Though he’s been writing the team for “just” two and a half years (compared to his 15 years in the Ultimate Universe and near-decade on the Avengers books), Bendis has scripted approximately 90 issues starring Marvel’s Children of the Atom, providing multiple epic moments along the way. And in the pages of “All-New X-Men”, he pulled off perhaps his biggest shift to the X-Universe’s status quo when he brought the teenage original five X-Men to the present in early 2013, while at the same time giving Cyclops and his “Uncanny X-Men” a new mission in a post-Xavier world.
Yesterday, Bendis returned to X-POSITION for the first installment of a GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION about the end of his “Uncanny X-Men” run. Today we conclude that talk, with the writer setting the stage for his oversized mutant swan song in “Uncanny X-Men” #600, now slated for October and featuring guest artists galore.
Bendis closes out this GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION by answering more reader questions about the tail end of his run, the key artists that have made it possible and what he feels are the best moments from his time with Marvel’s merry mutants.
You’ve worked with a number of artists during your run on “Uncanny,” and jwckauman has a question about one in particular.
In each of your runs, you had “signature artists” that helped define your run. For me, Chris Bachalo has been that artist on your X-Men run. What does Chris’s approach/style bring to your stories that have stood out from all the other artists you have worked with?
He’s a very unique talent, there’s no doubt. People can see it just right on the page in the layouts and stuff. With Chris, he loves the X-Men more than all you people put together — that’s the truth. He loves the X-Men, so it’s a desire to give him something to draw that he will love to draw, and also to give him a full script understanding of what the characters are doing and what they want but at the same time remind him constantly — and thankfully I didn’t have to remind him constantly — that these are his pages and he can design them however in whatever visual way he wants to do it. I want to see Chris unfettered, [as I do] every artist I work with, but Chris I know sees the pages differently than a lot of other artists, which is evident. I wanted to give him motivation to do it and get the hell out of his way. I can tell you, even though we don’t have the most communicative relationship, there are some artists I talk to every day, some artists don’t want to or need to; I know I enjoyed working with Chris. He tweeted recently about how much he enjoyed working with me, so we’re very proud of our work together. I am so excited about his new gig. I hope that he and I find each other again, because it’s exciting to get pages from Chris. Even if you think you know what you’re going to get, there’s always something different than what you thought you were going to get in the best way. That’s exciting.
For those that want to be schooled a little bit, when Chris does these crazy layouts and such, designs everything on a tilt or whatever, he’ll include the balloon placement in the layout and then show you where he wants all the dialogue to land. I change dialogue and stuff in the process, but some people do crazy layouts and don’t give any thought to where the text is going to land. Sometimes that can really hurt something that was purposefully designed. But Chris always gave all the dialogue a lot of thought when he was designing his pages. I will terribly miss working with him and knowing that we’ve done a healthy run together is something I will look back at with a big smile on my face.
This run has also played a part in increasing Kris Anka’s profile.
Oh yeah, there hasn’t been a bad looking issue of this book. You might want to strangle me every three weeks, but this book and “All-New X-Men” have not had a bad looking issue. Kris and I had a wonderful time together. He did some magnificent designs and wonderful storytelling and or last issues together were really, really fun. I think our last issue comes out Wednesday, and then the last issue [of ‘Uncanny’ before #600] is by Valerio Schiti. He did a great job as well. But Kris does have pages in #600 as well, so I shouldn’t say this is our last issue. It’s or last full issue together.
What I liked about “Uncanny” is when you have an anchor artist like Chris [Bachalo], who is such a strong voice — you could identify a Chris page from a mile away. You never confuse him with someone else’s work. You want to make sure that whoever the other artists are on the book also have a strong voice but aren’t trying to imitate Chris. We thought that Anka, and Frazer [Irving] before him, made the strongest X-Men art experience that we could create.
jwckauman also has a question about the Stepford Cuckoos’ makeover.
Whose idea was it to give the Stepford Cuckoos individual identities/looks? It really made them stand out from each other visually and character-wise.
That would be me, and I know that was a controversial idea, but in the grand tradition of actually building characters, I thought what was done with them up until that time was perfectly fine for that time, but in the guise of growth, wouldn’t it be nice if they all decided — without the tether of Emma involved in their hive mind — wouldn’t it be interesting if they all made an effort to create some sort of identity visually and inside themselves. I could have written that all day. With a little tiny bit of “Multiplicity” in there, just a little bit of each one representing a different type of teenage Emma.
That’s a book I would love to read!
Yeah! I know! If there’s anything I could have had more to do with, it would have been that. We have more coming with them, there’s more with them in both the final issues. You’re right, the premise of them is enough for their own book.
Eva Bell has been a breakout character during your run, and pixie_solanas wants to know about your plans for the new X-Man.
I’m wondering if there was actually more planned for Eva than what was actually produced. Were the two-part annuals meant to bridge what was a larger-scale story starring Miss Bell?
The two-part annual was supposed to be one annual, so, the storyline — the pages needed to tell it in a satisfying way ballooned and I was happy Marvel just let us have the pages. We have not seen the last of Eva. The response to Eva has been amazing, really really great. I’m really flattered and over the moon about that. There’s more Eva to come.
She’s kinda become a new member of the X-Men A-list. You’ve left your mark on the X-Men just by creating her, in a way.
Her, Goldballs and the all-new X-Men being here seem to be what landed the most. It should have been Hijack!
Speaking of leaving your mark, our final question comes from Beezzi who has a question about your legacy.
Not accounting for the recent headline grabbing changes to Iceman’s sexual orientation, what else would you like your X-Men run to be remembered for? And what would you like fans to talk about in ten years?
It’s just so not for me to say. First of all, that I weathered the storm of X-Men paranoia — that was a pretty powerful statement on my end, but truthfully I think we made some bold choices in just from the premise of the all-new X-Men being here and staying here, and not being a glorious time travel fuck around story, and it being what we said it would be; to the bold choices in creating new characters, putting new toys in the X-toybox, even though while we were doing it people were saying we weren’t allowed to. We were allowed to! All of that, I feel, and having a glorious time with the soap opera elements which is what people really wanted anyhow. That stuff is what I set out to do. I look back and go, yeah, we did pretty good in those areas. We created new mutants and we made some bold choices and made some pretty good-looking books.
I know passing the baton for the X-Men, being a relay racer for the X-Men is something that a lot of creators are fearful of because it is one of those franchises where you don’t seem to be able to do right by anybody. [Laughs] When I said I was going to do it, I was warned by numerous X-Men writers of the past that you can’t win. But I found that though that voice [of dissatisfaction] can be repetitive and loud, that they do not represent the majority of the people that read the book. The majority of the people that read the book are looking for what we were always looking for, which was an experience that in a very great superhero way shows what it’s like to be different in this world and all that is facing you when you are choosing to embrace your differences and represent your differences. That is what the book is about, that is what it was supposed to be about, and I think we accomplished that. At the same time, we had some good old-fashioned Claremont fun all the way through. I hope that Chris [Claremont], if he ever reads them, will appreciate it — even though he was the one running around saying we weren’t allowed to create new mutants when we were. Anyway.
I’m also one of the few X-Men creators that stayed online the whole time! [Laughs] I weathered that, too. Issue #600 is being put together and the pages are flooding in and all of them are beautiful including pages from everyone who worked on the book, including David Marquez who will now be a part of it; he did some issues of “All-New X-Men.” I look at all of it, the collaborations, with such pride. They’re such beautiful illustrators. Marvel put all these great people on these books the whole time I was there. And if anything, the greatest achievement I had was that when Iceman came out, Seth Meyers did a great joke at Aquaman’s expense because of it. I figure that if I’ve done nothing with the X-Men but that, inspiring that great Aquaman joke, then I’ve done some good.
Even though I made a comment already that you can’t make everybody happy, and there are some people you can never make happy with the X-Men, not ten minutes has gone by on my Twitter or Tumblr feed where people haven’t been very generous and supportive of our book and getting what we are trying to do and very happy and very clearly making this run of X-Men their X-Men. I just want to express to those who would take a moment out of their day to say such nice things that I love you too, and I really really appreciate it. You have no idea what it feels like when people around the world take two seconds out of their day to say something nice about something you worked so hard on. I immensely appreciate it. Your support meant everything. We are very proud of that interaction with you guys and thank you.
Special thanks to Brian Michael Bendis for taking on this week’s questions!
Next week, “X-Men ’92” writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims make their X-Po debut! Have a question for Chad and Chris? Go ahead and send ’em in via an e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. But get ’em in quickly, because the deadline’s Friday! Make it happen!
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