The New Writeness

Matt wrote a great piece on Superman last Tuesday, and how nobody gets what makes him great any more. I agree with almost all of it, but I do think there are a few writers out there who could get him right. Despite a lot of wailing and whining about dull books that shouldn’t be (I’m looking at you, Judd Winick), there are some really talented writers creating some of the most original books on the stands right now…And they’re doing it with superheroes and for the Big 2.  If Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, and James Robinson represent the last generation of great comic writers, here’s the new generation of folks taking comics in their best direction.

  • Jeff ParkerAnyone who’s spent even a few minutes here knows that some days are just odes to Jeff Parker, but there’s a good reason for that.  More than anyone else, Parker is making comics FUN again.  Sure, there’s a time and place for angst and darkness, but comics don’t have to be JUST that.
Places to Start: Agents of Atlas, hands-down the best comic book on the stands right now.
  • Jonathan Hickman From critically-plauded Secret Warriors to the incredible new S.H.I.E.L.D. series, Hickman knows how to take a Big Idea and infuse it with personality.  Even his Dark Reign FF mini-series had heart and personality in what would have otherwise been a typical romp into the Negative Zone.  He gets the most credit here for making Franklin and Valeria actually interesting.

Places to Start: Fantastic Four, where Hickman turned the traditionally-boring First Family of Marvel back into the madcap adventurers they are.

  • Jason Aaron I was surprised as anyone else to find out exactly how good Ghost Rider could be when I read his run on the title last year. Aaron focuses on the darker side of the Marvel U and applies a grindhouse sensibility that works remarkably well.  His book for Vertigo, Scalped, is supposed to be incredible, and is at the top of my list to check out next.

Places to Start: Ghost Rider or Wolverine: Weapon X.  His second arc, with Wolverine in an asylum, was one of the scariest things I’ve ever read.

  • Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak Both of these gentlemen write fantastic books on their own, but their coming together on Incredible Hercules created a two-headed, four-armed monster that writes some of the best (and funniest) action scenes in comics.
Places to Start: The Incredible Hercules, featuring the strongest man alive and his sidekick Amadeus Cho, the 7-th smartest person in the world.
What makes these guys stand out so much?  It definitely starts with the Big Idea.  Whether it’s assembling a new pantheon to the kill Skrull gods or revealing there’s a Ghost Rider out there on a shark, there’s always a new idea that’s FUN, rather than “Batman fights everyone in the Rogue’s Gallery because I want to use them and then he meets up with Superman but they’re friends now”.

It used to be that on a good day, out of smart, funny, and action-packed you might get two out three, but not any more.  And comics is all the better for it.  I just wish I could figure out why these guys are almost exclusively working for Marvel right now and not, say, writing Superman.

Am I missing anyone?  Am I an idiot for not mentioning Rick Remender?  Or Andy Diggle?  Chastise my lack of vision in the comments section…