By Kevin Mahadeo
This fall, Norman Osborn's making a list, but he'll only need to check it once.
As Osborn's rule over the Marvel Universe tightens, the Green Goblin-turned-Iron Patriot targets his biggest threats and prepares to deal with them accordingly. Comprised of eight interconnected one-shots, DARK REIGN: THE LIST refers to a literal list of people, places and things that hold particular importance to the Marvel Universe's current man in charge. A different creative team tackles each issue, which each address one item on the previously mentioned list.
For the next week, Marvel.com will be speaking with the talented writers responsible for Making the List.
This fall, both Dark and New Avengers assemble for a faceoff of earth-shattering proportions under the penmanship of writer Brian Michael Bendis in DARK REIGN: THE LIST—AVENGERS, the first in the series of eight interconnected one-shots pitting Norman Osborn against the very status quo of the Marvel Universe.
"Part of the pitch was that I would do this first one, and it would be Norman looking at the Marvel Universe and, from his point of view, what's wrong with it," explains Bendis. "Some of it is stuff that is the status quo, but for Norman being in charge, he wonders 'Why is the Hulk running around? Why are the Avengers allowed to do this? Why are the Fantastic Four the only ones with a Negative Zone? Why is Nick Fury training terrorists in his basement?' They're all very good questions that we look at as entertaining stories, but they look at it as very serious problems. And after what happens in the DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN crossover, it inspires him to put this list together and proactively pursue it instead of waiting for it to blow up in his face."
Along with setting up the concept of THE LIST—created on a creative powwow between Bendis and writer Matt Fraction during an Xbox Live gaming session—Bendis' upcoming special teams the writer with artist Marko Djurdjevic and serves as the climax of the recently escalating PR storm between Norman Osborn and Clint Barton of the New Avengers. Bendis took a break from making THE LIST to tease readers about what to expect, hint the event's lasting effects and shares his fondness for hair jokes.
Marvel.com: You've mentioned previously your issue is very big for Clint Barton, aka Ronin. Clint did burn Norman on national television. Is this Norman's way of getting back at him?
That's going to go back and forth a couple times. It's not just Clint. Norman burns him pretty bad, too, and it goes back and forth a couple times until they both feel they have to shut the guy up pretty quickly. [Laughs
] That begins and ends in [this] special. And the great news is that I get to work with Marko Djurdjevic, which I'm totally excited about. Everyone loves his covers, but I'm all about his interiors. I loved his work on THOR. I was literally waiting in line with my hand up to get a chance to work with him, and Tom [Brevoort] called and said, "Marko," and I go, "Yes! Marko!" I really think it's going to be stunning.
Marvel.com: I definitely wanted to ask about that. Everyone Marko does is just beautiful. Do you plan on really playing to his strengths and writing up these awesome epic scenes just to see him draw the heck out of them?
Yeah. I didn't even start writing the story until I found out who was drawing it. Everyone got an awesome artist, and I was hoping for one as well and for someone I hadn't worked with before. So this was very, very exciting for me.
Marvel.com: You talked about the escalating conflict between Norman and Clint, which we've seen pieces of in both NEW AVENGERS and DARK AVENGERS. But at this point, when words are no longer enough, what is Norman's plan of attack?
You'll find out in THE LIST: AVENGERS. It's really who is going to go after who first, as well. Norman's not the only one with a list.
Marvel.com: Obviously, with Marko at your disposal, there will be some big fights in this...
Oh yeah. A very big throw down. Very, very big. If I tell you who, it kind of gives away the plot, but it is one I think people will really dig, and it's not one you'd expect. [I will say] Norman Osborn and Clint Barton will be face-to-face. I don't want to give it away, but Bullseye and Venom hold down Clint and Norman does his hair to look like his.
Marvel.com: That is just beyond evil right there.
"Now you will live with my pain!" I'm beginning to break open the thousands of hair jokes I have that are already seeding into the book. Every time things get really, really tense, Bullseye just whispers into [Norman's] ear, "What's with your hair?" The List is all hair products.
Marvel.com: Previously in DARK AVENGERS, we saw Norman responding to Clint's accusations by recalling that he's a reformed criminal himself. But what about the New Avengers as a whole? How does he rationalize to the public they're a threat? I mean, they all fought with Norman to defeat the Skrull army.
Well, they're breaking the law. They're unregistered and are participating in shenanigans. Spider-Man's with them. It's very easy. What's cool about this is from Civil War on how easy it is to paint the picture. I posted on my web site the other day, right after DARK AVENGERS #5 when Norman went on television and laid it on [Clint], how Dick Cheney went on television and blamed the guy in charge of intelligence for not warning him about [September 11, 2001] after he had done so six or seven times. Just to use the example, Dick Cheney had no problem running around trying to use the media to paint a picture. It very well could be that as far as Dick Cheney is concerned what's he's saying is absolutely true, but it's funny how easily a man of importance can get on television and say whatever he wants and some people will believe it and others will ask why he isn't in jail. That's sort of like what's going on now [in the Marvel Universe].
Marvel.com: You compared Norman Osborn to Joe McCarthy before. The List parallels, in a way, Joe McCarthy's infamous list of communists in America. Was this an intent or happenstance?
Well, when the idea of The List comes about, you certainly look at history and it solidifies in my mind as the writer as something that would happen. This had happened before. The initial idea was, "If I was Norman Osborn and I was looking around the Marvel Universe, what would I do?" I'd make a To Do List and take care of things immediately. That was the initial thought, and then when you're sitting in bed later than night thinking about whether that's a good idea or not, you start thinking about Joe McCarthy, you start thinking about Guantanamo, you start thinking about the world and you realize it would happen—it's legitimate.
Marvel.com: Now, you said earlier that this is a Clint Barton story, but just to be clear, will we be seeing all of the New Avengers and Dark Avengers?
Yeah, yeah. I don't want to undersell the fact that you will see all the New Avengers and all the Dark Avengers. They're in there on pretty much every single page, but when you strip it down, it's about what Norman decides to do and what Clint decides to do about it. And there's a fight you've never seen before and you're going to see it in this. It's a great start off to the whole List idea. It shows how far and how unexpected these battles can get, how dangerous this list is, and what is could possibly mean to the status quo of all these books.
Marvel.com: So, you're saying The List changes a lot of the books in the Marvel U?
It's very changing to a lot of books. To me, they're like annuals in the best sense of the word. Annuals are supposed to be these double-sized great stories that actually end up affecting the book. I hate to do "when I was a kid," but when I was a kid the X-Men Annual would really rock the X-Men book. If you missed the annual you missed everything. Everyone who is writing these List specials are also writing the [ongoing] books as well, so they're really using this as an opportunity to do something very dramatic that affects the book in a great way story-wise.
Check back in Monday when we speak with Rick Remender about Making the List!
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