The Bendis Deal, Reexamined from the Perspective of its Three Key Players

Tomorrow brings the arrival of Event Leviathan, a six-issue DC event comic from the team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and his long-time artistic collaborator Alex Maleev. Building off of the story Bendis has been crafting in Action Comics ever since he began defining the direction for Superman, it’s a big deal, as event comics often are meant to be.

While Bendis has been plenty busy after signing his exclusive deal with DC Comics in November of 2017, having taken over the Man of Steel’s main titles just a little over a year ago, restarting his Jinxworld imprint with four books this past August, and launching his Wonder Comics pop up imprint earlier this year, Event Leviathan is the biggest moment yet for the legendary scribe. As much as DC leadership talked up the value of his smaller books, you don’t sign a superstar to play a supporting role; you sign them to lead the way.

Much was made about the importance and potential of the deal
that brought Bendis to DC after nearly 18 years at Marvel after it was
announced, and that’s understandable: it was a seismic announcement within the industry. But there’s been little reflection on how it has worked out since then. With that in mind, the arrival of his first DC event feels like a good line in the sand, a demarcation point from which we can look back and reassess that massive point in recent comic book history. Let’s do just that from the perspective of the three key players affected by the deal.

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  1. Which writer Jonathan Hickman recently revealed Bendis actually quit, which is likely why the ending felt so very rushed to some readers.

  2. It didn’t help that he followed Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s team defining run.

  3. Which is a welcome change of pace from where they line was at Marvel.

  4. His work with Ryan Sook, Yanick Paquette and others was nothing to sniff at either. Action has had some seriously great artists on it with Bendis onboard.

  5. Despite its hilariously on the nose name.

  6. After he signed his deal at DC, Bendis was overcome by a surprise MRSA infection that threatened his life and blinded him four days. All appears to be well now.

  7. Also, all this data is from Comichron. Shouts to John Jackson Miller, as per usual.

  8. One important note: Tomasi’s actual first issue was Superman: Rebirth #1, but that’s confusing and I didn’t want to include that, just like I passed on including Bendis’ Man of Steel mini-series that led into his runs on Superman and Action.

  9. I didn’t include a matching number of issues because the three issues that preceded the blue line’s starting point line were all lenticular covers, and god only knows those skew the heck out of orders.

  10. Please don’t try and prove me wrong, Rich.

  11. It probably didn’t help that two of the four launch titles were ones that previously existed at Marvel and famously never came out on time.

  12. Per the front page of Comichron.

  13. Note: Naomi’s first issue was returnable, further underlining that situational returnability can pay off big for everyone involved.

  14. That’s pure conjecture of course, but a Young Animal title – no matter how good it seems to be – probably has less value to them than more of something that’s proven to be a hit already. But hey, maybe its new Green Lantern character could be another budding star!