When you’re older, having a sibling can be a great thing, giving you somebody close to you to talk to who has experienced many of the same things you’ve gone through. When you’re a kid, though, it can be a different story. Your sibling is always there. They can be demanding and downright mean. So it’s not surprising that kid siblings often have difficult relationships. But imagine if you had a sister who really got on your nerves, but the two of you had to save the world together? This is the premise of “Takio,” a new February-launching creator-owned series from Marvel Comics’ Icon imprint by the acclaimed “Powers” creative team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the all ages series, which he co created his daughter, Olivia.
“Takio” revolves around a pair of bickering siblings who are forced to try to understand each other and work together when fate bestows upon them the unexpected gift of super powers. “It’s the story of a multiracial, adoptive family. There are two sisters who are really getting on each others nerves. They have an overprotective mother who makes them stay together all the time, and they drive each other crazy,” Bendis told CBR News. “Accidentally, as it often happens in these things, they get super powers and become the first super heroes in the world. But because their over protective mother would kill them if she finds out, they have to be home by 6 – no matter what.”
Part of the reasons the two sisters in “Takio” are having so much trouble getting along is the simple fact that they don’t have much in common. “They’re very different. They’re looking at the world differently. One is a little older than the other. The older one has much more responsibility because it’s a single parent house hold. I see a lot of kids today with a lot more responsibility than I had when I was a kid. Both parents are working, so they might have to grow up and take responsibility for a lot of things. That’s a part of this series too,” Bendis said. “One of the girls is adopted and one isn’t. That does impact their relationship. The oldest one is at that age where she’s trying to discover who she is and what she is.”
As Bendis has demonstrated over the course of his long run writing “Ultimate Spider-man,” getting super powers is a life-changing, wondrous and often heart breaking experience, especially for younger heroes. Those experiences will be amplified for the sisters of “Takio” because they’re the only super heroes in their world. “When they receive their powers, it alters their personalities and they see the world a little differently,” Bendis explained. “Their power sets are very unique. They’re living in a world without super heroes and have that youth and exuberance to think, ‘I’ll be a super hero. That’s what you do when you get super powers.’ Of course they do this without knowing how the world will react. Writing this felt a lot like the first year of writing ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ for me. It’s got that awe and surprise that only youth can bring to a story.”
Heroes need good villains in order to define them, and Bendis has lined up several to test the mettle of his protagonists. “The accident that created them was done by someone very close to them. It will also give a different type of powers to one of the girls’ best friends, who will then become their mortal enemy. A lot of what happens occurs in school. And the school will have a kingpin, an eighth-grade kingpin,” Bendis revealed. “There will be a lot of supporting characters, but the book is primarily about the sisters. I’m very excited for people to meet them.”
The sister super heroes of “Takio” will be cleaning up the streets of the town Bendis currently calls home, Portland, Oregon, a locale the writer also used as the starting point for his recently launched creator owned series with Alex Maleev, “Scarlet.” “I’m doing my Portland trilogy. [Laughs] My first indy books were all Cleveland – now these will all be Portland. More than a revolution, Portland wants super heroes. You can feel it in the streets. In New York there are a lot of super heroes, and there are other cities in this country that would love super heroes. I think Portland was one of them. Santa Barbara would like its own super hero and, I believe, Bromley, Kentucky,” Bendis joked. “Those are the three.”
It was the success of “Scarlet” that prompted Bendis to prepare “Takio” for launch in February. “Mike [Oeming] and I have been cooking this one for a while. The story was created here at the house, and shockingly, my daughter chipped in with two ideas that were so on the spot amazing that everyone in the room kind of stopped and looked at her,” Bendis said. “It’s funny – my house is here in Portland and there are tons of comic people at the house all the time from all walks of life. At dinners we’ll somehow get into storytelling, characters and this or that. Sometimes it looks like your kids are just sitting there and not paying attention, but then Olivia sat up and asked, ‘What about this?’ We all looked at each other and went, ‘Oh my God. No one has ever thought about that before. That’s going to be the surprise reveal of the book.’ When Mike heard what she said, he turned to me and said, ‘I’ll draw that.'”
Of course, readers realize that “Takio” isn’t the only creator owned Book that Bendis and Oeming are collaborating onas the two have been working on “Powers” for over ten years. Fans of that series don’t need to worry, Bendis stressed, as “Takio” won’t derail the two’s initial creator owned endeavor “‘Powers’ fans, we’re not giving up on the book! Especially when the TV show is so close to happening! We’re going to do something similar to what Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do with ‘Criminal’ and ‘Incognito,'” Bendis explained. “We’ll take a little break and ‘Takio’ will come out in a burst. Then we’ll go back to ‘Powers.’ Then eventually we’ll do another ‘Takio.’ The overall plan is [to create] one sort of mini graphic novel a year with simple and elegant stories.”
“Powers” and “Scarlet” are both intended for mature audiences, but with “Takio,” Bendis and Oeming are looking to craft a series that all ages can enjoy. “We thought, why does every indy book have to be rated R?” Bendis remarked. “I think the audience of ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ would love a new creator owned book. This, hopefully, will be very appealing to them You’ll be able to read it with your kids, but people who just love comics can read it and enjoy it as well.
“I do material that goes all over the place, and as much as I love writing a book like ‘Scarlet,’ that’s by adults for adults I can’t help but remember Michael Chabon coming up to me at a convention and saying, ‘Reading ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ to my kid is one of the most fun things that we do together,'” Bendis continued. “Hearing that made me want to create more things where people can do that. We had to wait till we thought we had a new and interesting idea that was full of value, and with characters that were coming from a place that I haven’t seen represented a lot in these stories.”
Putting “Takio” together has been a labor of love for Bendis and he’s immensely proud of the work his co-creators have done on the series. “Mike is on fire. He’s got a much lighter touch on this. ‘Powers’ is a noir book, even though there are sections of it that have super hero elements; it’s a much heavier stroke. This is a very decided lighter touch,” Bendis said. “Also, Val Staples will be coloring with us for the first time. So there will be a different palette than what you’re used to seeing on Mike as well.
“And my daughter’s participation in it meant a great deal. I told her, ‘Listen, Mike Mignola’s kid had won an Eisner by the time she was your age. So don’t embarrass me.’ There’s a lot of pressure on that kid. It’s like, ‘Don’t come out of your room until you get a new idea,'” Bendis joked. “I also said it would be funny to have Olivia write ‘Takio’ because the spelling would be better. [Laughs]”