|The Following Art Is From “New Avengers” #21|
They say that breaking up is hard to do, but writer Brian Michael Bendis is becoming an expert at it. Bendis chronicled the collapse of Earth’s Mightiest heroes in the pages of “Avengers Disassembled.” In “New Avengers,” a new incarnation of the team was born. But now that “Civil War” has erupted and the heroes of the Marvel Universe square off against each other, the team will be torn apart just as they were finally coming together. Bendis will tell the tale of the team’s collapse in “New Avengers: Disassembled,” a storyline that spans from June’s issue #21 to October’s #25. The New Avengers aren’t the only Marvel Comics heroes whose lives Bendis will be making miserable. In August’s “Ultimate Spider-Man Annual” #2, Young Peter Parker finds himself again embroiled in the machinations of the New York Underworld. CBR News spoke with Bendis about both stories.
When Marvel was planning, “Civil War” it became clear that the series would result in radical changes for many titles, but none more so than “New Avengers.” “With Iron Man and Cap, it’s right down the middle of my book,” Bendis told CBR News. “I couldn’t really say anything after what I had done to the X-Men office in ‘House of M’ and everyone was pretty cool about it. I loved the story and idea of ‘Civil War’ and when I saw Mark’s first plots I thought there might be certain plot elements about the characters and teams breaking up that might have happened in ‘Civil War,’ but it ends up getting right to it.”
With Millar jumping into the thick of things in “Civil War,” it left the door open for Bendis to chronicle the “New Avenger” unraveling. “If Mark was going to do it, I would have kindly bowed to that because it’s his event,” Bendis said. “But amazingly he didn’t. So, I get to tell the story that was interesting to me and he gets to tell the story that’s interesting to him. If you read them separately, you’ll be happy, and if you read them together, I think you’ll be blown away. A friend of mine read my issues before ‘Civil War’ and he called me up and goes, ‘Jesus! What happens in ‘Civil War’ then?’ That’s how much I get to do.”
What Bendis does in “New Avengers: Disassembled” is he tell the story through the eyes of each of the characters. “Each issue focuses on one character’s point of view of the events that are happening that month and to them during the whole Civil War,” Bendis explained. “Almost every character that we deal with, something major happens to them, like a life changing event. So, I get to define that element, how they got there and where it’s going to lead to.”
Since each issue of “New Avengers: Disassembled” will be told from a different perspective, each issue will also be brought to life by a different artist. “The first issue is Captain America and it’s drawn by my hero in comics, Howard Chaykin,” Bendis stated. “Since I got interested in comics as an art form, he’s just been everything to me. I never thought we’d get to work together and he never got to draw Cap, who is his favorite Marvel character. It’s been one of the highlights of my life. It’s such an amazing experience for me and just the fact that other people get to see it is crazy. I’m very in love with what he did. It’s really old school Chaykin in the best way.”
The Captain America issue takes place between issues one and two of “Civil War.” “Cap takes the side of anti-registration, which in a sense makes him a criminal,” Bendis said. “So, we get to see how the authorities handle him and what their intention is, whether to handle him or make an example of him and what he does to fight back.”
Readers can be certain that the Living Legend of World War II will be fighting back. “It’s angry Cap,” Bendis explained. “I call it Steve Englehart Cap. I think surprisingly he’s also a little despondent, too. He’s gone from Living Legend to a war criminal. And it’s a pretty upsetting place to be.
“He kind of represents fully the other half of the country that agrees with them and they’re angry,” Bendis continued. “With Cap, it’s not about politics, it’s about the temperature of the country. If the country is paranoid, Cap gets paranoid. If the country gets angry, he gets angry. He’s kind of the physical embodiment of whatever the tone of the country is.”
The second issue of “New Avengers: Disassembled” follows a man who’s also concerned about the country, but his choice of sides in “Civil War” will be based on what’s best for his family. “What we have there is Luke Cage with a brand new family; a baby and a wife who also has super powers, but doesn’t want to be a superhero and worries that her baby might have powers,” Bendis explained. “There are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered for the people in the world and the superhero community. What if I don’t want to be a superhero? Do I have to sign up? What if my kid has got super powers? Does he have to sign up? Just because I have powers does that mean I have to sign up?
“So all of this is answered, plus here’s Luke who has finally risen to the Marvel A-list and he’s got these high falutin’ friends. What side does he take? What side does he believe in?”
Lenil Yu will illustrate Luke Cage’s difficult decision making process. “This is the first time I ever got to work with him,” Bendis said. “He’s amazing. That issue is completely done.”
Olivier Copiel, who has worked with Bendis on “House of M” and the “New Avengers Annual,” will bring to life what happens when Spider-Woman chooses a side in part three of “Disassembled.” Some readers might incorrectly think after her verbal confrontation with Iron Man in the “New Avengers Annual” that Spider-Woman’s choice of sides would be clear – it isn’t. “In this issue, we have a very unique story to tell, which I was thrilled to be able to tell. She is a triple agent and there’s no room for that nonsense if there’s a war going on. So, she’s screwed by both sides.
“It’s a very action packed issue,” Bendis continued. “We’ve got big plans for her and also this issue, #23, sets up what her relationship to the Marvel Universe will be when her ongoing series begins. It’s kind of a prelude to her ongoing series.”
The cover to the first issue of the mini-series “Civil War: Frontline” depicts The Sentry, who will be the focus of part four of “Disassembled,” side-by-side with Iron Man, but Bendis cautions readers against assuming that the Golden Guardian of Good has chosen a side. “There are a lot of characters that start on one side, think about it for a second and run away, think about it for a second and change sides, think about it for a second and rededicate themselves to the side their on. Some people change their minds.”
The Sentry issue will be painted by Adi Granov and guest stars the Inhumans. In addition to exploring the impact “Civil War” has on Rob Reynolds, the issue will also address the revelations and fall out from the latest Sentry mini-series. “He’s not well,” Bendis stated. “And hero fighting hero when he’s just getting his shit together is maybe a little more than he can handle. He might not feel that he’s strong enough to do it.”
One hero who believes he’s strong enough to handle the difficult decisions of “Civil War” is Iron Man, who will be the star of the fifth and final chapter of “New Avengers: Disassembled,” which will be penciled by “Young Avengers” artist Jim Cheung. “He’s resolute,” Bendis said, “But he’s a complex character. There’s a lot that goes with that.”
As readers of “Amazing Spider-Man” and the ” New Avengers Special: The Illuminati” have seen, Tony Stark has been preparing for the events of “Civil War” for some time and readers haven’t seen all of Tony’s plans. “No we haven’t, but we will deal not only with that, but there are all his new powers to elaborate on,” Bendis said. “He’s tapped into every satellite in the world. He’s already got an addictive personality, an alcoholic mindset. So, imagine the high or rush he’s getting from his new batch of powers and what they might do to someone with that mentality in place. Plus there’s the pressure of leading this war and fighting friends.”
Some people might be wondering what the crumbling of the New Avengers means to their newest member Ronin, who was last seen in issue #14. “Ronin is the lynch pin character for the storyline that takes place right after Civil War,” Bendis explained. “That’s all I can say about that right now. It’s a pretty good yarn and it’s a post ‘Civil War’ story. So anything I would say would ruin the outcome of ‘Civil War.'”
The team may be falling apart, but Bendis confirmed that there would be a “New Avengers” title and he would still be writing once the outcome of “Civil War” had been decided. “It will not be the same book as it is now. In fact the Annual may be the last good time these characters have together as a team. That’s kind of what the last page was about in the annual. It’s like that’s it for that.”
The current line up of “New Avengers” may have experienced their last good time together, but the sales of the book indicate that fans are still having a great time. “I will say that I’m very proud to work for a company that will take such ballsy moves on a book that’s doing so well,” Bendis said. “Usually, if the book is doing well, you don’t rock the boat, but it’s very much in the tradition of Stan Lee to rock the boat just when it’s doing well. I’m very proud to continue that tradition.
“There’s a reason, there’s a purpose and there’s a theme,” Bendis continued. “I’m very excited about what life has thrown me for this book and Avengers stories will continue.”
In August, the big summer adventures of the youthful Peter Parker continue with the publication of “Ultimate Spider-Man Annual” #2 from Bendis and artist Mark Brooks. “I was completely overwhelmed by the response to the first annual,” Bendis stated. “It was one of the best responses I’ve ever had to a title ever. Here we are time to do it again and you don’t want to do the same Annual over and over again. For this one. instead of being an emotional issue, it’s a much more hardcore issue. It’s kind of a sequel to ‘Warriors,’ but it’s almost an epilogue to it. It also stands on its own if you haven’t read ‘Warriors.'”
Bendis has been planning his follow up to “Warriors” for some time. “If I could I would write Spider-Man versus Kingpin stories every day,” he explained. “It’s unendingly entertaining to me. I have millions of chapters of a story I would love to tell, but the book wouldn’t be doing well if I did it over and over again.”
The next chapter in the Spider-Man versus Kingpin saga will once again be a who’s who of street level crime-fighters in the Ultimate Universe. “There will be guest stars galore; Daredevil, The Punisher and Moon Knight,” Bendis explained. “The Punisher is out of jail and Daredevil’s relationship with Spider-Man is still contentious. Moon Knight has woken up from his mysterious coma and he’s on the loose. He’s a little crazy. His multiple personalities will overflow.
“It also deals with Captain Jeanne De Wolfe’s betrayal of Spider-Man and where her backstabbing will lead the character,” Bendis continued. “He has no idea that she’s in cahoots with the Kingpin. So, she’s sending him to do stuff. He thinks he’s doing the right thing, but really it’s the right thing for the Kingpin.”
Doing the right thing for the Kingpin will pit Spider-Man against a villain who makes his Ultimate Universe debut in the Annual. “Believe it or not, hold on to your hats, it’s a lot cooler than it sounds, Ultimate Kangaroo,” Bendis explained. “He’s not a costumed villain, but he does use brute force.”
In addition to gangsters and guest star heroes, the Annual will feature appearances by many members of the regular supporting cast of “Ultimate Spider-Man.” “All of the high school kids are there,” Bendis said. “The whole cast and crew.”
However, Ultimate X-men member Kitty Pryde, the person who became an important part of Peter Parker’s life in last year’s”Ultimate Spider-Man Annual,” won’t be heavily featured in the second annual. “There’s not much Kitty,” Bendis explained. “There’s a lot of Kitty going on in the book right now. So, I wanted to pace it out a little bit.”
Kitty and her Ultimate X-Men team mates are featured in the current “Deadpool” story in “Ultimate Spider-Man.” This year’s Annual takes place after “Deadpool” and leads into the upcoming “Clone Saga” storyline and Bendis promised that, just like last year’s annual which changed Peter’s life by beginning his romance with Kitty Pryde, this year’s annual would feature an event that profoundly affects Spider-Man’s life. “Something does happen that’s pretty important to the series,” Bendis said. “Not everyone walks away and it affects the relationships of the book.
“The one thing I do believe in fully is if you’re going to do an annual, it’s got to be annual worthy,” Bendis continued. “I think I’ve proven it, but you’ve got to prove it every time.”