Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Discuss: Brian Michael Bendis

Doug: Here is Brian Bendis; what's he done for you lately?


Rip Jagger said...

Mr.Bendis has saved me a ton of money in this harsh economy. I was a diehard Avengers fanboy, but after a few years of the Bendis version, I realized that the Assemblers I'd followed for so many seasons were largely displaced by Ultimatizted versions. (I enjoyed the early Ultimates storyline by the way, though I aged considerably waiting for it to unfold.) So I dropped the "New Avengers" title and all the ancillary titles that went with it, saving me a ton of dough monthly.

Now I'm not going to hate on Bendis, as while the version he created was on some level engaging, I just didn't find it was recognizably the same franchise that I'd supported for so many years. The Avengers-in-name-only book left me cold with its secrets-within-secrets-within-secrets approach. I just don't have the steel for years of these kinds of narrative onion peels. The time and money invested is too great and the payoff alas is just too small.

It's not quite but it feels close sometimes to being a...

Rip Off

dbutler16 said...

I had started collecting new comics for the first time in over 15 years, about three years ago. I started collecting a bunch of stuff that I thought would interest me, basically all of the titles I used to collect (with the exception of the X-Men titles, now a mess) and it was quite a few titles. The very first ones I stopped collecting were Bendis' Avengers titles - New and Mighty. Especially New Avengers. I liked all of the characters, but the comics were just sooo boring! Bendis does write good dialogue, I will give him that, but he is horrible at capturing the “correct” voice of the characters. I think most of us will agree that he's ruined the Avengers, and from what I've read in interviews, he either has no knowledge of, or no respect for, the comics history that has gone on before him. He seems to think he just invented all of these characters yesterday. After quitting those Avengers titles, I vowed never to pick up another Bendis title, or at least another Bendis Avengers title, again. That's been a pretty easy resolution to keep. It's really a shame that he has such influence on the Marvel universe.

dbutler16 said...

By the way, has anyone else been having trouble with Blogger for the past day or so? I can't get any pictures to show up.

Ric said...

Count me among the camp that enjoys reading Bendis' material.

Although I will acknowledge that he writes in the decompression/for collected editions method, I give him credit for not being afraid to try something different, and for executing well-thought-out and detailed storylines. The plotlines he began in New Avengers #1 were resolved in the Seige storyline... and it really felt natural, unforced, and planned from the get-go.

I can appreciate cconcerns about his charactors' dialogue, but its not the worst dialogue I've read (anything Claremont has done in the last 20 years has (to me) the most painful dialogue).

I will also admit that it's weird to see Spider-Man and Wolverine in the Avengers, but I'm okay with it. I love seeing Luke Cage in such a prominent, leadership role.

I have also enjoyed Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man (although I stopped reading it at the end of volume 1).

I read a fair number of current comics, and often I wonder why... but I never regret buying and reading Bendis material.


William said...

Ohhh, don't get me started...

Here are some of my thoughts about Mr. Bendis:

1. His stories are boring and sometimes run on and on for years - and when it's finally time for the "big payoff" they almost always fall flat and are a huge disappointment. (And to think I used to complain about Claremont).

2. He's like the Dr. Kevorkian of comics. Comic-book characters must tremble with fear when they see Bendis coming to write them. He kills off at least one main character in every title he works on. (Most recently being Ultimate Spider-Man himself).

3. He seems to write good dialogue, but after you've read a lot of his stuff, you come to learn that just about every character he writes pretty much has the same "voice". (Sort of a quirky observational stand-up comic with a hint of sarcasm thrown in).

4. He seems to hate traditional comic-book super hero conventions such as secret identities and etc. For example, in his first issue of "New Avengers" he immediately had a bunch of super criminals rip off Spider-Man's mask and he outed Daredevil's secret I.D., etc.

5. He seems to have little understanding or respect for the history of Marvel Comics and characters he is given free reign to shape and mold. And if he in fact does understand it, he apparently chooses to disregard it.

When is Marvel going to stop this man from wreaking havoc on the Marvel Universe to suit his own personal childhood fantasies?

Is it really worth it to them to have long-term and lasting damage done to their iconic and beloved characters just for some cheap shock value, 15 minutes of publicity and a quick buck? I guess the answer is apparently a resounding "YES".

Unfortunately it's not just Bendis either, writers like J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Millar, and others are just as bad. I quit reading new comics after I came to realize that the people currently working in the industry care nothing for the characters and the art-form that they supposedly grew up loving. It's very sad when the 'wrong' people get control of something you once cared about and proceed to run it into the ground for their own personal aggrandizement and amusement.

david_b said...

"Brian Michael who..??"

Sorry, I ignore today's comics for most of what nearly everyone has said thus far.

The Marvel Universe I savor is too endearing to me. To coin a phrase, 'All my love to long ago..'

Dougie said...

I agree that Bendis relies very heavily on what I think of as "sitcom" dialogue. I find it hard to "hear" Carol Danvers in the Ms. Marvel who calls Ben Grimm "dude".
Having said that though,like Ric, I enjoy his work on New Avengers and Moon Knight currently and I'll definitely try the new Spider-Man. I have to disagree with the accusation that Bendis doesn't know Marvel history.The Oral History of the Avengers was factually incorrect in a couple of instances but on the other hand, the portrayal of Hawkeye is compelling (and funny: the comment about Mantis's "diva thing" for example).I'd pick up a Bendis Hellcat series, no question, on the strength of how he wrote Patsy Walker in that feature.
Rip, I also find the "narrative onion peel" frustrating and no, it hasn't been the same franchise for six years or so now. But to take William's point, I think Loeb and Millar are more cynical about, and more disrespectful to, the works of Stan, Jack, Ditko, Roy Thomas et al. I also think that the New 52 Justice League will show a strong Bendis influence.

J.A. Morris said...

I haven't read too much of his work, but I don't like what I've read.

I picked up his 'Female Ultron' story and didn't think it was very good. And it also had yet another cheap "Hank's a wife-beater...and a lonely loser" joke too. But like Rip said, Bendis has saved me a lot of money.

dbutler16 said...

William, I agree 100% on all of your points about Bendis (in fact, said more or less the same thing on some of them).

Inkstained Wretch said...

Let me echo David B -- I just don't buy new comics these days. I fell out of the habit almost 20 years ago and the high prices for today's comics give me a reason to stay away.

Maybe I'm missing some great story-telling but comments like Rip's suggest that, no, I am making the right choice.

Dougie said...

Mighty Avengers, in addition to being quite a cheescake title, also made Hank Pym look wretched again.I can think of three storylines (two in the last decade alone) that have set out to redeem him but it never seems to stick.
I also thought the disembowelling of Ares in Siege was heinous and unjustifiable.

That said, I'll still take Bendis over Mark Millar every time. Even as a fellow Central Belt Scot, I hope Millar sticks to making movies

david_b said...

William brings up a couple of super points, the one I like is the mindset of these new writers.

As he said.., for all the supposed love and devotion to these characters they say they grew up with, then WHY isn't this being reflected in the current 'sitcom writing' as Dougie referred to it as..??

Is it just a case of writing to targetted focus groups..?

Is it limited attention span on both sides, especially with story arcs that end up dissipating over time...?

Like Inkstained, I pretty much stopped even the casual 'cool cover, I'll pick it up' purchases by the late 80s.

And not to hijack this thread, but arguably, other than perhaps George Perez, the first Secret Wars or maybe Frank Miller, I saw no significant good developments out of the 80s decade either.

But I know that was discussed ad naudem weeks ago. I bring this up because it's precisely the stories our current artists would have grown up around.

ChrisPV said...

Bendis definitely suffers from Same Voice Syndrome. And after reading Tony Stark in Brubaker's Cap, dealing with the weight of what he has caused, Bendis' version is markedly less appealing. More smug, less aware. But I did really like House of M (up until that wretched ending) and Secret Invasion had some good stuff (up until THAT wretched ending). In short, great idea man, not the best in terms of execution.

But comparing him to Millar? That's just low. Bendis has a take on characters I don't always agree with, but I never get the feeling he actively hates the characters and wants to push a truly ugly world on them and us. Millar's work is just so...aggressively unpleasant. A good reason I can't get into Ultimate stuff at all is the infamous "Do you think this A stands for France!" bit. I'm sorry, but I have no desire to read a universe where Captain America is a xenophobic jerk.

Back to topic, I have enjoyed the precious little bit of Ultimate Spidey I've read, and I just may start picking up the book regularly with the new kid. I'm legitimately intrigued by the prospect of a Spider-Man who is not Peter Parker. Assuming, of course, that they don't just revert back in three years anyway.

William said...

ChrisPV, love that post. I couldn't agree more. You really hit the nail on the head with Millar. Despite what I say about Bendis, I actually do have some respect for him and I far prefer his work to Millar. At least Bendis has has done some decent stuff (I used love Ultimate Spider-Man). And Bendis does on occasion demonstrate some love for his characters.

Millar however, comes across as a cynical, hate filled punk who uses comics and other media to shove his world view down everybody's throat.

To this day Civil War remains my most despised comic story of all time (even more than JMS's "Sins of the Father" and "The Other"). Right after the Civil War series ended I pretty much dumped all Marvel Comics that I was reading (even the Ultimate stuff). Civil War even kept me from playing "Ultimate Alliance 2" because the game was based on it. (And I loved UA 1).

Eric Minnesota said...

Bendis lacks follow-through.My favorite comic book is POWERS,but time and time again it gets side lined by his latest shiny new object and cross-over,while promising over and over again that (insert comic book name here) is coming out on time.SCARLETT anyone?
I loved his collaboration with Romita Jr on AVENGERS.That was what I was hoping for after Disassembled.He told Romita to draw the Avengers as if they were carved out of marble,and they never looked more monumentally heroic.That was an example of two guys who love comics.The oral history was great,but that eventually disappeared.Though that had traces of the "buy two titles to get the whole story" gimmick.
Last thing,it's obvious that Marvel's priority is big event cross-overs.Bendis is a huge part of the reason for that.And if that's their priority,they just want people to buy more of their comicbooks,bottom line.It's not good books,it's just rack filler.

Karen said...

Count me in among those who feel Bendis is incapable of giving his characters different voices. It's maddening to have Dr. Strange talking like Peter Parker.

I also feel that he has a hard time providing actual endings for stories. While I was reading New Avengers, it seemed like many plot threads were never dealt with -although it sounds like perhaps a few were eventually wrapped up years later. To me that's just not acceptable.

I won't deny the man can write some snappy dialog - in fact, I am surprised he hasn't gone off to write TV shows or movies. But again, all the characters sound exactly the same.

I think he exemplifies this bizarre idea about writing comics as if they were films -no narrative, no thought balloons, just dialog. Which is probably why comics take only 5 minutes to read now. Personally, I think it does a disservice to the medium to not use these tools.


Dougie said...

All I'm saying is: Wolverine vs. Squirrel Girl in the next New Avengers. Not even slightly tempted?

starfoxxx said...

I agree with all of this anti-Bendis sentiment. My only complaint to add would be the new batch of writers who seem to emulate/imitate his "style" of writing comic books.

Although I haven't read much of his stuff, I DO like Millar's writing, esp. Ultimates 1 and 2, "Old Man Logan", and Kick_A**. I WAS disappointed with his FF run, though.

The failure to capture the "voice" of the character is probably my biggest gripe with Bendis. At least IMO, Millar has READ comic books before!

Related Posts with Thumbnails