Benson's Dark Marvels - Part 2

Lowdown - Interview

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In the second part of our interview with comics and television writer Mike Benson (Entourage and The Bernie Mac Show), Broken Frontier hears from Mike about working with the darker characters of the Marvel Universe. How important is continuity? Where has Deadpool's sudden ascendancy to super-stardom come from? Which film and TV alumni inspire Mike? And just where did those Zapata Brothers come from anyway? Mike spills the beans on these and many other questions below...

Read PART ONE here 

BROKEN FRONTIER: Your Marvel work has been largely concentrated on characters in the darker corner of the Marvel Universe - the Punisher, Deadpool, Moon Knight, Shang-Chi, Luke Cage, and Wolverine. However, despite that, no-one could pigeonhole you based on your output so far – there’s some very diverse material there. How much freedom do comics give you to wholeheartedly embrace a variety of genres and styles of storytelling?

MIKE BENSON: I’ve had a lot of freedom, however, I tend to gravitate toward the darker more broken characters. I feed off their pain. I enjoy the darker corners of the human psyche. It allows me to flex different muscles than I normally have over the years. Also, most comedy writers are pretty dark in general and this is a way of letting those creative juices flow without taking to a roof with a deer rifle.

BF: Something that is very evident from your Marvel work is your knowledge of the characters’ histories. Do you enjoy playing with the shared universe sensibility in comics? I also ask this because you’ve cross-pollinated and moved some of the same characters in and out of your books so far.

MB: I am not a continuity nut, but I do feel you need to be true to the characters you’re working with and can’t ignore their history. It’s not only a sign of respect to the fans but it also makes the whole reading experience more creditable and makes the character a whole lot richer.

I like to reference past experiences and pay homage to certain moments from Marvel history. In film, no one does that better than Quentin Tarantino. I’m not trying to copy him his style, I couldn’t even if I wanted to, but I have mad respect for his storytelling and he’s a true inspiration to me along with Michael Mann and Walter Hill and a bunch of other film writers and TV writers.

BF: Moving on to Deadpool, he’s a character you’ve written in a number of one-shots and a miniseries . His "second coming" as a fan favorite character seems to have taken many by surprise. What do you put his reborn appeal down to?

MB: It’s lightning in a bottle. Same reason shows like Seinfeld or Lost took off. It’s an interesting character being introduced to the masses at the right moment in time. It’s the tone of the character, the combination of humor and action. It’s just the right moment in time for Deadpool. Like Zombie films, Deadpool is in the zeitgeist in some respect.


The diversity of Mike Benson's writing from the slapstick satire of Deadpool: Suicide Kings to the horror-thriller of the Wolverine: Chop Shop one-shot through to the filmic homage of the Luke Cage: Noir miniseries.

BF: It’s easy to think of Deadpool as a kind of psychotic Spider-Man. How much fun is it taking the wisecracking (anti) hero archetype to excess?

MB: Oh, it’s the best because he can be self-deprecating and crazy and show little remorse but be a total badass. There are some many fun elements to play with the character. It’s a Smörgåsbord of fun badass humor.

BF: While we’re on the Wade Wilson front is there anything you can tell us about the rumoured Deadpool:Noir miniseries?

MB: Let’s just say there is something in the works but I can’t really talk about that right now, sorry.

BF: Speaking of Marvel’s Noir books I have to talk a bit about Luke Cage: Noir which was a miniseries you co-wrote that was something of a revelation to me in terms of what that "imprint" could aspire to. Given the obvious homage to every key element of classic film noir apparent in the story would it be right to think you’re a major fan of the genre?

MB: Yeah, I’m a big noir fan and so is Adam Glass who I co-wrote the book with. I think it was the combination of our knowledge and love for noir that made the book really pop. Not to mention the insanely talented Shawn Martinbrough who really threw his heart into the book. Shawn really brought everything to life and he get major props. One of my favorite recent noir films was Brick. It was so inventive and played off so many things I really respond to but at the same time it was contemporary. Another not so obvious noir film is Dark City. I love that film. Then there are the classics everyone loves (The Big Sleep, Chinatown, Sunset Boulevard). To answer your question, I am a big fan of the genre.

BF: You’ve just recently come to the end of a successful run on Moon Knight. Moon Knight is one of those characters who has been tackled by many creators but will forever be strongly associated with one particular writer’s vision (Doug Moench). How difficult was it approaching Marc Spector with that in mind?

MB: I was lucky enough to get the Moon Knight hand off from Charlie Huston who in my opinion crushed it. Huston is one of my favorite Noir writers right now on the scene. And he really honored and respected Doug Moench’s version of Moon Knight and I tried to stay true to that course. Moench’s Moon Knight was the character I grew up on and even though I changed certain things here and there I tried to stay honest to his original vision as best I could.


The Zapata Brothers in the Down South arc in Moon Knight and their recent appearance in Deadpool Team-Up #898. And last year's Master of Kung-Fu one-shot wherein Mike contributed a Shang-Chi tale.

BF: The Zapata Brothers… Fandom is united in wanting to know – where next and when does the Deadpool-style exposure for these guys begin?

MB: I freaking love these guys. They are a joint creation between senior Editor Axel Alonso and me. They are characters rooted in pop culture and comical but at the same time hardcore hit men. I would love to use the Zapatas again but it would have to be the right circumstances. The Zapata Brothers won’t just show up in Manhattan. They are not those urban characters.

BF: Are there any characters out there that you’re just itching to get your hands on?

MB: Yes. I’d love to get my hands on Shang-Chi again, do a Power Man and Iron Fist book and even take a stab at Captain America one day. Daredevil is always very appealing.

BF: Finally, Mike, are there any upcoming Benson projects that you’d like to let the Broken Frontier readership know about?

MB: Well, as I said Adam Glass and I have a creator owned book with Oni Press we have just started to write and I have a couple books for both Marvel and DC but unfortunately I can’t talk about them today.

For daily updates on all things Benson-ian follow Mike on Twitter: @MPBenson

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