The Dawn of the Knights
By Mario Muscar
Black Panther had a cult following and is still looked back on to this day by fans as an underappreciated series. Quesada said he liked what Priest and Texeira did with the title.
"It introduced this great character called Everett K. Ross, and I couldn't stop laughing every time I saw the character on the page. And it had this great deconstructive storytelling and introduced a strong supporting cast. I told Priest that I wanted to get the Black Panther out of the jungle. Think Coming to America only without Eddie Murphy. [It's a] fish out of water scenario but while he is the fish out of water, he is the coolest fish you've ever seen. And you want to be that fish. You want to go back to where he lives. And Priest played with that and I think really knocked it out of the park. I think he really did a Black Panther series that you could read forty years from now and it would really hold up."
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of the initial launch of Marvel Knights was Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee's twelve-issue series, The Inhumans. Featuring characters originally introduced in Kirby and Lee's Fantastic Four and generally known only to well-versed comic readers, The Inhumans was the story of a race of beings who faced political and biological extinction from both internal and external entities. Jenkins and Lee were able to tell a story in which one of the main characters, the Inhumans' king Black Bolt, could not speak due to the destructive power of his voice. The story was a critical success and went on to win an Eisner Award that year for Best New Series.
Quesada said he was happy when the award was announced, as Marvel comics were usually not celebrated by critics.
"Imagine at that time Marvel winning an Eisner," he said. "It's like the Eisners were allergic to Marvel."
The success of the series is something Quesada attributes to the creators, Lee and Jenkins. While Quesada and Palmiotti had Lee in mind for the series originally, the choice of Jenkins was not their idea.
"I wish Jimmy and I could take the credit for picking Paul Jenkins, but we didn't," Quesada said. "It was Jae Lee. "He said, 'I really want to work with this guy, Paul Jenkins.' Jae had just read a bunch of Paul's Hellblazer stuff and really loved it. So we invited Paul to New York, hung out for a few days and had a really good time, and we really got a sense of him and what he wanted to do with the Inhumans. And it worked out. It's a great twelve issues that holds up really well."
Palmiotti said the series has a special, personal meaning to him as well.
"It still defines 'cool' to me," Palmiotti said.
But at the time, The Inhumans was plagued by some deadline problems. Due to the meticulous but often slow work of Jae Lee, who was having trouble getting pages done on time, individual issues were often late. Quesada said the editor of the book, Dakesian, was so concerned about the deadlines that she took a different approach to getting the pages from Lee.
"First of all you have to remember that back at that time, no one thought we would get a single page out of Jae Lee," Quesada said. "He had stopped doing comics. He was M.I.A. [Dakesian] was a fifteen-year veteran at Archie Comics, and [during that time] she only missed a deadline once. And I think that was due to a mechanical error. She said she was never going to miss a deadline, and she would call Jae every day. And when pages wouldn't come, she would say, 'Don't make me come to Virginia to pick up pages.' And Jae would laugh it off. And there was a time when Jae hit a block and couldn't get the pages done, and Nancy called and said, 'Where are the pages?' And he said, 'I didn't make FedEx because I had to run to Kinko's and make copies of the pages, and by the time I got copies, it was too late.' So finally pages didn't come, and she drove to Virginia and ended up on his doorstep. And he was freaking out, saying 'What are you doing here?' So he lets her into the studio and right next to the door is a huge Xerox machine! So Kinko's was just an excuse! After that he always delivered his pages on time." This story really rambles here. Can you clean it up?
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