Ultimate Spider-Man was written by Brian Michael Bendis. I had been reading his run on this book since its inception. I dearly love his tenure on the series as well as his runs on Daredevil and Alias. I was also a member of his now defunct message board on his Jinxworld website. When I signed up for the board I decided to use my actual name as my screen-name instead of coming up with a clever handle. However, I rarely let my presence known. That message board was extremely popular with an enormous membership and it was also very insular so my posts were few and far between. Anyway, I had known for some time that Bendis would use names from the board for insignificant background characters in his creator owned book Powers. What I didn’t know was that he did the same in his Marvel output. And even still, I never would have thought he’d use the names of members of his board who rarely posted, like me.
What made this book special to me happened halfway into it. Flash Thomson was mistaken for Spider-Man and abducted by Silver Sable’s crew. He escapes and runs to the police. He was abducted on school grounds, so the media gets involved. This leads to a press conference and who happens to be in front of the cameras and microphones but Sheriff Mike McNeely! (My name, in case you’re wondering. Hello!)
I just stared at that panel for I don’t know how long. I was in a comic book! Well, not me, obviously. BUT STILL! I sent Bendis a message on the board asking if he used my name from the board and he said yup! (I also asked him to lie to me if it wasn’t because I was so damn ecstatic, but that’s neither here nor there.)
I met Bendis only once. My wife and I went to the Wizard World Chicago convention in 2003. I got my copy of Ultimate Spider-Man #4 signed by Bendis, artist Mark Bagley, and then Editor in Chief Joe Quesada. While I have yet to go to another convention where Bendis is attending, I did manage to get a copy of #87 signed by him via my friend Joseph at the San Diego Comic Con a few years ago. He signed it, “Hey, Sherriff.”
At least that’s what I think it says. Authors do tend to have terrible handwriting.