16 Comments
Oct 28, 2022Liked by Brian Michael Bendis

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

Speaking of other people with three names, congratulations on sitting three rows in front of Robyn Rihanna Fenty at the Wakanda Forever movie premiere.

Rihanna has made a career out of never using her first name.

(Because Jessica Jones is not the only one who uses an Alias. Great comic book, Alias. So glad that you finally met Michael Gaydos.)

So, "Riri" îs a nickname for her MIDDLE name, which is an alias for an alias.

Which is why Ironheart is called Riri.

Where does Ironheart buy her lingerie?

At Savage Fenty!

Real talk: I just hope that you and Deodato got paid, Bendis

Gaydos and yourself stick the landing in Pearl Vol. 3 issue 6, bridging the fantastical secret established in Pearl Vol. 1 issue 1 to the unsentimental truth about her father. If only Godfather II (1974) had the same grit to call out Don Corleone as you do with Papa Tanaka, here.

Unlike your TORSO graphic novel (1998-1999), Pearl never gets the satisfaction of a confession, but I honestly prefer Takegaki setting the table.

It's hard out there for The Ghost Dragon of San Francisco :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment
Oct 10, 2022Liked by Brian Michael Bendis

Not that I would have done any better, but the next time someone asks you to do this (ha!), stand in front of the mound when you throw. If you're not used to throwing off the mound, it'll mess you up.

Expand full comment
Oct 10, 2022Liked by Brian Michael Bendis

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

The best decision Joe Quesada ever made was buying you that Marvel Knights baseball jersey :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment
Oct 10, 2022Liked by Brian Michael Bendis

Your pitch was a Spider-Man to Bababooey’s D-Man. Nice job! I completely forgot how bad he got roasted on Stern for that.

Expand full comment

Hi BMB!

Re: Creation Ch 4 Part 2!

Leinil Yu did such beautiful work on SECRET INVASION which enhanced the versimilitude of the premise. I grew up with The Beyonder line-wide event, and the Spider-Man Clone Saga, and Secret Wars (not yours, 'natch) which were watered-down by indifferent imagery and frankly self-important writing. Clearly, Secret Invasion was the Real Deal, and I very much appreciated that.

For me, as a reader, Spider Woman's Big Moments were essayed in her Origin miniseries (art by the Luna Brothers) while her use in the Avengers books were undercut by most of her actions being done by a Skrull.

I mean, bad enough that she was raised by Madame Hydra (art by Alex Maleev), that she was a SHIELD agent during Civil War, that she was nowhere to be found during Carol Danver's forced pregnancy in Avenger's Mansion (Avengers Annual #7 art by Michael Golden, who, hello!, drew plenty of Spider Woman covers) -- Jessica Drew has experienced a lot of trauma over her career but has yet to have a quiet moment of empathy, an extended scenario where she connects with someone and the other party benefits from her having being there. Every Avenger is suspicious of Spider Woman, she used her powers to intoxicate the male heroes, she doesn't brunch with the female heroes, she does not have a sense of humor -- I mean, sheesh.

Also, Spider Woman does not have much of a civilian life, so why does she wear a mask?

Sorry: I'm having a The Mad Maple letter column moment. Still friends?

Those Portland State students are lucky to have you :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

Masterclass #17 with Matt Fraction was awesome!

Matt mentioned that he and Kelly Sue were part of your hospital circle, and I've never thought of her Aquaman run as connected to your DC tenure, but my eyes have now been opened!

What Kelly Sue did was put Mera in the driver's seat, put her squarely on the throne and celebrate her pregnancy. Has a pregnant superhero ever been more bada** than Mera was? Hot d***!

(All due respect to Jessica Jones, but Jessica tore J Jonah Jameson a new one while SHE WAS GIVING BIRTH -- which was GLORIOUS -- but Mera was running Atlantis like a boss while Aquaman was flopping around like a dead mackerel, so, apples and oranges!)

I'm voting for Kelly Sue DeConnick to join us in Masterclass because I'm greedy :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

You relaunched Avengers two years after Grant Morrison had rebooted JLA.

Grant brought back the "Big 7" (including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman)) after years of the title filling-up the membership table with tertiary heroes (a similar situation to what you pointed-out in your unintentional Avengers pitch in 1998).

The "glue" in Grant's reboot was his integrating the KirbyVerse into main DC continuity, something only John Byrne had (unsuccessfully) tried a decade earlier on his Superman books.

This made Grant's JLA run "cosmic" in ways it had never been before. Crucially, Grant put Darkseid and Batman onto a collision course which culminated in the Final Crisis event in 2008-2009.

Your weaving-in the Skrulls from the jump in New Avengers, likewise, was the unifying subplot which culminated in the Secret Invasion event (also in 2008-2009), even though you stayed on the Avengers book until 2012.

But, honestly, was there as much "glue" available for you to use on Avengers?

SHIELD was under attack in "Secret War" (2004-2005), while "House of M" (2005) played havoc with Hawkeye in particular.

The Avengers had become something of a "non-team" which The Defenders had always prided itself on being. Dissension was always a heartbeat away with Spider-Woman, Luke Cage was always openly hostile, and Ms. Marvel managed to even get Jessica Jones upset.

In their own books, Cap was killed and Thor relocated Asgard to Norway (because Chris Hemsworth is Swedish?), so the Avengers team was in constant flux, allowing Dark Avengers (2009-2012ish) to supplant the main team. But what your Avengers lacked in comity, you more than made up for in sheer variety (not only in elite artists, but importantly in distinctive plot lines).

Of the writers with 100 + issues on Avengers under their belt, you used the Hulk most organically and; I would argue; used Doctor Strange (starting with House of M) with surgical precision.

So much to love :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

Welcome back to Portlandia: land that we love!

Having seen 5 musicals on Broadway in 1 week (whew!), 5 things about Story Structure (our Master Class #13 topic for tonight) stand out:

1) Do not peak too soon. Always build up to the most delicious part of the story: leave enough room for dessert, but never mistake dessert for the Main Course.

2) Make your Final Curtain exit count: leave the audience Invigorated but not expecting more. When the story is told and the meal is done, leave on a high note without room for another tasty vittle. Resolve all major plot points within the Main Story touchy-feelies and just walk away. Don't haver. Don't dawdle. Don't ramble.

3) Make every flourish organic. If a secondary character has a Big Moment, make certain that the Moment is organically Important to the Main Character, also: this is what separates amateur writers from professionals. Do the Dirty Work of Writing: the salad should lead to the entree; the salad should not be tastier than the entree. Make every song (or shot) a Money Shot and avoid shooting blanks if you possibly can. The audience can always sense the difference.

4) Don't allow the Events (or set design) to overwhelm the Individuals. The Players are the thing. Daily Life can crush Personal Optimism, but Entertainment (or Reading for Pleasure) best succeeds when it celebrates Individual Achievement. Even a Small Victory dramatized is better than letting the Main Characters completely fail at their goals.

5) It's only a "musical" (or just a story), not a cure for cancer, so Let's Put On A Show. Avoid punishing the audience with your Lofty Ambitions: be a good Host and Introduce you Main Characters with panache: make their Dreams Achievable, make their Obstacles Reasonable, make their Victories Proportionate to their Abilities. Or? Make their Ultimate Comeuppance Appropriate to their deeds. (Sweeney Todd is a crackling-but-cautionary tale, for example.) If you're going to go Dark, Embrace the Darkness and Delight the Children of the Night... until the Curtain Falls and the Light comes Pouring In. Nobody cheers for Van Helsing: if you've created Dracula, then go Full Dracula, because every audience loves a winner.

And we all love the return of Master Class this evening. Lucky #13, y'all :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

It's so interesting that you and Ed Brubaker broke into comics at the same time. Certainly your time at Marvel brought out both of your storytelling strengths: his Captain America run kept Cap out of your Avengers run, but when Cap came back in Avengers Prime you gave Alan Davis a story where he did not have to depict overt violence. It's wonderful that you pay attention to what Brubaker does even with the comic book format: we all benefit from that as an audience. For myself, your embrace of the graphic novel format for Powers The Best Ever profoundly paid off in Phenomena in terms of world-building and pacing and weaving-in exotic elements. While Brubaker had always told long form stories in Criminal and Fatale and Kill Or Be Killed; which made him telling a one-and-done GN with his Reckless series much less awkward than we had any right to expect (honestly, Sean Phillips maintaining his high standards made Brubaker look like even more of a genius for changing the format -- what an epic collaboration they are); big books like Reckless were unthinkable projects in comic books until recently. Your Phenomena uses wide-screen science-fiction with such confidence; just like Reckless mixes noir with slacker sensibility so seamlessly; that it earns the GN format which comic books have aiming to master since you and Ed were newbies at.Calibar comics. Long live the creators :D

Sincerely, Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

I finally got The Ones #1 at my LCS!

It reminded me of All-Star Comics #3, which was Sheldon Mayer's justification for bundling minor superheroes' solo adventures under one cover, resulting in the Justice Society of America. The reluctant or unlikely superteam has become the Reese's peanut butter cup of every mainstream comic book publisher since.

Jacob Edgar and yourself also have the long shadow of Watchmen to wrestle with, so having a secretive prophet; regardless of how tasty his potstickers are; gives this fantasy romp some sharp elbows as well.

I love the scene between David and Novus. Dirtbags never learn.

I'm hoping that Ave is the rug that pulls it all together. That's my dream.

Issue #2 should be arriving next Comic Book Day. I'm assuming there's a huge delay between digital and print releases.

Be good :D

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

You mentioned the similarities between Powers and Top 10 as concepts. Having recently collected TPs of Moore's ABC line, he essentially put out as many different titles as an Atlas or a Charlton, did. Particularly with Tom Strong, Moore integrated his characters in a world with their own rules.

Jinxworld has fewer titles, and there is less interaction between characters within Jinxworld, but Powers enjoyed a much longer run than Top 10 ever came close to hitting. Jinxworld has a different business model than ABC or MillarWorld, but your quality is always high and deserves a percentage of my Wednesday comic book buying budget.

Ever since the glory days of Big Apple Comix (?), top creators have tried to operate outside of big time publishers: usually they go belly-up within 3 issues. Mike Mignola with Hellboy, Matt Wagner with Grendal, Mark Milar with MillarWorld and yourself with Jinxworld have kept your ownership and maintained high quality where dozens have faded away.

It ain't no accident. More power in 2023 :D

Expand full comment

Hi Brian and Taki!

MasterClass was SO MUCH FUN :D

Happy Turkey Day,

Brad

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

It remains amazing to me that many of your long-term collaborators: Michael Gaydos, David Mack, Michael Avon Oeming, Alex Maleev and Marc Andreyko; were relationships formed before you had achieved mainstream success.

Also, that your 10 years of making independent comics entirely by yourself continues to inform what you produce today as primarily a writer.

When Jay Leno (I think) guested as a comedian on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Carson to fill the time when something had gone wrong had done (I think) a world class bit of sleight-of-hand to get some applause. Carson leaned over to Leno and whispered, "You use everything you've learned along the way to do this job."

D*** right.

I love hearing about how you had done layouts the first few issues of Alias.

I love learning how letting your artists do their full job made you a better storyteller.

I love finding out that you never worked "Marvel Style".

I'm looking forward to reading the "Bendis: 10 years at Marvel" TPB to see what they consider to be representative of your wide-ranging body of work for them.

As you know, the first cut of The Godfather which Francis Ford Coppola showed to producer Robert Evans run under 2 hours.

"Bendis: 10 years at Marvel" will be like that, I bet :D

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment

how exciting! Loved reading this first bit. So much serendipity.

Expand full comment

Hi Brian Michael Bendis!

With CREATION, I am sure you will go over how you created Naomi McDuffie.

To be reductive, I remember when Steve Englehart created Mantis for The Avengers in 1973. Mantis was intended to be a provocative-but-throwaway character. Mantis became a character that Englehart used over multiple Marvel books and books at other comic publishers: she became his unicorn. Having started out as a Saigon sex worker, Mantis evolved into this pagan goddess and; like The Watcher; kept showing up at parties where things were quickly spiraling out of control.

Naomi is an adolescent character of limitless power constantly learning new things. Like Huckleberry Finn, she is equal to any adventure and gains wisdom without ever becoming jaded because she is forever young.

I look forward to hearing how you, David F Walker and Jamal Campbell created this fully-formed character out of thin air!

Sincerely,

Brad Barnes

Expand full comment