Bendis Is Coming
They were the three scariest words any Superman fan who knew about Brian Michael Bendis could have heard. There could have been worse (Superman Is Canceled, Nic Cage’s Superman, Snyder’s Superman sequel) but it sure didn’t feel like it at the time. It’s not that Bendis is a bad writer. Many of his stories on their own merit have been good. People still praise his time on the Ultimate universe version of Spider-Man and he’s done plenty of stuff in his own universes. The problem is when he comes onto someone else’s. Bendis cares little for continuity or getting characters right. They’re all original characters in his mind, just that some were famous before he got there.
There was hope against hope that WarnerMedia would fix some of the problems that DC Comics and the DC Universe have had since Dan DiDio took over, a man who also cares little for history and likes to give everything a dark and gritty makeover. Meanwhile some voices thought they were going to drop the comic publisher altogether and just use the characters in other media, or outsource their comics like Marvel has with IDW on some of their kid-version titles. However, look what’s happened during the death plague shutdown. DC is giving Diamond competition again (though DC was the reason Diamond was the last comic shop distributor standing), DiDio is gone, and rumor has it the whole 5G initiative isn’t going to happen. That actually might make an interesting out of continuity miniseries or stand alone graphic novel. Maybe you could put Bendis on that and take him off Superman and Action Comics? Well, at least part of that is happening.
Yep, Bendis is leaving the main Superman title, though no word about Action Comics. It’s a step in the right direction anyway. During his tenure Bendis undid much of the good tiding the Rebirth initiative gave the Man Of Steel, part of DiDio’s plan to put everything back to the way he wanted it since he was kept off of Rebirth for a reason. The changes he made were a poor fit for Superman and the direction the character has taken. Depending on who takes his place this is really good news. Of course, that also depends on whether or not Bendis’s bad changes are undone.
Getting the right person to write Superman is priority #1!
I say this every time a disliked creator or editor-in-chief is replaced. The news is only good if the right person replace them. There are men and women out there who understand the character and his cast. They know who Superman is, and some of them can even tell a good story. At this point I could probably do a better job getting Superman right and my resume isn’t exactly bringing them to my door. Imagine if Tom King was the replacement writer here and you’ll see what I mean. That might even be worse given King loves to give heroes mental issues. Just ask Mister Miracle, Batman, and Wally West.
Two names have been coming up in response to the news Bendis is leaving at least the main title, though if I dig through some of my comics I could probably find a few more. (Dan Mishkin is one name I’d throw out. Josh Elder is another.) Dan Jurgens is probably the best Superman writer currently still being given comic work. Few writers understand how to write a good Superman moment (like the one above from the New 52 after George Pérez had enough of being treated like dirt by DiDio and Grant Morrison, who was working on Action Comics and not coordinating on his revised Superman history while Pérez’s Superman was set in the present day). Jurgens understands Superman, Lois, and the others thanks to one of the longest and most beloved runs on the character. Putting him back on the comic (though I think he got tired of their crap at one point too) is pretty much a no-brainer at this point. If they can get him back and he has more Superman stories to tell, get on that!
Another name floating around is Peter Tomasi. I’m not as familiar with his Superman stories so I can’t comment personally but he must have done something right to get his name brought up on Twitter and comments about Bendis’ leaving the title. I think part of it is due to Tomasi’s work on Super Sons, the comic where the young teen offspring of Superman and Batman, Jon “Superboy” Kent and Damian “Robin” Wayne, go on crimefighting missions together. It was one of the most celebrated comics of the Rebirth period and cut short by Bendis ageing Jon up a few years and sending him to play with the Legion Of Super Heroes (though given the Legion’s history that will disappear from history on some lazy Tuesday after someone got the wrong fish sandwich or something). Which means the next step for whomever they bring in is obvious.
De-age Superboy and restore the Super Sons!
One of the calls I saw in those comments wasn’t just to restore Tomasi but to restore the Super Sons. Like I said, it was a beloved series and the young adult graphic novel didn’t seem to do it justice if the comments I saw are to be believed. They want to see Jon learning from his father, hanging out with his regular friends and going on adventures with his best bud Robin. At some point I stopped following Bendis’ ruination of my favorite superhero so maybe this scenario is impossible but there’s a way to do this without backsliding on the currently older teen Superboy with the Legion. I can sum it up in one sentence.
Hypertime is a b#@$%, folks.
What if it’s learned that older Jon isn’t younger Jon grown up? What I mean is the Jon that came back actually escaped a Jor-El from a different timeline, one in which Jon had enough of his crazy theyshouldhavekepthimdead grandpa and flew threw a timewarp to get home. (Not the craziest thing that’s happened to this family but that’s not important now.) Instead we learn that “our” Superboy not only was still with Jor-El but pulled a Luke Skywalker and managed to reform him. When Superman and Superboy go to rescue Jon’s “brother” they find they’ve actually been trying to fix the dimension older Jon came from because while he was gone their Superman and Lois were killed. Unable to face that event, older Jon returns to the Legion in the regular universe while younger Jon goes back home to be with his family. Older Jon can visit and vice versa and we can have some fun stories based on that, as younger Jon tries to restore some of his “big brother’s” happier and more positive self, and any fans that older Jon (now taking the Kryptonian style name Jon-El to avoid confusion) still get to see him in action. Everyone wins!
Oh right, we need to fix something to make all of that happen.
Restore the Supermarriage
Maybe they actually did fix this one. Like I said, at some point I just couldn’t bear to hear what Bendis was doing. First he retconned Krypton’s destruction from “it was one of those Mondays” to “I did it, I’m glad I did it, and I would do it again for no logical reason”. Then the whole aging up Jon thing. Then Superman moves the Fortress from the Arctic to I think the Bermuda Triangle for no good reason whatsoever. (Addition: go back to the Arctic fortress and give this one to…I don’t know, Stormwatch or something. Let them think they matter when you have three different Justice Leagues, the Teen Titans, and the 500 other groups and shadow organizations in the main DC Universe.) The nature of how Jor-El got his hands on Jon, with Lois’s consent and then just leaving him there to be trained by his crazy-go-nuts grandfather and resume her life–you know, mother of the year type stuff–led to a riff in the marriage. Though apparently they still got together for super-nookie.
I seriously need a faceplam graphic for my library.
Here’s a thought: blame this on baddie Jor-El too. It wouldn’t have been above him to do something that messed with Lois’s head and sent her away. That could easily be a source of conflict between the two for our restoration scenario that could also be used to (probably in a few stories to make it feel more natural) bring the Kent family together again under the same roof. They live in Metropolis, go to the farm to practice and get away for a while, go to the Fortress to train harder and study all the sci-fi stuff that exists and monitor world crises–like a Kent HQ and a Super HQ respectively in the last two spots. The way the Kents were brought into the main DCU, and don’t get me started on that whole thing, showed the potential for Superman and family and Bendis tossed that all out as DiDio tried to undo Rebirth and met opposition by fans.
I’m not the kind of guy who likes to see previous writer’s work thrown out unless it’s too heinous a direction that needs undoing. That’s why I have older and younger Jon Kent for everyone but undo as much as I can. Even Jor-El, who I considered making a heroic sacrifice to complete his character arc, was changed to being the new hero of this alternate Earth to either be ignored or explored by future writers. That’s what I like about continuity. I don’t see it as a wall, I see it as a challenge to improve and to continue the adventures and lives of beloved characters and idea. This is not Bendis’s approach. That’s why “Bendis is coming” was considered the raid warning and “Bendis is going” (at least from one of the Super-titles; no word on Action Comics) is the all clear. Of course, that depends on who takes his place. I’m available!