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  1. #1
    government's watching you matt levin's Avatar
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    Default Alias! (or, whatever happened to that Brian Michael Bendis fella?)

    Have just been rereading a series from the "Marvel MAX" imprint, "Alias", which follows an ex-costumed hero named Jewel (later, Knightress), who quits following a particularly bruising incident with Killgrave (the Purple Man) to become a one-woman private investigator, now known simply by her given name, Jessica Jones. Much to my pleasure, I'm finding it well up there with "Fatale," "Stumptown" and other, more current 'detective comics' in terms of high quality artwork by Michael Gaydos, and deeply engaging naturalistic writing by the Brian M. Bendis of "Jinx," "Goldfish," (both of which Bendis also drew!). Just hoping, here, to call attention to a comic I'm enjoying again, and to wonder (admittedly, sardonically and 'ironically') whatever happened to Bendis...
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  2. #2
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    Read it maybe 4 years ago & was similarly impressed; ditto for the first few dozen issues of Powers.

    What happened to Bendis, I suppose, is success, at which point the temptation to devolve into a dull parody of oneself must be overwhelming, especially since it includes legions of people telling you that your every word is genius.
    I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
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  3. #3
    Say WHAT?!?!?!? FanboyStranger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan bailey View Post
    What happened to Bendis, I suppose, is success, at which point the temptation to devolve into a dull parody of oneself must be overwhelming, especially since it includes legions of people telling you that your every word is genius.
    I think it's not so much this as that he overextended himself on big superhero books, something his writing style is not particularly suited to. Because he generally comes across as a pretty humble, grounded guy with a lot self-depreciation. Marvel waved some money at him when he was starting a family, and he took it, which meant that he became the go-to guy for big projects at the expense of the smaller, more interesting types of books that made his name in the first place. Because books like Alias, Jinx, Torso, and the Image Powers series were really full applications of his abilities, but his stewardship of the Avengers franchise over the past decade almost seemed phoned-in.

  4. #4
    Cute.5 Aaron King's Avatar
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    I think he just has a little bit of a problem with tying things together. On books like Alias and Ultimate Spider-Man (books that I like and are relatively self-contained), time moves at a slow enough clip that things can be brought up and left to gestate. On Avengers, where he had to keep up with the rest of the Marvel Universe, big things would be brought up (Who organized the jailbreak? Savage Land what?) and then, instead of being plot points, would just be offhandedly resolved or left alone.

    I also noticed this problem in Powers. Things would be revealed (Walker has kids!) and then just... left. Any person, in real life or in stories, would say, "Whoa, hold on," and deal with this stuff. Maybe he just needs a better editor? I don't know.

    In any case, if you're looking for more good crime/mystery stories, Brubaker's Criminal (with Sean Phillips) and Scene of the Crime (Michael Lark & Phillips) are great. I really like Rucka's Whiteout with Steve Lieber on art (and sequel). Then you join them together for Gotham Central. Also, Underground by Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber.
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  5. #5
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    I still haven't read any of Bendis's independent stuff, but I've come around on him a little bit. When, though websites like this, I first started paying attention to new Marvel and DC comics again around 10 years ago, the names that were bandied about as the top writers, in terms of quality rather than popularity, were Morrison, Ellis, Gaiman, Ennis, and Bendis. Over time, I tried them all and eventually found that Morrison, Ellis, and Ennis lived up to the hype and then some (though I know several people here whose opinions I respect disagree strongly on each of those). Gaiman, I could see the ability, but found him rather bland and dull: all surface and no depth, and even the surface, though often skilfully done, wasn't all that impressive. And Bendis was a complete disappointment: I just could not see why he was so acclaimed.

    And, at one level, I still can't. But since I've stopped expecting much from him, I find I've been able to better appreciate what he does bring to the table. His range is narrow, but within those limits, he can be fun to read, though, I have to say, not much more than that - but then, that's sometimes enough, if you're in the mood for that kind of light entertainment. The only thing I've read all the way through is the Avengers story he did with Frank Cho, and that was enjoyable: his dialogue, which seems to be the thing that brings him both credit and blame to the greatest degree, worked well in that story for the most part and I could see why he's so popular with a lot of readers. None of the characterisations felt too "off" and some - Ares, for instance - were quite well done. Of course Cho's artwork helped (even though his Black Widow was strangely disappointing.

    And I've seen a few things of Bendis in previews - some of the Dark Avengers stuff, in particular - that I thought were quite nicely done. He's often criticised, and rightly so in many cases, for making everyone sound too much the same, but there were a few moments when he really captured a character I would have thought him incapable of writing well, like Loki, for example.

    So, while I still don't rank him up there with the best current writers in comics, I can now enjoy some of his work. One of these days I expect see something of his that I'll want to actually read all the way through rather than just looking at online previews, and I'll see then if my opinion changes.
    Last edited by berk; 02-04-2013 at 11:41 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member CromagnonMan's Avatar
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    Daredevil and Alias are truly great. Everything since...thumbs down.

  7. #7
    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    Gaiman, I could see the ability, but found him rather bland and dull: all surface and no depth

    Berk has managed to type one of the most bizarre combinations of words I've ever seen.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slam_Bradley View Post
    Berk has managed to type one of the most bizarre combinations of words I've ever seen.
    To put it in context, the thing I was reacting to at the time was his then-current 1602 miniseries, which I found very ordinary for a such a critically acclaimed writer.

  9. #9
    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CromagnonMan View Post
    Daredevil and Alias are truly great. Everything since...thumbs down.
    Thumbs up! (I mean, thumbs up to your comment!)

    Daredevil and Alias were remarkably good, I thought. The rest, well... I was embarrassed at having bought the Secret Invasion trade; Siege was a loud, spectacular and empty comic that caused the end of an interesting run in Thor... and the Avengers trades I read seemed intent on putting Earth's Greatest Heroes in one team, and matching them against Earth's Lamest Villains. I mean, The Hood? The Griffin? Daken???

    The dialog in Bendis' books can often be entertaining, although there are some odd moments (when an Avenger repeatedly exclaims "Why is this happening?", for example). But he's far better suited, I think, to crime stories than to pure superhero stuff.
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  10. #10
    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    I didn't care for Alias at all, but Scarlet is my favorite thing he's written. So.. he got better?
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    I enjoyed Alias, except for the fact that every one of the story arcs completely fizzled out at the end.

    Daredevil was better.

  12. #12
    No task too small ForeverTaskmaster's Avatar
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    I loved Alias. It was something totally different. I think it'sone of the best comics I ever read.

  13. #13
    New Member Max Hauser's Avatar
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    I loved the weirder issues of Alias... there's one that, and I might be wrong here, David Mack does that is as a stranger comic book experience I've ever come across. And somehow they both pull it off.

    On the whole, I like Bendis. His rougher around the edges stuff like Sam and Twitch is what I like the most, but I do also adore Ultimate Spidey which is probably the easiest comic book in the world to read.

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