The Obligatory “Bendis Leaves Marvel” Coverage


This afternoon, comic fans were made aware of Brian Bendis’s departure from Marvel, headed exclusively to DC. Via CBR:

In a brief statement on Twitter, the publisher revealed that Bendis has signed a “multifaceted, multilayered” exclusive agreement. Bendis retweeted the announcement, and later added, “This is real. I love you all. Change is good. Change is healthy. I am bursting with ideas and inspirations. Details to come! Stay tuned!

No news yet on how this will affect the Mile Morales-centered book, Spider-Man. Morales is easily the writer’s biggest legacy left behind at Marvel.

From the hundreds of reaction comments I’ve seen across various sites today, Marvel customers across the spectrum have reacted differently to the news. Some lament the loss and view it as a blow for Marvel (currently a struggling House of Ideas) and another win for DC. Others think of it as a positive change for the writer, who some felt was becoming burned out at Marvel. Others voiced relief and some see an opportunity for real change now in the quality and direction of Marvel storytelling.

Bendis’s story style at Marvel was a swirl of character elements that were interesting on the surface mixed in with repetitive dialogue and padding stories for trade paperbacks. He had hits and misses. His time on Daredevil is remembered positively, for example, but his run on Guardians of the Galaxy was unfocused and lamentable.  If you are an Avengers fan you may remember him fondly as a writer who “shook things up” or “killed sacred cows” – or you may think of him who wrecked something you used to really like and made it something just couldn’t follow anymore.

With Rebirth (along with a healthy dose of mea culpa and no small amount of pride-swallowing from editorial) DC has been enjoying great success. It’s where all the energy seems to be now from “the Big Two.” But does Bendis really fit in with DC’s new storytelling tone and character image? It’s an odd mix; Bendis’s instinct seems to lean toward taking something people like and then bludgeoning it with a claw hammer, then wearing it’s skin and creating something else entirely from the ashes. That doesn’t seem to be a natural fit with the latest incarnation of DC at first glance. But he’s also had success with the legacy hero route, so maybe he’ll just do for DC what he did for Marvel with Miles Morales. Legacy heroes are DC’s wheelhouse, after all, far more so than Marvel.

Marvel’s dystopian Ultimate universe began with Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man. That alternate universe has been defunct for awhile now, having largely lost its allure to fans awhile back through storytelling trainwrecks like Ultimatum. Still, its influence lingers in much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which continues to draw some measure of style and inspiration from the now shuttered brand. At least some of that must be attributed to Bendis’s involvement with Marvel.

In full disclosure I was a fan of Bendis’s prior to his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. When he was writing books like Sam & Twitch, I was highly impressed. But at its release, Ultimate Spider-Man felt alien and unrecognizable. It felt… unnecessary. I never lost that opinion, and rejected the Ultimate brand wholesale. Per my own preferences and tastes where Marvel is concerned, especially as someone who stopped reading Avengers entirely with Disassembled, Bendis just wasn’t a writer I wanted to spend much time on. Later down the line, I always felt he had too much say in the direction the larger universe was taking. Despite that, putting my own biases aside, there is no mistaking the impact Brian Bendis had on Marvel, both for good and for ill. Especially when it comes to longevity.

To conclude, we wish him luck at DC. Maybe this will recharge him creatively. And if things go south, DC can always just reboot again. It’s what they do.

George Berryman

 

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(12) Comments

  1. Jim W.

    At first I rather enjoyed Ultimate Spider-Man, because it seemed a breath of fresh air. However, it grew stale very quickly. His writing style became so tedious; almost like he was trying to prove how in touch he was with the voice of a younger generation. Which is fine if you like that. Pointless dialogue, even more pointless crossover events contributed to burn out for me. Avengers, Iron Man, X-Men- examples not of "creating" anything of lasting import, but destroying what came before. If Bendis ends up writing Batman (my favorite DC character since childhood), I will abandon that title immediately. My hope is that now Marvel will finally move away form this SJW crap, which I've heard that Bendis had a large hand in bringing about. (That could be all rumor though). Marvel needs all the help it can get. It remains to be seen what exactly he will be working on for DC; I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

  2. xonathan

    @Al Well said Al. I honestly don't think that writers should all write in a certain style. Everyone can be different and BMB did things differently back in the day. Good for him. But what I minded was that his style was given so much prominence and given the center stage. That's what screwed things up. And why it was given such importance? $$$ Decompressed storytelling is more profitable. A higher comics/idea ratio. And that became the norm. That's why Slot will never be kicked out. And this business practice is here to stay, unfortunately.

  3. Phantom Roxas

    Bendis was certainly influential on the current state of Marvel. I could very much believe that a lot of the good within the company owes gratitude to him. It's also nice that, when Marvel gathered a bunch of its big-name writers to claim why One More Day was better for Spider-Man, Bendis spoke up in support of the marriage. However, Bendis also represents that giving a writer too much clout within the company is not necessarily a good idea. In a way, his mark is plainly clear in the majority of his work, and it becomes difficult to separate the writer from your work. You're not reading an Avengers story, a Guardians of the Galaxy story, an X-Men story, or an Iron Man story. You're reading what *Bendis* is doing with all those characters. There are many possible explanations and possibilities regarding Bendis going to DC. Personally, I think Marvel is a sinking ship, and Bendis has lost the clout that he once enjoyed, so and he doesn't want to go down with the ship, so he's going at DC. He's no longer Marvel's "golden boy". I agree with the notion that he's just burnt out as a writer, but I'm not really sure if going to DC will change much. Could it challenge him to use new creative muscles, possibly giving him new energy that he's since lost at Marvel? Possibly. Or he could continue with the same approaches, only to find that it doesn't work. I'd like to see how things go regarding both companies. Hopefully this means Marvel will become less reliant on him as their "crutch" (Civil War II in particular may have made them wary about handing him more big events), and for DC, I'd rather that they start him off with something small. Sure, his role at Marvel is more than enough for DC to feel comfortable with giving him a big book, but I think it'd be for the best if DC gives him a clean slate.

  4. Simon

    I have mixed feelings of this news. I didn't enjoy Bendis' early work at Marvel initially... especially what he did with Avengers Disassembed, however I find myself enjoying these works much more now then when they where initially published, knowing how it concludes. I particularly disagree what he did with the Scarlet Witch (but thankfully Children's Crusade fixed it). I did enjoy his later runs on the Avengers post-Seige. His X-Men run got off to a good start, but was disappointed that he never actually stayed and wrapped up his storylines properly (particularly with the original X-Men being stuck in the present day), with a conclusion that seemed a bit rushed to make way for another reboot. I like Miles Morales character, and it will be interesting to see how Marvel proceed with the character going forward. Good or bad, Brian Michael Bendis has made a huge impact on Marvel. However I hope that his departure allows the next generation of Marvel writers to help take the universe forward. I wish him well at DC!

  5. Andrew C

    This is like the best news in the world outside of Dan Slott or Joe Q leaving. The guy was overall a negative influence on how modern-day comic books were structured with his ultra decompressed style of story telling ..... and lame "real life" dialogue.... y'know? Plus, I thought his stories just kinda sucked, tbh.

  6. Ryan C Read

    On my side here it what I will say about Brian. He did take Daredevil in some interesting directions and made me love the book more and more. I really enjoyed some of his pieces and use other supporting cast members that weren't touched on. That said, I hated how he left the book with so many pieces that other writers had been trying to clean up as a result. Having Charles Soule figure a way that not only worked, but made it a big deal and wasn't just "magic". But based on established continuity from other books and characters. I loved Miles from day one, but sadly, the split in fandom has caused too many problems. Especially trying to push both him and Peter into the "Big Leagues" that really took them from every man/teen into making Spider-Men into a lame man-child and the other who can do anything, but is of mixed race and "better than Peter, but isn't better" that made me very upset with the direction Miles took. I enjoyed Dark Avengers, but hated how Avenger was pulled apart so many times and never really amounted to anything. Except for characters going so out of character it didn't make sense. Loved what he did with Luke Cage, creation of Jessica and work with Defenders. Will not argue there, but ignoring other established characters from powers to personalities and then saying: "This is how it's always been". Nope sorry, that made me draw the line right there. Another reason I got so upset with DC. Though Robert Vendetti keeps doing late Bendis work on Green Lantern Corps. SInce he has the same story style, which might be what DC is trying to do but keep it in it's own corner. Truth be told there are some DC characters and old books I think Bendis could do some good with and others I hope he doesn't touch. However, I do wish him all the luck, he is a very nice guy, loved talking some him and I have some early Miles, Daredevil and Jessica stories I still treasure to this day.

  7. Al

    My two-cents: When I look back at Bendis’ career and impact upon Marvel and the characters I know and love I realize more and more he did far more to harm than to help. His take on Spider-Man in in large degrees responsible for the ‘YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG Spider-Man’ fetish we’ve been been enduring for so long now. His invention of Miles has erupted into fan wars which have served to tear down and denigrate the original character. He invented what may well be the most worthless and shallow legacy character ever in the form of Riri Williams. He eviscerated the Guardians of the Galaxy. He destroyed the Avengers and sacrificed their central appeal in order to mark them the centre of the Marvel universe to the point where they are not only impenetrable to all but the most ambitious of fans, but he made being an Avenger meaningless because who ISN’T an Avenger anymore. His take on Spider-Man in the Avengers further hurt the character and reduced him to a useless manchild who apparently liked being an Avenger and needed to be on most major formations of the team despite contributing NOTHING. He brought Luke Cage back to prominence, which was a good thing (along with his relationship with Jessica Jones) but he sucked the personality out of Luke and rendered the character who whilst dated and cheesy, was ultimately charming because he was dated and cheesy. Now he’s just…bland. He rendered Mary Jane out of character by putting her in the Iron books where she increased sales but also contributed NOTHING. He began a fetish for sticking major characters from one franchise into another on the alleged premise that you can generate uniqueness from doing that and then failed to ever prove that to be true (see MJ in Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine as Avengers, Kitty, Venom, Ben Grimm, Carol Danvers and Iron Man as members of the Guardians). Created Maria Hill who is just the fucking worst if you read her in…most things actually. Civil War and Standoff might be her worst outings ever but it’s not like those were OOC for her. Her value amounts to basically just being another notable SHIELD agent besides Nick Fury, but actually we’ve had plenty (more memorable) ones of those in the past. He created precedents for MJ as a reporter (which is incredibly derivative of Lois Lane) and for Norman to be a mutated monster (which goes against the central themes of Norman wearing a mask) and for Spider-Man to be ‘a hero in training’ under the eyes of older heroes (again, not the point of Spider-Man). He fucked up Wanda’s character by ignoring how her powers work, ignoring her history (he does this is ALL the characters he works on actually) and casting her character as mentally ill (which you could argue is more than a little sexist actually). He treated Kitty Pryde as his waifu multiple times. She gets to date Spider-Man, become Star-Lord’s fiance (after a mere TWO YEARS of stories), become the new Star-Lord and beat Galactus. He unmasked Daredevil, an idea derivative of older runs in the first place, but more poignantly created HUGE narrative problems for the character that he just ignored and left up to other people to clean up because he didn’t care. He wrote some of THE WORST EVER Marvel crossovers and events and helped set the precedent for the indulgent event fatigue we’ve been enduring for over 10 years now. Secret War: Cynical, overly dark and depressing bullshit storytelling that abuses the characters in the name of ‘realism’ and makes Nick Fury at least MORE of an asshole than he was. I’d evenargue it’s what turned Fury from a gruff leader of a government/military body who tried to do the right thing most of the time into a manipulative piece of shit asshole. Avengers Disassembled: Requires a willful ignoring of how Wanda’s powers work and her established history. So fucked up that the Young Avengers guys needed to fix it via retcons in the infinitely superior Children’s Crusade storyline. House of M: Same problems as above and he needed to kind of fix some of it himself 7 years later in another bullshit event. The event itself though REQUIRED the ‘heroes’ to be you know…UNheroic by deciding to just murder their friend instead of finding a better way. Fucked up Wolverine by just removing most of the mystery from him in ONE shot. Began the insufferable misinformation about Spider-Man really loving Gwen Stacy more because she was in his ‘ideal world’ during House of M. Turned Quicksilver into basically a villain. In fact the whole premise of House of M as an ideal world is never made any sense anyway. That’s how little thought Bendis actually put into this story. Secret Invasion: A Battlestar Galactica rip-off Dark Reign/Siege: You know how people incorrectly claim Norman Osborn rips off Lex Luthor? Let’s just wholesale MAKE him like Lex Luthor from the DC Animated Universe and the main DC universe during the time he was President. And also forget he has super powers. And also forget he’s Spider-Man’s Big Bad to the point where the story is more concerned with Hawkeye’s beef with him than Peter Parker’s. Meanwhile Spider-Man is robbed of his biggest villain for a prolonged period of time. AvX: Heroes vs other Heroes AGAIN. Hooray. Haven’t seen that every year since 2004. Age of Ultron: A confused, overlong set up to introduce and Image comics character into Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man 2099 into Superior Spider-Man and also set up Secret Wars. Civil War II: Who hasn’t talked about what a turd this was? A bullshit false premise built upon everyone required to be out of character and also devoid of basic logic all in aid of ANOTHER hero vs hero fest that exists to tie into a superior film and promote Carol Danvers ahead of her own movie by tearing her down in the worst way possible. Also to set up Champions and Secret Invasion and make Miles Morales’ existence a way bigger deal than it should be for the ‘everyman’ character. And then there is the precedent for decompression and writing for the trades. Not only is this frustrating as a reading experience but also harmfully impacts comic sales overall since it is so frustrating month to month and thus encouraging to just read the trades. Bendis made Marvel a lot of money there is no denying that. Bendis’ role in the Ultimate Universe might even have helped Marvel out of financial straits to a certain degree. But from a creative POV, his impact upon the Marvel universe as a whole has been incredibly toxic and the sooner he fucks off the better. He never ever deserved even half the acclaim he got, and certainly not the title of best comic book writer of the modern era/ever.

  8. Spideydude

    From a post I was creating at the same time as what GB was creating: Brian is regarded as a polarizing figure at Marvel, but his contributions are undeniable in many ways due to the fact that Brian did two things no one ever accomplished: he redid Spider-Man that for better or worse, brought Spider-Man to the 21st century and secondly, introduced a replacement Spider-Man that connected with a wide audience. The problems that also occurred during this time cannot be swept under the rug, but it had been attempted in both cases and was largely unsuccessful. Gotta give the man his due, but glad to see this be hopefully a start of someone new taking the big projects. BMB always seemed to get the big projects, and I am hoping that with this departure, we get new blood in here.

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