Secret Invasion

Tuesday Q&A: Brian Michael Bendis

With the final issue of SECRET INVASION just around the corner, the superstar writer stops in for a chat

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By Kiel Phegley For the heroes known as the Avengers, the past seven months have been one really long bad day in the form of an earth-shattering attack by shape-shifting Skrulls in Secret Invasion. And while one issue still remains in the limited series driving the massively successful event, fans already buzz with questions on the fate of the Marvel Universe in the months ahead. For an early look at how the Invasion's end affects everything moving forward from the Avengers titles to Dark Reign, we called up SECRET INVASION scribe Brian Michael Bendis for a free wheeling chat on his favorite SI tie-ins, the return of the classic Avengers and whether or not he's "evented out."
Marvel.com: When you originally got to the point where you realized Secret Invasion was going to be a big summer event outside of an

Avengers story, you talked about being surprised that you'd get a chance to do another event book after HOUSE OF M. Now that you've gotten to the end of INVASION, do you feel more exhausted than you did the last time around? Brian Michael Bendis:
I don't feel exhausted. My overall feeling is relief. It didn't tank. I'm not getting the crap kicked out of me beyond the normal level of internet screw you-isms. But overall, it's the reaction one would have hoped for—the right questions are being asked, the right fun is being had. So I'm relieved. It's not always gone that way for me, so I will enjoy it when it happens. Marvel.com: SECRET INVASION is the culmination of five years of planning on your part. When you started, did you say, "This is the one time I'm going to juggle this much story"? Do you think you'll ever do another event? Brian Michael Bendis: Honestly, I think that's where the relief is coming from. I could have done all of this and no one could have cared or it wasn't perceived well or they went, "Ooooo…nice try!" I think the relief comes because it did take so long and so much was invested, and it's been fun. Would I do this again? Yes—if the story allowed it. I certainly wouldn't force the issue on it. I'd make sure I had something completely unique to do. Every one of these is an exciting pile of emotions and feelings that go on as you produce them. If the audience allowed, I'd give it another shot. And I actually have something—whether I'm going to be the author of it or not—that I'm going to bring up at the Marvel retreat in two weeks. So I'm putting out the fair warning shot to my friends and editors: I might have something!

Marvel.com: In a big event like this, there are many different tie-ins, but Secret Invasion as a set up really seems to have found a wide variety of responses from your fellow writers. Are there any tie-ins that caught you off guard in how they approached the material? Brian Michael Bendis: Those are my favorite ones, actually, and I think the two things I enjoyed the most that I had zero connection to were CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 and INCREDIBLE HERCULES. The Hercules stuff, I really liked because what I think the best tie-ins are stories that don't have any relationship to the main series. If you didn't read one issue of SECRET INVASION, but you read "The God Squad" you'd still be able to enjoy it. That's a great tie-in. I was really happy about SECRET INVASION: INHUMANS and SECRET INVASION: FANTASTIC FOUR, but with those I'd thrown out a bunch of concepts and ideas—things the characters could be doing when I was writing the main book. And I didn't write those tie-ins, the writers did. But I'd thrown out some ideas like the Negative Zone stuff and the idea of what the Inhumans were doing. You write these manifestos when planning an event about what could happen, and in this instance, the two things I most wanted to see were grabbed up, so I was really happy about that. Marvel.com: When you came on the Avengers books with "Avengers Disassembled," you thematically ended one era of the classic lineup and brought in all the so-called "big guns." SECRET INVASION, particularly in this last big fight issue, really feels like a classic Avengers story between using the big three of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor and guys like Hawkeye and Yellowjacket. Did SECRET INVASION become your Avengers comeback story?

Brian Michael Bendis:
Well, that was always a part of the Skrull history of Marvel Universe. That's who they came up against when they first got here: the Fantastic Four and the classic Avengers. You read "The Kree/Skrull War" and there's Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. I thought it would be remiss not to respond in kind. And also, if one story was about disassembling, the other story should be about assembling. There's seems to be a really organic, very story-driven full circle thing there that I really like. We waited all this time for this, and if it holds together afterwards or not, we'll see. But for right now, that gives you the jolt because you haven't seen that in 10 years or maybe forever if you include everyone that's in the background. Marvel.com: Let's talk about the specific characters in the book and where they go after this, starting with Reed Richards, because he's the original Skrull antagonist… Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, he's their Osama bin Laden. [Laughs] They just perceive him poorly. Whether or not there's a full hatred for the human race or a disdain or a misunderstanding turned into disdain, they all turn to Reed Richards as the guy that turned their brothers into cows. He's always the guy who somehow finds a way to stave off whatever their needs are, and they see themselves as so superior to humans. Marvel.com: But in this book you got to have them get back at him a little and really change up his life in the main book because there were no tie-ins in the monthly FANTASTIC FOUR book.

Brian Michael Bendis:
Yeah. [FANTASTIC FOUR writer] Mark [Millar] had had it with the tie-ins, which is fully understandable. He was all Civil War-ed out when I started Secret Invasion. [Laughs] Plus, he had his own story to tell, but I did have a cool idea for what the Fantastic Four would be doing through all this, and I was so glad Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] took the lead on that [limited series]. Marvel.com: Moving forward, do you think Reed is in a new place as a character that someone can pick up on because he's had his family threatened and his whole world blown apart? Brian Michael Bendis: Well, you haven't seen issue #8 yet. There's a lot of Reed in the eighth issue! Marvel.com: In the case of Tony Stark, we've seen a lot of ups and downs for him over the past few years, but in SECRET INVASION, we really saw Tony's own doubts over his actions since Civil War and his grand plan of the Initiative torn apart in so many ways. Can he move forward as confident in his abilities? Brian Michael Bendis: My one argument was not that we've seen Tony acting differently [over the past few years]. Everyone has different aspects to their personalities, and at certain times, certain aspects become the forefront. Tony was always a futurist with a clear vision of what the future could be and a playboy and this and that, but this time around, the vision of the future angle took center stage with the character, and he stood behind it. How that plays out into the finale is a big part of what happens in issue #8. There's quite a bit of Tony as one can imagine, but he's not leaving the series in the same condition that he started the series.

And a lot of that will be picked up on in Matt Fraction's INVINCIBLE IRON MAN series, which I couldn't recommend more highly. I think Matt's got a storyline coming up that will be looked at as one of the great runs on the character. Marvel.com: Hawkeye also plays a significant role in this series, and every online review has picked out the page from #7 where he picks up the arrows as "the moment." Is that something you'd been waiting to do since you…well, killed him and brought him back? To give him his Hawkeye moment? Brian Michael Bendis: It's more about "there's a time and a place for people to discover things about themselves." What I'm fascinated by is how when Hawkeye died—or, Ok, I killed him—there wasn't much interest in the character until he was taken away, and then there was a fervor around him. Now over the past couple of years, that fervor is at a real peak. It's amazing the difference in tone the audience has about him. I'm very thrilled about that, and there's something about how you have to break a toy to fix a toy. It's very interesting. I don't have it all figured out in my head about how that works or why that works or why sometimes it doesn't, but I'm fascinated by that aspect of it. Marvel.com: Speaking of toys you've broken and fixed and broken again… Brian Michael Bendis: [Laughs] Marvel.com: With the relationship between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, you had them almost come to the point where they broke up once and for all, but now with issue #7 they're reconciling as their baby

has been kidnapped. Is there anything left for you to do to them? Brian Michael Bendis:
Hey, listen, there's not a parent in the world who won't tell you if you ask them that their biggest fear as a parent is that a shape-shifting alien will take their child away from them. It's a big fear amongst all parents. I saw a poll about it on CNN, so now I'm just following the zeitgeist. Marvel.com: Are Luke and Jessica going to pop up in a different book than NEW AVENGERS once this story has wrapped? Brian Michael Bendis: At the end of issue #8—I don't want to reveal anything, but it turns out that both Luke and Jessica are really those aliens from "Buckaroo Banzai." They're shape-shifters as well, just from a different race, and they've been here since way before. That's why he doesn't wear the yellow shirt of tiara anymore. We're going to have a giant battle of all shape-shifting races where you don't know who anyone is. That's what I'm pitching at the retreat—everyone in the Marvel Universe is a shape-shifting alien from different races. [Laughs] Marvel.com: The last character to talk about is Hank Pym. His role has been most drastically changed by the invasion of all the Avengers. If he and Janet survive the cliffhanger of #7, how will she be able to look at the real Hank in any trusting way, and how will he reclaim his role as a hero? Brian Michael Bendis: See, you're asking a lot of very good questions that I can answer post-SECRET INVASION #8, and that's why I've resorted to "Buckaroo Banzai" answers. [Laughs] I don't want to spoil it, but obviously from the very first page of SECRET INVASION #8, the Janet/Hank relationship is going to be a major part of the story. I'm pretty much going to unplug my computer the day that book ships.

SECRET
INVASION #8
cover by
Gabriele Dell'Otto

Marvel.com: Well, since we can't talk too many plot points, could you tell me at what point in the writing of this event did you realize you were going to reorganize the whole Avengers line? Brian Michael Bendis: From the beginning, the pitch was about that too, and when we get to that part next month, we'll discuss it right here what it is and why it happened. But the pitch was the last two pages of issue #8, and Joe Quesada, who isn't necessarily a fan of sci fi and shape-shifting aliens in theory really gravitated towards a few things—the paranoia in the buildup and the end of all this. I was almost overwhelmed by how much everyone dug into it and how much the Dark Reign books have taken hold. It's really inspired some creativity from some of my peers in a way that was much stronger than I thought it would be. The idea that's coming on the last page of issue #8, which I saw today from Leinil Yu…look out! I've had this for three years maybe, so it's been building in a nice, organic way. And we'll discuss all of these things once SECRET INVASION ends. Of course, I won't have Internet access that day, so maybe we can do the next interview via snail mail. [Laughs] But I do want to say "Thanks" to everyone who has been buying the book, and I promise you that in a few months, I will be wearing a shirt that says, "No More Skrulls!" I now type the word Skrull more than I type my own name. My spell-check now catches the word Skrull when I type it. Isn't that weird? SECRET INVASION #8 hits stores on December 3. You can read more from Brian Michael Bendis on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes!

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