Bendis isn’t a bad superman writer. I actually enjoy his writing a lot. Naomi is really good (so far), Young Justice is a lot of fun, and Man of Steel was great. Bendis is a slow writer when it comes to ongoings. He sort of takes a I don’t have an endgoal, so I’m just going to write until I hit x number of pages approach. At least that seems to be his approach for his Superman saga. Look, I don’t hate it. It’s very well written and does a fantastic job finding ways to challenge superman as a person, BUT Bendis stretches himself too thin.
Every project Bendis is writing:
Jinxworld : Pearl, Cover, Scarlet, The United States vs. Murder Incorporated.
Wonder Comics: Young Justice and Naomi + curating and guiding Dial H for Hero and Wonder Twins
Superman Family: Superman and Action Comics + Guiding Supergirl
Else: Batman Giant and a story from Detective Comics
Let’s assume for the purpose of my argument that with the exception of the ongoing Pearl that Bendis has finished everything in Jinxworld. (Giving him the benefit of the doubt)
So Bendis is still writing 6 stories and guiding another 3 (with hints at him writing more stuff). Having just finished 4 different stories. Tom King meanwhile is writing 3 series for certain and likely writing and planning another story of some sort. Tom Taylor is only really writing 1 series with no current ongoings (I think). Most writers only write a couple of projects at a time.
So why am I bringing this up? As I said, Bendis writes slow burn stories with lots of Dialogue. He’s also writing 6+ stories. Now in order to write 6 series Bendis releases his stories monthly. The problem is that he writes them monthly AT A SLOW BURN. His slow pace is often frustrating when you have to wait monthly between issues. In order to see the problem with Bendis’s writing, let’s look at two different Bendis Superman Stories.
MAN OF STEEL: This superman miniseries helped begin the superman saga alongside DC Nation #0. The Man of Steel mini-series is flawed but isn’t a bad story. Its story does a lot of set up and tone establishment but it never feels too slow with the exception of the bizarrely paced Jor-el - Jonathan Kent story. Even then this pacing though frustrating didn’t ever impede from his ability to tell a story. Each issue was just as exciting and captivating as the last. Note this was a weekly series and as such the slow burn pacing though frustrating didn’t impede the story.
SUPERMAN (vol. 2): I’m using this example because its current. By Volume two I’m referring to the return of Jonathan Kent story line. Some minor spoilers will be ahead! Jonathan Kent is a well loved superhero. Though he’s only been around for 2 and a half years, his innocence and adolescence humanized Superman and led to the most heart warming DC Comic in a long time in the form of Supersons. Jonathan is now in the hands of Bendis and the first thing that happens is that he becomes 17. In vol. 2, the plan is to explain how this happened. In the first issue of the volume, Superboy appears in front of his parents and tells the story from the first day of his trip to Lois’s return to Earth. Then the problems emerge, we get a teaser and then have to wait another month. In terms of pacing, we got through mostly unimportant information that Bendis had already basically explained in Action Comics #1004. So a month passes by and we get today’s Superman #8. Once again we get a lot of what we could already figure out followed by a last page teaser out of nowhere. Now we get to wait another month for another slow burn story about a much beloved character. Imagine if you knew Wally West was going to return from the dead after Heroes in Crisis and the next 6 issues of Flash are about how he came back in a slow burn for something which could really be told in one issue. 3 months later you finally understand what happened. Now multiply that by two because Bendis is writing monthly. His big reveals start feeling like a waste of time and not worth the effort. Why buy the next issue of Superman when you know your going to be waiting another month for a slow burn story. This issues aren’t all that fun and lack a lot of humor. Meanwhile, Bendis can’t even write Jon right. The closest to the innocent Jon we get, is Jon thinking “that’s a weird thing to be telling an eleven year old.” I’m not going to get into his weird writing of Superman’s “Babe” Lois, but still one month later we get more of that.
When looking at the big picture stuff, many things Bendis set up for his run in Man of Steel which began in May, like Jon’s trip took 8 months to begin getting content for. It took 5 months to begin to get Lois stories. This pacing is just too long. If Bendis has writing bimonthly, which he should, those times are halved and suddenly the stories have a good pacing to waiting ratio. The Man of Steel series is proof that the Bendis Burn (I’m coining it now!) can work. It’s just doesn’t work on monthly series.
This is a larger problem though. Young Avengers during his Marvel days would draw out into a slow Bendis Burn. Naomi and Young Justice are likely to face similar problems. Bendis needs to write fewer series and make his series more frequent if he wants to fight the Bendis Burn. Maybe the solution is everyone only buys his trades where you can read his arcs in one sitting but right now Bendis is loosing sales and people to his writing .
I hope you found this article insightful. It’s been a while since I did a DC Opinion Article because most of my complaints have been fixed but you can read it as a interesting look back at the past of DCU Below. Many of the referenced stories are actually on DCU now:
Also big thank you to DCU for adding Tomasi’s incredible superman run. Go read it if you haven’t read it yet! Supersons, Action Comics, and Superman are fantastic!