Published July 25, 2018

Happy 20th Anniversary Marvel Knights

Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti reflect on two decades at Comic-Con!

This year marks 20 years since the debut of MARVEL KNIGHTS when Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti took undesirable Marvel characters like Daredevil and the Punisher, and brought their stories to the forefront. To celebrate this illustrious anniversary, Quesada and Palmiotti answered fan questions at a lively, story-filled panel during San Diego Comic-Con! 

Images of beloved Marvel Knights splash pages and artwork provided the backdrop while Quesada and Palmiotti waxed poetic about old times in the Marvel penthouse where they cranked out books and (rarely) kept on deadline.

Readers now know the Marvel Knights team as Daredevil, Black Widow, Dagger, Moon Knight, Shang-Chi, and Luke Cage, but at the time, they were considered secondary characters. A fateful meeting with Joseph Calamari gave Quesada and Palmiotti the strong foundation for Marvel Knights. “At that meeting, we said we want Daredevil. We want Punisher. We want Inhumans. And we want Black Panther," recalled Quesada. “The main reason—we knew we weren’t going to get Spider-Man—these were characters that had nowhere to go. And if we were successful, hey, good for us. If we failed, nothing lost, right?”

Palmiotti reflected on working with comics artists like Steve Dillon and Mark Texeira, and how their friendship and working relationships provided hours of entertainment amidst deadlines. Having to keep all these amazing creators on time was a difficult job. “Editing is basically like babysitting with a baseball bat,” joked Palmiotti.

When asked about Marvel Knights’ most memorable character, Quesada was quick to answer—Everett K. Ross. Quesada considered that character the introduction into the world of Wakanda. “We talked about bringing in a Kitty Pryde-character, who was Everett K. Ross,” said Quesada.

It turns out BLACK PANTHER writer Christopher Priest had a very specific person in mind when creating that voice. “Priest in his head said, ‘It’s Michael J. Fox.’ That’s who he is. If you read those captions now, in Michael J. Fox’s voice? They’re ten times funnier,” suggested Quesada. “The stature, the whole thing about the character, that was the prototype in our head.”

One of Quesada’s fondest memories was of a conversation he had with Stan Lee when he asked him how to make a perfect Marvel character. Lee’s advice gave Quesada great insight into the world of comics. “Stan said, 'Imagine Spider-Man standing on a precipice of a building—he’s standing there and the city looms below—and he hooks his web and jumps off the building. It’s a pretty cool scene. Tell me, who’s inside the suit—What does he love? Who loves him? Who doesn’t love him? What does he do for a living? What are his passions? What is he struggling against? What are his internal issues? Now, when he jumps off the precipice of that building, our hearts clutch because we’re in that suit. If not, it’s just a red and blue suit.'” This idea of Marvel’s special character creation and story is something that Quesada still thinks about to this day.

Joe Quesada came by the Marvel San Diego Comic-Con booth to chat comics, games and more from this year in Marvel. Check it out below!