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Overthought Bubble #7: Brian Michael Bendis is Comics

Written by Gavin D. on Friday, September 04 2015 and posted in Features

Overthought Bubble #7: Brian Michael Bendis is Comics

It's best to keep your EiC happy, and there's no one Jemas loves more than Brian Michael Bendis.

I have fond memories of Brian Michael Bendis and his work. Specifically his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. While the dialogue may not have aged well, the book still stands in my mind as one of the greatest Spider-Man runs ever, and it's still going. It is incredible what Bendis is capable of. The range he has and the love for comics he holds. Yet his name seems to invoke opposing opinions. People tout his name with the title "The Great One" in the same sentence that they insult his dialogue. The basis for criticisms is certainly not unfounded, but it is also curious considering the love for some of his work.

Now I must concede that I too have done this, once insinuating a conspiracy to ruin X-Men with Brian Michael Bendis, but this is reflective of something greater than whether a writer is good or bad. This is the shining example of what The Great One has come to stand for. Bendis represents the best of the industry and the not so great parts as well. Simply put, Bendis is comics.

Let's start with his demeanor. Brian Michael Bendis is kind to fans, harkening back to the days when Stan Lee would reply to fan letters with loving jabs and goofy stories about the Mighty Marvel Bullpen. A quick look at Bendis's Tumblr page and you will find that Bendis shows the same investment in the fans. Bendis spends a significant amount of time responding to fan queries and giving advice. You don't hear stories about Bendis harassing women or going on racist tirades. Why? Because he is a reasonable human being! He knows where comics ends and reality begins.

It's his acknowledgment of a changing society that has also benefited him. In 2011 Bendis made the bold move to kill Peter Parker and bring in a new Spider-Man. This Spider-Man was Miles Morales. A young African-American and Hispanic boy who took on the role of Spider-Man with a fitting sense of childlike wonder (Because, you know, Miles is a child). The story was/is fun, and will be remembered fondly. Not just for its refreshing innocence but for bringing in a more diverse cast without pandering or forcing the issue as can happen in some books. Of course, Bendis would later see this blow up in his face when the decision to make Bobby Drake gay was met with disdain from both positions, thanks to his terrible dialogue choice for the situation.


As for Bendis' writing style, that is an interesting topic. He has taken several successful approaches, but most often his writing is corporately approved. Take a look at his work on Daredevil. It opens up with a strange moment of a child scribbling obsessive compulsively the same phrases over and over. This of course was complemented and made possible by David Mack's outstanding artwork, but to see such an insane take on a Marvel character is impressive. Bendis also went out on a limb with Alias A.K.A. Jessica Jones, as he created a gritty noir that serves as the basis for the upcoming Netflix series.

Yet not all of his writing is so deep. His work on Age of Ultron, Secret Wars, and All-New X-Men has also been mocked, citing poor dialogue, confusing plots, illogical climaxes, and disappointing finales amongst other things. In the end, his work can sometimes feel a little corporate, which is baffling when you consider that he was hired by Marvel because of his outstanding independent work on Jinx, Sam and Twitch, and Powers to name a few. That corporatism can carry over into his demeanor sometimes when he promotes whatever book Marvel pushes regardless of if it is any good or not, but that may be more a problem with the industry than Bendis himself.

Bendis is a big bag of great and unimpressive. He manages to be inventive, boring, progressive, and misguided all at once, but even when he is at his worst there is something about Bendis you just can't shake. There is something of his work, be it in his history, present, or future, that you love, and because of that, you kind of like him.

What's interesting about that previous paragraph is how if you replaced "Bendis" with "comics" every statement would still stand true. For that reason, if you asked me to describe Brian "The Great One" Michael Bendis, I would tell you this.

Brian Michael Bendis is comics.


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About the Author - Gavin D.

Gavin Dillinger exists in a constant state of restlessness as he runs between two jobs and spends every spare moment writing articles or scripts. He has also perfected the art of being simultaneously dead tired and jacked on coffee, and is the best-selling author of When is the Right Age to Tell Your Highway It's Adopted. Gavin graduated Cum Laude from MTSU and should probably get a real job. You can follow him on Twitter or see a random thought on tumblr once every three five months.

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