Marvel’s week of “Next Big Thing” calls continued (yesterday’s was about Secret Avengers, and you can read all the recap here) today with a look at the future of The Avengers. Specifically, the arc kicking off in issue #25 of the title, written by Brian Michael Bendis, and drawn by industry legend Walt Simonson which ties into the upcoming ‘Avengers vs. X-Men’ twelve part event. Also joining the call was Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort.
“This is truly one of the most exciting things that’s ever happened to me at Marvel,” said Bendis. “Walt – when I was a young strapping lad trying to break into comics – I met him at a convention, showed him my childish sketches, and he treated me as a peer. It set me on a course to today, where I’m a writer. But he was generous to me, and would write letters of encouragement and critique. If ever there was a moment I said I was doing this, it was this. I aspired towards him all these years.”
Bendis continued, saying that when Simonson finally left DC, and talked about returning to Marvel, it seemed that Avengers was the book that encompassed everything Simonson wanted to do at the publisher.
“Thank goodness there’s no pressure on me doing this book,” joked Simonson right back. “I’m in comics myself really because the work Steve Ditko, and Stan and Jack did. I was in college in the time… There was a time when I was devouring every book Marvel was publishing at the time, which was ten or twelve.”
Continuing to talk about his history with Avengers, Simonson said, “I got to write it for about a year, which was a treat for me. Its fun for me to go back and actually draw these guys. I did short little origin stories, but other than that I haven’t really drawn the Avengers. I didn’t really expect to draw an entire arc. And when Brian said there’s a lot of characters… I didn’t know there were a LOT of characters.”
Simonson continued, joking that the first panel starts with thirty or forty thousand characters. “It’ll be fun to go back and draw Captain America,” finished Simonson.
The talk then turned to how it was Bendis’ last real arc on Avengers. Asked what his favorite arc was, Bendis declined to comment until he was totally done with his run. “It better be the next six issues,” joked Simonson.
“One of the things I’m most looking forward to drawing… There’s some guys from A.I.M. with those bee protector helmets. Those guys really came out of my wheelhouse. I especially like that you want the guy to have a facial expression while in that mask,” he added to Bendis with a laugh.
“During the entire planning of AVX, I kept referencing the X-Men/Teen Titans story Walter drew. That level of bombast paved the way so perfectly for what we’re doing here,” said Bendis.
Talking about other characters Simonson is looking forward to, he name-checked former Secret Warrior and current Avengers Quake, as well as Storm. He added that he doesn’t know that many of the more recent characters, but he’s looking forward to taking the time to research and put them in a “coherent visual world.” The artist also mentioned getting a thrill from doing a cover for Thor #13, where he was able to use his “new” costume.
The conversation then turned to how closely Avengers will tie into the main event. “I have carved out for myself in Avengers and New Avengers, a specific storyline that is so powerful and specific about who The Avengers are, and who they mean, its so strong that it could be its own storyline which could be separate from the main event,” said Bendis. “This storyline is from the Avengers point of view. Since it is my last storyline, it’s wrapping up stories and character arcs I’ve been building for years.”
Simonson then chimed in about differences in today’s comic book world, versus when he was working back at Marvel. He said there’s much more fan access now, and much more focus on Events, which he hasn’t made up his mind on yet. “I’m always torn in modern comics with the idea of what you should tell people, and what you shouldn’t,” said Simonson. He talked about how in the sixties, you read a comic, and didn’t know anything about it in advance, as opposed to now, where there are previews, and say, press calls.
“He’s learned nothing from me, and I’ve learned everything from him,” said Bendis, which provoked laughter from Simonson. “I’ve learned how to be cool on a panel by seeing Brian on YouTube,” joked Simonson.
Briefly, it was mentioned that Simonson will not be drawing any new characters for the arc.
The next question was what Avenger/X-Men fight would Simonson like to see. “I can make this happen,” joked Bendis. Simonson laughed, and then followed up the question saying he’s not really a fan of that sort of question, because he’s far more interested in the story that surrounds the characters, than who would win.
We then asked whether we’ll see any big moments featuring Thor, since that’s a character so identified with Simonson.
“I know I got one big splash in the first issue,” said Simonson.
“Yes, of course, who wouldn’t like to see him draw Thor? But I also found moments in characters that I thought, hey, lets have him do characters he hasn’t done before,” said Bendis “Its things he does better than anybody, and we’re seeing new stuff nobody has ever seen before.”
“I’m looking forward to things I haven’t done before,” said Simonson. They continued saying that any creator worth his or her salt always wants to draw – or write - new things when they can.
Asked about sound effects, another thing often associated with Simonson, he deferred to Bendis, who quipped that they’d be less bombastic than the artists usual sound effects, and more, “Jewish whining. I’m Jewish, by the way, so don’t change the headline.”
Before the call ended, Bendis teased Avengers Assemble, the new book from the writer and artist Mark Bagley featuring the "movie" Avengers - though in current continuity. "Avengers Assemble is the bridge book to what I'm doing next," said Bendis.
Avengers #25 hits comic book stands in April, and we’ll be back tomorrow with more of Marvel’s Next Big Thing!