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Guest-Starring “AvX’s” Brian Michael Bendis

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Guest-Starring “AvX’s” Brian Michael 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, we have a special guest as Axel kicks off a special five-week run with all the writers of “Avengers Vs. X-Men” by welcoming “Avengers” writer Brian Michael Bendis! A longtime and best-selling fixture of Marvel’s comics, TV, film and video game efforts, Bendis is using “AvX” and an opportunity for his first collaboration with Jason Aaron — breaking out the major beats for the 12-part event — and as a swan song for his franchise-defining run on the Avengers. And this week, the writer joins Axel to reveal even more about his work including his history (or lack thereof) working with the E-i-C, his plans for Moon Knight, his crime fiction influences and more. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: Welcome, Brian! I wanted to start at the beginning of “AvX” because when Axel first started talking about the event, he noted that he’d wanted to bring the two franchises back together for a while, but that step one was getting you on board. What was your thought when Axel came up and said “Avengers Vs. X-Men…you in?” Had you been thinking along these lines for a while as well, or did his asking open up new story possibilities?

Brian Bendis: It had been in the air for a while, even when they were launching the new X-books, the idea of bringing the X-Men back in to the Marvel Universe and out of their little corner had been one of Axel’s mandates, and everyone was really excited about it. You hear whispers about this kind of stuff, so you start to think about it over time. Axel sat me down with this because he knew, as did I, that the Avengers and the X-Men were closer storywise than they had been, but you also need to know when it’s time to do a story like this organically. You’ve got to know whether the characters are at the right place in their story. And the Avengers and the X-Men were there. You can tell that it’s like, “Now! Do it now!”

So we talked about how I have done my fair share of these summer blockbusters, and I’m always looking for some other angle and creative outlet — something different. At the time, the Architects promotion had come out and was equally flattering and embarrassing, and I thought, “What about all five of us?” I mean, it was nice Axel came to me because I was the Avengers guy, but what about the X-Men guys too? There’s Jason as the X-Men guy, and then you start to think about Matt and Ed who were each X-Men guys. And Jonathan with “The Ultimates” is kind of another Avengers guy. With the five of us, wouldn’t that be interesting if we could use our relationships where everyone gets along and enjoys each other’s work? Axel’s eyes brightened to the idea, and as I’ve said in other interviews, it was one of those ideas I think he’d already had and was just hoping that I’d say it. And we were off and running. By the end of the day, we had it all locked down.

Axel Alonso: Doing this event with a team of writers — with this team of writers — was the best-case scenario for me. We’ve done several Marvel Universe-spanning events with one writer at the helm, but the scope of this story just screamed for a new approach. This is the first time we’re doing an event in which the Avengers and the X-Men have an equal stake in the story. The X-Men sat out “Civil War” and they pretty much just defended their patch of land in “Secret Invasion.” But, like the title suggests, the Avengers and the X-Men play an equal role in this story and are equally affected by its outcome. Unleashing the brain power of some of our most talented writers — most of whom have written on either side of the fence — just made sense.

I know from talking to Brian and some of the other guys over the years that bouncing story ideas off of each other on XBox Live or whatever has been a common occurrence as some of the past events have come together, but did you find there was something significantly different about taking that informal sense of leaning on the group and making everyone responsible for part of the main story?

Bendis: In the initial conversation with Axel, we discussed how one of the strengths of the company is this long bench of outstanding writers. And I don’t mean to compliment myself when I say that. Really, all these guys could have written this by themselves, but how interesting would it be for the readers — and hopefully for us as creators, too — to use the whole team? There’s an element to these events where we do use each other, like you said. Every one of us has given someone else an idea that was the thing that made the whole thing sing.

I’ve referenced numerous times that Jeph Loeb has continually asked questions that have changed the course of whatever I was writing. I remember having dinner with him in LA, and I was pitching “Avengers: Disassembled.” He was really enjoying it, but at one point he went, “So what does Magneto do?” And Magneto wasn’t even in the story! And I said, “Oh, yeah. Magneto would totally show up and lose his shit.” And that became “House of M,” which is only one of many times where any writer or artist or editor could gently guide a writer’s brain into an avenue that he hadn’t thought of before. Joe, Axel, all of the editors that work with us have literally given me these gold nuggets without any credit, and we’ve all benefitted from it. So wouldn’t it be great if we took that element of our lives and worked it together?

And as cool as that is, there’s also a lot of challenges to it. There’s a lot of ways that could go wrong. So Axel, Tom and the guys smartly said, “Let’s get together — just the five writers and the three editors with Nick Lowe.” They all came to my place in Portland, and I stuffed them full of donuts — as was reported last week [Laughter]. And we went there with not much more than “The Phoenix would make a really good MacGuffin for this.” But at the end of the couple of days, we had the bare bones that everyone could get excited about where everyone could go off and writer their chapters with gusto.

And then, Axel and Tom smartly said, “Brian and Jason, you two go and write the outline.” We wrote a few drafts of the outline together, and it was cool because Jason was the one guy in the group that I didn’t have too much of a relationship with. Jonathan I’ve known since he broke into comics. Ed I’ve known literally since we worked together at Caliber 20 years ago — and I hate to say that out loud. [Laughs] And Matt is one of my dear, dear friends. But Jason and I had never worked together, so it became great to get together and enjoy each other’s mojo. From there, it almost became obvious who was writing what. We’d say, “If we’re going over here, you definitely want Ed to write that, and Matt has to do this part. That’s where Jonathan sings.” So I’m happy to say, it was never a, “Hey, that’s mine!” kind of thing.

But also, we should say that it didn’t become this big mish-mosh of writers, where you can’t tell who wrote what. We wanted you, if you pick it up, to be able to tell that Matt Fraction wrote that issue. The chapters definitely each have their own writer’s voice.

Alonso: Without a doubt. Going in, our motto was, “Five fingers make a fist.” We had to stick together, be a team. We knew there’d be times we’d disagree on a story point, and we’d have to fight our way through it and stay a team. As Brian said, five writers [Brian, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman and Ed Brubaker] emerged as the logical picks for the team, and assigning individual issues happened very organically — an issue that dealt deeply with Iron Fist, for instance, would probably go to Matt. And it was important that each issue reflect the voice of its writer; we didn’t want any issue to feel like it was written by committee.

Understand: We’d backed off doing an “Avengers Vs. X-Men” several times before because we didn’t have the right set-up or inciting incident. If we were going to have the world’s two biggest super teams go toe to toe, it had to be over something that mattered, not a McGuffin, and there couldn’t be a clear-cut good guy or bad guy. That’s where the Phoenix Force came in. It’s rooted in X-Men mythology, but it’s a very easy concept to understand: It’s a living comet that razes planets and grows something new in the ashes. And it needs a host to unleash its power. If it’s headed toward your planet, the question is, are you going to fear it or embrace it? And if you know who the host is — or think you do — what are you going to do? In the course of issue #1, it will be very clear why Cyclops takes one position and Captain America takes another.

You bring up the idea of style, and I wanted to talk about that from a different angle for a minute. We know that writers at Marvel can tend to work in one editorial office for a while, and Brian, you’ve done writing in Tom Brevoort’s office and for the Ultimate office a lot, but have you and Axel really worked directly together before this?

Alonso: We did about three issues of “Daredevil” back in the day. [Laughs]

Bendis: For like a second! But I must say that one of Axel’s first tasks as Editor-in-Chief was to call me into his office and start talking about this, and as I’ve said both publicly and privately, I was quite moved by his generosity towards me and in general how he was working and trying to figure me out. It was very nice. And now projects and things have come out of this that we’ll be rolling forward with that we’re very excited about, and you’ll see what those are as the year goes on. But this was the first thing we bonded over, and you’ll soon see the full scope of how this is turning out to be a very fruitful year.

Alonso: This and Miles Morales. [Laughter]

Bendis: Yeah, Axel was a huge part of the birth of Miles Morales and really believes in the idea of that character. I get confused on what came first!

Alonso: If there’s one person on this planet as excited about Miles Morales as you, it’s me.

Bendis: You were there right at the beginning saying, “This has to happen!” and that was very emboldening. You and I both have kids the same age, and our ideas about these things are very similar.

Alonso: As incoming Editor-in-Chief, my two biggest shots out the gate were “AvX” and Miles Morales, and you were deeply involved with both.

Bendis: They’re big deals for us. But I think the aspect of “AvX” that we both love that we haven’t been able to talk about much yet is when the art starts coming in. That was a huge part of it — first for “AvX” #0, which was one of Frank Cho’s great moments as a creator, and then Johnny [Romita’s] work that some people have seen a bit of. That’s really fantastic stuff. There are so many issues and they’ll be shipping so quickly that we’ve been seeing this stuff come in for months. First you see the pencils which are so exciting, then the inks get you excited, and now the colors are coming in from Laura Martin and they’re amazing! Every day now, I wake up to an e-mail from Axel that just says, “YES!” It’s great! That helps us as writers and helps carry us into the home stretch. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that in a normal project, we’d be getting to the place where you’re going, “Are we doing the right thing here?” but those pages help move you forward, and I can’t wait for people to see the final product. We’re just starting to see Olivier Coipel’s pages, and they’re amazing. I mean, really…wow!

Alonso: I’ll second that! We got in our first Adam Kubert page too. Have you got that?

Bendis: I haven’t checked my e-mail yet, I don’t know!

Alonso: I’ll send it to you in a minute. [Laughter]

Well, I ask about your history together because you each have a real interest in crime comics and the kind of flavor that genre brings to the medium. What in general do you think makes comics a good medium for crime fiction, and how has your work in that area impacted your work on Marvel Universe comics?

Alonso: My interest in crime comics is just an extension of my interest in crime fiction. Early on at Vertigo, I realized that I wasn’t going to be a trailblazing editor of dark fantasy — it just wasn’t a genre that I gravitated to. That’s the reason I focused on editing reality-based comics and crime comics — stories that had at least one foot in the real world. That said, I got into comics because of superheroes. That’s what I grew up reading. A comic book like “Luke Cage: Hero For Hire” spoke to me as a kid because it mixed two of my loves: the blaxploitation flicks I’d sneak into on Market Street [San Francisco], and the superhero comics I’d buy every Friday after school.

At the end of the day, an editor, writer or artist is nothing more than the sum total of his experiences, and what he’s ingested. Music, books, movies — all of it’s reflected in your work.

Bendis: There’s rules to film noir and crime fiction that I’ve made part of my religion. Basically, you’re throwing a character up against a wall and seeing what they’ll do. If that isn’t the law of Peter Parker, I don’t know what is. The city being an equal character in the story and other elements of crime fiction easily become elements of superheroes. There’s such a crossover from Daredevil to Moon Knight to Batman all the way through. There’s such a beautiful shared background from crime fiction and superhero fiction and good fiction in general that you can dedicate your entire life to examining them in story and never getting bored — as many creators before us have done. It’s wonderful, and it’s also wonderful to abandon those roots of crime fiction and grab onto the fun. I mean, is there anything crazier in comics right now than the fact that the guy who writes “Scalped” also writes “Wolverine & The X-Men”? [Laughter] I love it! That’s the best thing in the world. But meanwhile if you sift through the themes of the book with a microscope, you can see the similarities. That’s the best part of what a writer can accomplish in comics.

And I agree, for all the Axel and I joke, we both came to Marvel at the same time and for a decade never worked with each other on anything just because he was over there and I was over here. But it just seemed inevitable that we would, and I think we’re relieved that those things that brought us together are Miles Morales and “AvX.”

And in a way, Moon Knight is something you share. Axel brought Moon Knight back to the Marvel U in a big way with a crime writer at the helm, and Brian and Alex Maleev are wrapping up a big story with the character right now, and both those runs share a lot of these ideas. Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this to you before, but I was Moon Knight for Halloween when I was in elementary school. [Bendis Laughs] I was! But it makes me wonder what the attraction is for you to grab such a weird B-lister and bring him to a prominent place. Is part of this that interest in crime fiction and its intersection with superheroes?

Bendis: Kiel, I want you to answer me seriously. Are you dressed like Moon Knight right now?


Bendis: [Laughs] No, but I love Moon Knight. It comes from a few places. Number one, the stuff you mention, but number two, it’s all Bill Sienkiewicz and Doug Moench. That stuff was up there. When you’re a teenager, you don’t know how things sell or whatever, so those issues of “Moon Knight” were up there for me along with “Dark Knight Returns” and “Watchmen.” It was just a major piece of artwork that I was viewing as artwork for the first time in my young life. So now to be working with Sienkiewicz as part of the “Daredevil: End of Days” crew is as important to me as anything I’m doing in comics. So it’s all those things.

And I personally love dealing with personality disorders and mental illness as a part of a character’s fabric. I want to reach into that and find a unique angle that speaks to the Marvel Universe. Moon Knight comes with his own package of stuff that you can start poking with and doing new things for. One of Joe’s last things as Editor-in-Chief was to challenge Alex and I to do something with Moon Knight. And at first, I was like “Me doing Moon Knight? Are you crazy?” and then by the end of the day, I thought, “Shit. I know what to do with Moon Knight.” We had a blast. It was a challenge, and I’m very, very proud of the hardcover that just came out.

Alonso: I love Moon Knight because he’s Batman if Batman were bat$#!% crazy. I love the fact that he doesn’t have superpowers. And I love the fact that he can get hurt and actually enjoys hurting people right back. Violence isn’t just a means to an end. It took a while for me to get an angle on what I wanted to do with him, but when Charlie Huston said, “Why would a crime-fighter go out at night wearing a WHITE costume? Because he wants you to see him coming,” that was one of those oh-$#!% moments that sticks with me. A reminder why Moon Knight is SO unique.

Bendis: I’m glad we got to do our 12 issues and that Marvel stuck with us to let us tell our whole story. I wish we’d be able to continue, but what are you going to do? It’s Moon Knight! [Laughter] But I will say that there are people in this group — and you’re clearly one of them — who loooooooooove Moon Knight, and it’s been wonderful to interact with those fans over this year. And I’m happy to say our run will wrap up on a big note, which is rare in comics. But I hope Moon Knight fans will end up getting what they want out of this ultimately.

Moving on to fan questions for Brian, we’ll start with a Mr. Jason Aaron who wants to know, “What are your big plans for Squirrel Girl going into ‘AvX'”?

Bendis: [Laughs] Listen, everybody wants Squirrel Girl. And I appreciate everyone’s newfound love of Squirrel Girl, which has Axel laughing because he recalls that I had to be convinced in the room about her. I tend to, when I come up with a concept like “Luke and Jessica have a super powered nanny,” take that question to the room at a retreat. And with this one, the vote was overwhelmingly Squirrel Girl. It was like ten to two. And I was getting angry, going, “Squirrel Girl?!?!?” But I think it was our editor Lauren Sankovitch who was like, “It HAS to be Squirrel Girl.” And then, I wrote like three lines of dialogue for her, and I absolutely loved her. And for some reason, Mike Deodato draws the best Squirrel Girl EVER. You would have never guessed that. So I have to give him a lot of the credit. He makes her look Wolverine cool. So now everyone wants to borrow her. I get it every week. “Is Squirrel Girl staying? Can I use her for my team?” No! She’s staying with me! Mine. And Dan Slott watches me very carefully. I know that if I do anything to mess up Squirrel Girl or kill her off or anything like that, he will murder me. Probably at a panel at a convention. [Laughter]

All right. Well, on the actual fan questions front, SpiderX had this to say: “I also want to say keep up the great work to Bendis. I am loving this new Spider-man. I had actually stopped reading comics for a while and the Ultimate brand has brought me back especially Spider-Man! Oh and of course I can’t forget your great creator owned book ‘Scarlet.’ My questions for Bendis are in regards to ‘Ultimate Spider-Man.’ After reading issue #1 we know the specimen 42 spider that bit Miles didn’t die. Will that spider have some sort of impact on Miles’ story in the future? I have a follow up question, too. Is the number 42 important or was it just coincidence/inside joke that the spider and Miles’ lottery number both had 42 on them?”

Bendis: Hell yes it’ll have an impact! Where are the other 41 spiders? Though the number was a bit of a joke as a “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” reference, and some people have been asking me if it’s a reference to some ballplayer who’s number is 42. I don’t know. I’m so out of sports that I can’t tell you who they were asking about. But it was fun to read the responses to 42. I’ve got to make a note to throw random numbers into a piece of fiction and see what people bring to it. [Laughter] But with the number itself, there’s a reason the spider had a number on it.

Spidey616 had some specific questions about what’s ahead, including: “Bryan Hitch said via twitter Ultron War was completed on his end, which has me curious if you can say what format the story will take and/or if other artists besides Hitch are involved?”

Bendis: That is a very good question, and I’m sorry that I don’t have an answer right now, but I don’t want to give the illusion of a promise that I don’t have the power to keep. Bryan Hitch’s work on “Ultron War” is done, and we can be proud of the fact that he left his years at Marvel on a very high note. He drew like he knew this was his finale, and we knew for months and months of his departure and crafted a story where the moment was perfect for the next artist to take over. When people see what avenue the heroes take in the story, you wouldn’t even think of it as Hitch’s last pages if you hadn’t known beforehand. I wrote everything into the story and made the most of it. I’m very happy with how the story turned out, and I can’t say who the artist is yet. But it’s someone of equal or greater value.

He follows up with: “There was a plot development in your 2nd arc of Avengers with The Hood healing Madame Masque’s face. I thought for sure she’d be showing up in ‘Moon Knight,’ but is Masque a character you will or hope to use again in a future project?”

Bendis: She is showing up in “Moon Knight!” It’s already written. Issue #11 is a pretty balls to the wall Madame Masque/Moon Knight fight. It’s pretty brutal — as brutal has Marvel has seen in a while.

And rounding them out, Spidey616 asked: “Like a lot of readers I also wondered why you decided to bring back the original android Vision as opposed to having the current one join the Avengers team? Speaking of which, what does this mean for the second Vision of the Young Avengers or will this be answered in the final issue of the ‘Avengers: Children’s Crusade’ mini by Heinberg/Cheung?”

Bendis: We used him because it was one of the sins I brought on the Avengers franchise. [Laughs] As I wrapped up my run, I thought that certainly there was a place to bring him back, and if I could I’d do it without forcing him in. Once we decided to bring Wanda back, I thought I’d certainly like to see what that conversation would be like between her and the Vision. First, I thought it would be interesting for her to have some weird relationship with the new Vision. But then I realized that even though he’s a weird robot/not quite a robot, he’s still a teenager! That’s not as interesting — a MILFy kind of thing — as what I was looking for. But the broken marriage of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision I’d love to write. That’s a big part of what happens in “Avengers Vs. X-Men” #0, and the Vision has a wonderful moment for us as the creators in “Avengers” #24.1 being drawn by Brandon Peterson. It’s really gorgeous, and that will be out just before “AvX.” So for original Vision fans, you’re going to see the Vision drawn by some really, really good artists — Frank Cho, Brandon Peterson, Walter Simonson, John Romita, Jr. and Olivier Coipel. So he’ll be back in a big way this summer.

And in my heart, I knew I wanted to bring him back in a way that was story motivated, but I also knew that if I didn’t, the guy who takes over Avengers after me will bring him back immediately, and everyone would say, “Thank God that Bendis asshole is gone!” And I was not about to allow that to happen. [Laughter]

We’ve spoken with you about your Avengers run winding down, but I’ve yet to see you speak on how you came to that end. You started out with this long term plan that led to “Secret Invasion” and then more story beats grew out of that. When it came time to get to the end, was there a definitive note you wanted to wrap the run on?

Bendis: There are a few definitive notes that we make room for. I’m sitting there in a position where someone’s said, “You’ve written this book longer than anyone else has.” That happened on “Daredevil” as well, and you start going, “Should I leave?” [Laughs] When we were at my house discussing “AvX,” we got to the point where I could go, “Based on this story, I can do this, this, this and this.” But then I felt like I should leave. And I’m under contract with Marvel, so if I leave the Avengers what would I be doing once I’m done with “AvX”? So I just said to Axel, Tom and the gang, “I guess I should be done with Avengers when this is done.” And that started another conversation about what I could do next and what comes after for other people.

And with Tom, who’s been with me the whole time on the book, we knew we wanted to do a number of things at the end. You’ll see final arcs during “AvX” with “New Avengers” by Mike Deodato and “Avengers” by Walt Simonson, and then there will be a finale story for each book over two issues after the event. And those will be drawn by other people as my final story for each book that will wrap up a lot of stuff unrelated to what’s going on in “AvX.”

And when you broke the news to the room about leaving the franchise, was it a bit like saying, “Your mother and I are getting a divorce”?

Bendis: It was very flattering. It made everyone nervous, and then everyone got excited because potential possibilities open up. A great conversation came out of it. I had a similar moment on “Ultimate Spider-Man” after Bagley left and then when Mark Millar left the line, and I said, “Should I leave?” Marvel asked me if I wanted to, and I was like, “No.” So they said, “Then don’t! No one’s asking you to leave.” And now I’m thrilled to have stayed because I wouldn’t have had the experience of Miles Morales and all the cool stuff that’s coming this summer with him. So it wasn’t time, and I knew it wasn’t time, but there are other cases like Avengers where you just go, “Yup, now’s the time.” But it’s scary. Of course, it’s scary.

I read a lot of quotes from other writers, and one said that you’re supposed to be scared. You’re supposed to be nervous about your writing, and that is absolutely what my year is like. I’m looking at things that are completely out of my wheelhouse, completely new to me — very large ideas and projects that are so scary. But I’m working with people I adore in my year after “AvX.” You couldn’t ask for more in my life and in my career at this point.

Speaking of the Scarlet Witch, darkxmen wanted to know: “How big of a role will Wanda play in the ‘AvsX’? and will Magneto have a similar big role considering his daughter is back?”

Bendis: Yes for Wanda. You’re going to get a lot of Wanda right at the top, and again, drawn by some of the best artists in the world. Boy, does Frank Cho like to draw Wanda! And she is what you call a lynchpin character in the “AvX” storyline. And with the big moves she makes comes Magneto and all the baggage they carry with them. “AvX” #0 is really about reintroducing her to the Marvel Universe and to fans who may not know what she’s capable of because some guy decided to just make her crazy and use her as a toy to screw up the X-Men. That would be me. [Laughter]

But as shocking as it is to you and I, “House of M” was eight years ago. So that’s a lot of time in comics. People who are in college now or who are teenagers were seven or ten when “House of M” came out. They don’t know who Scarlet Witch is. So it’s time we reintroduced her. I teach college here in Portland, and every once in a while I’ll show them a movie clip, and to a 20-year-old, a movie like “Adaptation” is an old movie. We were talking about Robert McKee, and I showed them a clip from that. My students went, “How old is that movie?” I was like, “Not that old. It came out in like 2000.” And there were like, “That was 12 years ago!” [Laughs]

Tom Spurgeon has a great line he uses on his site to talk about “Watchmen” where he points out that at this point in time, we’re as far away from that book as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were from “Fantastic Four” #1.

Bendis: Exactly! So I try to keep that in mind as we go. And it was really sweet for SpiderX to say that Miles Morales brought him back into comics, but I keep hearing a lot of that in my personal life — kids expressing that this is their first Spider-Man. Talk about power and responsibility. I take that all very seriously. I know some older readers will have trouble perceiving the world that way, but that’s what it’s like as a writer, particularly when you’re involved in social media. Everybody’s coming to your work from a completely different universe. Geographically, age-wise or from life experience, they all come to the work from a different place. Sometimes it’s hard for readers to perceive things from a different point of view, but as a writer it’s absolutely fascinating.

Finally, we’ve got a question from scouse mouse who asked: “A lot has been made of whether the mutant members of the Avengers will follow Cap’s orders and fight against their own kind. Will there be any non mutant Avengers who will not agree with Cap going to war with the mutants? Ms Marvel has a long history with the X-Men, will she feel comfortable attacking her friends?”

Bendis: First of all, that’s the meat and potatoes of the entire story as far as I’m concerned. Not everyone on the Avengers and not everyone on the X-Men believes whole heartedly in whatever Captain America or Cyclops say. Some of them do, but a lot of them don’t. A lot of them by nature are rebellious characters. The X-Men by nature are rebels, and a lot of Avengers, say Hawkeye or Luke Cage, in their nature rebel against authority and bold moves against a small people. That’s where the great stuff in the story comes from. A lot of that is touched upon in my tie-ins in “Avengers” and “New Avengers” where we can spend some time with the characters. I’m certainly using my last arc on both books to make my final statement on some of these characters for the time being, and this story has given me the perfect opportunity to express Hawkeye and Luke Cage and Iron Fist in a unique way and test them as characters against this unique backdrop.

And with Ms. Marvel, yes she and the X-Men have a history, and sometimes it’s a sorted history, and sometimes it’s a fantastic history. One of my favorite moments of all comes in the “New Avengers” tie-in where Captain America tells all the Avengers for the first time “Here’s the deal,” and one of character’s runs out of the room. They just say, “I can’t be here.” It’s one of my favorite moments that before he even finishes his sentence, they go, “I’m not supposed to be here.” Just that small thing. But you’ll see who that is when the issue comes out.

Oh, forget it…it’s Squirrel Girl. [Laughter] The whole story is about Squirrel Girl!

The secret revealed! Thanks, Brian. And for everyone playing along at home, next week we’ll have Jonathan Hickman joining Axel for the column, so head on over to the CBR Message Boards if you’ve got questions on “AvX,” “FF,” “The Ultimates” or more!

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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