Review – Fortune And Glory by Brian Bendis

By | January 21st, 2010
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God bless the local library, am I right? I mean, I almost never ever step into mine because I don’t have many reasons to, but in a situation where I do, I am the type of person to leave with five books that I plan to have read within two weeks. Yes, two weeks. And the nice thing about going to the library is you can find all sorts of books, including ones that are out of print 100% that you can barely find even on Amazon, at least not in a presentable condition. So, since I knew that Fortune and Glory was due to be re-printed by Marvel this year, I figured I’d take the opportunity to get in a review of the book before everyone re-discovers what I’m sure will be referred to as “classic Bendis” one day.

For those interested, the re-release of the book will feature new scenes and be in full color as opposed to the black and white that the original version is. It should be entertaining! You can pre-order the book set to come out March 24, 2010 right now on And believe me, you may want to get that pre-order in before you even read my review.

Believe it or not, back in the day Bendis used to write everything but superhero comics. The man was big into crime and true crime, and when he wrote a little book called Goldfish, it turned some heads. That’s what this book is about. Fortune and Glory is the true Hollywood story of how Bendis caught some fame with his graphic novel Goldfish, and how it was optioned to become a feature film. Bendis takes us through every step of the story – from the awkward phone calls, to getting an agent, through going to various meetings with studio execs all the way to the picture being optioned, him writing a draft, and everything being put in place for the movie to be made. Of course, as well all know, SPOILER ALERT the movie wasn’t made. You probably would have heard about it as it was. As much as Bendis was getting the “next Kevin Smith” treatment from Hollywood (to the point where Miramax adores him), his movie never happened, despite his script being adored by all those that read it. And through it all, we get to see a wide-eyed Bendis learn just what really happens in the magic land of Hollywood that we’ve all dreamed of joining at one time or another.

What makes Bendis such a catchy, fun, and fresh writer to a lot of us is the way that Bendis handles dialogue. This is quite possibly my favorite thing about him, and is what is so great about a book like Ultimate Spider-Man. While Bendis might be most at home writing a crime story (as was proven by the optioning of Goldish and all the work done on Daredevil), he is always best when it comes to dialogue. And guess what? That’s all this book is. The book is a reinterpretation of conversations that Bendis had during his experience, and all with his trademark spin and humor on the entire situation. Some of the scenes are so downright hysterical that you have to wonder how close is his writing to what actually happened. While I had no luck finding images of the book online, there is a great scene in the book when he first finishes his draft of the Goldfish script and his friend (who reads scripts for a living and tells people how to improve them) remarks that it was 280 pages versus the average 120. Bendis’ reaction is absolutely hysterical.

Of course, if the book didn’t have good a good flow in general, it’d obviously be no good. You’re in luck though, because this is done thanks to highly entertaining cartoons drawn by Bendis himself. Bendis has obviously concocted a pretty crazy script that is done with many interesting forms of visual storytelling, and we can really see a lot of the groundwork for how Bendis would go on to instruct Oeming in Powers. While this is obviously nothing like what we had seen Bendis do before in his crime books, the cartoonish nature of the book makes the story that much more affable. Seeing Bendis in a brand new light, as a character in his own book that he quite often makes jokes at (especially in an opening scene in which Bendis describes himself as an artist and is portrayed as a stereotypical guy in a black shirt and pants smoking next to a comic rack), makes the book that much more personable.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that, towards the end, the story becomes quite literally just as much Marc Andreyko’s story as it is Bendis’ (to which Bendis makes note). Despite this being one of two collaborations between Bendis and Andreyko (the other being Torso, which actually becomes a part of the book in and of itself (which is also in the process of being adapted to film…)), it definitely shows the great friendship and understand that the two have with one another.

If you’re able to find a copy of Fortune and Glory, I’d snag it up right away. It’s an insanely entertaining read, and for those of us that will never make it to Hollywood, it is definitely an interesting and eye opening look at what exactly happens over there. An interesting point to note is that Bendis states near the midway point of the book that he could be lying and we’d never know, but in this situation, due to the complete candid nature of the tale, I’d imagine that most of this happened. It’s a very believable tale, especially in regards to the reactions of the studios to the work that he is doing. While I’m only somewhat familiar with Bendis’ pre-Marvel work (something that I definitely want to correct the more stuff like this I read (and, as a side note, I’m going to try a lot harder to find things besides Jinx and Goldfish)), I can easily say that this is by far the Bendis book – it’s full of his rich dialogue, good humor, and personal approach to storytelling.

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."