A rose by any other name would smell as sweet — but it wouldn't have the kudos. The word is out and it hit with a bang. Brian Michael Bendis, who has been writing continuously for Marvel Comics since 2000 has signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics. But why?
No doubt there will be PR-friendly soundbites with the words "challenge", "fresh start", or "a whole new universe of characters to play with" but from involved sources, Bleeding Cool has been able to put together this timeline. All of this is unofficial, of course.
Much of it was spurred by the Marvel Comics Writers Summit that occurred last month just before New York Comic-Con, which we dubbed Fear And Loathing Before NYCC 2017.
But first, what was going on with Bendis at Marvel? He was writing Jessica Jones, Guardians of the Galaxy, Defenders, Spider-Man, Spider-Men II, Invincible Iron Man, and Infamous Iron Man. He had written the Civil War II crossover event. But he deliberately stayed well away from Secret Empire. His books didn't crossover with the big event, and Guardians only did when he left.
However, his books weren't getting the big numbers like they used to. And a number of them were subject to being later than usual. His contract was up, the likelihood of getting a raise was low.
The Marvel Comics Creative Committee of which he played a strong part no longer had any influence on the films, after Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios stopped reporting to Ike Perlmutter, but to Disney instead. Bendis, who wrote the first of the Marvel end-credits scenes with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury in Iron Man, was no longer a part of that mix.
Bendis had written pretty much every Marvel character he was interested in — and there was no chance of Marvel publishing a Fantastic Four comic now.
So, the Marvel Comics Writers Summit, before New York Comic Con. We mentioned how the issue of increased diversity of Marvel Comics and how to deal with negative reaction towards that, was a significant aspect. I am told that Bendis, creator of Miles Morales and Riri Williams, had quite the disagreement with David Gabriel, whose interview with Miles Griepp for ICV2 regarding diversity at the publisher needed repeated clarifications.
That there was a decision made to give the title called simply Spider-Man to the Peter Parker iteration of the character in 2018, rather than the current Miles Morales, which would become Miles Morales: Spider-Man again — a battle Bendis thought he had previously won for Marvel Legacy.
That Gabriel told Bendis that diversity doesn't sell. The counter to that being, what does at Marvel aside from Dan Slott's Amazing Spider-Man and Star Wars?
Now, to be clear, the fight isn't why he left — but just part of his overall discontent.
Bendis was losing his swagger, none of his friends were there anymore, it was time to leave the stage — and get a brand new spotlight. And probably a raise into the bargain.
Oh yes, and DC Comics has offered him a spot at their films/multi-media table, working alongside Geoff Johns, something denied him by Kevin Feige at Marvel.
The other question to ask is… who will be following Bendis? How long do the likes of David Marquez, Stefano Caselli, Sara Pichelli, have on their Marvel contracts? John Romita Jr is already at DC Comics, so is Olivier Coipel (after he's finished Mark Millar's new comic — and yes, Netflix's decision to delay that announcement as it was too close to the Texas shooting, saw it buried by the Bendis news today). And Alex Maleev is contractless right now…
But Bendis and Pichelli on Zatanna seems a really easy sell, no?
Anyway, this is the scuttlebutt. We'll see what the official PR version looks like at a later date… Brian did not respond to e-mails sent earlier in the day, but he's probably been very busy.