Honorable Mentions – Brad Meltzer, for Identity Crisis and the amazing story it was and Judd Winnick for his work on Barry Ween, Green Arrow and a host of other comics in the recent past.
8. Matt Anderson:
Shameless Plug, Shameless Plug, Shameless Plug, ShamelessPlug, Shamus Pug… Anderson is a writer most of you probably don’t know, even though I reviewed his critically acclaimed first mini-series White Picket Fences on this very site back in January and even more recently I reviewed his recent writings for Kung Fu Panda. Matt would wholeheartedly admit that being amongst such company as the rest of this list is not somewhere he’s comfortable being…but as a burgeoning successful writer in the business I shall promote those I feel are quality with every chance I get.
7. Brian Azzarello:
Azzarello is probably most famous for creating and writing 100 Bullets which is a comic I’ve never read a single issue of. So that is not at all why he’s on this list. Azzarello makes number seven on my list because of two things: his fabulous twelve-issue run on Superman and his twenty-eight issue run on Hellblazer (where he was the first American born writer allowed to touch the book). The Superman storyline set in harsh contrast what the Superman character could be against what the typical portrayal of the man of steel. For me it changed my perspective on Superman as a superhero and got me to actually pick up the book, something I had not done previously.
6. Mark Waid:
Waid, like Azzarello, is most famous for his run on a book I didn’t read. In the case of Waid it was his unprecedented eight-year run on Flash. Where my appreciation for Waid comes from is Kingdom Come, which is, in this writer’s opinion, the best storyline of the 1990s and easily top five in the history of the DC Universe. But unlike some writers that do something great and then fade away, Waid is still going strong. In 2009 Waid started two parallel books: Incorruptible and Irredeemable. The two books take a look at a world where the greatest superhero has gone rogue, turned evil and his arch nemesis decides that in light of this development the world needs a savior, which is going to be him. The two books operate independent of one another, meaning you don’t have to read them both for each to make sense, but the storylines exist in the same universe. Waid does what he always does: looks at superheroes the way few writers would dare and makes it work.
5. Keith Giffen & J.M. Dematteis:
Giffen & Dematteis are a writing duo that rivals any other for top billing. I sneak them into this list as a pair because clearly the work they do together is the best work they do. That is not to take away from their independent books; they’re just not as good. Giffen & Dematteis are best known for their run on Justice League which went through a myriad of sub-titles during their sixty-issue run, the one constant being them. They have the ability to take characters that a lot of people probably didn’t think twice about, like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold and made fantastic and humorous storylines around them. More recently they’ve teamed up on Hero Squared, a story about two guys who are the same person (in different universes) but are utterly and completely divergent from one another. The humor is ushered in when their two worlds collide. Whenever these guys team up, it’s worth getting the book.
4. Greg Rucka:
Rucka has become a staple at DC Comics. He’s written all the marquee titles and done very well on them, and whereas my appreciation for him has a lot to do with his amazing runs on Action Comics and Adventures of Superman, the root of it lies in his revitalization of Checkmate. Checkmate originally appeared as an ongoing in the late 80s early 90s without much fanfare. When Rucka brought it back he infused it with star-potential characters like Mr. Terrific and Alan Scott (JSA Green Lantern). It grew out of the events in Countdown to Infinite Crisis where Max Lord kills Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) and it’s revealed that Lord had also been controlling the Checkmate organization. Rucka shows exemplary tact and style while writing this series and my respect for him is great because of it.
3. Warren Ellis:
Ellis is insane, totally and completely. Anyone who has ever read Transmetropolitan would be hard pressed to argue against that point. The book itself is amazing, outlandish, incredibly insightful and oddly self-aware and relevant, even years later. If anything our current world more closely resembles the invented universe of Transmetropolitan than ever before. After shoving the nose of every reader in a smoldering pile of dog crap with that story he went on to wow the comic book universe with Planetary. Planetary is easily the greatest ongoing series in the last decade, granted it’s only twenty-seven issues and took just over a decade to push every last one of those babies out of the mental birthing canal of Ellis, it was well worth it. If you’ve never read this series, first: punch yourself in the kidney, then immediately run out to your local comic shop and buy every issue you can find. The stories themselves are rarely concurrent so whatever issue you can get your hands on will contain an amazing stand-alone story about the untold tales of the universe. Buy. Read. Enjoy. You’ll thank me for it.
2. Kurt Busiek:
Busiek is one of the most celebrated and well-known writers in all of comicdom. He’s had runs on some of the biggest books of all time: Avengers, Iron Man and Superman. But where I found him was in his creator owned book Astro City. Astro City takes a look at a superheroes in a very different light than comics had really ever done up to that point. The personal trials and tribulations of heroes and villains alike are explored in this realistic series of stories. The reason it carries the title of Astro City becomes apparent when you realize that each issue explores more than just one or two characters fighting injustice, the entire city is involved in the book. Busiek is also well known for his work on Marvels due to its groundbreaking style of storytelling. He took that perspective and expanded on it greatly in Astro City. Busiek is the standard by which current storytelling is measured, in my mind.
1. Geoff Johns:
Johns is probably the greatest comic book writing mind going right now. The man has an incredible ability to constantly create amazing storylines one after the next after the next. It’s been a recent climb to the top but it has been a meteoric rise. He’s been a writer on: 52, an extended run on Action Comics, the Blackest Night saga, a sixty-plus issue run on Flash, Green Lantern: Rebirth and the Green Lantern series that followed, JSA (Justice Society of America) and last but not least he launched and had an extended run on the third series of Teen Titans. He’s a powerhouse of ideas. I’m pretty sure if we opened up his mind we’d find Lex Luthor, Braniac, Gorilla Grodd and Superman all operating the levers and he will eventually take over the world using his as-yet-unknown superpowers and massive comic intellect. But on a serious note, Johns is incredibly talented. The biggest events in the DC Comics Universe over the past six plus years have involved Johns. His talents as a writer, and the fact that he’s a fan at heart as well, has endeared him to a group of people (comic book fans) who tend to hate everyone, but not Johns. I can only hope he writes forever.