I’ve been a comic book reader for roughly 20 years now and in the last 10 years I’ve gotten seriously into collecting comic books. Around that time several writers were coming to the forefront of comics and ushering in a new Golden era so to speak. Notably names such as Geoff Johns, Ed Brubaker, Mark Millar and of course Brian Michael Bendis. Ahh Bendis… we have had quite the turbulent history, you and I.
Bendis was the writer that you either loved or hated and yet, I was somewhere in the middle. Let me get one thing straight, Bendis’ run on Daredevil is perhaps in my opinion the greatest run on the character. Ever. Yes that includes Frank Miller’s. While I recognize that Miller introduced all of what makes DD special and Bendis just built on that, his run accompanied by the moody art of Alex Maleev was just more enjoyable to me, hooked me more.
Yet, any other book I tried of Bendis’ whether it is any of his Avengers books, Powers, Ultimate Spider-man etc. left me wanting. I never got hooked. His style of writing with his ‘real-world dialogue’ annoyed me and really disrupted the flow of his books to me. It eventually got to a stage where if his name were attached to a book I wouldn’t touch it. Marvel pushing him as their most creative force didn’t help, as each big book that came out of the House of Ideas had Bendis writing it at one point and I always felt the need to be in on it, and as such I got ‘burned’ too many times.
Cut to the latter half of 2012 and Marvel Now! Is in full swing. Months prior, details of a new x-men book titled ‘All New X-Men’ had been leaked. Both the concept (the original five X-Men time travel to the present day Marvel universe and in the wake of what they learn decide to stay and change it) and Bendis writing it felt nuanced and silly. Then I started to see some preview pages appearing showcasing Stuart Immonen’s sublime art and I really liked the tone of the book art wise so I decided to give it a few issues. I’m really glad I did. All New X-Men has turned out to be one of the best and most fun books of Marvel Now! and overall on the stands. While it was Immonen’s art that initially drew me in, surprisingly it was Bendis’ writing that’s kept me buying the book.
It was with this surprising development that I then decided to pre-order Uncanny X-Men also written by Bendis and again, 4 issues in I am really loving the book! While I saw Avengers Vs X-Men as a huge excuse just to see the two teams fight it out, Bendis has taken threads resulting from that story and provided an enthralling take on the X-Men at present. Even the aforementioned original time-displaced X-Men in the present is presented with a smart character driven plot spread across both books that I cannot get enough of.
It was with both these pleasant surprises that I then decided to give the Bendis written Age of Ultron limited series a try. With 6 issues in (the fifth which I read this morning) Age of Ultron is proving to be for me, the most enjoyable event book since DC’s ‘Identity Crisis’. Marvel’s big event books have always left me cold and wondering why I wasted my money buying them yet this one so far has proven a big hit. It feels epic in scale and for once, things may not be the same coming out of it. It, like Bendis’ X-men books feels refreshing.
I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’ve finally taken to Bendis’ writing and I’m no longer afraid to try new books of his. I remember when Marvel announced NOW! the writer had remarked that he was excited but worried about taking over the X-Men books as he hadn’t written them before in their own book and he was somewhat changing his style. Maybe it was this excitement and worry that has invigorated his passion and creative juices after lounging on the Avenger’s titles for the last 10 years or this change in style that has made his writing more appealing to me but all I know is that now, Marvel and Bendis are really making good comics and we all benefit.