More than most writers working in comics these days, Mr Brian Michael Bendis loves him some batshit crazy villains. Don’t get me wrong, I totally see the attraction of that, and hey, some characters just are that way to begin with. I mean, if you’re writing Loki, you know that his basic deal is that he messes with people pretty much because messing with people is what he does. (Well, if you’re writing Loki and your name’s not Kieron Gillen, anyways.) But it’s more than that with Bendis.
I’ve talked before about how messed up the Skrull plan in Secret Invasion was. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that was an isolated example.
Norman Osborn. The Sentry. Wonder Man. Wanda Maximoff. Veranke. All of them in one way or another, crazy. All of them nonsensically inconsistent in their plans and actions. And, it should go without saying, all of them written by Bendis. (And that’s just in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Ultimate Spider-Man has not lacked for crazy villains either.) It made a certain amount of sense with Wanda, who was drifting in and out of touch with reality – her perception of reality was inconsistent, it logically followed that her interactions with it would be. On the other hand, Osborn and Veranke in particular were depicted as super-smart schemers. And while there’s a case to be made for both of them that their egos brought them undone, that’s not a case that was made in the comics themselves.
Bendis likes to claim that it’s perfectly reasonable for their plans to not make sense, because they’re crazy. Unfortunately, that’s not how crazy tends to work. Crazy people’s actions might not make sense to us, but they should at least make sense to them. There should be an internal logic to them, and they should not be blind to the lack of it. It’s stupid people whose plans make no sense – and to give Bendis his due, he writes those villains well.
I’m not saying that his writing isn’t entertaining, because it is. For all that his characters tend to sound a little alike, Bendis still writes some of the best dialogue anywhere. It’s sharp, witty and naturalistic.
It’s just that he’s found this one lazy crutch for his writing, and used it pretty much to death. It’s time to move on. Bendis is one of the best writers currently working for Marvel. But he needs to challenge himself more. Recycling the same few ideas over and over is a disservice to his own talent, and to the reader.
Unfortunately, it seems that the next big Avengers plotline is going to be a rematch with Norman Osborn, so we’re not moving on any time soon. Alas.