Getting Dark: Brian Bendis on Dark Avengers & Dark Reign

Bendis on Dark Avengers & Dark Reign

On Saturday at Baltimore Comic Con, Brian Michael Bendis confirmed that he would be leaving Mighty Avengers with Issue #20. But then the writer announced that Dan Slott will take over the series, while Bendis will move to a new title called Dark Avengers with art by Mike Deodato Jr.

After getting the scoop from Slott on what's going to happen with Mighty Avengers, Newsarama sat down with the writer to see what we could find out about Dark Avengers. Although Bendis said he couldn't reveal much until his Secret Invasion mini-series ends, we did get a few hints about the new Avengers book and what the previously announced "Dark Reign" title means to the future of the Marvel Universe.

Newsarama: What can you tell us about Dark Avengers?

Brian Michael Bendis: You know, it's one of those things where I can't say much until Secret Invasion #8 ships. Secret Invasion #8 starts this Dark Reign theme that's going to crawl across a lot of books, including the Avengers titles.

NRAMA: Who are the Dark Avengers?

BMB: They're a lot of characters who have not been Avengers before. Some that have been. And some that I think will legitimately shock some people when they see it and how it comes to be. Their interaction with a lot of the other characters in the Marvel Universe, I think, is going to be a lot of fun for a lot of people. And having Deodato on the book sets the perfect tone for it. He's the perfect artist for it.

NRAMA: He's got a very realistic style lately. Is it going to have a realistic tone about it?

BMB: Well, that Thunderbolts feel is certainly the way to go with this book. So, absolutely.

NRAMA: You say this has a darker tone. But when I was talking to Dan about Mighty Avengers, it didn't sound like that series was going to be so dark. Is Dark Reign going to change the tone of a lot of books or just a few?

BMB: It's going to be something that touches certain books, and those will have a Dark Reign label. It's not an "event" as much as it is something that affects other things that are going on.

Here's the thing. You can tell already with Secret Invasion that, whether the Skrulls would win or not win, a lot of damage has been done. There's been damage to a lot of major structures in the Marvel Universe. Like SHIELD looks like it's damaged beyond repair. So if that's the case, then what would take its place, and who would be in charge of it? So this has a lot to do with the fallout of Secret Invasion. Who would be considered the losers of Secret Invasion? The winners of Secret Invasion? All of that is what we're setting up here.

And from there, and we've seen in wartime that certain people can rise up in the popular consciousness and other people fall and take the hit for it, and a lot of that will determine how Dark Reign feels. In certain books, it will be seen as a great thing. And in other books, it will be seen as the worst thing that's ever happened to the Marvel Universe, ever.

NRAMA: Does all of this tie into the Secret Warriors book you're co-writing with Jonathan Hickman about Nick Fury's team?

BMB: Absolutely. It's part of Dark Reign. And Nick Fury and the New Avengers are definitely part of it.

I will say, and I know this is "hypey-hypey," but Jonathan Hickman wrote the whole first issue of Secret Warriors. It's everything I could ever hope for, for Jonathan Hickman to come to the Marvel Universe. It's so good. I'm so excited for this book to come out in February. It's creative and snazzy. It's literally like The Nightly News comes to Marvel. It's so great.

NRAMA: And who's the artist on Secret Warriors?

BMB: Stefano Caselli. He's the guy who's drawing Mighty Avengers #18.

NRAMA: After Secret Invasion #8, you're doing your final issue of Mighty Avengers. Can you tell us anything about that issue?

BMB: Yeah, something pretty bad happens in Secret Invasion to members of Mighty Avengers. And I did one more issue to deal with that on an emotional level. And that's Mighty Avengers #20. It also sets up Dark Avengers, and it sets up where Dan's going to go with the book. So that happens.

And also that month, we're doing a Secret Invasion: Dark Reign Special that's written by me and drawn by Alex Maleev. It's kind of a sister book to the Illuminati Special we did just before Civil War. It's a nice bookend to the events. They're like an opener and closer. But where the Illuminati reflected how we got there and started some events, this is a group of characters gathering together to see where we're going to go now.

NRAMA: Is it safe for fans to assume that the divisions among heroes created by Civil War will disappear now, since the heroes had to unite to combat a common threat?

BMB: And the villains too. No, the Avengers teams will be different and things from Civil War will be dealt with.

NRAMA: And the Superhero Registration Act will be dealt with?

BMB: That will be dealt with as well.

NRAMA: Where will that be?

BMB: I can't say yet because that ruins Dan's book. It's not my book, so I won't spoil it. But there are big things coming for the Initiative and the Registration Act. And some would argue that if Tony spent less time chasing around the Registration Act and more time on other SHIELD elements, maybe the Skrull invasion could have been avoided. You know what I mean? So that type of questioning will be answered as well.

NRAMA: In the panel on Saturday, you said, "I've typed the word Skrull for the last time in awhile." Did you mean that?

BMB: No, no. I really have typed the word Skrull now more than I've typed my own name. But there is Skrull "trickle-off" afterwards in some of the books, but I was just being silly. I was just being silly. There is a lot to say.

NRAMA: Anything else you want to tell people about Dark Reign and Dark Avengers, because it's all a little cryptic so far.

BMB: You know what? We'll get together here on Newsarama the day after Secret Invasion #8 ships, and the solicitation for the books and the new designs will be out. And we'll talk about it then. So I don't mean to be one of those interviews that Newsarama posters hate. Those big, newsy interviews that don't tell you much, that people label as hype, so I'm sorry. But come on. Even though you say you want me to ruin the end of Secret Invasion, you don’t.

NRAMA: How about this. Can you give us some kind of a hint about who's on the Dark Avengers team?

BMB: The question you will want to know is, "Who is the Iron Patriot?" That's a big one.

NRAMA: OK, then, last question. Is the Dark Avengers team roster related at all to the image we saw in Chicago of the "Evil Illuninati?"

BMB: That's the Dark Reign Special.

NRAMA: But is it tied to the Dark Avengers?

BMB: Yes. It's all connected.

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