CCI, Day 1: Still the Mightiest: Bendis talks "Mighty Avengers"

Thu, July 20th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

With the Marvel Universe in the throes of "Civil War," the fate of many teams is uncertain. The "New Avengers" are being torn apart by the conflict in the pages of the current "New Avengers: Disassembled" storyline, but writer Brian Michael Bendis previously told CBR News there will be a "New Avengers" book after "Civil War" and he will be writing it. Shortly after "Civil War" wraps up, Bendis's job chronicling the adventures of Earth's Mightiest Heroes will become larger. In addition to writing "New Avengers," Bendis will also be providing scripts and Frank Cho will be providing art for "Mighty Avengers," a new monthly series set to debut shortly after the final issue of "Civil War" is released. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the project.

The seeds for "Mighty Avengers" were planted when "New Avengers" became an immediate success and stayed that way.

"A lot of Marvel editorial kept saying 'The Avengers are the new X-Men,' because 'New Avengers,' 'Young Avengers,' and the solo series were doing so well," Bendis said. "The Marvel Superheroes office was becoming like the X-office in the '80s. I was really flattered by that, but at the same time you could really smell that someone wanted another Avengers book, but it has to be story motivated. It has to come out of a pure place. You can't start slapping Avengers titles on everything and hope for the best.

"Thankfully, that's not the kind of people I work for. ... They kept the Ultimate line so tight when they could have made more short term money putting 'Ultimate' on everything. They were cool about that and it's the same thing here. So we waited."

When "Civil War" started to become a reality, a natural starting point for a second Avengers book was here.

"When 'Civil War' happened and the ending was decided on it was pretty much, 'Here comes the second Avengers book,'" Bendis explained. "I had ideas about how that book should feel as a narrative: what it should sound like, what it should feel like, and who the artist should be. Marvel went, 'Done, done and done.'"

The ideas that Bendis had for "Mighty Avengers" came out of a desire to chronicle that adventures of superhero teams in new and different ways.

"When I first started doing 'Avengers,' I started talking in interviews about trying to make the language of group and team comics a little different than they have been," Bendis said. "There's a feel that they always had and I want to try new stuff. People read 'New Avengers' and some people like that feel. Others just despise it, but it is something else. It doesn't feel like 'Justice League' and it doesn't feel like the old Avengers books, for better or worse. But there was more stuff I wanted to do along those lines.

"It was funny because Warren Ellis sent me the script to 'Nextwave' #1 and he said, 'This is your fault.' ... I read it and I was like, 'How was that my fault?' He told me that when I was talking about the language of team books it made him think of some of the ideas he had and that's what he was going to do with 'Nextwave.' That made me think that I wasn't doing enough as far as the different kinds of things we could do in the narrative for a team book.

"So, on top of having a cool team and some cool stories to tell, I thought, 'If I'm going to be the writer of both books, they both should feel very different.' They shouldn't just be the bi-weekly Avengers titles. It should be two unique writing styles and the one I'm using for 'Mighty Avengers' has new usage of thought balloons and narrative. It has first person and omniscient first person narrative, which I never do. I want to make sure that each character has a unique voice and point of view that gets across to the reader as well as their actions in the story. I'm not using these techniques to be retro or cheeky. I want to try new stuff with more modern [storytelling] techniques."

The new techniques Bendis will be employing on "Mighty Avengers" might not be appreciated by every reader.

"I'm not trying to piss anybody off at all," Bendis said. "I'm trying to write a rip-roaring, fun comic book. I can't help it if people get pissed off. I thought about this a great deal. It's got to be our responsibility to tell new kinds of stories with new connections. Some of the people who get annoyed at 'New Avengers,' they love Luke Cage and Spider-Man's relationship or they love Iron Man and Spider-Man's relationship in 'Amazing Spider-Man' and we wouldn't have these things without putting them together like this. There are all these positive things that come out of the book. At the same time you think it's annoying maybe something is building that you're going to like as much or more than other stuff. And at the same time I always say this, 'There's nothing that we're going to do that is going to take away the greatness of the stories that came before us. You'll always have the 'Kree-Skrull War.'"

"Mighty Avengers" will be completely different than the Bendis penned "New Avengers" stories that came before it. The books will have completely different teams and agendas, as well as different narratives and art styles.

"Frank Cho is the artist on 'Mighty Avengers' and it's kind of building on the work we did together in 'New Avengers,' which are some of my favorite issues so far. Frank and I really found each other quickly and this is the best work of his life. It looks like Geoff Darrow meets Dave Stevens. I would be remiss if I did not include Frank as a storyteller. He's a writer as well, so part of our relationship on this book is that he's throwing out all kinds of ideas both visual and story. Although I'm writing and he's drawing, he's very involved in the actual development of the book; where we go and what kind of story elements we use in the book. When he says, 'I want to draw this,' we find place to put that in wherever it works.

"Our relationship is pretty unique, but all the artists I work with are invited to do this with me. When an artist says, 'I want to draw dinosaurs,' that makes me sit there and think about finding a way to get them to draw dinosaurs because I know those dinosaurs are going to kick ass. You want them to feel inspired and part of the process and anybody who has a story idea I'll listen to, but in this instance it was part of the deal we made with Frank to come to the book. It was that Frank's mind is completely open to us. So it's me and Frank together teaming up for this."

Because "Civil War" is still raging, Bendis couldn't offer up many specific details about the book he and Frank are teaming up for.

"It spins out of the aftermath of 'Civil War,'" he said. "There is a winner and there is a loser in 'Civil War.' I can't say who and I can't say who is on the team because anything I would say gives away the ending of 'Civil War.' I don't care how much you think you do, you don't want 'Civil War' ruined for you. The two Avengers teams will have completely different agendas and be coming from completely different points of view. It very well could be that one team's job is looking for the other team."

Bendis was able to reveal that some of the team members in "Mighty Avengers" have not been part of the Avengers before and some of the members are the stars of their own monthly books. The line-up in the book will also feature some traditional, classic Avengers as well as newer characters.

"There are a couple that are so new to Marvel that for sure it's going to be people's first look at them," Bendis said. "They will be new to somebody. There are some people who think that we invented Ms. Marvel just for 'New Avengers.' For a lot of people that is their first comic and they don't know the history, but it's got to be a good read to them as well. Of course, I don't correct those people. I say, 'thank you,' and that Carol Danvers is my greatest creation," Bendis joked.

Bendis was able to get into a little more detail about the types of adventures the cast of "Mighty Avengers" will be embarking on.

"For those looking for the bigger kind of stories, this is the place you're going to find them," he stated. "It has a [higher-]powered team and they are going up against some classic Avengers foes amped up for the new generation, as well as some brand new villains and some villains that have been around the Marvel Universe that in the past haven't been as big a threat as they will turn out to be now. Right in the first issue we get a classic villain making a nice return and another villain making a completely threatening turn that you've never seen from this guy before."

Whether or not the government will have a threatening relationship with the members of "Mighty Avengers" is another thing Bendis couldn't reveal.

"I can't, because that ruins 'Civil War.' I can't even tell you if there's going to be an Avengers Tower after 'Civil War' -- it could be gone."

Wherever the heroes of "Mighty Avengers" end up headquartered, readers can expect their base of operations to be the scene of a variety of interesting sub plots and for many supporting characters to make appearances there.

"There are a lot of members of the team and they're all coming with their baggage," Bendis explained. "You're going to see similar stuff to Mary Jane's and Aunt May's unique relationship with the Avengers. You will also have romance between teammates and a couple of members will be coming in with genuinely big questions about their personal lives that the spotlight will now be on."

Readers can expect certain issues of "Mighty Avengers" to focus the spotlight on certain members.

"Some characters that we know will have a lot of holes in their stories filled in. Like, where we're they during 'House of M?' Where were they after 'House of M?' Where were they during 'Civil War?' Did they do the right thing in 'Civil War?'"

Readers won't have to read both "New Avengers" and "Mighty Avengers" to enjoy each book separately, but Bendis does plan to reward readers who pick up both titles.

"If you are reading both books, there is going to be a huge benefit because maybe six months down the line, maybe a year down the line, you're going to notice that there is a large story being told and pieces of it will have been sprinkled throughout the two tiles and some other places as well. What's happening after 'Civil War' in the Marvel Universe and what's been happening in 'New Avengers,' all the conspiracies, what's happening with SHIELD, where Nick Fury is, and who the shadowy guy in 'New Avengers' #1 was, all this stuff continues. I think if you read both books, the tapestry that I sat down all summer and planned out will hopefully result in a huge payoff to people who like that kind of payoff. But if not, you can just read the individual stories and be completely entertained as well."

Bendis is eagerly awaiting the debut of "Mighty Avengers."

"I'm excited to debut the new writing techniques on a big monthly superhero title like this," he said. "For people who like the dialogue and the back and forth from me, you're going to get that, but you're going to get something new on top of it. I'm excited to show it off and see what the response is. The responses from people who have read it have been very exciting."

Readers can expect the debut issues of "Mighty Avengers" to be filled with big moments.

"It's larger in scope than what I'm usually known for," Bendis said. "Legitimately larger and a lot happens. For those who criticize and say nothing ever happens, it never feels that way to me, but these first two issues are definitely jam packed."

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