Wednesday, February 28, 2018


To say that it's been a wild and slightly frustrating ride with the DCEU is an understatement. I'm in the minority that I've enjoyed all of the films that have been released. I see the flaws, I hear the rumors, but for the most part the films have been entertaining or exciting to me in some way. Man of Steel in particular was a highlight. I enjoyed the grittier, harder take on Superman. Within the context of the story they were telling it worked for me and I loved it. Even the follow up with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice I enjoyed because it was what I felt that film should have been. Justice League gave us a more "traditional" Superman where he was a bit more optimistic (I guess being resurrected will do that for you). For my money, Henry Cavill is a great actor that can do whatever is thrown at him. I felt like the character had a natural progression throughout his three movies.

Every so often there is talk of when the next Superman film will be released. I think we are long over due for another solo Superman adventure. He's the original superhero and has the potential to tell the most exciting and inspiring stories. I don't know what the hold up is, but I do know what stories Warner Bros should consider using. There have been so many great Superman comics over the years, I'd love to see one of these adapted.

Geoff Johns (my man) has told some of the best superhero stories over the last 15 or so years. I know because I've read a good chunk of them. One of my all time favorites is Superman and the Legion of Superheroes. In this story, Superman is reminded of childhood friends he had from the 31st Century. They are the Legion of Superheroes, a gathering of alien heroes from across the galaxy inspired by Superman's legacy. This story features Superman brought to the future to help them reinspire Earth which has been overrun with xenophobia and Superman's legacy as an alien has been written as a superhero born on Earth.
Now that I think about it, this is the PERFECT story to tell in Trump's America. Superman is a character that represents all life. His motto is to "preserve life at all costs." I've stated before how Superman fights for Truth, Justice and the American Way but not America the country but America the idea. The idea that human beings have the right to live with peace, security, and dignity. In the book, Superman is shocked to learn that his legacy is being tarnished. He sets out to prove that he represents everyone and even the bad guys are worth redeeming.
Honestly this would be the perfect story to tell post Justice League. What better way to keep a traditional, optimistic Superman then by showing him that he inspires a literal legion of heroes? It's the type of story that could probably only done on the big screen with a massive budget. Let's just hope that the visual effects improve.

Yeesh . . .

Another Geoff Johns (my man) gem, co-written by Superman alum Kurt Busiek. The best part of this story and why I think it would make a great film is that it's more of a Clark Kent story than a Superman story. It takes place after Superman has been "missing" for a year. In reality, it's just that Clark has lost his powers and has been able to focus all his attention on his job at the Daily Planet and with his wife, Lois. Given that Justice League has resurrected Superman I think this type of story would be a great way to reintroduce the new, optimistic Superman to the world. It would be a great way to see him enjoying the little things in life, like a couple scenes where he eats a pretzel with mustard and calls it "heaven." Little character pieces like that make Clark much more human than some critical fans give him credit for.
On the other side of things, this story features Lex Luthor coming across Kryptonian artifacts and using them to build weapons and machinery to wreak havoc on Metropolis (as one does). I think it would be so great to have more Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Let's say in the film, he's found a way to beat his charges and is rebuilding LexCorp. Of course, with the return of Superman, he's on the warpath again and intends to kill him, permanently this time. Man that would be a fun movie. It would also be a great way to include some lesser known villains to fight Superman like Bloodsport, Silver Banshee, Riot, and Neutron. It's one of my favorite Superman stories and possibly my favorite Clark Kent story.
Since Batman v Superman and Justice League have tackled the Death and Return of Superman, it seems to me that the logical continuation of that story would be the Reign of the Supermen. This story featured four different people saying they were the new Superman: Superboy, a young clone of Superman, Cyborg-Superman, a pilot whose consciousness was merged with a Superman robot, the Eradicator, a Kryptonian artificial intelligence, and Steel, an African American male inspired by Superman's influence to become a hero. I think a feature film adaptation of this story would be really exciting and a lot of fun. It could also address the questions of "What does it mean to be a hero?" and "Who deserves the title of Superman?"
Each character has some sort of aspect of Superman. With Superboy, he literally has his DNA. Well, half. The other half is Lex Luthor, which would be a great wrinkle in the story if they go this route. The Eradicator is Kryptonian and can mimic Superman's powers but not his ideals. Cyborg-Superman is just as powerful as Superman but starts to go insane. In the comics, he's partially responsible for the destruction of Coast City, Green Lantern's home town. What a dick! Despite being human, Steel has the right moral values and his suit gives him flight and super strength like Superman. Each one may represent a piece of Superman but does that mean they deserve to be called Superman? This story would be a great way to keep the film located in Metropolis and deal with how the citizens deal with him. It's something the recent films haven't touched upon yet and this story would be a great way to do it.
This is probably a long shot considering that Supergirl currently is starring in a successful television series on the CW. But then again Justice League featured Barry Allen/The Flash and Superman has guest starred on Supergirl so . . . Maybe?
My favorite Supergirl comic was the Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner story where she was reintroduced during Superman/Batman. In that story, she arrived in a Kryptonite meteor, unaware of how long Krypton had been gone. She is trained by Wonder Woman and the Amazons but eventually kidnapped by Darkseid and turned into a minion for his evil plans. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Barda rescue her and bring her back to Earth, introducing her to the hero community as Supergirl. If the film were to take that approach then it would be a cool way to have another film featuring DC's Trinity with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
Another option is how Supergirl was introduced during the Injustice 2 comic tie in. Her space ship crash lands in Kahdaq and she's adopted by Black Adam. Given that it was announced that Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam would not be introduced in Shazam but in his own film, it would be interesting to see this particular take done on the big screen. It's a way to separate the story from what was done on the TV show in terms of her origin. Plus, and I don't think I'm alone in thinking this, seeing Black Adam and Superman duke it out in live action would be pretty fucking amazing.
Of course the other option is the Man of Steel prequel comic book where Kara arrived on Earth and I don't know. Some shit happened I think. I read it in poor quality 5 years ago when I pre ordered my tickets for them on a crappy website and literally haven't been able to find it since. I mean I liked it and everything but it's gone, dude. It was reference, slightly, in Man of Steel when he finds the ship in the Arctic and there's a pod that's opened but I'd be surprised if the filmmakers followed up on that. After all, there are far more interesting ways to tell Kara's story in the films than following up on that old thread.
I've mentioned before how Batman: Hush got me in monthly comic books but Superman/Batman kept me around. The first arc by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness was Public Enemies. In this story, President Lex Luthor discovers a meteor made of Kryptonite is heading toward Earth and he blames Superman. Batman tries to help Superman clear his name, which of course involves fighting multiple supervillains, other heroes, and eventually Lex Luthor himself in his Lexo-suit. It's an exciting story with a ticking time bomb as the Kryptonite meteor is hurtling toward Earth, weakening Superman, and scaring the people into believing Lex's lies about how Superman is the cause of their impending doom.
It's not hard to believe that a story can be told where Lex Luthor is released from prison and becomes president. I mean I don't want to be political here but we do have a current president accused of several crimes and he happens to be a billionaire, xenophobe. #JustSaying
In any event, this story could easily be told with Batman as a main character or he could be substituted for another character like Steel or Superboy or someone else we have not seen yet. I think this particular story has the potential to be an extremely exciting blockbuster film. It was already adapted as an animated feature and is one of my favorites that Warner Bros Animation has produced. I mean who wouldn't want a more traditional team up film with Superman and Batman where they have to fight a dozen or so supervillains? As a great man once said, "Shut up and take my money!"
Yeah that's the one!
These are just a handful of ideas that I think would make really exciting, fun, and unique Superman films. These comics are among my all time favorite Superman stories. I think it's safe to say we can put to bed the brooding, doubting Clark Kent and see him start to embrace a more fun, optimistic Superman. Again, I'm a big fan of Man of Steel and BvS but I agree that it's time for a more traditional Superman. More than ever, I think we need a hero we can look up to that inspires us in trying times. Superman has always been good at that. Let's see that happen again! Make Superman great again!
Till Next Time!
JJ - The Comic Junkie!  


Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Later this year will see the release of DC Entertainment's very own streaming service. Basically it will be Netflix but exclusive to DC related content. So instead of Netflix and chill we'll be able to DC and chill! My kind of night . . .

Ahem . . . anyway! Like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime before it, DC intends to make original content exclusive to their platform. So far only a few original shows have been announced, Titans, Young Justice: Outsiders, an animated Harley Quinn series, and Metropolis a series revolving around Lex Luthor and Lois Lane solving crimes in Metropolis before Superman arrives. Which is the type of show that every super-fan wants to see (I guess). I'm kidding, maybe it will be good! This got me thinking, what else could they cook up? Netflix has everything from comedies like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to dramas like Ozark to family friendly entertainment like Fuller House. In my opinion, if the DC platform is going to be successful it should adopt a similar pattern. Here are my ideas for what DC should produce next.


DC has no shortage of Bat-characters to make an awesome TV show out of. From the Dark Knight himself to all his sidekicks, allies, and even villains, but they seem to be getting the spotlight on Gotham. Now that Joss Whedon has exited the Batgirl film and Warner Bros has put the film on the backburner, it's the perfect time for someone to step in and produce a bad ass Batgirl series. The best part is that there are at least three great Batgirl characters to choose from: Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, or Stephanie Brown. Or, like the picture I used from the Futures' End tie in, use all of them! Gail Simone has reportedly expressed interest in writing a Batgirl film, and while she would be an inspired choice, I think her talents would be better used making a cool Batgirl TV series. Each Batgirl has her fans and in my opinion they are all worthy of television treatment. There's a rich history to be tapped with this character and the possibilities are exciting enough on their own!


This is a pretty obvious one right? The comic itself reads like story boards to the coolest vampire show already, so why not just film it already? As part of DC's Vertigo imprint, this series is able to be far more adult and mature than if it was just another DC horror comic. I got into this comic after being a fan of Scott Snyder from his Detective Comics and Batman run and wanted to see what else he had done. Turns out, he has this really cool concept for telling a centuries spanning vampire mythology way more interesting than most vampire stories even bother putting into one chapter.

Ahem . . . 

Seriously though, American Vampire is ripe for today's binge watching serialized story telling. It features multi dimensional characters and creative execution that streaming services thrive on. Plus there was a really cool Dracula story that would be awesome to see in live action!


One of the best comics to come out of DC Rebirth, at least in my opinion, was Green Lanterns. It allowed for familiar and exciting Green Lantern stories to be told with brand new characters in unique and fun ways. The two newest Green Lanterns are Jessica Cruz, a socially anxious shut in and Simon Baz, a wrongfully convicted Muslim seen as a terrorist by the people of Earth. Together they make a truly unlikely pair but eventually become best friends and partners protecting the planet from alien menaces. It's not easy given their inner demons but they manage to overcome them and save the day like true heroes. 

Oh yeah . . . THAT. That would be a great show to binge watch. Right away there's the option for more diversity with the lineup as the leads are a Muslim male and a Hispanic female. But like all great story telling these characters are relatable in how they get into situations that are over their heads and have to overcome their own crap to pull through. It's something most people can relate to. Maybe not the fighting space monsters part, but you know . . . the getting over yourself thing. 

I've expressed interest multiple times why I think Green Lantern and the Corps deserve their own show and this would be perfect for a serialized TV format. True the budget may be crazy huge but I have no doubt that in the right hands this show would be rewatchable with its themes, entertainment, and spectacle. 


With its current line up, DC has stuck to mostly traditional superhero fare or prequels. Basically, it's what people are used to from them. There's nothing wrong with that, but like I said, they should explore other options. Swamp Thing was one of my favorite comics that came out of the New 52. I had no knowledge of the character other than he was thing from the swamp (seemed like a safe assumption). I got the comic because I liked the artist, Yanick Paquette, and the writer, Scott Snyder, was killing it on Batman. In the first issue, I was hooked. I immediately looked into other Swamp Thing stories like the classic Alan Moore run. I even watched the original movie. While dated, the film was still interesting and fun (directed by the late, great Wes Craven). 

There was a short lived Swamp Thing TV series in the 80s which I believe was a continuation of the films. I think a new take, one that embraces a Cronenbergesque body horror side of things, would be really exciting and something different than is traditionally offered by either DC or Marvel. It doesn't have to be gory but definitely scary and not afraid to take risks just like the comics always have been. Who doesn't love a great love story involving a swamp monster and a white haired bad ass female? Well, not many people now, probably, but if they make this show that will change!


A few years ago, there was talk of making an Hourman television series on the CW. These plans never materialized, instead Hourman was a supporting character in a couple episodes of DC's Legends of Tomorrow. While I enjoyed those episodes, I still wondered what this show would have looked like. Granted, I don't know much about the character other than being a fan of Geoff Johns' (my man) run on JSA. However, I do know that there have been multiple Hourmen in DC's history. Sometimes they don't have power, other times they have powers only for a short while - like 60 minutes (get it?). That would make for a fun police-procedural type of adventure show. Plus, with Hourman getting his power from Miraclo, an addictive substance, there's an opportunity to show the type of struggle beyond just fighting supervillains. Inner demons make for the best type of superhero stories after all. Plus this is a chance to explore other members of the JSA that don't normally get the spotlight on the other shows like Sandman, Wildcat, Starman, and all those awesome supporting characters.


Hey, it can't all be for the adults right? The Lego DC animated films are actually a lot of fun and a great way to get kids excited about superheroes. I've seen a couple of the movies and they are fun and my nephews get excited for them. Of course, then they just want me to buy them more Legos . . . maybe this isn't a good idea . . . 

But seriously, it's a great opportunity to have some family friendly entertainment and tell, dare I say, safer Justice League type stories. Of course the big budget Lego Batman movie starring Will Arnett was just about the perfect Batman film that 8 year old me could have asked for but these other short films have their value as well. A show like this could explore different story opportunities that a live action counterpart wouldn't be able to do, given the budget, and be a whole lot of wacky fun along the way. I mean, as comic book fans, we're all little kids at heart right? ;)


When Bendis made the jump from Marvel to DC, he promised a wonderful partnership with DC where his original creations could thrive. Books like Powers, Scarlet, and Jinx are extremely popular with his fans and have more than enough potential to carry multiple live action television series. Powers was tried on a short lived Playstation platform but that fizzled out because . . . well I don't know to be honest. I assume the viewership wasn't there. Chalk it up to people not wanting to watch movies on a Playstation or possibly some other dumb reason. Either way, I think DC's streaming service is the perfect place to try again. I've read some of Powers and love the way it mixes the outrageous superhero action with a gritty crime drama. It's exactly the type of left field story telling that could set DC's platform apart from Netflix and Hulu. I imagine that some sort of announcement for something like this won't take long to materialize. After all, Bendis spent almost two decades at Marvel, DC had to have offered him something other than just Superman right?


In this day and age, how many times a day do you sit and get caught up watching short clips or trailers on YouTube? Not long ago, DC ran some funny, action packed shorts on Cartoon Network with their shows. I don't think those are on there anymore, but you can still find them on DC's YouTube page along with other cool shorts like the Batman and Superman 75th anniversary shorts. The streaming service is the perfect place to bring those back and tell any kind of story that a writer and animator can think of. My favorite was one where Lois Lane was desperate to get a one on one exclusive with Batman, getting into all kinds of hi jinks to get her story. It ended with Batman answering her questions and she helped him fight some crime. Hokey, yes, but lots of fun and made me laugh. Of course, it didn't hurt that Kevin Conroy played Batman in it. 

I'd love to see the DC Nation shorts run the gamut from funny bits like the Lois Lane short to more serious ones like the short films DC used to produce with their animated films. It's the type of stuff that I live for as a comic book fan. Funny, exciting, dramatic, and ultimately unforgettable. 


One of the most famous comic books of all time, The Sandman is an experiment in telling creative and marvelous stories in the comic book format. For some reason, the property remains in development Hell as no one can seem to crack how to adapt it in live action. I think it might be because the comic is so damn perfect, there's hardly a way to expand it without it falling flat. However, I think DC's streaming service is the perfect place to bring Morpheus and the dream world to life. As I've said before, streaming services have proven that they are at their best when they creators go nuts and tell the best stories that they can tell limited only by their imagination (and maybe budget, but that can be worked out). Sandman is something that fans have been clamoring for for years and I think now is the perfect time to adapt it and give us a wholly unique television series just like the comic was unique in its day. I mean, dang! These stories are timeless and still hold up to this day! What the hell is the hold up here??

POWERLESS (or something similar)

While it was short lived, I kind of liked Powerless. It was the type of left field show that saw a different side of the DC Universe. I think the show had potential and an audience but ultimately played it too safe. I remember the original pitch being characters selling "Superhero Insurance" and being frustrated with all the collateral damage caused by super fights. The show was then turned into a more traditional work place comedy where the characters worked for Wayne Tech making gadgets to help ordinary citizens stay safe from super hero battles. I like the original pitch better. It's exactly the type of funny concept people are joking about after every superhero film. I mean . . . we all saw Man of Steel right? BILLIONS in property damage! And that was just two dudes! 

While I doubt that Powerless will be revived, after all the show's quality was meh at best, I think there is room for a sitcom set in the DC universe. Whether it's a police comedy like Brooklyn 99 (one of my favorite shows) or a romantic comedy of some kind, there's potential to tell unique every day stories set against the backdrop of the DC Universe. Powerless proved, if nothing else, that the idea is at least entertaining so why not have another crack at it?


One of DC's most popular brands is definitely Elseworlds. It's a chance for creators to tell creative, different, and surprising stories that they couldn't tell in the normal DC continuity. Stories like Kal El being raised by the Wayne family, Batman fighting Jack the Ripper in the late 19th century, Superman as a Soviet dictator, I mean these are bizarre but really awesome stories. DC recently released Batman: Gotham by Gaslight as an animated feature. I really loved it and it stayed really true to the weird but awesome narrative of the comic. Whether it's live action or animated, I think it would be great to see more of those stories adapted to the streaming platform. Like the Justice League: Gods and Monsters animated feature, it's a chance for creators to go wild and tell stories way out of left field (sorry I use that term a lot). They don't have to fit any continuity but the one they create and that's the type of creative freedom that artists crave. Netflix and Hulu offer that, it's how we can get shows like Stranger Things that a traditional network wouldn't risk but the streaming services thrive on awesome story telling from creative people. 


Now here's one that Marc Guggenheim (co-creator of Arrow) and I have in common. The Question, either Vic Sage or Renee Montoya, is a TV show just dying to be created. Just think of the tagline! "Need answers? Ask THE QUESTION!" Oh man, it's sad that I'm not a famous Hollywood writer.

Anyway! This is the type of show that could either "play it safe" as a cool police procedural or be really inventive and twist that narrative till it breaks. Personally, I'm all for the latter. If a show like this premiered on FOX it would be another cop show featuring superhero characters. But give it to the streaming service? Then it has the potential to break the mold and be grittier, nastier, and way more experimental. Think Mulder from The X-Files and his crazy conspiracy theories. He learns that they are true and is willing to go to any lengths to discover the truth! And either Sage or Montoya is the perfect protagonist for this type of show. Vic Sage is a journalist and Montoya is a harden detective. Either or both characters are perfect to tell these stories. Plus it's a way to be different where there doesn't have to be super villains like Deathstroke, the Thinker, or the Legion of Doom. The adversaries are human corruption, greed, and social injustice. That's the type of show that America needs right now. 


One of my favorite things to watch are "behind the scenes" specials. When I was younger, I was always willing to spend the extra few bucks on a special edition DVD or Blu Ray if it meant I got to see how the film or TV show was made. DC has released a few documentaries over the years, one about their own origins (pictured above), one about their awesome supervillains called Necessary Evil, and one about Superman released when Superman Returns was in the movie theaters. These features interview not just people involved with the creation of these characters but different celebrities, including Stan Lee, who talk about the impact that the character or events had on them as children and in their professional careers. Freaking Gene Simmons describes his love of Clark Kent in the Superman documentary! 

Maybe I'm in the minority with my love of these documentaries but they're probably inexpensive enough to pad some time and space on the streaming service. I think these types of films are very interesting and always get me excited to not only read more of the comics, or reread my favorites, but they inspire me knowing that there are other people like me that get just as excited about the DC Universe as I do. 


Here's a little insight into my brain - I remember watching this show as a kid and kind of liking it but feeling like something about it was a bit off. I recently rewatched this show on the CW Seed app and it hit me: this show was strangely ahead of its time but was afraid to be ahead of its time. Let me explain: The pilot episode featured brief glimpses of Batman, Catwoman, Batgirl and the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) and then moved ahead several years to Batman and Catwoman's daughter, the Huntress/Helena Wayne, and Barbara Gordon, now wheelchair bound going by Oracle, fighting crime in New Gotham (for some reason it was renamed and I hated that). They recruit the original Black Canary's daughter, Dinah, who can sense other metahumans, in their fight against other metahumans. Also Harley Quinn, without signature look save for some wardrobe choices, served as the main antagonist in the first and only season. 

So how was it ahead of its time? Well, the premise is actually pretty great. Huntress, Oracle, and Black Canary fighting Harley Quinn and metahumans and other crime in Gotham City in Batman's absence is awesome. But this was during the heyday of Smallville where executives all thought that no one wanted superheroes so it was better to keep the main characters in street clothes and avoid showing more comic book-esque type set pieces and costuming. That was a mistake as the show could have stood apart from Smallville by embracing those things and showing more masks and supervillainy than it's counterpart. Ironically, Smallville found more success by doing this giving Clark more Superman-like adventures and featuring actual superheroes like Green Arrow, Aquaman, Black Canary, and Zatanna in all their costumed glory. 

I'd love to see this concept resurrected and done right. With the success of Supergirl and Wonder Woman fans are demanding more female led, not to mention solid, story telling and the DC streaming service is the place to do it. While it's cool that Lois Lane will be the main character on Metropolis, and truthfully she deserves it, a more action packed, semi-traditional (but not too safe!) series would be something I'd tune in for over and over again. 



I recently rewatched all of Batman Beyond including the masterpiece film Return of the Joker and it hit me how similar Batman Beyond and Spider-Man: Homecoming are, at least on the surface. They 
have similar abilities in their costumes, both are coming of age teenage hero stories, feature a billionaire mentor, and are a whole heck of a lot of fun to watch (but that's a given). 

It seems strange to me that given Batman Beyond's popularity, it has remained largely untouched following the show's end. There have been comic book revivals that have been successful but no one has tried to make a new animated series, film, or even a live action take. Why is that? It's damn near universally praised as a logical and wonderful continuation to the Batman mythos and features creative, exciting, and menacing villains. Plus it helps that Terry McGinnis is a wonderful character doing his best to use Batman not only as a hero for Gotham City but as a tool to redeem his troubled soul. Man, I'm getting choked up just thinking about it!

If DC decides to do no other series with their streaming service, they should tackle this one. It's a great way to have the best of both worlds with a great Batman series but they don't have to use the classic Bat rogues or even Bruce Wayne's Batman much if at all. Like I said, Gotham is giving us unique and fun takes on the classic Batman rogues gallery and the films have a pretty bad ass version of Batman with Ben Affleck (although who knows how much longer that will last *grrr*). Batman Beyond is the best way to tell really cool Bat-adventures without the baggage of Bruce Wayne attached. Of course, Wayne is a main character, but the show belongs to Terry and his trials as the Batman. OH MY GOD! PLEASE DO THIS ONE, DC!! 

So there you have it! My ideas, and pleas, for what DC should do with their amibitious undertaking. I think this platform has the potential to be successful but only if it does what DC Comics has always strived to do - tell unique and incredible stories that anyone can enjoy. There is so much potential out there within their books that they'd be remiss not to exploit anything and everything they can!

Till Next Time!

JJ - the Comic Junkie

Saturday, February 24, 2018


As most of you have heard by now (and if you haven't then I'm truly shocked and you should be ashamed of yourself) Brian Michael Bendis is leaving Marvel Comics and is heading to DC with the intention of shaking up all kinds of shit. Because that's what he does best. He comes in, shakes shit up, pisses you off, and you end up loving the stories anyway. I mean . . . That's my side of it anyway!

As a kid, I was a huge Spider-Man and X-Men fan due to the animated series and the films that came out.

You may have heard of them

I didn't know much about the other characters like Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Luke Cage, etc. I knew enough to get by but I wasn't an avid fan. As I got older and got serious into collecting and reading comic books on a weekly basis (and then some) I started digging into the Avengers and more. One name always stuck out - Brian Michael Bendis. This guy's name was all over these comics and I fell more and more in love with everything he was doing at Marvel Comics. I'll get more into it later, but he was my first love at Marvel Comics in terms of writers I actively wanted to follow. 

You may or may not have seen websites that talk about his "legacy" at Marvel and all the amazing things he's done. This one is going to be more personal and specific to me. While I love characters like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and others that he either created or revitalized there are quite a few stories that meant a lot to me in my young adult life. Granted these are in no particular order but here we go!


Every now and then a comic will sneak up on me and become the one that I have to read right away (and possibly buy multiple copies of) because it hits me like a freight train. Most of the time it's my new favorite because it's unpredictable and scares me a little. Dark Avengers was one of those books for quite a while. After Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn becomes the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. (replacing S.H.I.E.L.D.) and assembles his own twisted version of the Avengers including Venom, Bullseye, and Daken. It was wild and crazy and I had no idea what was going to happen next. Deep down, I knew this roster couldn't last forever but it was amazing to read and within the short time this book was around these characters, especially Norman, made a huge impact on me. 


During the Dark Reign story arc I was only getting two comics - Dark Avengers and New Avengers. The New Avengers were on the run in the previous arc from the Superhuman Registration Act (the comics Sokovia Accords for the film fans). When Osborn came to power not only were the "real" Avengers still on the run from the government they had to be on the run from their worst enemies turned into "legitimate" heroes. The Dark Avengers were the main villains throughout most of this run and it helped strengthen my love of those characters. They weren't necessarily polar opposites of the New Avengers as much as they were the same old villains I loved to hate, just in new costumes and given power they should not have had. Needless to say it was incredible to read and feel that the story was unpredictable and so much fun.


If you were to ask me what my favorite Spider-Man story is I'd respond with Ultimate Spider-Man. If you asked me which arc was my favorite I couldn't do it. I might throw out some highlights (which I'll do in a second) but for the most part, this entire run is damn near perfect Spidey stories. What makes it work more than anything is that Spider-Man is secondary to Peter Parker. The book probably should have been called Ultimate Peter Parker because it was his story more than anything. His trials, failures, triumphs, loves, hates, and everything in between. This book kicked off the Marvel Ultimate Universe where all the stories could start over and be set in "the real world." I always felt that USM did it best. Peter felt like a real kid to me. Every issue he was growing, failing, and ultimately learning about how to be a hero. I'm getting a little choked up just talking about it because it means that much to me as a fan. 



Aside from his introduction in the Spider-Man animated series in the 90s, I was never a huge Venom fan. I liked the look and everything but the character never really clicked with me. That changed with USM. Just like I said that Peter Parker took on new meaning with this series so did Eddie Brock. Suddenly this character made a lot of sense to me and I loved this arc. It was scary, touching, and all too real. It was one of the first USM stories I ever read and fell instantly in love with it. 


I know that a lot of older fans cringe at the thought of the "Clone Saga" from the Spider-Man canon. I never read any of it, never cared to as I heard nothing but bad things. My Clone Saga is from USM and let me tell ya - it's pretty frickin awesome. For a good chunk of it, Spider-Man is actually not even in it. Despite being on the covers and the book having his name on it, it's Peter's story. Peter watches as twisted, scary, and strange versions of him start popping up. This story also introduced Ultimate Spider-Woman who is Peter's clone that was changed to a female. Yepp . . . bizarre but done so well that the story never felt out of place for me. Everyone from the Fantastic Four to Nick Fury to the X-Men show up during this story and it never feels crowded or overblown. It's so much fun to read and dig into the weird clones. I just wish they had all stuck around . . . 


Oh man . . . this one was rough. Unlike the "main" Marvel Universe, dead was dead in the Ultimate Universe (although there were characters that came back, even Peter). I mean when this story was sold as "the death of Peter Parker." I believed it. I wished it was not true, I prayed it wasn't, tried to tweet to Bendis not to do it, but ya know . . . he did it. He freaking did it. If USM made me a Mark Bagley fan then this story made me a devoted follower of his work. This comic was so heart wrenching and touching. Peter made the ultimate (ha) sacrifice and in the end, died a hero. He made everyone in his life proud to have known him. I could accept Peter's death knowing that he died a hero and everyone he loved was safe. Also I knew that a new Spider-Man was around the corner . . . 


Two of Bendis's best creations are the Legacy characters of Miles Morales as Spider-Man and Riri Williams as Ironheart. Both characters debuted when their predecessors either died or went missing. They share a lot of similarities with the original Spider-Man and Iron Man but both characters have forged their own destinies and are in it for the long haul. Hell, Miles is even the star of the upcoming animated Spider-Man coming out this fall! 

Some may argue that these characters were created to show more diversity at Marvel and maybe that is true, but I never thought of these characters as marketing gimmicks. They both have unique and compelling stories to tell. Their young age makes them ideal for new readers because, as I said with Peter in USM, they make mistakes and are forced not only to learn from them but to grow up faster than they should have to. I've loved following their adventures and rooting for them. As I said before, they became favorites for me because I thought their choices were unpredictable and made the comics more exciting to read. 


This one has a bit of a story attached to it. When I got really serious about buying and collecting comic books on a weekly basis I was getting Mighty Avengers and New Avengers way back in 2007! Later that year I decided to move to North Carolina in an attempt to start my life over. As you can imagine, moving 600 miles away is expensive. For a long time I could not afford much of anything so my comics were the first expense to be cut. Several months later, as I worked hard to save money and learned to budget (ugh adulting sucks) I figured I could spare a few bucks for comics again. 

This was right around the time that Secret Invasion was going to start. So I bought the issues. And man oh man I was not disappointed. I felt like the heroes were in over their heads, the villains were going to win (technically they did with Dark Reign), and the Marvel Universe would never be the same! To this day, it remains my favorite Marvel event comic. It wasn't the first one I bought or read, and maybe it's just tied to the nostalgia in my mind, but it was so exciting. Every so often I reread it and get the same feeling of astonishment as when I first read it. 



It wasn't until a few years later I got all caught up on everything that happened during the Secret Invasion story. I got the New/Mighty Avengers collections as a birthday present and dug right into them. In the stories you learn about why the Skrulls want to invade Earth, why they chose their targets, and just how long they've been on Earth and what they've been doing. It forced me to reread other Bendis stories and look at them totally differently. The books were so detailed and exciting I couldn't put them down. When I do my Secret Invasion reread, these editions are always on the list as well. Granted, I understood the main story just fine, but these give it so much more meaning that I can't think of the main story without them. They're just as important and fascinating to me. 


I have a love/hate relationship with the X-Men. On the one hand, I love the characters so much and they're an important part of my Marvel reading list. On the other hand, every time a writer does an X-Men book they feel the need to create like 28,000 new characters and the books feel so stuffed I lose interest. Lucky for me, when Bendis started his run on All New X-Men that wasn't the case. I mean it happened later, but when it started it was just Beast going back in time and recruiting the past versions of the X-Men to try and set things straight for the team in the present. It was such a cool concept and I love those original Stan Lee X-Men comics. The first couple years of this book remains one of my all time favorites. Bendis is at his best when he writes young characters trying to find their place in the world, which is why I loved USM, Miles and Riri so much. So when I heard he was doing that with the original 5 X-Men my interest was piqued. 

As a side note, sometimes I don't care for an artist until they get on the right book. Stuart Immonen was an artist I had kind of liked but never really followed much. This book made me a fan of his. The way he drew the characters just seemed right and fit the story so well. I'm still impressed by the art in this book years later. Dang . . . I have so much to reread . . . 


Now this is one of my all time favorite Spider-Man stories. At the time, Miles was Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe and Peter was Spider-Man in the 616 universe, as opposed to now where they are both Spider-Man in the 616 Universe. It's . . . ugh . . . complicated . . . But back then it was simpler and a cross dimensional story was awesome and unheard of. The Ultimate Universe had never crossed over with the 616. But two different Spider-Men made it a more interesting story. Peter saw all the differences and could meet his family and friends in the weirdest way. The comic was so much fun and the interactions between the two characters was so awkwardly perfect (as it should have been). Bendis has a knack for writing not just Spider-Man well, but his rogues. Mysterio as the main antagonist in this was pitch perfect. I always liked the character but in this book he became a much more genuine threat. Also, it's fun to see the villain done in by their own hubris and arrogance. Like you get to see it in the book and it's hilarious. The dialogue, interactions, and everything here feels so real to me. I read this story several times over when it first came out. Thinking about it now makes me miss the Ultimate Universe. Although maybe it's coming back based on Spider-Men II? Hmmm . . . . 


Going back to my favorite type of stories being unpredictable ones I have to say what usually falls in that category are the Villains-Trying-To-Redeem-Themselves stories. Like Superior Spider-Man before it, Infamous Iron Man tells the story of none other than Dr. Victor Von Doom trying to become the new Iron Man in Tony Stark's absence. While that premise alone sold me on the comic immediately what kept me coming back was how it served as a great placeholder for a Fantastic Four comic in their absence. Ben Grimm, the Thing, was a main character and in a way, acts as the antagonist of the book. No one really knows what to make of Doom trying to be a hero: the bad guys, S.H.I.E.L.D., Riri, and maybe even Doom himself. 

When Marvel relaunched after Secret Wars, Bendis made his love of Dr. Doom clear by placing him front and center during the first few issues of Invincible Iron Man but who could have predicted that this would be where the story would have gone? Well, maybe some people did but I didn't. Also, Alex Maleev draws Doom like Vincent Cassel.

I don't know if that's intentional or not but this dude would make a perfect Dr. Doom if they ever try to reboot the film series again. But let's not get into that right now. . . Anyway, this story goes to show that some villains can fit different hero dynamics and it's great to see Dr. Doom squaring off and then trying to become Iron Man. 


Some writers are really good at writing crazy space adventures. Others are good at gritty crime dramas. Bendis is one of those creative people that can go from a universe spanning insane story like Guardians of the Galaxy to a street level drama like Daredevil. Remember when I said Bendis likes to shake shit up? Well he pretty much shook up Matt Murdock's life beyond repair during his run. Daredevil is one of those great characters that works as a fun loving adventurer like Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's run or as a tortured vigilante struggling to keep his life together like Bendis writes. Truth be told, I got into this run very late in the game. It was coming out as I was collecting but hearing that Murdock's identity was outed seemed like too big of a story for me to wrap my head around. At the time I thought, "That's not OK." Like I said, Bendis will piss you off. Looking back I can't believe I was so dumb. His run on the Daredevil comic is downright magnificent. It's compelling, dramatic, exciting, and heartbreaking. It's exactly what great comics should be. As fun as Ultimate Spider-Man is for it's "coming of age" tales, Daredevil is great a gritty crime drama. It's hard to believe it's the same writer that can go from one to the other so effortlessly but Bendis does it, man. And he does it well.


Another late edition to the Comic Junkie collection is House of M story. I don't remember how I came onto it. I think I was just buying anything and everything X-Men/Avengers that I could get my hands on. More than any other comic on this list, this one plays out like a movie to me. While reading it, it feels so fluid that I feel like I'm watching a film. Besides the "Redemption" or "Coming of Age" books that I love, another favorite of mine is definitely "Alternate Universes." This one in particular is one of my favorite alternate universes. Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has given everyone on Earth their heart's desire. Peter is Spider-Man still but loved by the public and media, Captain America is an old man, never frozen during the War, Wolverine is head of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Magneto is the world's most famous mutant and mutants are the dominant species on the planet just like he always wanted. Once the heroes figure out what is going on and remember their own reality they fight to get it back. But it isn't the happy ending you'd expect. The mutant population is decimated, Wolverine regains his memories, Peter is tortured by his alternate life, and, as mentioned before but not explicitly stated in this story, the Skrulls are given an advantage in their Secret Invasion. 


Saying that Bendis had a great run on Avengers is an understatement. He wrote something like 200 issues between New, Mighty, Assemble, and every tie in, event, etc. That's pretty impressive on its own but luckily the stories were so exciting and fun that I couldn't wait to read them. Before Bendis got his hands on the book, the Avengers was just another comic for Marvel. Bendis wanted to make it the flagship book that everyone looked up to and took their cue from. Basically, if you only bought one Marvel comic it was going to be Avengers. I tell you what, it worked for me. It seemed like any character could have a shot at becoming an Avenger from Spider-Man to Wolverine to Luke Cage to Jessica Jones to freaking Squirrel Girl. The ranks were wide open and the stories were so much fun to read. 



One of Bendis's talents is taking a C-list villain and making them a genuine threat. During his Avengers runs he took Parker Robbins, the Hood, and made him a really scary villain. At first he was possessed by one of Dr. Strange's villains, Dormammu. When that was taken away, he was desperate to get more power. He found it with the Infinity Gems (or Stones for the movie fans, personally I think Stones is better) and the Infinity Gauntlet. These issues brought the Red Hulk into the books as a hero helping the Avengers track the Gems down before Parker could use them for his evil ways. And gosh oh jeez LOOK at that cover! I had a previous post where I said that I hope that cover comes to life in the Infinity War film or its sequel. I think it will because it's just so cool. Either way, this story was so exciting to me because it was my introduction to the Infinity Gems and their importance in Marvel's history. And now they are movie stars!


When it was announced that Norman Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. were coming back to torment the Avengers I flipped out. As I said, I loved Dark Avengers so much and missed those characters. Granted, this was a whole new batch of Dark Avengers but the stories were still compelling and fun for me. To Bendis, Norman Osborn shouldn't just be a Spider-Man villain, he should be the antagonist for all of the Avengers. It makes sense to me! The story sort of falls into the "Redemption" category but since it's Norman Osborn and the dude is batshit crazy, it doesn't quite work out for him. Hey, at least he tried!


Now technically I'm cheating here because Bendis co-wrote this with other great Marvel writers but he did the Avengers tie ins and that's good enough for me to count it. Also it's my blog damn it! 

Anyway, the Hero vs Hero story is a tale as old as time. Comics do it all the time but this one took it up a notch. I found myself sympathizing with Cyclops and his team while rooting for Captain America and the Avengers. Neither side is technically wrong but they're also not right either. It's tough to pick a side. After all, the main goal is to make sure that the Phoenix Force doesn't destroy the Earth. The story took some very interesting and surprising twists including killing off Professor Xavier. I mean that was rough to read. Like I said, Bendis could go from gritty dramas like Daredevil to crazy stories where the heroes are fighting on the moon like Avengers vs X-Men. Bendis makes it look so easy! 

Throughout my life, I find myself following certain writers and their work. Bendis was one of the first that I fell in love with and wanted to pick up almost anything he does/did. When I heard he was leaving Marvel for DC I was so excited. I know we are in for a treat with Superman and his continuation of Jinxworld. But I have to admit that I'm very sad his Marvel days are behind him. I mean . . . maybe he'll go back, but 18 years is a long time at a company and it's safe to say he kicked a lot of ass and took a lot of names during his tenure. While I'm sad he won't be a Marvel writer anymore I'm looking forward to (maybe) 18 years at DC where he can shake things up, piss people off, and tell great stories that put a smile on my face.

That's me with Brian at New York Comic Con 2011. I remember telling him i felt he was perfect fit for Marvel because their characters were all about people trying to be superheroes while DC was heroes trying to be people. He agreed with me then. 7 and a half years later and I'm excited to see his take on the other side.

Till Next Time!

JJ - The Comic Junkie!