Brian Bendis: Framing Dark Reign: The List

Brian Bendis: Framing The List

If you could reside within the Marvel Universe and had the power to do eight things to make it better, what would you do?

Norman Osborn has his list of eight things, and beginning in September with Dark Reign: The List, he's determined to make them happen.

Taking the idea of a "crossover" and turning it on its ear, The List is a series of one-shots by eight different creative teams, each focusing on one of Marvel's heroes or teams as they are affected by Osborn's attempt to cross another item off his to-do list. Teased by Marvel's ad with the title "Iron Patriot Acts" and announced this weekend, The List features the creators that Marvel calls its "Write Stuff" team of up-and-coming writers.

The connected one-shots are purported to "change the course of Dark Reign and the Marvel Universe," coming a little less than a year after the events of Secret Invasion led to Osborn's power play and the beginning of Dark Reign.

Not surprisingly, Brian Michael Bendis, the writer of Secret Invasion who has orchestrated Osborn's story in the pages of Dark Avengers, is one of the minds behind this idea too. And the first thing on Norman's list involves Clint Barton and the Avengers, meaning Bendis gets to kick off The List with his issue of Dark Reign: The List – Avengers.

Newsarama spoke to Bendis to find out more about where this idea originated and what it means to his Avengers teams.

Newsarama: Hearing about The List, it looks like Norman's getting down to business. Is this a turning point in Dark Reign?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes, it's a huge chapter. There's a few things we wanted to do with this. We had a little, mini-retreat before the big one, where me and Fraction and Hickman and some others came up. And I had heard that they wanted to do something fun. They didn't want to do an event, but they wanted to do something cool. And I know that Dan [Buckley] and a couple of the people at Marvel just wanted to make sure that the writers are doing what they enjoy and are being used right. It's these "Write Stuff" guys -- the ones we're all hoping for. And I've thought before about why me and Mark Millar worked out, and it's because they didn't just throw us out there and hope for the best. They teamed Mark up with the Kuberts and they teamed me up with Bagley and they really let us put on a show. And I thought about this, and I came to the retreat, and Matt and I talked about this at length.

And Matt and I came up to them and I said, here's the idea. It's almost like a series of annuals, but they're interconnected, if that's what the reader wants. Like we've talked about before, I'm obsessed with that. I don't want to force you to buy anything, right? But what would be great is, the idea that now that Norman's in charge, and now that he's got this strong foothold after the events of Matt's crossover, then he puts together a list of what he thinks is wrong with the Marvel Universe. So from Norman's point of view, this is what's wrong.

NRAMA: What kind of things does he think is wrong?

BMB: What he sees as wrong, really, it's the status quo for the Marvel Universe. It's what we see as normal stuff. His questions are going to be things like, why is Hulk allowed to run around? And where the hell is Nick Fury? And why Reed Richards allowed to have portals to the Negative Zone? And once you hear those questions asked, you say, you know, that's a good question.

The thing I always liked about Magneto is that his point of view is arguable. So that's what we wanted to make sure Norman had in this one, where you can look at him and go, yeah, that's a good point. You can see why he would want to whack the Hulk. It's legitimate.

So what we proposed is that every one of these specials deals with someone on the list, and it's written by one of these guys we're all hoping for. And not only that, but you team them up with a really great artist -- people we all admire their art -- and some of them, for whatever reason, aren't able to do a monthly book right now. Boy this stuck to the wall. Dan and Joe just went for this really quickly because it made a lot of sense.

Like I love a great annual. A great annual is something that really changes the book and really puts on a show. So these aren't annuals per se, but they're specials that, if you choose to buy all of them, you're going to get this really huge Dark Reign story told by the best writers working and the best artists drawing. OR you can just pick and choose what you want to read, based on whatever artist or writer you're digging. And that to me is the best.

My first one sets it up, and also it's a huge chapter for the Avengers as this thing goes forward. It sets up with Norman's "list" is. And it also sets up the final thing that's going on in the Avengers books, which is Clint Barton and Norman Osborn are having a bit of a media war. And it comes to a head in this series. And it's a huge, huge chapter for Clint Barton and the Avengers.

And it's drawn by Marko Djurdjevic. And I love him. I've been literally waiting to work with him. And I'm very, very exciting. I just think his Thor stuff is fantastic, and I love his interiors even more than I love his covers. And I'm so excited that he's drawing this.

NRAMA: Are you writing it with him in mind?

BMB: Absolutely. They said, "he's in," and then I wrote it. Studied his Thor issues like it was the Torah.

NRAMA: We talked back in Baltimore about how Dark Reign wasn't an event and how it was just a label to be put onto certain books, but this story has really permeated a lot of the Marvel Universe.

BMB: Yeah, it's grown, but that has to do equal parts with the writers and the audience. You hope an idea like this inspires good stories, and Dark Reign has inspired some really great stuff out of great people. And the audience is digging it. Like Dark Avengers is doing a lot better than I ever thought it would. It's selling better than New Avengers! People are digging it. And The List is a pretty big chapter of that, and when it's over, there will be all kinds of changes that have happened. And I know you hate the word change; you hear it all the time. But this is a big status quo changer.

NRAMA: Is there really going to be much change? Because it kind of sounds like, to me, like Norman's going to have this list of things he wants to do, but he's going to find out why nobody can do them.

BMB: Oh, no, he's going to do them. Some of them he's going to actually do, and some of them he's going to say, "Oh, that's why you don't do that." Or "Oh, shit, Nick Fury really is smarter than me after all."

Look, in the very first one, something big happens. How about that?

NRAMA: OK, I'll take that.

BMB: No, it was cool. Everyone had a pitch. It was like, here, with this premise, what's your story? And the editors did all of it. But we put out the question. And we said, "what's your answer?" And the stories that came back just had me saying, oh that's fantastic, or oh, that's hilarious, or oh, that's scary.

So these questions that Norman asks? We're going to answer them. And they might not be the answers you think.

The eight The List on shots are:

Avengers - by Brian Bendis and Marko Djurdjevic

Uncanny X-Men - by Matt Fraction and Alan Davis

Secret Warriors - by Jonathan Hickman and Ed McGuniness

Punisher - by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr.

Daredevil - by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan

Wolverine - by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic

Hulk - by Greg Pak and Ben Oliver

Amazing Spider-Man - by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert

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