Now that I look at him… he does actually look a lot like a Skrull, doesn’t he? Maybe another writer replaced Bendis after his work on AKA Gokdfish and Sam and Twitch (I know it certainly seems that way to me when I read Mighty Avengers!).
Once a highly respected comic book store employee turned independent comic creator (I truly miss his drawing), Brian Michael Bendis signed a contract with Marvel to develop their ‘Ultimate‘ line of comics in an attempt to drag the company out of impending bankruptcy. The ploy worked with Ultimate Spider-Man, a retelling of the web-spinning wonder told in an entirely new fashion to appeal to new readers, and Bendis went on to destroy and rebuild the Avengers, the cornerstone of the Marvel Universe.
Since that time, his name has evoked both excitement and deridement as his stories either please or anger his readers. It’s a tough gig, make no mistake. The man is writing two of the most high-profile team books in the industry (New Avengers and The Mighty Avengers).
The big B talked to Entertainment Weekly who made him out to be a luminary of the comics world. It cannot be argued that he is a major pull in comics. He made a major splash with Ultimate Spider-Man (largely rewrites of classic Lee and Ditko material) and his work on Daredevil ranks up with the run by Frank Miller. Yet he does have his detractors. At a comic convention last year a fan asked Editor in Chief Quesada why he gave Bendis a free hand in creating terrible stories, which according to reports was met with more than a little hand-wringing. Bendis himself is aware that his approach to the Avengers is hit and miss with readers, leading to the creation of The Mighty Avengers monthly title to appeal to those who want an old-fashioned team book.
The idea of The Mighty Avengers was sound (if a little suspicious… I mean why not just ‘fix’ New Avengers if there’s a problem?), but while the title started off strong and delivered on its promise of an ‘old fashioned team book,’ now the title is mired with unfunny jokes and his collaborator from Ultimate Spider-Man Mark Bagley turning in some truly bad art (sorry Mark. I love your art, I’m just telling it like it is). Also, whose brilliant idea was it to have pale green text on lemon yellow background as narrative boxes?
It’s not that his bad comics are that bad, really. It’s that his great comics (Daredevil, AKA Goldfish, Torso, Jinx) are so fantastic. But when you write as many comics as Bendis does (currently he writes two Avengers comics, his long-running creator-owned series Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man and now Secret Invasion), it should come as no surprise if the quality of the material suffers.
But I think his heart is in the right place. And he is the first comic book writer to use the David Mamet-style of dialog in his comics, which is a milestone. Let’s just hope his head is in the right place as well and this year’s mega event cross-over proves to be worth the time, money and effort put into it.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Nick Fury, a decorated spy working for the counterterrorism group S.H.I.E.L.D. has come back from hiding. Why bring him back?
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS: I’m really excited about this. We actually took Fury off the table years ago. He was our James Bond. He was our superspy. Our big plot-starter. Why he bailed was as interesting as him bailing. Where did he go? Why did he leave? Did he know this Skrull thing was happening? Did he figure it out? And if he did, is he doing anything about it? So [I address] where he’s been and what he’s been doing. We have two issues that show exactly how the Skrulls went after him. And what Nick Fury does is he comes back, but he comes back with a pile of brand new Marvel characters that we’ve invented. Because if you can’t trust — what’s that line from the Untouchables? — ”If you can’t trust the apples, you don’t pick them off the ground, you pick them off the tree.” So he has brand-new young characters that he’s been training that he can trust, knowing that he can’t trust his old friends [who could actually be Skrulls in disguise].
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much input did you have in this event, and what kind of directives did Marvel give you?
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS: I was writing both Avengers books [the New Avengers] and [Mighty Avengers], so I was pretty much there for everything…. I’m also part of that room [in a Marvel retreat that takes place in New York City each year] that decides those things. Me and Jeph Loeb [DC’s Batman: Hush] and Ed Brubaker [Captain America] and Mark Millar [Civil War] are there. We scream and yell at each other — it’s hilarious. You’d literally think that real political agendas that affect the world were being [debated]. In fact, me and Loeb were having at it just at the last retreat.
What were you fighting over?
Skrulls. But that’s what you want. If the idea can survive the room, it can survive the Internet. I’ve got a wife and a mom and people who can be nice to me every day. You need these people to come in and tell you if it sucks.
You’re actually working on some non-comic book projects now, right?
I’m writing a pilot for HBO that’s non-comic book-related that I’m really excited about. It’s crime-y. It’s in the genre. It’s con artists. It goes back to my Goldfish days. You know that movie out now, 21? The MIT kids who figure out how to play blackjack mathematically? This is a college show about Mike Aponte [who’s depicted in the film]. He’s now the No. 1 ranking blackjack guy in the world. I’m also writing a movie for Fox/ New Regency that Zak Penn [who scripted X-Men the Last Stand] is producing. Like a summer thriller thing that matches in tone with Secret Invasion a bit. It’s an original script about the Bermuda Triangle. People haven’t really dealt with this before. It’s got a great history. It’s about the genuine mystery behind it — all the conspiracies. And something bigger happens.
What about your comic-book properties?
Not to be bragging, but I can’t help it — just last week I had lunch with David Fincher, who is my hero. He gave me the update on Torso [which Fincher is directing]. They’ve already done location scouting. It’s heading towards production. They’re negotiating right now with a big movie star. And I don’t know what’s going on with Jinx. I turned in a draft [to Universal a while ago], and they liked it. Small rewrite. Wasn’t bad. It was one of those great experiences. There are directors hovering, and I don’t even know if Charlize Theron [is still attached]. Listen, if she told me to f— myself today, that’s okay. She’s stood around and sold that project for us. It was really cool of her. She cashed in her Oscar golden ticket for us.