Brian Michael Bendis teases a story set to shock the Marvel Universe!

On October 11, the start of Marvel Legacy sees writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez add more fuel to the fire burning in the streets of New York.

With a power vacuum left in the wake of Wilson Fisk’s quest to go legit and Diamondback now on the loose—and on a rampage—defending New York City has never been more complicated. In response, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Daredevil join forces with someone who’s happy to shoot, slice, and bomb a path to justice. Someone with big guns and an even bigger mouth.

In DEFENDERS #6, the Defenders team up with Deadpool.

We spoke with Brian to learn more about this unlikely collaboration ahead of the new issue.

Marvel.com: Where do we pick up the story in DEFENDERS #6?

Brian Michael Bendis: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil have joined forces as the city’s defenders. They have done so because lifelong criminal and ex-Luke Cage best friend Diamondback has returned to become the new Kingpin of crime. But there are so many other players vying for the title…Black Cat and Hammerhead among them.

Meanwhile, The Punisher ventures to hunt all of them, Elektra sneaks around, Blade hovers nearby…and Jessica enlists Deadpool. You heard me: Deadpool.

Mavel.com: Can the team manage the streets considering the deadly race to become Kingpin’s criminal successor?

Brian Michael Bendis: Its chaos. It’s the Wild West. People are being gunned down in the street. Crazy new drugs are out there. The Defenders are fighting back with everything they have.

Marvel.com: What brings Deadpool into the picture?

Brian Michael Bendis: Turns out Deadpool and Jessica Jones have a secret history! Who knew!? Well, okay, I did. The streets are getting so crazy that she calls in a favor and unleashes him into the wild.

Marvel.com: Does Deadpool present trouble or a welcome addition to the fight?

Brian Michael Bendis: Both. It’s Deadpool.

[DEADPOOL writer] Gerry Duggan and so many other amazing writers have already established the dynamic set to take place. I will be piggy backing on that. But, yeah, Luke can’t stand him.

Marvel.com: What kind of Deadpool antics can we expect?

Brian Michael Bendis: I got 11 jokes in on his first page. Good jokes? We’ll see. I love the Deadpool that knows he’s in a comic book. So get ready…

Marvel.com: Do you have a favorite scene from issue #6?

Brian Michael Bendis: There’s such a unique and intense fight scene between Elektra and Iron Fist. Also, to my shock, Iron Fist and Elektra have never done battle before! That’ll change!

Marvel.com: What might be in store for the team moving forward?

Brian Michael Bendis: The new Kingpin—behind all of the chaos on the streets—will send shockwaves across the Marvel Universe. Not just on the streets—everywhere.

We set the stage for a massive battle for the streets. I have been dying to tell this story for years and I am so thrilled that all the pieces finally came together.

And not all the players have revealed themselves yet.

Marvel.com: Anything else you can tease?

Brian Michael Bendis: The reaction to the DEFENDERS comic has been everything I’ve ever wanted in comics. The readers have been rabid and passionate and we’re all just having the best time. The story will continue to unfold. Cameos galore! And a huge surprise coming soon!

DEFENDERS #6, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez, drops on October 11!

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Brace for Killgrave's Marvel Legacy impact with Brian Michael Bendis!

The life of Jessica Jones takes on a purple hue with Marvel Legacy.

Now a loving wife and mother, Jessica has carved out a relatively peaceful existence for herself…but on October 4, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos reanimate her greatest fear as The Purple Man returns in JESSICA JONES #13!

To get a grasp on the situation, we spoke to Brian about the revival of this living nightmare.

Marvel.com: The Purple Man played a major role in your series ALIAS—can you talk about the evolution of the character as you got to know him?

Brian Michael Bendis: Like everyone else, I read him in certain issues of DAREDEVIL, but I connected most to a MARVEL TEAM-UP ANNUAL by Frank Miller and Herb Trimpe. It’s a lesser work by those masters, but it stars Luke Cage and Iron Fist and Spider-Man and they’re fighting The Purple Man. My young mind read this and I got struck by the idea that he had the most terrifying power of anybody in the Marvel Universe—that he could take over someone’s life like that definitely felt horrifying. And seeing him do that to a hero—with no one even noticing the hero had disappeared—became the scariest story I could think of at the time.

Marvel.com: What are Killgrave’s motives for coming back into her life now? 

Brian Michael Bendis: That’s the thing. This guy doesn’t have the same moral code as the rest of us. He lives in a different reality because the concept of power and responsibility mean the opposite to him than they do for the heroes. So finding his motivation will take a couple of issues because it’s so dense and complicated. Jessica Jones finds herself in the perfect place to figure him out…but will she be in the perfect place to stop him?

Marvel.com: How has The Purple Man changed since we last saw him come up against Jessica?

Brian Michael Bendis: He’s had other stories happen to him. Other things have happened to him since ALIAS. And all of that will be reflected in the new story.

Marvel.com: What kind of threat does he pose to Jessica’s role as a wife and mother? 

Brian Michael Bendis: Complete. Everything. This will be a nuclear hurricane right in the face of the life that she has built for herself.

Marvel.com: How do you go about making Killgrave’s return traumatic and scary, not just for Jessica, but for the reader as well?

Brian Michael Bendis: Jessica actually describes this in the story. This will be scarier because the first time this happened to Jessica she didn’t know anything. She did not know The Purple Man or what he did to her. Now she knows. And when you add a child and a husband, it’s the scariest thing you could think of. It’s the scariest thing I could think of.

Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos present JESSICA JONES #13 on October 4!

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Brian Michael Bendis breaks down the labyrinthine life of Miles Morales!

Life can be complicated for a teenager who counts being a super hero as one of his extracurricular activities. And nobody knows that better than Miles Morales.

Juggling school, friends, love interests, and parents with a life as Spider-Man might finally be too much for Miles—and on October 4, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Nico Leon test the Webbed Wonder’s limits in SPIDER-MAN #21!

As Miles feels the weight of his alter ego more than ever, we asked Brian what it must be like coming of age while living a super hero life.

Marvel.com: What are the challenges Miles faces on a daily basis?

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s never been more complicated. Like every teenager in the United States, he lives a very complicated life full of responsibilities he didn’t have just months before. The Spider-Man part of his life could easily be a stand-in for sports or arts or social responsibilities—it takes up so much time that it consumes all of the energy in his life and he has almost nothing left for anything else. After years of this, it starts to catch up with him in a gigantic way.

Marvel.com: From getting involved with Hammerhead to being arrested, Miles has had a lot to handle lately. How does Miles deal with the difficulty of being pulled in a million different directions at once? 

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s definitely illuminating the fact that something’s wrong. Something feels off. He’s not bringing his “A” game right now, but he’s looking into why and looking to make some changes.

Marvel.com: How do you approach writing Miles’ specific set of teenage problems?

Brian Michael Bendis: Most teenagers’ lives are so complicated. That’s why so many people relate to the SPIDER-MAN franchise—they know that even if they had spider powers, as cool as they are, it wouldn’t make life easier. Most people know that if they had powers, it would probably make their life more complicated and more frustrating. People read Spider-Man to have that cathartic experience.

Marvel.com: What will Miles do to address these issues and reorganize his life? 

Brian Michael Bendis: Starting with GENERATIONS: SPIDER-MAN and heading into SPIDER-MEN II and then the main title, we’re going to see one of the most exciting changes to a character. We’re going to see him take it on. We’re going to see him take life by the horns and try something that no one else in Marvel comics has tried.

Brian Michael Bendis and artist Nico Leon present SPIDER-MAN #21 on October 4!

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Brian Michael Bendis pits the Punisher against the Defenders!

Vigilantes don’t play well with others—especially when one of them happens to be a murderer with only bloody revenge on his mind.

That sums up the relationship between the Defenders and The Punisher in DEFENDERS, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez. And on September 13, issue #5 sees Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist meet up again with Frank Castle—with tensions running high. Both parties may be fighting on the same side, but their disparate methods lead them on an inevitable collision course.

But before these beloved characters clash, we caught up with Brian Michael Bendis to discuss the oncoming showdown of heroes, his thoughts on “Marvel’s The Defenders” on Netflix, and more!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Frank’s motivations as prepares to take on the Defenders? Aren’t they all on the same side?

Brian Michael Bendis: They are on the same side, but Frank seems to know something the others don’t. Frank seems more focused on who could be pulling Diamondback’s strings—and the Defenders are just figuring out that there might be someone pulling the strings. Frank wants the bigger picture and Luke and company just want to shut down Diamondback immediately.

Marvel.com: The guy with no powers takes on a group with three super powered heroes. How does he pose a threat to them?

Brian Michael Bendis: He is a very smart strategist. Now that he knows what he’s up against, you can look forward to some interesting Punisher problem-solving.

Defenders (2017) #5

Defenders (2017) #5

Marvel.com: Can you summarize each Defender’s relationship with The Punisher? and what they might have done to get on his bad side?

Brian Michael Bendis: Danny, Luke, and Matt all have a similar relationship to The Punisher. They’ve all worked the streets for the same amount of time and they’ve all had run-ins. The moral debate between Matt and Frank is one for the ages and will never be solved. Jessica Jones has not found herself up against The Punisher before—and she’s not impressed.

Marvel.com: What your favorite part about pitting all these street-level characters against one another?

Brian Michael Bendis: They all have something very clear that they’re trying to accomplish. They have something that they want. And they all have something that they want that the audience can relate to on some level. Everything I’m writing in DEFENDERS is at least loosely based on real life mafia, organized crime, or true crime drama that I’ve studied over the years. This stuff really happens. This might be the Marvel version of it, but these are loosely based on the stories that have built the foundation of organized crime in this country.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Frank’s armed-approach to fighting the team?

Brian Michael Bendis: He’s not trying to fight the team. He’s trying to immobilize the team so he can finish his task. He has no interest in hurting Daredevil—but he has even less interest in Daredevil getting in his way.

Marvel.com: What’s it like to write this comic after the Netflix series just dropped?

Brian Michael Bendis: Surreal doesn’t seem to really capture the feeling. There were many years where I sat alone at my computer writing scripts, creating a team dynamic that I always wanted to see. And now millions of people are seeing it. It’s crazy. Did I mention that surreal doesn’t quite cover it?

Heroes clash in DEFENDERS #5, by Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez, on September 13!

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It’s a blast from the past as Miles Morales hits the halls of Empire State University!

On September 27, Miles Morales swings back in time to barge in and complicate the already overly complex and stressful life of a young Peter Parker. In GENERATIONS: MILES MORALES SPIDER-MAN & PETER PARKER SPIDER-MAN #1, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ramon Perez throw Miles into the world imagined by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko to help him learn just where he fits in to the Spider-Man legacy from the kid who started it all.

“I was very excited about this because the Generations project allows heroes from today to meet their heroes, but at a very specific time in their development,” notes Bendis, “This moment I’ve chosen, as tiny as it is, it’s everything as far as the characters are concerned.” Looks like Peter’s first day of college will be a learning experience for not just one, but two Spider-Men.

As it stands Miles has only ever met the older, wiser and more successful Peter Parker of his time, so it’s understandable that the teenager has come down with a case of “woe is me, no one can possibly understand my solely unique and never felt before struggles of spider life.”

Okay, so Miles may not be that dramatic but you get the gist.

“Miles is always struggling to balance his Spider-Man life, and his Miles life, and his friends, and his family, and his appearance and, you know, Peter doesn’t have any friends, he doesn’t have any parents, he doesn’t have any of these things that Miles is struggling with,” Bendis reminds. Nothing like popping in on a low point in someone else’s life to hit you with a good old-fashioned reality check.

Miles has never seen this Peter before, explains Bendis; it’s a Peter much darker and Miles will see something he can never un-see. And though the writer says seeing the darkness that inspired Peter’s choices at this crossroads in his life will be surprising it will also be a big influence on Miles and his choices moving directly into Marvel Legacy beginning in SPIDER-MAN #234.

Generations: Miles Morales Spider-Man & Peter Parker Spider-Man #1 cover by Ramon Perez

The two stand apart as very different characters leading pretty different lives, especially in the years following the receipt of their powers. Peter has established himself as the independent, go it alone type, while Miles almost always has the help of his friends. Peter stands out as an exceptional student, while Miles remains more, as Bendis puts it, “intuitive.” Peter has not much in the way of accountability when it comes to showing up, whereas there is always someone looking for Miles. Peter gets lost in his own world and disregards those around him, while Miles stays more concerned with keeping up appearances and figuring out how to manage each aspect of his life.

This juxtaposition of Miles and Peter’s character will be showcased in not just the writing of this issue but the art as well, as Perez tries to infuse his own unique style with some Steve Ditko inspired flares: “To capture the spirit of it without imitating it was a big deal to me,” insists Bendis. “That extra level of staying true to yourself yet somehow processing the spirit of Steve Ditko was the challenge we put to Ramon Perez, and boy did he deliver,” adding that as new pages come in he finds himself slow clapping his computer.

So while Peter may or may not think Miles just a delusion caused by a stress induced psychotic breakdown—we’ve all been there, Pete—this meeting will weigh pretty heavily on Miles’ future. “This is the beginning of what I think is a big, surprising year,” teases Bendis, “He’s a young man about to crawl above the influence of his parents, and Uncle Aaron, and Peter Parker and become his own man and that’s pretty exciting, whatever form that takes.”

Catch all the life altering excitement in GENERATIONS: MILES MORALES SPIDER-MAN & PETER PARKER SPIDER-MAN #1 written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Ramon Perez out September 27.

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Diving into Marvel Legacy with Brian Michael Bendis and Oscar Bazaldua!

On November 1, Miles Morales enters the era of Marvel Legacy in SPIDER-MAN #234, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Oscar Bazaldua!

Miles’ life might be a bit complicated at the moment, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going—to the hospital. But never fear, True Believers, like all heroes, Miles heals quickly. And that’s a good thing, as a mysterious new Iron Spider plots an uprising alongside an all-new team of villainous cronies…

We spoke with Brian and Oscar to get the skinny on what’s next for the Webbed Wonder as he faces off against the brand new Sinister Six!

Marvel.com: Set the scene for uswhat’s going on in issue #234?

Brian Michael Bendis: We have Miles in one of the most interesting situations any Marvel character has ever been in. He is, by all definitions, a legacy character who now faces choices that may define his own legacy. Will there be room for Spider-Man between all that?

Meanwhile, a bunch of villains are getting together to pull off one of the biggest heists in Marvel history. Really. When people find out what they are looking to steal, they’re going to be amazed that no one’s ever tried this before. So this new group of criminals—some of whom have a history with each other—are going to come together and raise some hell. But it affects Miles in a pretty big way. It gets personal.

Marvel.com: Who counts themselves as members of the new Sinister Six? What does each character bring to the table?

Brian Michael Bendis: First, we have Bombshell. The mother of the mother-daughter criminal team Bombshells. She has come over from the Ultimate universe. She’s been in jail since Secret Wars and Lana, her struggling daughter, is one of Miles’ best friends, so having her criminal mother come back into the picture feels pretty scary.

Sandman, Electro, Hobgoblin are all outstanding career criminals with histories and relationships. All of which will be re-evaluated here.

The Spot—who I think has real potential, just off his appearance in JESSICA JONES—comes into this with a fresh perspective

But the real mystery is the Iron Spider. Who is the Iron Spider and what could their connection to Miles be? Notice I’m not saying “he” or “she”…

Marvel.com: Oscar, tell us a little bit about the art for this book. Did you draw inspiration from previous Sinister Six comics?

Oscar Bazaldua: I’m trying to mix new stuff with my style. I’ve always been inspired by the comic book greats, from the Golden Age to current talents.

I researched each one of the Six to understand the characters better. For Momma Bombshell, for example, I went with a very unscrupulous type of person. I made little changes to the Hobgoblin’s suit. For others I went for a more traditional look, like Sandman and Lady Electro.

Marvel.com: What made you decide to introduce an all-new Iron Spider and Sinister Six to Miles’ already-chaotic life?

Brian Michael Bendis: It started with the story about the Iron Spider and Bombshell and the big plan. They made a plan and we’re watching them execute it in the form of the new Six.

It’s also, in my opinion, one of those trial by fire storylines. The original Sinister Six might’ve been the scariest thing I’d ever read as a kid. Peter Parker couldn’t even defeat one of those guys without getting beaten up; how could he fight all of them? We are going to follow in that tradition and take it into a dangerous new environment.

Marvel.com: The Sinister Six and Spider-Man go back a long way, but these are new team members and a new Spider-Man…how does that change the dynamic?

Brian Michael Bendis: The only one who really knows the history of teams like this, in this story, is Sandman. He has learned the lessons of his previous incarnations. But everyone else is new, so there are a lot of variables involved.

If you’ve never read a story like this then it’s all new, but if you know your entire history of Spider-Man and Sinister Six you will be very happy with the due diligence and research we’ve done to make this thing work on different levels.

Marvel.com: What has been the hardest part of working on the new Sinister Six? The most rewarding?

Oscar Bazaldua: The hardest part is that they will be measured with very high standards, so I really had to put all my effort in as an artist. The best part is feeling like it can live up to such a big name while staying up-to-date with the times.

I really want to thank Brian and Editor Nick Lowe for making me part of this project. I have been crazy about it since day one. Being part of the Spider-Man family has been a dream come true—it feels incredible to draw the Marvel heroes I grew up idolizing!

Marvel.com: Was there a character you had the most fun working on? Which was the most difficult to portray?

Oscar Bazaldua: I have a lot of fun drawing Miles, of course. But my favorite is Iron Spider—though I also have a soft spot for Bombshell and Lady Electro.

The Sandman could be a little bit tough because there isn’t a very distinctive way to draw his features, other than his hairstyle. I tried to put a little bit of me into it!

Marvel.com: Which incarnation of the Sinister Six ranks as your personal favorite?

Brian Michael Bendis: Nothing beats the original. I’d never seen anything like it before, none of us had. Seems so obvious now—if the heroes can get together, why can’t the criminals? But it was a revelation!

I like all of the characters on this team, but I do especially like Sandman’s perspective. He’s like the worn leather shoe of the group. He’s seen it all. He’s done it all.

Oscar Bazaldua: The Doctor Octopus team. He is one of the best Spider-Man villains. But this team, with the new additions joining a couple classic characters, feels great. I really think they are amazing!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about who’s behind the Iron Spider mask?

Brian Michael Bendis: It answers about the three questions people have been asking me most since Secret Wars.

Oscar Bazaldua: I can’t tell you who it is—I can only tell you that it’ll be revealed at the end of the book, it’s going to be very exciting, and it will make you wish you had the next issue right away!

Marvel.com: What will Miles have to do to best this new threat? What will be his biggest hurdle?

Brian Michael Bendis: The biggest hurdle will be knowing how dangerous—and how personal—this will be before it’s too late. Miles hasn’t been in the best headspace lately and he’s on a very fragile journey. Adding this obstacle to that could prove deadly.

Marvel.com: What can you tease about the issue?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think when people read GENERATIONS: THE SPIDERS they’re going to be genuinely rattled. The end of that issue starts something that will surprise a lot of people—and we pick it up right here.

What Miles is going to goes through this year will be very unique for comics. They are unique to fiction. It’s bold and scary and I am very interested in the conversation that’s going to come out of it. To be continued…

Check out SPIDER-MAN #234, by Brian Michael Bendis and Oscar Bazaldua, on November 1!

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With Miles Morales held by Hydra, check out these other heroes who have spent time behind bars.

Not every hero in the Marvel Universe stays on the right side of the law. Sometimes they go one step too far—and other times, the law works actively against them. Take Miles Morales for instance: the SPIDER-MAN star fought against the vision Ulysses gave him back in CIVIL WAR II and surrendered himself to Hydra instead of killing Captain America.

Surely the former denizen of the Ultimate Universe will find his way out of the clink—but until then, he can take solace in the fact that a few of his fellow heroes have had their own stints under lock and key.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Look at that, even the honorable Steve Rogers spent time in the pen! More than once, too! Most notably, Cap was locked up between his surrender in the last issue of CIVIL WAR and his apparent death in CAPTAIN AMERICA #25.

LUKE CAGE

Carl Lucas might have become a hero without heading to jail, but he probably wouldn’t be super strong and possess his signature impervious skin. Wrongfully accused in a drug bust and sentenced to the big house, the future Avenger agreed to participate in an experiment that gave him super abilities. After his transformation, he escaped from captivity and resumed life under the name we all know him by today.

PUNISHER

Over the years, many people have wanted to lock Frank Castle up—but no one seems capable of actually keeping him imprisoned. During the mid-‘90s, the authorities tried to send him to the electric chair—and failed. And during the most recent PUNISHER WAR ZONE, he sat in an underwater prison, but of course no walls—not even ones surrounded by water—could stop The Punisher.

DAREDEVIL

At the end of Brian Michael Bendis’ epic run on DAREDEVIL, he left ol’ Matt Murdock in quite a pickle—inside a jail cell where new series writer Ed Brubaker kept the blind lawyer incarcerated for a while. Murdock eventually got out when none other than master escape artist Frank Castle was purposefully captured as part of a jailbreak plan.

SONGBIRD

Since their inception, the Thunderbolts revolved around characters who served time in one way or another. The original squad, including Songbird, was assembled by Baron Zemo and consisted of villains masquerading as heroes. After her stint in jail, the former Screaming Mimi took to the lawful side of things—and even served as a warden on the maximum security prison known as the Raft!

IRON FIST

During CIVIL WAR, nearly every hero who sided against Tony Stark’s Superhuman Registration Act wound up incarcerated—including Iron Fist. While posing as Daredevil in an attempt to keep Hell’s Kitchen safe, Danny Rand was captured as a means to help Captain America and the other anti-registration heroes to the Negative Zone prison for a jailbreak!

WOLVERINE

Not at all unfamiliar with jail cells, Wolverine found himself imprisoned in the pages of LOGAN. Captured by the Japanese during World War II, the mutant was kept in Nagasaki before he escaped and fell in love with a local woman named Atsuko. When Atsuko was murdered, Logan followed her killer to Hiroshima, where they were caught in the atomic bombing of the city. Wolverine survived the blast, but was left scarred by the loss of his former love.

BUCKY BARNES

Even though he stepped up and filled in for Steve Rogers after the original Cap died, Bucky Barnes still stood trial for his crimes as his previous identity, the Winter Soldier. Declared innocent in the United States, Russia judged him differently—and locked him up on heightened charges. Thanks to help from someone familiar with Russian prisons—Black Widow—Bucky escaped and headed back to the U.S., where he then decided that his days holding the mantle of Captain America were over.

PETER PARKER

Miles Morales doesn’t lay claim as the only Spider-Man to wind up incarcerated—back in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #219, Peter Parker attempted to sneak into a jail as part of an exposé, but instead got caught and tossed in a cell! After Matt Murdock helped him get out of the predicament, Pete managed to publish his exposé—and apprehend a few escaped inmates in the process.

Go behind bars with SPIDER-MAN #20, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Oscar Bazaldua, available September 6!

 

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Writer Brian Michael Bendis takes Riri Williams into the Marvel Legacy event!

Writer Brian Michael Bendis normally needs no introduction, but we’re going to make the attempt anyway.

He’s the man who this fall will take INVINCIBLE IRON MAN into the Marvel Legacy event and set the Iron Man Universe on its iron-plated ear. With Tony Stark gone, seemingly disappeared, he’s the only guy who can see Riri Williams through the next massive phase of her, and a few other important characters, development.

Marvel.com: Brian, in general, why is it important for you to highlight the concept of legacy in the Marvel Universe?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, two things happened when Marvel started playing with this idea for the fall, and [when I heard] the theme, I just started smiling ear to ear, because it’s literally about what all my books are about at the moment. It’s just where I was at in my head. Number one, because some of the characters that I’m writing are legacy characters, they’re actually starting in someone else’s legacy and we’ll see where they end up, in great Marvel tradition. But right now, Miles Morales and Riri are two of the most spotlighted characters in this arena, and it’s just a great opportunity to zero in on what the book has been about.

Now for Iron Man, it’s not just Tony Stark’s legacy. It’s Riri Williams’ legacy, Victor Von Doom’s legacy, and Tony Stark’s legacy. It’s not just a normal person’s legacy; it’s wide, and it’s got a lot of tentacles…not to be too Hydra with the tentacles. But his reach, and the reach of his legacy, from the Avengers to the Stark Foundation, is enormous. So we’re going to get to explore some things about Tony, and about the Iron Man Universe that we haven’t seen before, and it just so happens that we’ve spent the last year and a half building up to this, like this is where I was headed.

Now, what’s cool is, all three of the main Iron Man characters will be joined by other Iron Man characters, looking for what has happened to Tony Stark. If we’re going to get Tony Stark back, what form will that be in? And how cool will the armor be? Now, there are other characters in the Iron Man universe that I’m not mentioning right now, big characters. Amanda, MJ, Friday, Tony A.I., huge characters, a lot going on and a lot of connections to the Marvel Universe, all of which will be detailed and unfolded within the storyline that starts with INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #593.

Marvel.com: How cool is it to go back to the original numbering?

Brian Michael Bendis: You know, when the very fun choice to go back to our original numbering came about, quite a few titles, IRON MAN in particular, are right there at a big anniversary issue. So we’re headed, very quickly, towards a gigantic IRON MAN #600, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Marvel.com; When this Marvel Legacy storyline starts, has Tony’s condition changed at all?

Brian Michael Bendis: Tony’s situation has changed. And that’ll be teased in the Marvel Legacy one-shot by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic, and then I think our INVINCIBLE IRON MAN issue comes out like right after that, and you can dive right in: big, brand new, very reader-friendly Iron Man storyline.

Marvel.com: Of the big Iron Man characters that you’ve mentioned, who would you say will be most moved by Tony’s disappearance?

Brian Michael Bendis: All of them for different reasons, but I have to say, Victor is in the most unusual situation. What Riri is going through, people will identify as “Oh, I’ve looked up to someone.” This relationship is very relatable, in a way. Like, I’ve had mentors in my life, people who I was trying to figure out without directly talking to them, you know what I mean? Trying to figure out stuff about myself through their humanity. Whereas Victor is on just about the biggest, most complicated redemption story…one of the biggest villains in the history of all fiction is trying to claw himself out of the hole. How much he’s been able to do is amazing. But, the enemy list he has created in doing so is enormous, and it’s not just from this dimension. So, his involvement in Tony Stark’s legacy may become, at one point, such a struggle, that he may destroy it. And something new has to be created, or he makes a sacrifice that brings up something new as well. What’s going on with Victor is probably the most unique thing going on story-wise at Marvel.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about Riri again. What can you say about her further development going into this storyline? Is this going to be, to date, the ultimate challenge for her?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes.

Marvel.com: Okay! You heard it here first! Next question!

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, listen; we’re just eight issues into her run! The amount of attention she’s garnered from fans in just eight issues is amazing. Compared to seven years ago with Miles, and I know the whole market was different, but it took a while, until the end of the second storyline, for people to really go “Oh okay, he didn’t [bleep] it up.” So, I’ve been quite flattered, to the point of becoming emotional, about how unbelievable the support of Riri has been. There was this young woman online that has been making her own Riri armor and her dad keeps tweeting it. Literally every time we put it out, there are like 60,000 retweets and likes, it’s crazy. It’s insane.

Marvel.com: Good crazy.

Brian Michael Bendis: The best. So, the point is, Riri is at the larva state of her super hero career. She has literally gone out, I think, five times by the time that this Tony storyline starts up again. She’s had some big wins; she’s had some defeating losses. Something crazy happens in the next issue of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN that I don’t want to spoil, but people are gonna be like “What?!” We don’t know what form her version of super heroing will take, she’s still building it. We don’t know what form her technology will take. So, of all the characters, there’s a good chance—and I’m pretty much telling you it is—that she’s going to evolve past the Iron Man construct to something else, and I think that’s pretty exciting.

I look at her like imitating the amazing style of an amazing artist. Like Bill Sienkiewicz is the best example. Very early in his career, he was highly referenced and influence by Neal Adams, and Neil Adams is a very difficult thing to imitate, right? Very difficult. And he did it, and you were like “Wow, you’re an amazing artist, you can do Neil Adams!” right? That’s how I look at Riri right now. She’s amazing. She can do Tony Stark pretty good, but, like Bill Sienkiewicz, will she evolve so far past it that people won’t even remember that she was Iron Man Universe-related? You know, is she capable? And again, you can bring up many other examples in music and television and film where the influence is there, and then they don’t need it anymore, then something else happens. And that’s where Riri’s headed in the next year.

Marvel.com: You’ve got her, you have Victor, you have some other strong personalities in there. Would you characterize what’s going to happen as a violent clash?

Brian Michael Bendis: No. It’s a philosophical [clash], and I’ve already got Riri and Victor’s first meeting out of the way in INFAMOUS IRON MAN, because everybody assumes they were gonna beat each other up. And when you get there, and Victor doesn’t want to fight, there’s no fight. You can hit him all you want, he’s not gonna fight back, and Victor’s not mad at her, and Victor’s not in a crazy, manic state that he usually, or sometimes, is in. He’s calmed down. So, when she shows up in his life, this is a brilliant young woman that he can relate to, and this isn’t someone that he’d wanna fight.

Also, he’s very aware of what it feels like to be in her position, at the beginning of your studies, not even knowing what you don’t know. That’s one of my favorite things, finding something out. Oh, I didn’t even know I didn’t know that, you know? And I know, he’ll get really excited for other people discovering things. So this is the Victor we’re dealing with right now. Not the whole mad genius. Now, does he want to turn her into the whole mad genius? Who knows? And also, may I say, Riri is at a very precarious stage. She’s had a world with nothing but loss and confusion in it. Intelligent characters- intelligent people- in this world we live in right now, find themselves very frustrated. Unintelligent leadership, and science not being the forefront of the society; you can read about it all the time, this is not something that I’m making up. Intelligent children sometimes shut down because they’re like “Whoa boy, this… everything’s weird.” So that’s part of Riri’s development.

Marvel.com: Is she easily influenced?

Brian Michael Bendis: No, not easily influenced. [And] it’s not stubbornness; I don’t see it that way, but I have a person in my life who decides things before they absolutely know them. And sometimes they’re right, because their confidence and intelligence is very strong, and sometimes it’s “Oh no, I was wrong.” But their guess, their instinct is very good, right? So that’s part of where she is. So her instincts [leads to her] calling it like she sees it. Like she sees bull and calls it, and then finds herself in the middle of it.

I have a storyline going right now where she’s right in the middle of terrorist actions in Liberia and S.H.I.E.L.D being S.H.I.E.L.D, she doesn’t buy into any of it. So she’s kind of just making up her own place in it, and it’s throwing off all of the ways that people do things. Maybe in a good way, maybe in a bad way, but she’s gonna have some mistakes she makes, big, big mistakes. But there’s something really brassy and confident about the way she handles things, and that is something Victor is going to be able to talk to her on. He will be able to communicate his philosophies through that idea.

Marvel.com: So far, it doesn’t sound like the tone of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN will change with the advent of Marvel Legacy.

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh no, no. First of all, what Stefano Caselli has accomplished with Riri this year is so amazing that he sometimes gets mislabeled as the creator of the character, even though it’s Mike Deodato who co-created the character. But that’s how strong Stefano’s voice is, and how connected to the action with the character he is, it’s just amazing.

But with him in mind, just doing unbelievable work, that’s the tone of the series. That’s Riri’s worldview, her perspective…you know, we’re so often in her perspective. I know people are very curious where she is in certain spectrums—that’s been a question that people have had. She’s clearly outside of what would be considered normal, on a couple of different things. I think that’s a celebratory thing. I’m surrounded by people in different places in different spectrums, and without diving headfirst into what that is and what that means, we’re gonna explore that as well. And I think a lot of younger readers identify with that, much in the way they identified with the original Peter Parker and his struggles, I really do.

Marvel.com: When you talk about her being brassy, do you think that’s really what people are responding to, or one of the main things?

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s funny that the panels that pop up in my tumblr or Twitter feed always kind of let me know. There’s like, six or seven panels that I see every day, that people go “Yes!” or “I’m scared for her.” It’s a mixture of that, [and] it’s really cute. And I’ll get all “I’m scared for her, too!” Like they’re scared for her, and yeah, I am, too and I wrote it! I’m really scared for her.

Marvel.com: You also have something to say about MIT and Riri?

Brian Michael Bendis: I’m going to be speaking at MIT in November. I was invited by them to come speak about comics and culture. And what was amazing was that we had Riri come to MIT. It was a campus I did a lot of research on for a project that was unrelated to Marvel, an HBO thing that didn’t happen, but I had so much feeling about this place, I loved it, and I said I was definitely gonna have a character there one day. And then years later, it was like “The coolest place we can have Riri live is the MIT dorms!” So when I started putting this in, little did I know, that MIT had completely embraced this character.

They created this amazing admissions video. It was actually pretty hilarious. So in November, at MIT, we’re gonna make a pretty major announcement about Riri. So people that are invested in her, people who are supporting her, there is big stuff coming with her. MIT’s a very unique place for a character in her first year to be so well-received, not unlike what Kamala Khan and Moon Girl experienced.

It’s hard to describe to people, because no one was asking for them. That’s what I love about the Legacy characters. Nobody said “I want Miles,” or “I want Riri,” but then they got them and they were like “Thank you.” And that was the best feeling in the world.

Marvel.com: It sounds like you’re still digging this job. Has your own outlook changed on INVINCIBLE IRON MAN as you’ve gone along?

Brian Michael Bendis: No, what happens is, and this is one of the great things about a higher profile gig, is no matter what you’re writing about, you start your research and whatever you’re doing, and then people find out you’re writing about them or writing about something they know, or whatever, like the young woman who’s making her Ironheart armor in her garage. You reach out and they inspire and they share their stories.

There was a friend of mine who has a brilliant young daughter who is literally obsessed with Mae Jameson. That’s real and honest and I have to use that. There’s a scene where you see young Riri trying to get her teacher to give her something to push back against because she feels that that’s what made Mae Jameson great, right? And I know some people said, “Oh, is she asking for…?” and I was like “No, she’s trying to live up to her hero,” without realizing that her hero made it easier for her, and that’s a big lesson for her too.

Every day it’s something new, new people share their experiences, people inspire me to keep going. I can’t wait to get to MIT, I’m literally gonna go live in the dorm, live in Riri’s world, so I’m so excited. And on top this, yes, back to Marvel Legacy. Yes, these legacy characters mean the world to me. I’m very invested in them and I’m very invested in how much the audience has supported it and what we’re gonna do now. And I know when people hear “The Return of the Heroes,” they worry about the new hotnesses. You do not have to. To fans, so you know: you have made it so Riri, Miles, and Jessica Jones can sustain their own titles. It’s insane, right? So, we will never ignore that.

Marvel.com: Last question—do you miss Tony?

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh, no. ‘Cause I got Tony A.I. the whole time, which is uber-Tony, so any great Tony joke I can think of, this guy will do it.

It’s funny: Tony is the itch I never had to scratch. Literally from the moment I came in to Marvel, I’ve been writing Tony in some book. And I never did it on purpose…and everyone’s always focused on how I’m always writing Kitty Pryde in every book. But Tony made it into every book—every book had Tony Stark in it. Totally by accident! You look back and you go, “Oh, that’s funny. Even in the Guardians of the Galaxy, too.”

I never wrote a book without Tony. My love for him is obviously as strong as it can get for a creator and a character that they didn’t create.

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Brian Michael Bendis adds Frank Castle to an already-volatile mix!

Next week, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Marquez unleash Iron Fist, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones upon the streets of the Marvel Universe as the newest members of the Defenders! While the timing for this new series couldn’t be better as the Netflix show of the same name prepares to launch later this summer, Bendis wants to make it clear the comic provides readers with an entirely different story despite keeping the same core characters.

And viewers who were fans of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher on the second season of “Marvel’s Daredevil” get a full-dose of four-colored chaos with this first story arc as Frank Castle comes head-to-head with the team. We spoke with Bendis about what we can expect from DEFENDERS as this vigilante finds himself sharing the scene with Marvel’s premiere street-level heroes.

Marvel.com:  Brian, you are no stranger to the streets of the Marvel Universe having spent a good deal of time carving out a name for yourself with many of the main players from DEFENDERS. How will this series give you a chance to tell a different story with these characters?

Brian Michael Bendis: What’s cool is that they’re completely different than when I was writing DAREDEVIL and ALIAS. Over the years, you know, the streets of Marvel reflect the real world, even more than anything I can think of in pop culture, other than the “Law & Order” plots. But we really feel like it’s really New York! I know these addresses in these books. So, think about how much has changed in real life from then. It’s a lot and that will be reflected a great deal in the book itself.

The relationships between the characters are very solid, which is quite a beautiful thing, and that’s one more gift that you get with having characters with their history. Their relationships are solid, but with those solid relationships comes more to lose. What I enjoyed the most about writing Luke Cage now is that he has unbreakable skin so he can’t get hurt; but now he’s got a family, so you can hurt him. You can hurt him pretty good. Those are very different versions of the character: his life on the street and his life at home. Daredevil’s relationship with the characters is different now, too. His identity is secret again, and that’s a different thing as well.

So, the relationships are something I love to explore. Holding their relationships in the firing line of the biggest bad guys of the streets of Marvel is very exciting to write. To me, that’s the biggest difference.

Marvel.com: The streets are rough and “survival of the fittest” seems to be one rule that permeates these kinds of stories. That said the individual heroes from DEFENDERS make it a point to avoid killing whenever possible. Do you think that’s an important rule for super heroes to follow?  How so?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, and I’m not going to say what that moral code should be, but whatever that moral code is that a hero says that he (or she) represents, he (or she) cannot vary from it. Ever.

You know, the quintessential story is Spider-Man. He takes on Doctor Octopus, a bag of money falls, and there is nobody there. If he takes a chunk of it, he can go buy Aunt May her medicine, and no one will ever know. Except that if he ever does it, he’s not Spider-Man anymore. You can never go back. And I think that the same goes for all of these characters. There is a moral center. Luke has his, Jessica has hers, Danny has his, and Matt has his, and they can’t vary from their respective. However, what’s cool is that they all have different moral codes. I mean Jessica’s and Danny’s are pretty similar but Matt’s is different and we have other characters that come into the book as well. I think the one that speaks to this more than anyone else is The Punisher.

Marvel.com: Naturally, this leads us to Frank Castle—one of the defining examples of the “anti-hero.” What do you think readers find appealing with The Punisher?

Brian Michael Bendis: When I was deciding about what to put in DEFENDERS and what not to put in, someone on Tumblr had posted the original designs of The Punisher. You know he’s got kind of a widow’s peak hairline, pretty much what you see now but a little different. Maybe a little bit more of like a mob guy.

So, I was reading the article and it spoke about where he came from with some saying Charles Bronson helped inspire the character, and the thing is that Charles Bronson was really an answer to Watergate and the question “Will someone please take care of the bad guys? They’re getting away with everything!” I can’t think of a time in my life that has felt more like [that] than now. I’m not trying to politicize it but the present day is all kind of chaotic and crazy. A lot of people are getting away with [expletive], and so I think it’s a good time for The Punisher to be becoming a TV star and surfacing in our comic.

Defenders #3 cover by David Marquez

Marvel.com: But after decades of bumping up against his fellow costumed do-gooders, wouldn’t the other super heroes rub off on Frank and influence him to back off from his lethal brand of justice? Wouldn’t their collective arguments have any sort of effect on his approach to dealing with criminals?

Brian Michael Bendis: Or the opposite, that their ways of doing things [don’t] work at all and his does. We have their version of running around in costumes, smacking around guys in a pool hall; meanwhile, what’s different decades later? That would be his argument. Some of this you’re going to see in the book.

Marvel.com: Now, you have a cast of characters, which for me is always interesting because they’re such strong personalities, and I sit back and wonder “How will the four of them really interact?”

Knowing that he will be coming into contact with the Defenders, which hero do you think Frank Castle will get on the best with, and which do you think he will bump heads with the most?

Brian Michael Bendis: You bring up a good question. What I found was interesting, is I did also have to ask myself that question of “Who here does Frank respond to the most? And who is he disgusted by the most?” and how do you [feel] being in the room with The Punisher once you have a child? Once I had children, even if they weren’t there, sometimes I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as certain people because I had children. Frank Castle is [not] someone you want to be in the room with. In DEFENDERS, there is someone who Frank has an insane amount of respect for, and the other ones he does not. I know everyone is going to think its Jessica Jones because [I’m her] co-creator, but no. Just want to put that out there.

Marvel.com: That was actually one of the things that I was thinking about! At first blush, it seems she would be the person that Frank might relate to the most, personality wise. But the Jessica Jones in the comics—and I’m telling you what you already know—finds herself farther along in life than her TV counterpart and shows us a different character than fans of the Netflix series are aware of. After all, your Jessica Jones has a child and that changes the chemistry of her viewpoint on Frank, no?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah that’s true, I think that would be a good compare and contrast between the comic book version and the TV version, something like that, you know, how they would respond to Frank Castle at this point.

Marvel.com: You mentioned that The Punisher finds himself experiencing another “moment in time,” that we need heroes like him for today. I don’t want you to spoil things, but how does Frank open up things for you as a storyteller that might not otherwise be available if you were really only working with the four primary Defenders?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it depends on what perspective we’re dealing with here. If you’re working on the story that’s from Frank’s perspective, then it’s very different from the story where [it’s] other people’s perspective of Frank. For a great deal of what I’m doing in DEFENDERS, it is the Defenders’ perspective of Frank and the mystery box that is Frank. He doesn’t text everyone and tell everyone his plan. He does some ballsy and brassy things to the Defenders.

What I love about him, to answer your original question, is that it’s like the Angel of Death comes to the story. There are the good guys vs bad guys and then the Angel of Death shows up and you don’t know who he is for, we don’t know why and we don’t know when, and it’s pretty amazing. When I’m writing him, you not only hear about him and his days in other places but you also get what people think about Frank. That is so much scarier than he actually is. In real life, he is a wounded soul, but everyone’s perspective of him is terror. Think about it: Whenever somebody says “I’m going to punish you for your sins”—and everyone knows they’ve done something wrong—or they start to think “what have I done for him to punish me?” you get terrified!

Marvel.com: I know you’ve mentioned some of your other series that you’ve worked on where the ending was pretty definitive, and you knew where you were going. Then again, there were other times where you worked in some flexibility worked, and the story goes in different directions.

When you have a character like the epitome of the Angel of Death, and you introduce him into your storyline, does that change things for you when you’re writing out the story?

Brian Michael Bendis: No, it’s great. You get these characters that react, and you want them to react honestly. Some of them are going to [expletive] their pants, and some are going to figure out what they want. Now, what’s cool that you brought up is that some of this we are going to address—and then things developed further where were given the OK to do a PUNISHER: END OF DAYS series, like we did with Daredevil. But this won’t be like a sequel, but instead, kind of like a “side-quel” with Punisher. It’s in that world with The Punisher trying to attempt his final “Punish.”

But yeah, if you like The Punisher, stay tuned to DEFENDERS. You’re going to love it.

Frank Castle takes on the team in DEFENDERS #3, available July 12 from Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez—and be sure to pick up issue #1, on sale next week!

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Brian Bendis lays bare the secrets of the former S.H.I.E.L.D. director!

Maria Hill finds herself in a difficult situation these days. Booted out of S.H.I.E.L.D., we see her out on her own, more vulnerable than ever. Forced to ask for help—not necessarily Maria’s strong suit—she has shown up in JESSICA JONES, where the two have a bit of a frigid encounter. But big things will come for these two, as Maria embarks on a very different mission from the type we’re used to seeing her undertake.

We asked Brian Michael Bendis—writer of JESSICA JONES and co-creator of both Jessica and Maria—for his insights on the history and psychology of this most mysterious character.

Marvel.com: As a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and then head of the organization, Maria seemed like one of the good guys, but you get the feeling you can never fully trust her. Even going back to the House of M days, she feels leery of the Avengers, and they feel the same way toward her.

Brian Michael Bendis: I’ve done an immense amount of research on spy training and spycraft, and not unlike a police officer or a fireman, you’re trained to only see the worst in people. You’re trained to look for that thing other people don’t look for—those tells, those chess moves that are too complicated for us normal people, going about our days. She trained her brain to play the most complicated game of chess that could ever be played, and in doing so, you’re looking at everybody like a pawn or a player, and not as a human being, because you’re not allowed to since you have to send them on missions. And with that, people learn to mistrust.

Now the mysteries of Maria Hill—where she came from, who she is—there have been little hints and bits in my books and in [other] books over the years. But we’ve never shown who she is, where she came from, what made her, how she got so deep into the center of the Marvel Universe so quickly. These are big things, and they speak to the larger landscape of the Marvel Universe, secrets we don’t know about, secrets we don’t know about S.H.I.E.L.D., how agents are made, or how people find themselves in this position. And Maria, being at the center, really, of some of the biggest events in Marvel history—to my surprise—from Civil War to Secret Invasion—that takes a massive toll on people. So now that she has been ousted from S.H.I.E.L.D., the mysteries of her life are more fragile and the keeping of those mysteries is less important to other people. As leader [of] S.H.I.E.L.D., it was in everyone’s best interest to keep her secrets secret, but once you’re out, you’re out. The mystery of her was one of her strengths, because no one had any ammo on her. But now the mysteries are unfolding, and she’s more vulnerable. And she doesn’t have the protection of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore, so her secrets are her biggest threat, even more than who has them and what they’re trying to do with them.

I’m a big fan of John Le Carré novels about spies and what they do once they’re done being spies. And I thought, what a great opportunity now for Jessica to live in a John Le Carré novel as she discovers the history of Maria, which also is the modern history of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel.com: I find Maria a really a compelling character; not lovable, like Peter Parker, but interesting. What do you think makes her so intriguing?

Brian Michael Bendis: Maria has to make some hard choices, and the super heroes don’t always make it easy for her. The X-Men, the Inhumans, everyone is messing with her stuff. So somebody has to be the mom. And if you’re in that position, you’re going to be bumming someone out, and you’re going to have to make some choices that someone doesn’t like.

I always liked how Matt Fraction wrote Maria’s relationship with Tony Stark. Now there’s a person who can understand the complexities of her decision-making policies.

And she took over for Nick Fury after decades. Everyone had an opinion about him, but no one had an opinion about her. And she doesn’t give you much verbally, so you have to base your opinion on her actions. And her comebacks—I always write her with a little wit and comeback because I think that shows her intelligence. So that was what was interesting about her introduction to the Marvel Universe, she came in like a hurricane who no one knew anything about.

Did I think she’d still be around? Did I think she’d be a movie star, a TV star? Did I think she’d be so entrenched in the movies and TV, and the comic books? No I did not. I know I’m more known for Jessica Jones and Miles Morales, but I had this unique experience of watching Maria catch on like wildfire in the mid-2000s. A lot of people started writing her. I was surprised by how much people at Marvel were interested in writing her because no one knew anything about her. As much pride as I feel about Jessica and Miles and Riri [Williams aka Ironheart], Maria being in the “Avengers” movie was a huge deal. And it reminded me of how special it is to add things to the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: You would call her a control freak, right? Her desire to be in control may have led her to support super hero registration in Civil War, and to create Pleasant Hill, for example. But it also seems like she feels that, in her position, she’s required to take control.

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s an interesting conversation I’ve been having in a few of the books—also maybe in my real life. You get to a certain age and control is an illusion. The more you grow and the more complicated your life gets, the more you realize this, and that all you can do is the best you can do in the moment you’re in. And for people playing a more dangerous game than the one you and I are playing every day, that’s more frustrating and scarier. And so here she is, trying to control a world she can’t control, as Tony Stark is, as Steve Rogers is. Everyone is trying to do their part—and then her part has a giant floating tank in the sky. And she’s aware of that, and how it looks. And we talk about it in JESSICA JONES, that she’s aware that she was almost sold to the American public as a boogeyman because the American public actually need one. They need to be mad at something, so it’s, “Here, be mad at the big floating tank in the sky.” She’s the taskmaster, the head nun at the school, the one who has to put the hammer down. And some people are going to be happy about it and some aren’t.

Marvel.com: I think Maria sees herself as a pragmatist; not afraid to do what she thinks she needs to.

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes. She has to be. She’s faced with factual reality, but also with the breaking of the laws of physics and gravity and time and space. Just imagine, “Oh hey, the original X-Men are here from the past, and they’re not going home, and we don’t know how to get them home. Is there a law against this?” I always kind of looked at her as editor-in-chief of Marvel the company. There are so many super heroes running around, smashing into each other, clashing. And I always try to imagine Joe Quesada or Axel Alonso, with a bird’s eye perspective of all of our stories being told at once, and all of that on their desks, and the madness that must create. And for Joe and Axel, it’s all fictional, but for Maria, it’s all real! Imagine you’re sitting in your office and the events of the biweekly X-Men or Avengers all happened at once!

Jessica Jones #8 cover by David Mack

Also, Maria has a lot of secrets about other people, and there are secrets about herself that she may not know. She may have voluntarily brainwashed herself to spare herself from some horrible memory that is coming back to haunt her—or she knows stuff about the super hero and super villain communities that they don’t even know. And those secrets will chase her. And you know, some politicians and people in government get secret service, but not everyone does, and Maria doesn’t. It’s almost like they’re being set up to be put down before they become a problem.

Marvel.com: Underneath it all, Maria does seem to care about doing the right thing. Yes, she has a lot of ambition, and she sometimes leads with an iron fist, but at the end of the day, she cares about protecting ordinary people. Do you see her that way?

Brian Michael Bendis: I do. And I’m not just saying this as her “biological father.” I think she has an enormous capacity for good and selfless behavior, and has shown it over and over and over again. And she has made tough choices in the face of insurmountable obstacles without blinking. Even if you didn’t agree with the politics, her actions were heroic and patriotic. And she has never buckled from that, no matter how tough the job got. So I consider her one of the great heroes of the Marvel Universe. I think she kept stuff together with everything was going off the rails. I think without her behavior in the original Civil War, we wouldn’t even have a Marvel Universe anymore. I think without her, Secret Invasion goes the other way, SECRET WAR goes the other way. And I know some of these are stories I’ve written, but not all of them. She has made deep, huge, giant choices that have affected the lives of Tony Stark and Peter Parker—the biggest names in the Marvel Universe. She has protected them and kept them straight. Regardless of her demeanor, I don’t think she’s done anything other than heroic actions; at least at the moment she thought they were.

I think some of the super heroes who have pushed against her have actually appreciated that there was something to push against, because some of them thrive on revolution and rebellion. They were grateful for what she does, because it kept things calmer than they would have been otherwise. As a parent, sometimes I see my older kids looking at me like, “It’s 8:30, please tell me to go to bed because I’m tired but I’m not going to go on my own.” And that’s what Maria has to do.

Marvel.com: What would you consider the top three key turning points in Maria’s history?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think we did well with her debut because it landed well. It also wasn’t pre-sold, and I liked introducing a character without any hype. I must say I’m proud of how well she landed. Let’s just say I didn’t have everything figured out back then, so when things went well with Maria, I was able to say, “Ok, that’s something that works.”

Number two, I think Civil War was a big deal for her, the first one. When I close my eyes and picture her, it’s some of [CIVIL WAR artist] Steve McNiven’s work that I see.

And this is going to sound cornball, but I’d say the third one is going to be the story we’re doing right now in JESSICA JONES because it is such an illumination of her. I think if anyone is even vaguely curious about what her deal was, it’s a grabber. And also, I kind of enjoyed how long we could keep her mystery going. People were not angry at us, they kind of liked it. They got the sense that we knew her deal and we’ll get to it when we do. I get people asking me little fill in the blank things about her, like, what S.H.I.E.L.D. class was she in. And that makes me think people are going to be excited when we finally tell the story of who she is and how she got here.

So I do believe the third one is the one that’s coming out right now. What a great sales pitch, and at the same time, completely self-serving!

Marvel.com: Can you tease anything about what we might see in Maria’s future?

Brian Michael Bendis: This new chapter in Maria’s life is exciting because she’s out of her comfort zone and into a new world in the Marvel Universe. And I can’t tell you how excited I was that this was all coming out in other stories around the same time that Jessica Jones would be there to catch her fall. It’s a perfect place to unlock this mystery of this woman who’s one of the biggest mysteries in modern comics.

She’s in a place where it’s, now you’ve got to find out who you are. You’ve done this job for a while, you’ve made your choices, now you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and say, who am I? What do I have to offer the world? What next, what now? And those are some of the scariest questions [a] person can ask, no matter where you are in your life. And anyone can relate to that.

What’s going on in this book, and in other very big books at Marvel, with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the face of that part of Marvel, is going to be altered dramatically over the course of the summer. And those players, and their place in the Marvel Universe, will all deal with this big shift. Some will succeed, some will fail, some will turn, and it’s going to spill out into other books. Particularly, a very cool story is going on in SPIDER-MAN and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN because of this. So if you’re reading all of them, you’re going to be so rewarded. And if you’re just reading one or the other, we’re going to show you some cool, new stuff because of what’s going on with Maria and the future of that part of Marvel.

The secrets of Maria Hill continue to be revealed in JESSICA JONES #9 on June 7 and JESSICA JONES #10 on July 5, both by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos!

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