Brian Michael Bendis shares his formula for creating a better bad guy!

As INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #6 hit shelves this week, readers discovered a rough week for Riri Williams. Not only did she see her latest adventures going viral, but Ironheart had the unenviable position of catching the attention of the latest villain to the “Red and Gold” rogues’ gallery.

Of course, every hero needs a good villain; it comes with the job—and the fancy armor! But not just any baddie will do. So, who better to talk about what goes into crafting the right kind of enemy for an armored super hero like Iron Man or Ironheart than series writer, Brian Michael Bendis?

Marvel.com: Who are your favorite villains in the Marvel Universe, particularly those who existed before you became “Brian Michael Bendis” the comic writer?

Brian Michael Bendis: My favorites are not going to surprise too many people. Magneto is probably the [most well created] villain as far as craft goes. Here’s a character who teeters on the verge of madness, but we’ve also seen what’s formed him. We know what drives him. We understand and empathize with his point of view. We may even agree with it. We just can’t agree with how far he’ll go to make it happen. And that makes him a phenomenal antagonist. You can create a villain who not only does the audience like but also agree with. But then he goes and does something, and that’s where he loses them.

I’m going to switch to Doctor Doom for a minute here, but it holds with Magneto, too. There’s a real winning personality most writers have been able to find within the “Bwwaa ha ha” bad guy moments where we see this villain is a real person. When I picked my members of the Cabal, those characters were six of my favorite villains and there they were. That dynamic was ideal because they’re all Type A personalities with very clear agendas. They’re all broken in some way, and they wear it on their sleeves. What makes for a better “Twelve Angry Men” than that?

Marvel.com: What about these villains makes them compelling characters for you not only as a reader but also as a creator?

Brian Michael Bendis: You know, so many people wonder why we like Walter White from “Breaking Bad.” You don’t have to like these characters, you just like watching people be very good at what they do. Take a look at Tony Soprano and what he did. Walter White was better! And it’s fun to see people be good at their job. Even TLC reality shows do this same thing with their extravagant home flipping and wild motorcycle building series. That’s what makes villains captivating: seeing them pull of these grand plans better than anyone else!

Marvel.com: Of course, you’ve done more than just play with other people’s toys; you’ve created your fair share of characters as well during your tenure at Marvel. What do you think helps villains make the greatest impact, both on fans and on the residents of the Marvel Universe?

Brian Michael Bendis: There are two things I’ve always wanted to accomplish. Every creator— no matter the medium—has certain “itches” that they want to scratch. It doesn’t matter how many times you scratch it, you just can’t help but go back there for more, you know? With me, this idea of taking a villain like The Purple Man and scraping off the comic book silliness—and I mean that not at all in a pejorative sense, but as someone who loves it—but to scrape off all of the “stuff” and get to the true horror of the character, what it can do and what it represents. From there, I want to be able to tell a story that gives the ultimate version of its power and form, and from there, it becomes impossible to disassociate the villain from the respective hero. It’s definitely something I got to do with Purple Man and Jessica Jones.

The same notion, that I’m in the middle of right now, is the other big mountain that I’ve wanted to climb. I’ve done versions of this before, but I’m fascinated with [something] right now, and that is when people land themselves in these deep, dark pits and have to crawl out of them. The one that Victor Von Doom is in right now and is trying to pull himself from in INFAMOUS IRON MAN is the biggest hole anyone’s ever tried to escape from—to be honest—all of literature from the dawn of man. To go from what he did in [Secret Wars], which was an abomination of all things, and now here he is trying to redeem himself from that? It’s so much fun to write.

Marvel.com: It goes back to your previous point about villains where we may have a good idea about the end result, but it’s watching the path that the character takes to get there that imparts a sense of closure—that proves satisfying for us as readers.

Brian Michael Bendis: Exactly, especially when the Marvel Universe never closes and its characters are always in motion and moving in different directions. So, to take a moment to zero in on a character and explore what he or she wants and how far that person will go to get it is really some of the most fun you can have as a writer. Look through the eyes of Magneto? I’m Jewish, I get it! [Laughs] But would I go where he goes? Of course not! But trying to put yourself in his shoes is a pretty interesting thing.

Marvel.com: We’ve been looking at things from a broader perspective, but let’s drill down a bit and look at both Iron Man and Ironheart.

Given that both characters’ heroic personas evolve from their powerful armor, how does this affect the way you go about developing a villain? Is it the person in the armor or the armor on the person that drives the development of their enemies?

Brian Michael Bendis: [Laughs] You said a lot there—that was like 30 questions! But they’re all excellent ones. This is all I’ve been thinking about lately with these two characters. Yes, with Iron Man, the metaphor of the armor isn’t lost on anyone including the person in the armor. They’re all smart enough to get how he’s wrapped himself in this protective cocoon so the bad people can’t hurt me anymore. So, there’s that.

But what they do with the armor? Wearing armor goes back thousands of years. Who doesn’t think about armor and King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table from hundreds of years ago? Armor has been used for many reasons: religious, military, iconic. For Victor, he’s clearly working on some level where technology and all things mystic are merging. And this is something I’ll be playing out not just in his book but others as well. Stuff I hinted at years ago with Tony Stark, Sorcerer Supreme in the future. There’s an argument that says the Singularity might still come from man, and a character like Tony might have decided that when the Singularity comes, he might want it to be him.

With all of that in mind, I’ve given a lot of thought over the armor Victor has and what it could do along with how he uses his sorcerer abilities to enhance what it can do. Then we have Riri who has designed her armor using the base of Tony’s ideas, but then we’re already seeing that she’s added things to [hers] that his could not do. I think we’re seeing that [it] will be, as issues go on, it’s going to be both fun and frustrating. Just when you start to like something that her armor can do, it will change. But that’s just like her: Riri is also in a state of constant fluctuation personally.

Marvel.com: Which brings us to the issue of the villains…

Brian Michael Bendis: Right. The other question you asked centered on the villains that are developed around these heroes. Looking at these heroes, whose powers center around technology, the one thing that stands in direct contrast would be something organic, right? Something that can’t be controlled by technology. Hulk vs Iron Man is the perfect [example] of this conflict as they’re getting their powers from different places. One is getting stronger as the other is growing weaker. I love this character, Animax, that we recently introduced. She’s this mutant who can basically create creatures out of nothing. Monstrous creatures are great for an armored hero to fight!

Interestingly, that character was co-created by my daughter Olivia, and Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s son, Henry Leo. I was sitting at the table and I said “I need a villain!” and Henry Leo responded “It’s a woman, she’s a mutant, and she shoots animals out of her hands.” And then I asked Olivia, “What’s her name?” to which she replied “Animax.” And there you go. Thanks, guys! So, sometimes it’s as fun as that to dip into that sort of childhood imagination, or in my case, I stole it from our children. But I feed and clothe them, so it’s okay.

But then we have another interesting villain named Tomo the techno-golem, who’s running the Japanese underworld and has the power to take over and overload technology. Both Tony and Riri are trying to figure out how her power works. It’s either a level of technology they can’t understand or Tomo’s invented it. In either case, this presents a real challenge for Tony and Riri, and it’s something they can’t really seem to figure out right now. Already the villain is developing faster than they can! It kind of speaks to the larger challenge these technologically-based heroes face, and that’s the danger of becoming obsolete. Anyone who’s working at Apple or Sony will tell you there is this feeling of being constantly chased and becoming nothing more than an old Walk-Man. And that’s the legacy for a hero who works in a suit of armor.

Marvel.com: Iron Man’s made a lot of enemies over the years, and so, finding villains ready and willing to do battle with a red-and-gold armored hero shouldn’t be difficult. Does Riri need her own villains or do you think it would work perfectly fine for her to go on tackling some of the members from Tony’s rogues’ gallery?

Brian Michael Bendis: I feel the same way about Miles Morales as I do Riri. Anywhere I can add toys to the toy box, then by all means. It’s important to me to add as many as I’ve either used or broken! So, yes, I’ve been actively looking to invent new villains for the Iron Man world. It was actually the second item on my list when I knew I’d gotten the chance to take over Iron Man: work on the rogues’ gallery. But the reason I don’t want to do 100% brand new villains is that it would create a sort of disconnect. Why isn’t Miles bumping into Shocker at some point or another? He’s there. Is this the same world or not? That’s where my head’s at.

But yeah, there will be new characters. It goes back to Joker and Batman, right? When you have a new hero who comes out and announces him or herself to the world, it creates a sort of challenge to less heroic characters to step up. It’s a billiard ball effect where people respond in a myriad of different ways that the hero will have to deal with.

Marvel.com: Last question: Some might argue that Tony’s greatest enemy is himself. Do you think that’s the case for Riri? Why or why not?

Brian Michael Bendis: Riri doesn’t know who she is yet. She’s fiercely intelligent [and] discovering new things about herself each day. So, no, I don’t think she’s in the position to be her own worst enemy yet, you know? So far, her choices have been very heroic.

And this is where I’d disagree with the idea of Tony being his own worst enemy and put him on a higher pedestal than some do. Because they’re not wrong. That philosophy is more popular than mine. While Tony has a self-destructive streak, he always does the right thing. With everything he’s been through and the addictions he’s struggled through—even though he’s not with us anymore—it appears to be the work of a very heroic and noble man, who may not see that in himself. He may knock himself down in the Second Act, but he always gets back up.

Find out who’s targeting Riri next in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #7, available May 17 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli!

Read More

Peter Parker and Miles Morales reunite for a milestone story!

In 2012, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli gave us the legendary team-up of Peter Parker and Miles Morales with SPIDER-MEN. Through the dimensional tampering of Mysterio, Peter ended up in the “Ultimate” universe and came face-to-face with his own death as well as a brand-new and younger hero with the mantle of Spider-Man. Five years, one Secret Wars and a Civil War II later, and the two now live together in the Marvel Universe, but one massive question still remains: Who is the Miles Morales of Earth-616? The first five-issue event left that particular juicy nugget of information on a cliffhanger that has yet to be resolved…until now.

The highly-anticipated follow-up to SPIDER-MEN arrives this summer from the reunited team of Bendis and Pichelli along with colorist Justin Ponsor. Luckily, you won’t have to wait until the first issue of SPIDER-MEN II drops in July for some answers. We spoke with Brian about the long-awaited sequel, the iconic web-slinging legacy of Spider-Man, and the question he’s been asked the most on social media for half a decade.

Marvel.com: So tell us a little bit about SPIDER-MEN II…

Brian Michael Bendis: Well first I have to tell you about [SPIDER-MEN]. So a few years ago when Miles first debuted, we did a series called SPIDER-MEN where Peter and Miles met for the very first time. The Peter from our universe, and Miles from the Ultimate Universe, and what was surprising about the series—for me as well by the way—was how emotional it became; it started in my head, as a fan, I would want to see them team up immediately, but the emotions of the series were so raw, and what Miles took away from it was so powerful. And also it just became about legacy and loss and individuality and it ended up becoming one of the best things I ever did at Marvel, in no small part to what Sara Pichelli achieved with Justin Ponsor on the pages. We ended that series with kind of a cheeky, [tongue-in-cheek], cliffhanger or like, what they call, an “anti-cliffhanger” you know? Where after it’s all done, Peter comes back to his universe, takes a shower, sits down and decides to Google Miles Morales, because there was no Miles Morales he knew of. He Googles it, and we see his reaction to it, but we don’t see what he sees. So of course for the last few years, every week and even lately, every day, I’ve been getting beamed with “What did he see?” “Who is Miles Morales in the 616?,” but what’s great since the first series, and the reason we didn’t do another series right away was because Secret Wars was coming and [Civil War II] was coming. There were such big events coming and one of those events, Secret Wars, created a situation where Miles and Peter live in the same Marvel Universe now, which changes the dynamic between them and changes the dynamic of all the Spider-People, and as soon as that happened I was like, “Well, then we get to do SPIDER-MEN II, and they’re in the same universe, like that could be exciting” and also create a brand new story to tell, and sometimes I think that everyone knows that sometimes the thing you worry about the most with sequels, is that it’s just going to be the same story over and over again, whereas this one already the premise is completely different because now Miles and Peter are living in the same universe, their legacy is of the same cloth and it alters everything between them. Plus, we still don’t know who Miles Morales was in the 616 before our Miles got there, so we have a very interesting bunch of things to reveal.

Marvel.com: What’s the gestation period been like over the last five years for the sequel?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, it’s one of my favorite things about a shared universe, is that on top of what you’re writing for the characters, other things are happening to the characters, like now Miles is in the new universe, and now he’s a part of CHAMPIONS, and half of [Civil War II] was people fighting over his head, so things have changed in his life, and his relationship to the Marvel Universe is completely different than it was in the first series and that’s exciting. Also, a lot of people know who he is now, they know that there’s a movie coming with him, he’s in the cartoons, he’s a Build-A-Bear, he’s everywhere! It’s exciting to have him with his own fan base now coming back to meeting Peter and seeing what’s up between them.

Marvel.com: Where would you say that this series fits into this tapestry that you’ve been building for nearly two decades within the context of the Spider-Man stories you’ve been writing?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think it’s a very big chapter about legacy; ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN from its very first issue was about the legacy of Spider-Man even though we were retelling the stories or reexamining the stories for modern audiences. We’re still telling the story of Spider-Man, it’s still about the legacy and much like I was living in and continue to live in Stan [Lee’s] shadow with Spider-Man, I can relate to Miles so much because that’s what it must feel like to be Spider-Man when Peter Parker is there, so I relate to it, and what I discovered was that a lot of people did, a lot of people grow up admiring someone, saying “That’s what I want to be like when I grow up” and then they grow up and go, “Well actually, what I like about that person is that they’re an individual with an individual voice so maybe that’s what I should be looking for, instead of looking to emulate.” A lot of people who make comics can relate to this. I broke in and said, “Oh my God, I wanna be Frank Miller” and then you soon realize, “Well, what I like about Frank Miller is that he’s unique, so what can I do that’s unique? Not just imitate him, but what can I do?” Even writing DAREDEVIL, it was a challenge because I was writing the book, the reason that I wanted to be here in the first place. So what can Miles do? And that’s going to the be answered in this series.

Marvel.com: And like you said we left off on this cliffhanger, with Peter researching Miles in his own universe. Is there anything you can tease about what Peter, and as an extension, the readers, will learn about this other Miles?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah you know sometimes I, because I’m cheeky online, and I’m cheeky on Tumblr; like I’m half cheeky so sometimes I’m answering serious, sometimes I’m being a goofball. With this one over the years, I’ve been a goofball, like people were “meme-ing” with it, they’d always used it like, “Peter Googled something about comics and there’s the answer,” you know? It was always like a fun meme, which I really like so I would always re-post them so people might think that we’re not gonna really answer the question of who the Miles Morales is in the 616 universe, or [they think] I’m gonna do a trick answer [like], “It’s really been Miles the whole time, there’s no other…” No. There is a person Miles Morales and we’re gonna meet him and it’s a story to tell. So, it’s a very important story to us and we’ve been planning it for years and we wanted to make sure it was the right time and the right people to do it so I just want to make it clear since I’ve been so goofy about the answer that you’re getting a real answer, a serious answer, not a fake out.

Marvel.com: And going off that, how does “our” Miles Morales, who’s now living on Earth-616 play into this hunt so-to-speak? How does he feel about this other “him”?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, that’s it. There’s gonna be a team-up between Peter and Miles, the first one in a while, and that’s gonna not only illuminate who Miles is but they’re going to find themselves up against some serious, serious big time problems, the first one being Taskmaster.

Marvel.com: Now that Peter and Miles know that these other universes exist, what kind of fun did you want to have with these types of concepts this time?

Brian Michael Bendis:  Well that’s the thing, it’s actually different because now they’re all stuck in the same place; there is nowhere to go. They’re stuck with each other, so let’s figure out what this [mystery] is about. For Peter, we’re talking a lot about Miles, but for Peter you got to remember, when he put on the Spider-Man costume, he wasn’t [like], “I’m going to start a movement, there are going to be so many Spider-People when I’m done!” That was not the plan. So his examination of power and responsibility gets amplified by the fact that he has brought upon a genuine amount of Spider People that their power may become his responsibility as well. Is it his responsibility? This is what we will look into.

Marvel.com: Since that other storyline dealt with Peter Parker dying in that other universe, in the Ultimate Universe, is our Peter kind of reeling from that knowledge about his death? Is he aware of his mortality than he was before and will it affect his motivations?

Brian Michael Bendis: Excellent question—You will see in [SPIDER-MEN II #3].

Marvel.com: You just mentioned Taskmaster; like Mysterio and the Ultimates in the first run, what can you tell us about the key players, both heroes and villains, in SPIDER-MEN II?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well it looks like Taskmaster was sharing a cell with Mysterio, or I should say sharing a cell-block and found out about what Mysterio was up to in the first series and Taskmaster is using that information for a plan that’s pretty dangerous because Taskmaster may not understand the dimensional ramifications of what he is doing; he is planning to pull off a heist, but he may be folding realities, but this isn’t going to be a dimension-hopping story—we just did an awesome one with SPIDER-GWEN—we are flat out in the Marvel Universe. We’re right here.

Marvel.com: Final question: What are the stakes like?

Brian Michael Bendis: They’re everything. I mean you are talking about a young man who is searching for his identity, you’re talking about Spider-Man who’s looking to lock down his legacy in a way that will do Uncle Ben and everything that he’s worked for proud. Peter’s fought for years [so] he can’t have it all fall apart now, so for the men of [SPIDER-MEN II it’s] gigantic, huge. And If I may, I haven’t mentioned Sara and Justin. Sara, the co-creator of Miles Morales, and she’s been there for every major event, almost, that has happened to him. I really didn’t wanna do this without her so I was thrilled that she agreed; so having Sarah and Justin together which is the entire creative team of not only the first series, but of Miles Morales’s origin and of his [current] book, it’s a real treat that we get to continue on.

Marvel.com: Anything else to add?

Brian Michael Bendis: You know what? It’s exciting just because this series is the one I’m asked the most about. “When are you going to do this? When are you gonna follow up on this?”  and there just wasn’t a good time to do it until now, and all the stuff that’s happened since then has made the story that much more potent. Again, a few years ago, when we started SPIDER-MEN, I couldn’t even imagine that there would be a Miles Morales” movie and that the Spider-Man movie franchise would be so loving towards the work we did on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN; what a perfect time to take our next big step [with] the “Spider” characters in publishing.

Get ready for SPIDER-MEN II from Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor this July by reading the first issue of SPIDER-MEN now for free! Offer valid until Thursday April 27 at 9:59 AM EST on one (1) digital copy of SPIDER-MEN #1 only. Marvel user account and internet connection required.

 

 

Read More

Brian Michael Bendis goes over his lead’s ups and downs as a detective!

Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Jake Gittes. Popular culture gives us no end of rugged, hard-hitting private detectives who can sling quick-witted as if genetically-engineered to do so, but only one of them has had the honor of also calling themselves an Avenger.

That would be Jessica Jones, a no-nonsense investigator, mother, wife, and Defender. We’ve seen her solve some difficult cases on the page and screen, but it’s time to dig deep into what makes Jessica a particularly effective gumshoe. We got a hold of her co-creator and current JESSICA JONES scribe Brian Michael Bendis to chat about Jessica’s noir influences, her role as a wife/mother and the cathartic effect she has on her writer.

To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, “An interview with Mr. Bendis is, uh, the stuff dreams are made of.”

Marvel.com: As a co-creator of this character, what do you think makes her such an effective private investigator?

Brian Michael Bendis: Her perspective and experience and attitude. You have to have this perfect mesh of intuitive understanding of the human condition; I mean this is really what all detectives are. You’re looking at something and seeing things that other people wouldn’t see. You train your brain to see the tells on a person’s face so you can tell if they’re lying or not. You train your brain to scan a room and see little bits and pieces that other people wouldn’t know. On top of that, I think Jessica is quite excellent at knowing the right people to go to, to find something out and that’s one of her real successes. As a street level character, she kind of knows— like she’s one of the few people who knows where Night Nurse is and she knows where the gun runners are. She knows where all the players are, and she knows who to ask certain questions of something. Like right now, I’m doing a story where [Jessica] is trying to find out who is trying to murder Maria Hill, and that’s far out of her normal wheel house, but she was able to dig under some rocks and find the people who might know the people who know the people so she’s very good at that, I don’t think she gives herself enough credit. Just having had her perspective as an Avenger, as Luke Cage’s wife, as now a Defender, you know, she’s in it, she has a really unique perspective of the entire super hero community so when people come to her with problems revolving around it she’s able to figure out not only how to solve the case, but if the case is even a case; which is sometimes what a detective’s job really is. Is this case a case? Sometimes they’re not.

Marvel.com: That’s a good segue into the next question, which is when it comes to genre, Jessica Jones is very much like a noir character, so can you talk about the noir influences that went into creating the character and her stories?

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh, from Jake Gittes, all the way to the real life detectives I’ve met, to the most unique detectives in fiction, like [the movie] “Brick.” I love these movies or stories where there is a detective in the last place you would expect one. Ed Brubaker did an amazing series called Scene of the Crime that I absolutely loved as well. “Chinatown,” obviously, is the one that you go “Ok, don’t be bad, because there’s ‘Chinatown,’ try to be good like ‘Chinatown’.” And in there are so many excellent tropes about detectives and their relationships and why people hire a private investigator. Sometimes the police aren’t just enough, you need special attention or a special perspective and she definitely stands among her influences, that is one thing I definitely bring with her if that makes any sense is that she definitely does not.

Marvel.com: I’m glad you brought up “Chinatown” because, generally speaking, private investigators in pop culture have mostly been men with women taking on the role of the femme fatale, and she is such a subversion of those tropes…

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, I get it and we talk about it a little bit because, you know, there is a lot of muscle work with detective work, it’s a lot like [you’re] getting into fights in the back room of a bar or you’re body-guarding and fair or not, over the decades men would take those jobs, but Jessica, obviously, is unique and didn’t need to worry about that so from there we were able to build a completely different experience. Yes, there are real life private investigators and detectives that are women right now and actually I know them so I am not saying that there aren’t women detectives, there absolutely are and I’m just saying that you’re right that traditionally and certainly traditionally in fiction, we’ve seen a lot of men so once you start digging into what is unique about Jessica, yeah, Jessica has her unique perspective, and also a female perspective, and also the perspective of someone with the power to back it up, so she may get into jams that would be difficult for normal people, that she can get out of and that adds to what’s unique about her as a detective as well.

Marvel.com: And like you’ve said, she’s been in the Avengers, she has tried the whole costumed hero thing” before starting Alias Investigations, so what aspects of crime fighting came with her to her detective days and which kind of fell to the wayside.

Brian Michael Bendis: What I like about her, and I know a lot of people like about her, is that she tried it, ok, she tried it, it felt like [expletive] to her, which is totally fine, and like I said even with people who [are] in comics, they are creators, they come to do a certain type of comic, and then they go “Oh, I don’t like that type of comic, I don’t want to make that comic,” right? But other people love it, they think it’s the best way to do it, so that’s the people who should do that, so the people who think that being a super hero is the best way to do it, those are people who should be [super heroes], and yes Jessica who doesn’t think that that’s the road for her or she thinks it’s proven it’s not the road for her, she absolutely should not do it, she should do it her way. So having the experience of wearing the costume and bouncing around and not appreciating it as much as others gives her that unique ability to scrape the [expletive] off of any story and get right to the meat of it; whereas other detectives and reporters might find themselves distracted by the flash of powers and flying around, she is not. She’s seen how the sausage is made so she’s alright. You’ve seen it too like, even reporters who have met fifty thousand movie stars, when they meet a new movie star they get all giddy, it’s exciting you’re meeting a movie star. If you want someone solving your case, you want something who isn’t going to start giggling if Tony Stark shows up. [She can ask], “Are you full of [expletive] or not?” That’s what Jessica can do.

Marvel.com: And kind of going off that, being a P.I can be a morally dubious job; how does that weigh on her conscience or affect her husband and child for whom she wants to set a positive example?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well that’s it and that’s really what the new series has been about for me. As I have often confessed, [JESSICA JONES] being a book that I’m the most aware that I’m working some [expletive] out of for myself. Sometimes when you’re writing you don’t know what you’re working out until it’s done whereas with Jessica, I am a father of four children and I am constantly finding myself being looked up to by them, they’re looking for answers from me. When you find yourself all the sudden in this position, where people are looking to you, you have to kind of examine who you are and why you put yourself in this situation, so that is part of what Jessica is doing, she wants to be the detective, she wants to solve her cases and by doing so, maybe make the world a better place, and when her daughter is old enough to look around, it’ll look better than the one Jessica looks at and she says that in the series to Luke. They’re both freaking out about being parents when they don’t think they’re fully realized as humans yet and as I’ve discovered in my life, I’ve never met anyone who said, “Oh good, I’m gonna be a parent because I’m fully realized as a human.” You always go, “Oh [expletive]! I’m a parent now, but I’m not done baking myself.” Because you’re never done, it’s the truth. So this is what Jessica and Luke will be dealing with in the series is, “We’re parents now so that means that we have other responsibilities on top of the responsibilities we had” or “The responsibilities we had are now amplified because we’re doing it not only for ourselves and for the world, but for this child. Not only do we want to raise her to be a good person, we’d like to help the world be somewhere safe for her and also, wouldn’t it be nice when she is old enough and looks at her [mother], that she sees Jessica Jones, the detective who saves people and is heroic and making the world a better place, not the gigantic pile of loser that she thinks she was years ago.” And the reason I say she thinks she was [is] because I don’t, I think she’s a survivor. She thinks otherwise.

Marvel.com: Final question: if you had to nail down a MacGuffin, so to speak, for Jessica over the course of her career, what would it be? What would her Maltese Falcon” be, in other words?

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh, it’s the Purple Man in a way if you think about. Here is my vague hint because the real interesting thing about your question is that her journey with the Purple Man has not come to an end…there’s your big tease.

Find out what’s next for the powerhouse P.I. in JESSICA JONES #8, on sale May 3 from Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos!

Read More

The team meets Angela, battles Thanos once again, and much more!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of their new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

Writer Brian Michael Bendis’ first arc on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY may have dropped the team in the middle of intergalactic politics, but the second—issues #410, specifically—introduced them to a brand new lifeform and mixed them up with another Thanos plot to destroy the Earth. The legendary Neil Gaiman also helped work on some of these stories, drawn by Sara Pichelli, Olivier Coipel, Valerio Schiti, Francesco Francavilla, and Kevin Maguire.

As the team celebrates a victory, Iron Man and Gamora sneak off to get friendly, after which Tony calls Pepper Potts and the deadliest woman in the galaxy finds herself targeted by Maxilin the Accuser. She gets back on her feet and gives him trouble, but he proves formidable enough to nearly kill her until the Guardians appear and Rocket takes him out.

After that, Peter meets up with former Guardian Mantis to talk about a vision he received that revealed the past and future to him all at once. She couldn’t help, but did suggest he talk to an old foe. Meanwhile, Angela—who debuted at the end of AGE OF ULTRON #10—hits the scene and immediately goes toe-to-toe with Gamora.

As that battle rages, Star-Lord meets with the previously alluded to individual: Thanos. He’d also seen a vision, but knew the truth behind it: “The Earth is doomed.” Why? Because they messed with time and space way too many times. Peter, as you might expect, doesn’t like this revelation.

Eventually, the Guardians get the drop on Angela and lock her up. Peter returns, hears her story and releases her from captivity so she could head to Earth and see it for herself.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #4

Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #4

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Back in the vicinity of Quill and Stark’s home planet, the Guardians answer a distress call from Abigail Brand, head of S.W.O.R.D., who has been overtaken by Thanos’ forces in the pages of INFINITY. Even Angela gets in the action.

Finally, in the last issue of this batch, Gamora and Angela bury the hatchet and team up to blast the Brotherhood of the Badoon on their home planet of Moord in an attempt to find the missing Thanos. They even learn the truth that he’s on Earth, but don’t believe the source and head back into space towards their next adventure!

Transmissions from Knowhere

Between issues #9 and #10, the Guardians got involved in Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity, which saw the Avengers teaming with all kinds of alien races to defeat Thanos and the Builders. However, our heroes only popped up after saving Abigail Brand in the sixth and final issue of the event’s core limited series. The Guardians played an important part in the overall battle that ended with Thanos frozen in a statue-like state. That didn’t last long as Namor freed the Mad Titan in NEW AVENGERS, but even the being who’s nearly destroyed reality more times than we can count fell quickly to Emperor God Doom in the pages of SECRET WARS. Of course, he returned along with everyone else in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe in books like THE ULTIMATES and CIVIL WAR II.

Read More

Brian Michael Bendis lists his favorite moments from nearly five years with the team!

Stuck on Earth and scattered across the planet, if there’s one thing that can bring the Guardians of the Galaxy back together, it’s a common enemy. On April 12, “Grounded” reaches its conclusion with the final issue by writer Brian Michael Bendis in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #19!

After close to five years of wandering around the universe and sometimes saving the day, it’s time for the Guardians to part ways with one of Marvel’s most prolific writers. An era of Guardians history comes to a close in this special doubled-sized issue, featuring work from Valerio Schiti and an all-star team of guest artists.

To celebrate the achievement, Brian gave us a retrospective look at his favorite moments alongside the most dysfunctional super group in the galaxy.

Marvel.com: Let’s start with the best of the worst: favorite villain?

Brian Michael Bendis: Peter’s father. It was one of the reasons I wanted to write this book, having done the research working with the Marvel Cinematic Creative Committee. They were debating whether or not Guardians was a movie franchise—this was when Guardians was as cult as it gets. They sent me some material and some things they were thinking about and I started reading—and I had read it as a fan—but to read it considering its global potential was an interesting thing to do. And then reading Peter’s origin story was so exciting to me because, if you read it, it’s as good as Spider-Man or Superman, it’s just not as well known. The purity of narrative is beautiful. This king crash-lands on Earth in the middle of a space war, falls in love with an Earth person, knocks her up, goes back to his space war, and she’s left on Earth with a half-alien baby—and the boy will never know. This is phenomenal stuff. And then he grows up to find out who he is and “Oh my god, your father’s an a-hole across the galaxy!” Most kings of anything are not known for their warmth. So, to dive into that and cover that for almost the first entire volume was very fun and something I was dying to write.

Marvel.com: Favorite guest star?

Brian Michael Bendis: Just last night, I wrote my goodbye to Guardians, so it’s all fresh on my mind. I think having Tony Stark up in space for as long as we did in the middle of golden run as a movie star was pretty exciting. Also, we had a lot of fun with him—what a great field trip for Tony to go on. And then, hilariously, him and Gamora hooking up, which shows up on my Tumblr feed every three days. It’s going down well as one of the great super hero hookups.

Marvel.com: Favorite event or tie-in?

Brian Michael Bendis: I’m very, very fond of “The Trial of Jean Grey,” even though that was a self-executed mini-crossover. I love when the X-Men go off into space, I love the weird X-Men stories. And the idea of bringing Jean Grey into the present and Jean Grey being a gigantic cosmic serial killer, as far as most people are concerned, a genocidal maniac. To put her on trial and be actively writing both books, making sure the trial happened organically in both books, was very exciting. It was like, “Ooo, you know what’s never been told before, this story. And I’m writing both books!? And, oh my god, Kitty and Peter fall in love in the process!” So everything about that, I really enjoyed and I hear from a lot of people about that. That’s probably everyone’s favorite story from my run? That’s the one I hear about the most.

But the one I think is my favorite tie-in stuff is probably the Black Vortex stuff, which is Sam Humphries’ storyline, but I thought it spoke well to what we, as a group of writers and artists, added to the galactic books over the course of the last couple years. There were interesting interactions between all the characters. We were just way into it.

But I also gotta say, for as weird as it is, the Guardians were always kind of in their own little world, and I know people like that about them as well. One of my mandates was to bring them more to a centered position in the Marvel Universe, so I added them into Infinity, which was the first time they crossed over in one of my books. Just having them show up in the event was so surprising because they’d never shown up in anything before. So that moment was really exciting for me.

Marvel.com: Favorite fight?

Brian Michael Bendis: Kevin Maguire is one of my favorite comic book artists of all time and we got him to do a couple of issues. And it was an issue with a Gamora and Angela team-up, [GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #10], I thought he did an outstanding job with that issue. It was a big, big fight, breaking into a planet, and I thought he did an exceptional job.

Marvel.com: Favorite Groot quote?

Brian Michael Bendis: I actually have a very funny story about that. We were making the “Powers” TV show last year and I was on set, because I wrote episodes. And I’d be in the video village and I had a little desk where I’d sit and literally write Marvel comics while they were setting up the lights and stuff. There were sometimes hours where I literally had nothing to do, so I’d sit and type. So I was sitting in the corner, typing. And one of the actors, whose name is Sharlto Copley, he’s in the show—he keeps looking over, thinking I’m writing the TV show. And I’m writing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Sharlto comes up behind me and just out of nowhere, reads what he sees on my screen, and yells “I am Groot!?” And it turns out, Sharlto has no idea who the Guardians of the Galaxy are, he never saw the movie, he has no idea what “I am Groot” means. And it was one of the pages where Groot keeps interrupting, that’s the joke, he’s just saying “I am Groot, I am Groot,” so Sharlto looks at it and thinks I’m crazy. He yells, “I am Groot,” everyone else in the video village jumps because they’re like, “Why is he yelling ‘I am Groot,’” because they get the reference. It was a totally unique, once-in-a-lifetime, hilarious moment where he’s yelling “I am Groot, I am Groot” and has no idea why people are laughing.

But one of my favorite moments of writing the entire series was the variant cover that Dale Keown did where the joke is that Jean Grey is talking to him and she can translate “I am Groot” into his actual words and his words are very poetic—and I probably worked harder on those words than anything I worked on that year. You got a little taste of what goes on in Groot’s head for real and I heard from a lot of people on that, so that went well.

Marvel.com: And favorite Guardian?

Brian Michael Bendis: Ahh! See, having written other team books, it’s never about “favorite Guardian,” it’s really “favorite relationship.” We knew that Rocket and Groot are the relationship. But when you discover friendships, or antagonisms, or a new type of relationship within the group of friends, that’s always my favorite stuff. So when something like Angela and Gamora—they really like each other. I think Angela just adores Gamora, and they fight well together and are happy to know each other—that kind of stuff I really like. And I liked writing Tony and Rocket, because Tony is sometimes like Rocket, but in the Avengers. He’s kind of caustic and like “I know everything and everyone’s gonna do what I say.” So for him to [be] faced with this little animal version of his own ego, on a ship—it’s really fun to write. On Avengers, it was discovering that Luke Cage and Spider-Man were hilarious together. That was a surprise, it wasn’t planned. The same thing happens here, where the characters start to gravitate towards each other or away from each other, and the towards each other is always the most fun stuff. And you can’t force it.

I also like this—and I know people really like this and it’s the thing that I’m [guiltiest] of—but, if Kitty Pryde’s not busy, I will grab her and put her in my book. And the most outlandish incident of me doing this is putting her in outer space for a while. I thought Kitty’s no-nonsense, once-a-teacher, strong-Jewish-woman-up-in-space was a ton of fun. And her juxtaposition to Gamora was a great bit of fun. I think her presence on the team, with Tony’s, was very different. What I wanted, and liked, was adding this element that wasn’t in the movies. Just to see what shakes out differently—and with Tony and with Carol [Danvers] and with Kitty and Venom and Ben Grimm, I thought we were able to do that every time.

Marvel.com: What about the team dynamic did you enjoy writing most? How did you approach the characters differently as time went on?

Brian Michael Bendis: I kind of got it in my head that they’re kind of on a road trip that never ends. They’re in a big RV, or on a tour bus, and the tour never ends—the dynamic of a tour. Traveling with family or traveling with friends—you ever go on a long trip with friends? It’s unique. So I wanted that dynamic to be constant, fighting over food and chairs and where we’re gonna stop and where we’re gonna eat. Just making sure that the life seemed like it was being lived inside that ship in a way that most people can relate to—you get on each other’s nerves, you laugh at stupid stuff, you get the giggles. Just normal traveling stuff. I also like that they all go away from each other for a while too.

It’s a very unique book in how they interact with each other. They are as close to family as anything in comics, but they also have their adventures. Always making sure that it felt like they were living together. There’s a lot of detail in the scripts about what’s in their rooms; Peter’s room is messy, Gamora’s room is perfect—how their lives interact with their environment. It’s a fun part for me.

Marvel.com: And finally, what are your overall thoughts looking back on nearly five years with the Guardians of the Galaxy?

Brian Michael Bendis: When I got the job, I originally came into comics as a crime fiction writer, and the things I was most known for, Daredevil or Jessica Jones, real-world crime fiction, that is what’s been my additive element to comics—my love of this and where my strengths are. So I found myself, just a few years later, writing a talking raccoon book—and dying to do it. That’s the other thing: I wasn’t doing it just to see if I could; I really wanted to do it. And when I got the call to do it, I was so excited because the challenge is enormous. Because, we haven’t mentioned, when I got the book, the book hadn’t been produced for a while. The last volume [before] was considered one of the great standards of Marvel Comics and one of the great runs of all time. The reason that there’s a movie is because of them. Stepping into a book that was already so well-loved among the core fanbase, no matter what I had accomplished in comics, I knew I was going to have to prove myself over time. So I was grateful that I was allowed the chance to do so.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is that there wasn’t one issue of any Guardians book that I had my name on that wasn’t drawn by one of the great talents of this generation of comics. From Steve McNiven, to Sara [Pichelli], to Frank Cho, to Kevin Maguire, and finally with Valerio Schiti—every annual, every special, every tie-in, everything we did had these great artists, including our finale, which is packed full of these awesome artists that I love so much. People just love these characters so much and they love drawing them, so every time you call up anybody in comics and say “Hey, you wanna draw raccoons and trees and spaceships for an issue?” the answer is “Yes I do!” So I was, and will forever be grateful, that the book was so beautiful, and exciting, and poppy on every single page. This book was gorgeous.

I also became very aware, of all the books that I write—and I write some very mainstream books that people have heard of—from the moment that I took the book, all the way through to this weekend at a sleepover that my kids had, if you tell kids that you’re the writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, they crap their pants. And I write Spider-Man and Avengers and Iron Man, but Guardians—my children’s friends stare at me like Rocket Raccoon actually just walked in the door. So, of all the books that are out there right now, I think Guardians is the one that has the most gateway potential. Kids are going to be seeing this and I’m so proud that when they see our stuff, they’re going to be seeing such beautiful comics—because on top of the characters, that’s how people fall in love with the medium. And I hope, when people see Valerio’s work or Steve’s work—and how exciting a visual and inspiring for the imagination it is—that people will find a way to stay with us. So my takeaway is that I’m very happy that the movie took off and that I bet right—because I bet on this a year before the movie came out and I was very happy that it did. But I’m also immensely proud to have put my name on such beautifully illustrated books.

Witness the end of an era with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #19, by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Valerio Schiti, on April 12!

Read More

Brian Michael Bendis speaks on Miles Morales’ mom and more!

By Josh Weiss

I’ve never met a mother yet totally cool with the idea of her son swinging from the rooftops of buildings and getting involved in life-threatening battles with villains and heroes alike. If anything, these things would probably heighten the feeling of anxiety she has for her child—her own brand of Spidey Sense, let’s call it. Pair that with a secretive, hormonal teenager and it can be a recipe for disaster.

Such is the reality of Rio Morales’s relationship with her son, Miles, aka Spider-Man. As one of the co-creators and writers of this character—plus, a parent himself—Brian Michael Bendis happily gave us some profound insights into Miles’ upbringing and how the presence of his mother in his life influenced his journey as Spider-Man, compared to the backstory of Miles’ role model, Peter Parker.

Marvel.com: Unlike Peter Parker who was raised by his aunt and uncle, Miles was able to be brought up by his actual parents. How did the presence of his biological caregivers, particularly his mother, affect his journey to becoming Spider-Man and all the baggage the hero role ultimately came with?

Brian Michael Bendis: It affects it completely. This is everything. That is, in my mind, the real big difference between Peter and Miles. They were raised completely differently in different parts of the city with different relationships to everything—even different connections to morality and spirituality. That all comes from the way they were raised. That’s true with everybody. Both of these young men are representing something similar but from completely different perspectives.

Marvel.com: Did you try and model Rio Morales on Aunt May or did you want her to be something entirely different? If so, in what ways did you try to distinguish her from such an iconic character?

Brian Michael Bendis: Something entirely different. I have gone on record saying that I based [the Ultimate version of] Aunt May on my mother, but Rio was based on someone else completely. I know so many good parents. There is this [Venn] diagram of the way good parents handle a lot of things, but there are also all these interesting differences. Things that we have all handed down from our families including things that we will never do because of our families. Everyone raises their children differently. Front and center are the ideas the parent really wants to make sure the kid understands. And while Peter was learning “with great power comes great responsibility,” Miles was learning some harsher truths.

Marvel.com: Miles’ father, Jefferson Davis, is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. While Rio Morales is just an ordinary person, albeit an extraordinary mother. How does this more grounded personality play into Miles’ super powered persona?

Brian Michael Bendis: Every child is a product of their environment and when you have two strong personality parents, something I and my children know something about—it’s very interesting to see how the child processes their surroundings and develops their own personality. With Miles, we have this interesting parent dynamic, plus their dynamic with each other. Both voices take up equal space in his brain. Plus, he has these powers which have opened doors to meeting all kinds of heroes and icons. All these people will be making a giant impression on Miles as he moves and develops forward.

Marvel.com: At the end of the day Miles is still a teenager and based on experiences with my own mother, she gets worried when I forget to call and I’m 22-years-old. I can’t imagine what that worry must be like for Rio. Can you describe how she copes with it and if it causes any strain on her relationship with Miles?

Brian Michael Bendis: This is a major story point going forward. She gave him a lot of latitude in an attempt to be a cool mom to a teenager who has earned her trust but the reality is Miles’ life may be too complicated to hide from her much longer. And it might be that keeping a secret from her is the worst thing he could have ever done.

Marvel.com: How does she feel about her son’s involvement with that Spider-Gwen girl?

Brian Michael Bendis: Rio doesn’t know what Miles is up to. Very few parents really know what their teenagers are up to. I fondly remember keeping things from my mother just because I wanted that power over her. I wasn’t actually doing anything bad, I was reading comics, I just wanted my stuff. Spider-Man is Miles’s ultimate teen expression of freedom.

 

Follow Miles’ family drama with SPIDER-MAN #15, available April 5!

Read More

Brian Michael Bendis imposes a mother of a problem on Doctor Doom!

By Josh Weiss

It can be hard to go from a life of super villainy to one of super heroism, especially if you had a rocky childhood. But Victor Von Doom seems to manage it ok after taking up the mantle of Iron Man in the INFAMOUS IRON MAN series. However, things just got a little more complicated for the now good doctor with the surprise appearance of his mother in issue #5.

We spoke with the man behind the reformed bad guy, writer Brian Michael Bendis, about Mother’s Day coming a little early this year for Victor. Needless to say, things are never that simple when you’re a member of the Von Doom clan. Bendis discusses the opening of decades’ old emotional wounds, an undercurrent of nefarious sorcery, extremely cautious optimism, and a full-on Shakespearean tragedy.

In other words, there’s nothing like a mother’s touch.

Marvel.com: Victor Von Doom and his super villain persona have always been more of the egotistical, lone wolf types. What does the surprise appearance of Cynthia von Doom mean for this lifestyle up until now? 

Brian Michael Bendis: One could argue that all Victor ever wanted was his mother.

All of his studies in the early part of his career and most of the quests that he was venturing on were an attempt to contact his mother or rescue his mother from her own fates. Probably for that one last hug. And when he couldn’t make that happen he would lash out at the world. So, for most of his life, Victor found himself sculpted by his drive to not only get his mother back, but to get his mother back using the tools that his mother had mastered as a sorceress. She was also a sorcerer. She was banished to a dark demonic dimension. These are very complicated, huge, Shakespearean level events that Victor was consumed by and forged by.

Marvel.com: To many sons out there, a mother’s advice and approval are invaluable when making major life choices. Does Cynthia have either to offer to a son who is now trying to walk the path of do-goodery?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think he’s going to be more focused on the mystery of her reappearance and what it means. I think Victor is rightly suspicious.

Marvel.com: Do you think it’s fair for her to show up now that he’s reformed or should she have been present during his darker times too, even if she was ashamed?

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh God, no. But life is never fair and certainly never to anybody who is the lead of a monthly Marvel comic. Victor’s mother showing up brings so many more questions [than] we have answers for. Is it really her? Is it a trick? Is it that demon that Victor battled to rescue her soul masquerading as his mother in an attempt to mess with him? Is it The Maker, the evil Reed Richards, trying to defeat Victor with the ultimate mind [expletive]?

Infamous Iron Man #6 cover by Alex Maleev

Marvel.com: Would you say Victor is a mama’s boy at heart?

Brian Michael Bendis: I would call that an oversimplification. He is completely involved in a Shakespearean level tragedy. Most people whether they are conscious of it or not, spend most of their lives trying to live up to their parents or stay away from their parents or understand them, but it’s all wrapped up in that relationship. I think that’s why the book is connecting with so many people. It’s not that they identify with Victor, because very few people have walked in his shoes, but I think they do respond to the idea of someone trying the biggest “do over” of all time while at the same time dealing with the adult realities of a truly messed up childhood.

Marvel.com: At the end of issue #5 we learn that his mother isn’t just back in his life to tell him how proud she is of him in his new hero role. Is there anything you can tell us about how she factors into the future of this series?

Brian Michael Bendis: Nothing is what it seems. And for those who think they know what that means…they don’t know what that means.

The Von Doom family drama continues to unfold in INFAMOUS IRON MAN #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, available March 29!

Read More