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The Untold Truth Of The Marvel Universe's Midnight Man

There's a rumor floating around that the upcoming Disney+ series "Moon Knight" has found at least one of its villains. Thanks to a brief, accidental leak, word on the street has it that Oscar Isaac's ivory vigilante will be going toe-to-toe with none other than the nefarious Anton Mogart, AKA Midnight Man. This development raises a plethora of questions. Chief among them: "Who's Anton Mogart, AKA Midnight Man?"

It's a reasonable thing to wonder. While bad guys like Thanos and Kang the Conqueror have dedicated fan bases champing at the bit to explain just exactly what their deal is in comments sections across the world wide web, Midnight Man enjoyed a shockingly brief tenure as a member of Moon Knight's rogues gallery. Not to be confused with Marvel's Midnight Sons, DC/Wildstorm's Midnighter, or The Tick's Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight, Midnight Man was a villain, then a friend, then a less-than-friendly villain, whose stories largely shared one thread of connective tissue: They were all about a guy with just, like, the worst luck.

The terrible rise of Midnight Man

Our story begins in the pages of "Moon Knight," volume 1, issue 3. With the dawning of the 1980s came the need for a new brand of antagonist — the kind without superpowers or much in the way of a defining criminal oeuvre. Stick with us.

The denizens of New York City circa 1980 were generally content to sleep soundly under the watchful protection of Moon Knight — although to be fair, it probably helped that five out of seven superheroes in the Marvel universe at the time were within shouting distance of Times Square, with most of the rest of them sharing a rental in Queens. Whatever their reasoning, New Yorkers wrapped themselves in a metaphorical blanket of silver-white vigilante justice, resting easy in the knowledge that crescent-shaped martial arts equipment awaited anyone foolish enough to try any funny business.

But the public's love is a fickle thing, and the bustling Big Apple soon fell prey to a mysterious nogoodnik calling himself Midnight Man. His shebang: Stealing expensive art. The result: Two front page stories in the Daily Bugle on the same day. In retrospect, does this seem like an overreaction from a town where Galactus set the sky on fire fifteen years earlier? Maybe. Some news days are slower than others.

The embarrassing fall of Midnight Man

Midnight Man's initial reign of terror was a limited one, marked by his taunting notes to the constabulary and his penchant for committing crimes when the clock struck 12. The enigmatic villain's sticky fingers weren't what caught the attention of Marc Spector, though — it was the way that he kept teasing "that gaudy buffoon Moon Knight" (direct quote) in his letters to the police.

That sort of hostility would not stand, and Moon Knight soon figured out that Midnight Man was none other than cosmopolitan art collector Anton Mogart. The pair scuffled at Mogart's booby trapped mansion, with the boastful scofflaw displaying all of his not unremarkable abilities, from jumping pretty high to owning a handgun.

In the end, Mogart would be felled not by Moon Knight, but by the humble act of getting shot in the back by Moon Knight's friend Marlene. Ignominiously, the thief tumbled into the river below his home, his body suspiciously unrecovered. Would this be the last we'd see of the Midnight Man?

This wouldn't be the last we'd see of Midnight Man

A scant six issues later, Marlene awakened in the dead of the night to what would best be described as an eerie sight: A stranger, standing at the end of her bed, wearing what she recounted to be "some kind of monster mask," and presumably intent on causing a graveyard smash.

In truth, this unsightly lurker is none other than Anton Mogart, returned from his apparent death and transformed by the experience. After his first encounter with Moon Knight, the river whisked the villain down a drainage viaduct, exposing him to noxious chemicals. Continuing his run of bad luck, Mogart discovered that these weren't the superpower-inducing variety of noxious chemicals, but rather the kind that leave a person looking like a Stretch Armstrong doll that got loved too hard.

And the hits just kept on coming. After being unceremoniously washed away by running water for a second time, Midnight Man more or less disappeared until the late '80s, when he briefly reappeared solely to be an even bigger buzzkill than before.

A new day, a new Midnight

In 1989, Midnight Man darkened Moon Knight's doorstep once again, but something seemed askew. Instead of going on and on about art and facial deformities and the inevitability of his fated reunion with Marc Spector, the shadowy villain was all about banter and goofs.

As it turned out, this all-new, all-different Midnight Man was, in fact, the estranged illegitimate son of Anton Mogart. 18-year-old Jeffrey Wilde, going by the streamlined name "Midnight," had reunited with Mogart in recent days. The old adversary of Moon Knight had continued his run of bad luck, developing cancer thanks to his regular swim nights in chemical dumps, and had passed away, leaving his stash of paraphernalia and a head full of criminal know-how to his bright-eyed progeny.

Wilde hunted down Moon Knight in the hopes of joining his crusade for nocturnal justice. The two teamed up for a spell, with Midnight serving as the shadowy Robin to Marc Spector's Batman, but the partnership dissolved when Wilde was gunned down by the Secret Empire. Happily, young Jeffrey had his old man's "dramatically come back to life in the eleventh hour" gene, and it wasn't long before he was swearing vengeance on his mentor.

Midnight gears up for a new millennium

The man called Midnight made the leap from the '80s to the extreme '90s and stuck the landing like a champ. Comic book style had shifted with the coming of a new decade, and Jeffrey Wilde was there for it in "Amazing Spider-Man" issue 363, sporting totally cowabunga cybernetic enhancements which, if you squinted just right, weren't actionably similar to the "Terminator 2" character designs that had premiered earlier that year. He would eventually be defeated by the combined efforts of Spider-Man, Moon Knight, and, will the indignities never cease, Nighthawk.

You can't keep a good Midnight down, and Wilde returned for one more go-round in the mid-2000s, showing up for a six issue story in Charlie Huston's "Moon Knight" volume 5. His bleak tale of woe ended with the attempted murder of Moon Knight, and culminated in Jeffrey's death at Spector's hands, stabbed through the cyber-bits with the hand of a giant clock.

How much, if any, of the saga of Midnight Man and his accursed line will make it into the Disney+ "Moon Knight" series remains a mystery.