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CSBG Archive

Top 50 Comic Book Writers #25-21

Here are the next five writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time based on over one thousand ballots cast! Click here to see the artists #25-21 on the countdown. Click here to see a master list of all writers listed so far.

NOTE: I’m featuring five notable works per creator.

25 Marv Wolfman – 425 points (4 first place votes)

Marv Wolfman first began working for DC Comics in the 1960s, mostly writing horror stories.

When he came over to Marvel Comics, that was initially once again his specialty, which included a stellar run on Tomb of Dracula with Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

Soon, though, Wolfman found himself thrust into a position of having to take over a number of titles for Marvel, and soon he had written or was writing practically all of Marvel’s titles. This included a significant run on Fantastic Four…

Wolfman moved to DC in 1980 where he launched the tremendously successful New Teen Titans with George Perez…

Soon, Wolfman and Perez also created Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first massive comic book crossover (in terms of tying the whole line of comics together) that served to streamline the DC Universe.

Following Crisis, Wolfman helped re-launch Superman.

Wolfman ended up writing Titans for over a decade and has written a number of different comics since then. Over the years, Wolfman has created a number of notable characters, perhaps most prominent (outside of his Titans characters) would be Daredevil’s villain, Bullseye, Spider-Man’s “villain” Black Cat and Tim Drake, the third Robin.

24 John Byrne – 429 points (3 first place votes)

After beginning his career as an artist for Marvel, John Byrne found himself becoming more and more involved in the writing process of X-Men, ultimately becoming the co-plotter of the book with scripter Chris Claremont…

Byrne eventually left the book to write and draw Fantastic Four…

He also launched Alpha Flight for Marvel (characters Byrne had created for an issue of X-Men)…

During the mid-80s, Byrne left Marvel to reboot the Superman line of comics for DC.

After a number of issues of Superman (Byrne was writing and drawing two Superman titles for quite awhile), Byrne left the series and returned to Marvel. Since then, Byrne has worked on various projects for both companies. He also worked on independent comics, such as Next Men…

Byrne is bringing his Next Men characters back at IDW, where Byrne has been doing pretty much all of his current work.

23 Steve Englehart – 442 points (7 first place votes)

Steve Englehart was part of an influx of new writers in the early 1970s at Marvel. Englehart wrote a long and acclaimed run on Captain America (including a long storyline involving the Secret Empire)…

a long stint on the Avengers (where he introduced his pet character, Mantis)…

a celebrated time on Doctor Strange…

before he left Marvel Comics entirely. He worked for DC Comics for a little while, including an acclaimed run on Detective Comics…

and Justice League of America before taking a break from comics entirely.

Englehart later began a popular independent comic book series, Coyote…

as well as eventually return to Marvel on a number of different titles, including Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four and West Coast Avengers. He also wrote for DC during the 1980s, including Green Lantern Corps and the 1988 DC crossover event, Millennium!

Nowadays, Englehart is writing a series of prose novels based on a character, Max August, he created decades ago upon his initial break from comics.

22 Jason Aaron – 517 points (5 first place votes)

Jason Aaron’s first big break in comics was when he won a talent contest in 2001. He wrote a Wolverine back-up and got the chance to write an issue or two of the regular series. It did not end up resulting in any regular gigs, but it got his name out there.

In 2006, his name was out there once again with an acclaimed Vertigo mini-series with artist Cameron Stewart about the Vietnam War, showing both sides of the story (and then some), called The Other Side…

Soon after, Aaron began his acclaimed Vertigo series, Scalped, with artist RM Guera…

Eventually, the high quality of Aaron’s Vertigo work grabbed Marvel’s attention, and he began to work on a variety of projects for them. First off, a stint on Ghost Rider…

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followed by more Wolverine work, returning to the character that got him into comics.

More recently, he began writing PunisherMax, the sequel series to Garth Ennis’ take on the character. It is drawn by Steve Dillon.

He also relaunched Wolverine (after previously doing so with a title called Wolverine: Weapon X, Marvel decided to give him just a flat-out WOLVERINE book)…

21 Roger Stern – 526 points (9 first place votes)

After breaking in working in editorial for Marvel, Roger Stern began taking a writing assignment here and there until he ultimately decided to become a freelance writer.

One of his initial series was Doctor Strange, which he return to later on for an extended run…

Stern’s biggest early run was an acclaimed (if brief) run on Captain America with artist John Byrne…

Soon afterwards, Stern began writing an extended run on Amazing Spider-Man (writing some of the best remembered Spider-Man comics of the past three decades)…

and then took over Avengers for years, including adding his creation Captain Marvel to the team (and writing the famed “Under Siege” storyline)…

In the late 1980s, after splitting from Marvel, Stern went to work for DC, taking over Superman after John Byrne left the book. Stern also launched two new titles for DC – an Atom relaunch and a brand new characters, Starman!

Stern has been working on various other comic projects ever since.


Yay Jason Aaron.

More cheers for Aaron. “The Other Side” is especially great.

Btw, check out that funny tag line on Avengers #227: “All in color … for six dimes!”

This is a nice selection of writers indeed, but I’m wondering what the rest of this list is going to look like if Byrne, Wolfman, Englehart and Stern (my no. 1 pick) didn’t even crack the top 20…

Finally 1 for 10. Yay for Stern

Nice group of writers. No one I voted for myself, although I am digging Aaron on Scalped. I lucked out and got in on that with the first issue. And Roger Stern is a cool guy, I’ve met him at Ithacon, where he appears nearly every show.

I’m not going to speculate on who’s left, but I do want to say that I love that I’m not sure who is going to be on. There’d be no point to doing the list if we all knew who was going to be on it where, right?

Glad Roger Stern got as high as he did, although I think he deserves even higher.

My picks are either going to be very high up… or not at all now. Still great articles tahnsk again Brian

My #3 gets in at 21. Go Stern!

Wow, a lot of heavy hitters that I expected to be a bit higher. I guess the modern (and British) writers are going to really own this list.

Wow, Jason Aaron is a good writer, but he’s up here way too high.

I had both Stern and Englehart but didn’t expect to see them this early. I’m pretty sure 2 of my writers (Gruenwald and Mantlo) won’t make the list at all now. Oh well, can’t argue much with today’s choices.

Byrne & Stern love them both. Where’s my Alpha Flight Classics 2 onwards & Stern Avengers Visionaries?

Englehart I’m a little so so about but his WCA Time Travle story is tops and needs to be traded now.

Finally, somebody I voted for. Jason Aaron is one of the best writers of the last decade and I think Scalped is going be held as one of the best Vertigo series of all-time once its all said and done. I don’t think anybody is as good at dialog as Aaron(maybe Ennis and Azzerello).

I was one of the first place votes for Englehart, strictly because of (fire away) his JLA run. I had really started seriously reading comics just a few minths before when I got JLA 140 – No man Esapes the Manhunters. Those next 10 issues, not counting the JLA/JSA/LSH team-up he didn’t write – hooked me on the Justice League forever. The Manhunters, Mark Shaw, the Construct, that trippy origin story, Phantom Stranger, Superman, Hawkman and PS dying, Hawkgirl joining, Red Tornado being relevant for the first time ever, Dr Light, Snapper Carr, the Key – man, what a run.

Stern down, 7 of my choices to go. I think most of them will be there eventually.

Oh yeah, Stern was on my list for sure. I put him on for his Dr. Strange and Avengers run (I haven’t had the good fortuyne to read his Cap or Spidey work yet). Sterns work still amazes me even after all these years. First of all, it’s really understated. He doesn’t grab you with non stop action or impress you with his cleverness, he slowly builds his stories sucking you in as you go. The thing that I think sucks you in are his characters. he makes you really care about them. For example, the Avengers Under Siege, there wasn’t just a big battle between the Avengers against the Masters of Evil where they bashed it out, no, first there was Hercules drunk from a night of partying and then there was Jan, as leader trying to warn Herc against going into Avengers Mansion. Hercules was verbose and belligerent, while Jan was failing at maintaining her authority as the leader. The beating that Herc got that put him in a coma was almost secondary to all the character bits that led up to it, almost. He is one of the best writers at characterization. Yeah Stern amazes me, even today.

In that Captain America issue that’s first on the Steve Englehart list, does anyone else think the villain looks like a robotic Kick-Ass?

I’ve heard great things about Jason Aaron, and Scalped in particular, but I’ve never gotten around to reading any of his stuff. Looks like I’m going to have to rectify that… one of the reasons I enjoy these lists so much. I mean, if he around the same rankings as Wolfman, Byrne, Englehart and Stern… that is some good company to be with, no?

I wish I had saved a list of who I voted for. I’m pretty sure I voted for Byrne as a writer, mostly because I grew up with his Fantastic Four and really enjoyed his She-Hulk of all things. I’m also pretty sure I voted for Wolfam and Stern as well, although Englehart is pretty awesome also. Just a couple of months ago I went on Ebay and bought all the issues in his Detective Comics run (again, because I kept hearing about them here on CSBG) – what a fun read that was!

Well, Byrne, Stern, Englehart, and Wolfman were all clearly showing up at some point, so it’s nice that they’re top 25. Wolfman is the first guy from my list to show (I had him #7), but the rest are all still coming. I actually thought Wolfman would be higher–probably around #15–based on how well Crisis and The Judas Contract both did on the top 100 storylines last year, but oh well.

Interesting that we still really haven’t seen a huge amount of first place votes. Over 1,000 people voted, and I don’t think any writer has had more than 11 or 12 so far, most have only had 4 or 5. Does this mean that Moore, Miller, and Morrison, will each have well over 100 first place votes? Possibly.

Jason Aaron- I haven’t read any of his stuff, but without doubting his quality, it’s the same situation as Hickman. Are we sure he deserves to be here (let alone ahead of Byrne, Wolfman, Giffen, etc.)? Considering we know for sure who 18 of the remaining 20 guys are, Aaron most likely took the spot of Doug Moench, or Chuck Dixon, or Len Wein, or Gerry Conway, or Howard Chaykin, or Mike Grell, or…

Great stuff so far! Still to come, for sure: Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Garth Ennis, Roy Thomas… and nine others. Brubaker, perhaps? Bendis?

How exciting!

I agree with Thomas. I love Roger Stern’s understated style. He is one writer that can craft 6-part epics that really do feel like 6-part epics, and not 2-part stories with lots of padding.

“Under Siege” is often noted as the high point of his Avengers run, but I also quite like the Olympus story. The Avengers in an epic battle against the Greek Gods, what is not to like?

I am also a big fan of Byrne, despite his jerkass behaviour in the last decades. Damn, he’s still my favorite Fantastic Four writer (except for Lee/Kirby), and did much to build the Uncanny X-Men in the pop culture juggernaut they are today. And I even like Man of Steel.

Englehart also is a damned good writer with a collection of memorable runs. But I am a lot less fond of his more recent work, starting with his mediocre FF run (but even his early 80s stories already show signs of a once-brilliant writer past his prime).

Wolfman I’m not such a big fan of. I like New Titans and Tomb of Dracula and Crisis, and he deserves recognition for having three huge hits in his career. But all of his other work seems so… so mediocre and bland. And I can’t ever re-read any Wolfman story without noticing what T. has pointed out: the dude really likes to have his heroes losing.

Aaron is one of the few modern writers I’ve heard a lot, but I am still to read anything of his.

Jason Aaron was also the first name on my list to appear here. I pretty much second every compliment that’s already been written. Even though he’s a relative newcomer, he absolutely deserves to be on this list

I had Byrne at #3 or #4, I think, and, interestingly, he was that high on my list purely because of his She-Hulk run(s), which weren’t mentioned in this article.

I had Byrne at #3 or #4, I think, and, interestingly, he was that high on my list purely because of his She-Hulk run(s), which weren’t mentioned in this article.

Both Byrne’s She-Hulk and Namor are being traded in the New Year! And there’s a HC collection of his X-Men Alpha Flight stories coming too, along with the Claremont/Smith LS and another some years later.

@Philip Ayres

What is “Claremont/Smith LS?” Do you mean Paul Smith or Barry Windsor-Smith? Both worked with Claremont around the same time. and what is LS?

Agree with everything said about Stern. What a great writer. I always considered him one of the most underrated writers around. Just love his Avengers, Doc Strange, & Spidey runs and his way way too short Cap run as well.

I also voted for Englehart but my vote was almost all for his work in the 70s. He was awesome in that decade. His Avengers, Doc Stange and Captain America work was fabulous. Hmm other than Spiderman these are the same books that Stern had his best runs on also. As good as he was in the 70s though, I found most of his later work pretty mediocre. The only exception that really stand out for me is his work on Silver Surfer which was some of his better work in the 80s. A lot of people really like his West Coast Avengers stuff from that decade, but it was just all right.

Byrne’s Fantastic Four work is still to me the best run outside of Lee/Kirby. Great stuff. His Alpha Flight stuff is also pretty damn good, and of course he gets lots of credit along with Claremont for the awesomeness of the X-Men.

Brian: Another html error in the header hear: It’s directing the link in the body to the 25-21 artist list rather than the 25-21 writer’s one.

Yay again for Jason Aaron. One of the best new talents in comics.

@Third Man

What is “Claremont/Smith LS?” Do you mean Paul Smith or Barry Windsor-Smith? Both worked with Claremont around the same time. and what is LS?

LS – Limited Series. Claremont wrote and Paul Smith drew an X-Men Alpha Flight Limited Series in the mid 80s.

I said

And there’s a HC collection of his X-Men Alpha Flight stories coming too, along with the Claremont/Smith LS and another some years later.

Hmmm. Might not have been clear enough. I’m talking about the X-Men: Alpha Flight Hardcover # ISBN-10: 0785155139, # ISBN-13: 978-0785155133

Amazon’s lost it’s description but it’s my belief it contains: X-Men 109, 120, 121,139 & 140, X-Men/Alpha Flight Limited Series (Claremont & PaulSmith) 1 & 2 and X-Men/Alpha Flight Limited Series (Ben Raab & John Cassaday) 1 & 2

I had Byrne at #3 or #4, I think, and, interestingly, he was that high on my list purely because of his She-Hulk run(s), which weren’t mentioned in this article.

I guess there are a few other people besides me who really liked Byrne’s She-Hulk. He also put out a B&W Batman 3-D GN that I dig.

Englehart and Stern really need to be in the top ten.

Hell yes Jason Aaron deserves to be on this list. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but everything I’ve read by him has been awesome. I like some other modern writers (Hickman, Brian Wood, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction), but none of them have Aaron’s killer-to-filler ratio. He was higher on my list than some old favorites.

Byrne has written some comics I’ve enjoyed, definitely. His better FF stories (the Galactus stuff & Trial of Reed Richards, issues 236 & 258) are probably my favorites, beside the X-Mn comics he did with Claremont.

Wolfman wrote one of the best comics in history, Tomb of Dracula, and it contained little of the emo qualities that characterized his later work. Some of his Titans comics were very good despite the overwrought dialogue.

I forget if both Englehart & Stern were on my list- at least one ended up getting my vote, maybe both. They both had the best runs on Avengers & Dr. Strange (after Ditko, of course). They both wrote highly entertaining super-hero comics. Englehart got trippy and Stern was more grounded, but both of them deserve all the kudos they can get.

Any of you youngsters who have never read Wolfman’s Dracula are really missing out.

Heh. Heh. Wolfman’s Dracula.

Marv Wolfman should be much, much higher, given he was the best writer of superhero comics throughout the 70s and 80s. I therefore have no further interest in your list.

Englehart, Wolfman, Gerber, Aaron, Stern…all ranked lower than Bendis. I’m with Fielding – obviously these are voters who never read their comics and only look at the pretty pictures.

Englehart is the real star of this batch for me, I believe I had him at #3. He did probably the best ever Captain America run, and in my mind probably *the* essential Avengers run (that cover above with Kang is actually the second Avengers issue I ever read).

Stern I like okay, but really only ever thought of him as a competent workaday journeyman type; didn’t make my list, and I actually actively disliked his 80s Avengers run.

I have a degree of affection for Wolfman for his 70s Marvel work, but there’s no I could ever agree with ranking him above Gerber (though that’s probably true of nearly everyone to show up on the list since Gerber did, so just take that as read from now on…).

Englehart, Wolfman, Gerber, Aaron, Stern…all ranked lower than Bendis. I’m with Fielding – obviously these are voters who never read their comics and only look at the pretty pictures.

Agree with you except for Wolfman, he definitely belongs lower than Bendis. But I don’t think Bendis is bad at all, while I don’t always agree with some of his choices, he’s done a lot to (along with Mark Millar) really rejuvenate Marvel. Look what he’s done with the Avengers alone. I remember how bad it was under Harras, Busiek (ugh!( and then Austen…now it’s the #1 franchise. His Daredevil was great too.

The Crazed Spruce

December 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Byrne showed up on my artists list, but not my writers one. Jason Aaron was under my radar. Wolfman, Engelhart, and Stern were all part of my 11th-place tie.

This is more like it.

I had Stern on my list, Byrne had some aces stuff, I love Engleheart’s Surfer, Wolfman’s Titans is classic, and though he’s probably too high I like Aaron a lot out of the current crop, too.

Someone mentioned Mantlo – I certainly hope he’s not gonna make it. Mantlo has got to be one of my least favorite older writers. His Alpha Flight was beyond awful just as one example.

There are two Bendises in my mind. The one that wrote POWERS, ALIAS, and DAREDEVIL is a genius with rare control over his stories and characters and employing to maximum advantage a novel way of writing dialogue. The one that writes the various AVENGERS is a self-conscious guy playing a game of parroting classic Marvel stories with lots of bombast but no substance whatsoever, a guy that is too cool for it, but is doing it anyway just for laughs, and this insincerity causes the stories to come across as perenially off.

The first Bendis is in my Top 10 list. The second Bendis in the Top 10 most hated. Averaging the two, I consider him a middle-of-the-road writer.

Still better than Wolfman? I don’t know. Perhaps. Wolfman is another guy that I am of two minds about.

Those that are doubting Wolfman, here’s why I voted for him…

I think of Wolfman as the guy who basically created the modern DC.

Think about it, what are the major characteristics of DCU comics? Heroes change identities, new generations come in as sidekicks become mentors to new sidekicks, major cataclysmic events occur which affect the continuity, There’s a sense of unified history from the golden age to the silver age to the modern age. I feel like all of these things started with Wolfman, or at the very least were popularized by Wolfman.

Modern DC history, to me, starts with New Teen Titans #39. In that issue Dick Grayson wore his Robin outfit for the very last time and Wally West wore his Kid Flash outfit for the very last time. Grayson became Nightwing 5 issues later and Wally became The Flash about a year and a half later. Ultimately, when people are choosing allegiance to the DCU over the Marvel U (and come on, everyone prefers one or the other, right?), I feel like this is one of the key ideas they’re identifying with.

And Crisis… I mean, for better or worse, it’s probably the second most influential miniseries ever (after Watchmen), and could even be #1.

Different writers bring different things to the table. Wolfman and Stan Lee both got my vote, but definitely not for their dialogue. They’re idea men to me. Even while the comics they wrote may feel painfully dated, their ideas never will. The ideas those two men concocted have continued to resonate throughout two entire universes of stories, and the well won’t dry up anytime soon.

Bendis, on the other hand, is the total opposite. He also got my vote, but not for his ideas. Often, I think Bendis’ story ideas are the worst thing about his writing (though there are exceptions, notably Daredevil), but everything he writes is always readable because he is the best dialogue guy in comics.

Likewise Miller got my vote for his revolutionary pacing and cinematic storytelling style, Warren Ellis got my vote because of his skill at reinvention, and Busiek found his way onto my list because of his constantly fresh takes on viewpoints.

And Alan Moore was #1 because he’s the guy that’s simply great at everything.

Stern probably should have been on list. I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve read by him, although little of it stands out as truly outstanding or inventive. He’s a solid pro, though. Englehart is in a similar category for me, except that I downgraded him for his terrible FF run. There might be some extenuating circumstances for that run’s awfulness but I don’t know what they are. Wolfman, along with Claremont, get credit (?) for turning comics into teenage soap operas. There was a lot to like in his Titans run, but a lot that now makes me wince, too.

I had Byrne at 3, I think. He would probably get votes if all he did was co-plotted X-Men, and his FF run stands the test of time as a great stretch of comic books. He developed and and built on those iconic characters while being true to Lee and Kirby, and established the modern personas of Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny. Alpha Flight was also great, and the end of issue 12 remains a shocker. His later stuff is also good and under appreciated, including X-Men the Hidden Years.

I don’t know Aaron at all, but maybe I’ll check him out.

Wolfman I’m not such a big fan of. I like New Titans and Tomb of Dracula and Crisis, and he deserves recognition for having three huge hits in his career. But all of his other work seems so… so mediocre and bland. And I can’t ever re-read any Wolfman story without noticing what T. has pointed out: the dude really likes to have his heroes losing.

It’s not so much a hero/villain thing as much as a Wolfman creation/non-Wolfman creation thing.

I don’t think it’s so much that he likes to have his heroes losing so much as he likes to have established characters lose to characters HE creates in order to make the characters he create look extra good. His very partial to characters of his own creation, often at the expense of established one. If the hero is the character he created and the villain is the established character, then he’ll have the hero doing well. Problem is, on most big 2 comics, the heroes are more likely to be the established characters, and the villains and guest-stars are where you have the best chance to introduce new creations, so on things like Spider-Man and New Teen Titans, you’d have Black Cat, Brother Blood, Deathstroke, Terra and others all coming in and making chumps of the main characters because Wolfman created them. Deathstroke gets to chump and completely PWN Batman in like 2 panels because despite Batman’s long illustrious history, he’s not a Wolfman creation.

I remember first noticing this in an issue of the Terra Judas Contract saga. Starfire and Wonder Girl have a sequence where they’re sparring with staffs, and Starfire totally PWNs Wonder Girl with ease and everyone has a nice laugh about it. And I thought how strange that was, because usually when heroes of similar status spar in big 2 comics an effort is made to make sure it ends in a stalemate, or if one wins its by a lucky fluke. I realized Wolfman just put that in there to make sure readers knew Starfire was a bigger badass than Wonder Girl. I mean she already had the energy power level of like a small star, but that wasn’t enough. She has to be shown to be a superior hand to hand combatant than the teammate whose whole power set is hand to hand combat and is in the power range of freakin’ Wonder Woman!

This also shows in how he handled Danny Chase. He kept forcing him on the readers, and the readers hated him. Eventually, he had to write him out of the book. For years later in interviews, Wolfman still had sour grapes about it, complaining he was a good character and that fans simply didn’t “get” him.

I think the reason his Tomb of Dracula is so good is because he created the people hunting Dracula so he made sure the good guys looked good in that book.

Another example of his narcissism toward his own characters is the roast of Brad Meltzer on April Fool’s a while back. Bunch of creators roast Brad Meltzer and Wolfman’s contribution is beyond odd. He uses his turn to give the longest answer, ostensibly about Brad Meltzer but really just talking about himself and his work on Deathstroke! And best of all, his “joke” is in response to a fan criticism that no one ever even made! He just wanted an excuse to brag about his character:

I had Englehart as my #8.
His Avengers and Defenders introduced me to the Marvel universe (prior to that I’d only bought some FFs and a couple of Conans), and his Captain America (with Sal Buscema) defined the character for me. For several years his books were the immediate first reads of a new stack, beat out just once every two months by new issues of Starlin’s Captain Marvel. When he stopped working for Marvel it was like my first comics-breakup, I was stunned to understand that such things were actually possible and that somebody else would be writing Avengers. What a great run he did with George Perez.

Marv Wolfman (I’ve never gotten over that name) made my top twenty, basically on the strength of Tomb of Dracula alone.

I had John Byrne down as an artist, but always seemed to find his writing a little flat in some way. As a western-Canadian I WANTED to like him badly, the same way I loved his art. And I certainly enjoyed many aspects of his Alpha Flight and FF, yet somehow something, some intangible yet crucial emotional intensity, seemed too often to be lacking, to me. His FF were subjected to a myriad of traumas and shake-ups, the whole of Manhatten Island was ripped up out of the earth, and yet somehow I never really felt it the way I felt his X-Men with Claremont. With The Hulk and his Superman writing I found the problem even more noticable.

Someone mentioned Mantlo – I certainly hope he’s not gonna make it. Mantlo has got to be one of my least favorite older writers. His Alpha Flight was beyond awful just as one example.

Have you read his Rom, Hulk or Spectacular Spiderman?

Sorry Third Man, Bendis “dialogue” is the worst, fit for off off off Broadway at best.

Wolfman is a bad writer, even if your 10 year old self thought Tomb of Dracula was cool. Thank God for George Perez, or I never would have finished Crisis.

Both Stern and Englehart were top considerations for me, but didn’t make my top 10. Stern is probably my #11. His AVengers run is pretty much the only thing I’ve read of his. I loved it, but didn’t feel I could put him in my top 10 based on one title alone.

Philip Ayres, I would to those titles you mentioned (and thanks for pointing out his often overlooked run on Spectacular Spider-man) his run on Micronauts, especially the first 12-13 issues. Outstanding stuff. Needless to say, Mantlo was on my list, but I’m beginning to doubt his name will show up in this countdown.

Genuinely cool to see Roger Stern make it. He, along with people like Len Wein and Gerry Conway, were the kind of people who just wrote good stories – nothing fancy, nothing to make you want to look in the credits box to see who wrote it, just genuinely good stuff that would make you lose yourself in it. Great, great writers, and Stern tops that pack.

I’ve not read Micronauts so wouldn’t presumeto comment on it!

Dantecat, I found an old comics mag (Comics Fandom Forum, I think) with a writeup of the Englehart JLA. Haven’t read it all, but I think they liked it ok. So don’t feel bad for liking that run.

Third Man — we got into this some with Hickman, who I’m not familiar with, but Jason Aaron deserves his spot because the work he has done (Other Side, Scalped, Ghost Rider, even some of the Wolvey I’ve read) is SO good that he’s earned at least A spot so far. Plus, he hasn’t shown that he’s slacking off yet, and he’s fairly young (37, I think, and as a 31 year old I am now saying that 37 is still fairly young), so he’s got years left to be productive. While the guys you mentioned are all good, their best days are behind them, and the work that they do do more recently doesn’t live up to their old stuff. But take heart, in 15-20 years, young’uns will be telling us that Aaron is old and played out and Hot New Writer is the bomb-biggity. (No, they won’t say THAT, but it will be the jist of it.)

I don’t know that “creating the modern DCU” is a GOOD vote in Wolfman’s favor ;)

Don’t forget with Bendis, he also did Ultimate SpiderMan, and that was pretty good, although I haven’t read anything past about volume 19 of the trades. If you argue that Bendis is better with dialogue than plot, that book seems perfect since the plots are all from old Stan/Steve/JRSR books (with some 90s stuff thrown in). Although 6 issues to tell the origin it took Stan and Steve 11 pages to do?

And T, I’ll try again, but that link you have in your last post didn’t seem to work for me. And let me just say that the only way I’ll get pissed about this list is if the one writer you mention there still makes it.

Ok, T, yeah, that link does work, and I see what you’re saying about Wolfman. Yeah, the main critiques I saw regarding Deathstroke were “no way can he take the JLA down like that!”. So, actually, I guess Meltzer did pay tribute to Wolfman well there…

Man, if only those quotes were real. I wonder how many of them were, just cloaked in “haha, it’s April Fool’s day!”

Why is Cobra Commander sending that robot to attack Captain America? :)

And can people please stop getting hung up on the exact order these writers and artists are listed in? I mean, it’s only sort of a ranking. Supposing someone has never read a Byrne comic, or at least never noticed who wrote them. They wouldn’t include him on their list cuz they don’t know the guy. It doesn’t mean they think he’s not as good as #15 or whatever. And someone who’s read comics for 5 years isn’t gonna have the same list as someone who’s read them for 25. Just enjoy the list, folks.

Yeah, the main critiques I saw regarding Deathstroke were “no way can he take the JLA down like that!”.

Exactly! I had no idea what Wolfman was even talking about there. It was like he just wanted an excuse to talk about his old stories.

Wolfman almost made my list for his Crisis on Infinite Earths. That work is an amazing work and deserves to be on any Best of list. It’s definitely one of the best books of the 80’s. And his Titans work was definitely very consistently great through out his run with Perez, but as great as it was, and it was probably one of the best hero books of the 80’s, it was still only a heroes book and didn’t expand the medium the way I think a creator on this list deserves to be, the way Miller and Moore did at the time.
But as good as Wolfman is, I just went with my gut when I wrote my list and put on guys that were close to my heart. Heck I didn’t even put on Lee or Kirby on either list (I know, shoot me, right?).

Oliver Staley
“Stern probably should have been on list. I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve read by him, although little of it stands out as truly outstanding or inventive. He’s a solid pro, though.”

Stern is not a flashy writer. He doesn’t write big epics with dramatic cliff-hanger climaxes but what he does write is amazing. I really love his work on the Avengers and Dr. Strange, but just look at his work on the Avengers. Every one of the stories that he did with Buscema/Palmer were really great. Sure he started the title off slow with Milgrom but once Buscema comes on board EVERY story is great until the very last (which he didn’t even finish because of his disagreement with editor Grunwald). He started with the run with the Nebula saga. It was cool and later writers built on this character calling her Terminax; Then there’s the Kang/Immortus saga, which was brilliant. In this 3 issue arch he re-defines these characters and inspires many future writers to build on what he wrote including Curt Busiek in the brilliant Avengers Forever; Then there was “Under Siege” which was brilliant; and still considered by many to be one of the best Avengers arcs ever; Then the Avengers go to Olympus to fight Zeus which is a favorite of many; and lastly you have his “Heavy Metal Hoard” which took many of the strange robot creations of earlier Marvel history and had them fight the Avengers which built into a great climax. His run is just consistently great!

One of the great tragedies of the 80’s was when Stern and Grunwald had a difference of opinion which led to Stern’s leaving the title. If only Grunwald knew what he had in Stern, he would never had let him go. But at least we got a great few years of Avengers comics from the team of Stern/Buscema/Palmer!

Englehart was either around 7 or 8 on my list and i’m pretty sure I remembered Stern at the last minute at no. 10. Both were two of the best Avengers writers, especially Englehart. The Avengers really matured and came into their own under his pen.

IMO, I find Wolfman highly overrated although Crisis was a good read despite the dense quality that both him and Perez had in their writing.

One of the great tragedies of the 80?s was when Stern and Grunwald had a difference of opinion which led to Stern’s leaving the title.

I think you mean great COMIC BOOK tragedies of the 80's, unless you think Stern leaving the Avengers ranks right up there with things like the AIDS epidemic and the Challenger explosion….

Been waiting for the next installment of these to come out for days. Almost missed it today – and I wanted to get my comments in good & early. Now I have to rush them in here at day’s end.

I know Jason Aaron is relatively new to the scene compared to a lot of the heavy-hitters on the list so far, but I’m gratified to see him here. He’s one of the few up and coming writers that give me hope for the future of comics. Scalped deserves all the accolades it gets, and he’s currently writing a great, non-continuity “Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine” that’s just great fun. Remember, that’s what comics are supposed to be – fun.

And I always marvel (no pun intended) at how fondly most folks refer to Roger Stern whenever he’s mentioned on these forums – and for good reason. I’ve gushed about him in the past and I won’t do so again here. Even though he won’t rank up there with the Moores and the Millers and the Gaimans and the Morrisons and the Ellises as groundbreaking comics writers, let’s face it, he’s probably written at least one storyline that you fondly remember from your childhood. An understated writer who just has an amazing pull on his audience. A master craftsman of comic storytelling. All you young up & comers take note of his work and learn the fundamentals – you’ll be hard pressed to find a better master at his craft.

I figured Stern would never get the #1 ranking, but he’s most own personal favorite. Yay Stern!

And now, on with our program . . . .

Great to see Byrne and Stern! I forget the order, but the middle of the my list was Byrne, Stern and Mantlo. I, too, doubt we’ll see poor Bill on the list, but it’s great to see a lot of love for him here in the comments. As for that the commenter who complained about his run on Alpha Flight… I couldn’t agree more! He was thrown onto that title suddenly and he totally failed to connect with the material. But his runs on Rom, Micronauts, and especially Hulk are simply brilliant. Everybody has at least one bad run in them… see also Stern on FF and Byrne on Star Brand (not even getting into his recent stuff)

Bill Mantlo had to have had one of the roughest intros to comics fans that any writer has faced. I remember first knowing his name from unexpected fill-in issues which became an annoyingly common occurence in Marvel titles in the mid-seventies. It’s like that was his first regular gig, he was the fill-in guy. So for a year or two every time you saw Bill Mantlo’s name on the first page you knew that, shit, you’d have to wait another two months to find out what happened to Killraven and Old Skull, for example.
It took a long time for me to notice what a solid writer he became. Wow, those first twelve issues or so of Micronauts were incredible, I should dig them out to read again some time. And Cloak and Dagger were a very cool creation.

Mantlo’s Hulk run in the early 80s was my “introduction” to the character. Coupled with Sal Buscema’s artwork, its what defines “classic Hulk” for me. His Micronauts was refreshingly different too – something I grew to appreciate for its cinematic quality and characterization. Not a superstar at any rate, but a solid writer, up there with the likes of Roger Stern, Steve Englehart, etc for me.

I can’t believe John Byrne is so low on people’s lists for best comic book writer. He wrote more classics than almost any other writer in the field save Frank Miller.

Sookin Sin, I miss the Coyote comic!! I remember at the ned of the final issue, Englehart wrote “James Bond is problematical, but Coyote will return!!” Well there have been about 4 or 5 Bonds in the films since, but I’m still waiting for Coyote to return… Those reprints didn’t count, I already had those issues!

Another YAy for Jason Aaron. Scalped is one the best series out there and I loved his Ghost Rider run.

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