It’s likely a rough day in the Marvel Comics offices. Announced via tweet this morning, DC Comics, their “distinguished competition,” has signed writer Brian Michael Bendis to a “multiyear, multi-faceted” exclusive contract.
Bendis, who got his start writing and drawing crime comics like Torso, found fast success at Marvel Comics in 2000 alongside artist Mark Bagley with Ultimate Spider-Man, the first title in the Ultimate imprint that re-imagined classic characters for a new era. Bendis’ knack for David Mamet-like dialogue was a new experience for many cape-comic readers, and he soon found himself branching out to defining runs on titles like Daredevil and Avengers, which he infamously “disassembled” before reforming the team as Marvel Comics’ answer to the Justice League, introducing non-Avengers like Spider-Man and Wolverine to the mix for the first time.
In the 17 years since, Bendis has contributed more to Marvel’s ongoing legacy than perhaps any other living creator. Beyond establishing the rapid-fire humorous vibe that carried over to the screen in films like Avengers, Bendis is the co-creator of Netflix breakout star Jessica Jones, beloved teen Spider-Man Miles Morales and genius Iron Man inheritor Riri Williams. After years-long runs on multiple Avengers titles, Bendis took over Guardians of the Galaxy in the wake of the film’s massive success, and soon after launched two X-Men titles by bringing back the original five teenage X-Men, all of whom still play prominent roles in the current ongoing X-saga.
Following the success of Jessica Jones on the streaming giant Netflix, Bendis brought the character back to a solo series with artist Michael Gaydos, and joined frequent collaborator David Marquez to launch a Defenders series that mirrors the television incarnation of the team. Bendis is also the scripter behind several of Marvel’s largest events, from smash-hit Skrull fest Secret Invasion to the infamous, game-changing House of M to the underwhelming Civil War II. While his sales have diminished with most non-Star Wars Marvel titles, Bendis is still arguably Marvel’s best-known creative force, and losing him to DC will surely change the face of Marvel Comics in major ways.
While the DC announcement wasn’t accompanied by any mention of when Bendis’ first work for the publisher might appear or which characters might be involved, Bendis is notable among his peers for working all but exclusively at Marvel for the last 17 years. DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee helped define the look of Marvel Comics in the early ‘90s and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns had a lengthy Avengers run before finding his footing at DC, but Bendis has stuck exclusively with Marvel and its creator-owned imprint Icon in the nearly two decades since he began work on Ultimate Spider-Man. Aside from a short Batman tale in 2002, Bendis has never written a DC Comics character. Expect that to change in a big way in the coming years.