Brian Michael Bendis calls gritty new Defenders series 'too good to pass up'

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May 5, 2017

Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez are getting down and gritty in their follow-up comic series to Civil War II.

The Defenders sees Bendis writing and Marquez drawing a new iteration of the classic Marvel super squad, featuring the same lineup as the upcoming TV Defenders: Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist. The new comic Defenders debuts with a special issue this Saturday during Free Comic Book Day.

cover to Defenders #1 by David Marquez

Much like the gritty world the Marvel Netflix shows exist in, this series finds our heroes putting their boots on the ground for street-level justice. But don't confuse 'street level' for low-powered action. During a 'Next Big Thing' media conference call that also included Marvel Senior VP Tom Brevoort, Bendis clarified that "street level is not a power set. It's an address."

He also pointed out that these heroes are doing what superheroes do: saving the day, seeking justice, but they're doing it at the community level, with a sense of immediacy. Marquez also pointed out that the artistic tone of the book is very much noir in design, and even name-dropped Blade Runner and John Wick as stylistic inspiration.

Something else Bendis pointed out was that he basically teased this series in the last page he wrote in New Avengers in a scene with Luke and Jessica, well before the Defenders TV show came into play [It's true; go back and read that last issue].

We got a chance to do a quick Q&A with Bendis to get a bit more insight into what this new take on the Defenders will be like, and even learned about a few classic Marvel villains who will be dropping by to make trouble.

And we've also got a special treat for you: an exclusive first look at art from The Defenders #2. Marvel shared a few pages with us, so we're sharing them with you. Enjoy!

Brian, this is one of the few Marvel teams you haven't written before ... though obviously you've written all these characters before. What was the biggest appeal in drawing you to this assignment?

: Obviously I have a deep passion for the street-level heroes and stories of the Marvel universe. My intention was to return to the streets after Guardians of the Galaxy no matter what. The fact that all of the pieces that I would need to make this book fell into place just when I needed them to and then they all became big TV stars which made the title of the series obvious :)

These are characters I have a great affinity for. I also really know how they think and relate to each other. Putting that to the test of a new threat to the streets of Marvel was too exciting not to do.

You said you wanted to do a sprawling epic series set at street level of the Marvel U. Can you share any details of what fans can expect along those lines, like which villains will pop up?

Well we have a very big villain reveal in the Free Comic Book Day issue coming this Saturday but other villains including the Black Cat, Hammerhead and the Kingpin will be front and center. There are some very interesting characters on both sides of the law creeping into this book. Also, with the story set the way it is, there's going to be a lot of opportunity for cameos and team-ups.

How closely will this be to the type of universe the Netflix show will exist in? Will it be somewhat separate from the rest of the Marvel comics universe?

You know, those versions of those characters were a little influenced by our work a few years ago, that's why you see my name in the Thank You credits, so there is going to be some spiritual similarities. But where these characters are in the comics versus where they are in their lives in the shows is very different. Most of the characters are still kind of in their Year One mode on the shows while these characters in the comics are very lived in. Luke and Jessica are married in the comics. Not even close on the show.

So there will be, for fans of the shows, a lot of meat on the bones but for people who like how I write these characters, we will be staying true to our forward thinking. Our job is to tell new stories. This is all new.

What's it like returning to Daredevil and writing that character again on a regular basis?

Well I have snuck him into a few projects over the years including Daredevil: End of Days and other things including New Avengers so I always found a way to scratch that itch. But to get back into him at this level has been like reuniting with one of my best friends after many years away. My very angry Catholic guilt-ridden good friend.