Thursday, November 9, 2017


DC Comics made the announcement Tuesday morning:

We are beyond thrilled to welcome Brian Michael Bendis exclusively to the DC family with a multi-year, multi-faceted deal. He’s one of the premier writers in the industry having created so many unforgettable stories wherever he’s been and we can’t wait to see what he has planned for the DC Universe.

On Tuesday morning, I was recovering from the weekend’s wonderful Akron Comicon and a big Monday night thing that I can’t talk about until sometime in December. I didn’t see the original announcement. When I did, I went online and quipped:

Clearly working with me has shown DC Comics the benefits of hiring writers who were born in Cleveland.

Of course, the Internet being the silly beast it often is, it was not long before I got a frenzied private message from a “reporter” asking me if they could interview me on my role in bringing Bendis  to DC. Yes, it was all my idea. DC had never heard of Bendis before I told them about him. I catered the meeting and brought doughnuts for everyone. Except the now-slimmed-down Bendis didn’t have any of them. Not even the ones with the Superman and Batman insignias on them. Brian’s will power is legendary.

While those of you lacking sarcasm filters will be rushing to quote me on the Internet, the real truth of the matter is that this news took me as much by surprise as anyone. Bendis and I are friendly, but we’re not close friends. It’s been way too long since we shared a proper conversation. But I do like and admire him.

This is a really big “get” for DC. Bendis has created some amazing characters at Marvel with Jessica Jones and Miles Morales leaping to mind. According to one report, he was currently writing Jessica Jones, Guardians of the Galaxy, Defenders, Spider-Man, Spider-Men II, Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man for Marvel. He’s done work on the Marvel cartoons and movies. He teaches comics-creating classes. He can do all of the above because he has one of the best work ethics I have ever seen in my decades in the comics industry. In Brian, DC is getting one of the best comics writers of all time. A writer who has also shown tremendous skills in many other areas of our industry. Like I said, it’s a big “get” for DC.

As I also said, I like and admire Bendis. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his writing over the past couple decades. Not all of it. But a majority of it. When I see his name in the credits of a comic book, I will read that comic book.

As usual, there is much speculation about why Bendis is making this move and why DC recruited him. In the case of DC, it’s a publisher clearly seeking to attract the best talent it can. That’s a total no-brainer. In the case of Brian, his reasons could be many or few. Choosing to share them is his call. All I care about is that he’s happy and productive in his new situation.

Back in the days when I was something of a “get” myself, though not like I kind of am today, I had really nice offers from both Marvel and DC. True, neither offer was quite what they seemed to be. I’ve written about that in the past, but my intent here is to show how I made the decision to go with DC at the time.

Marvel’s then-editor-in-chief offered me a hundred pages a month on some top titles. As it turned out, he didn’t have those pages for me. But that was the offer.

DC’s offer was for creating new titles for them, writing top titles like Batman and Justice League and joining them as a full editor. It didn’t happen that way either.

My decision to go with DC was based on the following:

Marvel had been in chaos since Roy Thomas stepped down as editor-in-chief and, for me, a more difficult work environment. I didn’t think the chaos would change. DC offered what I thought would be a more sane and stable approach to the making of comics, a chance to work with some people I truly admired and a chance to help lead the company to more exciting storytelling.

Those were my reasons back in 1976. In 2017, I’m certain Bendis has his own.

Something I’m very pleased about in this situation is that, for a change, the professionals are mostly acting like adults. Everyone is talking about their love for comics and how exciting the future will be. Bendis has praised Marvel. Joe Quesada was expressive and sincere in his praise of Bendis. This is how it should be.

There is much speculation about what Bendis will be writing at DC. Since I’m as big a comics fan as I ever was, I am more than willing to play that game. Here’s the three things I’d like to see Bendis write at DC:

SUPERMAN. I love the idea of a Cleveland-born writer on Cleveland-born Superman. I’d also love to see him go back to the Superman of the character’s initial appearances. In attitude. That Superman was a true defender of the oppressed and champion of the weak. He would leap into the air with a wife-beater and let the creep know how it felt to be weak and helpless. He would run crooked businessmen and  politicians out of town. He would laugh at authority figures as he went about his super-business. I love that Superman.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. Several readers have speculates on this and I have my own reasons. To the best of my recall, Bendis has never written a comic book set in the future. Given his natural affinity for super-teams and super-team banter, it would be interesting to see what he could bring to that sadly moribund concept. He wouldn’t be able to fall back on the modern-day dialogue he does so well and he’d have to project our world centuries into the future. I love to see great writers challenging themselves.

Digression. Every time I throw even the slightest bit of shade on the Legion, I get angry comments. The truth is...I loved the Legion in the beginning, especially when a young Jim Shooter brought some Marvel-style characterization and storytelling to the team. After that, in my mind, there have only been a handful of good or even interesting Legion stories. The only Legion run I really liked was Mark Waid’s re-imagining them as young rebels making their way in a universe ruled by shortsighted adults. That run went south after Waid left, but I thought it was a great idea. End of digression.

DETECTIVE SQUAD. This one is a gift to Bendis and DC. Picture the Elongated Man with wife Sue Dibny heading a big-city squad that was a mix of human and metahuman detectives. Updated versions of Ralph and Sue and some of DC’s other forgotten detective characters. It could be, by turns, gritty or humorous, giving Bendis a stage for his delightful dialogue. It would need more than the working title I came up with, but I think it would be a fun series.

That’s my take on the industry’s big news of the week. If you would like to see more bloggy things like this one, let me know.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Now that the Ralph has been introduced into The Flash TV series it might be a great time to showcase him in a comic. It would also be nice to have his wife, Sue, back after the shabby treatment she received over a decade ago.

    I would also love to have Bendis, or any good writer, be given a chance to bring the Legion back. I'd forget about the Superboy/man ties for now, as the continuity would be way to confusing to any new reader.