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Friday, October 25, 2019 

NYT fawns over Bendis' plans to reveal Superman's secret identity

The New York Times ran an interview with Brian Bendis, predictably biased in his favor, where he talks about the Man of Steel's unmasking, and it's noted, interestingly enough, that this wasn't the first time in recent memory where Clark Kent's secret was exposed:
Superman has been around since 1938, so it is hard to imagine something that has not been done, including revealing his secret identity. In 1991, he told Lois Lane, which seemed fair since she and Clark Kent were engaged. In 2015, Lois wrote a front-page Daily Planet story that revealed Superman’s secret. Comic-book shenanigans later erased that knowledge from the general population of the DC universe.
But Bendis wants it to all be long term, even though whatever worked for Wally West as the Flash in the 90s hasn't worked so well for Clark Kent. More on which anon.
“On some level, this is what DC brought me here for,” said Brian Michael Bendis, who is writing Superman and Action Comics, among other DC books. He was referring to his departure from Marvel, DC Comics’ rival, in 2017. He began working on the Superman titles last year, juggling space adventures, the inner workings of the Daily Planet, and how Lois and Clark related to their son, Jonathan, in his preteen to teenage years. “I didn’t want to stir things up right away,” he said. “I had to earn my place.”
He hasn't earned it at all. In fact, he's just remaining as snoozingly dishonest as ever. He was brought on board based on celebrity status, much like the movie and TV personnel Marvel's recruited.
Comic-book fans are cynical about these types of events. Preview information about Superman No. 18 noted that the hero would reveal his identity, but it was met with little fanfare on comics news sites or social media, possibly because readers assume the developments will be temporary. Newsarama, a comics news site, noted in an article last month that the 2015 story covered similar ground. But another site, Bleeding Cool, predicted a sharp twist of events.

“Let me lean into this a little bit because I’m with you on that,” Bendis said in a telephone interview, when asked about fan skepticism. “I don’t do fake-out stories.” If anything, he added, some fans familiar with his work might be worried about long-term ramifications: “I did a story where Daredevil was outed — a different kind of outing — but that was his reality for 15 years.” (When Daredevil’s identity was revealed to the public, it caused a lot of grief for his alter ego, Matt Murdock.)

Superman’s being honest about his identity, Bendis said, will bring him closer to being “the best version of himself.” It also opens up areas of exploration, he said: “We wanted to do this because behind it is 1,000 brand-new Superman stories that have never been told.”
Well I'm sorry to say, but unmasking alone does not the best version make, and that's not why we meet this stuff with little fanfare. What matters is whether the story merit proves effective. That's why Flash stories from the 90s were entertaining, and Mark Waid wasn't such an embarrassment then either, in those days prior to social media drama. But with Bendis, we have here an overrated writer who's never been challenged on any of the bad ideas he shoved into the superhero titles he wrote for Marvel, such as changing Scarlet Witch into a madwoman during Avengers: Disassembled, in a way even the 1990 West Coast Avengers story by John Byrne didn't come close to, Bendis' contempt for fandom, nor how he made cheap choices for heroes to add as cast members in the Avengers like Wolverine and Spider-Man.
Bendis said that he and some of his fellow DC Comics writers, including Matt Fraction and Greg Rucka, are already hundreds of story pages in. Two special Superman issues coming in January will begin to show how far-reaching this event is.
Well with equally overrated writers like those two, that's another good reason to avoid this Superman run. Rucka's already doing some social justice propaganda in his Lois Lane series, and Fraction once made a mess of Iron Fist. Evidently, they're coinciding with Bendis' direction, they agree with it, and that's why they're not worth the bother.
A long-held belief behind secret identities is that the heroes are protecting their loved ones. Superman’s decision has implications for him, his family, his workplace and the heroes and villains of the DC universe.

“Everybody who’s ever been in contact with him is going to have a completely different perspective and reaction to this,” Bendis said. “Some heroes are going to be thrilled, some heroes are going to be livid, some villains are going to change their ways.” (That’s right: Superman’s news will inspire an enemy to switch sides.)
I wonder if that'd include Wally West, whose status was reverted back to secret ID by Geoff Johns over 15 years ago, in a run I've long re-evaluated as one of the grimiest ever produced in modern times? Despite what they say, there have been characters since the Golden Age who knew the secret IDs of the superheroes, like Doiby Dickles and Tom Kalmaku knowing best pals Alan Scott and Hal Jordan's as the 1st and 2nd Green Lantern, and Joan Williams knowing her boyfriend Jay Garrick was the 1st Flash, and nobody threatened them over a demand to expose who the stars really were, so it's not entirely true superheroes concealing their real IDs do it because they're worried about their spouses and friends. If anything, it was as much a concern for superheroes about their own ability to operate and live freely without interruptions and attacks on their personal life as it was about their friends and relatives.
When Bendis took over Superman, he came up with a story involving an ill-timed photograph of Lois, who is married to Clark, kissing Superman. The public gave Superman a pass, but had a lot of scorn for Lois, considering her unfaithful.

“I had another destination in mind, but this was a better solution,” Bendis said of that subplot. The ruckus over the photograph, he said, caused Superman to wonder, Who was he lying to protect? Who did not already know that Lois was an important part of his life?
Thinking about this, it doesn't sound all that different from Bendis' other dreadful handlings of women in his stories. Is a point made why it's wrong to excuse a man for making a mistake while heaping the blame almost entirely upon a woman for the same? Then again, seeing how pretentious Bendis is, I won't be shocked if the story fails regardless.

It appears Bendis wants Superman to cast aside the secret ID simply to suit his own self-indulgent ideas for what makes entertainment, not because it can work organically. As for Daredevil, if Matt Murdock's secret ID was restored recently, at least that's one good thing all those revolting crossovers Marvel cooked up with sci-fi elements were good for. Even though company wide crossovers are throughly unnecessary for such a task, and whatever Marvel's been doing since Bendis' departure hasn't improved their books a bit.

And I'm curious to know: if writers like Dan Jurgens and Louise Simonson thought of unmasking Superman as Clark Kent long term, would they have been given the free rein Bendis inexplicably receives? I get the strange feeling the answer is no. The problem is that it's all about favored status accompanied by privileges. Apparently, that's why Bendis (and Rucka/Fraction) is allowed to go through with what other writers who may have done better years before aren't. That's how nepotism works, sadly.

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Spider-Man, Daredevil, and now Superman. Bendis is such a hack... Looks like DC just bought his old plots and changed all the names to DC characters.

What's wrong with putting Spidey and Wolverine in the Avengers?

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