To no one's great surprise, Brian Michael Bendis has decided to continue the exclusive working arrangement he has with Marvel Comics that has done so well for him, remaining exclusive (except for select creator-owned projects) through 2006, he announced at his panel Saturday afternoon at Wizard World: Los Angeles.
"I know you like us guys sticking around" on books, Bendis said, referring to his long run on "Ultimate Spider-Man."
It was a session full of announcements, including the addition of "Astro City" artist Brent Anderson to the creative team of "The Pulse" -- "I am thrilled out of my mind," he said of working with Anderson on the book -- and the news that actress Charlize Theron will be producing and starring in the movie version of Bendis' "Jinx." (Until director Frank Oz finishes with "The Stepford Wives," the "Powers" movie on the other hand is "just kind of floating around right now, he said.)
The exclusive agreement means that fans should expect to see him working on "Ultimate Spider-Man," "Daredevil," "The Avengers" and "The Pulse," in addition to "Powers," for the foreseeable future, along with special projects like the current "Secret War" miniseries.
Currently, the Bendis book getting the most discussion online is his forthcoming shut-down of the current Avengers series, in issues 500-504, entitled "Disassemble," to be followed by a relaunch of the title in November. Bendis has seen online lists of the cast of "New Avengers," "all of which are untrue."
The dissolution of Earth's Mightiest Heroes won't be pretty he said, but fans can take comfort in the fact that none of it is gratuitous: "No one dies without a reason, and no one dies in a way that [Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada] can't bring them back in two months."
While Bendis loves what's come before in "The Avengers" – and he's re-read ever Avengers comic published in the last six months – he said it's important for the book to move forward.
"We try not to repeat anything that's been done, but what we're missing is that when Stan [Lee] created the Avengers, they were Stan's best characters. I think [the new book] will look a lot like that."
And for fans of the Lee/Kirby era, Bendis also intends to feature lots and lots of action.
"It's a big action book, wall to wall, and I can't wait for you to see it." Look for brand-new threats for the Avengers of a new millennium: "I think that the Marvel Universe is in desperate need of new villains that speak to our time. … We wanted to create threats that these guys have to get together to fight.
"Change is good and new is good, I promise. … I think the best way to honor Stan is to keep them of the day."
Look for a second Avengers title to spin out of the "Disassemble" event, written by Allan Heinberg, writer for the television show "The O.C."
As for Bendis' other pursuits, he says he intends to draw again some day, all arguments to the contrary notwithstanding.
"Joe [Quesada] thinks I'm the worst artist in comics … But I love to draw, I will start drawing again one day.
"It's kind of shocking, but after 12 years of drawing comics every day, it was 'welcome to comics! Here's some awards!' the moment I stopped drawing. I'm not a religious man, but that seems like a sign."
Bendis also said he intends to do more "Fortune and Glory" when he has more Hollywood stories other than just yet more meetings with studio executives. He suggested both the Charlize Theron "Jinx" project and "Powers" movie might provide source material in the future.
Late in the session, Bendis got heckled, by fellow "Daredevil" writer Kevin Smith in the back of the audience: "If I teach you how to write, can you teach me how to stay on schedule?"
Bendis dryly replied: "I'm not a miracle worker."