The news hit earlier this week: that Brian Michael Bendis had signed an exclusivity contract with DC Comics. This news probably means precisely nothing to you unless you’re a fairly hardcore comics person; if you aren’t such a person feel free to skip this post entirely as it will hold little relevance to you.
For me, it was really Goddamned bad news. Now, to be perfectly clear: I don’t begrudge Bendis a single dime of the no-doubt enormous check DC has written him for this; the man has the unquestioned right to do whatever he wants with his career. He doesn’t have to ask me shit, and he doesn’t owe me anything. But as Bendis has become, for me, the definitive Spider-Man writer over the seventeen years he’s been writing the character, and as he invented Miles Morales, who for me is now a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, and as he’s also currently writing both Jessica Jones, which I love, and Iron Man, who is my favorite comic book character of all time… well, the news that he wasn’t going to be writing any of those books anymore is insanely Goddamned depressing. I’ve been reading Iron Man since I was nine. He’s had a lot of writers during that time. Jessica Jones is great but I can live without it. But the idea that I won’t be able to read any more of Bendis writing Miles is deeply upsetting.
I mean, I’ll get over it. I’m sure whatever he ends up doing at DC is going to be pretty awesome. But… shit.
So anyway, I went to the comic shop on Wednesday, as I do. And I (no doubt as 90% of his customers for the day had done) asked the owner (who, by the way, is the cover artist for Skylights) what he thought of the news, and we got into a brief conversation about it. Now, Casey pulls my books for me every week, and it’s literally his job to know the tastes of the various people who frequent his store, so he knows good and well I’m a fan. And I’m reasonably sure he is as well.
This dude comes up behind me while we’re talking. This isn’t unusual, mind you; I’m at the counter, so “behind me” is the place where other people who want comics will naturally end up. And I hear him mumble under his breath:
“Yeah, maybe Marvel will finally start getting good again.”
I glance at him and don’t respond, opting to continue my conversation with Casey, who gets a very brief pained expression on his face and then also moves on. I’ve seen this guy in the store plenty of times before, and as much as my physical appearance screams Comic Book Guy to most normals this guy has me beat by at least a few levels. Anyway, we conclude– I’m not enough of a dick, and Casey is too much of a professional, for either of us to monopolize the counter when there are people waiting.
“See you next week,” I say, as I damn near always do, and I head for the door. And then this guy starts in on Casey.
“Yeah, he’ll probably end up getting Justice League, and then he’ll make Batman gay, and Superman black, and who knows what else he’s going to ruin…”
…and it hits me. Bendis is married to a black woman, right? His kids are biracial. He was pretty explicit that he created Miles Morales because he thinks (correctly) his kids need superheroes to look up to. And not for nothing, the person running around in red and gold armor in the Marvel universe right now is a black teenage girl named Riri Williams:
Holy shit. This guy is one of those fuckers who thinks Marvel screwed up comic books by getting too much brown in them. One of those stupid, stupid bastards. Right here! Right in front of me! Trying to argue with me, in fact! Or at least inflict his stupid opinion on the guy who owns the comic shop, somebody who by definition really can’t argue back, after making at least a halfassed attempt to insert himself into our conversation and being rebuffed.
Most of this is unfolding in my head as I’m walking to my car. And I resist the urge to go back into the store and start some shit, because part of me thinks that this type of racist asshole needs to be made unwelcome everywhere he goes all the time forever and ever, but the rest of me really doesn’t want to start a row inside this guy’s comic shop.
That said? Next time I see Casey, I’m asking him for permission.