Make no mistake: while an argument could be made for guys like Simon Kinberg and Geoff Johns to be in contention, Brian Michael Bendis has to wear the crown as the busiest geek in the world. Just look at his current résumé for all you need to know:
All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man, Powers, United States of Murder Inc., Disney Infinity 2.0, episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man animated, Powers TV production and episode writer, Marvel Studios consultant (both TV and Film)… and that’s just in 2014, and just what we know about at this point.
Over the course of the weekend at New York Comic Con, Bendis talked to fans, did hours-long signings, multiple panels most days, debuted the first trailer for the Powers TV show, and more. Inside his busy schedule, he made some time for a chat with Newsarama about the weekend’s events, the weekend’s major announcements, and just how intricately planned everything at Marvel Comics is right now.
Newsarama: Brian, you’ve had a pretty big weekend! What was it like being able to reveal Powers TV to the fans for the first time?
Brian Michael Bendis: No hype, no bullsh*t, it was… I tweeted last night that I’ve had a lot of amazing convention experiences, and this convention was the best I’ve ever had. Top to bottom, everything you’d ever want or hope to happen, happened. My neuroses of “will I be able to fill up the room?” You know what I mean? “Will anyone show up to the signing?” These things still haunt me!
We showed the trailer to a packed house with thousands of people there. The response was amazing. The response online has been amazing. The cast – most of them had never experienced anything like this, including Eddie Izzard. The convention experience; they all had a blast. There’s not even words to say thank you to people for what they brought. It’s overwhelming.
Warning: Trailer contains violence, implied nudity, and adult language
Nrama: Did you ever dream up seeing it come to life in this way?
Bendis: Well, yeah! I lie in bed at night and think “Yeah, this would be awesome!” But you see it happen to other people, and then when it actually happens… The best part was sitting next to Oeming and literally holding hands all day yesterday as we go through this together. Some people know that Mike was literally drawing Powers on his night job in a security booth in the middle of New Jersey. To be on stage with these amazing actors, and for people just roaring with applause when they see his artwork – some of which was done in that security booth – is a pretty amazing moment!
So we spent most of the day going “What the f*ck?!” And at the end of the day looked back and saw how amazing it was. The only bad thing about yesterday is there was never a time to process it. We didn’t have a minute to just go “woo!” or for decompression. So I’ll have to go home and just process – this is me babbling because I haven’t decompressed yet.
Nrama: Totally fine! So I think Marvel President of Publishing (amongst other things) Dan Buckley had kind of the quote of the show for Marvel Comics, in that “every story in every book is leading to Secret Wars.”
Nrama: You’ve obviously been heavily involved with all of the crazy time travel, and alternate worlds, and realities clashing together. How much of that – how far back does this plan go?
Bendis: Oh, this goes back years, and this is no bullsh*t. Jon Hickman? This was his Avengers pitch, and his run goes back awhile. Before he was on Avengers, this was his pitch, so we all knew this was coming.
So this also answers the #1 question I get recently, with why didn’t I do more tie-ins with AXIS, or Spider-Verse, and people thought I was just like sticking to my corner. I knew this [Secret Wars] was coming! I knew the Black Vortex was coming! I wanted to not just be going from tie-in to tie-in to tie-in, you know what I mean?
My tie-ins for Secret Wars are so potent. Some of my stuff has been dealing directly with broken time travel and what not, and I wanted to make sure that’s where I land. So it’s well-planned and well-executed so far.
Nrama: You really threw people for a loop with Ultimate Peter Parker in Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man. Is that something that will come to head, and then refocus on Miles again?
Bendis: Yeah, it’s Miles’s perspective on it. And like I announced at the panel today, we’re about to be reintroduced to his father and find out what that secret is that he’s been carrying around, that would be so important that he would actually abandon his son over it. As a father I can’t even imagine that! So you’re going to find out.
Nrama: You also announced the Uncanny X-Men #600 special, giant anniversary issue…
Bendis: Yes! And that comes out just before Secret Wars, too, if that indicates something to you. I think it’s like a month before, if I have my math right.
And the people doing their math at home, I know the shipping schedule and you don’t. There’s double shipping and stuff, so don’t start adding up your months and going “You’re six months off!” No, we got it.
See, the voice in my head is already people yelling at me about sh*t.
Nrama: What can you hint about that giant, significant, anniversary issue?
Bendis: Well, what we have is a massive amount of mutants going through very important chapters in their life, all of which are coming to a head. Cyclops’ revolution, the All-New X-Men not being where they’re supposed to be, Hank McCoy doing whatever the hell he wants in the name of “science” and “good,” yet still thinking Cyclops is an asshole for doing the same thing. Fallout from AXIS that I can’t even talk about yet without spoiling anything, so I won’t do that…
Literally pick something: the Last Will and Testament, that new mutant, the other new mutants, who is going to be the “new Wolverine?” All of this stuff, it all leads up to Uncanny X-Men #600, which Dan Buckley literally said I could have 600 pages for. We’ll see what that really means? But he said, “You can have as many pages as you want – make it 600 pages!” So we’ll see. It would be 600 artists, but there’ll be a lot of story – which isn’t a bad idea by the way.
Nrama: You brought up Hank McCoy, and he has been complicit in literally destroying worlds in New Avengers. Is that something that the X-Men will deal with directly at all?
Bendis: Well, Jonathan is going to be dealing with that directly. But when you add that onto the other stuff he’s done, and again, the argument is, “for the good or for the bad? Who’s to say?” That’s the argument. I’m not casting judgment on him, but others will.
Nrama: And with time travel and alternate realities and these things coming to a head, have we seen the last of those future X-Men or Brotherhood?
Bendis: No! In fact, in the Uncanny X-Men & All-New X-Men Annuals in December, all drawn by Andrea Sorrentino, which is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever had my name on; it’s really gorgeous [Newsarama Note: The two annuals are one big story], those are about Eva Bell’s accidental trip through time, and we’ll follow her journey very specifically from the earliest points of the Marvel Universe, through to the far-flung future of the Marvel Universe. That’s including those X-Men you’re talking about, the X-Men 2099… some are cameos, some are big parts of the story, but you’ll see lots of stuff.
Nrama: Any other little teasers you’ve been just dying to blurt out all weekend?
Bendis: Well, I blurted out Uncanny #600… you could see the look on Axel Alonso [E-i-C of Marvel]’s face when I said it.
Anyway, it’s hard in the face of – you and I just witnessed the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. That’s something I’ve been working on for a few years. It’s hard to come up with anything better than that and the Powers trailer to tease right now. I mean, what else do you need? Jeez! (laughs)
But honestly, I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of talk online about like conventions and cosplayers and stuff – it’s hard not to walk around here and just be immensely proud of our community, and immensely happy for everyone having such a good time here at this con. You see the genuine joy; I mean, we’re talking right now, at 11 o’clock on a Sunday, and ten years ago that was a tomb! It’s packed to the gills here, people are dressed in these crazy Loki and other big, elaborate costumes that take hours to prepare, and what a great time they’re having.
I didn’t meet anybody this weekend that wasn’t just happy as hell, enjoying it, and it just completely pumps me up to make comics. Who wouldn’t want to go make comics after experiencing this?
Nrama: The other thing I have to know: you worked on Marvel Heroes, you just worked on Disney Infinity 2.0, you’re consulting for Marvel Studios, you’ve written for Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, you’re writing for Powers TV, and also writing all these comics we’ve talked about…
Bendis: Yes, and I have four children that I rarely leave the house for!
Nrama: (laughs) So what’s it like living on about 14 minutes of sleep a day?
Bendis: It is amazing how little you need! (laughs) You really don’t need much.
No, it is true that sometimes I’ll wake up after just a few hours, so jacked up to do what I have to do, because it’s all really exciting! So I don’t go back to sleep.
But listen, it’s a very blessed situation for me, I want to make the most of it. I get my sleep, I have my fun. I goof off with my kids all day. When I think about my day, it’ll be like, eating corn on the cob with my son was the highlight. I’m very happy to be here. One day you could get hit by a truck, and you’d like to have lived a full life.
Nrama: Any personal favorites from other creators at Marvel that you think people should really be getting behind and checking out?
Bendis: Oh yeah, I’m excited for what I’m calling “The Ascension of Sam Humphries.” I think he is about to have one of those years where he just brings it. I’m on team Sam. There’s a lot of other creators, too!
I like when people that I know are good people and very, very talented are found by the audience. Sometimes you can’t control that. Like, Matt and Kelly are obviously two of my best friends, and they were before this all happened to them – nothing makes me happier than when people I love are loved by the crowd. It makes me feel good when they find their audience like this.