WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Superman #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair, on sale now.
If his body of work over the last two decades is any indication, writer Brian Michael Bendis loves putting his characters through emotional and physical turmoil about as much as he loves quips and snarky dialogue. Bendis spent a lot of his time at Marvel Comics putting various heroes through the wringer to some capacity, and not all of them made it out the other end in one piece. Bendis’ perceived "sadism" toward superheroes stems from his early crime stories, where characters are double-crossed, beat down, and given a raw deal more often than not. And while none of his stories are without their light-heartedness from time to time, it's the the darker aspects of his work that often has readers coming back for more, month after month.
The exemplary version of this pain parade could be seen in the pages of Daredevil during Bendis’ five year run on the book with artist Alex Maleev. By the time Bendis was done with Matt Murdock, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen was unmasked, his life was in shambles, and he was carted away to prison. And instead of bailing Daredevil out at the last minute in a classic comic book Hail Mary fashion, Bendis ended his arc. The final panel of his run in issue 81 is wide shot of Matt’s new home as he awaits trial: Ryker’s Island.
That’s it. No shot of a superhero team planning to bust him out. Just a reminder of where the ship, under Bendis’ guidance, has sailed. Now, to be fair, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark would subsequently pick up the pieces and pull off a story arc that was basically HBO’s Oz but with superheroes, but man, what a way for Bendis to bow out of the series.
Now, it seems that Bendis is applying the Daredevil treatment to Superman -- only this time around, things aren’t unfolding at such a leisurely pace. Bendis’ barrage is coming at Clark Kent faster than a speeding bullet, and the fact the six-issue miniseries, The Man of Steel (penned by Bendis) was released weekly means the agony Superman faced (and still faces) is coming even faster. In a little over a month, Bendis (along with artists Jason Fabok, Ivan Reis, Alex Sinclair and co.) destroyed Kandor, blew up the Fortress of Solitude, sent his son and wife out into space with his father, and introduced a series of mysterious arsons plaguing Metropolis.
In short, things have been better for The Man of Steel. Way better.