Brian Michael Bendis on All-New X-Men’s ‘Continuity Porn’

The O.G. X-Men in "Days of Future Now," and yes, that quote is the headline because the word 'porn' is in it.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

X-Men Origin: Jean Grey

If there's any one major recurring complaint about Brian Michael Bendis, it's that he's accused of ignoring continuity in favor of doing whatever he wants to do with characters. However, he may have turned over a new leaf now that he's jumped from his longest-ever run on Avengers to All-New X-Men, where he will be bringing Charles Xavier's original five students – Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel – into the modern day to a mutant future he feels is even worse than the apocalyptic one detailed in the seminal story "Days of Future Past."

"There’s a line in my script," Bendis says in a new interview on Marvel.com,  "I think Bobby says it: 'We used to remember ‘Days of Future Past’ being this mutant apocalypse, and on some level, other than the Jean Grey School, this is worse than what we thought it was going to be.'"

Bendis goes in-depth (although with no real revelations) about where he's coming from as far as this new title, which he terms "continuity porn," will go. He explains the massive creative-team shuffle going on with Marvel NOW started when he thought he should leave Avengers after Avengers vs. X-Men because he set the record on the book and would have to leave eventually, and he wanted to go out on a high note. He also can't pinpoint the origin of this 'O.G. X-Men in the modern day' idea began, but he'd long been a proponent of it.

"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," he explains. "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."

It IS a pretty cool idea, because the X-Men of today are so radically different than one those five kids in matching blue-and-gold suits thought they were trying to achieve in mutant equality. Bendis made it a point to take them from that specific point in time.

"You’ll see in the book when exactly we grabbed them," Bendis assures us. "I wanted them at the start when they aren’t as powerful as they become, but also when they’re focused on being a team. I didn’t want Jean to have her telepathy yet because she only had telekinesis at first. If she could read everyone’s minds it would take away [something]. It’s a very specific moment. [They are wearing the] original costumes and the fun is that, as X-Men fans, we know that they weren’t long for those costumes. The groovy Neal Adams 60’s costumes—those who know their X-Men know that they’ll change their costumes to become independent soon."

Independent indeed – he seems to also imply that although they arrive as a strong team, the future shock may split them up entirely to go their separate ways. What's really in store for them individually?

"There were elements I was very excited about with all of them," he notes. "I was very excited about Cyclops and Jean. I knew Bobby would be great and I had a whole thing with Hank. I’m excited for Warren to deal with what he’s going to go through, but I can’t talk much about that because of what’s going on in other books, such as Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine and the X-Men. Warren has been going through a whole thing.* Having all five come here to witness [the current Marvel Universe] they’re going to be altered. And even though they’re coming here unified, it’ll be almost impossible for them to stay together once they know what they know."

[* namely the fact that Warren's entire mind and identity have been erased permanently and he's a blank slate – UXF-Readin' Andy]

So, the original X-Men come from the past and break up in the present? That's gotta really mess with the timestream, right?

"I will say that the idea of the space time continuum – I can’t give a finite answer without ruining anything, but I can say that anytime anyone abuses the continuum there is a butterfly effect felt around the galaxy," he admits "There is a galactic price tag, not just our time stream but it may be affecting something else and a price will be paid."

Might that tie into the long-rumored Bendis-penned Guardians of the Galaxy revival? You know it's coming, what with the movie being announced and all. He didn't mention that at all, but it sounds like a hint. Anyway, the biggest of the deals in his mind is that Jean Grey is coming back to the Marvel Universe without an alternate reality cheat, or another Phoenix-cycle resurrection (although AvX could still surprise us).

"Jean coming back now is unlike Jean coming back before," he insists. "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. [It wasn’t] a great death, and I don’t want to spoil anything for AvX but she’s witnessed some things about her friends and loved ones that will make her feel wonderful, but also shock her to her very core and change all of her relationships. 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."

In fact, he states that she's coming from a point where she hasn't even developed telepathy yet, since she started with only telekinesis. So yes, this does really get into very specific timeline stuff, but Bendis is aiming for taking a fresh look at the X-Men.

"I’m hoping that this idea, though completely immersed in continuity porn, at its core is five new X-Men coming in and seeing the X-Men through wide eyes," he explains. "There’s going to be a nice mix of continuity and accessibility. If you know the continuity, it’ll all be there, but if you’re coming in fresh with the five new X-Men, what fresher eyes could there possibly be?"

Bendis seems huge on uniting the Marvel Universe, claiming the X-Men have been marginalized in their own corner of it for too long, and he thinks they work better when they're appearing with the other big guns like the Avengers and Spider-Man. The flipside of that coin, though, is that Bendis does have a goodly number of critics, and since he's dominated the Avengers for so long, X-Men and the cosmic books were the places non-Bendis fans could get their Marvel fix without having to deal with him.

"As X-Men fans you should always remember that the X-Men are about acceptance and tolerance," he counters, cheekily.  "I know that this idea is scary, but embrace Professor X’s ideas and be a bit more accepting and tolerant of the idea – and stop yelling at me. [Laughs] I think for fans young and old the best part is reading an issue and not knowing what’s going to happen after that. Just to have your fans sit back and enjoy the ride is fantastic."