Top 5: Comic Writers 5. Brian K Vaughan Y the Last Man | Ultimate X-Men | Saga | Ex Machina Y the Last Man is a brilliant comic with a simple premise, “what if you were the last man on Earth?” Under Vaughan’s pen this story was not the fantasy that some would imagine but a gritty post-apocalyptic world that wasn’t afraid to be a social commentary on society. This 60-issue biopic followed a ragtag team, not out to save the world but merely survive. For a story that was consistently global in scope, Vaughan was able to keep character moments in each issue. At the heart of the story was a tale of survival and a love story, but not the one you might have thought you were reading from the beginning. Vaughan proved his mettle in the mainstream by writing Ultimate X-Men. His stories played on fans expectations of the standard Marvel ,616, universe and created brand new characters. His arc with Ultimate X-Men was able to stay relevant while utilizing lesser known cast members and enhancing the world already established. Vaughan continues to build fantastical worlds in Saga but at the crux of his stories are people. Even during sci-fi elements and larger than life circumstances, Vaughan’s greatest strength is creating likable, realistic protagonists. 4. Mark Millar Ultimates | Ultimate X-Men | Superman: Red Son | Kick-Ass | Wanted Millar’s primary goal nowadays is to write movies that will be optioned into movies, but there was a time when he wrote some of the best comics on the market. One of the founding fathers of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, Millar was an architect of The Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men. The Ultimates mannerisms, character flaws and team dynamic was cribbed when the Avengers movie was released (as was the usage of Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury). Millar made Captain America interesting and relevant. This in of itself is a huge accomplishment that can not be understated. Not content to toil in the Ultimate Universe alone, Millar penned Marvel’s largest commercial crossover, Civil War. The comic pitted ally against friend in a moral dilemma that provided weight to hero-vs-hero action. Millar’s work typically focuses on one strong character and a robust cast of supporting archetypes. His collective of stories capture the essence of a huge summer blockbuster, with excellent event-driven story lines and action. 3. Robert Kirkman Invincible | Walking Dead | Marvel Team-up | Astounding Wolf-Man Invincible is an epic world filled with fantastic aliens, dimensions, demons and heroes. Walking Dead is a character-driven piece about survival. Kirkman is able to consistently tell these two drastically different stories while keeping each of them compelling and interest after 100+ issues. Due to the popularity surge of his creator-owned titles, Kirkman was made a partner at Image comics, a testament to the weight his work has had on the industry. Kirkman also did a stint for Marvel, including Ultimate X-Men and Marvel Team-up. His work on Team-Up was always delightful and brought out the best in the characters; keeping true to their previous selves while making them feel fresh and reinvigorated. While Walking Dead is a huge commercial success spanning comics, games and television, Kirkman remains focused on driving the never-ending zombie movie forward. Speaking of movies, Invincible is the best comic book that should be turned into a theatrical release that hasn’t yet. 2. Brian Michael Bendis Ultimate Spider-Man | Daredevil | All-New X-Men | New Avengers | Powers Ultimate Spider-Man was the best interpretation of Spidey and his rouge’s gallery ever created. By writing a relatable teenage Peter Parker, Bendis was able to capture the spirit of the earlier Lee work for over 150 issues. During his run, Bendis made overused and saturated 90’s villains such as Venom and Carnage more grounded and deadlier with origins tied directly to Peter. Bendis even took the challenge of writing an enjoyable and easy to digest version of the Clone Saga. Bendis won five Eisners, mostly for his work on Powers, Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis’s work is best when he focuses on a single character. There are times when the cast becomes too large and the books suffer from “talking head” syndrome where the voices start to bleed together. One of Bendis’s greatest strengths is elevating C-tier characters, such as Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, The Wrecking Crew or even Wolverine. 1. Geoff Johns Flash | Green Lantern | Justice League | Blackest Night | Aquaman | Teen Titans Johns is DC Comics today. Whenever an epic crossover is required, he is the guy. When there is a character stuck in limbo who needs to be revitalized (yes, I’m talking about Aquaman), he is there. Johns run on The Flash was defined by his ability to create complex, deep villains. The Flash Rouges were something of a joke before Johns’ scripts. Now the villains are as complex, sinister and intriguing as anyone from Gotham. Johns was able to take the established story of Hal Jordan’s fall from grace and turn it into the groundwork for the Green Lantern’s return and triumph. The mythology of the emotional spectrum (and the various Lantern Corps created) will have a lasting impact on the DC Universe for years to come or until the next Johns retcons everything. One of his greatest strengths is paying attention to continuity and making it work for him. If Johns wants Cyborg to return to his 80’s silver self he will spend months laying the groundwork and changing the character from a previously established solid gold design. Everything he does has an explanation that works within the framework of the story. Level Up, Friends!