When the news broke back in December that Brian Michael Bendis would be ending his run on The Avengers after 200 issues, the immediate question, for me at least, was, “What will he be writing next?” As the the past few weeks have transpired and we’ve drowned in Avengers vs. X-Men teasers, my own personal curiosity has grown. I can’t help but speculate what book Bendis would be tackling post-Avengers, now that he’ll have such a big hole in his schedule. But it wasn’t until I put two and two together based on a couple of comments Bendis has made did my mind really begin to piece together the possibilities of what may be next.
Now before I get to the speculation, I wanted to get a couple things out of the way.
First, I’m speculating here about possible Marvel Comics titles he may write, not creator owned work. While Bendis has many creator owned projects like Powers, Scarlet and Brilliant, it’s probably a safe bet that he’s not going to go 100% creator owned anytime soon. He’s more than likely going to fill these gaps with existing Marvel titles.
Second, I wanted to share the quotes that drove some of my thinking:
On a recent episode of Word Balloon, when asked about what would be coming after The Avengers, Bendis said:
“I’m doing a couple of things, some of which will be very surprising and challenging to some people who like to follow me. I’m very scared of it, which is the best thing, I think, a creator can tell you.” (01:37:50)
And then yesterday, on the Marvel press conference about Avengers Assemble, Bendis revealed:
“We have an opportunity to debut something that’s completely new in this series that Marvel is going to debut in Avengers vs. X-Men and one of the places I’ll end up in for my post-Avengers career.”
So based on those two quotes as clues, along with what we know about the existing state of the Marvel Universe, I humbly offer you some random, comic shop talk-esque speculation about what title Bendis may be writing next, along with the odds of it happening and an explanation.
Ghost Rider – Odds: 48 to 1
Admittedly this one is the long shot. But if you take a moment and consider what the current state of Ghost Rider is and Bendis’ recent work on Moon Knight, it may not be too far fetched. Ghost Rider is one of those fringe characters who while not quite succeeding in comics recently, did have a huge burst of popularity in the 1990s, becoming way more popular than Moon Knight ever was. With a new movie poised to open this month (the second film starring Nic Cage), it could be argued that Marvel is working on building back up the Spirit of Vengeance, and who better to do it than their top writer? Once the current Venom event that guest stars Ghost Rider, it seems as if Marvel is putting the character back on the shelf and by the time Bendis wraps up Avengers, it could be the perfect time to bring Ghost Rider back, perhaps with artistic collaborator Alex Maleev?
Guardians of the Galaxy – Odds 20 to 1
Another long shot, but a bit less of one when you break things down. First, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s most recent run, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, came to an end last year with some nice closure, so it could be argued that enough time has passed for another writer to pick up the concept where Abnett and Lanning left off. Second, It’s been rumored (and mildly confirmed) that the upcoming Marvel’s The Avengers film has some sort of alien race involved. While many believe it’s the Skrulls, that has been denied by Kevin Fiege of Marvel Studios. Given that Bendis is writing the book that is meant for people who checked out Marvel’s the Avengers in the movie theaters, it could be theorized that the threat in that book could be related to the threat of the movie. And if that’s the case, it would make sense to spin a new Guardians of the Galaxy from that story. Third, as we saw in the preview of Avengers vs. X-Men #1, Nova and the Phoenix Force are involved. Both cosmic characters. In the above quote, Bendis says “one of the places I’ll end up in for my post-Avengers career” debuts in Avengers vs. X-Men. Could this all be paving the way to Bendis’ working on a cosmic book? And finally, Fiege, again, has been quoted as saying that Marvel films could branch out into cosmic stories, specifically Guardians of the Galaxy. Could a Bendis penned Guardians of the Galaxy comic also pave the way for a Guardians of the Galaxy movie in 2018? Now it doesn’t seem so crazy, does it?
Fantastic Four – 10 to 1
Does anyone else get the feeling that after this current mega story arc on Fantastic Four, that Jonathan Hickman is done with the title? Now I don’t have any specific evidence of this, but it’s just a feeling I get based off talking with Hickman back when Fantastic Four #600 came out. I get the sense that his entire run on Marvel’s first family has been leading to this major, epic story and when it’s all said and done, that his story will be over. Now in terms of timing, I’m not sure if Bendis’ run on The Avengers lines up with the end of Hickman’s Fantastic Four story, and for all I know Hickman isn’t going anywhere. But when you look at the Marvel Universe, aside from his stint in the Ultimate Universe, Bendis has never actually written the Fantastic Four. They’re the rare set of characters that, as far as I know, he hasn’t come close to touching on a regular basis. Based on his comment listed above, writing the Fantastic Four, especially following Hickman, could be a scary endeavor indeed.
West Coast Avengers / Runaways – 5 to 1
And finally, we have what could be the easy answer. When Bendis launched the now canceled Moon Knight, part of his goal of the book was to establish Los Angeles as a stronger setting in the Marvel Universe. While Moon Knight has been fun, I’m not quite sure that that goal has been achieved and if Bendis agrees then could we see more Los Angeles based heroes from Bendis? We already know that Bendis has an affinity for the The Avengers. While he’s wrapping up his historic run on The Avengers and New Avengers, we’ve never heard him comment on the possibility of West Coast Avengers, other than in the form of a punchline. Given Bendis’ sense of humor, do you think he’d be able to turn down the opportunity to do the West Coast Avengers right?
Now if it was West Coast Avengers alone, I would dismiss this theory, but when you factor in the Runaways, it becomes much more interesting and possible. Runaways, created by Bryan K. Vaughan, have been one of Marvel’s best new creations and the most under utilized. They’ve most recently shown up in the pages of Avengers Academy, which could lead to the adoption of the young heroes within the Avengers ranks. Now, imagine if the Runaways are forced to grow up by teaming with some established, elder heroes to form the new branch of the West Coast Avengers who could be led by Moon Knight? This would be, at the same time, a challenge for Bendis to make work as well as surprise many of us loyal readers. I would not expect Bendis to pen the Runaways, but given his success at writing teens in Ultimate Spider-Man, I have to admit, that this would be a book I would be interested in.
X-Men – 2 to 1
Above I said that writing Fantastic Four could be scary for Bendis…but not as scary as writing the X-Men. Similar to the Fantastic Four, Bendis has had a limited exposure to the X-Men characters. He did write the mutants in the Ultimate Universe, but unlike the Fantastic Four, Bendis has visited the X-Men in the Marvel Universe proper, with the event House of M, which singlehandedly changed the landscape of the X-Men books for years to follow after using the Scarlet Witch to decimate the mutant population. Some X-Men fans have described House of M as a hit and run, where Bendis came, screwed things up, and then ran back to The Avengers. Bendis himself has been outspoken about how much of a challenge House of M was and how intimidating the X-Men characters were for him. After making his mark on Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil and now The Avengers, could Bendis feel like he’s up to the challenge and return to the scene of House of M? Possibly.
This theory also get support purely from the Murphy’s Law angle for X-Men fans, of which I know very well. Right now, in my opinion, is one of the best times for X-Men books with Kieron Gillen on Uncanny X-Men and Jason Aaron on Wolverine and the X-Men. Both books are delightful and everything an X-Men fan could ask for. Purely based on that alone, it could be theorized that Marvel would then change things up and mix up the creative teams. I have no idea who would potentially leave their book, Gillen or Aaron, or perhaps they both leave and Bendis takes on both titles? With him wrapping up his run on Avengers and New Avengers, he absolutely could handle two books.
Going back to Bendis’ quotes above, the prospect of him on the X-Men could indeed be scary for him and would certainly surprise and challenge his fans, as well as fans of the X-Men.
There you have it. If you’re a betting man, feel free to weigh in below on the comments on the above speculated titles or perhaps you can think of a title that I haven’t? Regardless, if you agree with my logic and theories or not, it’s safe to say that whatever Bendis does after The Avengers will garner a lot of attention amongst comics fans,so might as well start guessing now!