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June 05 2006

Entertainment Weekly compares Brian Michael Bendis to Joss. In Ken Tucker's review of Bendis' Powers #18, he calls Bendis "the best writer of wised-up pop culture dialogue this side of Joss Whedon or Elmore Leonard."

Personally, I still feel that Bendis is sort of overated. There are better writers out there.
Maybe i'm just not a big Bendis fan.
I think Joss treads a fine line. Pop culture is one of those tricky shorthands which can yank an audience out of the scene and remind them that they're just watching a show and that the writer's watch tv and movies in their spare time too.

I guess it's a similar balancing act in comics.
Bendis is at his best when he keeps that trademark decompression in check and gets a little more story out of those 24 pages. Of course, he can't be beat in those trade paperback collections where his yakking flows pretty seamlessly.

And about the pop-culture thing, I'm convinced that it is hardly even intentional - like with Whedon it's just the way people tend to insert references into conversations casually. I wouldn't say either of them overuse the pop-culture references so much that they should be 'known' for it.
I used to like Bendis a lot--mainly when he first started with Alias and Daredevil, but he's fallen out of favor with me big time. The thing with Bendis' dialogue is that all his characters tend to sound exactly the same. When he writes someone like Jessica Jones or Carol Danvers, it's fine, because you can picture those characters talking like that. But then we have that issue of New Avengers a while back where it was mostly Emma Frost talking to the Sentry's wife...and nothing in the comic sounded anything like Emma Frost's "voice", which, normally, is pretty distinctive.

He also likes to throw in a lot of "filler" dialogue that seems like it's meant to be witty banter, but is neither amusing nor relevant to the scene/story. I think his editors need to rein him in.
Haven't read a lot of Bendis' stuff but i've really liked what i've seen (Alias and the first hardcover of Ultimate Spider-Man) possibly apart from The Pulse which was not quite up to the same standard (only read the first trade so far). He does seem to write a lot every month though so I wouldn't be amazed if the quality suffered a bit.

I think most people use pop culture references all the time in normal speech so it feels true when you read it. Personally i've no problems with it but I worry that dialogue that's too pop heavy will date much more quickly than otherwise and possibly be less accessible to a generation spanning audience.

For instance, in 15 or 20 years time I reckon people may still watch Buffy and still admire its playfulness with language but I think some of the dialogue's snap will have gone since a lot of the references will be basically meaningless to an audience of the future (who'll presumably be watching it in their flying cars, while eating dinner in pill form and instructing their robot butler to water the garden, hey, it's in all the books, that's what the future'll be like ;).
I liked Bendis on early Ultimate Spiderman and Daredevil, but haven't been overly impressed with his recent stuff. New Avengers is not bad, but it feels a little decompressed at times. I definitelly see what areacode212 is referring to. It was particularly evident in that Illuminati special. Not a bad story, but the dialogue for some of the characters didn't ring true for me.
I think Bendis is very much a specialist. He is good at writing noirish type stories, such as Powers, Alias and Daredevil, but isn't so good at the larger, more mainstream stuff like New Avengers.

That's not to say that he isn't a good writer, I think he's fantastic and the things he does...but not necessarily with the mainstream stuff.

I think with Joss it can be similar...I'm not sure how suited he would be for something like Daredevil or Captain America, which have taken a somewhat darker turn. Only one way to find out....(hint hint Joey Q!!!)
There was a joke a while ago where someone called Marvel the House of Bendis or something which is because he does write tons of comics a month. It's not excuse but it might be a reason why some of this stuff isn't that good.

His work on Ultimate Spiderman is just fantastic. He writes some of the best wise cracking while fighting Spiderman dialog ever.

Powers is just an amazing book, but it definitely reads better in trades. My god that thing seems to take forever to comeout.
Bendis is the man who made me love, love, love Spider-man again. Others consider it a criticism, but I appreciate that his stories take their time and allow for so many really wonderful character moments and meaningful conversations.

His Spidey-banter is laugh out loud funny, and yet despite all the insults they're forced to endure the major villains are never reduced to parody. Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Kingpin have all had moments where they are truly terrifying. This mixture of comedy, teen drama, and yes - even horror, has made USM a comic as close to the BtVS experience as I have ever found.

Bendis is also the man who took two characters that previously I could give heck all about - Mary Jane and Aunt May - and made me enjoy them as much as Peter Parker.

I just started reading the New Avengers trades last week, but so far I have been equally as impressed as I have been with USM. (Though I'd agree that he didn't quite "get" Emma Frost) Again, he manages to take characters I'd never felt invested in before - Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-woman - and make me genuinely care about what happens to them next. As far as I'm concerned, Bendis put the FUN back in "funnybook" and made this lapsed comic book fan a true believer again.
Well, I'm still a very, very big Bendis fan -- I think I'm reading everything he's writing these days.

That said, he doesn't make me fall to my knees and weep like he used to. Don't know if that's because (a) Familiarity breeds "ennnhhh...", (b) he's diluted his ability by spreading himself over too many books, or (c) I'm noticing more writers who are putting out equally good (or better) stuff of late.

(I never thought I'd say it, but Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark are doing an even better Daredevil than Bendis and Gaydos. Unbelievable and wonderful.)

It's almost certainly me, and not Bendis' writing; but I would say there's some places where he isn't hitting them out of the ballpark any longer. I think he reads better in the trades than in a single-issue format.
I really dig Bendis myself, especially Ultimate Spider-Man, which is pretty close to the definitive version of the hero to me.

And, yes, bookrats, I agree about Brubaker's fucking great. The current storyline is really giving me Oz vibes.
Have to agree with some of the stuff that's been said--love Bendis, but he's much better at the quieter, darker stories than he is at Big Showdown in the Marvel U.

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