By Jarrod Jones. Have you had your coffee yet today? If you work in comics, I’ll bet you didn’t need it. I certainly didn’t need it today. *fans self* Land o’ Goshen! The vapors!
Big news came from the land of Twitter on Tuesday: Brian Michael Bendis, Marvel Comics’ star writer for almost 20 years, has left the House of Ideas. No, this is not a dream — not an imaginary tale. The five-time Eisner award winner and co-creator of Jessica Jones and Miles Morales has made the great leap over Beyonder and was last seen diving headlong over the Source Wall.
Brian Michael Bendis has signed an exclusive deal with DC Comics, like that’s just something you do. The news came our way via DC’s official Twitter page Tuesday morning, sent out casual as you like.
— DC (@DCComics) November 7, 2017
There has yet to be any further announcements concerning Bendis’ future with DC. (DC Comics did not respond to our requests for comment.) As the fallout plays out in real time over on Twitter, we decided to get some general reactions from across the comics industry concerning Bendis moving house to Marvel’s Distinguished Competition.
Andrew Wheeler (writer of Freelance; former editor of ComicsAlliance)
“I think this sounds like a great opportunity for Marvel, and I don’t mean that as a slight on Bendis. He’s a tremendous talent and a good fit for DC. But Marvel has been living in this age of the ‘Big Beast’ writers for too long, where just a handful of architects shaped the whole line, and Marvel got too comfortable and lost some of its agility and courage. Bendis’s move to DC is a chance for Marvel to shake off its addiction to established names and invest in new talent and new directions, and that can only be good for Marvel and for comics as a whole. It feels like we’ve seen a dozen linewide relaunches with the same few names helming the main titles, and that’s not exciting. Let’s see some change at the House of Ideas. Bendis will do great work at DC; Marvel has a chance to thrive without him.”
Oliver Sava (writer, Vice, Vox, AV Club)
“Bendis has been the most influential creator at Marvel Comics for nearly 20 years, but it’s felt like he’s been losing steam with his most recent Marvel writing. Getting the opportunity to work with a fresh assortment of characters, including the biggest superheroes in the world (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), could creatively reinvigorate him, and his established reputation will likely provide him a lot of creative freedom. I’m cautiously optimistic about this change, but it’s definitely a major get for DC. It also makes me curious about what ended up pushing Bendis away from Marvel, where he’s also served as a creative consultant for Marvel Studios projects.”
Caitlin Rosberg (contributor to AV Club’s “Comics Panel”; CaitlinRosberg.com)
“I joke a lot that my theme song is ‘Unpopular Opinions and Complicated Emotions,’ and that latter half is especially true of the announcement that Brian Michael Bendis is leaving Marvel for a new exclusive contract at DC. Bendis has done some really interesting, innovative work at Marvel, and it wasn’t always my personal taste, but I could appreciate it for what it was. The problem is that his writing hasn’t evolved or improved in years. He’s still riding on the success of co-creating Miles Morales and Jessica Jones, but his understanding of racism and feminism are stuck in the time when he created those characters. His defense of Civil War II was particularly terrible, and ultimately Bendis falls into a camp I call ‘Whedonites’ on my mean days: creators that move past early successes and fall back on outdated progressivism and self-identified allyship when called out for bad behavior.
“My biggest fear is that Bendis will be allowed to set the tone at DC like he did at Marvel for so long. DC’s embrace of a multitude of styles is what’s given us a strong Rebirth line up, and it’s helped to foster an environment where genuinely diverse books like Bombshells and Midnighter and Apollo and New Super-Man can flourish under the attentions of an increasingly diverse group of creators. I’m not saying everything is perfect at DC, far from it, but I honestly can’t think of more than two or three DC characters I’d like to see Bendis’s take on (Jonah Hex comes to mind immediately), and I definitely need him to be put on probation when it comes to characters that aren’t white, male, cis, and able bodied. He needs to earn my trust back.”
Don Alsafi (retailer, G-Mart Comics, Chicago; DoomRocket contributing writer, “Building a Better Marvel”)
“Whether you love Bendis or hate him, you can’t deny this is pretty seismic news. For about 20 years he’s been the voice of Marvel (especially during the times it seemed he was writing every book in sight), so for DC to have snapped him up is undoubtedly a coup. More importantly, you have to wonder what this means for Marvel, who have been watching their sales plummet over the past year. While Marvel Legacy have yielded a couple of gems so far, it’s been a far cry from the invigorating revitalization that DC Rebirth provided last year, and which this current initiative should have been.
“Basically, DC seems more than ever like the exciting place to be. But do Marvel have anything similar up their sleeves?”
Gene Ha (artist, ‘Mae’, ‘Top 10’)
“Well, that’s fun! I know he has decades of ideas and pent up passion ready to shake up the DCU! Ya just KNOW Bendis has several Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman stories he’s been dying to tell for years. I want to read them!”
Marc Hammond (retailer, Aw Yeah Comics)
“Wow! That is one heck of an announcement. Before my shop even opened today I had a bunch of our costumers messaging me about it. I think it is great for a number of reasons. Whether or not you love everything Bendis has ever written, you can’t deny that he has long been a creative force in this industry. Shifting to completely different set of characters and situations opens up new avenues for him as a writer. At the same time, there are now opportunities to have new and different voices on characters he has long been associated with. As a retailer, it creates buzz in my shop, as people try to guess what he will be working, or who will take over his previous titles. It gets their attention. Personally, I would love to see his take on the Justice League.”
And, of course, The Bendis Himself had this to say.
“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!” (via Twitter.)
And since we’re not above speculating wildly into the internet, allow me my two cents concerning this hullaballo: I see no harm in allowing Bendis to play in the DC sandbox, but I very much hope that his presence doesn’t disrupt the forward momentum the publisher has seen since the advent of Rebirth, bringing in more diverse voices that have declared loudly that DC has finally embraced change. DC, like Marvel, need new and exciting voices to recharge their lines, not just paradigm shifts.
Hopes along those lines: Kwanza Osajyefo as the new writer of Spider-Man and Jody Houser as the only writer of Jessica Jones, now and forever. As for Bendis’ DC future, if he ends up writing Lex Luthor in some capacity, that would certainly make me very happy, indeed.
What do you think about this bonkers Bendis business? Sound off in the comments below.