Brian Michael Bendis Leaves the X-Men Books in May

Having taken on the somewhat terrifying job of managing the flagship X-Men titles with “All New X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men” three years ago, Brian Michael Bendis this week announced that he’ll be stepping down from the franchise in May.

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Finishing up his run (and, presumably, his time-travel storyline) with Uncanny X-Men #600, his time with the X-Men therefore comes just before Secret Wars kicks in and all the books get put on hiatus (temporary and permanent, depending on the title) for the big event storyline. The finale issue will see him working on a series of stories all collected together, featuring artists from his run including Stuart Immonen, Chris Bachalo and Mahmud Asrar, and guest stories written by past X-Men writers.

The main story will centre around Beast, who’ll rightfully be put on trial for all the stupid things he’s done over the past few years. Fingers crossed he gets exiled to a distant planet!

In the announcement interview on CBR, Bendis says:

I know my departure is not going to help the paranoid people who think the X-Men’s days at Marvel are numbered. That’s not what this means. I know you’re not going to believe me, but I wish you would. If you knew me on a personal level, you would know that I don’t fib. This is because I’ve done my X-Men, and there are these other things that I want to do more. I would love to do both, but I can’t do both. I’ve already done the X-Men now, so I want to do this other thing before I die.

Which I think is likely true. Bendis has been working hard to try and keep the X-Men books a legitimate part of Marvel’s line during a time where politics have forced the company into an Avengers-centric publishing scheme. He’s done crossovers and events and made changes where possible, and it seems he’s done everything he can over the years to get across the idea that these books still matter, even if Marvel don’t own the film rights and are therefore less inclined to promote X-Men characters.

Having said that, this does seem as though it’ll be part of a plan to quietly calm down the X-Men books and relaunch the whole thing with a smaller slate of titles after Secret Wars is over. Because, y’know, the paranoia does come from quite a real place at the moment. We’ll have to see what happens next.

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