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Bend It Like Bendis! - Part III

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Bend It Like Bendis! - Part I
Bend It Like Bendis! - Part II

BF: This summer, you’re going to be introducing Moon Knight into the world of Ultimate Spider-Man. Can you talk about that at all?

BMB: Yeah. I’m a huge Moon Knight fan and we’re doing a story called “Warriors” which pits Kingpin against Hammerhead—a good gang war story. It’s basically based on something true from the 1930s that I read about and loved. In the story in the ‘30s that I read it was all ‘Jimmy the Fish’ and all these colourful characters that were fighting for their territories and I said, “Oh you know we can do the Marvel version. Put in some classic Marvel urban characters in there; get some Moon Knight in there, some Shang-Chi and Iron Fist and Black Cat.”

BF: Wow. This sounds like a pretty big event then.

BMB: Yeah, it’s a turf war, it really is. Ralph Macchio called me after he finished reading the final chapter and goes, “Oh, that was rather bloody!” It seems it’s ended up with a Taxi Driver-type ending, so we’ll see how bloody it gets when it comes out.

It’s brutal. And it’s got some interesting stuff between Black Cat and Spider-Man going on, because she’s kind of got a thing for him. I’m going to take that to the next level. I think it’s very interesting that a woman’s got an attraction to Spider-Man not knowing that he’s 15 years old.

BF: So, you’re going to play with that a little bit?

BMB: Yeah, more than a little bit.

BF: That’s something to look forward to. Everybody knows you write a ton of books for Marvel. Can you basically go to them with any idea and they’ll say, “run with it. We trust you”?

Click to enlargeBMB: No. In fact, that’s why I like working there. We argue about stuff all day. I mean, we had an argument today about how long to tease something. That’s why I like working there, we all have different opinions. I don’t want to get my ass kissed. I’ve got my mom to tell me how great I am, I don’t really need it anywhere else. I need people to tell me if something is a bad idea or if it sucks or that it’s already been done. I’m really happy about the support system that I have, and I know I can trust it. I know that any of my editors will pull me aside and say, “Not good! Doesn’t make sense!” and that makes sense because that’s their job.

A lot of times I’ll come up with an idea, like I came up with an idea for New Avengers today that I was really excited about, but then I got all nervous that it had been done before, because you can’t remember, “did I read that or…?” After I told [Marvel] of the really big idea I had for New Avengers, they were like, “No, we’ve already done it.” So it’s not all me going, “I’ve got an idea! I shall kill another character today and you can’t do anything about it!” It’s nothing like that. Not a day goes by that Ralph Macchio and I don’t have an argument about killing somebody or not killing somebody.

BF: Oh really?

BMB: Yeah, it’s a fun conversation to have.

BF: Do you try to kill people frequently? Or at least characters?

BMB: No, I actually made a little pact with myself not to. It’s funny because there was a three month period where a lot of characters were dying in my books but they weren’t all written at the same time. They were written sometimes in a span of a year and a half, but when you read all of it at once, you may think I was Hannibal Lector and I was killing all my childhood heroes. It was bizarre. My promise to myself and to the readers is that this is the year of building! Creating! New characters! New, new, new…

This is also going to be the year of birth! Lot of things birthing out of House of M, lots of things and characters. TONS of new characters are showing up in Powers and you’ll be seeing new villains in New Avengers. Something I like to do, and something that gives me an immense amount of pleasure to see the reaction to is taking characters that weren’t in any kind of spotlight and giving them one and letting people rediscover them or discover them for the first time.

For example, if there is anything that has truly been surreal over the course of my life it’s been the reaction to Spider-Woman, who I’ve loved for years, if not forever. So, just to see people react to her so positively is like the weirdest thing because it was almost like my private little thing, like she was my girlfriend or something. And now I feel like she’s cheating on me. When I saw her on the cover of Wizard, that was the weirdest thing in the world!

BF: The one thing that I really want to talk to you about is the Bendis Board. There’s nothing like it. I mean, there are obviously tons and tons of message boards out there, but on this one your star power has drawn in plenty different types of people. I for one have made real friends because of the Bendis board.

BMB: Yeah, I got to tell you, that started really early with the board. I was so new to the internet that I wasn’t aware of how special that was. It took me a while to figure out just how unique of a community it was. And I’m immensely proud of it.

It has nothing to do with me though. I mean, it’s like my patio, and I love that you guys are there, but you guys built that into what it is. I just post Lindsey Lohan updates and deal with Goddard telling me how he wishes it was 1993 every five minutes. But other than that, it’s all you guys and it’s amazing. And that some of you have gone, met, and made a great comic together and got jobs in comics from it, that is just really, really cool.

BF: Alex Maleev and you are leaving Daredevil at the end of the year. Looking back on your entire run, which story did you have the most fun with?

BMB: I’m writing the last one right now. It’s a lot of fun to write and I’m really happy about that because it’s a really healthy attitude. I feel really good about what’s actually happening. Truth be told, there’s a couple of things about Daredevil that I’m very happy with.

Number one, Daredevil was my favorite comic book as a young art student. It’s the book that means the most to me, because of Frank Miller and what I was learning about the medium through it. Having Marvel let us ‘out’ the character in such a bold fashion and seeing all the stories that we can tell with it, while the movie was in theatres, was great. I was so happy about it for so many reasons. I was extremely happy about what Alex was accomplishing with Matt Hollingsworth. It was still the beginning of my relationship with Marvel, and I was happy at seeing their attitude towards me and my work before I made them any money. The attitude that if there’s a story to tell, let’s tell it. I knew I was where I belonged. So naturally, I felt very very good about it.

There have been a lot of things around Daredevil that have been not only what we’re trying to do with storytelling and with Matt Murdock and with trying to do a pulp hero book in the Marvel Universe, but also what went around outside of the book that made it happen. That was something I was very proud of. And you know, just knowing that I’ll be working for Alex for the rest of my adult life… [laughs]

BF: Do the two of you have anything else lined up after Daredevil?

BMB: Definitely. We’re not breaking up. We’re going to take a few months off, let Alex go skiing in Bulgaria or whatever he does. What we’re going to do next is follow the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale motif and do very special, not small projects, but not large projects like stories about different kinds of characters. We have the first two theoretically green lit.

The short answer is the overall experience with Daredevil, the whole experience was really tremendous. I was very happy with how Golden Age turned out. That had turned out better than I had hoped. I like putting black and white art into a mainstream comic and have people e-mail me and go, “Uh, my copy’s not colored. I think there was a mistake.”

BF: [Laughing] You should really do a Fortune and Glory on comics too, not just movies.

BMB: I will, I almost guarantee I will. But I have to wait until I get fired.

Click to enlarge

BF: You shook up the Avengers last year with Disassembled. Do you think they’re ready to be hit with whatever will be coming at them during House of M?

BMB: Yes. I think House of M will be very cathartic for some in a way and for some of the long-term Avengers fans that weren’t too thrilled with the direction Disassembled took. I think that they might find House of M to be a semi-cathartic experience. Because some questions are lingering, feelings are addressed.

BF: I have to admit, I never read an Avengers book until Disassembled and now I’m loving it.

BMB: Thanks. This Avengers thing is the wildest ride I’ve ever had in any comic book experience. I mean, as crazy as things got when we put out Alias, which had people screaming because there was an F-word and an interracial relationship (which I didn’t think was a big deal) in the book. And then when Ultimate Spider-Man debuted people don’t remember but that was like a cyclone of craziness. But, truth be told, Disassembled was just the craziest, just because of the myriad of reactions and intensity in every direction.

Click to enlarge

BF: Do you think it’s because the characters are so iconic?

BMB: I guess so. I think what shocked me about it is that I had been at Marvel for a while and had been lucky enough to have books doing pretty decent and that was pretty awesome, so I assumed it wouldn’t be that big a deal. But it was.

Another thing was that some people thought I was looking to shtick it up, like I’m looking to shock you, as if I’m some kind of shock jock. But I really wasn’t. You do look at the finished art and say to yourself, “Hmmm… this might piss people off,” but you don’t want to shy away from it. At the same time though, that’s not why you wrote it. Story goes first. I mean, I got people mad that Columbia died in Jinx; I got hate mail on that. You can’t touch anybody. Something I thought was odd was killing off Hawkeye, which generated a HUGE reaction. Vision, Ant-Man, eh, not so much. But why not Vision? Vision got ripped right in half! By another Avenger! It’s weird…

BF: Well that’ about does it. Thanks a lot for doing the interview. Broken Frontier wishes you the best.

BMB: Thanks man.

- JP Dorigo

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