iFanboy Video Podcast

iFanboy #107 – Marvel Knights

Show Notes

In 1998, Marvel Comics was in the throes of bankruptcy, so they turned to two creators enjoying some success with their independent publisher Event Comics. Marvel hired Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti to produce several titles in their own imprint, and Marvel Knights was born.

That first wave of titles included Daredevil, Inhumans, Black Panther, and The Punisher. The initial line of Knights books changed everything, and eventually lead to Quesada assuming the role of Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics, bringing that same creator-focused magic to the rest of the line. Amazingly, Quesada and Palmiotti did all that while also handling the art for Kevin Smith’s Daredevil.

Since the initial offering of 4 comics, Marvel Knights has continued as a viable imprint, although somewhat changed. If you know The SentryDaredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Grey, Silver Surfer: Requiem, Spider-Man: Reign, or Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s The Punisher, you know Marvel Knights.

Josh, Ron, and Conor take a trip back in time to remember what comics were like at the birth of Marvel Knights, and about the impact that is still felt in comics today.


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  1. Great show.. I definitely wanna read up on that Inhumans series.

  2. Very fun episode, I’m gald you talked about this cause the MK imprint might have the best material Marvel has ever put out.

    All of those titles you mentioned, or at least the one’s I heard of, are all incredible to read and I can barely find a fault in all of them. If I can say, Silver Surfer: Requiem is the best of the bunch. People talk about Daredevil, or Inhumans when it comes to this inprint….but my god JMS just made the perfect story for Surfer. Esad Ribic became my new favorite artist and just…..man it’s hard to describe something that is just perfect. You have to pick that up, you really need to.

    But I never heard of FF 1234, or Mark Waid’s Spider-Man, or even Madrox….I wonder why they arent reprinted?

  3. Yeah, love the inhumans, have to pick that up. Also check out MK:FF for some solid McNiven art on the first run. Plus I’m hearing good things about the new Namor limited series the depths, anyone read it?

  4. It’s Mark Millar’s Spider-Man, not Mark Waid.

  5. @josh: My mistake but that makes me wanna pick it up more know that it’s Millar.

    There’s an idea for a show, out of print (or lack of reprinting) of great stories.

  6. Great show.

    @TheNextChampion – they did an article on out of print comics, and Sonia does an "was out of print but is reprinted" articles.

  7. Wow, I have a lot to read…

  8. Great show!

    Didn’t JG Jones draw a Marvel Knights Black Widow, was that any good? Did the Tony Harris drawn Doctor Strange ever come out?

  9. @TNC – I don’t really remember them being great comics.  There’s a reason no one really talks about them…

    @Dumeer – He did, and we mentioned it briefly in the show.  It was written by Devin Grayson.  Not so great from what I remember.  The art was good though.  Obviously. 

    No idea about the Dr. Strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen that, so I would guess no.

  10. Fun fact: Marvel Knights Spider-Man was originally going to be written by Kevin Smith but because of Kevin’s notority on timeliness (and possibly because Quesada wanted Smith to end the marriage and he refused, just a rumor though) so Millar got the job.  It’s one of Millar’s better stories in my opinion.

    My favorite MK series actually was Marvel Knights 4 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and an up-and-coming Steve McNiven which I believe was his debut at Marvel.  They did about seven issues before McNiven moved off the book to do Ultimate Secret (bad move, Marvel!) The first arc was about how the FF lost all the money when their financial agent swindled them compounded by an economic crisis (reading it again last month was spooky) and then the city of New York suing them for all the damages for all their battles.  The FF then have to move out of the Baxter Building to pay for it all and move into a dingy apartment in Staten Island (I think?) and all get regular jobs. Ben becomes a construction worker.  Sue’s a High School English teacher for the remedial kids.  Reed goes to work at a law firm.  Johnny tries to get work.  It’s a really good examination of the FF as a family without the craziness of Mole Man fights and whatnot, though there’s a nice arc concerning the "Jersey Devil" towards the end.The run is enclosed in the "Wolf at the Door" trade.  I recommend it highly.  Great writing and great art.

  11. I imagine there are a lot of "was originally going to be written by Kevin Smith" stories out there from that time.  Remember he was going to do Brave and Bold?  They announced that one.  I was there at the panel.

  12. Wow, am I the only one that loved the first Sentry series? Don’t get me wrong, pretty much everything that came after that was crap, but that first series was awesome. Maybe I need to go back and reread it and see if it still holds up for me.

  13. Heh.  Yeah.  I just remember Quesada talking about it back in ’04 or so about how they tried to do it but it just fell through and specifically that he referred to Kevin Smith as like his surrogate retarded brother… or something.

  14. Smith was also announced as the writer of Amazing Spider-Man at one time too.  I forgot about that, but it never happened.

  15. @cromulent– I actually like it, especially in the Sentry/Spider-Man one-shot where Sentry told Peter he was one day going to be "that guy" in the Marvel Universe, that Captain America/Superman figure that leads the superhero community.  I was so hoping they’d actually do that with Spider-Man… and they never did.  Still, it was a good mini.  I mean, Jenkins did set it up to where the universe would die if the Sentry came back so it’s not like he ever intended Bendis to pick that character up and run away with him.

  16. I think Bendis did an Elektra run.  I can’t remember if it was any good.  I believe Rucka followed.


  17. Yeah.  I bought the Rucka trade because it was Rucka.  It wasn’t his best work.

  18. A good rule of thumb is, if you don’t really remember it, it probably wasn’t so great.

  19. how good was the actually "Marvel Knights" team book? i remember that being fantastic. Chuck dixon wrote it, if i recall correctly

  20. I have been meaning to pick up that inhumans trade.

    And yes, MacGuyver was awesome.  He sent me on the path to become an engineer.  Maybe he’s also the reason for my mullet fixation?

  21. Also, Ron’s statement about Marvel not outsourcing books to another publisher before, I think, is a little inaccurate.  The Heroes Reborn titles– The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four– were outsourced to Image, specifically Wildstorm and Extreme Studios.  So, it had happened before, over a year earlier.

    Oh, we’re disavowing the existence of Heroes Reborn?  Alrighty!  Marvel Knights was the first time ever! 

  22. I’ve been wanting to pick up Inhumans for a while, but it’s always out of stock when I look online.

  23. I really need to catch up on all of thsi stuff. This was around the time I fell out of comics for a long time and I’m just now picking up things that I apparently should’ve read already. The Inhumans artwork looks amazing, but it’s Jae Lee so that’s not surprising. Mark Millar’s Spider-Man sounds like it could be interesting. But, the Fantastic Four 1234 looks all kinds of awesome. Now that con season has come back around I can start digging into those backissue bins and see what I come up with.

    Great show guys and thanks for giving me just that much more to read up on.

  24. The Jenkins/Jae Lee Inhumans series is what got me back into comics after a 10 year hiatus.  I remember stopping in a comic book store one afternoon after work and picking up the trade just to see what I’d been missing and being totally blown away.   That series is like a gateway drug!

    @ Goaduk the Namor The Depths series is excellent.  It’s got a creepy clausterphobic vibe which fits the whole concept of  group of explorers in a submarine trying to disprove the existence of Namor.

  25. In between Meca-Armor Daredevil and the Kevin Smith run, you guys are forgetting about the Karl Kesel/Cary Nord run. It was very good! I even think that Marvel tried to market the creative team as they did with Marvel Knights, etc, but I think the book didn’t succeed because it didn’t have glossy pages or expensive-looking production. It was still a good run, though. Marvel at least *tried* for some quality with almost-forgotten series like Untold Tales of Spider-Man, the Waid/Garney Cap, and Kesel/Nord’s Daredevil…

    @Tork: Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe the Heroes Reborn stuff wasn’t technically outsourced to a studio, though? I’m pretty sure it was, but maybe they told Jim Lee "You can’t work on FF while you’re in the Wildstorm offices!" (Doubtful.)

  26. Comic Wars is a very good book.  Even if you are intimidated by financial discussions this book is written in a way that adds suspense to the technical information.  I would almost call it a thriller.

  27. The first 2/3 of the show is great. Nailed perfectly why the MK imprint had been so great.

    But at the end of the show, you talked about Marvel as the perfect company, and that’s not true. There’s been so many mistakes and controversial moves since then too (delayed comics, Bill Jemas, organic webbing, one more day, sins past, ultimate, secret ID’s no more, artist that won’t work there anymore and many more)

  28. Oh I forgot about Namor: The Depths. God that is a great mini too, it just ended I believe.

    What Marvel Knights have done for me lately is making me want a regular series with the creative team on the characters. How awesome would it be if there was a Silver Surfer series by JMS/Ribic, or Namor the Submariner by Milligan/Ribic, or Black Panther actually had a good creative team?

    If anything, Marvel Knights have produced a higher ratio of good comics to bad….in comparison to the regular Marvel print.

  29. @TheNextChampion

    I agree, I love the Sub-Mariner, Magneto and Logan MK minis.  I haven’t bought the new Punisher I’m waited for the trade.  The only book I didn’t like was Angel: Revelation.  The art is horrible.  My favorite MK books have been "The End" type stories, such as, Spider-Man: Reign, Silver Silver: Requeim and Captain America: The Chosen.

  30. Spider-Man: Reign…..ugh….I dont know about you guys but I thought that was one of the worst Spider-Man stories I’ve ever read. That is also including the bad BND stories I’ve read as well. Terrible art in it as well.

    Oh and this might be the snarky guy in me saying this but……What was with that laugh josh when ron mentioned SS: Requiem? I’m guessing you didnt read it since your stance on JMS is well acknowledged.

  31. @jjcolin– I would say Qusada started off as a great EIC but I remember in ’05 or so that Quesada was talking in an interview about how he might step down so as to not wear out his welcome.  That was four years ago.  Personally, I think he should’ve followed through on that and stepped down in at the time and a lot of the criticisms we hurl at him (Civil War, OMD, Secret Invasion, etc.) would have never happened under his regime while a lot of the good that’s happened (the Ultimate Universe, Icon, Bendis on Daredevil, Brubaker on Cap) would have his legacy. 

    Honestly, I think when he ironically moved away from some of the Marvel Knights philosophy and started doing things like variant covers and giant crossovers with multiple tie-ins and seemingly started to treat the comics as more product than art again (which really (I think) kicked into high gear around Civil War) is where a lot of fans turned on him.

  32. Spider-man: Reign was fun, it just didn’t really do anything new.  I enjoyed how Sandman was portrayed and his story was quite interesting. BKV’s Logan mini was fun as well

  33. @ flapjaxx– No, it was outsourced to Wildstorm specifically.  They had Wildstorm employees like Whilce Portacio and Ed Benes doing stuff for Iron Man and whatnot.  In fact, when Extreme bailed out on the project midstream, Wildstorm took over their titles as well.  Marvel was hoping that if Image, which was a juggernaut at the time, would do it, it would magically be marketable.  Which it was, sadly.

  34. Nice show! Thanks for educating me on all of the stuff I missed out on after Onslaught/Heroes Reborn scared me away from Marvel comics for a few years.

  35. @jjcolin – When did we say it was a perfect company?  Can’t we say something good without listing everything bad?  Don’t people in comics do that enough?

    @TNC – That laugh was because when someone says "a lot of people liked it" that’s code for "we haven’t read it," or "often, but I didn’t like it."  At least in my head.  It’s more than possible Ron was just being straight up.  But that’s what made me laugh.  Also, I don’t read JMS comics. 😀

  36. @josh: I know you dont. But you should read Requiem, I rank it as on the levels of Watchmen or Kingdom levels of quality. Does that make me insane? Probably, but that’s how passionate I feel about that title.

    @Tork: Actually that’s not a bad idea on when the fans basically turned on Joey Q. Look I think he’s miles better as EIC then Dan DiDido. But ever since Civil War came out I have been wondering just what the direction this industry is taking, more so on where the stories are taking us. Civil War has basically done nothing, then we jump into Secret Invasion and barely anything came out of that. Not saying Osborn being head of HAMMER isnt big….But we’re talking about 2-3 years ago where both sides of heroes were killing each other. Now it just seems like the registration act makes no difference anymore so really….what is the editorial decision on letting the ramifications of civil war go out the window like that?

    OMD just make Joey Q look like an evil bastard and it doesnt help he mocked the fans who had general (and serious) questions about OMD. It has been a great run for Joey Q, I think the good definitely out weighs the bad for him…..But after the fiasco over SI, I just think it’s time for him to go.

  37. I don’t need to read Requiem to know that your ranking and mine are going to be grossly incompatible, but I’m glad you like it.

  38. @Josh: You are right. You never. I rewatched the episode, and Ron said "MK is a great achievment that changed Marvel, despite OMD". That’s the line that disturbed me.

  39. It doesn’t make it any less true.

  40. *wimpers* I’m just trying to get you to read nice things josh……

  41. Back to all the Kevin Um, sorry if this has already been announced, but is Gordon still around?

  42. @Gabe: They preserved him when josh goes mainstream and ends up on G4….he’s put right in without a second notice. 🙂

  43. I just also want to say that, a while ago, I checked out some of the Jae Lee covers of Namor back in the day… wow… that guy has improved SO MUCH since then.  Wow, those covers were not good.

  44. Yeah I dont know where people come off saying Jae Lee looked great back then….I mean the Inhumans stuff look great; but he clearly has improved and is using his best talent on the Dark Tower stuff.

  45. I liked Daredevil…the rest sucked. Just more of marvel trying to be Image at the time. Was that harsh?

  46. The silver surfer story was good. Just read it. ( Picked it up at NYCC )

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