Marvel NOW! Bendis, Hickman, Remender, and Gillen Talk X-MEN, AVENGERS, and IRON MAN!

Ever since Marvel Comics announced it’s not-a-reboot-relaunch called Marvel NOW! many have wondered, “Just what the hell does it all mean?”

Marvel countered with the announcement of three major creative teams: Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen on All-New X-Men, Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña on Avengers, and Rick Remender and John Cassaday on Uncanny Avengers.

Soon after that, Marvel released a series of teasers that hinted (some were later confirmed by the creators on Twitter) that we’d see Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu on Hulk, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic on Thor, Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley on Fantastic Four, Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. on Captain America, Gerry Dugan and Brian Posehn and Tony Moore on Deadpool, and Kieron Gillen and Greg Land on Iron Man. (Two more books are less clear: Matt Fraction and Mike Allred on what could be FF, and Si Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat possibly on X-Men Legacy.)

But those teasers were little more than single words and creator names, and they did nothing to hint at what we could expect from those books. Enter the series of creator interviews that have quietly been running on since last week.

All-New X-Men

In All-New X-Men, the central idea from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen is that through forces and events yet to be revealed, the original five X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel, and Beast) are transported to the present day. Bendis on bringing the five original X-Men to the future:

I’m a big fan of these kinds of stories, Pleasantville or Peggy Sue Got Married, where a character faces the truth about themselves and what their life can mean versus what it does mean. They’re very interesting stories and the idea of the original X-Men seeing what the X-Men turned into is absolutely fascinating to me.

On how long he’s planning to write Marvel’s Merry Mutants:

I have an idea in front of me that has already given me a notebook full of ideas with which to write. That’s what a good run starts from and it feels really good. If the audience participates accordingly, then I will hunker down for longer. I’m also under contract for a while so I have to write something. I want to do an X-run. There’s something nice about knowing that I can’t beat Chris Claremont’s record [of 16 years writing the X-Men], so I can relax. I’ve already beaten Spider-Man’s record and the Avengers record so I’m going to write a lot of issues of X-Men and write a really big story that will amount to, hopefully, what I want it to be.

On the “return” of Jean Grey:

Jean coming back now is unlike Jean coming back before. This isn’t a reincarnated Jean, this isn’t a clone; this is Jean. She is coming here wide-eyed, but you also have to remember she’s coming into a world where she’s died. … I’m thrilled and one of the biggest gets of bringing back the original five is that we get Jean. We’re not getting a version of Jean, we’re getting the real thing. She’s going to witness what has happened to the X-Men and what she’ll do to try and change that, especially at a time when maybe her powers aren’t at their fullest yet.

On artist Stuart Immonen:

[He’s using] that youthful exuberance and wide-eyed innocence that he brought to Ultimate Spider-Man and the team energy and power that he brought to New Avengers all in one book.

On loving the X-Men:

My X-Men fan level is exactly the same as my levels for Spider-Man and the Avengers. I’ve been reading them religiously and I probably have more issues and trades of X-Men than anything else in my collection.

Lots more in the interview linked above.

Iron Man

Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Greg Land tackle the now iconic genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist Tony Stark in Iron Man. Gillen on writing such a well known character:

When I started writing Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men, I called my mom once and told her what I do for a living and she said “Ohh, I fancy that Wolverine.” When you’re writing characters that members of your family fancy you’re in an interesting place and, in the case of Iron Man, that’s totally it.

On what to expect in from his Iron Man:

The symbolism that I bring immediately into the book [is] a lot like the Arthurian concept of the grail-knight: the idea that Tony Stark is the grail-knight, or at least aspiring to be the grail-knight. When we meet him he’s left Resilient and he’s digging into what’s going on. Pepper has a line in the first issue saying, “Oh, you’re not having a midlife crisis are you? Just buy yourself a suit of armor.” That’s where we start and he begins to ask questions.

The story will focus on him questioning things about himself and trying to find out exactly how the universe ticks, what’s this all about and why he does this anyway. It’s going to be one of the major themes of the book going forward. For as long as I’m on the book it will be one of the two major themes I’m working on, like on Uncanny X-Men [with] the theme of power and the corruption thereof.

On the structure of the series:

The first five issues will be single stories that will share [both] a defining motif and a plot but it will be Iron Man facing new instances of technology and each is basically a new villain. Each issue will illuminate something about Tony and they’re all very different. Issue two is a lot like the Bruce Lee Kung-Fu Island story; it’s like a joust, it’s all about the knight imagery, essentially going to a tournament. Issue three is like a ninja story, Tony Stark trying to be a full-on stealth master, issue four is a horror story and issue five is something a little more romantic and scientific but I’m going to keep that one under wraps.

I really want to mix it up with single issue stories because I think that quite a few people are feeling the same way. Single issues are an exciting place to go and anyone can jump on with any of the first five issues, not just issue #1. [In] each of those issues I introduce Iron Man; I say something meaningful about a character that you may know already and I want it to be accessible and to pop.

On his (controversial) artist Greg Land:

It really plays to many of Greg’s strengths actually. When people see the issue, they’ll say it makes a lot of sense that Greg is the one drawing this.

On the balancing act between superhero and CEO:

Matt Fraction did a brilliant take on the corporate figure and his run is a defining arc, so I’m staying away from it. Tony is still a scientist and will still be working on the armor but it’s all about him going out into the world and the whole grail-knight comparison. All the traditional corporate motifs are there but they’re not the primary drive of the book. Tony will be in the armor a lot, he’ll be going out into the world.

Lots more in the interview linked above.


Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Jerome Opeña take over what has been the center of the Marvel Universe for the last 7 or 8 years, Avengers. And like Brian Michael Bendis before him, Hickman will be writing both Avengers and New Avengers. Hickman on how the two books will interact:

It’s not like Fantastic Four and FF. It’s not like that in that part one of a two-part story could go across both books. That won’t happen until way, way down the line. Not until the story demands it. But if you know what’s going on in one book it makes the other book way more interesting. More like referential things. Iron Man does one thing in one book and we reference it in the other book. It’s not critical to the story that you know what the other thing was, but if you know what the other thing was it’s kind of an “Aha!” moment where you’re like “Oh, I see.” This is a whole world kind of feel.

On the scope of the story he is planning on telling:

Avengers and New Avengers are really just two sides of the same book, of the same story. Thematically, they’re aligned too. Avengers is about life and New Avengers is about death. That’s what the two books are. It’s a big book. In the Avengers, we tackle the biggest things.

On artist Jerome Opeña:

A lot of working with Jerome is me just trying to get out of the way and give him what he needs and let him do his thing. And it seems to be very fruitful so far. All the pages that we’ve gotten in are amazing. He seems to really be having a good time. We both feel really good about the first script, we feel very good about the first issue, and I think that all the people who pick it up are going to be pretty damn stoked. Jerome’s world class and I’m lucky to be working with him.

On the size of the team:

Well, 18 [members] is where we start. And yes, a great number of the characters are going to pretty much be exclusively appearing in the Avengers books. I don’t know how I could do the story if it wasn’t that.

Lots more in the interview linked above.

Uncanny Avengers

In the wake of Avengers vs. X-Men, writer Rick Remender and artist John Cassaday bring us Uncanny Avengers, a team comprised of both Avengers and X-Men who are “dedicated to fighting for equality between humans and mutants while also attempting to protect the world at large.” Remender on how the book springboards out of Avengers vs. X-Men:

There’s something that Cyclops said to [Captain America] on Utopia that’s ringing in his head. He didn’t do enough to help. And Steve is taking that to heart. Coming out of AvX with the landscape shifted and changed as much as it is, there are events that lead Steve to recognizing that he needs to do more and there are five new things that lead to the creation of the team. The team itself really isn’t even created until halfway through the first year. It’s still chaos.

On Havok leading the team instead of Captain America:

There needs to be a face in the Avengers that could be the Captain America for [mutants]. And going through his list, Havok is the very best choice for that. You’ve got somebody who’s trained by Xavier, he’s a beloved X-Man, he’s well-educated, he’s formerly a government agent—with X-Factor being what it was in the nineties he was part of a government-sanctioned unit—so he’s got a shiny veneer that you can present to the public and hopefully help people see mutants as something different. There’s other reasons as well—two, three huge ones coming out of AvX—that will lead to that decision, but that’s how Havok becomes the guy that Cap sees as “You’re going to lead this squad, you’ve got a ton of experience leading, and this is your time to stand up and be the big public face of the Avengers.”

On the first big bad in the series, the Red Skull:

There are things happening in the Marvel universe at the end of AvX that lead somebody like The Red Skull to seeing a reason for doing away with the mutants, and that’s a plot that we’ve obviously seen many, many times. Somebody wants to kill off the mutants, the mutants are chased and killed off. I can’t tell you the specifics of what makes this different because it’s all pinned on the end of AvX, but it’s a very clean motive that he has.

This Red Skull is a digital recording that Arnim Zola took during the middle of World War II and saved it with a machine that can create a clone that was basically in a bunker. Red Skull said “Create a duplicate of me that will wake up in 70 or 80 years when everybody has forgotten what I’ve done, and the world won’t be out hunting me anymore.” And so this Red Skull, he woke up however many months or years back from now, and he’s a Red Skull taken directly out of World War II. The Red Skull we’ve seen as he grew and progressed in the Marvel Universe, that guy died. This guy is almost a reset of The Red Skull, and that works really well for the analogy with civil rights stuff.

On working with artist John Cassaday for the first time:

I’m a huge fan of his work. He’s a pure storyteller and really dynamic and—you know, he’s John Cassaday. He’s one of those rare, rare artists who manage to be very attractive to the indie crowd as well as the mainstream crowd. He’s easily accessible, and he’s just got one of those styles that the polish is so crisp and clean, yet it’s quirky enough to have a voice of its own. It’s very clearly a John Cassaday drawing, and at the same time I’ve never seen it sacrifice his illustration take hold where that’s more important than storytelling. All of his pages, the storytelling is always amazingly clean. It’s perfectly done, dynamic, and that’s what you look for beyond just the fact that he’s a superstar; when it comes to people I like to work with that skill set, not only being a tremendous illustrator but a tremendous storyteller—those are the two things that are the magic combo.

On the structure of the series:

I’m trying to do here what I did with Uncanny X-Force where you have four stories that are self-contained and can be read by themselves but also form a mega-arc when you put them together. So what we’ll be seeing is Red Skull and a couple of other A-list, heavy hitter villains all with different motivations  that are at odd purpose that basically lead to some earth-shattering, giant Avengers/X-Men business. And given the power set of my team at this point, I needed to create things that were gigantic. So the Red Skull’s motive in the first story starts at ground level and then we really ratchet things and build from there all of the crazy sort of sci-fi shenanigans that I like to delve into.

Lots more in the interview linked above.

Look for more Marvel NOW! creator interviews throughout the week.


  1. Cool. Nice to have some info we can sink our teeth into. I’m going to pick up all three of these and give them 6-12 issues like I did with the New 52 books.

    All three sound great, but the one that really has me intrigued is All New X-Men. For about a year and a half now, I’ve been back on the X-Men wagon (or off it, I suppose) after a 10 year hiatus, and I’ve been loving every minute of it. I’ve never really been a Bendis fan, but this concept and his apparent enthusiasm are too exciting to ignore.

    • Don’t you mean 4? Although there are 3 subheads, we’re dealing with 4 books: X-Men, A, NA and UA. I’m not an X-Men guy, but I’ll probably pick up the 3 Avengers books. And then fight like hell to make sure UA doesn’t gateway me into the X-verse, because I have too many books as is.

    • I always found the X-verse to be the some most intelligent and dynamic (askew some characters) stories in the Marvel U and I really love the Avengers, IronMan, Spidey and all the other classic big names in Marvel, although my favorite stuff lies with the X-Men and the cosmic corner. I think these titles sound good and I’m not a huge Bendis fan either but like wheelhands said, this concept and his enthusiasm are too hard to ignore. I get a feeling Bendis is gonna bring something to the X-verse fresh and needed while showing us a side of his creative abilities we’ve yet to see.

  2. Definatley Hickman’s Avengers, maybe Remender’s Uncanny Avengers and no Bendis X-men for me.

    • I like Remender on Venom and I’m an Avengers guy, so I’ll be getting that. And it looks like I’m trading Hickman’s run on F4/FF for the 2 Avengers books. I’m actually going in dropping 2 books, because I’m a completist and the only reason I started reading was Spidey, so now that he’s (unofficially) out of the book as a main character, I can easily drop those books.

  3. I’ve been looking for a reason, or a window, to allow me to hop on the X-Men wagon. This will be perfect for me.

  4. I love the idea of the original 5 X-Men coming to the present to see where they’re kind/cause and selves have gone and become, especially Jean in a world where she’s died, younger as Marvel Girl in the classic yellow n’ black is great and makes sense to her in that teaser poster. Also dig the darker look on Iron-Man, who says he has to have red on all the time and those hands look very Kirby-esque,love it!

    • I just don’t get how it’s going to work – Marvel’s sliding timeline means this isn’t naive Sixties kids coming to 2012, but teens from the turn of the century or thereabouts. The world’s not changed that much since then.

      I suppose I’m simply not the part of the X-Men audience at which this is aimed – I loved the Days of Future Past two-parter, but since then every past, future, alternate or similar alt-version of existing characters has pulled another thread from what was a tight tapestry.

      And if I read it, I’d just be waiting for Jean to get a memory wipe at the end.

    • Well said but think they can make this work as I really liked the Messiah trilogy ending with Second Coming and that just jumped from the present to multiple futures following Cable and Hope where depending on her survival are apocalyptic or not. They haven’t said how far from the past these original X-Men are coming from and they mostly don’t age like humans for the most part fictionally and subjectively, so who knows how much time is really between the Marvel Girl Jean and present time Jean? I think this could pull the X-verse tighter in terms of their reality for story telling. I want to see Jean come full circle into the timestream of what’s happened and the old Jean will be the one ongoing living in the present, up to speed on what’s happened and grow from there, kinda like being reborn but that Jean never technically died.

  5. I feel so bad for Kieron Gillen. His ideas on Iron Man sound really good but he’s stuck with such a shitty artist. He can try and spin it any way he can but at the end of the day it’s Greg Land.

  6. definitely going to pick up all three

  7. I thought I was just going to get the Avengers titles, but Iron Man sounds kind of tempting…

  8. Interested in the Remender & Hickman books, that said, Avengers titles get sucked into crossovers/events far too often for me, and i don’t want to add 3-4 $3.99 books to my pull list, so i’ll wait for the trades.

  9. Well, now I’m kind of curious about “Iron Man” now from Gillen’s description. That is a title I haven’t really cared about in a while and I dig the idea of an action-intensive single issue approach to the character. It’s actually the most compelling pitch of them all, frankly.

  10. I recently made the big leap and dropped all of my super-hero books. I love super-heroes, but I’m focusing on a career change and money will be tight for the next year. What few dollars I do spend on comics will be devoted to creator-owned books. I’m not taking a stand against corporate comic-dom or anything, I just feel like that is where the most exciting work is being produced. That said, I’m not sure I can resist a Hickman/Opena Avengers.

  11. All-New X-Men sounds like it will be an interesting story; at least for a little while.

  12. Poor Iron Man, stuck with terrible tracers.

  13. Also, I really liked Hickman’s Ultimates, but cross-referencing is how the Avengers books have always worked…

  14. Well, I’ll definitely give A, NA, and UA a shot! I’ll wait to see what the reviews are on the X-book. Never really cared for IM, though.

  15. These are all going to be $4 a pop, so my interest is high but the wallet is limited.

  16. It looks I am going to be continuing my life long love affair with Iron Man. I’ve been reading that book for most of he thirty years I’ve been reading comics. Iron Man/Tony Stark is easily one of my all time favorite characters. I find his motivations and the layers to his personality to b fascinating. It sounds like Gillen has a lot o say about the character. I have actually never really seen much Greg Land art, o I am curious to see hat all the fuss is about.

  17. Damnit I’m going to have to start reading Iron Man now…