Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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    Brian Michael Bendis Returns with “Masterpiece,” a New Crime Mini-Series Illustrated by Alex Maleev

    The Acclaimed Duo Reunites for a Six-Issue Dark Horse Comic Featuring Original Characters and Intriguing Crime Drama

    In a much-anticipated reunion, renowned comics author Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev join forces once again, this time to bring readers “Masterpiece,” a six-issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics. While their previous collaboration, “Scarlet,” explored dark and dystopian themes, “Masterpiece” promises a departure into the realm of thrilling crime drama infused with Bendis’s trademark snappy dialogue.

    The story revolves around Emma, a brilliant 16-year-old orphan known as “Masterpiece.” Her talents extend to webcomics and creative inventions, setting her apart from her peers. However, her world is turned upside down when one of the world’s wealthiest billionaires reveals a startling truth—her parents were legendary criminals known for their charisma and audacious heists. To make matters worse, they stole from this very billionaire, and now he seeks vengeance. Threatened to execute an impossible heist, Emma assembles a group of her peers and her parents’ former associates to outsmart the sinister villain.

    The first issue of “Masterpiece,” featuring Ian Herring as the colorist, is set to hit the shelves on December 13.

    Bendis, whose career took off with crime comics in the 1990s before becoming synonymous with Marvel, maintains a fascination with stories rooted in real events or individuals. One such idea revolved around the aftermath of a high-profile heist, exploring the fate of the family left behind when a criminal disappears into obscurity, reminiscent of the infamous D.B. Cooper, who hijacked a plane, demanded a ransom, and vanished without a trace.

    “I had been talking with Alex, coming up with lots of ideas for characters, then I found a story engine that put them in one universe,” Bendis explains.

    Guiding the voice of a young protagonist is not new to Bendis, who has previously breathed life into characters like Peter Parker in “Ultimate Spider-Man,” Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man, and Riri Williams, the Tony Stark-esque heroine known as Ironheart. He views this age as a wellspring of drama, although he doesn’t pigeonhole himself into writing solely for the Young Adult (YA) audience.

    “It’s the most passionate and raw time. You find out how great love can be, how shitty people can be, how much the world can suck,” he reflects.

    Bendis and Maleev are a dynamic duo in the world of comics, reminiscent of iconic pairs like Chris Claremont and John Byrne on Uncanny X-Men or Marv Wolfman and George Perez on Teen Titans. Their collaboration on Daredevil from 2001 to 2006 earned them numerous Eisner Awards, cementing Bendis’s status as a major comics author alongside his long-running work on Ultimate Spider-Man.

    Bendis describes his friendship with Maleev, spanning over 25 years, as “the most important professional relationship” in his life. Following their success with Daredevil, the duo worked on titles such as Spider-Woman, Moon Knight, and several others.

    While “Masterpiece” boasts high-concept storytelling, a diverse cast of characters, and rapid-fire dialogue, Bendis maintains that his focus remains on crafting compelling comics rather than chasing Hollywood adaptations, despite the success of films like “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”

    “I’ve learned not to chase the Hollywood dream through comics,” he asserts. “Comics thrive when creators see the comic as the end all and be all. That’s what all my heroes have taught me.”

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