There’s not been much interesting comics news of late. I’ve been waiting... and waiting... for an announcement on new series for the Legion of Super-Heroes and Justice Society of America.
Instead, today, DC gave us this.
My first reaction? Oh Lord, no.
If I’m in the mood, I can enjoy some Brian Michael Bendis. His original Alias was an absorbing study of a ‘difficult’ character, giving us a different take on the Marvel Universe. Daredevil was a compelling drama that fit nicely with Frank Miller’s legendary run. His original Ultimate Spider-Man was a fun teen drama if you didn’t mind the original Sixties tales being stretched out to a ridiculous length - Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s 11-page origin became a seven-issue story!
But then came Avengers Disassembled, in which he had a mad Scarlet Witch turn on her teammates, leading to the deaths of Ant-Man and Hawkeye, She-Hulk ripping the Vision in two, the Wasp thrust into a coma and more. Then there was Dr Strange contradicting years of stories by claiming chaos magic didn’t exist... it was several issues of the Avengers merely reacting or, worse still, standing around doing nothing. Earth’s mightiest heroes acted like naive beginners.
And when the dust settled, we got a team of New Avengers, one whose remit seemed to be sitting around bantering. After hundreds of issues as a reader, I was gone.
I’ve tried many a Bendis book since then, as he has a habit of taking over favourite characters. Mighty Avengers, All-New X-Men, Moon Knight... but as the years have passed I found his writing tics more and more annoying - the swearing, lack of distinctive voices (suddenly every second sentence was ‘the hell?’), lunatic verbiage, rambling stories, unsatisfactory ‘endings’, haphazard treatment of continuity... a lot of the blame should go to the editors who apparently don’t touch his scripts, letting Bendis go his own way, trampling on established history and characterisations. In Avengers Disassembled, for instance, he made the Wasp a callous carouser and Hawkeye a himbo.
And now he’s leaving Marvel to do who knows what at DC Comics. And that tweet could be read as confirming he’s going to have leeway to do whatever he likes.
I do hope not. I want DC’s editors to actually work with Bendis to get tighter scripts, to keep characters recognisable. To serve the story rather than the immediate scene. To remind him that he’s part of a massive crew of creators working within a single universe, not the sole proprietor.
I’ve heard Brian Bendis interviewed; he sounds a lovely chap, and it would be stupid not to wish him success at DC, because I want good comics. So I hope he eschews the big, flashy characters and writes strips that play to his strengths - maybe new takes on street level characters the Question or Jonni Thunder.
Or given that he can write zingy dialogue when he doesn’t have several characters to deal with, maybe a new Elongated Man series showcasing Ralph and Sue’s relationship. Perhaps he could do well with Gail Simone’s Secret Six... But a Bendis Justice League or Superman or Wonder Woman? Please, no.
It’ll probably happen, though - DC will wish to put their big signing on their big characters. But where do you think Brian Bendis should land at DC Comics?
And please don’t say Justice Society or Legion!
Brian Michael Bendis, DC Comics, Avengers Disassembled, Marvel Comics