Brian Michael Bendis Is Revisiting His Noir Roots in Man of Steel

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Man of Steel #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jason Fabok, and Alex Sinclair, on sale now.

With the much anticipated release of Brian Michael Bendis’ first full issue as a writer for DC Comics seeing the light of day this week, Man of Steel #1 has become nothing short of a landmark moment in the comic industry. For the last few decades, Bendis has been redefining Marvel Comics' universe, where he and a who's who of A-list artists co-created incredible new characters who have become runaway hits with fans and critics. But no matter how far-flung the tales Bendis wove with this pantheon of beloved heroes and villains became, he always kept to the storytelling principles that make him a writer new readers and old gravitate toward.

Before Marvel, Bendis was telling his own stories in creator-owned properties that lived in the genres of hardboiled crime fiction and noir. Books like A. K. A. Goldfish, Fire, Jinx and Torso were stories told with stark black and white art and swirling whirlwinds of dialogue bubbles that would give writers like David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin a run for their money in the motor-mouth department.

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These stories were often straightforward in their delivery, but deeply complex in themes and plotlines. They featured flawed heroes and morally ambiguous villains, massive betrayals, bait & switches and subplots that go ignored so long they'd be forgotten until bubbling to the surface to cause irrevocable damage when the characters least expect it.

Bendis carried over many of these aspects from his crime and noir books to Marvel, essentially shaking up the entire publishing line by killing big characters (and keeping them dead for quite some time), spearheading huge event books, and collapsing multiple universes and timelines on each other. His choices were big, and bold -- and not always loved by the entire comic book community (discourse is never a bad thing, mind you). But no matter what, he always maintained his voice and affinity for character and dialogue-driven narratives. Now, despite being just one issue in, it seems clear that Bendis is bringing those hallmarks to Superman.

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