What do you think about Brian Michael Bendis?
I like a lot of his work - his creator-owned stuff is great, I love his run on Ultimate Spiderman, and even some of his newer Marvel stuff like All-New X-Men - but I think he’s got some flaws as a writer that become much more visible when he writes a team book or an event.
The first flaw that bothers me is that Bendis has a tendency to escalate the stakes way too fast and too high, rather than giving the status quo a chance to breathe and have its potentials explored. One of these days, I want to write some essays about Comics in Parallel, where I explore two series on the same topic or theme - which was inspired by reading Powers and Gotham Central at the same time. And the thing I really noticed is that Bendis went to Roland Emmerich-levels of city, world, and status quo destruction so quickly that there was nowhere to go from there.
The second flaw that bothers me - and it’s related to the first - is that Bendis is much better at innovative setups than carefully-constructed payoffs. Take All-New X-Men for example: bringing the Original Five from the 60s into the present to confront their adult selves is a great idea, but as the series went on, it became very clear that Bendis hadn’t thought of some big questions when he started. Like, what was the bad thing the X-Men were brought from the past to prevent? Did they actually prevent it? Could they go back, and if not, why?
And you see much the same phenomenon with a lot of Bendis’ events - Secret Wars, House of M, Secret Invasion, Siege, Age of Ultron - which all start with a high-concept idea (what if Nick Fury got us into a quasi-Iraq? What if mutants ruled the world? What if Skrulls were among us? What if super-villains ruled the world) but lose the plot rather quickly and have unintended negative consequences for the status quo of the line or various books in the line.
So while I like much of Bendis’ work, he’s also one of the main reasons why I stopped reading Marvel for a decade.