"It's an amazing time for the medium." Brian Michael Bendis on Joy Operations, comics, and his upcoming Amazon shows

Art from Joy Operations Volume 2
(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Brian Michael Bendis remains one of the most legendary names working in comics today. The multi-talented writer/artist found major cult success in the '90s with the superhero noir thriller Powers, which he co-created with Michael Avon Oeming. He followed that up with a move to Marvel and a string of mainstream hits including the iconic first run of Ultimate Spider-Man in 2000 and later Daredevil, one of many collaborations with artist Alex Maleev.

In 2018, Bendis founded the Jinxworld imprint as a home for his creator-owned work, including titles like Pearl, Scarlet, and Cover. Initially at DC, Jinxworld moved publishers to Dark Horse Comics in 2021, and since then has released cyberpunk saga Joy Operations, co-created with Stephen Byrne, and crime thriller Masterpiece, again with Maleev. 

In an exclusive new interview with Newsarama, the writer discusses the second volume of Joy Operations, the end of Masterpiece, and the upcoming Amazon Prime adaptations of his comics.

Art from Joy Operations Volume 2

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Newsarama: Brian, we're primarily here to talk about the second run of Joy Operations, which publishes soon, so let's start there. How does it feel returning to these characters and this world?

Brian Michael Bendis: I couldn't wait to get back. I love Joy Corrigan and Hampton, our leads. I love everything Stephen [Byrne] does. I love the world we built together. With every page of the first volume, we were discovering new things about our characters and our world. The story takes place 55 years in the future, where large cities around the world have been taken over by corporations. They're called trusts. Stephen built all these amazing worlds and characters. Now, we get to build on what we built.

The first series ended on an upbeat note, but I'm guessing that trouble is on the way... Can you tease the story for Volume 2?

Well, in the first volume our lead character, Joy, who is an amazingly talented security officer (En.Voi) for one of the more sinister trusts, wakes up to find her consciousness is being shared within another PERSON from another trust. A woman named Hampton. This is the operation. An operation so dangerous that they risk putting one person inside another person to convince them that they needed to happen. Joy and Hampton learned to work together and were very successful.

Now, they seem forever linked. These two now live together which complicates Joy's marriage, her relationship with her children, and what her future is now that she is one of the most famous fighters/revolutionaries in the entire world.

Art from Joy Operations Volume 2

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

How are Joy and Hampton dealing with being in the same body at this point? Has their relationship developed?

This is one of the big reasons I couldn't wait to get back to the book. Joy and Hampton now share the same consciousness. They were strangers before this happened and now they have grown to like and trust each other. But what else can they do? The fallout begins and it's quite unusual and enormous. Imagine if someone you love came up to you and said: hey just so you know there's someone else inside here and we're both talking to you at the same time.

You're collaborating again with Stephen Byrne on the series. How has that been? What qualities does he bring to the series?

He is one of the best [artists] working today. I have enjoyed his work on so many titles. I enjoyed him as a fan of art, but now having worked with him and seen how he builds his worlds and how pleasant he is to work with… I'm an even bigger fan. This was not an easy book to create. It takes place in the future. Everything gets built anew. All of it designed very intricately by Stephen. He would take the gentle prompts from me and create the most magnificent places to live.

Are there plans for a third series - or beyond?

Oh, I love all of these characters and could keep going. Fingers crossed that our schedules allow that to happen. This is a wonderful collaboration in my life. Both volumes mean the world to me. 

Art from Joy Operations Volume 2

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

We're also currently halfway through Masterpiece, which you co-created with Alex Maleev. How has it been working with Alex once again?

Absolutely the best. We're creating this new crime series just as it seems a whole bunch of new people are discovering our work on Daredevil. So, it's been quite nice to share both experiences with people at the same time. Masterpiece is one of my most favorite projects. Alex and I have done a lot of my favorite comics together and the whole point of this book for us was to create an experience - behind-the-scenes and on the page - that we thought matched how all that felt. Fun and exciting comics full of new and dangerous characters. 

Is there anything you can tease about where the series is going as we reach the last couple of issues?

Masterpiece is about a young woman named Emma, who is discovering her family and found family history of criminals. She has been sucked into a world that she has now decided she wants to be part of and made the choice to gather a team from many generations to target the person that killed her parents. Now, we get to find out if and how Emma gets her revenge. It's gorgeous.

Cover for Masterpiece #6

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

We heard back in February that Amazon shows based on Jinx, Murder Inc. and Pearl are coming along. How involved are you with those on a day-to-day level?

All in! Very involved. And I am writing the pilot to Jinx right now. I feel so very good about the teams we have put together for all three adaptations. These are incredibly talented people. So far, the process has been really exciting. 

Do you have a sense yet of which series might hit the screen first?

Yes, but it rotates in my head.

What's next from Jinxworld?

As you said, we're wrapping up Masterpiece for the next couple of months, then comes the debut of Joy Operations Volume 2. I am happy to report it is completely written and drawn and lettered, and ready to go. So, no delays. Pre-order with confidence.

After that Mike Oeming, Taki Soma, and I have been working on a VERY large sci-fi project for Dark Horse that will be debuting later in the year. And then we have The Ones sequel in the works. Also, Fortune and Glory: The Musical has been collected in print for the first time, and that is headed to store soon as well. All that and we just launched the second volume of Phenomena, a fantastical new series of graphic novels that I do with André Lima Araújo at Abrams.

Art from Joy Operations Volume 2

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Finally - what comics are you reading at the moment?

So many. It's an amazing time for the medium. Over at my website Jinxworld, we've opened up a book club and we've had some outstanding choices lately. We recently read and LOVED Once Upon a Time at the End of the World by Jason Aaron and company. We just read the complete The Killer to compare and contrast it to the movie adaptation. Coming up next, we're going to do Wonder Woman Historia, the book I absolutely adore and think everyone should have in their library. The complete Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is another must for the bookshelf. Minor Threats is a Dark Horse sensation. I love it!

Joy Operations Volume 2 #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics on June 19.

Brian Michael Bendis has written some of the best Daredevil stories of all time.

Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.