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Bendis Exiting the Avengers; Dark Reign Redux and X-Men Vs. Avengers on the Way Out.


By Todd Allen

These days, it seems like three years on a title is a good run.  Brian Michael Bendis is calling it a day with eight years on the Avengers titles.  In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Bendis says:

“I’m going to wrap up ‘Avengers’ and ‘New Avengers.’ At the same time the first storyline of ‘Avengers Assemble’ will be done,” Bendis told CBR. “It’s a good time to move on to other things. Before I go, though, I’m ending things big. I’m in countdown mode. You know when you’re watching a show like ‘Breaking Bad,’ and every episode feels like the second to last episode? That’s where I’m at. I’ve been on the Avengers longer than anybody in the history of the book. When you take everything into account, I’ve written over 200 issues. I’m very, very proud of that, and what we have coming up this summer gives me the opportunity to go out on a high note. I know enough about showbiz to know that’s a great time to go.”

Looking back at his time on the Avengers, one word comes to mind: events.  The two things that immediately popped into my mind were Secret Invasion (Bendis spent a lot of time laying the ground for it before the actual series) and Dark Reign.  Upon closer examination, throw in the mini-event of Avengers:Disassembled, which led directly into House of M.  The New Avengers hiding out during Civil War.  The Bendis Avengers run really has been the spine of Marvel for the bulk of the last seven years.

This is not to say everyone was enchanted by the Bendis Avengers.  Plenty of fans didn’t think they actually _were_ Avengers comics.  This is not an entirely invalid viewpoint.  Bendis did his own thing, with his own flavor on Avengers.

There are at least 3 things on the Avengers plate for 2012.  First off, Norman Osborn has just returned and re-taken command of H.A.M.M.E.R.  Thus far, the current storyline appears to be a redux of Dark Reign, but without crossovers into all manner of other titles.  Actually, the launch of this arc has been more lively than things have been in a while.  (Neal Adams on the point one issue didn’t hurt.)  The endcap to the Bendis run will almost certainly be the long-foreshadowed “Ultron War.”

In the middle of all this, Bendis is one of the cast of writers for Avengers Vs. X-Men, joining Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman.  This is a 12 issue bi-weekly series, starting in April.  Actually, it’s probably really a 13 issue series, since Bendis is writing a zero issue for March.  The writers will tag off with each writing a couple issues.  The plotlines involve the return of the Phoenix Force and the return/redemption of the Scarlet Witch.  Interestingly, this would be wrapping up a plot element that’s been simmering in the background since Bendis had Wanda utter “No more mutants” in Avengers Disassembled and launched House of M.

At this point, it isn’t clear whether Avengers Vs. X-Men will be self-contained or cross over into the regular titles.  That will likely be revealed at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

Eight years is a good long run, and I’d agree with Bendis that ending with a high note is a good thing.  It will be interesting to see how he handles going from Osborn, a distinctly Bendis-era villain (in terms of the Avengers), to Ultron, a more classic villain.

In the last year or two, Bendis has been setting up a few more of his creator owned titles.  He’s effectively re-organized his long running Powers comic (which followed him to Icon/Marvel from Image), started Scarlet with Alex Maleev and more recently Brilliant with Mark Bagley.  While they aren’t monthlies, you could certainly see Bendis getting the itch to try some new things when he set himself up with three of his own titles.  That he’s changing his primary assignment shouldn’t be a shock if you noticed the increase in his Icon work.

Bendis made his name writing crime comics and then getting promoted to Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil.  The Avengers came later and came to take up a lot of his writing time, far away from the more ground-level perspectives he started out with (and has at least partially returned to in Scarlet).  It’s good for a change of pace and it will be very interesting to see what Bendis has in mind for his next act… although one imagines we won’t hear what’s next until summer at the very earliest.  We also wait to see who’s taking up the Avengers pen next.  (Expect a few Avengers purists to start lobbying for Dan Slott, who had a well-received run on Mighty Avengers a couple years back.)

  1. It will be interesting to see how he handles going from Osborn, a distinctly Bendis-era villain (in terms of the Avengers), to Ultron, a more classic villain.

    Did you forget about the first MIGHTY AVENGERS arc that had Ultron taking over Iron Man’s body via his armor and had Henry Pym come up with the brilliant idea of disabling Iron Man with a Commodore 64 virus?

    Thus far, the current storyline appears to be a redux of Dark Reign, but without crossovers into all manner of other titles.

    Bendis is also repeating a core element of SECRET INVASION: using genetic analysis to allow the villains to duplicate the powers of the heroes.


  2. I’m a Bendis fan from way back. I discovered his work with AKA GOLDFISH, and I really wish he’ll revisit the style of his early crime work.
    I can’t imagine the guy who used to make some of the best crime comics during that mini-era in the mid 90s could apply his skills to a superhero team book.
    But a lot of those guys did.

  3. That said, Mark Waid’s Daredevil run is a perfect example of turning on a dime and making it look good. He acknowledged everything Bendis and Brubaker had done, found a logical reason for the new focus, and ran with it so hard that even as of the first issue it felt like he’d repaired everything.

    It can be done, though I think that was largely a fluke. Most of Marvel’s “hot” writers and go-to guys are doing stuff I dislike. We got lucky with Waid’s DD run.

  4. Dan Slott writing a more traditional Avengers would be awesome, but I’m not sure Marvel would want such a dramatic change of tone – they’re more likely to want someone to carry on the Bendis-style writing that’s sold comics consistently over the last howevermany years. But would a Bendis-impersonator be able to keep sales up?

    Ed Brubaker would be awesome too. Kurt Busiek would be double-awesome.

  5. Putting on the fanboy glasses for a moment–Bendis’ run on Avengers has had its ups an downs (Spider-Man and Wolverine? You’ll never convince me that wasn’t a commercial money grab), but overall I’ve enjoyed it. And he did recently bring back one of my favorite B-characters, the Vision, in all his ’60s glory. I can’t say enough good about that. That said, I hope the new writer is a good one. And not Matt Fraction.

  6. No way it’ll be Slott. Slott has had a problem in the past with timeliness and doing multiple books. Amazing Spider-man has been really good recently. They’re not going to move Slott to Avengers and no way can he do both.

    I think it’ll either be Fraction or Hickman.

  7. I’m hoping it’s not Hickman, I like his work, but he’s already doing Ultimate Comics Ultimates (good book, bad name), I don’t need to see him doing the same characters in a slightly altered form.

    and Fraction needs to earn our trust again.

    I’d like to see Parker get New Avengers. His Thunderbolts is excellent but selling like crap. I could see him easily sliding into the Luke Cage centric New Avengers.

  8. This is great. Now if they roll back the prices…

    @Zack I’d love to see Rick Remender writing the Avengers, with Jeff Parker writing New Avengers. Both have earned their shot.

    I just hope Marvel recognizes their writers’ strengths and weaknesses and play to that. It’s hard to write a team book, which is why Remender and Parker are Marvel’s best bet.

  9. I could see him easily sliding into the Luke Cage centric New Avengers.

    How does Parker’s Cage compare to Bendis’s Cage? Bendis’s Cage is to me, at least, painfully dull, a character Bendis uses because his dialogue is easy to write and his powers require no thought to use. He’s accomplished practically nothing noteworthy in the Avengers titles since 2005.


  10. Dan Slott was horrible when he took over ASM and he is always just a goof writer to me. I’d like to see them get someone solid on the book like Busiek or even Brubaker

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