When you fly, swing or walk a superheroic beat in Manhattan, there’s a good chance you’re going to run into another costumed champion who calls the city home. Even heroes that don’t hail from the Big Apple often find themselves crossing paths and teaming up with fellow champions for adventures that take them across the country and around the globe. But Marvel‘s intergalactic heroes, those whose battles take them on journeys light years from Earth, are often limited to joining forces with other champions of the space ways.
That changes this February with the launch of “Guardians Team-Up.” The new, ongoing series features rotating creative teams, all of which will pair Marvel’s premier band of intergalactic heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy, with characters from Earth and across the Marvel Universe.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis launches the series with a two-part arc that teams the Guardians with the Avengers. Yesterday we had an exclusive first conversation with the freshly Marvel-exclusive writer where he announced his X-Men departure following the release of May’s “Uncanny X-Men” #600. Now, the discussion shifts to Bendis’ work on another Marvel franchise as we discuss if and how “Guardians Team-Up impacts his ongoing “Guardians of the Galaxy” work, the general concept behind the publisher’s latest team-up book and what it was like collaborating with the legendary Art Adams on the new series’ first issue.
CBR News: Team-up books are a staple of the comic book world, but this one is a little different from most. How did “Guardians Team-Up” come about?
Brian Michael Bendis: This was pitched to me. Editor Mike Marts called me up and said, “We’re thinking of doing a team-up book. Would you like to launch it? You don’t have to, but we’d like you to.”
I asked, “Do we agree that this should feature, like, the best of the best artists who may not be able to do a monthly, but damn we need to see them do some interiors?” Mike said yes, and that made me happy.
Much like “Marvel Fanfare,” or the original “Marvel Team-Up,” these are the kind of books that I like. Artistically, the premise is very similar to when I did “Ultimate Team-Up” a few years back, where you go gunning for every good artist you can think of. Unlike “Ultimate Team-Up,” though, I won’t be writing every issue. If that book had any flaw, it was that I didn’t want anyone else to write it because I wanted to work with all the cool artists.
This time around, I’m writing the first couple, and then I’m going to bail for a few issues. I will be returning with artist Kevin Maguire for a very special Spider-Man/Guardians issue that will be coming down the line. Every time I pop back in the book, it’s going to be with somebody insanely cool or someone on my bucket list, like Art Adams; someone who I can’t get them for more than an issue. This is the book for them.
Will “Guardians Team-Up” have an impact on your ongoing “Guardians of the Galaxy” series?
It will. The first two issues are a two-parter. Art Adams is doing the first part of that story, and Stephane Roux the second, and they’re having a lot of fun with the Avengers and the Guardians in that story. At the same time, we’ll be reintroducing a major cosmic character that’s been on the shelf for a while. I think when people see who that person is, they’ll be surprised that they’ve been on the shelf for so long. We’ll also be introducing a brand new cosmic baddie. That character will be revisited in the main “Guardians of the Galaxy” title.
We’re using this as a way to launch things and show new things. We also want to make sure that the interactions are actually powerful for the characters themselves. In this first story, we have the Guardians meeting Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, who are nothing like the ones I was writing. It’s literally like a completely new team that I’m working with.
Is this the Avengers team from before the events of “Time Runs Out,” or is this the fractured team we see in that storyline?
This is the team before “Time Runs Out.”
The Avengers are some of Marvel’s biggest names — will “Guardians Team-Up” also feature appearances from lesser known characters?
It’s going to be a mixture. We’ll have some big name characters to keep the sales going, and every writer is going to pitch their own thing. Issue #3 of the series is by Sam Humphries. It’s one of the chapters of the “Black Vortex” crossover, which also answers your question about how important this book will be. It’s part of the biggest cosmic story we’re telling this year. That issue is [illustrated] by Mike Mayhew. So it’s going to be gorgeous as well.
Now, we’re running some of the pencils from the first issue with this interview. What can you tell us about working with Art Adams, especially since he’s one of your bucket list artists.
Let me tell you — not only is it Art Adams, it’s like, the best Art Adams that we’ve seen. That is saying something. Some of the pages that have already been released, just in pencil form — wow, are they good! Holy moly, are they good! I’m honored and blessed.
â€¨We had met through Tumblr, actually. It was funny — when I first started my Tumblr, I was posting a lot of Art Adams stuff that I found on websites, and his wife Joyce got ahold of me. She said, “Listen, we see you’re posting a lot of Art stuff. We have a lot of stuff here that we haven’t shown anybody. Do you want to post it on your Tumblr?” I was like, “YES, I DO!”
It was like 30 pieces of new covers and commissions, stuff like that. I posted them all online — I should repost them — and I think Art could feel how much I adore him. We had met a couple times in the past, and it was very professional, but when he saw me fanboying out about him, I think he really appreciated it. I made it clear that I wanted to work with him for more than a page. So here we are, and I couldn’t be happier.
Sometimes you hear people being all hypey, myself included. You can’t help it. You get excited about your work and you want people to buy it. I’m sure, though, this article will feature some exclusive looks at Art Adams art work on this book, and people will see that I’m not hyping things at all. Art is going to town! Every page is, “WOW!” Even the quieter pages are just something else.
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