Brian Michael Bendis has been the premiere writer for Marvel Comics for over 15 years, and he's been the man behind the adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy since 2013. Now, after breathing life into Marvel's hottest new property for four years, Bendis has begun his final Guardians of the Galaxy storyline, "Grounded," is last week's Guardians of the Galaxy #15.
ComicBook.com spoke to Bendis about what to expect from "Grounded," how he hopes his time with the Guardians will be remembered, and what to expect from him next.
Also, check out a preview of Guardians of the Galaxy #16 in the gallery below.
How did you come to the decision that is was time to depart Guardians of the Galaxy?
Brian Michael Bendis: It was a couple of things. Number one, I had an end story that I've been building to and it's time to unleash it.
Number two, there were other projects offered to me that I was like, "Oh, I do want to do that!" and something has to go. Even I have a bandwidth cap, even though no one in Marvel thinks that I do.
It was like, "Well, I could leave Guardians, and I could leave Guardians the month the movie comes out or the month before, giving the new creative team the opportunity to really blow the roof off the place,” and that's cool. The new creative team is one that I like. I want to tee them up in a good way, but at the same time, I really want to land my ending in a big way.
We were talking about it a couple of retreats ago and I said, "Well, I could have them stuck here on earth and in Civil War II" and then it ends with this double, if not triple-sized, final issue, which we're putting together right now. All the pieces fell together in the way that said I can leave in a big, classy cool way, and at the same time, get the new guys ready and give them a really strong push, because I know the new writer very well, I was able to go, "What do you want? What do you need from me? What don't you need from me? Who’s staying? Who's going?"
Since I’m taking Ben Grimm with me to Infamous Iron Man. I can write an issue that, describes his transition from Guardian of the Galaxy to agent of SHIELD and that's cool, and then I can do an issue that explores Gamora's quest. I have an issue coming where it's actually all about Groot being stuck on earth, but it's told almost like a Dr. Seuss kind of fable, in a way.
I'm actually getting really brassy and ballsy at the end here with the way we're telling our stories in the last few issues. Each issue is very different, giving Valerio [Schiti] a big send-off with a lot of challenges and then we're going to end on a big jam issue coming in the spring.
Will that be the basic structure of “Grounded”? Each issue focuses on an individual character vignette, or is there a bigger story at play?
BMB: They're coming to terms with being on Earth and with everything that's happened to them so far, and starting their new quest because of Civil War II. At the end of each issue, something pretty surprising happens to each character. All of that will connect in the big final issue.
People are very curious about Angela and how she left Earth and now she's back on Earth, so all of that will be described. There’s a lot to do with the characters and having them on Earth which is a grand, fish out of water, Star Trek IV, cool way to explore the characters at their most dire. You take away their ships, you take away their toys, you just have them and what've you got? That's a fun ass way to write big chapters of each character that I love.
Your time on Guardians of the Galaxy is coming to an end, but the franchise looks like it has a long and bright future in front of it. When fans think of the Bendis run on Guardians of the Galaxy in the future, what do you hope it is remembered for?
BMB: I think Guardians is a lot like the X-Men where when you're on it, people are constantly worried about what you're going to do and screaming and carrying on and harkening back to some classic run that you should do now, and that if you're not doing exactly what's in that classic run, you're being upsetting. Then slowly but surely... Even the response the last few issues have been positive, and I think people are just finally getting used to my voice on the book. It feels like we're ending on a nice wave. I think when people see the final issue and the big showdown that's coming and where we're leaving the book...I’m making a concerted effort to leave big and for the statement of the book that I've been working on for all these years to have it's final moment and at the same time, setup for a new person.
I think, hopefully, people will respond to it the same way they're responding to my X-Men run, which is the entire time I was on X-Men, they were screaming, “You need to get off X-Men,” then the minute I stopped, people are like, "You should go back to X-Men." That's what I'm thinking will happen. I do see a lot of similarity between the Guardians of the Galaxy fans and X-Men fans, where they're right to be worried, they're right to be paranoid, I get where they're coming from, but when the dust settles, they see that a lot of love and care was being brought to the book, though I may not have been imitating DNA [Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning]. They're like, "Write it like DNA". That's insulting to them, to imitate them. That's not what I do, that's not what they do. That's not how this should go. They'll see that my love for what DNA built was expressed subtlely by not imitating that much. My love for Daredevil was not expressed through imitating Frank Miller. That would be the worst thing I could do. I'm using the same respect for DNA that I have for Frank Miller in how I approach the Guardians, which is to do my own thing and at the same time, be very aware of what they built and how special it is.
Now that you're leaving Guardians of the Galaxy behind, what's up next?
BMB: Here's the good news: we're planning our next year and the next year will be very different for me from this year. Already, literally the last week and a half has been filled with opportunities and excitement and new projects, some of which will legitimately surprise the fans over the year. We had a very fun 2016 with the debut of Riri Williams and the return of Jessica Jones and Civil War II and the fun stuff we've done this year. Now we have some opportunities in front of us that are so exciting I can't even express to you. I'm so excited that Hollywood and Marvel shuts down now for a couple weeks and it's the best time, so I can just sit and get work done with no phone calls and stuff and I'm so excited. In early January I get to drop what I've written on Tom and all my editors and I know it's all stuff we're very excited about. You're hitting me at a time where I'm so personally excited about what's coming and I'm so happy that everything debuted so strongly, including that Riri William's debut was so strong because there’s opportunity to take things even further and that's what we're going to do.
We’re looking forward to seeing what’s you’ve got cooking for 2017.
BMB: You won’t have to wait too long!
MORE MARVEL: 5 All-Female Marvel Teams Ready For Live Action / Heroic Doctor Doom To Battle Evil Reed Richards / The 5 Greatest Spider-Man Artists Of All Time / New X-Men Costume Designs / Venom Kaiyodo Revoltech Figure Is Insane / 5 Greatest Doctor Strange Villains / EXCLUSIVE Marvel Preview - Inhumans Vs. X-Men #3 / 5 Marvel Kotobukiya Bishoujo Statues We Still Want / Exclusive Preview: Deadpool Goes To War With His Wife In Marvel Crossover / Exclusive Preview: Invincible Iron Man #3