon Knight, but he also poses a threat to the safety of the average man on the street. Defeated by Moon Knight once again, Bushman was deposed from his position in the People’s Republic of Burunda.

Soon after, Bushman engaged in a quiet assassination attempt on Russian ambassadors to end Glasnost, the Soviet Union’s nascent liberal program to open itself to the West. Failing once more, Bushman was defeated by Moon Knight and taken into police custody where, presumably, he remained until 1998’s Moon Knight: Resurrection War.

Here, Bushman is briefly referenced in a flashback sequence before he becomes an agent of Morpheus. Throughout the Resurrection War series, Morpheus is the big boss and is even quoted as telling Bushman to “shut up.” Bushman’s machismo is greatly diminished in this series. He is used as a placeholder, a pawn. Bushman’s role as Spector’s nemesis is simply a tool that Morpheus uses to destroy Spector – a trope that will be used again in future series.

In the 2006 Moon Knight series by Charlie Huston, Bushman is killed by Moon Knight after a brutal rooftop battle. There is little exposition to establish a timeline much less a motive beyond the established history these two men share. In an unprecedented attempt to bring their feud to an end, Moon Knight uses the sharp end of a crescent dart to carve off Bushman’s face. This marks Moon Knight’s one and only documented murder (please double-check this!). N.b., Bushman is referred to as Raul Armand Bushman in this series, and he, Spector, and Duchamp were contractors during Desert Storm. Bushman (proper) does not appear again until 2009’s series, but the Bushman persona is used by Khonshu as his manifestation throughout Huston’s run.

Within issues #1-6 of Hurwitz’s Vengeance of the Moon Knight, Bushman plays a key and exciting role as Moon Knight’s chief antagonist (under the command of OsCorp’s goons The Hood and The Profile). Initially, Bushman is referenced in the series’ exposition to establish Moon Knight’s nemesis and depth of character. Early in the series, Moon Knight states that he sees Bushman in every enemy. Also of note, Moon Knight claims that, in a way, Bushman created Moon Knight, but Moon Knight, ultimately, must decide who he will be. Later, The Hood, summoning the power of Dormammu, resurrects Raoul Bushman. In more of a comedic role, Bushman (fresh from the grave) asks for his face back while The Profile suggests that Bushman’s face is somewhere in his grave. The reader assumes that Bushman staples his skinned face to his skull before seeking his revenge on Spector and Moon Knight.

Bushman has a dynamic appearance in the last three pages of Vengeance of the Moon Knight #3.

Bushman enters as the narrator in a much more controlled voice. Using a bit of sass and one-liners, Bushman announces his resurrection to the reader in a lighthearted way.

While used sparingly throughout the first few issues, Bushman has a huge presence in Vengeance of the Moon Knight #6 where he has a show-stopping final battle with Moon Knight. Moon Knight has to use all of his skill to defeat Bushman and ultimately (perhaps, on accident?) impales Bushman on the mercenary’s own long-gun. While the reader may assume the Bushman to be a goner, Moon Knight makes a conscious decision to not execute Bushman. Rather, Moon Knight allows local police (accompanied by Spider-Man) to arrest Raoul Bushman as a terrorist.

N.b., Moon Knight openly defies Khonshu in this scene. Khonshu demands Bushman’s death; Moon Knight opts to act on his own conscience. In the final scenes of Issue #6, Bushman is depicted as an admitted patient (prisoner?) of the Ravencroft Institute. He is either hallucinating or clearly convinced that Moon Knight is searching for him. Within the Moon Knight mythos, this is the last time the audience sees Bushman in the present-day.

Jeff Lemire’s 2016 run brought Bushman back for a series of flashback sequences as Marc

struggles to determine his reality versus the nightmare created by Khonshu (apparently…).

Notable Quotes:

Moon Knight (1980) #2:

“and I’ll grant you this much, Spector – you did stop me, but only temporarily… / You see, in a way, I CREATED YOU, MOON KNIGHT… / IT WASN’T the broken statue down there – it was me. And if I had the power to create you, I certainly have the power to destroy you… … just as easily as I destroyed the statue.”

Marc Spector: Moon Knight (1987) #11-14:

“Your precious king is dead, Moon Knight. / You’ve lost the “soul” possessing you. / You’re already dead—deader than you were in that tomb before Khonshu supposedly resurrected you…

“and the snarled words have their desired effect, despite Moon Knight’s rational thoughts to the contrary, he feels an empty numbness… the loss of life… a spiritual vacuum.”

Physical Appearance:

Bushman is easily recognized by his white Death’s Head mask (also called “Demon Skull”) tattooed on his face. Beyond this, he is usually depicted in military/mercenary fatigues (tactical vest, pants, and boots). He is also known for his sharpened steel teeth that he sometimes employs as a weapon. N.b., When Bushman appeared in his undercover attempt to assassinate Russian ambassadors, the Death’s Head tattoo was missing. At the time, he sported only a dark, less conspicuous, ray-like design on his forehead.

Resulting from Moon Knight’s act of murder and decision to skin Bushman’s face with a crescent dart in Huston’s series (2006), Bushman has been depicted as a faceless monstrosity in several issues. Huston’s Khonshu uses the image of the faceless Bushman to terrorize Spector. Hurwitz’s Bushman is resurrected without his face only to ask for his face to be returned with his new life.

Bushman then replaces his skinned face with staples and wears his former skin as a new mask.

Several of Bushman’s headshots used in Vengeance of the Moon Knight were clear models for Issues #12-13 in Lemire’s 2016 Moon Knight.


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