It’s no secret that being a comic fan is a maddening endeavor. Shared universes bring along with them a slew of potential inconsistencies, and it’s the rare writer who does prior work justice while crafting something new and good. Creator-owned work ditches that problem in exchange for the harder one: standing on its own two feet without big names and big money to keep it alive beyond its own merits. They say early on that following characters is the quickest way to disappointment; you’ve got to follow writers. Here, a year into reading, there are some I’ve come to trust or enjoy more (consistently) than others.
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Read: Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Ghost
I hesitate to use the word “favorite” about anyone in the top, say, four or five on this list. But over the past few months I’ve come to adore Kelly Sue’s writing, and particularly how consistently good it is regardless of whether she’s writing hilarious banter between Jessica Drew and Carol Danvers, a captivating narrative poem about Death and his daughter, or something more autobiographical (but no less poetic). A brief glance at next year’s pull list shows one dominated by books penned by KSD.
Read: Fatale, Catwoman (Trail of the Catwoman; No Easy Way Down), Velvet
If there’s a non-offensive way to call someone a one-trick pony, I’d use the phrase to describe Ed Brubaker. He’s a cross between Midas and Chandler: everything he touches turns to noir. Yet there’s still a very distinct difference between his noir horror and noir thriller, and there’s no trace of Cthulhu in his Selina Kyle. And while Fatale was what introduced me to his writing, it was the diversity of Catwoman that sold me (and forever ruined other approaches to her character, to boot). The late emergence of Velvet entrenches Brubaker on my pull list almost as deeply as Kelly Sue. Next year I’ll make sure to read Captain America.
Read: X-Force, Innocence Lost, Target X, Scarlet Spider, misc.
There are a variety of reasons Yost needs to be on this list, and relatively high on it (though it’s not a numbered list, so…). He created my favorite character, and the origin story he wrote for her happens to also be fantastic. He wrote the first series I read this year (the first I ever read from issue first to last). I have thoroughly enjoyed everything of his I’ve ever read. He has a fantastic handle on young characters, and his humor is top-tier. And he co-wrote Thor: The Dark World, which I liked a lot more than I expected to. His New X-Men run remains on my to-do list, along with New Warriors, one of the All-New Marvel Now titles I’m most anticipating. And writing this has solidified, to me, that I can’t put a finger on a specific reason why I love Yost’s writing. I just do.
Read: Death: Deluxe Edition, Sandman: Overture
I’ll acknowledge up front that, compared to what he’s written, what I’ve read of Neil Gaiman is fairly minor. But I’ve adored it. And following the man on social media, it’s become pretty clear that I need to read quite a bit more. First step will be Sandman — which, with any luck, I will have in its entirety pretty soon. Meanwhile, the brief glance I’ve had at his characters, from the whimsical Death to the terrifying Corinthian, most recently brought back in Overture, has been nothing but brilliant.
Read: Astro City
Something must be said for a book as unique as Astro City. I may not have read much of it, but when it comes to good writing, you shouldn’t need a lot to fall in love. Complementing the quality of the writing is the candor with which each issue’s letter of the month is addressed. I understand Busiek has a long history in the industry. If the rest is as good as this newest volume of Astro City, I imagine he’ll be staying on the list.
Read: Locke & Key (in its entirety)
Locke & Key‘s quality speaks for itself. If he never wrote anything else, Joe Hill would still have been one of the best writers I’ve encountered all year.
Read: Injustice: Gods Among Us
Sometimes appreciating the quality of one writer requires contrast with the writing of another. After months of frustration with DC’s handling of characters like Harley Quinn and Superman in their rebooted world, Tom Taylor stepped in to provide a parallel universe in which the characters all sounded like, and were in appropriate relationships for, the characters I actually knew and cared about. His Injustice comic demonstrates deft timing — both comedic and dramatic — and has solidified him as a top pick in my book for writing canon books for DC…if they ever get their act together enough to see his talent.
Read: Mara, X-Men
Read: Morning Glories
Brian K. Vaughan
Read: Runaways, excerpts of Saga & Y: The Last Man