Team dynamics in superhero comics can be tricky, especially when the cast of a single comic book can span over a dozen characters. “Civil War II” author Brian Michael Bendis and “Uncanny Inhumans” writer Charles Soule discussed writing team titles in superhero comics Easter Sunday at WonderCon, even if it appeared as though it was going to be a solo affair at first.
“Actually, we could just talk shit about him,” Bendis said, as his co-panelist was running late to the panel. “As soon as he shows up, we can just pretend like we were talking about the X-Man Colossus.”
Soule walked into the panel a minute later, and quickly steered the conversation on topic. “Team is a broad term in superhero comics that means a comic has a large cast,” he said. For example, the Inhumans are a royal family trying to keep their nation running, while the Avengers have traditionally been a government-mandated team of superheroes.
“There have been teams that have been teams, and teams that have been family,” said Bendis of the various Avengers rosters. “You make the family you want out of the people that you have met in your life.”
“I got so much crap in my Avengers run because whenever they weren’t fighting, they were eating,” Bendis continued. “I had them eating because Luke Cage and Spider-Man would probably be starving all the time after they went out to fight.”
“If you gave anybody only amazing superhero fights all the time, it would be boring,” offered Soule.
Bendis asked Soule what the hardest thing about writing a team book is, with Soule saying he faced difficulty in having each character get their own moment to shine within the story. Soule said that he enjoys coordinating the different characters in the storylines.
“Sometimes, in old X-Men issues, Colossus would just be standing there,” Bendis said. “No one does it on purpose, but sometimes Green Arrow is just eating a hot dog in the background.” The author said he kept a note tracking all the times Colossus used to spend time standing there with nothing to do.
“I would look at the Avengers and go; whose point of view is the most interesting,” Bendis said. The author explained that he watched a Scorsese documentary where the filmmaker talked about putting the camera very close to the all of the different characters within their own quiet moments, a technique he said changed his writing on “New Avengers.”
“One wall of the room is a big, big whiteboard type of thing,” Soule said, recoutning what it looked like when he visited the writer’s room for “Arrow.” “Down on the left side is each character, major and minor, that says where each character develops.” Soule further explained that he took this process and applied it to “Uncanny Inhumans” and “Daredevil” in order to give each character a plotline for every issue.
Asked how to determine what character is doing what in any of the given stories, Bendis offered the example of imagining what a character like Tony Stark would be doing, given that Stark usually identifies himself as the smartest person in the room. He explained that if writers have a good sense of the character, they can use the personalities to their advantage.
“If Iron Man all of a sudden decided he’s going to grow a beard and not shower, the Avengers would deal with it,” said Bendis. When the author was first writing “Guardians of the Galaxy” he was able to have free rein over where the characters were going so that he didn’t have to coordinate with a solo title. The author said that he allows the writers of the solo books to be in charge of the direction of the character.
“I make certain couples happen,” Bendis said. “Star-Lord and Kitty was actually [writer] Sam Humphries idea. There was this whole sect of the Internet that was upset that I wouldn’t let Clint Barton and Natasha together.” The writer joked that he was a big fan of ‘Thucky,’ a combination of a couple names between two characters, saying there could be a number of different characters that fit into the role. “Working on the ‘Poe Dameron,’ series I experience a lot of that” said Soule.
Asked about the sexuality of his new series’ lead character, Soule responded; “Poe Dameron’s story is not finished yet.” “Good answer that they wrote for you,” Bendis said with a laugh. “I’ll ship any couple for any price!” he added, joking that fans can request a couple in-continuity by contributing to a secret Paypal account.
One the panel opened up for fan questions, the authors were asked what they thought of “Daredevil’s” second season. “The cliffhangers were so outstanding, they were music — and they were beautiful,” Bendis replied. “I have watched Season 1,” said Soule. “I haven’t seen Season 2.” The author said that he was not yet comfortable watching the second season of the show because of his current gig writing the “Daredevil” comic.
“When I was on ‘Daredevil,’ there was a movie starring Ben Affleck,” Bendis recalled. He explained that it made him work harder on his Daredevil run, and that earlier on, he read a much better version of the script than the one that ended up making it to the screen.
“Daredevil is a deep dive to get into his head,” said Soule. “That was the one comic that I had to write in-costume” said Bendis. He talked about how the friendships Peter Parker or Matt Murdock made with his superhero friends could turn the comic into a team book.