Chicago, Day 1: Bendis Panel Goes Wild

Fri, August 13th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Seth Jones, Staff Writer

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Batman and Daredevil.

Marvel wants it. Brian Michael Bendis wants it. According to Bendis, the fans want it.

DC, however, doesn't want it. At least, they don't want it until Joe Quesada, Marvel Editor in Chief, has packed his bags and left Marvel Comics.

Indeed, the "Brian Bendis Super Happy Fun Hour" panel was fun. But moreso, it was interesting.

Taking a page from the old World Wrestling Federation, with Bendis playing the role of Hulk Hogan and Wayne the part of the Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart, the two discussed why Batman and Daredevil could not happen in front of a crowd of 300-plus Bendis fans.

"This is a weird thing to talk about publicly," Bendis started. "A year ago, Michael Avon Oeming and I started talking about a big Batman/Daredevil crossover. At the time, (Quesada) told me to put it on the back burner, because of the climate between the two companies. This was perplexing to me, as JLA/Avengers was making a boatload of dough."

Bendis continued, "So this year, me and Ed Brubaker started talking about it. Batman versus Bullseye. Elektra versus Catwoman. Yeah, a lot of cool shit. Everyone was excited, a lot of people said they'd do it for free -- let's just get this shit done, let's get it green-lit. But (DC President, Publisher) Paul Levitz said no."

Bendis was apparently about to appeal to fans to plead with DC Comics to get the project approved. But then, like Batman crashing through a skylight, an unexpected visitor burst into the room.

"That's not entirely true!" Wayne called from the doorway.

Bendis asked for the visitor to identify himself, and once Wayne did, he was invited to join Bendis at the front of the room.

"May I continue?" Bendis asked.

"Yes. As long as you understand the premise that I think you're incorrect."

Bendis went on to say that he did call Levitz personally, and that Levitz cited Quesada personally as the reason the DD/Batman book could not go on.

"And that's not a good reason," Bendis said. "That's a personal reason. We could do this book without those two ever even speaking to each other."

Wayne then effectively supported what Bendis said.

"The impression I have is that we expressed an interest in it, and that Brian would be involved... and we'll do it, as soon as Joe is not at Marvel anymore," said Wayne.

The crowd, quick to react, was assured by Bendis that this was not a publicity stunt or a staged event. There was not actually a Batman/DD book in the can and they were just trying to drum up excitement. In fact, according to the two, this was the first time they had ever spoken.

Why does DC management have a problem with Quesada? The only snippet Wayne would offer was to hint about the way Quesada was conducting business, and then he specifically mentioned a story in the New York Observer in which Quesada was quoted.

"We're down to one person we want to see gone from Marvel, there used to be two," said Wayne. "If you could speed up getting (Quesada) out the door..."

Though Wayne had some harsh words, the mood was fairly cordial between the two. Then things momentarily got a little nasty.

"Did Micah Wright write this up for you?" Wayne asked, questioning the way Bendis was taking this issue straight to the fans.

"I don't know Micah Wright -- you work with him," Bendis bit back. "There's no good reason for this. You're just mad that Joe's kicking your ass."

"That's not the core type of problem... but the type of interview in the New York Observer," Wayne said.

Eventually the crowd became involved, when someone shouted "It'd be better than Dark Knight 2!"

Bendis quickly settled the crowd, stating that he didn't want this to become a DC-bashing panel, and that he hopes to one day write for DC.

Wayne put in the final word, and told the fans that the conditions did not exist where DC could do this project with Marvel. Bendis thanked Wayne for coming to the panel, and the two shook hands on stage. Before Wayne left, he gave Bendis his card.

Bendis quickly turned the panel to projects that would happen. But before he could get very far into the rest of his presentation, he admitted he was still in a bit of shock from Wayne's appearance.

"Bob Wayne showing up really threw me," Bendis said. "I have other things to tell you, but I'm really frazzled."

When a fan shouted to Bendis to explain the NY Observer interview that Wayne cited, Bendis declined, and told fans to ask Quesada if they saw him at the bar, and that Quesada would be happy to discuss it with them. Bendis told the crowd he didn't feel it was his place to get into the contents of the article.

After a couple quick jokes, Bendis was back to normal, and announced that in December, as a fifth week event, Marvel would bring back "What If?" for six one-shots. Three of the books will be by Bendis, "What if Karen Page had lived?", "What if Jessica Jones had joined the Avengers?", and a comedy book similar to "Not Brand Echhh" called "What -- huh?" with multiple creators involved.

For the Karen Page book, Kevin Smith is slated to co-write. As the crowd groaned, Bendis said that if Smith didn't finish his part, Bendis would write it for him.

For the "What huh?" book, Jim Mahfood is slated to draw, and stories included "What if Stan Lee wrote Ultimate Spider-Man" and "What if Kevin Smith finished his books."

Bendis also hinted that an Ultimate Nick Fury book was in the foreseeable future.

As the panel wound down, fans got to ask their questions about their favorite Bendis books, but there was still a shock through the room at the way the panel started.

"Bob Wayne came in here and yelled at me. They'll be talking about this for years," Bendis said. "You realize I'll never work for DC now?"

"Brian Bendis Super Happy Fun Hour." Indeed.

For the full, uninterupted story, click here.

 
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