Marvel Knights 20th Anniversary: Donny Cates on Helming the Return
Marvel Comics is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Marvel Knights by putting the seminal imprint [...]
Marvel Comics is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Marvel Knights by putting the seminal imprint back in action.
It all begins in the Marvel Knights 20th six-issue miniseries. Donny Cates writes the first issue and is the "showrunner" of the series, enlisting the aid of some of Marvel's top writers and artists to tell an epic Marvel Universe tale in the Marvel Knights fashion.
The exact nature of the story being told in Marvel Knights 20th is shrouded in mystery. The first two issues have been solicited for release in November, but even though don't reveal much more than a tease of what's to come.
ComicBook.com spoke to Cates via email to discuss his unique position as "showrunner" on this comic book series and to try to get a sense of what fans should expect from the return of Marvel Knights.
You have the title of Showrunner for this project. What exactly does that mean in comics as compared to television?
Donny Cates: Well, having never worked in TV before, I'm not sure of the difference. For this project, it means that I'm writing the outline for the entire series, and then Tom Brevoort and I oversee the casting of writers and artists and everyone for each book.
It's an enormous responsibility and such an incredible honor. When Joe and Tom called me to give me the reins for the Marvel Knights relaunch, I was absolutely floored. The word surreal comes to mind, of course. But it doesn't come close to describing the feeling.
I'm a die-hard Marvel guy through and through. I remember buying those first Marvel Knights series when I was 12 and 13. I had all the posters and the trades and everything. They blew me away, and they are still some of my absolute favorite comics ever made.
So yeah, no pressure right?!
The Mystery at Hand
What can you tell us about the actual plot of the series and the mystery that these Marvel Knights are investigating?
Not much! Only that at its core it's an enormous and emotional devastating mystery that has engulfed the entire Marvel Universe.
And by the way, in the vein of the original Marvel Knights series, this is all very real. The events of this series very much "count" and will be reflected in the solo titles as we move forward.
The things we are doing in this series are game changers. This is the real deal, y'all. Marvel Knights is no joke.
Can you say anything specific about the threats and villains involved?
Only that the last page of the first issue is something you won't see coming from a mile away. It's insane. Even for ME!prevnext
A team, or not a team?
When we talk about the Marvel Knights, does that mean in any way, shape or form a team of heroes, or just heroes inhabiting the same corner of the Marvel Universe who become involved in each other's narratives?
That's a tough question for me to answer, and as the months go on, you'll understand why. But let's firstsay that if you are a fan of the original characters and that world, you're going to be VERY happy. This is a book for Marvel Knights fans, BY Marvel Knights fans!
It has been teased that these six issues are just the beginning of a larger Marvel Knights celebration. How much of the story do these issues represent - prologue? first chapter? Cold open?
Let's call it a taster menu, haha. There are BIG things on the horizon that I am party to that even my closest friends and family do not know about.
Trust me. When we announce the rest of what we have planned....you won't miss it.
Defining Marvel Knights
What do you consider to be the defining characteristics of a "Marvel Knights" book? What it is about those original series from 20 years ago that you're trying to recapture here?
That's a great question, and one I gave a lot of thought to when I started this gig. What is a Marvel Knights book? Well, yeah, if you'd asked me to relaunch a MAX line or an ULTIMATE line, those things have very clear borders and parameters, right? But what is a Knight book?
To me, a Marvel Knights book is about unbridled - and somewhat unchecked - creative freedom. Joe [Quesada] and Jimmy [Palmiotti] and the original guys just went nuts when Marvel Knights was launched 20 years ago. They were all a bunch of maniacs who wanted to create comics like forces of nature. And they made some of the best comics ever made because of their drive and passion and the level of trust and control afforded them.
Marvel is doing that again with us here. Myself and the new Knights: Mathew Rosenberg, Tini Howard and Vita Ayala have been given the keys to the Marvel Porsche and been told to take her around the block.
And I'll be damned if we aren't going to drive that baby off a cliff and set it on fire before we turn it back in.
We're having a goddamn blast is what I'm trying to say here.
Changing With the Times
On the other side, the comics industry has obviously changed over the past couple of decades. What are some of the ways that you and your team have gone about modernizing the Marvel Knights concept?
I think you'll see a different way of telling a story in what we are doing here. The Marvel Knights series was an incredible showcase of what the talent back then was capable of. It was the best of the best sticking an adrenaline-filled needle into the heart of comics.
I think we have that same "Anything goes" spirit, but obviously, we are different creators with our own backgrounds and voices. So I don't know. I think we share a lot of the same DNA, but we smash the puzzle pieces together in different ways.
Marvel Knights is often remembered as a "street-level" imprint, but it went beyond that at times with series like Marvel Boy. Is street level what you're going for?
We're not afraid to go big when we need to, no. But yeah, for the most part, this is a street level book.
"Emotionally violent" is a phrase we throw around a lot in the proverbial Marvel Knights offices. Take that however you like.
Things to Come
We know that Daredevil, the Punisher, Black Panther, and Elektra will be involved in this story. Can you tease, hint at or reveal anyone else who will be involved in this story? Or tell us how large the core cast is?
in fact, I cannot! I'm sorry to be so vague, but again, as you read that first issue, you will all be like "Ohhhhh so that's why he was so cagey!" haha.
But again, I'm a big sandbox guy. And so are the rest of my Knights. So when you put a bunch of us in a room, and Tom and Joe say "here's the keys, go nuts!" rest, assured, we're going to get our hands on all the toys we want.
Issues three and four especially.
Vita and Tini are insane people and I love them.
Matt's fine too I suppose.
Any last teases you'd like to leave fans with?
Oh, I'll be teasing the fans enough with my first issue, so I'll leave you with a question:
If you woke up tomorrow, and the whole world had forgotten you ever existed.....
What would you do?
Marvel Knights 20th #1 goes on sale in November.prevnext
Marvel Knights 20th #1
MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #1 (of 6)
DONNY CATES (W) • TRAVEL FOREMAN (A)
Cover by GEOFF SHAW
TEASER VARIANT COVER BY MIKE DEODATO JR.
VARIANT COVER BY JAE LEE
HIDDEN GEM WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY JOE QUESADA
BLACK & WHITE HIDDEN GEM WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY JOE QUESADA
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER BY KAARE ANDREWS (1 OF 6)
VARIANT COVER BY TBA
In celebration of the legendary imprint founded by Marvel's CCO Joe Quesada, a new crop of talent stands poised to tell a groundbreaking story across the Marvel Universe!
In the cemetery, the blind man does not know who he is, or why he has come to this particular grave at this moment.
He doesn't know the burly police officer with the wild story who has approached him.
Or the strangely intense man who sits in the rear seat of the patrol car, his eyes flashing green.
But all of that is about to change.
Because Matt Murdock is beginning to remember…
In a colorless world without heroes, the spark of light…must come from the dark…
40 PGS./Rated T …$4.99prevnext
Marvel Knights 20th #2
MARVEL KNIGHTS 20th #2 (of 6)
MATTHEW ROSENBERG WITH DONNY CATES (W) • NIKO HENRICHON (A)
Cover by GEOFF SHAW
VARIANT COVER BY JAE LEE
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER BY KAARE ANDREWS (2 OF 6)
VARIANT COVER BY JULIAN TOTINO TEDESCO
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99prev