Brian Michael Bendis Joins the Distinguished Competitor

In a recent announcement DC shocked the comics world with news former Marvel stalwart Brian Michael Bendis was hopping over to the Distinguished Competitor by signing a multi-year exclusive deal.

Already there’s rampant speculation as to why and how something like this could happen: Bendis has been writing at Marvel for close to 20 years and helped steer the publishing content of the House of Ideas through some massive changes and enormous events. Seeing something like this is akin to seeing longtime San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich cut ties abruptly and sign with the Lakers (if I may be forgiven the sports parlance). This is, in a word: BONKERS.

So what does this mean for the Big Two? For Marvel, this can be taken one of two ways: optimistically or pessimistically.

For the Glass Half Empty crowd, this is a travesty, seeing an architect of Marvel jump ship while the publisher tries to find appease jilted long-time fans. This is a man who helped cultivate much of the publisher’s direction, evening aiding it its usage of IP in various media forms. Bendis kept Marvel relevant in the comic circles with bold ideas that, love ‘em or hate ‘em, got people talking. It’s safe to wonder how Marvel can fill such an enormous void.

For the Glass Half Full gang, this creates an amazing opportunity for the next wave of Marvel creators. Prominent Marvel creators like Charles Soule, Jason Aaron, and Matthew Rosenberg now have a chance to take a step forward in cultivating this universe, and bringing in Donny Cates will only further this new culture. These are writers and creators looking to do something big, and now that Bendis has left there are so many holes that need filling. Marvel can really do something special with new voices, especially with their universe primed for stories that are both nostalgic and new.

When one looks at DC publishing, one has to simply shake their heads at this…in a good way. It’s an embarrassment of riches now, with so many quality DC books on the shelves, so many avenues to utilize one of comics’ boldest thinkers. And the best part is that Bendis doesn’t have to feel the burden of being the crown jewel in DC’s crown: Snyder, King, Tynion, Orlando, Abnett, etc, all Bendis has to do is pick a book or two and churn out a product that’s true to his vision.

And Bendis has vision – this is the guy who crafted a HUGE part of the Ultimate universe, which in turn influenced the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He created Jessica Jones, returned Luke Cage to relevancy, established one of the greatest runs on Daredevil of all time…the list goes on and on. And before all that, Bendis was working on creator-owned projects that were evolving the entire sequential arts genre. He’s a top-notch mystery and crime writer, and his work on solo series – his dialogue and character development – will be a boon to a publisher taking pride in character-driven narratives.

But what books will Bendis claim? There’s some speculation that he’ll hop on Green Lanterns now that Sam Humphries is moving to Nightwing, and that’s not a bad idea. There’s great chemistry between Jessica and Simon, and Bendis excels at cultivating relationships between leads (see: Powers). His cosmic work in the Guardians of the Galaxy book could be lackluster at times, but this is new and fresh for him.

Personally, I’d like to see him on a street-level mystery book – a Question Rebirth would be amazing. I could also see him doing very good things at Detective Comics if Tynion feels the need to move on, or Green Arrow when Ben Percy is done. Hell, he’d excel at tough female-led books like Batgirl or Superwoman, or just give him free reign in the Dark Matter universe. The point is, Bendis is a very versatile writer without shackles, and DC could use him excellently in myriad ways.

This is shocking news that comes with pros and cons for both sides: Bendis can be a polarizing creator, but in this scenario, I can’t see why this could be beneficial for all sides involved. DC adds another HUGE name to its cavalcade of stars, Bendis gets the new creative challenge he’s been searching for, and Marvel has a chance to let its current stars shine a little brighter.