Brian Bendis on The Heart of Clark Kent & The Mystery of New Superman Villains

With last week's release of Action Comics #1000, DC not only celebrated 80 years of Superman, the publisher also kicked off a new era for its greatest hero -- an era with Brian Michael Bendis at the lead.

But while the story by Bendis and DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee lit a fuse on a startling revelation about the Man of Steel, that hook is only the tip of the iceberg for both Superman's future and Bendis' tenure with the publisher. Not only does the story continue in future issues of Action Comics, the entire Superman canon will get a new look later this spring with the six-part Man of Steel series by Bendis and a string of A-list artists like Ivan Reis and José Luis Garcia-López.

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CBR caught up with Bendis recently for an in-depth chat about his move to DC. In the first half of a two-part interview, the writer goes into detail about his take on the Last Son of Krypton. Below, Bendis explores the lessons his Marvel years have offered to his DC transition, the idea of playing with an iconic legacy and why Clark Kent will always remain the heart of Superman.

CBR: Brian, the thing I've been thinking about in the buildup to Action #1000 is Avengers #500 – the last time you were writing a major anniversary issue as the new kid on the block. Do you reflect on that experience when working on Superman?

Brian Michael Bendis: In the sense of learning from things you've done before, yeah. It's hard to look back a lot for guys like me. You're trying to push forward and live in the moment. But you do when you're launching things and cracking stories, you do tend to think, "What mistakes have I made? What could I have done better? What would I have done differently in launching?"

Man of Steel #1 cover by Ivan Reis.

I've been thinking about this [with Avengers #500] lately. Because when I was on Ultimate Spider-Man, it was announced with a lot of fanfare, and it was quite lovely. It was all really positive and a little over the top. And other people have experienced this too where you just know that you're going to get your ass kicked when it's all over. When the lovely moment is over, the beating will happen, and it's up to you to decide what'll happen after that.

My beating came around Avengers #500. That was where I thought it would be oh-so clever to blow everything up. Some fans liked it, and some hated it. There were a lot of arguments online, and a fan said to me, "We're Avengers fans. All we buy is Avengers. And we have no idea who you are, but you came over and kicked all our toys over. You said, 'Haha! This is fun, right?' And we said, 'No! We were enjoying that, and you kicked everything over!'" [Laughs]

I've thought about that a lot. They weren't wrong. There was a criticism there that I take to heart. It's not that I would have changed the story of Avengers, but the glee with which I did things, I could have been more cool with. So I thought about that a lot coming into this.

It's tough when you're coming on, but the book has been in a good place creatively. There's nothing to blow up. There's no reason to do that. I'm coming in strong, and big stuff is going to happen with Superman -- but it doesn't have that "Haha!" attitude.

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