Any keen-eyed person who can sense aggression noted that before the Brian Michael Bendis Super Happy Fun Hour starts, there was a guy in the front row proudly wearing a shirt which read in black and white, "For a Universe to live, Bendis must die!" with a rendering of what appears to be Dr. Strange slitting a bald guy's throat. One can only assume this illustration was meant to reference the famously bald Brian Bendis. This man turned around and discussed loudly with anyone silly enough to listen about how terrible of a writer he thinks Bendis is. According to this gentleman, Bendis' thought bubbles and penchant for killing so many characters makes the writer a "hack."
CBR News realizes everyone is entitled to their own opinion, although it does seem strange that such a person would want to attend a Bendis-centric panel, let alone arrive 25 minutes early to get a good seat in the front row. There was a very real possibility that this gentleman was there to start shenanigans. More on him later.
Bendis opened with a joke about his great fear of the "weird looking dudes" dressed like Eleketra who may have been in the audience. If you've read "New Avengers" #31, you know the writer has every reason to be on heightened alert.
The panel then previewed some never-before-seen artwork from the Alex Maleev and Bendis "Halo" book, "Halo Uprising." The comic tells the story of Master Chief and takes place between the games "Halo 2" and "Halo 3." Bendis assured his audience that Bungee is very involved of the process of the comic and made sure everything within the story is relevant and in continuity with the events of the popular video game. Bendis indicated that this deep cooperation may account for some unexpected delays, but that the book would be out soon. Bendis,then entertained fan questions, but only if they referenced the "Halo" book and no other work.
CBR News asked if Cortona would be appearing in "Halo: Uprising." Bendis expressed regret that he would not be able to write Cortona due to her being separated from Master Chief at the end of "Halo 2." However, Bendis promised that massive amounts of Flood, Covenat, and "hot alien women" will be appearing in the book.
Another audience member asked if the book is aimed at hardcore "Halo" gamers, or casual "Halo" gamers and comics readers. Bendis is confident that the book will appeal to anyone who is "even moderately interested" in sci-fi stories. Though there will be characters from the novels and the game in the comic, Bendis said, no prior knowledge of those works will be required to enjoy the graphic novel, although it will be especially entertaining for players well versed in the "Halo" mythos. Indeed, Alex Maleev has obviously done extensive research into the look of the game, as the fantastic artwork of Master Chief in his costume looks extremely accurate.
Bendis joked that he took the job because he thought if he did he would be more guaranteed to get to play the "Halo 3" beta -- which he did. Unfortunately, when Bendis and Maleev were brought to Bungie they were told, "Legally, you aren't allowed to play it but you can watch us play it." Bendis and Maleev had to watch Bungie play the build for 45 minutes, a scenario Bendis likened to torture.
While watching the beta, Bendis pointed out that all new weapons and vehicles (and some not yet released) will be in the "Halo Uprising" graphic novel. Shown in the previewed artwork was a curious picture a chopper ridden by Master Chief.
Bendis announced that he's renewed his exclusive with Marvel for the next few years and that the decision to do so was necessitated by his long-term commitment to the Skrull conspiracy storyline. T renewal announcement was met by massive cheering and an enthusiastic "I love you Bendis!" shouted from a gentleman in the crowd. Bendis loves him back, if you're curious.
The panel then moved on to Avengers data and questions. When Bendis announced that people should leave if they fear spoilers, two people actually did. It was surreal. On the screen the now infamous "New Avengers" #31 Elektra/Skrull panels were shown. Because the audience already knew the details of the event, the panel, rather than present a recap, moved immediately to questions.
How long has Elektra been a Skrull?
"This will be unfolding in all Bendis-written Avengers titles in the next few issues," Bendis said. "The Avengers will argue about the consequences of this new reveal. The question is now 'Who can you trust?'"
Does this tie in to the Skrull situation in "Annihilation?"
"Absolutely," Bendis confirmed. "The Skrulls have no home world. So they want earth, and religiously believe it to be theirs. This has been coming for 40 years. And it's all been planned from that, and from former Marvel Editor Andy Schmidt." Bendis insisted that nothing is being ret-conned, and that he is "not chickening out."
At this point the "Bendis must die" guy asked, "How is this different from 'Battlestar Galactica?'"
Bendis admitted his Skrull infiltration storyline is somewhat similar to the "Galactica" series, but is comfortable with it and added that he's making the Skrulls "more than a Grant Morrison/Mark Millar cow meat joke" (referencing the infamous "Skrull Kill Krew" series), and making the Marvel aliens an "actual threat."
"Why would a shapeshifting alien come at you with a ray-gun and a space ship?" asked Bendis. "Screw that, let's use logic from shapeshifters in 'Terminator 2' and do some terrifying psychological stuff."
Bendis pointed out that the ideas for the Skrulls came in the '60s, and that 'Battlestar Galactica' wasn't created until the '70s. Bendis also said that he had this idea before the popular "Battlestar Galactica" TV series debuted on Sci-Fi.
Can we get a line where Wolverine mentions that this has happened to him before?
"Yes, and we're using him to point out all the silly tuff that's happened with Skrulls before," said Bendis, explaining that editor Tom Brevoort sent him a giant box of Skrull stories including "Skrull Kill Krew" so Bendis would know all about Skrull history and know what to reference in his new saga.
What is up with Jessica's baby?
Bendis said a fan brought their baby to the con on Friday with an image of the Luke Cage baby printed on the child's bib. The writer also admitted the baby panels are stolen right out of the end of the film, "The Omen." In his remarks, Bendis suggested heavily that Jessica or Luke Cage is a Skrull. "Who is being Skrully?" the writer asked. "Why did Luke get rid of the old yellow tiara costume?"
At this point in the panel, some more silliness occurred when a plant in the audience stood up and said, "That man is fucking liar He is clearly a Skrull " just before a Photoshopped picture of Bendis as a Skrull appeared on the projection screen. The man then ran out of the room to riotous laughter.
Why are you moving from crime stuff to sci-fi?
Bendis said he will be trying to work in some crime material with upcoming sci-fi epics, but noted that he is still writing the crime-heavy "Powers." Additionally, Bendis announced that he is working on the Hood becoming the new King-Pin during the distraction of Civil War and the Skrull panic. Bendis said that Tom Brevoort and Joe Quesada did note that sci-fi is not Bendis' comfort zone when it comes to writing, but that he convinced them after a long chat at one of the editorial retreats that he could handle it.
Will we see people who did not even know they were Skrulls?
"You might," said Bendis. "Tony Stark just turned into a robot woman. Is that a Skrull trick? This has been planned for years, and it's going to have ramifications for years. Go back and look for clues. They are there."
Bendis explained that he's wanted to give people their money's worth in comics for years and has been planting hints in order to give readers more of a reason to reread back issues. "Get your money's worth out of comics by rereading them with new understanding," he said. "Especially 'Illuminati' #1. There are huge hints within."
Does this have anything to do with the Atlantean sleeper cells?
"Only if Namor is a Skrull," said Tom Brevoort.
The Bendis-hating man in the front row then asked why Bendis "hates Chuck Austen so much," explaining that his problem is with Hawkeye being rude to the Wasp in the first Bendis issue of "New Avengers" by discussing how he'd like to sleep with Madam Hydra, after Hawkeye had already slept with Wasp during Chuck Austen's run.
"So what? Men are jerks sometimes," answered Bendis, who confessed that Austen's run was not to his tastes but that it was "not shit."
Are the replaced characters dead or captured?
"The audience is advised to take into consideration that anybody with a wobbly resurrection is suspect," Bendis said. "Hawkeye is very suspect."
Can Dr. Strange tell who is a Skrull and who isn't?
"He's going to try to find ways to, yes." Bendis said.
Hulking and Captain Marvel, what role do they play?
"It's call coming next year," Bendis said. "But it's starting in 'Illuminati' #4 with some hints."
The panel then moves on to announcements and previews, starting with the cover to "Mighty Avengers" #7, which depicts several hundred Venoms attacking Sentry and Marvel Girl. Several new covers to "Ultimate Spider-Man" and the "Death of the Goblin" storyline were also shown. According to Bendis, there are two or three issues of new artist Stuart Immomen's artwork turned in and it they are fantastic but also very different from previous artist Mark Bagely.
In an upcoming issue, half is drawn by Immomen and the other half by Bagely, in which Peter talks with Aunt May about his identity. Following the "Death of the Goblin," Bendis promised that they would be doing a story --that he insists occurs organically-- in which Spider-Man gets to hang out with the Amazing Super Friends. Yes, Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar of the '80s cartoon fame will be appearing together in "Ultimate Spider-Man."
Marvel will be releasing a new Bendis-written Ultimate Universe miniseries called "Ultimate Origin," a long promised story that features the origins and explanations of Nick Fury, the Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain American, the super solider serum and why the serum can't be used on anyone else.
The panel indicated that "Ultimate Team-UP" #3 hinted about how everything form the Ultimate Universe is connected, and this series will cover it. The story was co-created by Joe Quesada, Mark Millar, and Bendis and was mapped out way back when the Ultimate Universe was first conceived. "Ultimate Origin" will be drawn by Butch Guice with covers by Simone Bianchi.
Bendis then announced that "Powers" is switching to a 40 page format and will be printed on nicer paper. The panel then returned to questions from fans, or, rather, "fans."
"By the time you are done with your exclusive contract who will still be alive in the Marvel Universe?" asked the anti-Bendis t-shirt wearing gentleman in the front row. It was only at this point when Bendis noticed the shirt and underood itss threatening nature.
"Can I get some security in here?" Bendis joked before answering, "The real power would be to kill someone with a movie."
Another fan asked, "Could you comment on the Beyonder issue of 'The Illuminati?' Why is he an Inhuman now? Is that 'Secret Wars 2' in the end?"
Bendis explained that it was purposefully open-ended and that he knows the internet is angry. He then jokingly said that he wanted more credit for keeping the Jerry curl and the Michael Jackson worn by the Beyonder. "Re-read 'Secret Wars 2,'" said Bendis. "It all fits. The origin was created supposedly in hostility to Jim Shooter so I've purposefully created another origin in case you don't like the intended one from 'Secret Wars 2.'
Bendis characterized "Secret Wars 2" as "the comic book version of venereal disease," but stressed that he didn't want to totally invalidate it in case anyone liked it, just offer an alternate possibility.
Are there any Luke Cage limited or full series planned?
"Right now he is the anchor in 'Avengers' and he's showing up in 'Iron Fist' and was in 'Heroes for Hire,'" Bendis answered. "Also the comical Ultimate Universe versions of Luke Cage and The Defenders will be showing up in 'Ultimate Spider-Man' soon."
One fan wondered if Captain American's deteriorating body was a hint that Cap is/was a Skrull.
"Perhaps," Bendis said.
As at every Bendis panel a fan asks about the defunct Batman/Daredevil, and this was no exception.
"It was a mistake," said Bendis. "I tried to get fans clamoring for it by announcing it as if it was already happening, in an effort to drum up support for the book through fan outcry and excitement. And it was a mistake. That was not the way to proceed and it backfired. And it won't happen no matter how cool I think it would be."
Was Ronin always planned to be Echo?
"Yes. And I was excited when Wizard played along," Bendis said. "Especially when Wizard was wrong with their guess work. But it was always going to be Echo, even when fans wanted it loudly to be Daredevil."
Can you talk about the new Icon creator owned book you have planned?
"No, it's over a year away, but the first issue is written," Bendis said. "No info yet."
Thus concluded the Bendis panel with many cheers and applause all around. Even with a Skrull conspiracy in the works, Brian Bendis is as popular as ever.
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