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Creator / Marvel Knights

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The Marvel Knights, who were also a team, kind of.

Marvel Knights was an Imprint of Marvel Comics created in 1998.

Back in 1996, Marvel, on the brink of bankruptcy, outsourced some of its most popular titles to Image Comics in an event called Heroes Reborn. This experiment turned out to be a failure and all of the books returned back to Marvel after a single year. But in 1998, after Marvel finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, the creators of the much smaller Event Comics, were tasked by Marvel to take some of their lowest selling books and relaunch them. Quesada would pick the creative teams and edit the books and Marvel would publish them.

They started with four books: Daredevil, The Inhumans, The Punisher, and Black Panther. Quesada chose indie writers and artists for the books, creators who liked to experiment with the medium. More specifically, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack were put on Daredevil, where Bendis had a critically acclaimed run, while, after a rough start with The Punisher, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon were put on the book and quickly made it critically and financially popular. The twelve-issue Inhumans mini-series by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee became a cult classic, while Christopher Priest's Black Panther became well known for its humor and intricate plotting.

In fact, the Marvel Knights books became so popular that after two years, Joe Quesada was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics. Although this was basically the death knell for the Marvel Knights Imprint (since Quesada was EIC, all of the books were basically using the Marvel Knights template), it still lasted for a little bit longer. In 2006, Quesada announced that any Marvel Knights books still remaining would be moved back into the regular Marvel Universe, while Marvel Knights was reserved for "prestige" limited series.

In 2013, the Marvel Knights Imprint officially became dormant, but it was revived in 2018 for Marvel Knights 20th, a six-issue mini-series that also serves as a 20th anniversary Milestone Celebration.

Marvel Studios tried creating a Marvel Knights imprint for mature films in the early 2010s. It was only used for Punisher: War Zone and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance before the poor performance of both killed it.

Compare Marvel MAX, which was another Marvel Imprint created to be more mature.

The first four Marvel Knights books were:
  • Daredevil vol 2 — the first arc, "Guardian Devil," was written by Kevin Smith and penciled by Joe Quesada himself. Later, David Mack was hired to write the book until issue #16, when Brian Michael Bendis began writing the book.
  • Black Panther vol 3 — the first arc, "The Client," kicked off a massive 60 issue run by Christopher Priest which is now considered a cult classic.
  • The Inhumans vol 2 — a twelve-issue mini-series by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, now considered one of the best runs about the Inhumans and a cult classic.
  • The Punisher vol 4 — the only outright flop, this was a four-issue mini-series titled "Purgatory" written by Tom Sniegoski and Christopher Golden where Frank Castle killed himself, was resurrected by an angel, and given mystically powered machine guns in order to kill demons. Two years later, volume 5 was launched, this time written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, which brought Frank Castle back to his roots in a mini-series appropriately titled The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank.

All Marvel Knights titles: