Who did Brian Michael Bendis recruit for his final arc on Avengers?

For his final story arc on Avengers, writer Brian Michael Bendis decided to bring in an illustrator who hasn't played in Marvel Comics' sandbox for a spell now. Who did he recruit?

None other than Walt Simonson, the man behind the greatest Thor stories ever written (and probably the finest Alien comic too). Both Bendis and Simonson were on hand this afternoon to give io9 the scoop on Simonson's return to Marvel superheroes.

Starting in April's Avengers #25, Simonson will illustrate Bendis' final six-issue arc. This arc will tie-in with the upcoming Avengers Versus X-Men storyline and offer Simonson plenty of opportunities to doodle both mutants and Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

In a conference call with Bendis, Simonson recalled drawing the X-Men for the unimpeachably groovy 1982 Uncanny X-Men Meet The New Teen Titans crossover, which saw Colossus making out with Starfire.

Bendis further cited this old-school comic as the "bombastic" inspiration for his work on Avengers Versus X-Men. He couldn't spill a lot about the storyline in Avengers #25, but here's what he did offer up:

Who did Brian Michael Bendis recruit for his final arc on Avengers?S

I have carved out for Avengers and New Avengers very specific storylines. There are elements to this story that are so powerful on their own. It's about who the Avengers are, what they mean, and what they can do what no one else can do [...] It's from the Avengers' point of view. I'm wrapping up a lot of ideas and character arcs I've been dealing with for years.

The duo admitted that they'd been floating a collaboration for years, but schedules and projects kept this team-up apart. For Avengers #25, Walt revealed that he'll be drawing "30,000-40,000 characters" on the very first page, but the people he's most excited about depicting are Captain America, the Avenger Quake, and some particularly evil grad students of the Marvel Universe:

One of the things I'm looking most forward to drawing is [...] the guys from A.I.M. with the beehive protective helmets. I've never lay awake at night wanting to draw these guys, but those guys come out of my wheelhouse from my times of being a huge Marvel fan. I can't wait to draw them [...] I especially like that Brian wants them to have facial expressions inside the masks.

io9 also asked Simonson if this Avengers arc would keep up with his penchant for epic sound effects. Simonson did promise that things would get stentorian, but deferred to Bendis on the matter of loud noises:

Most of [Walt's] sound effects were very bombastic and part of the art, most of my sound effects more sound more like Jewish whining, so a different kind of font is needed to really capture that.

And with that, Bendis (who happens to be Jewish, by the way) just unveiled the greatest aural secret of the Marvel Universe. I had no idea Bendis' Wolverine "Snikt!" sounded any different than, say, Warren Ellis' "Snikt!"

In any case, the moral of this phone call was that Walt Simonson should illustrate Beta Ray Bill on the legal tender of every nation across the globe, so that our world is unified in badassitude.

Avengers #25 cover artwork by Daniel Acuña.