Multiversity Comics Presents: Brian Michael Bendis – Part 5

By | January 15th, 2010
Posted in Interviews | % Comments

Now with day five we have the final part of our Bendis interview. In this final piece, Bendis talks about the future of Marvel and comics in general, as well as indulges us in easily one of our nuttiest questions ever (to which, of course, he gave us an incredibly nutty response).

And as a final note, all of us here at Multiversity Comics thank Brian Bendis for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. It was a very fun interview to do, and I hope you all enjoyed it!

Post-Siege now, and in the future of Marvel and the Heroic Age, I’m just going to go ahead and assume that the Avengers, or some form of the Avengers of course, will make it out. With Marvel doing a lot of renumbering with Thor and with Daredevil, are we going to see Avengers come out of it with a renumbered title? Or are we still going to have multiple Avengers? Or is that too much to reveal?

BMB: I can’t reveal this just yet, we’re just at the first issue. But I’m thinking about a month from now we’re going to reveal all the Avengers plans, and they’re pretty grandiose! They’re pretty big! New Avengers and Dark Avengers still sitting up there on the top of the charts, so this revamping of the line is pretty brave and I’m pretty excited about it. But no one knows what’s coming! They’re not ready for what’s coming. That I’m stoked about.

Around New Years Eve, you were teasing about on Twitter that the three words you wrote ten years ago were “skrulls, Norman Osborn, and Galactus.” Then Marvel just dropped that teaser image from Marvel which said “It’s Time To Save The World” and it had Galactus and the Infinity Gems, and everybody is of the understanding that this is what Jonathan Hickman SHIELD book would cover. I was wondering how much on that can you talk about?

BMB: I can’t talk about any of that! I’ll tell you one thing about Jonathan Hickman’s SHIELD book: I think it’s one of those books that people are going to go BANANAS for! I hope it sells through the roof. It’s such a great idea and it’s so unique and it’s so well drawn. I’ve read the first issue and it’s REALLY something, I’m excited for it. What I was twittering about and this are completely different things. I think a lot of people who’ve discovered Hickman over the last few months are waiting for what will he bring next, and this is very exciting.

So what about the stuff that you were twittering about with Galactus, and then the next ten years?

BMB: I didn’t do a big Galactus story, but I had written the word Galactus quite a few times over the last ten years. Galactus had been set up in Alias, and most people don’t remember. It was just, to me, it was funny that these are words in my life. These are words that I had to actually plug into my spell check. To me that was funny! And now on my computer if I write the word SKULL, it asks me if I meant SKRULL! That’s how many times I’ve written the word skrull! I just wrote the list of words that I had to put into my spell check, and I just wrote down the words I’ve had to put down in my spell check in the past couple months, and those were funny as well.

In general, and this can go even outside of Marvel, how do you feel that the comic industry has changed since you became such a bigger part of it?

BMB: It changed in a lot of truly fantastic ways. First of all, it’s changed dramatically, just even from Marvel. I’ll speak from my observation: when I first visited Marvel, it literally looked like it was going to close. It had just come out of bankruptcy, there was not a lot of people there. There was like, filing cabinets stacked up horizontally on the walls that were just abandoned, half the lights off just to save money. It was really shocking. And it was not the bullpen that Stan Lee had sold me in my youth! So I was kinda startled by it!

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Watching that company pull itself out of bankruptcy, then have hit movie after hit movie, and then all of a sudden becoming a studio which I’m a consultant on, helping the Thor movie and all that, I’m like, “Wow, this is COMPLETELY different!” I mean, what an arc to hope! It’s amazing! The good news is that as far as I can tell, both companies, the creators that were there are there not to make money, but because they love, LOVE comics. There’s plenty of better ways to make money in this world.

I see almost everywhere I look, I see creators looking to express themselves honestly and truly. I see some people going, “I don’t like when movie and TV writers come to comics!” And I go, “No, no, no! You should, and I’ll tell you why!” They’re not here for money. I know what my friends who work as consultants for shows make – they make a FUCK load of money! But they came here because they need to express themselves. They need that experience of having every word they wrote be the words that they see in the final product. Something comic book writers get 99% of the time and no other medium allows. So the fact that so many well to do authors of all walks of life come to us says a lot about what this medium is and should be.

I’m very excited about our future. I’m excited about whatever the form graphic fiction will take in the near future. I think at this point, I would think that the Applet Tablet is the worst thing that ever happened as in you can’t even read a comic on it because it’s so bad. That’d be hilarious because everyone thinks they’re a savior like Jesus Christ is coming. I don’t know if it is or isn’t, but it’s just funny to me, even though I’ll be the first one in line for one. So it’s been an excellent year where a lot of people obviously, including myself, who behaved well as creators have been rewarded tremendously.

Where do you think the future of comics lie? What do you see coming in the industry at the turn of the decade?

BMB: The digital revolution happened about two years ago, it’s just a matter of everyone getting their ducks in a row. Everyone keeps saying, “It’s gonna happen!” It happened already! And my wife walks around with a Kindle that she never lets go of for days on end, and I’m looking at my paper books. You can’t help but look at that and go, “Oh boy!” I think that comic book stores will be a lot like record stores. You know, in Portland we have a lot of album stores, you know, people still buy their albums! But I think that’s what that market will be. It will be healthy, but a majority of people who read comics will be reading them digitally, just like they read magazines and newspapers and everything else as they already are. And that’s cool.

What I do see though, what I’m excited about and part of me is switching to, I see a wave of creator owned comics coming not only from established creators but new creators who are making the most of the digital medium, out of the most of the …

Sorry, people are texting me this entire time! I see a future where people stop texting me because it drives me nuts!

But yeah, I see a wave of creators figuring out that the lack of a need of an actual publisher to produce your work is the greatest thing that’s ever happened in the world, and use it and create some brand new stories and story telling techniques that we haven’t seen yet before. Half the reason I was excited to do Spider-Woman as a motion comic was, with the new technology comes new forms of story telling technique, and those need to be established or examined or experimented with. I think our future holds a lot of that, and that’s very exciting!

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So, far off down the line, when you’ve finally written your last comic book, and you have to look all over the things that you’ve written between now and then, what would you like your legacy to be as a writer?

BMB: HUH?! Oh, those are those kind of questions for much older creators, and it’s such a question that I think others should answer! I did have my ten year anniversary which came with a trade paperback and a lovely party from Marvel. It made me feel good about the last ten years as a very positive experience, both professionally and personally. It was nice to be able to fill up a trade paperback with a best of, and have left over? So I’d like to be able to do that again! It used to be there were bands that would put out a best of album, and it would only have about four good songs, you know? It was nice to be able to fill up a trade of stuff I was proud of for different reasons, so that was nice. So I’d like to be able to do that more. As far as legacy goes, you’ve gotta ask me when I’m 70!

I’ll make a note to ask you again in an e-mail!

BMB: When we have our special interview that’s mind to mind where you don’t even have to type or record it!

Exactly! So, with my final two questions, you can relax a bit. They’re easily the least serious things I’m gonna ask.

BMB: Alright!

So the first one is: With the future of Marvel, what information can you give us to help tease the readers, to excite them about the future? What special thing can you give to this interview?

BMB: I think that, to me, my favorite part of the decade when looking back, things that I found most fulfilling, were those first couple years of the Ultimate Universe when every story arc was an event. And that went on for about three or four years in the Ultimate Universe. There was just this sense that every arc could be the game changer. I think there seems to be an overall concept at Marvel that we’re going back to that, but along the lines that even, after Siege, every storyline will be a giant game changer, but within the context of it’s own book — and that’s fantastic! I LOVE that! So I think the Heroic Age bring about that, and I’m excited for those who will make the most of it and deliver something truly spectacular, and it’s definitely very exciting for the readers.

And with that comes, we’re building the other side of it — the Marvel films are building toward a cohesive universe. That’s never been done before ever in the world! Where multiple movie franchises are headed towards something. That is maybe the most conceptually heavy and exciting thing I’ve ever heard, and something that DC Comics should’ve done ten years ago, to be honest with you. You know, Marvel had to change the entire world of film making to get it done, and Warner Brothers had it sitting there. And I’m not sassing those guys! But as a fan, there should have been a Justice League movie already. And watching us head towards the Avengers movie is REALLY, really cool, and what the language of the Avengers movie will be — of a group, of a super hero movie that’s been founded in other superhero movies? That’s cool!

As my final question, and I have to asking something because everyone that works on the site with me would absolutely badger forever if I didn’t take the opportunity to ask it — I think that’s a pretty good forewarning.

BMB: Let’s have it!

If you were ever given the chance, what would you personally do to the Justice League of America?


I think the Justice League, there’s a lot there to them. Years ago, Brad Meltzer and I, he called me up and said how badly he wanted to do a Justice League/Avengers with me, but DC didn’t want to do it. Then you can’t help the week thinking of all the things that you would do if you could write the Justice League for a little bit, and the different tones of the Avengers. Even if they’re the “mirror group” of the companies, they couldn’t be more different! I have ideas about Justice League, but I’m going to keep them to myself, because I’M NOT GIVING GEOFF JOHNS AND JAMES ROBINSON FREE LUNCH! They have to do it by themselves, and I’m sorry.

But you know what? More times than not, it does feel like I’m at the right company, and then I do think of those characters and what I would do with those characters, and I can’t help but then also go, “Nah, nah. I should be at Marvel. This is where my passion is right now. These characters mean the world to me.” And as a fan I’ll believe that gets across, but I love these characters and I also love the people that I work with and the freedom I’m allowed. Years ago they asked me and Alex to take over Batman, and I don’t know if they would let us do what we would have wanted to do, you know? As cool as that sounds, I don’t know if that would’ve worked out for us, so I’m glad we stayed here.

But one day, me and Alex will release a Plastic Man ongoing adult, rated X – you’ll see! It’ll be the greatest book ever! One day…one day…the darkest noir book in the world. Plastic Man.

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."