In part 2 of this retrospective, we continue to look back at and highlight some of the contributions made to comics that Brian Michael Bendis has made in his 18-year tenure at Marvel starting as promised in the last article with his controverstial run on children of the atom fan favourite: The Uncanny X-men.
Bendis’s run on Uncanny X-men is one which fans to this day remain at odds over. Whether or not you care for this run or not there is no denying he put, now complete outlaw Scott Summers, absolutely front and center of the book and furthered his evolution into a mutant hardcore revolutionary, prepared to do whatever it takes for his kind … a move that has helped garner the character, even more, fans than he already had and further inculcate the saying ‘Cyclops was right!’ into X-men fan culture and mythos. Bendis has drawn criticism and praise for this, as well as his refusal to rekindle the now stale romance between Scott and Emma Frost, the direction he took the character of Beast in and the general dissatisfaction with the overall lack of coherence and plot issues. As a long time X-men fan dating back to the mid 80’s I appreciate the run for what it is (The 05 are my guilty pleasure if I am being honest). A comic Vine poll from puts it at the second worst run second only (but in all honesty by a large margin) to Chuck Austen’s run… Bendis did a two-part interview with CBR at the end of his run on Uncanny and it is very obvious he was unperturbed by the vitriol aimed at him by detractors of his era on the book and stood by the decisions he took while helming the run. As a long time X-men fan dating back to the mid 80’s I appreciate the run for what it is (The 05 are my guilty pleasure if I am being honest) but many other x-fans will no doubt disagree
The run lasted 36 issues ending with number 600 after reverting back to the legacy numbering…and signaling Bendis’s departure from Uncanny in 2015.
Guardians Of the Galaxy :
Bendis spearheaded a new Guardian’s book in Feb of 2013 ahead of their jump to the big screen and is often hailed as making the book more accessible to a wider audience by adding in more recognizable properties like Iron Man, Kitty Pryde and fan favourite Venom to the book while at the same time introducing former Image property Angela into the in the book in his run .This period yielded the crossover with his ‘All New X-men’ book at the time titled ‘The trial of Jean Grey. His run on Guardians would run 27 issues from February 2013 to May 2015 with a second run from October 2015 to April 2017.
Though we are unable to highlight in detail all of his contributions at Marvel it really would not be fair to even write this article without mentioning Bendis’s Alias which he put out under Marvel’s adult MAX banner in 2001 and ran for 28 issues till 2004 and is the story of a very human and very fallible Jessica Jones, her development and day to day problems both professionally and personally. The F-word abounds but Bendis’s writing on this is perhaps second only to his run on Daredevil combined with the art of Michael Gaydos is awesomely atmospheric. Credit must also be given to the covers of David Mack. It is the very much the basis of the Netflix season one Jessica Jones live action tv series.
Bendis would import Jessica Jones over to Marvels main label in the title ” The Pulse’ running from April 2004 till May 2006 running for 14 issues and would see Jessica have Luke Cage’s child.
In 2016 after discussions with Netflix after the series debut Bendis reunited with Alias mainstay artist Gaydos to relaunch the title ‘Jessica Jones’ in October of 2016 and is currently ongoing.
It is impossible to highlight everything in his career and I believe we have touched on some of his most influential however I wanted to give several other moments I feel are worth mentioning:
in 2013 Bendis would pen The Age of Ultron crossover series which would see a crossover series about an alternative earth where Ultron had destroyed and subjugated much of humanity as well as a reality where Morgan La Vey had taken over half the world. the series would also be the source of the name (though nothing else storywise) for the very successful second Avenger’s movie.
In the wake of his ending run on X-men and Bendis would In 2015 once again team up with Mark Bagley to pen ‘The Ultimate End ” limited series which would see the end of the 15-year Ultimate Universe with characters from that universe being integrated into the 616 mainstream Marvel universe.
His time on the ‘Invincible Iron Man’ would lead directly into what is definitely Bendis’s last large crossover event 2016’s “Civil War II’ which would ultimately directly lead to Bendis’s next major contribution to diversity at Marvel continued the tradition he had set with Miles Morales when he along with Mike Deodato shook up the Iron Man franchise by introducing in a teenage female of color Ms. Riri Williams who would reverse engineer Tony Stark’s armor and take up the mantle of Ironheart…
While Bendis’s departure to DC leaves some question marks as to the future of ongoing titles we have mentioned as well as some we haven’t (like Defenders) and Bendis is certainly not the first high profile creator to make a very public exit from Marvel there is no questioning his profound influence on the major properties of the company all through the early 2000’s to this point … and an argument can certainly be made (and very often is by comic book fans) that his works have become less and less infulential during his tenure at Marvel … However, given his massive contribution at Marvel, there is no doubt that his supporters and detractors alike will be watching with very keen eyes to see what the will be doing at his new home as he endeavors to bring his own spin to the inhabitants of the Multiverse.
We will be watching too…