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Top Five Brian Michael Bendis Comics

Brian Michael Bendis has had a number of memorable comic book runs in his career so far, so what are the top five? Here are my picks.

Enjoy!

5 (tie). Daredevil

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5 (tie). Sam and Twitch

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I normally abhor having ties for the top five, as it sort of gets away from the whole POINT of a top five if you make it the top SIX, ya know? But consarnit it, I just couldn’t pick between these two runs.

Bendis’ Daredevil run was one of the gutsiest runs on a popular superhero title in quite some time, as Bendis took an unconventional look at how superheroes grieve, all the while figuring his readers would think he was glossing over the loss of Karen Page, until he revealed that he took Matt Murdock’s grief into consideration the whole time. Good stuff.

Plus, he did the whole “illusion of change” thing with Matt’s identity being revealed. Good stuff, and amazing artwork by Alex Maleev.

Alex Maleev also worked on Sam and Twitch, which was Bendis totally in his wheelhouse – crime comics. Sam and Twitch was a gritty look at crime in the world of Spawn. The best thing ever associated with Spawn?

Probably.

4. Torso

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Co-written with Marc Andreyko, Torso was a brilliantly moody piece, and probably the highlight of Bendis’ artistic career. It reminds me of King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, the documentary about the two fellows battling for the highest score on Donkey Kong. The best part of that documentary was the story and the characters that the documentary makers basically lucked into. Here, Bendis and Andreyko were obviously familiar with the story beforehand, but still, they were lucky to have such a wonderful tale actually occur in American history!!!

Great characters, horror, mystery, danger, pathos – the story had it all, PLUS one of the most famous figure of law – Elliot Ness!!!

3. Alias

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Greg recently featured this one as a “Comic You Should Own,” and he is totally correct.

Jessica Jones is an extremely strong character, and, as a nice treat, is an extremely strong original FEMALE character, which is too often a rarity in popular fiction.

I would have this book higher, but I think Bendis actually did a slightly better job with another female character…

2. Angels of Destruction

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Okay, not really…

2. Jinx

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Jinx Alameda….wow.

A hard-nosed bounty hunter, Jinx, I believe, was Bendis’ greatest success in the noir field, and Jinx his single best creation. What is so great about Jinx is that as good as she is (and she is great), Bendis also worked in his previous creation, Goldfish, into the comic, and Goldfish is a great character on his own, making the comic that much better of a read.

The relationship between Goldfish and Jinx is stirring, believable and witty. But at the heart of the comic is still Jinx, and while the comic meanders, it meanders because life meanders. This is probably the most effective Bendis dialogue, where his standard dialogue fits in the best and at its most natural. While perhaps his dialogue style might not fit in perfectly with, say, the Avengers or whatever, it fits beautifully with the characters in Jinx.

1. Powers

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Powers takes the top spot in my book because, while Jinx is probably his single best creation, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are both right up there, and Powers manages to combine superheroes, action, drama, humor and character-based storytelling all into one sweeping tome that, more than 60 issues into the series, has not lost much of a beat from the initial, classic storyline “Who Killed Retro Girl?” (don’t get me wrong, that first storyline is still probably the best storyline in the series, but the quality has not DIMINISHED – it just so happens that the first storyline was really, really good, so that is a high standard to basically meet, which Bendis has done).

On Powers, Bendis has paired up with Michael Avon Oeming, whose character work is absolutely stunning – as great of a job as Bendis has done establishing the personalities of his characters through writing, Oeming has done just as nice of a job establishing their personalities through his art/design work.

We sure are lucky that Bendis and Oeming continue to put out this comic book.

That’s my top five!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

31 Comments

What no New Avengers?

I remember when I was excited a new Bendis book was coming out, a feeling that lasted for a couple years. While I can quibble with your order and the fact that you include whole series instead of story arcs, I think you got the comics that should be on the list right.

“Who Killed Retro Girl?” was not my favorite Powers story, mostly due to the non-ending ending. I liked the Fugees stand-ins story and final story from the first series (with the all-powerful super-hero going crazy) best.

Best Bendis ARCs would probably make for a good future top five, Mike!

I would’ve ditched Alias and Sam and Twitch for Fortune and Glory (#2 behind Jinx) and Ultimate Marvel Team-up. (Probably # 5, but what an insanely good batch of artists.)

Personally, I would have switched, Torso and Jinx, and then, Daredevil would be # 3 and Alias would be # 6.
Powers (# 1) and Sam and Twitch (# 5) would stay as is.

I never really cottoned to Alias, but enjoy Ultimate Spider-man.

Fortune and Glory is indeed awesome. Powers… to me, not so much, but I’ve only read the first three trades, and they kind of indicated that the series was going nowhere, at least in terms of the kinds of arcs that Bendis likes to tell.

Hell, Ultimate Spider-Man suffers from the same issues, but I think that it’s better than Powers.

I haven’t read all these, but if his Daredevil run is only tied at #5 that means I’ve got some reading to do. Alias was good, but I didn’t like it as much as Daredevil or Ultimate Spider-Man. But I agree with Powers at #1.

I’m not sure if I would have his DD run on there. It falls apart after the mental breakdown. He just didn’t seem to know how to end it. Everything up to Matt becoming the Kingpin was really exciting at the time though.

I agree with the end of the Daredevil arc! It’s not as tight as the beginning. And I totally agree with Powers at the top spot. I’m hoping, though, that Bendis and Oeming devise a great ending soon, if only cause it’s starting to spin a little out of control – what with Walker’s new… position, and Deena’s secret.

I was ready for Bendis to go by the time he ended his run on Daredevil. It was like he got up every morning thinking, “How can I kick Matt Murdock in the sac today?” Sometimes you have to take your knee off the reader’s neck, Brian. Of course, Brubaker really hasn’t lightened things up at all, so I may have to drop the title or start taking Xanax.

for me personally it would go:
Torso
Jynx/Goldfish (tie)
Sam and Twitch
Daredevil
Powers

Powers lands at #1 with no mention of the infamous monkey fucking issue? For shame.

I really need to stop dragging my feet and pick up Torso and Jinx (and Goldfish). Maybe next paycheck.

What about Halo? :P

I think I have a letter in the monkey fucking issue saying that the book would straighten out and he knew what he was doing.

oops.

I forgot about Fortune & Glory and the various Jinx specials (I think Total Sellout is the name of the trade), which would probably edge out DD or Sam & Twitch. I miss the consistently good Bendis.

1. Powers
2. Alias
3. Daredevil
4. Ultimate Spider-Man
And, um… well, I do like a lot of his work elsewhere, but it seems to be bits and pieces of things rather than anything sustained that I could really point to as being part of a top 5. For instance, I did enjoy bits and pieces of New Avengers once it got going, but that was mostly isolated character bits and scenes, with things like the interminable fight at the prison alone enough to disqualify it. I think his style of decompression is great with character stuff, but when he applies it to “big action” it’s just dire.

Halo was better than New Avengers.

As are most things. But Halo was, too.

My Top 5 Bendis books:

5. Alias
4. Torso
3. Powers
2. Jinx
1. AKA Goldfish

Halo is better than New Avengers, agreed.

I am always debating whether I hate or like Bendis. One book, like powers, I enjoy but then I burn out on Daredevil. One minute I think his characterization is great the next its vapid and insipid.

But again, no love for New Avengers? That was one of the ones I liked….

I’d be tempted to say “Top Five Bendis Books” is an oxymoron, then I remembered that it’s all relative.

I actually preferred Goldfish, Fire, and Fortune & Glory to Jinx, but that’s just me.

I think my list would go something like:

5. Fortune & Glory
4. Goldfish
3. Daredevil
2. Alias
1. Powers

Powers just keeps being awesome, though I was a little put off by some of the gimmicks in volume 10 (Cosmic). I do like that there doesn’t seem to be much of a status quo for the series, but I’m very curious as to where he’s going to take things—as the direction seems to have evolved pretty far beyond where it was in Death of Retro Girl.

I’ve never actually read Sam & Twitch. I just couldn’t shake the fact that it was a Spawn spin-off *chills*

Man, I am the only guy in the world who actually likes New Avengers.

Except for everyone else who buys it I guess. But they’re idiots.

I’m so lonely.

Erm………..ultimate Spider-man (all 100+ issues of them) anyone ???

I thought Jinx was pretty good, but the plot ripoff from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly bothered me. Myself, I would probably put Alias at #1, and Powers at #2. I dunno about the rest.

Hmm, Powers made quite a few number ones. I recently read some of the earlier arcs, including “Who Killed Retro Girl?”, but they didn’t really click for me. They weren’t all bad, but they felt like all of Bendis’ writing tics were amplified to almost unbearable levels.

That said, I loved the Powers short story from the 2001 Oni Press Color Special.

I really enjoy Ultimate Spider-Man myself. I would place it around #6 on my list.

1) Alias
2) Fortune & Glory
3) Torso
4) Sam & Twitch
5) Daredevil

For me:

1 – Powers
2 – Alias
3 – Daredevil
4 – Goldfish
5 – Jinx

unless you ask me one a different day

[...] these days. And a lot of people whine about all that he writes. But Bendis knows how to spin a good yarn. His run on Daredevil was the only time I’ve read the book on a regular basis. I loved his two [...]

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