The true story of Moon Knight’s furious feud with Dracula, Lord of Vampires

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that folks are out there making Moon Knight memes — his new Disney Plus TV series has exposed the obscure Marvel Comics character to a much wider audience than he had a month ago. Fans are memeing the grumpy bird god Khonshu, the villainous Arthur Harrow, the super-serious Marc Spencer, and the hapless Steven Grant.

But Moon Knight was a memelord years before his TV series, thanks to one of those curious ideas that simply arises at the right time and place. One day, the internet woke up and decided that Dracula owes Moon Knight money.

Dracula, you big #$%&in’ nerd

A panel of Moon Knight walking down a spooky stone staircase from Solo Avengers #3 (1987). A dialogue balloon has been edited into the panel to say “I know you’re here, Dracula, you big fucking nerd. Where’s my goddamn money?” Image: Moon Knight-Core on Facebook via Marvel Comics

The superhero Moon Knight walks down a spooky stone staircase. A narration box reads “I know I shouldn’t let these things get to me. After all, I’m as much a creature of the night as Russell is. Still, there was something about this place that set my nerves on edge,” in Solo Avengers #3 (1987). Image: Roger Stern, Bob Hall/Marvel Comics

Of all the edited comic book panels that have risen to memetic prominence, Moon Knight’s rivalry with Dracula might be the one that is the most easy to believe is real (I mean, aside from the prominent swear word). Unlike Batman belting Robin across the face, or Doctor Doom tooting a big horn, or a pterodactyl that wants to turn people into dinosaurs, the idea of Dracula owing Moon Knight some kind of monetary sum is practically mundane. Marc Spencer used to be a mercenary for hire, and Dracula, after all, is a Marvel Comics character of some prominence, owing to his existence in the public domain.

Dracula had an eponymous comic series at Marvel, The Tomb of Dracula, for seven years, and since then has become a reliable villain to all manner of Marvel superheroes, including the Avengers, the X-Men, and, of course, Blade. And if Dracula is a regular Marvel Comics character he can, like all other comic book characters, come equipped with rivals and nemeses. Why couldn’t Moon Knight, a nocturnal superhero, have beef with the lord of vampires?

And so, the eternal (as of 2018) rivalry between Moon Knight and Dracula carries on as its own meme cottage industry. Moon Knight hates Dracula. Dracula tricks Moon Knight into calling the Avengers. Moon Knight flings “random bullshit” at his foes. He tries to trick people into thinking he’s the Silver Surfer. This memetic version of the Marvel Comics hero is big enough to make it onto Jimmy Fallon, and widespread enough to reach the creators of the show.

Unfortunately — perhaps absurdly, given that they have shared a setting for half a century — Moon Knight and Dracula have … no shared Marvel Comics continuity worth speaking about. To put it plainly: Dracula and Moon Knight have no particular enmity or debts between them. But I’m not here to smash your dreams of Moon Knight’s secretly wacky Marvel Comic’s existence. Quite the opposite.

We don’t need to invent weird Moon Knight panels. Actual Moon Knight panels already contain many, many gems.

“Wow, I picked a bad moment to space,” Moon Knight whispers to Spider-Man, “What’d I miss?” “Gamora’s taking over the family business,” Spider-Man replies. “Who’s Gamora,” Moon Knight asks. “Just punch who ever I punch in a second,” says Spider-Man, in Infinity Wars #3 (2018). Image: Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato Jr./Marvel Comics
“I gotta ask,” says Spider-Man, “Did you — did you dress up as me and beat up a strip club?” “Oh, uh,” replies Moon Knight, “little bit. [...] I’m working on...some new techniques.” “New techniques that involve dressing up as me and beating up strippers?” asks Spider-Man in Moon Knight #6 (2011). Image: Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev/Marvel Comics

“Hello, Marc,” says the Punisher. “You still crazy?” “Little bit,” says Moon Knight, “You still murdering people?” “Little bit,” Punisher retorts, “How’s your imaginary god?” “He’s good,” Moon Knight shoots back, “How’s your dead family?” in The Punisher #14 (2019). Image: Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski/Marvel Comics

“Has anyone here dated Moon Knight?” Carol Danvers asks the Avengers, who are hanging out on a couch. “No,” says Luke Cage.” “Little bit,” says Spider-Man in Moon Knight #4 (2011). Image: Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev/Marvel Comics

It just goes to show: There’s no silly thing you can make up about comics that can be any weirder than half a century of professional writers throwing every idea at the wall.