Marvel has been in a constant state of flux these past few months. Marvel Legacy started up, Brian Michael Bendis signed with DC Comics, and now, in May, Marvel is relaunching once again with Fresh Start.

Fresh Start aims to shake things up at Marvel. With this relaunch comes a handful of new series, new #1s, and new creative teams. Going hand-in-hand with this is Brian Michael Bendis’ imminent departure from Marvel, with INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #600 being his final issue with the publisher.

Bendis has been writing with Marvel for 18 years. He’s been a figurehead for the company, holding a great deal of creative control through the 2000s with his NEW AVENGERS series and numerous event stories. Whether you love him or hate him, needless to say, he’s a popular guy at Marvel Comics.

With Bendis on his way out and Fresh Start coming in May, there’s a chance to fill the creative niche Bendis will be leaving behind. Marvel has the opportunity to bring some great talents into the spotlight as a part of Fresh Start. Here, a group of ComicsVerse Marvel fans (Peyton Hinckle, Matt Attanasio, Nicole Herviou, Alex Bisignaro, Kat Vendetti, Jordan Parrish, Aaron Berkowitz, and Maite Molina-Muniz) compiled a list of writers, old and new, who we’d like to see rise to the occasion and truly shine in this new era for Marvel.

Matt Rosenberg

Brian Michael Bendis
Cover to PHOENIX RESURRECTION, written by Matthew Rosenberg. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

One of Brian Michael Bendis’ most pivotal and successful Marvel series was ALL-NEW X-MEN (2012), which brought the original five X-Men (as teenagers) into the present day timeline. Bendis’ leave from Marvel was concurrent with the release of Matt Rosenberg’s PHOENIX RESURRECTION, which saw the return of the adult Jean Grey. These two events happening at the same time might not seem like a big deal, but it actually is. Rosenberg reinstating the “real” Jean is a huge move that makes the time-displaced Jean seem a little unneeded. It also shows that Rosenberg is up to the task of handling an event as large as Bendis’ creation of the teen X-Men.

The End and the Beginning: A Reflection on JEAN GREY and PHOENIX RESURRECTION

Currently, Rosenberg is writing the miniseries NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS, which will restore the original New Mutants team lineup. The series stars Magik, who was a regular in Brian Michael Bendis’ UNCANNY X-MEN (2013). In addition, he was recently announced for the MULTIPLE MAN limited series. It seems that Rosenberg is trying to reestablish some of the classic X-Men characters and themes. This is in opposition to Bendis, who changed practically everything about the X-Men. I personally think Rosenberg’s contributions are necessary. He’s refocusing the X-Men and giving them a needed fresh start. Since Rosenberg has an exclusive contract with Marvel, I’m hoping to see his name on more X-Men series in the future.

-PH

Jonathan Hickman

Brian Michael Bendis
Combined covers to AVENGERS #1-3, written by Jonathan Hickman. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Jonathan Hickman is very much like Brian Michael Bendis; he excels at telling massive stories that build up to a grand-scale event with an extensive payoff. Hickman’s work on AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS throughout “Marvel NOW!” is proof enough of this.

Hickman is a writer of boundless imagination and creativity. He’s incredibly diverse, with a complex and captivating storytelling style. He’s a world builder, of sorts. Everything he puts into his stories is meaningful. He crafts intricate plotlines that all lead to something epic, while also delving deeply into individual characters and making them truly believable and likable.

Racial Tension Then and Now- A SECRET WARS Retrospective

Hickman’s first big hit was THE NIGHTLY NEWS from Image Comics, which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2008 for Best Limited Series. When Marvel got a hold of Hickman, he pulled back all the stops and unleashed a plethora of fantastic titles. His most notable series at Marvel include SECRET WARRIORS, FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, and SECRET WARS.

It was recently announced that Hickman and artist Dustin Weaver would be returning to finish their SHIELD series. Hopefully, after that’s concluded, Marvel can try to keep Hickman around a while longer. They’d certainly be all the better for it.

-MA

Jody Houser

Brian Michael Bendis
Variant cover to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #13, written by Jody Houser. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Brian Michael Bendis is definitely leaving a huge hole in the Marvel Universe, but I think this is a phenomenal opportunity to have creators with a different lived experience really shape that world. Women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQI+ community can really add some much-needed life to Marvel titles. There’s no need to pick one singular person to create that vision or set them on a certain path. The more experiences Marvel can pull from, the more authentic the work will be.

That’s why I’d love to see people like Sina Grace, Grace Ellis, Marc Bernardin, Marguerite Abouet, and the like fill that space. It’s just a matter of finding series they would thrive in.

Jody Houser interview at New York Comic Con 2016

Can you imagine what, for example, Jody Houser could do with JESSICA JONES? Jody Houser is an incredible writer with one hell of a range. She’s written STAR WARS titles, rocketed an indie comics character into fan-favorite territory, and created a new Gotham vigilante. Just look at the humor and heart of FAITH, as well as the grit and badassery of MOTHER PANIC. Put them together, and we’d be going on one hell of a journey.

The women Jody Houser writes are as interesting and real as they are different from each other. She brings heart into everything she creates, and she does it with finesse. Houser does amazing things wherever she goes, and any publisher that can utilize her talents will reap rewards.

-NH

Al Ewing

Brian Michael Bendis
Cover to ULTIMATES #1, written by Al Ewing. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Al Ewing is arguably one of the most underrated comics writers at Marvel. Even now, writing AVENGERS, he’s a bit overshadowed by the more seasoned Mark Waid. However, his major series from just a few years back, ULTIMATES and ULTIMATES II, proves this is a man who can handle strong and important characters on both a cosmic and personal scale. One of these characters was Black Panther, a hero who is most likely going to be one of Marvel’s flagship characters for the next decade. The fact Ewing captured many facets of T’Challa shows that he’s thinking of these heroes as the round and diverse characters they are.

You Should Be Reading THE ULTIMATES!

With this said, I’d love to see Ewing handle a title at Marvel that isn’t as mainstream as, say, AVENGERS, but is still relatively important. Either GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or UNCANNY X-MEN seem appropriate, both being titles Brian Michael Bendis himself worked on (for better and for worse). Ewing has the knowledge to make the cosmos an accessible science fiction for readers, so it would be nice to have him work with the Guardians. As for the X-Men, I’d love to see them go off-planet again and recall some of Chris Claremont’s most memorable stories. Again, Ewing has the artistic knowledge and skill to really make cosmic ideas pop with clarity. Marvel needs to continue utilizing him properly.

-A Bisignaro

G. Willow Wilson

Brian Michael Bendis
Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, created by G. Willow Wilson and Sana Amanat. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Among the territory Brian Michael Bendis covered at Marvel was a slew of teen heroes. Between the time-displaced X-Men, Miles Morales, and Riri Williams, Bendis played a large role in many of Marvel’s youngest heavy hitters. Though he didn’t have a major influence over all of Marvel’s youngest — with Cullen Bunn and Dennis Hopeless taking the reins over the young X-Men, and Mark Waid writing CHAMPIONS — he has been an important part of their presence in comics. So who would be best fit to carry the torch for Marvel’s teen heroes in Bendis’ absence?

Danger Incoming in MS. MARVEL #27

Kamala Khan is undoubtedly among Marvel’s top characters, so my vote is for G. Willow Wilson. Her work on MS. MARVEL has been critically lauded, it’s made numerous bestsellers lists, and it was crowned by former Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso as All-New Marvel-Now’s flagship series. Wilson has been writing Kamala with so much endearment, relatability, and authenticity that I have no doubt she could do the same for Marvel’s other teen heroes. Wilson knows teen dynamics and she knows young superheroes, having also included Miles Morales in an earlier arc. G. Willow Wilson would do tremendous work bringing this corner of Marvel’s universe to life, and I hope Marvel gives her the opportunity.

-KV

Kelly Thompson

Brian Michael Bendis
Cover to HAWKEYE (2016), written by Kelly Thompson. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Hands down, Kelly Thompson is currently one of Marvel’s biggest assets. Not only did she recently sign an exclusive contract with Marvel, but she’s also been writing the ROGUE AND GAMBIT miniseries. Refreshing Rogue and Gambit, their relationship, and all the history and strings that come with these two characters is no easy feat. Rogue and Gambit have been around forever and have had so many ups and downs in their relationship. They’ve been friends, lovers, and everywhere in between. Yet, Thompson has managed to make this series fun and engaging. Rogue and Gambit have become a couple worth rooting for again, even if they end up separated at the end of the miniseries. Plus, it’s an easy way to start reading the X-Men again, or even begin, if you’re like me.

Kelly Thompson Is Now All Marvel All The Time

With HAWKEYE’s conclusion in March and ROGUE AND GAMBIT ending in May, Thompson will have a lot more time on her hands to dream up big new storylines for new and old characters alike. I would love to see Thompson take on heftier and longer stories, and fill them with her creativeness. With her talents, I think she’ll bring something to the table for every reader, new and old, reliable and unreliable. After all, isn’t that what Marvel is looking for?

-JP

Chip Zdarsky

brian michael bendis
Cover to PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (2017) #1, written by Chip Zdarsky. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Brian Michael Bendis’ reinvention of the Avengers led to a new direction for the Marvel Universe. With his work on MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE, Chip Zdarsky can do the same. It seems like his book is leading to the inevitable: the return of the Fantastic Four to Earth-616. It’s bound to happen at some point, and if his work on that book is any indication, Chip would be the perfect choice to bring back the FF. Something that big could lead to major changes in the Marvel Universe itself.

Chip Zdarsky Joins the House of Ideas with Exclusive Agreement

Zdarsky should be leading that charge. His writing generally features a mixture of hilarious humor and serious emotional development. His style is just as distinctive as Bendis’ — you know when you’re reading a Zdarsky book. Just as how Bendis’ style was a near-perfect fit for the street-level NEW AVENGERS, Zdarsky’s style suits a FANTASTIC FOUR book to a T. He could have a run that is just as long-lasting and impactful as Bendis’ AVENGERS runs. With his recent exclusive agreement, there is plenty of room for Zdarsky to grow. Let’s hope Marvel gives him that chance.

-A Berkowitz

Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward

Brian michael bendis
Cover to BLACK BOLT #1, written by Saladin Ahmed, with art by Christian Ward. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The dynamic duo of writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Christian Ward is one to recognize. Unfortunately, though, their collaboration is perhaps one of the most underrated. BLACK BOLT, a series that began in 2017, centers on the existential journey of the notable Inhuman king. The series’ ability to reach into the depths of its titular hero’s character while also fleshing out supporting characters such as Crusher Creel elevates the series into a phenomenal work. Thankfully, Ahmed will be writing for Marvel in the EXILES series as well as Quicksilver’s very own solo run! With this though, I’m hoping to see future collaborations at Marvel between Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward.

The Voice of Black Bolt: A Look at the Iconic Inhumans Hero

Ward balances every panel with an abundance of color that enlivens the narrative. Additionally, his unique, surrealistic techniques present new modes of storytelling through imagery. As a result of their respective talents, Ahmed and Ward bring an original style to the table. Their tales deconstruct superheroes we thought we knew and present new facets of these heroes’ characters. So, in the wake of Brian Michael Bendis’ absence, Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward are certainly capable of filling the void.

-MMM

Matt Fraction

Brian Michael Bendis
From INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, written by Matt Fraction. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Matt Fraction is an extremely dynamic writer. He’s witty, clever, and writes smart, compelling stories. He really gets you into the heads of the characters. He’s the kind of writer that leaves you desperately craving more once the story’s finished. You’ll never be disappointed reading something by Fraction.

Like Brian Michael Bendis, Fraction’s best works have been his solo character series. Some of his best Marvel titles include THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST (with Ed Brubaker), and HAWKEYE. Each of these series was either nominated for or won several awards, which goes to show there’s certainly no lack of appreciation and love for Fraction’s work.

Interview with SEX CRIMINALS Creators, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Currently, Fraction is working on his creator-owned series SEX CRIMINALS at Image Comics. SEX CRIMINALS is outrageously hysterical and hysterically outrageous. It’s the perfect example of just how much fun Fraction has when writing comics. Never has it felt like he’s written something he hasn’t enjoyed writing.

Fraction puts a lot of care into his books. Not that Marvel’s lacking that, but it feels like they could use the Fraction charm once again. I’d love to see him pick up a series like AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and bring his unique spin to the character of Peter Parker. Whatever the case, if Marvel were to try and tap Fraction again, I could only hope he’d hop aboard for some more Marvel storytelling. He’d most definitely produce another blockbuster of a tale.

-MA

Christina Strain

Brian Michael Bendis
Cover to GENERATION X #86. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Since I’m a sucker for teen hero books and there’s an abundance of them making their mark in the Marvel universe, I hope there’s more than one creator that gets the chance to tell their stories. With her run on GENERATION X concluding earlier this year, I think Christina Strain is the perfect candidate.

You Should Be Reading GENERATION X!

Strain showed she had an expert handle over the complexities and nuances of teen heroes and their dynamics within a team. She also portrayed underrepresented characters with grace and style. The relationships she built between her characters felt earned, and Strain effortlessly shone the spotlight on some of Marvel’s lesser known characters, making us love them more than we ever had before. This all proves that she has the chops to take on some of Bendis’ creations and make them feel real, connecting us with those characters the same way she did with GENERATION X. I miss the heck out of her writing on that series, and I hope to hear her voice on more teen team books with Marvel’s Fresh Start.

-KV

Brian Michael Bendis’ Departure Signals a Fresh Start

There’s clearly no shortage of talent at Marvel. There never really has been. But, with Brian Michael Bendis on his way out, it’s time to let some of these other creators show us their true potential. Marvel should let these creators take their stories into their own hands. This would undoubtedly help improve the quality of the content Marvel delivers to readers.

Creators are just as important as the characters. Names like Kelly Thompson and Al Ewing are attractive because people know for a fact that they write amazing stories. On the other hand, names like Saladin Ahmed and Christina Strain are fresh off their first series with Marvel, and fans of theirs will definitely be tempted to pick up their next work. There’s a comfortable blend between the well-known and the up-and-coming. Marvel just has to find it and stick to it.

These are just a few of the names we hope to see more of in the future of Marvel Comics. In truth, Brian Michael Bendis’ departure couldn’t have come at a better time. As Fresh Start kicks into gear, we’ll be able to see what these creators have in store for this new era of Marvel Comics.

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