Brian Michael Bendis (born August 18, 1967) is a American comic book writer. He started writing crime/noir independent comics, in Caliber and Image Comics, and then joined Marvel Comics. Marvel had a project to relaunch its characters in a new universe, the Ultimate Marvel universe, and to make it feel fresh they hired new writers with new styles, such as Bendis and Mark Millar, instead of using the established ones. Bendis started in 2000 with Ultimate Spider-Man, a Decompressed Comic starred by a teenager Peter Parker, that started with his Origin Story and reconstructed all the Spider-man mythos from scratch. He also wrote Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, making team-ups of Spider-Man and other reimagined characters, to provide further World Building. Bendis and Millar, who had started Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates (a remake of The Avengers), joined forces to relaunch another classic Marvel team in Ultimate Fantastic Four.
The success of the Ultimate comics led to Marvel using Bendis at comics set in the mainstream universe as well. In 2001 he wrote Daredevil for the Marvel Knights line. He also started the Marvel MAX line, and his first comic would be a relaunch of Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew, a 1970s characters that got the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome) turned into a private investigator, but Marvel had plans to make a standard relaunch of the character. So Bendis changed some details of his new comic, and introduced it as a completely new character instead: Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones started in the comic book Alias, and then continued in The Pulse.
He also made a complete revamp of The Avengers, a team with Loads and Loads of Characters at the time. He closed that period of the team with Avengers Disassembled, and then relaunched it as the New Avengers. This team had a smaller cast, including Marvel's flagship characters Spider-Man (who had only been in the Avengers for small times in the past) and Wolverine (who had never been a member). He also included Spider-Woman, and also Luke Cage, another forgotten character of the 1970s that he also brought back to the spotlight. Shortly after he wrote House of M, a Crisis Crossover that removed the powers of a big number of mutants, a storyline that impacted the X-Men comics for years. The New Avengers disbanded in Civil War, divided about signing a Super Registration Act or not. From then on, Bendis wrote two comics: "New Avengers" with a new team that did not sign the act, and Mighty Avengers with those that did. He wrote a new crossover, Secret Invasion, and Iron Man was removed as head honcho of SHIELD and replaced by the villain Norman Osbourne. "Mighty Avengers" was closed and replaced by Dark Avengers, a team of villains posing as heroes. The whole arc ended in Siege.
The X-Men arcs started by House of M concluded in Avengers vs. X-Men, and Cyclops kills Charles Xavier at the end of that story. This kickstarted the events of All-New X-Men, Bendis' run with the X-Men, where the original team (the teenagers Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman) are time-displaced to the modern day. He also scripted the X-Men Bat Family Crossover Battle of the Atom. This comic also made crossovers with Ultimate Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, that he was also writing.
Speaking of that... remember Ultimate Spider-Man? Bendis kept writing it all this time, and even achieved with Mark Bagley the record of the longest writer-artist collaboration in a comic, previously held by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four. At one point, he made a huge change to the book: Peter Parker died and a new guy, Miles Morales, became the new Spider-Man. It was not a character from the existing cast but a completely new one, with his own set of secondary characters. The Milestone Celebration for the 50th year of Spider-Man was celebrated with Spider-Men, a crossover between the regular Spider-Man from the Marvel Universe and Miles Morales. Morales was one of the most popular characters of the whole Ultimate Marvel universe, to the point that Secret Wars (2015), the crossover that ended it after 15 years, transferred him and his cast to the regular Marvel universe. Bendis wrote a pair of tie-ins for this event, Ultimate End and Old Man Logan (2015). He then continued working with Miles, now in the Marvel universe, in Spider-Man (2016). One his last stories in Marvel was Spider-Men II, which revealed that the Ultimate Universe has been brought back to existence at some point off-panel.
After Secret Wars, he worked with Iron Man. His run soon led to another crossover, Civil War II, where Iron Man died. He introduced a Legacy Character, Riri Williams as Ironheart, and also Dr. Doom of all people took the identity in Infamous Iron Man (he has a HeelFace Turn after Secret Wars). Tony Stark eventually returned, and Iron Man #600 was Bendis' last comic for Marvel.
In 2017, he became an exclusive DC Comics creator, leaving Marvel after 17 years, where he would chart the course of the Superman comics for the next three years, as well as develop the Wonder Comics line for DC, which included Bendis having stints on relaunches of Young Justice and a new character called Naomi. In 2019, Bendis was given a reboot of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Comics and series written by this author include:
- Ultimate Marvel
- Ultimate Spider-Man (2000-2015)
- Ultimate X-Men (2003-2004)
- Ultimate Fantastic Four (2004)
- Ultimate Power (2006-2007)
- Ultimate Origins (2008)
- Ultimate Comics: Doomsday (2011)
- Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand (2013-2014)
- Ultimate End (2015)
- Marvel Knights
- Daredevil (2001-2006)
- Marvel MAX
- Alias (2001-2004)
- Marvel Universe
- Secret War (2004-2005)
- The Pulse (2004-2006)
- The Avengers
- House of M (2005)
- Secret Invasion (2008)
- Secret Warriors (2009)
- Spider-Woman (2009-2010)
- Siege (2010)
- Moon Knight (2011-2012)
- Age of Ultron (2013)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2013-2017)
- Civil War II (2016)
- Spider-Man (2016)
- Spider-Men II (2017)
- Iron Man
- Invincible Iron Man (2015-2018)
- International Iron Man (2016-2017)
- Infamous Iron Man (2016-2017)
- Jessica Jones (2016-2018)
- The Defenders (2017)
- Powers (2009)
- Batman: Universe
- Brian Michael Bendis' Superman
- United States vs. Murder, Inc.
- Legion of Super-Heroes (2020)
- Wonder Comics
His works provide examples of:
- Art Shift: He likes experimenting with it. In many of his titles, scenes that happen in past eras actually imitate the art styles of when those scenes would have taken place. In Dark Avengers, scenes that happens in Norman Osborn's mind are illustrated by Greg Horn, instead of the comic's regular artist, Mike Deodato Jr, and in Mighty Avengers scenes in the middle ages are painted by Marko Djurdjevic in order to imitate old frescoes. In Alias, flashbacks to Jessica's initial encounter with the Purple Man are drawn in a clean superhero style by Mark Bagley, contrasting Michael Gaydos' gritty realism in the contemporary art and emphasizing the great loss of innocence the Purple Man has inflicted on Jessica.
- Author Appeal: The Defenders (2017), a crime comic, had an unexpected character showing up: Deadpool. He did not fit the tone of the comic, but Bendis was about to leave to DC Comics and it was one of the few Marvel characters he had not used so far, so why not?
- Author Avatar:
- He appears at the beginning of a Ultimate Spider-Man arc, about a "Freaky Friday" Flip between Spider-Man and Wolverine, to excuse himself because the plot is too weird.
- He also appears in one of the last issues of The Defenders, detained at the police station. He was about to leave to DC Comics. While arrested, he said that "A 17-year running gag is not easy to pull off!" (see the Running Gag entry for details). In this scene, he was being pulled off by artist David Marquez and colorist Justin Ponsor.
- Break the Cutie: Jessica Jones, Spider-Woman, Daredevil, and Tigra. And poor poor White Tiger, who is murdered in cold blood by a police officer after being falsely accused of murder.
- Cameo: Several.
- Paul Jenkins, creator of Sentry in New Avengers story about this character.
- Warren Ellis in one issue of Powers
- Decompressed Comic: Bendis is one of the author that popularized this style during the turn of the century.
- Follow the Leader: Bendis's ultra-decompressed Writing for the Trade writing style was forced upon all Marvel writers in the early '00s, to the point that Geoff Johns quit writing the Avengers rather than endure being forced to copy Bendis' writing style.
- Flip-Flop of God: Bendis initially claimed that Ronin in his New Avengers run was always intended to be Maya Lopez, but later confirmed that the characters was originally going to be Matt Murdock in disguise.
- Legacy Character: Miles Morales is the best-known example, but also Riri Williams for Iron Man. Bombshell is a special case, as she followed the steps of her mother, but both characters were introduced at the same time.
- Mamet Speak: Is infamous for rapid-fire, repetitive, casual dialogue reminiscent of the Trope Namer, who Bendis has named as a major influence.
- Running Gag: Each time he writes a scene at a police station, there are some cops in the background detaining some nutcase, cosplayed as a superhero and shouting nonsenses, which actually makes a reference to some comic book event elsewhere (for example, a Scarlet Witch shouting "No more mutants! No more mutants!", or a Carol Danvers shouting "Choose your side! Choose your side!"). In Defenders #9, the nutcase is modeled after Bendis himself, and shouts "A 17-year running gag is not easy to pull off!"
- Shrug of God: When solicits announced that Deadpool would show up in Defenders, there was a lot of WMG about his role in the story. His answer? "His involvement is a big clue to who ends up being the new Kingpin. Don't worry, it's not him :-) Oh wait, maybe it should be. That's not a totally terrible idea. Deadpool is the new kingpin? Hmmmm :)"
- What Could Have Been: He intended to relaunch Jessica Drew (a forgotten character at the time) as a private investigator that used to be a superhero. Marvel had plans to relaunch the character the standard way, so Bendis modified some details of his unfinished comic, and she became a new character instead, Jessica Jones.
- Write What You Know: Bendis based the plot of his last comic of Miles Morales on his own near-death experience (see here).