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
PublisherAircel Comics
Malibu Comics
(now owned by Marvel Comics)
GenreScience fiction
Publication dateJan.–March 1990
May–July 1991
No. of issues6
Creative team
Created byLowell Cunningham
Written byLowell Cunningham
Artist(s)Sandy Carruthers
Collected editions
The Men in BlackISBN 0944735606

The Men in Black is an American comic book created and written by Lowell Cunningham, illustrated by Sandy Carruthers, and originally published by Aircel Comics, based on the actual “men in blackconspiracy theory. 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. The comic book later spawned a media franchise which includes a series of four films, an animated television series, video games, and a theme park attraction, 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 reboot of the original comic line,[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 agency which oversees and investigates both good and evil paranormal activity on Earth, including alien life, demons, mutants, zombies, werewolves, vampires, 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 or phenomena connected to them.

Notable members include Zed, Jay, Kay, and Ecks. Ecks later becomes a rogue agent after learning that the MIB seeks to keep the supernatural hidden in order to manipulate and reshape the world in their own image.

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.


Beginning with the release of the film Men in Black in 1997, the comic book has been adapted across a wide variety of media, spawning an entire franchise. Starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the film proved a huge box office success for Columbia Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, resulting in two sequels: Men in Black II and Men in Black 3. The popularity of the films subsequently led to many tie-ins and spin-offs, including an animated series, novelizations, soundtracks of each film, video games, and a theme park attraction. A spin-off was released in 2019, titled Men in Black: International. It continues the universe of the first three films, instead of adapting the original material from the comic book.

Despite sharing the same basic premise, the various adaptations differ greatly from the original comics. Some of these differences include:

  • The secret organization exclusively polices extraterrestrial activity on Earth, omitting the other paranormal elements.
  • The agency uses memory erasure, rather than killing witnesses.
  • The agency's main goal is to maintain order on Earth, rather than to direct it.
  • Zed physically appears, rather than being an unseen character.
  • Ecks is absent in the film, and is replaced by Dr. Laurel Weaver (later Agent Elle).
  • Agent Jay is an African-American man, instead of a blonde-haired white man.
  • The tone of the series was lightened, exchanging the comics' dark and bleak approach for comedy.


  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]