Brian Michael Bendis

When it was first announced that Brian Michael Bendis would be departing Marvel Comics – where he has been not only a fixture but often a defining creative force for nearly two decades – for a  gig at rival DC, it was more or less a given that a writer of his stature would have his pick of DC’s iconic characters. We quickly learned that Bendis had his sights on the iconic DC character: Superman. Beginning with a story in ‘Action Comics #1000′, Bendis will take the helm of both ‘Action Comics’ and ‘Superman‘.

More than a few people (including this writer) were caught off guard by the news. After all, prior to the Superman announcement, the smart money would have seemed to be on Bendis taking over one of the  Batman ongoings. Indeed, we said as much in our earlier coverage of his move to DC. So why not Batman?

Well, we’ve since learned that Bendis’s decision to sign with DC was motivated in part by a specific desire to write the Man of Steel (itself driven by a visit to the Superman exhibit at the Cleveland Library). That’s significant in and of itself. And speaking on a recent installment of John Siuntres’ ‘Word Balloon‘ podcast, Bendis offered an additional insight into the matter:

“I said to Dan [DiDio, DC co-publisher), if ‘Superman’ is available sometime in my contract, I want to take a shot at it. I think he thought I was going to ask for ‘Batman’… but I think Batman is well taken care of. Not that Superman isn’t, as well – the Mr. Oz story is phenomenal – but one was pulling to me more. Dan said, “We’re gonna star a new direction with ‘Action #1000’. What a great place to land you and say, this is part of the legacy and how much we believe in it.” I would literally have to start writing for DC the day after I finished writing for Marvel, but we could do it.”

So at the end of the day, Superman was simply “pulling to” him in a way that the Caped Crusader wasn’t. And in its own way, that makes perfect sense. After all, the very reason that Batman seemed such a logical fit for Bendis (namely, that there has always been a very pronounced affinity for gritty crime noir stories in his work – think ‘Alias’ or ‘Powers’) are exactly the reason he might be eager to do literally anything else. Put simply, he’s already done the sorts of stories we might expect him to tell with Batman. Whereas, while Bendis has certainly written his share of high-concept superheroics as well (Having spent years on one ‘Avengers’ title or another), Superman offers a particularly distilled, aspirational version of that, a sort that Marvel has never quite matched.

Be sure to check back with for more on Bendis’s move to DC as it becomes available.