Bendis & Maleev to adapt ‘Waiting For Godot’ for Marvel Classics
Waiting For Godot, the classic Samuel Beckett play of futility and alienation, is coming to Marvel Comics, courtesy of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev.
“It’s a natural,” says editor-in-chief Joe Quesada. “In all my years in the business, I have rarely seen a more natural fit of talent and material.”
Godot, for the edification of comics fans who haven’t heard of it, is the story of two men, Vladimir and Estragon, who wait at length for the arrival of a third, the unseen but much-discussed Godot. Their conversations are circular and repetitive, often ending with exchanges like, “We can’t leave.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot.” Godot never shows up, and we last see the two leads after they decide to leave, but remain standing in the same spot, doomed to remain there forever.
In an interview, Bendis wrote, “I am tremendously excited about this project. I learned all I know about dialogue and dramatic pacing from the play, and have long done whatever I could to bring its intensity and suspense to the superhero genre.”
He points out an exchange in one of his classic issues of DAREDEVIL, where Daredevil says, “I can’t spend the rest of my life fighting Bullseye.” Foggy Nelson says, “Then quit.” Daredevil says, “I do quit.” Foggy Nelson says, “Fine, Quit already.” Daredevil says, “I do. I do quit. I do.” Foggy Nelson says, “Good. So you quit.” Daredevil says, “But I can’t quit.” Foggy Nelson says, “Why can’t you quit?” Daredevil says, “Because I have to fight Bullseye.” Foggy Nelson says, “But you said you were going to quit.” Daredevil says. “I am. As soon as I fight Bullseye.”
Bendis says, “The circular logic and overwhelming sense of futility so memorably conveyed in Beckett’s masterpiece is exactly what Stan Lee’s creations would experience if they lived in the real world.”
Waiting For Godot takes place on a deserted road, on a spartan set with little backdrop. Alex Maleev will be designing his comic book version to mirror that look, by positioning his blocky, shadow-drenched figures against single-color backgrounds.
Most of the pages will be designed as nine-panel grids alternating between headshots of Vladimir and Estragon. Vladimir will say, “We can’t leave.” Then there will be four identical headshots of Estragon, absorbing this information, before a fifth identical headshot of Estragon asks, “Why not?” Vladmir’s responding five reaction shots will culminate in his response, “We’re waiting for Godot.”
But there will also be several two page spreads with the two men standing together in a pool of shadow, while fifteen minutes of the play is expressed through nested word balloons positioned in layers to reflect rapid-fire dialogue.
Bendis stresses that the ongoing series is set within Marvel continuity and will have “enormous repercussions on the status quo” several years down the line.
“Avengers Disassembled, World War Hulk, Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and Waiting For Godot are all part of one vast umbrella conspiracy,” he confides. “The clues are there. We’ve been planting them for years. I promise you, that when Godot finally comes walking down the road and we learn just why it’s taken him so long to finally show up, everybody’s gonna say, ‘Of course! I should have seen this all along!’
“And that,” he concludes, “is going to set up the biggest crossover event of all time, which is based on Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. He’s not just a Hulk villain! There’s a hidden explanation! The Internet’s going to crack in half when this one hits the stands!”