Though it’s a show that’s been a millennia in the making, after just three weeks we’re halfway through Moon Knight already. The third episode is here marking that momentous landmark, and with it comes a wild globetrotting adventure. There are, as usual, some deep cut comic book characters, hidden references, and Easter eggs. But the real star this week is May Calamawy’s Layla whose story—and origins—becomes clear as she and Steven head to Egypt.
One of the biggest missing pieces from Marc Spector’s comic book canon thus far has been Marlene Alraune, his frequent lover and ally. Layla takes one step closer to becoming the MCU’s Marlene as we learn more of her backstory. Like Marlene’s father Peter, Layla’s father appears to also be an archeologist, alluded to with the mention of his “dig sites.” In the comics, Peter’s occupation led them both to Egypt and set off a chain of events that would give Marc Spector his Khonshu powers.
That said, Marvel’s Egyptian character the Scarlet Scarab also began as an archaeologist. Per Egyptian naming tradition, a child’s second name would be their father’s first name. We see here that her full name is Layla Abdallah El-Faouly, most certainly making her father’s name Abdallah. That’s fairly close to the Scarlet Scarab’s original name, Abdul Faoul. Finally, as her passport “Forger” says, Layla was also her father’s “little scarab.”
Lagaro Looks Familiar
As Layla meets with her forger friend, we learned from the captions that her name is Lagaro. While she’s credited as Forger, this could be a deep cut reference to another hero with Egyptian connections. Dynaman first appeared in 1940’s Daring Mystery Comics #6. The ancient hero, also known as Lagaro, was born with powers in a nation that soon fell under the ocean. But Lagaro managed to escape to Egypt. While we definitely do not think the Forger will suddenly become Dynaman it’s a great little nod to a forgotten hero.
Looking Back at an Important Issue
So far each MCU show has had an obvious central comic book influence. For WandaVision it was the original ’80s Vision and the Scarlet Witch miniseries. Hawkeye looked to the Matt Fraction and David Aja series of the same name. When it came to Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it was all about Truth: Red, White, and Black by Kyle Baker and Robert Morales.
While each of them took from many other stories and influences too, each used one particular arc as an anchor. In the case of Moon Knight, now cemented by episode three, it seems clear it’s the Fist of Khonshu miniseries. Moments and characters from issues #1 and #2 of the ’80s series seem to fuel the adventures seen here, whether it’s the inclusion of more avatars of Egyptian deities, antagonist Arthur Harrow, or even the nighttime hunt for hidden tombs.
In those stories, the need to visit Egypt haunts Marc Spector. He’s driven to return to the place he gained his powers, just like in this episode. There are also multiple pyramids, gods, and the entire adventure is inspired by him selling a statue of Khonshu. That separates Marc from Khonshu, and here we see the episode end with the gods putting Khonshu into a statue, leaving Marc alone, once again echoing this important ’80s miniseries.
Speaking of those gods, in this episode we learn Marc is not the only avatar. After arriving in Egypt, Khonshu creates a little cosmic drama to introduce Marc to the other gods. There he hopes to get them to stop Harrow and his quest. But it doesn’t go to plan. In the impromptu trial we meet avatars of Horus, Isis, Tefnut, Osiris, and Hathor. Aside from their obvious real life inspiration, each of these gods already exists in Marvel Comics. Horus, Isis, and Osiris all debuted in Thor #239. The Marvel Handbook mentioned Tefnut. And Hathor has appeared in many forms, first as the Lion God in Avengers #112, and much later as both Hathor and Sekhmet in the Amadeus Cho series Prince of Power.
The show further cements the importance of the gods and their comic book connections. At one point, Khonshu admonishes the gods to return from the “opulence of the Overvoid.” This is one of the names for Celestial Heliopolis, the dimension from which the Egyptian gods actually came. It first appeared in 1975’s Thor #240 alongside Horus, Osiris, and Isis, but played a more prominent role in 2016’s Moon Knight #2; the comics refers to it as the Othervoid. Essentially, it’s what Asgard is to the Norse gods.
Anton Mogart, a.k.a. Midnight Man
In order to find the sarcophagus of “Senfu,” Marc and Layla look to an old friend of the latter. Played by the late actor Gaspard Ulliel, Anton Mogart is a collector of black market artifacts. He’s also an established Moon Knight bad guy in the comics that inspired the show. First introduced in 1981’s Moon Knight #3, the jewel and art thief took on the name Midnight Man after a botched robbery. Interestingly, in the comics he teamed up with Moon Knight’s ex-partner and main antagonist Bushman, a very problematic figure we’ve yet to see in the show. Perhaps if he survives his encounter with Layla and Marc, Anton could take on a similar role.
“You’ll Have a Lot to Talk About After Madripoor”
While we never learn what Layla and Anton did there, we do get a Madripoor name drop. It makes a lot of sense as we know that the black market for art and artifacts there is strong. We can probably assume that when Layla and Anton were in Madripoor it was for that reason. And that means that Layla could be an acquaintance of Sharon Carter, a.k.a. the MCU’s Power Broker.
That Iconic Cape
From his very first appearance drawn by Don Perlin, Moon Knight’s cape evoked the crescent shape of his namesake. It began as a slim piece of curved cloth attached to his wrists. Over the decades the cape grew, at times becoming a massive drapery that would rival the cascading capes of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn or Kelley Jones’ Batman. Here we see a tastefully grand cape curved like a waning moon, on full display as Moon Knight leaps into battle with Mogart’s associates.
Pour One Out for Khonshu
The episode ends with Khonshu trapped in a stone statue. We see Marc/Steven disconnecting from the deity who saved them—how they will survive, we’ve yet to find out—and Arthur telling Khonshu that he “brought this on himself.” It’s a shocking moment, but as we alluded to above, it has comic book precedence. Along with Marc renouncing the mantle, this isn’t the first time that Ennead drama has separated him from Khonshu. In West Coast Avengers #41, Khonshu leaves Marc to go fight the Egyptian serpent deity Seth. Khonshu expects to die in battle, and releases Moon Knight from his control. But in the comics he always finds a way back to Khonshu, so don’t worry yourselves too much.
It’s a Family Affair
During the credits we see a picture of a man at a dig site with a young Layla. It’s obviously her father, mentioned at the start of the episode. The frame also includes a scarlet cloth, again hinting at the importance of the Scarlet Scarab character. Whether or not we’ll truly see Layla take on that mantle is yet to be seen, but with three episodes still left to go we wouldn’t be shocked. But you’ll have to tune in to next week’s episode of Moon Knight to be sure.