The Men in Black (comics)

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The Men in Black

The Men in Black #1 (Jan. 1990). Cover art by Max S. Fellwalker
Publication information
Publisher Aircel Comics
Malibu Comics
Marvel Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Mini-series
Publication date Jan.-March 1990
May–July 1991
Number of issues 3
Creative team
Writer(s) Lowell Cunningham
Artist(s) Sandy Carruthers
Creator(s) Lowell Cunningham
Collected editions
The Men in Black ISBN 0944735606

The Men in Black is a comic book created and written by Lowell Cunningham, illustrated by Sandy Carruthers, and originally published by Aircel Comics. Aircel would later be bought out by Malibu Comics, which itself was bought out by Marvel Comics. Three issues were published in 1990, with another three the following year. It was adapted into the film Men in Black, which was a commercial success, leading to two sequels and various spin-offs, as well as a number of tie-in one-shot comics from Marvel. Cunningham had the idea for the comic once a friend of his introduced him to the concept of government "Men in Black" upon seeing a black van riding the streets.[1]

Publication history[edit]

The first series consisted of three issues and was published in 1990 by Aircel Comics, cover-dated January to March 1990.[2] After Aircel was acquired by Malibu Comics, a second series appeared, The Men in Black Book II #1-3 (May–July 1991)[3]

Malibu was purchased by Marvel Comics in 1994, and when the feature film Men in Black was released, Marvel published a number of one-shots in 1997, including a prequel,[4] a sequel,[5] a movie adaptation,[6] and a reprint of the first issue of the original Aircel miniseries.[7]

The first series was collected into a trade paperback (June 1990, ISBN 0944735606).[8]


The Men in Black is an international espionage organization which monitors and investigates both good and evil paranormal activity on Earth. Their remit includes alien life, demons, mutants, zombies, werewolves, legendary creatures and other paranormal beings. In order to keep their investigations secret, much of the global population are unaware of their activities, and are liable to be neuralyzed to blank their memory of any interaction with the agents.

Notable members include Zed, Jay, Kay and Ecks. Ecks later became a rogue agent after learning the truth behind the MiB: That they seek to manipulate and reshape the world in their own image by keeping the supernatural hidden.

An agent may use any means necessary, including death and destruction, to accomplish a mission. Agents sever all ties with their former lives, and (thanks to the neuralyzer) as far as the world is concerned, they do not exist.


The series provided the premise and characters of the 1997 film Men in Black, its two sequels Men in Black II and Men in Black 3 and spin-offs. The spin-offs include a soundtrack with an award-winning song, the TV show Men in Black: The Series, a novelization of each film, video games, and an amusement park ride. Unlike the comics, the movie, television, video game and literary adaptions focus strictly on aliens, without even mentioning mutants, demons, or other supernatural creatures.

Among the changes in the film version are the focus of the secret organization (only policing and monitoring extraterrestrial activity on Earth, omitting the other paranormal elements), Agent J's ethnicity changed to African-American (he was Caucasian in the comics), its methods (using memory erasure rather than killing witnesses), and its goals (merely maintaining order on Earth, rather than directing it). The organization is revealed to have confiscated some devices off aliens such as microwave ovens. The movie also significantly alters the tone, playing the Men in Black's isolation from society for pathos and the bizarreness of their day to day lives for humor.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Metamorphosis of 'Men in Black'", Men in Black Blu-Ray
  2. ^ The Men in Black at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ The Men In Black Book II at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Men in Black: Far Cry at Comic Book DB
  5. ^ Men in Black: Retribution (Marvel, 1997 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Men in Black: The Movie at the Grand Comics Database
  7. ^ Men in Black: American Entertainment Exclusive at Comic Book DB
  8. ^ The Men in Black (trade paperback) at the Grand Comics Database

External links[edit]