With the shocking news revealed this morning that “The Great One” Brian Michael Bendis, arguably Marvel’s top writer for the past 13 of his 17 years with the company, is leaving to join DC as a DC EXCLUSIVE writer, many comic book fans are still in shock. What does this mean for Marvel? What does it mean for DC? As we all try to process this cataclysmic transition, we here at Bleeding Cool believe it’s best to remember the good times we had with Brian Michael Bendis at Marvel Comics.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled the top six greatest moments in Bendis history. These are moments that stand out as some of the most important, most memorable, most “…the hell?!” moments not just in the history of Bendis at Marvel, but in comics in general. This is what you’re signed on for in the near future, DC Comics readers. We hope you survive the experience.
Not like this! Hawkeye dies in Avengers: Disassembled
The death of Gwen Stacy. The death of Captain Marvel. The death of Jean Grey. The second death of Jean Grey. The death of Hawkeye. All equally important and emotional moments in Marvel history. From 2000 to 2004, Brian Michael Bendis at Marvel was known as the writer of critically acclaimed books like Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias, and Daredevil, so when he got his shot in the big leagues writing Avengers, people were expecting big things. And Bendis delivered.
Avengers Disassembled was filled with tons of great moments, like She-Hulk ripping The Vision in half, but none are more memorable than Hawkeye’s poignant death scene, yelling “Not like this!!” while rocketing into a Kree spaceship and exploding. It would set the tone for more than a decade of classic Bendis storytelling that changed the Marvel Universe forever.
Bendis brings Angela into the Marvel Universe
For years, Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane were involved in a legal battle over the rights to characters created for Gaiman’s run on Spawn comics, a battle that Gaiman eventually won. Following the victory, everyone in the world (named Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane) waited with extreme anticipation for what Gaiman would do with those characters. Seizing the moment, Bendis and Gaiman worked together to bring Angela into the Marvel Universe as part of Bendis’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Sure, some may have considered Angela’s entrance to the Marvel Universe little more than a masturbatory ego trip designed only to stick it to McFarlane, but Angela actually went on to become a queer icon in Marvel comics — until Marvel canceled her book and erased her bisexuality, with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso saying he didn’t want to put “labels” on characters like Angela or Hercules. None of that would have been possible without The Great One.
That Jessica Jones/Luke Cage butt sex scene
No more mutants
Hot on the heels of making the Avengers great again with Avengers: Disassembled, Bendis turned his sights to the X-Men with one (probably editorially mandated) goal in mind: undo everything Grant Morrison had done to make the property relevant again in the new century.
In House of M, the character assassination of the Scarlet Witch continued, with Wanda creating a dystopian wish fulfillment alternate reality in order to bring back her kids with The Vision. The story ends with Wanda uttering the famous phrase, “no more mutants,” bringing back the real Marvel Universe but decimating the mutant population and making sure that no new mutants could be created. The story was heavily criticized at the time, but Ike Perlmutter must have really loved it! And that’s what really matters, isn’t it?
Jean Grey uses psychic powers to out Iceman as gay
Coming out as gay can be one of the most frightening and defining moments in a person’s life. In addressing such a concept in a comic book, one must possess traits like tact, empathy, and maturity, traits that we can all agree Bendis possesses in spades. So it was no surprise when readers opened an issue of All-New X-Men to see teenage Jean Grey use her psychic powers to invade teenage Bobby Drake’s mind and tell him that he’s gay. What gay comic book readers can’t identify with the feeling of being telepathically outed by one of their best friends against their will? It would probably go down in history as Bendis’s greatest accomplishment at Marvel, if not for the final entry in our list…
Black Panther trips down flight of stairs and dies in Age of Ultron
The first Black superhero in mainstream comics, the Black Panther is imbued with superhuman strength, speed, senses, and durability, and also wears a special suit constructed from the powerful space metal, vibranium. It would take a lot to bring him down. He’s one of the most important heroes in the Marvel Universe, and he deserved a death befitting a person of his abilities and stature. Thankfully, Bendis was prepared to deliver just that when the Panther tripped while running down a flight of stairs and broke his neck in a memorable scene in Age of Ultron, a story about Wolverine going back in time to murder an Avenger, then going back in time again to murder himself to stop himself from murdering an Avenger, as Susan Richards endorses his actions and the rest of the normally anti-killing and anti-time-meddling Marvel heroes are all like “that’s so Wolverine!” Even in a story like that, which stands alongside books like Watchmen as one of comics’ most seminal works, Black Panther’s death stood out.
So what are your favorite Bendis moments? Hawkeye becoming a kill-crazy assassin? That one scene in that one book where the characters repeat what each other are saying over and over?
And which DC characters are you hoping Bendis will lend his magic touch to next? Let us know in the comments.