I’m not sure if we’ll ever get an official statement from Bendis as to why he decided to leave Marvel or DC. There are plausible-sounding rumors as to why, though. He had pretty much accomplished everything he wanted at the company, from writing all of his favorite characters to creating several new ones. At this point, however, his books weren’t selling at the same level they had in the past and he couldn’t expect a substantial raise with his contract coming up for renewal soon. Then there’s the fact that with the dissolution of the Marvel Comics Creative Committee that advised the people who made the movies he had no input on the film side of the company. These are a lot of little things in comparison to a pretty explosive argument he had with Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel in response to the latter’s assertion that “diversity doesn’t sell.”
Taken all together, it’s easier to understand why Bendis decided to give the Distinguished Competition a shot. Still, this means he’s going to have to build up all new relationships with the editors and staff at DC and get adjusted to the way they do things. They do place a higher value on continuity over there, so I don’t think the casual disregard Bendis displayed towards it will play well there. Honestly, if he does wind up leaving DC within a year I won’t be too surprised. Unless he ditches the comics-writing portion of his deal to focus on the involvement in their films he’s been promised as well.
X-Men: Red #1: So color-coding is the way we’re going for mainline “X-Men” titles these days? It made sense for “Gold” and “Blue” because those titles were harkening back to the glory days of the eight-million-selling, Jim Lee-illustrated “X-Men #1.” Where is “Red” coming from? If I had to guess, it would be the fact that this team is going to be led by the newly-resurrected Jean Grey. Which would mean the subtitle is deserving of a rimshot more than anything else. I expect better from writer Tom Taylor, frankly. His involvement, along with that of artist Mahmud Asrar, does bode well for the title after his work on “All-New Wolverine” and it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that Laura and Gabby will be joining this title as well. Should be good, but I don’t see it being of much interest beyond the existing “X-Men” fanbase.
Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 (of 5) & Doctor Strange #386: Bear with me here: “Damnation” is a five-issue miniseries co-written by current “Strange” writer Donny Cates and Nick Spencer. It involves the good Doctor restoring Las Vegas to working order in the wake of “Secret Empire” and bringing Mephisto up from the depths in the process. That’s a good setup for a miniseries running adjacent to the main title. However, the issue of “Doctor Strange” solicited alongside it marks itself as a “Damnation” tie-in. So what’s the deal here? Is “Damnation” meant to be a larger event than a miniseries which tackles a stray plot point from “Secret Empire?” Will there be further tie-ins? Doesn’t this make the new Cates-written “Strange” series into an afterthought for its second arc? Will the promotion for the mini clear any of this up? I certainly hope that the answer to that last question is “Yes.”
Star Wars: Thrawn #1 (of 6): There’s a reason that Grand Admiral Thrawn has been one of the few characters from the pre-Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm to make the transition to the current continuity. He’s a brilliant tactician who brought the New Republic to its knees despite being militarily outmatched. That he would be given his own miniseries from Marvel doesn’t surprise me. What does is the fact that this won’t be an original work. “Thrawn” is an adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s novel of the same name, with Jody Houser doing the writing and Luke Ross handling the art. Is there a reason we couldn’t get an original adventure featuring the Grand Admiral for the comics? That’s a bigger question for me than “How did an alien rise up the ranks of the Empire?”
X-Men: Grand Design: It turns out that Ed Piskor’s miniseries about the “X-Men’s” history is only going to be a two issue affair. Which is good because it means this collection is being solicited to us now. The bad news is that in order to fill out its page count, this collection will be featuring a reprint of the original “X-Men” #1 from 1963 fully recolored by Piskor in his own style. This will also be an oversized edition which will likely fit on your shelf next to Piskor’s own “Hip Hop Family Tree.” Which reminds me, “Grand Design” is likely the reason we’re not getting a new volume of that series this year. That’s… disappointing.
Spider-Men II: In which we find out the answer to the cliffhanger ending of the previous miniseries: Who is the Miles Morales in the mainline Marvel Universe? Now that I think about it, that question was only valid prior to the events of “Secret Wars” when the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe were still two separate things. With Miles being fully integrated into the Marvel Universe in the wake of that event, does that question even make sense anymore? Maybe Bendis and Sara Pichelli can provide a satisfying answer. If not, then this miniseries will slide painlessly into the dustbin of other comics series that featured answers to questions no one really wanted to know.
X-Men: Blue vol. 0: Reunion: No, I didn’t realize that “X-Men: Blue” was popular enough to warrant a “zero” volume. I also don’t have any idea why a bunch of reprints from the 90’s, “Uncanny” #’s 351-359 and some other miscellany, is being pushed under the same banner as the title featuring a time-stranded bunch of X-Men characters. The explanation in the solicitation text provides no answers. Maybe this is a misprint and it’s not related to “X-Men: Blue” after all? That seems like the most plausible explanation to me right now.
Star Wars vol. 7: The Ashes of Jedha: The “Darth Vader” team supreme of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca team up to tackle the adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, and company. Given their “Star Wars” track record so far, I would think that they’d have to actively try to deliver something that’s not worth reading. So I’m expecting great things from this volume that tackles the fallout from “Rogue One.” You should too.