Crossing X-Men, Guardians & Ultron With Brian Bendis

Fridays on CBR mean Axel's In Charge.

Welcome to MARVEL A-I-C: AXEL-IN-CHARGE, CBR's regular interview feature with Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso!

An editor with years of experience who's brought out comics to both critical acclaim and best-selling status, Alonso stepped into the chair at the top of Marvel's Editorial department earlier this year and since then has been working to bring his signature stylings to the entire Marvel U. Anchored by regular question and answer rounds with the denizens of the CBR Message Boards, each week Alonso will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and more!

This week, Axel welcomes special guest Brian Michael Bendis back to the column! Furiously at work on a number of Marvel titles, Bendis has spent his Marvel NOW! time not only relaunching the X-franchise with the best-selling "All-New X-Men" and the upcoming "Uncanny X-Men," but he's also on the edge of redefining Marvel Cosmic with "Guardians of the Galaxy" alongside Steve McNiven. Add to that the long-gestating "Age of Ultron" event hitting in March and the ongoing adventures of Miles Morales in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man," and there's plenty to be discussed.

Below, Bendis and Axel break down how "All-New X-Men" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" will come together in story even as their origins are unpacked, talk about the impact "Ultron" will have on all the Marvel Universe and tease what major shake-ups are in store for Miles in the wake of "Venom War" and much, much more. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Brian, thanks for stopping by! I wanted to start with you at the start of Marvel NOW! Axel has related in the past how you deciding to end your time on "Avengers" was really the domino that started the whole relaunch happening. What's your recollection of that time when you went over to the X-Men franchise, and what did you think when you saw that Marvel was going to jump on that and shake up so many more books?

Brian Michael Bendis: Axel might remember this because we had a pretty good day. We were actually up here at my house -- the five architects, Nick [Lowe], Axel and Tom [Brevoort] -- and it's unusual that we're not at Marvel. It was nice that they came up here. We'd spent the whole day talking about "Avengers Vs. X-Men," and as it was coming together, it was also clear that if we did it right, there was this big line in the sand. And as I'd been on ["Avengers"] longer than anyone had been on the book, anyone...even I could tell that it was a good time for me to get off the stage. We were actually in my backyard, and I think I whispered it because I didn't want to say it aloud. "I think I should be done with Avengers." [Laughs] It was clear that it was time, and I think Axel even said right then, "Yeah, you'll do X-Men. It'll be perfect." [Alonso Laughs]

I knew that meant someone would take over "Avengers" and that there would be a shift, but I had no idea how large of a shift. But when the shift was dreamed up by Axel, everyone realized this would be a perfect time to dig in. I was very excited about it. Jonathan Hickman was very excited about it. And you could feel there was some nervousness amongst our peers. I thought it was such an exciting idea that I was confused by people's trepidation. Then I realized it was because we were playing musical chairs and I was going from one big cool thing to another big cool thing, and so were some of the others. But there was this feeling like, "Well, in musical chairs, someone gets their chair taken away." [Laughter] People were worried that someone would have to trade down, but they were very good [in Editorial] about making sure that everybody got something they wanted and that they were ready for and a creative team that was exciting to them. So as it got put together, which was all Axel and the editors, everyone got very excited for this.

I love big, bold moves. I like them when they're being done right. Sometimes you see big, bold moves done by both of the big two companies that aren't being done right. They're good ideas, but they're not done as well as you'd want them to be. This was looking to be Marvel at their best with their best foot forward. It was a good idea being well executed over a long period of time. They made sure that everyone was happy and everyone was doing their best, and I'm so happy that you can see that. I'm reading more books just for fun than I ever have, and that's what we're hearing from people all over the world. You can tell when readers are genuinely happy and are excited for what's coming next. That's what Marvel NOW! was supposed to do, and it did it.

Axel Alonso: Yeah, that was definitely the goal. I hadn't thought of the musical chairs analogy, and now I wish I'd thought of it before you, Brian. [Laughter] Because one of the things we were dealing with was making everyone understand that this was a move that was good for everybody. It was, "Everybody's going to come in and take on a new challenge and own a new title, and we're going to encourage this hostile takeover mentality. We don't want you to do what your predecessors did. We want you to own this title." And that worked out.

Bendis: The reason I came to that analogy is because we were at the next retreat [after "AvX"], and I was exited, and others were excited, and then I saw one of our peers who was not that into this. I said, "This is cool, man. As a fan, this is awesome. Why aren't you into this?" And he said, "Because you got 'X-Men,' and he got 'Avengers,' and one of us is going to get 'Omega The Unknown' and we're screwed!" [Laughter]

Axel, when Brian was getting ready to come on to the X-Men, did you have advice for him on engaging that fanbase, since you were once the new kid on the block with that franchise?

Alonso: No, I think Brian knew the deal going in. X-Men fans are some of the most passionate fans out there and being able to embrace them was the best thing he could do.

Bendis: And I'd observed that as anyone could do it. But also, a lot of my closest friends in comics had done a tour of duty with the X-Men, and I'd gotten to watch it first-hand. The whole time I was on Avengers, I was making controversial moves for better or for worse. I was riling up some people and at the same time exciting others. It's not like I wasn't ready for whatever. And the fact is that this story with the original X-Men coming here was controversial to some, but you just have to tell your story and tell it honestly and true. Hopefully, enough people will see that you're coming from a good place. So a lot of my worry that there would be new people to throw pies at me hasn't come true. They can tell that I care about them. I think my biggest fear going in was that I wasn't just a new X-Men writer -- I was the guy who gave Wolverine his memories back and decimated the mutant population and killed Charles Xavier. So I was going in with quite a reputation, but it's all gone very well. It's almost to the point where I've told others that I feel I'm being set up for something. [Laughter] The X-Men fans are galvanized, and they're off somewhere planning some horrible thing for me.

But it's all been very positive, and now I'm excited because "Uncanny X-Men" is our next big statement, and that came out really, really well. The first issue is gorgeous. We put our best foot forward, and that's all we can do.

How do each of you view the split between "All-New" and "Uncanny"? For years, no matter how many titles were in the line, the X-Men were a family, and it was essentially them against the world. Since "Schism," that's changed, but you've really embraced that here.

Bendis: There was definitely, even way before "Schism," a sense that the X-Men as a united front was on its way out. If you look at anything in history from the Russian revolution to how the state of Israel was born, there are people with common goals but different ideas of how they should be accomplished. I mean, look at our own government. So it seemed like the X-Men would have to break into different camps. Even more than the Avengers, having these two books and Jason's book and so many other means that they each have to have their own identity, and part of that is showing different ways mutants work to achieve their goals. And also, some people have different goals.

So with the [original X-Men] coming here, there's a lot to rediscover about what the X-Men mean and what Charles Xavier's dream means to the modern day. And with these other characters -- Cyclops, Emma, Magneto and Magik in particular -- who are coming out of "Avengers Vs. X-Men" truly changed, they have to rediscover who they are and define what bold statement they have on what they'll do to make their vision mutants come true. I believe the day I said I was doing X-Men, Axel said, "And you'll do this book and that book" and I was like, "What if they don't like the first book?" But he was right and it worked out well.

Alonso: I've always been of the opinion to let the writer and group editor define the two titles. What we knew going in was that Cyclops wouldn't be the same Cyclops and that we would no longer be operating in a world where Magneto and Xavier cast the big shadows. That was it. The rest was up to the writer to define, and that's how we've gotten to where we're at now.

One thing we heard a lot from the fans on the boards is the idea of young Jean Grey and the Phoenix and whether that'll show up in "All-New," but there's also some chatter out there about Brian's plans to synch up those ideas with "Guardians of the Galaxy." What's the big plan for all your new books? Do you just start to merge these stories together as you're writing them?

Bendis: For me, it all starts with character. This idea was literally handed to me as a present with a little bow, and it was a great opportunity for the characters to be young and raw and looking at the world with eyes wide open. And boy, does Jean Grey ever jump to the front of the pile. Her point of view and her looking at her own life is so interesting. That's a story we haven't seen before with a character that everybody loves but we truly haven't had back in a long time. Now she's in the Jean Grey school in a role reversal with all her friends. She used to be a teacher and mentor to Kitty, and now the opposite is happening. It's all so interesting.

But as the story locked itself in, yes, I got very focused on "Guardians of the Galaxy." I realized that the different points of view offer all these different ideas and opportunities for stories that we haven't seen before or since in a good long while. It was what they call the billiard ball effect. "If this happens, then this can happen!" That's the great thing about monthly comics or ongoing comics -- or I think this one might be a daily comic at this point. [Laughs] You have the opportunity to explore all of this. So as the dust settles on "All-New X-Men" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" is starting up, I couldn't help but think about what Jean Grey means to the galaxy. Then someone went, "It's the X-Men's 50th Anniversary!" and I went, "Oh cool. I have something."

Alonso: The most exciting part of the job for me is recognizing that our catalogue of characters goes deep. Being able to remind fans why we love these characters is one of the most exciting aspects of it. It extends beyond the Avengers, the X-Men and Spider-Man. For me, the challenge of taking Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy and at some point down the road, inevitably Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock and all these characters, is reintroducing them to readers in a way where we're putting our best talent on them and putting our best foot forward. We want to integrate them into the Marvel Universe, and it's super exciting. This whole year is about the expansion of the Marvel Universe and making these characters especially relevant to everything going on in the Marvel U. So when Brian came back to me and said, "Here's my hook," I was relieved.

Bendis: And what we've discovered -- and you never know what the real response is -- but it looks from sales figures that most of the audience is voting with their pocketbooks that this is what they want. That's a great thing to see.

Alonso: Yeah. The response to "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Nova" is absolutely phenomenal.

"Guardians" is starting out not just with the regular series but with this #0.1 story that I think was inspired by Brian rediscovering the original Star-Lord origin story with Peter Quill. Brian, at what point did your reading up on those old Steve Englehart comics did you realize that you needed to starting this story back with his origin and do this special issue?

Bendis: I read a lot of this stuff in regard to my part-time job as part of the Marvel Creative Committee. They've been developing "Guardians" as a film for a while, and the committee's been there for the whole thing. So I was digging into this and the Abnett and Lanning stuff as well, but it was only as a fan and not as a writer. You use a different part of your brain. It got me very excited, and that's why I got the gig. But then as I was sitting down to write these characters, I wrote the story for #0.1 without having it assigned to me. I wrote it to discover Peter and know the character's origin for myself. In fact, I think I was supposed to write like an eight-pager for the Marvel NOW! special, and it ended up being 32 pages. I was like, "Uh oh!"

Alonso: That's funny. That never happens. [Laughter]

Bendis: I just handed it in and said, "I'm sorry, guys. I don't know what to do with this, but I do think that this is the point of the book. But this can't be what the #1 issue should be, which services all the Guardians." They were actually very cool about actually making it, and I felt like I hadn't wasted my whole week doing it. But it all came from just pure passion for the character. And we just put the issue to bed this week, so now it's off to the printer.

Axel, you've talked a lot about how you immediately connected with "Nova." Is there something in Brian's pitch for "Guardians" that drew you in as a reader?

Alonso: Well, I think what's appealing about the Avengers is that it's a group of mismatched characters who are thrust into being an army and somehow become a family. I think that's what you're seeing with "Guardians." It's mismatched characters from across the cosmos who shouldn't even share the same universe let along the same spacecraft, and they're forced to join a team and become so much more. I love the richness of the characters as well. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the space opera of it. What makes our medium so exciting is that there are so many flavors of super hero comics. If you want traditional super hero action, you've got Spider-Man. If you want teen angst, you've got X-Men. If you want stories about martial arts, you've got Master of Kung-Fu and Iron Fist. Here what you have is comics and space opera, but this opera matters to the Marvel Universe. It's all sorts of flavors on one pizza.

Bendis: And it's funny. A lot of fans say to me, "Have you ever written science fiction before?" and I say, "Yeah. Every Marvel comic ever is science fiction." [Laughter] The guy gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gets spider powers? That's science fiction.

That's a good transition to our last big topic, which is "Age of Ultron." This is the latest series where you've been working on it for a while that is now ready to see the light of day, and it's got people asking how it all fits in. Brian, as you wrote the story first for Bryan Hitch and more recently for Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco, how did it start to feel about putting this on the schedule and seeing where it fit into Marvel NOW?

Bendis: Well, it's funny because we get questions like this all the time over any book. But just because you just heard about Marvel NOW! recently doesn't mean that it just happened. It's something we've been planning for a while, and I've been at every meaning. I was very aware of the changes coming to the Marvel Universe, and some of them I was in the room when they were thought of. Just like in "Avengers" where every single issue I'd have to look around the Marvel U and make sure the landscape was duly noted - because these changes only matter if they're legitimately across the board -- this is a story where I absolutely knew what was going on with Spider-Man and X-Men and Avengers. So it wasn't hard to adjust things, and I didn't have to adjust the story much because of its nature. One thing people will see right away with "Age of Ultron" is that the book opens up and the worst thing in the universe has already happened. I wouldn't say we're at a place where continuity went right out the window because it's fully addressed, but the stories that these characters are involved in don't matter because the world has ended.

Alonso: And in terms of how it fits in the publishing plan, it fits like a glove. The events of Ultron happen immediately in the here and now. One day our heroes wake up, and Ultron has won. How they get through and back from it will be the best part of the journey.

Bendis: I remember you getting very excited about adding this on at the tail end of Marvel NOW! to reinforce the idea that we're in a place where anything can happen. Marvel NOW! is full of these "I have no idea what's going to happen in the next issue" moments, and this added to that feel. We were ready for that the whole time.

Alonso: And we get stuff out of the other side of "Age of Ultron" that's going to stick around forever. I'm very excited about that as well.

Bendis: Absolutely. Including the ending that no one can guess! Axel knows it. He's one of the seven people in the world who knows it, and he can tell you that no one can guess it.

Alonso: I'm not saying anything!

With that, let's move on to some fan questions for Brian! Perhaps expectedly, so many of these questions were about "When is my favorite X-Men character going to show up?" which I thought was a fun launching point because there are so many mutants in the Marvel U. Have you been getting the itch to unleash your inner Claremont and get real deep into the catalog?

Bendis: This is the difference between writing X-Men and writing anything else: there is a huge list of any character imaginable you can name - Husk and Pixie and everyone -- and each of them have fans who dedicate website and Tumblrs to them. And they people want to know how any of this stuff affects their character. I won't say that doesn't happen with Avengers, but there is definitely a fever pitch to it that happens in X-Men that's different than any other franchise in comics. That's something I respect a great deal, and I know that every time I talk about introducing a new X-Men character, they go, "But what about these guys? Stop with the new and give me my guy!"

It's funny -- Newsarama just put up a "10 Worst X-Men Villains of All Time" list, and I read it laughing because eight of them are characters I've been asked about numerous times over the last couple of weeks. So someone's most hated character is also always someone else's favorite. I think the funniest one was Black Tom Cassidy. They were saying, "He's the worst!" and I was like, "You should see how many letters I get about Black Tom Cassidy." [Laughter]

Well, let's try and do a lightning round with some of these guys to see if any of the CBR board members can get a bone thrown their way, starting with KurtW95 who wants to know about Nightcrawler.

Bendis: I believe he's passed away. There was an obituary on your site! [Laughs] But I'll tell you this: the title of "Uncanny X-Men" #2 is "Poink Is The New Bamf."

Master of Sound was one of many people who really ask after the "New X-Men" characters whose adventures were written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir and then Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. Any chance we'll see any of them?

Bendis: A couple. I'm going to not answer for spoiler's sake because there's some stuff coming I want people to genuinely be surprised by. But there are some big moves coming after issue #1 where "Uncanny X-Men" will kind of state its purpose. That is going to send out a ring to all the different corners of the X-Men. People have seen in the solicitations that Cyclops is going to be making the rounds, and that includes him going to some of those characters. It also includes some characters from soon to be wrapped up "X-Treme X-Men" [Whispers] like Dazzler. The plans may, or may not include a certain Dazzling character.

Speaking of "Uncanny," Kaiolino wanted to know about some tensions that could exist between that book and "All-New" asking: "Kitty and Magik have something in common with Xavier and Magneto: they used to be best friends but ultimately ended on completely different sides. Will this be touched upon in future X-Men issues?"

Bendis: Yeah. It's funny because there's a feeling that they're on opposite sides of the line, but I think it's more that they feel like there's different ways for the world to work. I think there are a lot of people who know what it feels like to have someone who was a good friend of yours at one point in your life, for whatever reason, grow in a different direction from you where you're not really friends anymore. You always look back and say, "That's too bad" but I think something similar is happening here. I think they still love each other, but they acknowledge, "We are not the same people we were when we were friends." Magik is going through a lot of stuff that you'll be seeing in some new cover art from "Uncanny X-Men."

A number of people were asking about another relationship that could appear in the book: young Jean Grey and Rachel Grey. Any chance that's in the works?

Bendis: Yes. I know there were a lot of people who wanted that right away, as soon as Jean showed up. I'm of the belief that that interaction needed to be set up. Everything needs to be ready to go for that interaction to have meaning. But it'll happen sooner rather than later. There's also some people who will be very interested to know that what's coming up in "All-New X-Men" is the Avengers reaction to this. It's another "Hank McCoy doing whatever he wants" joint that Captain America has to deal with. [Laughs] It draws in the Uncanny Avengers and shows what the existence of the Uncanny Avengers means to the kids and what their choices will be moving forward.

We got a few questions from Spidey616 who is the king of finding obscure but relevant bits to ask about...

Bendis: I love him! He's the guy who always finds artwork that you guys are posting somewhere, and then he sends it to my Twitter before I've ever seen it. He's a huge resource for me! [Laughter] So let me publicly cheer him. I tip my yarmulke to you, Spidey616.

This week, the piece of the puzzle he's look at is this: "Haven't seen new mutant Benjamin Deeds you introduced featured in much of the Uncanny X-Men art, so will he have a role in the team/book and will we learn more about how his shape-shifting differ from other characters like Mystique as you hinted?"

Bendis: Yes, you will. That's a good point. When you start introducing new characters, people gravitate towards them if you're doing your job well. In fact, I started getting e-mails from people asking me which one of the new characters would be the Thunderbird, meaning the guy they don't need to care about because we're just going to blow him up in issue #3. [Laughter] But all of these characters you're going to meet full-on in the early issues of "Uncanny X-Men." And by "meet them," I mean you're really going to find out how they tick. That goes for Benjamin, Christopher Mews, Eva and everyone. They're all going to get their mutant names, and it should be noted that just because their powers manifest in one way, that doesn't mean that it's the only thing they can do. With training and concentration from Cyclops, Emma and Magneto, they're going to learn what else they can do. How powerful is Eva? She's created time bubbles!

He follows up with: "Already been revealed one of the episodes you wrote for Season 2 of Ultimate Spider-Man involves the Guardians of the Galaxy. Don't you suppose you can say anything else about the other episodes you worked on?"

Bendis: I'm going to respect Jeph Loeb who always wants to keep a lid on these episodes, but I'll say that I have a Hulk-centered episode coming. I think there are only two I wrote for the second season because during that time my wife got pregnant. But with the Guardians episode, it was perfect timing because it came time for me to write some episodes right when I got the "Guardians" gig, and when I asked if I could use the team, they said, "YES! Do Guardians!" It was a nice place to get my feet wet with the characters. But otherwise, I'm going to respect the Loeb and not say much beyond the fact that all of my episodes have leaned on the funny side of how the show works. We're going full-on comedy and loving it.

Let's shift to "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" stuff...

Bendis: Good! I know everyone's talking about X-Men and Guardians, but there are some big, big dramatic changes coming to Miles Morales' life as well.

Let's start simple with SpiderX who asks, " After the Venom arc what's next and is Marquez back on art duty for the next arc?"

Bendis: Yes. Sara Pichelli is back for the Venom arc, and between her and David Marquez we've got two artists who have just decided to make this the most beautiful comic imaginable. It's such a nice thing for the fans that every issue is better looking than the next. So for the next while, it's all Sara and David. And I can not describe to you how awesome Justin Posner our colorist is. He makes it so seamless of a transition. The cinematography is always the same. He's also doing "Guardians of the Galaxy," and it's something else.

But big things are happening in "Venom War" which includes the return of Gwen Stacy and Mary-Jane Watson as they jump in to help Miles deal with this craziness. Their knowledge of Peter Parker and the world he lived in is something Miles needs, and so they rush to help him. The end of the story will bring about a huge change to Miles' life. This is a character-changing story and not just some Venom story. And after the story, we're going to do a pretty bold time jump for the series. It's a pretty big deal. I got to a place with "Ultimate Spider-Man" where we're allowed to go a little crazy, and I've decided to do so -- both with story status quo and in terms of not having to make every issue the next day.

We got a very big question from someone calling himself Relevant PuertoRican Superhero, so I'll let him take it: "First off I'd like to thank you for essentially being my gateway into modern comics as Avengers Disassembled and the Carnage arc of Ultimate Spider-Man provided my first exposure to the medium. My question is directed towards the fact that Miles Morales (whose adventures I have loved so far by the way) was promoted when he was first announced as being a character of diversity. He is of both African American and Puerto Rican descent. However, as of yet we haven't really seen how he identifies with his Puerto Rican heritage. Does he speak Spanish? Is his family at all connected to the large Puerto Rican population in NYC? Does he have relatives that still live in Puerto Rico? His father's background has been explored quite a bit, but we really haven't learned anything about his mom. I guess it's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things for a book about superheroes, gang wars, crazy monsters, etc. but as someone who is Puerto Rican it'd be nice to see those elements touched upon."

Bendis: It's a very good question, and what's interesting about this question is that I get the opposite version of that a lot. "Miles is half African American. Are we going to deal with that side of his family more?" It's funny how whatever is important to you makes you look at this differently. But I'm looking at Miles right now as a character who happens to be these things, but it doesn't permeate his entire soul. When I see friends of mine of other nationalities and backgrounds and I happen to live in a house that's a bit of a melting pot and even as a Jew, I see how there are all different walks of life on this front. Like, I see some people who are very proudly Jewish and others who just happen to be Jewish. That doesn't make the second category less Jewish. It's just that there are some people who wear their nationality or religion or race on their sleeve, and there are others who just don't. They go about their day and try to be who they are.

Right now, that's where Miles is at. I'm not saying that can't change -- especially with the big changes coming to his life -- but it looks to me, particularly with the way Miles and Ganke look at each other being of different nationalities, that it just doesn't matter to him right now. I know some people look to a character of color and want to see themselves reflected more in it, but I think one of the reasons Miles is succeeding is that this is not a statement about race. It's a statement about us as a society. Here's a kid who just happens to be who he is. I don't think fictional characters need to represent all things to all people. Miles is young and still discovering who he is. Heck, he's still trying to figure out who his father is!

But I think about this a lot. I look at my life and my friends and my family, and I've decided that this is the best way to approach this character for right now. There may be some things that bring more of that to the forefront for him just as there have been certain things in my life that have brought my Judaism to the forefront. I don't mean to throw my kids in front of this, but I have a mixed race family, and 99% of my life, it's just our family. The melting pot that we are doesn't come into it. Then every once in a while, it comes in. Someone says something to us that is insanely racist or just looks at us differently, and then you go, "Oh yeah, I guess we don't look like what you'd think." But it's only then when I think about it, and that's how I perceive Miles too.

On the nerdier side of the coin, Ultimate Scarlet Spider asked, "I am a really big fan of Ultimate Spider-Woman, are there any plans for any future stories with her in it that may give her some more character development and spotlight?" and "Any plans for an Ultimate Comics Fantastic Four?

Bendis: Yes for Spider-Woman. Fantastic Four is not in the cards with what happened in the "Ultimate Enemy" trilogy, and I love that book. So there's no FF to be had with Reed Richards fall from grace. But I do love those characters, and you'll see them in one way or another soon. But Spider-Woman is front and center in the next few issues.

Let's wrap with some Guardians questions. The number one query on this was summed up well by pdmark who said: "At the end of the Thanos Imperative, Star-Lord, Nova, and Thanos were all "killed" when the Cancerverse collapsed with them inside. Drax also died in that series when Thanos' vaporized him. Three of those four have returned with, as far as I'm aware, no explanation. Are there any plans to resolve this? I'm particularly interested in Richie Rider, since while Peter and Thanos have reappeared from the same fate, there has been no sign of him."

Bendis: Gee, I really should read all of these stories. [Laughter] No, of course Iv'e read all of them! First of all, in "Avengers Assemble" I have referenced that something happened, and in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 we will reference that something dark and weird happened as well. We'll be getting to that eventually but not right away. There's a secret that some of the Guardians have and some don't about what happened in the Cancerverse. We've set that up to be dealt with another day, and I absolutely will be getting to it.

But for people who did not read that stuff, I don't want to punish them for not having read it. I want them to want to read it, and I think having story motivated stuff is the way to get people to want to return to the DnA stuff. I'm coming back to it and will honor it, and that's something I did with Avengers as well. People would always ask, "Are you ever going to get back to this thing over here?" and I would. But everything has its time.

Its funny with Guardians. There are some people who think I haven't read this stuff, but I've read every word of it over and over again. I've read it as much as I've read Avengers and X-Men stories. And I've referenced numerous times that none of this would be happening if it weren't for Keith Giffen and DnA. I feel sad that some people don't see how I feel that way. On my Tumblr blog, I've posted literally almost 100 images from their run. I don't know what else I could do, but there's nothing but respect coming from our end both from creative and editorial. I'm sorry if you guys feel like we're going to stomp all over that stuff, but I've made it very clear that we're standing on their shoulders. And their run came to an end years ago now. When I was on Avengers, I stayed clear of those characters to let those guys do their own thing.

The Almighty Kfish asks: "No killing has been a fairly standard Avengers rule since the beginning, but no one in the Guardians really has a problem with lethal force and it tends to be the way they operate (with Drax and Gamora taking this up to eleven). Any chance we'll see Iron Man's reaction to this?"

Bendis: That's part of the real get of having Iron Man on the team is his point of view. Much like having the original X-Men show up in "All-New" and seeing the franchise with eyes wide open, Tony is coming into the Guardians of the Galaxy universe with new eyes. Yes, he's been in space before and has all kinds of experience there, but he's never seen things from their point of view, which is so different from his. So that's a big, big part of him being on the book. Now there's someone for the audience to look at and go, "We like Tony Stark. Let's see what he thinks of all this." You'll discover the book as he does. And for the older fans, when something comes along that you'll know, it'll be fun because you'll know it but see it from a different point of view. But based on the orders, there's going to be a great deal of people checking this out who have never read this stuff. Tony is our journeyman to a reader-friendly book without selling out any of the concepts - both story wise and morally.

Finally, we've got a question from one Stephen Wacker...

Bendis: That guy is an internet troll is all I know. He's the king of the trolls!

In that spirit, he asks: "Is it true that the entire first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy is just one scene of you mating with Rocket Raccoon on a pile of Five Guys burgers?"

Bendis: Yeah, it is a large dinner scene of them sitting around eating, talking about eating and deciding what they're going to eat next. [Laughs] Look, I do know that I get a lot of crap for the food that showed up all the time in "Avengers." It just seemed to me that you never see these people eat in their own books, and what a great time to actually get some food when you're going to Avengers meetings. I was also dieting at the time, and it made me hungry.

Well, that's a real positive for you being on X-Men where one of the traditions is stories about them hanging around the mansion, eating and playing basketball...

Bendis: Barbecues! They have a great barbeque situation at the mansion. One of my things was that I had to get to do something with the barbecues or they could look for another writer.

Well, there's your next event: Secret Barbecue.

Bendis: Secret Barbecue...with Secret Sauce! [Laughter] Seriously though, we talked earlier in this interview about that transition from Avengers to X-Men and Guardians, and this was scary for me. It wasn't that I didn't have the stories to tell or the people to tell it with. I just didn't know how this was going to go. At the end of Avengers, I thought, "Maybe this is it for me." It's like in showbiz. Sometimes its just time to go. But the reaction to X-Men has been everything I'd ever want as a writer in comics. I'd be a fool not to appreciate the fact that there's literally not 15 minutes that goes by in my life without someone reaching out to me and yelling something totally awesome at me about this book. I can't thank everyone enough for their generosity towards us and this idea, and as Guardians comes in, I can't thank retailers and fans enough for putting their trust in me to take care of characters they love so much. I really can't tell you how every morning I wake up and go, "Whew!" It's a big relief, and it's so nice to feel so good about these characters and have other people react the same way.

Have some questions for Marvel's AXEL-IN-CHARGE? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It's now the dedicated thread for all connections between Board Members and the Marvel Executive staff that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!

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