Brian Michael Bendis’s Best Comic Books

Over the decades, the comic book industry has given rise to names that fans now see as industry legends thanks to their genre-defining runs on iconic characters. Brian Michael Bendis is one such writer, with his work running the gamut of more niche, but no less compelling characters to icons of the medium.

Much of his best comics came through Marvel, especially with his run on Daredevil, but he has also had some exceptional underrated work come out of the smaller publishers. Some of which include crime-noir series like Image Comics’ Sam and Twitch and the creator-owned powers.


9 Torso

Bendis' black-and-white art of detectives at a crime scene in Torso.

In one of Brian Bendis’ earlier offerings in comics, he and co-writer Marc Andreyko teamed up under Image Comics for a true-crime limited series. Torso is based on the true story of the Cleveland Torso Murderer, who dismembered his victims.

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Bendis has had many acclaimed and Eisner-winning comics — including Ultimate Spider Man, Daredevil, Aliasand powers — and Torso was one of his early comics to win and put him on the mainstream map in the process. This underrated limited series was acclaimed for its dread-inducing approach to crime-noir.

8 Sam And Twitch

Brooding, stylized artwork by Sam and Twitch.

Back at Image Comics, Brian Bendis had a run within Tod McFarlane’s flagship spawn universe. Taking the titular Sam and Twitch supporting characters from the mainline series, Bendis had another go at the hybrid crime-noir/superhero genre mashup.

Sam and Twitch follow the detective duo as they tackle heinous supernatural cases, as one might expect from a spawn spinoff. The series proved to have all the moving parts needed for Bendis’ writing to shine. It features brooding character drama, bloody detective work, and a tasteful splash of humor.

7 powers

The main cast of Powers with superheroes flying in the background.

powers was Bendis’ first dipping his pencils into the superhero genre, revolving around two detectives named Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim. The duo is tasked with investigating cases surrounding people with superpowered abilities — referred to as “powers.” Along with artist Michael Avon Oeming, powers Brilliantly mixed Bendis’ penchant for crime-noir with superheroes and police procedurals.

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That clever cocktail earned the series three Eisner awards with this cult-classic standing as one of the most creative and experimental comic book series that tackles the superhero genre. powers enjoyed a sprawling run from April 2000 to September 2020.

6 batman universe

Derington's art of Batman descending on Gotham City with his cape billowing behind him.

While it isn’t nearly as well-known given the brooding vigilante’s pantheon of comics, Bendis had a hidden gem of a limited series with DC’s most beloved superhero. batman universe is a refreshing side story set in an alternate canon that serves as a palette cleanser from the Dark Knight’s darker exploits — beloved as they are. The story begins with the Riddler stealing a mysterious jeweled egg that spirals into a globetrotting adventure.

It also features characters from the wider DC universe in supporting roles, with Universe being praised for being a nice change of pace for its more colorful, swashbuckling Batman adventure. batman universe doesn’t veer into over-the-top camp like in the Adam West days but strikes a good modern balance, and Nick Derington’s art is a perfect complement to this lighter tone.

5 Alias

Jessica Jones huddled in a purple water-color-styled cover art.

Published under Marvel Comics’ mature-rated MAX imprint, Alias was Bendis’ gritty run alongside artist Michael Gaydos on superhero-turned-private investigator Jessica Jones. In this series, Jessica Jones was once known as the superhero Jewel but turned away from that life. Alias was praised for its approach as a psychological character study, with the series unraveling pieces of Jessica Jones’ past and developing her character as she learns to heal from her trauma.

Fans of the Netflix series will be at home with Alias, as this Bendis-led series served as the foundation for season 1’s intense character-driven story with Purple Man as the lead villain. Bendis’ work was vital for the former Netflix corner of the MCU, with Jessica Jones and Daredevil owing part of their successes to his influential writing.

4 ultimate spider-man

Spider-Man swinging through the air in Ultimate Spider-Man cover art.

Given Brian Bendis’ status in the comic book industry, his impressive track record, and his close ties with the publisher, it’s expected that he’d eventually get a shot at Marvel Comic’s most iconic superhero alongside Mark Bagley, Stuart Immonen, and David Lafuente as artists. His best run of him on Spider-Man happened to be with a remake of a classic story, as ultimate spider-man is a retelling of his ’60s origin story.

The 7-issue arc was well-received, giving the admittedly dated writing of that decade a much-needed modernization to suit Spider-Man for a new age. ultimate spider-man is still held in high regard as a nostalgic throwback for a beloved character and some of the best that the early ’00s had to offer for comics.

3 Invincible Iron Man

Iron Man soaring above New York in David Marquez's cover art.

In a more recent run on Marvel’s comics, Bendis also took over the Invincible Iron Man series in 2016. The series introduced the character Riri Williams, who would later fill in for Tony Stark as Iron Heart. Interestingly, it also featured Mary Jane Watson as Tony’s assistant.

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While some comic fans are understandably wary of the source material morphing into an extension of the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man was praised for its character writing. Tony has a history in comics of being self-deprecating and arrogant as well as brilliant, and Bendis struck a good balance of Robert Downey Jr.’s snarky personality, sense of humor, and being honorable to what came before.

two Daredevil: End Of Days

Daredevil holding his billy club in the samurai-themed cover of End of Days.

While it was considered canon to the mainline continuity at the time, it seems to have since been quietly agreed upon as being an alternate timeline. Outside of Bendis’ acclaimed main series Daredevil run with artist Alex Maleev, he teamed up with David Mack for an even bleaker take on the Man Without Fear in End of days.

This takes place in a more distant future, revolving around the death of Daredevil and Hell’s Kitchen no longer caring. A heart-wrenching mystery begins to unfold, especially since another Daredevil is still lurking around. End of days was also extremely well-received, with Bendis’ atmospheric noir tone being a highlight. Likewise, it serves as a great complementary dark piece to his mainline series. And as dark as things go, it’s perhaps one of the worst things to happen to Daredevil outside of mainline comics.

1 Daredevil

Daredevil standing with shadows over him in Bendis' run.

Perhaps Brian Michael Bendis’ crowning achievement, his run on the mainline Daredevil series with longtime partner Alex Maleev on the pencils is on par with some of Frank Miller’s best work. It served as a major tonal influence for the equally-acclaimed Daredevil TV show, presenting a story with intense stakes that put Matt Murdock through the wringer.

Being able to write a story that compelling says a lot considering Daredevil often gets hellfire rained on his life. This run was lauded for being a sprawling crime saga that consistently showed Bendis flexing his noir muscles with one of the superhero genre’s grittiest mainstream characters.

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