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INTERVIEW: Bendis' Young Justice Makes Wonder Comics His Ultimate DC Project

Brian Michael Bendis didn't grow up with the teen heroes of DC's Young Justice franchise. But you might miss that when you see the way the writer has championed the team's comic rebirth on social media.

In fact, Bendis' enthusiasm for the likes of Connor Kent, Tim Drake, Bart Allen and Cassie Sandsmark has been a big reason fans have been so interested in his and artist Patrick Gleason's Young Justice, the debut title of the writer's own Wonder Comics imprint at DC. But when CBR pointed out how seemingly strange it was for him to be as enamored of these characters as readers who grew up watching the young heroes on Cartoon Network, the Wonder Comics captain had an appropriate response.

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"HOW DARE YOU!?!?" Bendis playfully admonished us with a laugh. "You don't have to be in middle school to enjoy the original run of Young Justice or Teen Titans or Ultimate Spider-Man, for that matter. You just have to be a fan of fun comics. I loved Young Justice and often referenced it in the actual pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. they all reflect the legacy of DC Comics which reflects our world in a very unique way.

"I was stunned [the franchise] was available and so open for this kind of launch," he added. "These are all A+ characters. Each one."

And just like his decade-plus run with Marvel's teenage Spider characters, Bendis is working to personalize the themes of Young Justice. "They made their own family," he said of the team's appeal. "In all the chaos of their lives, and with all that is thrust upon them, YJ connected and helped each other through the toughest of times. Almost everyone I know can relate to that. Also, the world keeps telling YJ what is expected of them, and they keep fighting back. It's awesome and inspiring."

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For the launch of this new series, Bendis and Gleason will also be pulling in elements from across the DC Universe, including new characters like Jinny Hex and Teen Lantern. But they're also building the first arc around a frequently overlooked piece of DC history: Amethyst and the Gemworld.

When asked how he got the publisher to back his plan for prominence on this world that has delivered less than stellar sales in the past, the writer joked, "Sheer force of will... I love Gemworld, always have. It's a fantastic playground in the DCU that, you are right, has not been given its fair shake. I think Gemworld is as creative and exciting as the Fourth World. I really do... and we found some connections to DC within the logic of Gemworld that are fun and surprising."

"Some of my best stuff at Marvel was dusting off or polishing up some of my personal favorite characters and ideas and representing them to fans who either shared my love or were just up for something new from someone they trusted. This entire line is being produced with that feeling."

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With that in mind, how does Young Justice encapsulate Bendis' plans for Wonder Comics overall? As always, the writer's response comes from what's organically on the page. "The shape and tone of Young Justice came out of the characters," he said. "They ooze hope and wonder. They inspire each other and others. That bleeds out into the other books [in the line]. The other books have their own energy but speak to the same themes. Sam [Humphries], Mark [Russell], David [Walker] and I have been working together -- most of us live here in Portland -- to make the connections between the series special.

"Like, there is a Superman connection between all the books that only the audience will know," he teased. "The characters will never know it."

Overall, Bendis welcomes comparisons to his most famous stint writing about and for teen readers. "I do look at this line like I looked at the first years of the Ultimate line. The best possible comic book production is service to strong characters facing the day with the help of friends and family."

Young Justice #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Patrick Gleason, is on sale now from DC Comics.

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