Moon Knight has been known as one of the most brutal heroes in the Marvel Universe. He has gone from troubled vigilante to Avenger and even settled into his very own Mission in recent months. Of course, with such a storied career, Marc Spector has also dealt with more than his fair share of tragedy. The man behind Moon Knight's mask has been through everything from losing his loved ones to having his faith fractured beyond repair, but it was his own former sidekick that proved to be the most devastating loss.
Moon Knight has faced off against plenty of maniacal villains over the years, although the reappearance of his old foe the Midnight Man in the pages of 1989's Marc Spector: Moon Knight #4 (by Chuck Dixon, Russ Heath, Mark Chiarello, and Ken Lopez) was one of the most surprising. This former art and jewel thief was believed to have died in his last confrontation with the hero. As it turned out, this new Midnight Man was Jeff Wilde, the son of the original. Jeff would eventually find himself playing the role of a hero as Moon Knight's short-lived sidekick, Midnight.
A confrontation with the Secret Empire left Jeff wounded and missing. This led Moon Knight to team up with the Punisher and Spider-Man in an attempt to find him, but the mission fell apart once Marc believed that Jeff had been killed in action. Unfortunately, that was as far from the truth as possible. Not only was Jeff still alive, but he had become convinced that Moon Knight abandoned him in the clutches of the enemy. This seething rage, coupled with the Secret Empire's cybernetic enhancements, would drive Jeff Wilde to become a new kind of Midnight, one that very nearly ended Marc Spector's life.
When a serial killer began using the blood of their victims to paint a clock face pointing towards midnight in Moon Knight #7 (by Charlie Huston, David Finch, Danny Miki, Crimelab Studios, Frank D'Armata, and VC's Jo Caramagna) Marc Spector assumed that it was the original Midnight Man, Anton Mogart. It was later revealed that the returned Midnight Man was actually Jeff. He had been transformed into an unhinged, undying cyborg by the Secret Empire, and embarked on a violent campaign of his own making. Together with Lynn Church, the protege of the Secret Empire's leader as well as Jeff's nurse during his recovery, the new Midnight led a bloody crusade across the city.
Once Moon Knight finally found his former sidekick, he was outmatched and found himself subjected to gruesome torture at the Midnight's hands. The two cyborgs were clearly villainous, but their motives were driven by the desire to have their now twisted lives brought to an end. It wasn't until Lynn betrayed Jeff that this would come to pass despite Marc's objections to being made a killer once again. In the end, taking the life of his former sidekick was a necessary decision to make, yet still proved to be one of the most devastating moments in Moon Knight's career.
Jeff Wilde's life and death didn't just leave Marc Spector physically scarred but pushed him further into the isolationist nature he had cultivated for himself over decades. Marc has worked with countless heroes as Moon Knight, but the tragedy that became of Jeff Wilde wasn't easily overcome. Recent days have seen Marc take on a new appreciation for those around him just as his community has similarly embraced his Midnight Mission. That doesn't mean the memory of Midnight has been relegated to just that, though it does indicate that Marc has largely moved past the grief of not being able to save everyone. Whereas he once would have been pushed to the brink by the introduction of figures such as the Hunter's Moon or Zodiac, Moon Knight has instead displayed the sort of mental and emotional fortitude that for so long was his greatest weakness.
The threat posed by Midnight may be long gone, yet the impact he left behind is still very much being felt in the present. Thankfully, even those scars have healed with time, at least to the point that Marc Spector can once again work alongside others without any associated fear or paranoia. Those deep-seated issues have certainly been helped by his Avengers-appointed therapy, but it is the work Moon Knight has put in on his own that has been the most important. There is no question that seeing another former friend turn out to be his next greatest villain in the form of Zodiac shares some parallels with Jeff Wilde's own story. This time though, Marc will likely be ready to make whatever decision he needs to keep his friends safe.
KEEP READING: Marvel Revealed Moon Knight’s Superpowers Are Not His Biggest Strength