Today is Brian Michael Bendis' Birthday!*
Wizard World Chicago wrapped up last weekend, and lots of things happened for Bendis: several major announcements, a minor fiasco between Marvel and DC and some devoted well wishers from the Bendis Board.
The event that took center stage on news sites is of course, the aforementioned fiasco which involved the House of Ideas and The Distinguished Competition.
For several days before WW Chicago, Bendis had been leaving teases and hints on his messageboard about a secret announcement that would be made and the nature of the announcement was revealed at Newsarama shortly before he began his Super Happy Fun Hour panel.
In Newsarama's report, "Batman/Daredevil: Pipe Dream or Reality?" revealed just that: a move by Bendis to get the ball rolling for another Marvel/DC crossover project that would place the World's Greatest Detective beside The Man Without Fear and follow hot on the heels of the success of JLA/Avengers.
Newsarama's report also revealed that Marvel requested that Bendis NOT bring up this matter at the company panel in order to avoid giving the mistaken impression of identifying his statements as officialized by Marvel management. The panel's proceedings were well documented by Steve Higgins at Broken Frontier's Wizard World Chicago Recap.
As described in the recap, Bendis tells the story of how he and other comic creator friends had started contemplating ideas on a Batman/Daredevil crossover. When he pitched the idea to the editorial departments of Marvel and DC, who both said yes, the ball stopped in Paul Levitz' court who said "No."
Bendis seemed to be gearing up to appeal to fans to plead for DC's approval. But when Bob Wayne of DC interrupted with "that's not entirely correct." Things at the panel started going out of hand. Wayne insisted that "conditions exist at present that prevent it from being possible." DC would love to do the book, "just as soon as Joe Quesada is not at Marvel."
Bendis then insisted it shouldn't matter, that legal reasons or corporate reasons might sound valid but Levitz' personal reason that he and Quesada did not get along should not stop Batman/Daredevil from being made and that it would be possible to get the book done without any interaction on Quesada's part.
Eventually, panel degenerated into a Marvel versus DC contest. Insults about U-Decide, DK2 and Bill Jemas were being thrown with a panicked Bendis trying to restore order and return the focus to his intentions of grassroots comic book activism.
According to Wayne, their main contention with Quesada was the "type of behavior that [he] has exhibited in interviews like the one that ran in the New York Observer where he was completely over the line over what was appropriate behavior." Wayne's point was that it didn't seem like fitting "discourse" between two publishers who may work together.
Eventually, things calmed down and Wayne decided to step aside. Wayne gave him a business card and they agreed to discuss this matter in private. After Wayne exited, Bendis joked, "I don't think he's ever going to hire me. Yeah I'll be writing Batman when I'm like, eighty."
For an MP3 recording of the event, visit Comic Book Resources' Pipeline.
Ninth Art's Paul O'Brien made some insightful remarks about the nature of this display of company rivalry in his latest Article 10, Clash of the Cretins:
"The question is why anyone would think this was a sensible way to do business. It attracts attention, to be sure. But it doesn't attract attention to the books, and it just makes all concerned look like squabbling brats. I realise everyone in the industry is supposed to be looking for ways to appeal to children, but does that have to mean acting like them?
To be honest, the main argument against it being a publicity stunt is that it does nothing whatsoever to build appeal for a BATMAN/DAREDEVIL book. All it does is build a spurious Marvel/DC feud. Where's the money in that? Publish another MARVEL VERSUS DC series, with a photostrip of Joe Quesada and Paul Levitz mudwrestling in thongs? (Please don't. Not even for charity.)
There's been a general background of childish potshots from Marvel in DC's direction over the last few years, but nothing that really crosses the line from playing the established inter-company rivalry for cheap laughs. This affair takes that rivalry into a new and vastly more stupid dimension. Who is this meant to be impress? What does this achieve, other than make everyone look like a fool?
You can get away with calling out your opposition if you work in professional wrestling, because that's all part of the show. You can get away with it in rap because it's just part of the routine. You can get away with it if you're a proper celebrity because hell, if you're famous enough you can get away with pretty much anything. But comic book editors squabbling in public? It's like watching two local butchers have a fight in the street about the quality of their salami.
*Edward Norton, Patrick Swayze and Robert Redford are also having their birthdays too, but you don't care about that while you're reading a Bendis journal now do you?