Pablolobo has made the case that the rather screwed up Marvel multiverse lays on the shoulders of writers past, mainly Claremont, and not Bendis. While there’s no shortage of Bendis hate (or love) out there on the interwebs, I figured why not add to it. Shocking, I know.
If there’s any problem at all, I’m laying much of the blame squarely on Bendis. Bendis has made a career out of futzing with the past, playing with reality and stripmining old stories. All of that has muddled the present MU way more than anything any other writer could have done. He’s done this because it’s easy. Why do new things when you can reinvent old things? Did the Illuminati really need to be retroactively inserted into all types of past stories? No, but they were, because those stories were already told. Most of the work was already done. Same with catapulting the teen X-men from the past into the future. There are an infinite amount of stories available that could move the X-men forward, away from the rabble. Did Bendis need to cobble together his story by ransacking the past for story seeds? No, he didn’t. House of M and Age of Ultron proved that Bendis can’t write an epic story without shunting it off into some strange never-never land where he doesn’t have to deal with actual repercussions. That’s easy. All of it is predictable and easy.
And that’s where my issues (no pun intended) come in.
When you’re a writer working on a continuous, contiguous, never-ending property like the Marvel Universe that’s loosely situated in a floating chunk of untime that allows for minimal aging but maximum story, then there’s going to be a lot of story that’s come before. A lot. Tons of it. And a lot of it is going to be a mess, due to the nature of writers cannibalizing past work, even if sometimes (in Claremont’s case) they’re cannibalizing himself.
A bad writers adds to the mess.
A good writer makes you see the mess in a new light.
A bad writer is hampered by continuity.
A good writer embraces it, and makes it his own.
And what it boils down to, is a good writer knows how to strip away all the morass, and just tell a good story, where there’s no need for the messiness of the past to interfere with the magic of the story.
I’ve always been an advocate for the “comicness” of comic books. Unlike any other medium, comics are a playground for limitless imagination and ideas. Words like “reality” and “gronded” have no place in my comic world. When I read Marvel work by Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Peter David, Jeff Parker and others, I see work that moves forward, that ignores the messiness of the past, work that is part of the solution, not the problem, building on what’s come before but not being slaves to it.
I see imagination. I see creation. Construction, not deconstruction. Forward, not backward.
Everything perceived as “wrong” with the Marvel Universe could be fixed by one nice and tidy little story arc by a writer who isn’t leaning on the past and hoping it supports him.
I’ll agree with pabs on on one point: Bendis isn’t responsible for anything wrong with the Marvel Universe up to his work.
But now, when he’s arguably the most important, most powerful writer working in the marvel Universe, whose every whim pretty much alters the course of the entire line…
I blame him.