For weeks, Brian Michael Bendis promised an "unguessable ending" in June's , the final installment of the current event series he's writing.
Last month, what he was talking about what was at least partially revealed: Angela, a formerly Image Comics character that debuted in 1993's by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane, was <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/angela-spawn-marvel-age-ultron.html>moving to the Marvel Universe</a> and making her debut in the closing pages of that issue. The character was part of a long legal dispute between Gaiman and McFarlane, and the writer has brought Angela to Marvel. The next stop is an arc starting in July's Guardians of the Galaxy #5, co-written by Bendis and Gaiman.
The current volume of Guardians of the Galaxy hit issue #2 this week, and we talked a little with Bendis about the book in our recent post- recap with the writer (major spoilers for that issue in link), specifically artist Sara Pichelli illustrating sequences with initial series artist Steve McNiven, and coming on board in full with June's issue #4.
Here, we talk with Bendis more about Guardians of the Galaxy, and how Angela's appearance might just be the first surprising territory for Star-Lord, Iron Man, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon to explore.
Newsarama: Brian, wanted to get your insight on Angela, who's been established as showing up in Guardians of the Galaxy following her Marvel debut in the final pages of . It was big news when it was announced, but she's a character that really hasn't been in that many comics.
Brian Michael Bendis: She really hasn't. And I've read them all. It didn't take long to read her entire comics bibliography. It was a nice relief; once you take over the X-Men, I have to read every Cyclops appearance ever. That took much more time than the afternoon it took to read all of the Angela appearances.
The good news is there is so much there to her that was teased and hinted at that just fits beautifully into the Marvel Universe, and lets us build her character up even more so. It's like buttah. It went right in. It was cool.
Nrama: So there must be a lot potential there that you see in the character, things that might not be obvious to those not as familiar.
Bendis: There is. People even say that about the Guardians themselves. Then we show you what's cool about them, and you hopefully go, "Yeah, OK, I get it." That's absolutely what we hope will happen here. It wasn't just whatever the shock value of a character you'd never expect showing up in the place you'd never expect them to show up, but that there were many, many stories to tell with her.
But we all have to admit it's still quite a shock.
Nrama: It's an interesting situation, because much of the character's origin is tied to the Spawn world, and now she's in Marvel, where that by definition cannot exist.
Bendis: But there are many, many elements that are not; that are more open to interpretation. And Neil's right there with us, making that transition as seamless as possible.
Nrama: What has the experience been like co-writing this story with Neil Gaiman?
Bendis: I joked about it online when the announcement was made: I've known about this for a long while, and number one, I had to keep it a secret from many of my friends. For comic book professionals, it wasn't the Angela secret, it was the Neil secret — I had to talk to some people and apologize.
It is definitely a time machine moment. I definitely need to go back and say: "Put your down, I have something to tell you. OK, listen. Here's what's going to happen. I can't tell you how or why, but eventually you're the writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, with Neil Gaiman. And Angela's in the book yes, that Angela." That's a crazy one.
When Angela first came into the world, I was in my basement doing , and Neil was doing to worldwide acclaim. When you put it all together, it's very, very funny. At least to me.
Nrama: Is Gaiman co-writing just the one issue?
Bendis: No, it's a few. People couldn't believe it on the first one, so they just assumed it was just the one, but it's starting with #5. And how many is he doing? As many as he wants.
We came up with a good scenario that he was comfortable with, and I'll obviously be leading the storytelling and giving him ample room to just do his thing. And deferring as often as possible to whatever it is that he's looking to do, because I am more interested in looking at what he's looking to do. I have the same situation with working with the legends we are working with on , or when I'm working with Walt Simonson. When one of them says: "Hey, what about this idea?" And of course I say, "Uh, yes, these are all things I stole from you to begin with. Whichever one you want to do is fine, because they're all your moves."
Nrama: Had you had much interaction with Neil Gaiman before this?
Bendis: No. None. I may have met him in the mid-'90s for like a second. I was shocked that he had nice things to say about me. I didn't even know if he knew who the f*ck I was. The whole introduction was quite flattering, and more than you could hope for. Absolutely one of the perks of this job is getting to meet people who meant the world to you, and then shockingly get to work with them. It's a lovely, lovely thing.
Nrama: And Gaiman really hasn't been that active in the comics medium in recent years, so even more than some of the other legendary names you've worked with, was this more unexpected?
Age of Ultron
#10 cover.Bendis: I should have taped the call. When I got the, "What do you think of this, here's what's going to happen" call from Joe [Quesada], I should have taped it, because I did not know this was coming. As many people have felt when he first heard about this. I was like: "What? What are you talking about?" I didn't even hear whispers that Angela was a concern; at Marvel retreats or anything. There was no mention of it. I got all of it at once. The way you guys heard it is the way I was pitched it. "What do you think of that? Is that something you want to do?" Yes! How can I say no to that?
Nrama: It certainly feels like an unexpected turn in the Guardians of the Galaxy series.
Bendis: What I wanted Guardians to do in my initial pitch document was, "This will be the place were the most surprising things in the Marvel universe could and would happen. That you as the reader will find yourself going, 'Wait, what happened?'" The Guardians should be coming across crazy, crazy stuff that is exciting not only to them as characters, but to us as readers. There are a few things like that in the Marvel Universe that I thought would be perfect for this. And I said, "I don't know what we're legally allowed to do with some of these things, and who owns what, but wouldn't it be great if we could do something like _____?" Of course Angela wasn't even on my list. What kind of list would that be? Why don't I put Buckaroo Banzai on my list? They don't own that character, why would I even ask for it?
So that's what we're getting in this book — a series of genuine surprises. This is just the first of many things like that that will be happening in the series as the year goes on.
Interior art from
Guardians of the
Galaxy #2.Nrama: And you've been writing the Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics — there's one left at this point, right? A solo Groot Infinite Comic, which is also not something that people necessarily expected to ever exist.
Bendis: Exactly. Put all those words in a sentence.
They've all been a wonderful experience, just to work with the guy who invented the Infinite Comic [Yves Bigerel] — he's been doing the storytelling on most of these. And Ming Doyle, Mike Del Mundo and Mike Oeming have been really great at turning Yves’ thumbnails into something that looks gorgeous and smooth on screens.
It's an experience I wanted to have. I was envious of Mark [Waid] when he did the Nova one. I literally use the first Infinite Comic in my class. I show it to my class every semester to talk about the possibility of the web. It was nice to work with him and watch him do his thing.
Nrama: It's clear even from this early point that the stated goal of tying the space heroes more to Earth is being pursued, right to ending #1 with the Badoon attacking London.
Bendis: And obviously #2 is about that attack. We're going to be half-and-half, I'd say. There's a lot of space adventure that is about keeping things away from Earth that are not anywhere near Earth. Some people who are more traditionalists don't want them anywhere near Earth, and you will be getting many issues of that. But the ramifications are heavy towards us.
Nrama: And a lot of those traditionalists are wondering how Peter Quill is still alive.
Bendis: And that is coming. That is absolutely coming. I have now mentioned it in the body of the work like four times. So I don't know how much more I can tell you that I know he was there. I reference it in , I reference it in the first issue — it's coming. It's something I want to build to.
Not to be braggalicious, but there's a lot more people reading it now than were reading it then, so I kind of want to introduce them to the idea that he was gone — people don't know it, so I'm going to tell them. Making it more of a mystery is a cool way to tease it out. A lot more fun to be had there, at least from a writing perspective.
And if I can just take a moment and thank everyone from the readers to the retailers who took a chance on this book. What an honor. And what a huge relief. Thank you everyone.
For people who want to know, issue #4, Sara's first full issue, we will see the cosmic ramifications of a Tony Stark/Gamora hook-up. I handed it in, and they didn't send it back to me. I thought for sure it was going to be sent back, but it's in there.
Nrama: Will Guardians of the Galaxy tie-in to ?
Bendis: The Guardians are in Infinity. They are front and center. I'm still looking to see if I'll do a tie-in or not, because I'm so laser-focused on the Angela story. That's kind of where my head's at. But the characters are front-and-center. It is a cosmic story, and they are the Cosmic Avengers — I say, knowing that annoys people. But, come on, they are. Embrace it!More from Newsarama:
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