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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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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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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Artist David Marquez cracks open his sketchbook to show off Daredevil and company!

It’s a great time to be Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Not only do they all have individual comic book series’ coming out on a monthly basis, but their television exploits have been enjoyed by millions of people on Netflix! They will join forces on the small screen in “Marvel’s Defenders” on August 18, but even before that, you can see them in comic form on June 14 with a new DEFENDERS ongoing series!

CIVIL WAR II collaborators Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez launch the new title with a line-up that starts with those characters, but will also feature plenty of street level characters from across the Marvel Universe showing up. We talked with Marquez about his evolving relationship with Bendis, bringing these characters together, and adding special guests to the fold.

Marvel.com: You and Brian have worked together a lot over the past few years. What do you think makes you such good collaborators?

David Marquez: I think first and foremost we both have a lot or respect for each other, both in terms of craft, but also over the years we’ve become fast friends, and that warmth and respect comes through in the final product, I think.

We also have a lot of the same instincts in terms of storytelling. We both place the characters front and center in the story; their emotions, their struggles, their joys. We both want our readers to really fall in love with the people in these books.

Marvel.com: Brian’s got a lot of experience with the main line-up of this book: Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist—would you say that comes through in the scripts and onto the finished page?

David Marquez: Oh absolutely. Brian’s been writing these characters for so long you can really feel the history between them on the page. But the interesting new thing is how that feeling of long familiarity is paired with these folks being in a pretty different situation than in the books Brian wrote in the past. It provides a lot of opportunity for fresh interactions and I love getting to be a part of these new relationships.

Marvel.com: Even though the Defenders don’t have matching costumes, would you say there’s a unifying factor to their looks or even how they carry themselves?

David Marquez: These characters aren’t a team in the traditional sense like the Avengers or the X-Men. There’s no member ID card, no leader. What unifies them is a common purpose: to protect their friends, their families, and the city they love. They’re all no-nonsense, kick-butt-and-take-names kinda folks.

Marvel.com: Each of the main characters has their own book going on. How is it for you putting your own spin on them?

David Marquez: It’s always a challenge to be consistent with how the characters are portrayed in other books they may appear in, but also have my own take. I certainly reference how other artists have drawn them, but I give myself a lot of room to play around on the page. I let some details shift and change, as long as the character is still recognizable. For any artist, I feel pretty strongly that the reader wants to see our take on the character.

Marvel.com: Brian’s said that a lot of street level characters will show up in the book; has it been fun working some of them into the series?

David Marquez: It might be my favorite part of working on the book: every issue has at least one cameo by a Marvel character I haven’t had a chance to draw before. We have Blade, The Punisher and bunch of other folks who haven’t been announced yet. When I was drawing CIVIL WAR II, I would often comment on how fun it was to just open the Marvel toy chest and pull out all the toys to play with, the whole catalog of Marvel heroes and villains. Surprisingly, even after drawing [that] event, there are a ton of characters I still haven’t gotten to draw, and this book is scratching that itch.

Band together with Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez for DEFENDERS #1, coming June 14!

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The creative team behind Marvel's street level heroes comes together to answer your questions!

Coming June 14, DEFENDERS unites Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist as Marvel’s street level team supreme! Get all the info on the comic to come in a special live blog with writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist David Marquez, and editor Tom Brevoort–dive in below!

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