Interview with Brian Michael Bendis, part 2
"I Am Hawkeye and You've Killed Me..."
Part 2, and there's still MORE, people! As John Coffey might
say, "Bendis is killin' me with his love..."
self-portrait from the New York Times...
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.
independent work like Powers may rock, but it's his Marvel
stuff that rocks fandom.
Let's move to The Avengers. So how dead is Hawkeye, really?
Bendis: Dead is dead.
Planet: Dead is dead?
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
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.
Planet: The only thing worse than being talked
about is not being talked about…
Oh, yeah, boo hoo me, I know.
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.
Planet: Does it make you stronger to attract this crap?
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.
from the dead and pissed at Bendis...
Planet: How much freedom did Marvel give you
on this Avengers storyline?
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…
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!
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.
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?
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.
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…"
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?
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
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.
Planet: You've got to match Lee and Kirby at
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.
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
We thought we did. (laughs)
Planet: Okay, you thought you did.
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.
Planet: So The Avengers feels like your first
solo shot at doing one of these, for lack of a better term,
you people give him crap about this?
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.
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?
Every time somebody asks me that question like that, I say
doesn't that sound like a great idea for an issue?
Planet: For an issue.
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
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…
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.
Spider-Man extremely uncomfortable. That was a lot of fun
to write in Secret War. It's a lot of fun to write
Planet: Are you going to acknowledge in any
way that Wolverine appears in two, three or four books a
WEEK for Marvel?
secret? Red Bull. Lots and lots of Red Bull.
Absolutely. I got so many jokes off that. Are you kidding
Planet: Does he need sleep? I don't think he
Batman's in eighteen books a month.
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,
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."
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…
Planet: With Kirkman being so prolific, how
do you keep him in line?
What do you mean?
Planet: The stereotype is that Bendis writes
half of Marvel. Kirkman is moving in on that territory.
Let him! Then he can get mail that says: 'I am Hawkeye and
you've killed me.'
Planet: Is it enough to keep him down by saying
that you've had lunch with Charlize Theron?
YES. That's pretty much enough to keep everyone down.
Planet: Good. You're still top dog.
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.