A few days ago, I imagined what I’d ask Brian Michael Bendis if I could get one question in for an interview.
“What is it about you that Marvel would put their X-Men franchise in your hands?”
Bendis is talented, obviously, and he’s shaping up to be the Chris Claremont of this generation. But that question wasn’t meant to get more information about what we already know — it’s what quality Bendis sees in himself.
What makes him the best man for this job, specifically? More than just work ethic or the ability to meet deadlines — what’s required of the man who would lead the X-Men back to its glory days as Marvel’s most dynamic and storied team?
In the way that Scott Snyder and Batman are tied together, Bendis is now the legal guardian of the X-Men, and after reading All-New X-Men #23, I feel one step closer to understanding why he’s the right wordsmith for the job.
Whether it’s his ability to infuse humor into any situation without it feeling forced or his way of hitting those soft spots in the heart — ultimately, Bendis writes X-Men like he’s one of them.
There’s Jean Grey, captured by the Shi’ar and forced to look inward to solve the question: Why would you destroy an entire planet?
There’s Scott Summers dreaming about his future wife — the one person on the team he feels the most disconnect to. It’s one thing to fall head over heels for someone for no other reason that simple attraction — but to be told almost after the fact, She’s the one, well, that’s something else.
And then there’s the climactic battle as the Guardians of the Galaxy are fired upon by a Shi’ar ship. As adept as they are at space combat, the odds look thin. The team makes a college effort, but it takes the sudden appearance of one Christopher Summers and his Corsairs to save the day.
Christopher Summers. I’ll let your brain spin as you think about this one.
Not only does Stuart Immonen get to pencil epic space scenes — something he does spectacularly well — he also gets to portray emotions of all types on his characters’ faces. Immonen is a genius, and this story required one to really flesh out all of the visual details.
And Immonen had plenty of help with Wade Von Grawbadger on inks and Marte Gracia on color duties. Each page brims with beautifully rendered visuals that give the issue the kind of cinematic gravitas Wally Pfister would bring if this were a Christopher Nolan project.
And that’s what makes Bendis great at what he does. He writes characters that are a collective of separate units. Take away the speech bubble tails, and one could very well guess who’s saying what and be right most of the time. That kind of understanding of characters draws a reader in — it’s sort of like Bendis is making eye contact with us as he tells us a story.
It’s respectful, reverent, and experienced. And the creative team as a whole is on the same page for a thrill ride across the galaxy.