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Interview Today's Date:

An Interview with Brian Michael Bendis, part 2
"I Am Hawkeye and You've Killed Me..."

A self-portrait from the New York Times...
Yes, Part 2, and there's still MORE, people! As John Coffey might say, "Bendis is killin' me with his love..."

In part 1, Bendis discussed his plans for Daredevil. But let's face it, what has everyone's panties in a bunch (and some in a good way) right now is The Avengers, or rather, The New Avengers. Bendis won't spoil anything here, but he reflects upon the controversy he stirs up everywhere he goes, without meaning to do so.

His independent work like Powers may rock, but it's his Marvel stuff that rocks fandom.

Fanboy Planet: Let's move to The Avengers. So how dead is Hawkeye, really?

Brian Michael Bendis: Dead is dead.

Fanboy Planet: Dead is dead?

Bendis: Yes. And I'm going to have to let the work speak for itself. First of all, it's hard to talk about the story because it's not over yet. In fact, it might be inappropriate to. In previous interviews I was hoping to start this great big on line dialogue/ debate about team books for this generation, but there's a lot of people that are just very angry at me because of the fatalities in the story, which is one thousand per cent understandable. So, I'll just have to let the work speak for itself, and save the debate for the future.

I'm also in that beginning stage of my run. Any book I've ever taken over, there's a six month buffer period where I get yelled at a lot on line. Then everything seems to settle.

Fanboy Planet: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about…

Bendis: Oh, yeah, boo hoo me, I know.

Not everyone remembers, but I went through this with Alias, I went through much worse than this with Ultimate Spider-Man, and I just have to ride the wave a little bit. Hopefully, the work will stand up.

Fanboy Planet: Does it make you stronger to attract this crap?

Back from the dead and pissed at Bendis...
Bendis: I could do without it. (laughs) But again, people are buying the book. I've had it where no one was buying the books, too, and that sucked much worse. Also, with this particular story, there is a whopper at the end which might get some people rereading the story in a new light, or it might make people hate it even more. I am glad people are buying it. There is no greater honor than people buying a book. And these aren't my characters, they are all of ours, so I have to answer for my actions.

Fanboy Planet: How much freedom did Marvel give you on this Avengers storyline?

Bendis: It's been a very nice relationship all the way through. I did present them the idea that we were going to go all the way with this. One thing that Mark (Millar) and I always do when we're building ideas separately or together or with (Marvel) is say we're going all the way. If we're going to do it, let's really do it. Let's not do it half-ass. When I was a reader and a story chickened out, ugh, it killed me. Blame DD: Born Again, once you've had a taste of a story going all the way…

We're lucky to be here. We're lucky enough to be entrusted with these books. Don't promise and then never deliver.

If we say we're going to blow s*** up, we better blow s*** up!

Marvel does put a lot of trust in me, but it's trust I have to earn on a daily basis.

The same thing goes for people buying the books. A lot of trust goes into someone buying something if my name is on it. I try to meet them more than halfway on my end, to try and fill it full of stuff. This is how I live my life.

Fanboy Planet: Are you laying a lot of seeds for other writers, or do you hope to stay on Avengers long enough to play out everything?

Bendis: I'm planting seeds that I'm absolutely going to grow myself. But there are other writers who have said they've got an idea from all this crazy we're up to. It's very flattering when another writer is jonesing the work so much it inspires an idea for them. That's really nice..

With the whole Disassembled arc, we told everyone what we were doing, and said, "if you've got an idea that fits this, or this inspires an idea from you, go for it. If not, then do your thing and don't worry about us. We're not going to f*** up your book or take anything away from you."

It was so cool how many people jumped on board. Christopher Priest, particularly, because I don't know him. He came up with some killer stuff.

That's very addictive, by the way, throwing stuff at people and asking, "does this do anything for you?" People do it to me, too. They say, "hey, I'm doing this," and I go, "hey, I know what I could do with that…"

Fanboy Planet: At WonderCon this year, Judd Winick jokingly described the DC writers as a big slumber party. So what's the Marvel slumber party like?

Bendis: First of all, I have had slumber parties with DC guys; it was a very confusing time in my life. Let's just say Rucka and Brubaker had a hairbrush incident that I would rather not relive.

Um…I don't know. It doesn't feel much like a slumber party so much as a …I don't know what it feels like. Whatever that disembodied feeling it is when you're reading e-mails from people you've never met, or talked to on the phone. It's a slumber party with people you're not in the same room with. How's that?

Going back to your earlier question, I think I've proven that I like to weave a big picture. Like in Daredevil, there's been things going on for thirty issues. A lot of books right now kind of anchor themselves in six issue arcs. At both Marvel and DC, it's one arc, and then a new team.

Whereas I try to stay with my books, because I actually think there's a rollercoaster of story and character exploration that you can get.

Fanboy Planet: You've got to match Lee and Kirby at least, right?

Bendis: Lee and Kirby, or look at how long Gil Kane would stay on his books. You really look at what happened, and they hit a peak. That's what we're planning on doing here as well.

Fanboy Planet: You mentioned planning with Mark Millar. So it was said that you wrote Ultimate Fantastic Four with Mark because he complemented your strengths, your dialogue and characterization.

Bendis: We thought we did. (laughs)

Fanboy Planet: Okay, you thought you did.

Bendis: Actually, we were very happy with how that worked out. We're both big megalomaniac control freaks, and that could have easily blown up in our faces.

Did you people give him crap about this?
Fanboy Planet: So The Avengers feels like your first solo shot at doing one of these, for lack of a better term, "wide-screen" adventures.

Bendis: Mmmm…I did do Ultimate Six and I did do Ultimate X-Men and certain stuff in Powers. I've been building toward this. It's not like I'm jumping in with no experience. I have done the bigger kind of stories, with the bigger landscape.

But I am very complimented that people see my strength as character-driven and one-on-one stuff. I do agree that it is a strength of mine. But you know? I can do other stuff too.

Fanboy Planet: For the new Avengers, why the Sentry? I know you've said it's because nobody's used him, but how can you use the Sentry without the Earth getting destroyed?

Bendis: See?

Fanboy Planet: Ah.

Bendis: Every time somebody asks me that question like that, I say doesn't that sound like a great idea for an issue?

Fanboy Planet: For an issue.

Bendis: Or an arc. Every great Marvel character has got an Achilles' Heel. Every great superhero has got a big Achilles' Heel. They deal with them.

How does Superman run around with all that kryptonite laying around? There's kryptonite EVERYWHERE.

Fanboy Planet: Not so much anymore, but I'll give you that one. What about Spider-Man on the team? That one kind of makes sense to me…

Bendis: Spider-Man doesn't seem to be the bad one. It's Wolverine that seems to be the one that's irking people.

But you've got to remember that the on-line community, of which I am a gleeful part of, is not the entirety of comics. If you went by what goes on online, the top ten books would include She-Hulk, Powers, and Runaways. It would be awesome if they were; I think that would be a great day. But if you really look at what the top selling books are, it's X-Men and Spider-Man. And have been for going on decades, now.

It's not like they're sitting on shelves, either. People buy them immediately and read them immediately. People love their Wolverine and their Spider-Man. But that is not why they are in the book. They are in the book because I love them and I feel I have something interesting to do with them.

In my opinion, and I've shown this a couple of times already, Spider-Man and Wolverine have within them the makings of a great comedy team. In my opinion. I think they're hilarious together.

Wolverine makes Spider-Man extremely uncomfortable. That was a lot of fun to write in Secret War. It's a lot of fun to write now.

Wolverine's secret? Red Bull. Lots and lots of Red Bull.
Fanboy Planet: Are you going to acknowledge in any way that Wolverine appears in two, three or four books a WEEK for Marvel?

Bendis: Absolutely. I got so many jokes off that. Are you kidding me?

Fanboy Planet: Does he need sleep? I don't think he gets any.

Bendis: Batman's in eighteen books a month.

Fanboy Planet: Okay. He only gets an hour a night, so there you go. How much influence are you going to have over the other books? When the Disassembled arc started, the online community treated it as you bringing Michael Avon Oeming in on Thor, for example…

Bendis: I didn't "bring them in." They were up to bat. Like (Robert) Kirkman was up to bat for Marvel gigs. They just saw this. There were guys like me but not only me telling them "you've got to use Kirkman." He was just someone whose work I admired, and every once in a while I'd point to someone and say, "you guys have got to use him."

So when I came onboard, and they did not then have creative teams for any of the core Universe books until the New Avengers launches, they said, "let's get Kirkman in here already and see what he can do. Let's get Oeming!" You know Oeming's been at bat for a while, and there's a couple of genres that he just kills at, and he's proving with Hammer of the Gods that Thor would be one of them.

They got these gigs on their own. There's other guys I whine about all the time for Marvel to hire, but they look at me like I'm crazy. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow they'll get their turn. You read a book you like and you think, I'd love it if this guy was writing a book at Marvel.

I love when the Marvel books are great. It makes me work harder, it makes me proud when I open up my comp box…

Fanboy Planet: With Kirkman being so prolific, how do you keep him in line?

Bendis: What do you mean?

Fanboy Planet: The stereotype is that Bendis writes half of Marvel. Kirkman is moving in on that territory.

Bendis: Let him! Then he can get mail that says: 'I am Hawkeye and you've killed me.'

Fanboy Planet: Is it enough to keep him down by saying that you've had lunch with Charlize Theron?

Bendis: YES. That's pretty much enough to keep everyone down.

Fanboy Planet: Good. You're still top dog.

Part 3: in which Bendis speaks of Gwen Stacy, his movie deals, and why you WON'T be seeing him on The O.C. any time soon.

Derek McCaw

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