2012 in Review: Best Writer

By | December 18th, 2012
Posted in Columns | % Comments

What a year 2012 was for comics. It became readily apparent as we were prepping these lists that yeah, this was one hell of a year, and it was impressive if only because the incredible diversity. We saw more titles showing up in all of the categories than ever before, which just speaks to the breadth of genres and types of comics everyone can experience if they just look in the right places these days.

Writers, in many ways, drive that diversity we’re talking about. It’s not just a world of Avengers vs. X-Men or superheroes kissing superheroines any more – it’s a world of star crossed lovers from a galaxy far, far away, of hard times on crime riddled Indian reservations, and of underwater welders. We’re all the better for it, and the following writers (along with many, many others) helped make this such a special year in comics.

10. Rick Remender

Why he ranks (Brandon Burpee): How the hell this guy ended up as #10 on this list is beyond me! On my personal list the man sat in the #1 spot. The guy simply killed it this year. His work on books like Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers, Uncanny Avengers and Venom were constant must reads for me this year. His Uncanny books both made my Top 10 Ongoing List, Uncanny Avengers was in my Top Issues of the year list as well as my New Ongoing list. Remender’s work dominated my lists this year. If it had Remender’s name on it I was reading the shit out of it and loving every last bit of it. There are few creators whose name guarantees a buy from me and I would proudly put his name on that list along with all the other lists I put his name on this year. So shame on the rest of Multiversity for not giving this man the due he deserves. Shame.

9. Scott Snyder

Why he ranks (Vince Ostrowski): If Scott Snyder were just writing “Swamp Thing” and “American Vampire”, he’d have enough great work under his belt to make this list. “Swamp Thing” is equal parts gross horror and the most honest romance that DC Comics has right now. “Swamp Thing” and “American Vampire” sometimes feel like slow burns, but when you consider that the subtext and the horror aesthetics are the true draws to those titles, you begin to appreciate the work that he’s done even more.

Snyder has displayed a unique ability to collaborate with other writers and artists to create a stronger product. He orchestrated the ‘Court of the Owls’ crossover through the New 52 to such a successful degree that he almost immediately tasked with doing the same thing for the return of The Joker in ‘Death of the Family’. He has been the driving force for a huge chunk of the DC Universe and it is no coincidence that it is easily the strongest corner, critically and commercially. Meanwhile, “Swamp Thing” and Jeff Lemire’s work on “Animal Man” have mixed together well throughout the year in the ‘Rotworld’ crossover showing his unique ability to collaborate with both writers and artists.

But let’s be honest with ourselves here, he is on this list for “Batman.” The 12 issues of Batman that Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo crafted in 2012 were not only amazingly consistent, but will eventually be remembered among the very best in the history of the character. Snyder’s knack for building mythology has resulted in implanting the “Court of Owls” into the very fabric of Gotham City and spinning off “Talon” – the first “New 52” book to star a completely new character. Apart from that, Snyder has an uncanny feel for expanding Gotham City with elements that enrich what we know about it instead of tacking on to it. He did it all year, and he looks to continue to do it into next year with his Joker story with no signs of slowing down.

8. Matt Kindt

Why he ranks (Drew Bradley): I’ve probably said too much about Kindt’s creator-owned work on “MIND MGMT” elsewhere, so I’m going to shine a spotlight on his other 2012 work. He got my vote for best writer because of his demonstration of versatility. While the run was cut short, Kindt showed everyone what he could do in someone else’s sandbox with “Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE.” I’m sad to see Frank go away, but I’m excited to see his work with Martian Manhunter in “JLA” in 2013. (To be honest, his 8 page backup is the only reason I’m buying the $4 book.) He also showcased his talent for all-ages stories with his digital-only work for Marvel with a tie-in to the “Ultimate Spider-man” cartoon. He wasn’t the most prolific writer this year, but he nailed all of the various ones he wrote.

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6 (tie). Brian Wood

Why he ranks (Matt Meylikhov): Honestly, I don’t think writing about why Wood is one of the best writers of the years is necessary. I’m happy to talk about everything I like about the guy, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. Just looking at Wood’s body of work over 2012 is more than enough to explain what has made this great writer better; the finale to “DMZ” came out in the last week of last year, which was strikingly beautiful, poetic and optimistic, and this year has given us “The Massive,” “Conan” and some great work at Marvel with their mighty band of mutants — his “Ultimate X-Men” turned the series in a 180 for the linewide event, and his Wolverine/Kid Omega mini is a great deal of fun. Add to that the reprints of “Channel Zero” and “The Couriers,” the future giving us a “Star Wars” and “Mara” and who knows what else, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of Wood’s writing.

6 (tie). Kieron Gillen

Why he ranks (Matt Meylikhov): Kieron Gillen wrote my favorite comic of 2012: “Journey into Mystery” #645. Hands down, this was one of the most heartfelt and gut-wrenching reads, capping off a fantastic run on a series relaunch that most probably suspected wouldn’t amount to too much. I mean, a Thor spin-off book? What longevity would that have, right? And yet, “JiM” went above and beyond the call of duty, delivering one of the best characters of 2012 (Kid Loki) that led to the best scene of 2012 (the final few pages of #645) which garnered one of the most impassioned responses of 2012 (see: tumblr’s “JiM” tag). Gillen has always been a Multiversity Favorite for works like “SWORD” or “Phonogram,” but with all the big titles he worked on this year — “Uncanny X-Men,” some “AvX” tie-ins/fallout and more — it was impossible not to get wrapped up in his career over the year and all the various greatness it featured. With 2013 giving us new “Phonogram” (fingers crossed!), a creator-owned mini with Ryan Kelly (“Three”) and the “Young Avengers” ongoing, it appears Gillen is already gunning for the 2013 list of writers. Not that we mind.

5. Jason Aaron

Why he ranks (David Henderson): When trying to explain why I love Jason Aaron’s work so much, my first inclination is usually to mention the fact that he managed to completely deconstruct Wolverine as a character in only 16 issues only to completely reconstruct him in the next issue… and then have him walk directly out of “Wolverine” #16 and right into “Schism” #1. My next inclination is usually to mention the fact that he made me cry like a child over the funeral of Frank Castle.

But really, what makes Jason Aaron so great is his versatility. The fact that he can jump from “Wolverine And The X-Men”, which perfectly manages to channel the chaotic fun of a school of mutants, to “Thor: God Of Thunder”, which is by far the only Thor book in a long time to truly capture the ages spanning epic of Thor’s life, is something rarely seen in Big Two comics.

And, really, we all know just how fantastic “Scalped” was.

4. Jeff Lemire

Why he ranks (Walt Richardson): Okay, sure: Jeff Lemire’s ongoings were very solid in 2012. Even if the penultimate issue of “Sweet Tooth” was a bit abrupt, the issues leading up to it were gripping and intense; his brief run on “Frankenstein” was page after page of ridiculous, off-the-wall action; his entrance on “Justice League Dark” was exactly what readers were hoping for; finally, “Animal Man” continues to be one of the few New 52 books that is just as good now, if not better, than when it started.

None of those are why Jeff Lemire makes our top ten, though.

The Underwater Welder is one of the most powerful works of graphic fiction I have ever read. Perhaps it is a personal thing — Jack Joseph’s unhealthy comfort in isolation very closely mirrors some of my own tendencies — but Jeff Lemire was able to utilize the two hundred plus pages of this graphic novel to create an incredibly complex portrait of a man, while never coming off as pretentious. Any writer will tell you that the simple things are what make for compelling characters — grounded desires, identifiable fears, and raw emotion. Jack Joseph is not a great man. He is, all things considered, very normal, with all of the problems being just another average guy entails… and that’s what makes him fascinating.

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“Sweet Tooth” and “Animal Man” are the comics that make Lemire great. The Underwater Welder makes him a master. Having one stellar graphic novel and four solid ongoings under your belt sure is a nice way to ring out the year.

3. John Arcudi

Why he ranks (Mike Romeo): John Arcudi has had a hell of a year. His BPRD output alone should be keeping him more than busy, but he’s also managed to turn out a bunch of Lobster Johnson issues and take The Creep from the pages of Dark Horse Presents to it’s own mini series. His characters take on lives of their own, all their subtleties and unspoken motivations laid bare to the reader. He gave Johann knuckles, hid Ben Daimio away from us for years, and would not let Oxel leave that case behind. He weaves characters into stories and creates plot points that may not pay off until years later, all while working with some of the best artists in the industry. If you’re not following John’s work, you’re missing out on some of the most solid comics out there today.

2. Jonathan Hickman

Why he ranks (Walt Richardson): 2012 was a great year for Jonathan Hickman. First, we have the double feature of “Fantastic Four” and “FF,” a titanic run that finally reached its conclusion. The run’s climax will be discussed at length in our best issues of the year write-up (spoilers!), but perhaps the most surprising aspect of these ongoings is the quality of the post-climax issues. The one-and-dones and two-parters post-‘Forever’ were surprisingly great, and showed everyone who was ready to jump ship — myself included — that Hickman still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Just as exciting, though, we’re Hickman’s new beginnings. While it may be a while before we ever see another issue of “Secret,” the first handful of issues promises corporate espionage in a way we’ve never seen it. The breakout hit, though, was his and Nick Pitarra’s “Manhattan Projects,” a very, very black comedy about the true meaning of science — that is, science itself. Hickman put out a lot great work this year, and with two of Marvel’s twenty Avengers books under his control, 2013 isn’t looking so bad either.

1. Brian K. Vaughan

Why he ranks (David Harper): I try to not be a fanboy. I mean, I love comics, don’t get me wrong, but it does no one good if someone goes all fanboy in a situation.

Forgive me, but I am going to go all fanboy for a second.

Brian K. Vaughan is my favorite writer. Period. His previous work got me back into comics, and it helped me reimagine what comics could be. Things like Y the Last Man and Runaways and Ex-Machina and Pride of Baghdad…those books changed my worldview as it came to comics.

Then, he comes out and does something like Saga and changes everything again.

On Saga, it’s like he never left comics, but he’s improved in so many ways. The assured, fully realized characters. The world building and huge scope of the story. The ability to keep things personal within that world. The fearless decisions and shocking turns. The way the story is delivered (which is part BKV, part Fiona Staples, part Fonografiks). You name it. No writer so effortlessly captured our imaginations and hearts so easily like Vaughan, and no comeback was so welcome.

As my 4 Color News and Brews co-host Brandon Burpee recently said, if he needs a few years off every once in a while to come up with things like this, we’re in full support. That said, I’d like him to stick around for a bit longer first.

//TAGS | 2012 in Review

David Harper


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