They broke the news over at CBR at the end of a massive article detailing what Brian Michael Bendis has planned for the Earth's Mightiest Heroes in his one-two punch of Avengers and New Avengers, putting them up against Norman Osborn and the new H.A.M.M.E.R. once again, but the bigger news is that Bendis, the longest-running Avengers writer of all-time, is finally ending his tenure with the team next year.
The quote from Bendis is as follows:
"I'm going to wrap up 'Avengers' and 'New Avengers.' At the same time the first storyline of 'Avengers Assemble' will be done. It's a good time to move on to other things. Before I go, though, I'm ending things big. I'm in countdown mode. You know when you're watching a show like 'Breaking Bad,' and every episode feels like the second to last episode? That's where I'm at. I've been on the Avengers longer than anybody in the history of the book. When you take everything into account, I've written over 200 issues. I'm very, very proud of that, and what we have coming up this summer gives me the opportunity to go out on a high note. I know enough about showbiz to know that's a great time to go."
Merry Xmas to the haters.
Regardless of how you feel about him (and I've been pretty vocal on that score), Bendis has had an undeniable impact on the state of Marvel's premiere superteam since he started on Avengers: Disassembled back in 2004, which immediately and jarringly destroyed everything about the Avengers we'd come to know and love over the 40 years of their existence. Where once was a team with its own unique identity, distinctly separate from the X-Men and the Marvel Knights vigilante world, now there stands a hodge-podge mix of all of Marvel's marquee characters in one place. Sales are great and his team now outpaces the X-Men for the most popular realm in the House of Ideas. Some might argue that it was a no-brainer that putting Spider-Man and Wolverine on the team would boost interest, but no one had actually had the no-brain to do it until Bendis came along and said 'why not?'
Who will succeed Bendis? We don't know.
In what state will he leave the Avengers, considering how often they get disassembled or sieged or dark-reigned over? Well, Osborn is going to rally public sentiment against Steve Rogers and the Avengers, and apparently Rogers is going to have to answer for every crappy thing that's happened in the last 7 years. There's an Avengers 24.1 issue planned with Brandon Peterson that will shed more light on the summer's journey. Will he go out with the same demolishing bang he came in with, or will he take the road Greg Pak took with the Hulk and give his Avengers a happy ending? It remains to be seen.
But for now, those of us who have wished for an main Avengers title to read without his inimitable, unmistakable style have a chance to let out that breath they've held for so long while enduring this legendary run, while those of us who were brought into the Avengers fold by all the drastic changes, mega-events and pseudo-Mamet dialog over the past decade can mourn the loss of their steward. Surely, he'll go on to other stuff you'll enjoy. Don't fret, folks.
In other creative-change news, Gail Simone is indeed leaving The Fury of Firestorm, as was rumored weeks ago, by issue #7. Ethan Van Sciver's new co-writer will be Joe Harris.