cover.In the first part of our interview with writer Brian Michael Bendis, we talked a lot about Avengers — as in, Avengers the comic book, Avengers the movie, Avengers Assemble, New Avengers and Avengers vs. X-Men.
Bendis has been writing the Avengers franchise for a long time, but he's been a part of the Ultimate Universe even longer — since 2000's Ultimate Spider-Man #1, and he's since written every issue of every incarnation of that series. This June, he's writing five-issue miniseries Spider-Men, the first-ever interaction between the Ultimate Universe and the traditional Marvel Universe via the meeting of classic Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and the current Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales — introduced last year following the death of the Ultimate version of Peter.
For the second installment of our interview, Bendis discusses the many reasons why the timing was right for an Ultimate U/Marvel U story, his love of inter-universe crossovers, what Mysterio adds to the story and why Spider-Men is a big deal for characters beyond Peter and Miles.
Newsarama: Brian, Spider-Men is starting up next month. After 12 years of writing in the Ultimate Universe, what's it been like writing the first-ever Ultimate U/Marvel U crossover? How much thought had you given the idea over the past decade or so?
Brian Michael Bendis: I'd given it a great deal of thought over the years. It's funny, as we announced Ultimate Universe and it had its first year of success, that's when everyone started going, "Here comes the crossover!" There certainly is a comic book tradition of doing some sort of crossover. There wasn't a story in "Hey, Peter meets a vaguely younger version for himself, who is also dating a vaguely younger version of MJ." Then you have young MJ falling in love with older Peter and it's creepy and then the whole thing falls apart.So it wasn't worth breaking down the barrier, because there wasn't a story. So we just put it away, to the point where Joe announced, "We will never do it." At the time, that was absolutely true, because with the characters, and who they were, and what they were doing, we were never going to do it. I'll remind people who like to quote Joe —10 years later, things changed. When we started talking seriously about doing what ended up being Miles Morales as Spider-Man, when you're making your pros and cons list of whether or not to do this, one of the pros was, "Now that's a crossover story worth telling." If Miles connects with any kind of audience, and we've got a kid who's trying to learn how to be Spider-Man, and then Peter gets to come to the Ultimate Universe to see what the world is like after he's died — boy, that's a Spider-Man story worth telling.
It was certainly brought up at retreats. Once Miles hit, I got a call that said, "Hey, do you know that next year is the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man? We were thinking about making sure the anniversary was filled with stories we haven't seen before. Do you want…" Before they could finish the question, I was like, "Yes, yes, yes. I want to do it." I knew Miles very well, and I saw the value of it, and off we're running. And obviously, hugely honored to be asked to write a Spider-Man anniversary story of merit. And then I said, "Only if Sara Pichelli does it." First she was like, "Wait, you're pulling me off [Ultimate Comics Spider-Man]?" "For this other thing that is of equal or greater value." And she jumped on it right away, and then literally, publicly, decided to make it her masterpiece, and has done so. The pages are just absolutely stunning, and Justin Ponsor is also doing the work of his life. I'm so excited for it to hit the stands. It's so beautiful. It meant the world to me. I love this character, and to find a Spider-Man story that hasn't been told before, but features a lot of elements of Spider-Man's life, is a real gift, and I'm so happy it all came together like this.
Nrama: It seems that even beyond Miles Morales and the death of Ultimate Peter Parker, that the time is much better now for an Ultimate Universe/Marvel Universe crossover, simply because the Ultimate world is just a much bleaker and different place than classic Marvel post-Ultimatum.
Bendis: There's a lot going on. It does feel like perfect timing on many, many levels for the story, so that's very exciting for us. People who just love "Amazing Spider-Man," here's hopefully another great Amazing Spider-Man story. Those who haven't picked up the Ultimate Universe, you can look at it through Peter Parker's eyes and see what you think.
It's not just Miles and Peter. Ultimate Aunt May and Ultimate Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy and Nick Fury are all involved in the story as well, so there are lot of extremely emotional moments that are going to happen that are almost surreal, but I think very cathartic. I think issue #4 was when Sara emailed me and said, "Alright, I cried. You got me."
Nrama: Based on all early indicators, it definitely sounds like a very emotional story.
Bendis: It is. There's a lot of fun to be had —Mysterio comes in and really tears up the place, and there's a lot of action and excitement, and there's Spider-Men fighting for their lives, but when the story comes down, that's when the real story begins.
Nrama: Is it Ultimate Mysterio or 616 Mysterio?
Bendis: It is... Mysterio. [Laughs.] You will find out all of what's going on with Mysterio, and how this is connected to the Ultimate Universe, in the very first issue. We give that up right away, because there's so much else to get to. You will see what Mysterio has done and how he's done it, and for long-time readers, they'll be very excited; if you don't know a damn thing about Mysterio, you'll know exactly what's going on.
Nrama: Have you encountered any skeptics thinking that since Mysterio is the villain, the story might be revealed to all be an illusion?
Bendis: With Mysterio, there's that edge of, "Is this really happening?" That adds another level of frustration for the characters, but it is really happening. It is not a, "It was all a dream!" I don't do that kind of stuff. Ever.
Nrama: So the characters involved are also skeptical that it might be an illusion.
Bendis: There was a lot of talk back-and-forth about using Mysterio for the story, and it just became a plus. If anybody else was involved, you go, "OK, this is really happening." With Mysterio, you go, "OK, is he f*cking with me?" This is absolutely happening, but Peter trying to discover its truth is interesting as well, because it kind of forces him to dig in further than he might have, on a "normal" inter-universe crossover. [Laughs.]Spider-Men #4
cover.I love these kinds of crossovers. I love Teen Titans/X-Men, I love JLA/Avengers, I love the first Superman/Spider-Man crossover, and there's nothing better than Batman/Hulk. I love these, so much. And I don't know if we'll ever get one again that's DC/Marvel, so I think this is the closest I can get without someone suing me.
Nrama: I feel like there's a Batman/Daredevil joke somewhere here.
Bendis: Listen, I put Batman in every single issue of Moon Knight, and every single issue they took it out. Something about copyright. I tend to zone out.
Nrama: Miles Morales is still a very new character, so how much is Spider-Men cementing his place as a superhero?
Bendis: Well, not "cementing" so much, as teaching him huge, valuable, earth-shattering lessons by meeting Peter Parker himself.
Nrama: And it's a big story for Peter, as well?
Bendis: Exactly. Because he gets to really see what the world would be like if he makes the ultimate sacrifice, and it's quite an eye-opener.Spider-Men #3
cover.It does all these things at once. I think it's going to be one of those books you're going to have to read a couple of times, because you'll be looking at it from Peter's point of view, and then you'll be reading it from Miles' point of view, and all these other characters.
And let's not forget Nick Fury. Nick Fury had a lot going on with Ultimate Peter, and his connection to Miles, and what the right thing to do here is. Every one of these characters has deep, emotional investment into the Spider-Man mythos, some of them suffering quite a lot, and there may be room here for some catharsis that lets them move forward in a positive way. What is it like for a character like Gwen Stacy to find out there's another universe out there with another Gwen Stacy?Check back on Wednesday for the third and final part of our interview with Brian Michael Bendis, talking Powers FBI, Takio and what he might be working on post-Avengers! More from Newsarama:
- Hey, Marvel - Don't Forget These SPIDER-MEN
- Alonso on SPIDER-MEN: 'This Story Will Have Ramifications'
- SPIDER-MEN Editor: Series is 'The Ultimate Marvel Team-Up'