Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Comics Should Be Good Best Comics Of 2005 - Best Writer

Yes, we here at Comics Should Be Good are looking at the best comics of 2005, because it's what comics bloggers do, after all! This is the first post in a five-part series of different categories that was supposed to start on Monday night, but I foolishly offered to post everyone's choices, little knowing that my Internet connection would go down like a punk in a bar under Ultimate Black Canary's spike-heeled boots, and I would be off-line for almost two days. Oh, the horror! But now I'm back, so let's see what the various contributors here had to say about comics in 2005. Then I'll tell you why they're wrong.

Greg Hatcher:
I'm the guy on this weblog who ISN'T going to automatically nominate Grant Morrison. Surprise! For one, I haven't read hardly anything of his this year except All-Star Superman, and even that I thought was just pretty good.

There were lots of writers that did work I adored, but then they'd turn right around and do something that made my teeth grind in hatred. I loved J. Michael Straczynski's Fantastic Four, but on the flip side he's also giving us all this icky horrible stuff in Spider-Man that makes you want to go scrub after reading it. Greg Rucka did amazing work on Queen and Country and Gotham Central, but then it all went to hell in Wonder Woman and Adventures of Superman. And so on. Good, bad, up, down.

The guy that ended up on the plus side the most often for me was Kurt Busiek. Astro City, Conan, Secret Identity ... they all did the job, they entertained me, they were well-crafted comics. They weren't exciting; I think Kurt Busiek is a bit too mannered and precise a writer for that particular accolade, but they are books that I'll probably reread and enjoy, especially Conan.

Brad Curran:
Best Writer - Unlike Greg Hatcher, I'm going to be completely predictable for this blog and pick Grant Morrison, although it's almost by default. He's the only writer whose work I buy regularly in the monthly format anymore, and I've been disappointed by a couple of his recent mini-series (Shining Knight and Vinamarama). That said, he's still one of my favorite writers, and the Seven Soldiers minis as a whole gave me that mixture of energetic plotting, a satisfying single issue read, and anticipation for what's going to happen next that I look for in my single issue comics. While I wasn't as orgasmically enraptured by it as some folks in the comics blog community, I also enjoyed All Star Superman immensely and look forward to seeing what Morrison and Frank Quitely do with the icon of icons after giving me pretty much everything I've been looking for in a Superman story in the first issue.

Bill Reed:
Really, I'm trying to pick someone other than Grant Morrison. I really am. But I can't. The guy had a hella huge output this year and it kicked ass. Seven Soldiers is a better "event" than, oh, House of Meh and Infinite Psoriasis. Yes, it's a cheap shot to make up funny and insulting names for them. But I'm petty and spiteful. Also, Grant gave us the last issue of We3 and the first issue of All-Star Superman, both of which had delicious Quitely art and were excellent.

Mark Ludy:
Most of my favorite writers (Dan Clowes, Lynda Barry, Jason) not doin' much diddley squat this year, I'll give credit to one of the coolest brains in the Mainstream:

Grant Morrison. More'n any other writer Morrison uses comics as a vehicle for expressing cool, new, ideas, and for talking about stuff that he wants to talk about, 'stead of re-re-re-re-cycling ideas that Gardner Fox had forty years ago, bringing us a Bollywood Musical in comix form, the most intellectually ambitious series of interconnected superhero (more-or-less) comics since Kirby's unfinished (more-or-less) line of Fourth World comics waaaay the hell back when. That's before breaking the Internet in half with his take on Superman.

Maybe the bald Scotsman ain't the greatest writer in comics, but he sure does seem to be havin' the most fun. And that's worth a best of the year from me.

Brian Cronin, the one to whom we all bow:
Wouldn't it be funny if everyone on the blog said something like, "Well, everyone else is going to vote for Grant Morrison, so I will vote for ____" and then no one end up voting for Grant Morrison?

Well, I will keep that from happening!! My pick for best writer of 2005 is Grant Morrison.

I thought that Seven Soldiers #0 and All-Star Superman #1 were possibly two of the finest single issues that 2005 had to offer us, and Morrison was responsible for BOTH of them!

In addition, I was a big fan of each of the Seven Soldiers mini-series (okay, not so much Mister Miracle, but I recently even reread THAT, and it grew on me a bit).

There really is not another writer that I can think of that I can so consistently count on for being great each time. So, for that, I must pick Grant Morrison as the best writer of 2005.

Greg Burgas:
Okay, so The God Of All Comics is good. Yes. We know that. But I'm not going to pick him, not just to be contrary, but because I haven't read Seven Soldiers, and the other stuff he wrote last year was just okay. We3 was excellent, Vinamarama was okay, All-Star Superman was fine. The reason I'm not picking him (which, of course, makes my esteemed colleagues wrong) is the same reason I'm not picking Ellis. Too often he seems to be going through the motions. They are brilliant and astounding motions, but haven't we seen it before? So I thought and thought, and came up with:

Brian K. Vaughan.

Look at the résumé. I don't read Y: The Last Man, but I probably should, because it sounds neat. I read the first big ol' volume of Runaways, and although the debate rages over whether it has lost its mojo, it's certainly something different. The two titles he wrote this year that I read, Ex Machina and Ultimate X-Men, are completely different but both very good. Ex Machina is the better book, and in it Vaughan does a great job of injecting politics into a superhero book. The characters are interesting and diverse without being stereotyped, and the book does a nice job of doing big story arcs and throwing in good single issues too. Ultimate X-Men turned into a very good soap opera/superhero comic in the grand Claremontian tradition, with several short stories that culminated in "Magnetic North," where those threads came together. For his diversity and flexibility and, of course, his ability, Vaughan was the best comic book writer in 2005.

See? I told you I would tell you why all my blog-mates were wrong!

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Anonymous Eli said...

Didn't Why Are You Doing This? come out in '05? Is Jason really someone you expect to come out with more than one book a year?

1/04/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, it's hard to argue with Morrison, but I think Ellis is definitely in the conversation with Ocean, Fell, Desolation Jones, and even his JLA:Classified arc.

1/05/2006 12:45:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Eli said...

" Didn't Why Are You Doing This? come out in '05?"


That's the PROBLEM with living six thousand miles from civilization. Most of the good comics don't even get ordered.

It's enough to drive a man to read Previews.

Which is contrary to my whole system of buying comics, which is based around a system I call "Oooh. Shiny."

I walk into the comic store and pick up whatever looks cool, with no pre-thought given to what might or might not be there.

Still, thanks for the heads up, Eli.

I'll order that puppy tomorrow.

1/05/2006 02:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Brendan H. said...

Yay for the choice of Brian K. Vaughn! Nobody juggles the variety of books like him.

Also, a vote for writer comeback of the year: Keith Giffen. In addition to his great JLI and Defenders work, his Drax miniseries was genius. (let's ignore Howling Commando's though)

1/05/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Ahh, good. I love our obvious predictibility.

I don't much care for my terse sentences and crappy grammar, though, but... oh well. I will gladly let the other writers upstage me.

1/05/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

Wow. No love for Charles Burns, David B, Jason, or even Joe Casey or Robert Kirkman? I mean, Klarion and Guardian were pretty neat, but the God Of All Comics has put out quite a few duds this year ("I've never seen one of them break the fourth wall like that!" "You bet, Surrogate Me... at least not since I did it in fucking ANIMAL MAN, when at least it made sense!"), and there ARE other people writing comics these days.

1/05/2006 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Melanism said...

I can't believe only one of you thought Brian K. Vaughn was the best writer this year.

Aside from writing four solid books, he wrote the best issue of Ultimate X-Men (#58, Professor Xavier solo).

1/05/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I considered Casey, Mr. Lungfish, but decided that for consistent goodness, Vaughan was better. Let's face it, as much as I liked The Intimates, it had some weak moments.

1/05/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I can't argue with any of the choices made so far, but I'd like to add Dan Slott to the pile.

She-Hulk is a very, very fun series that's written with a refreshingly low amount of self-consciousness for a mainstream superhero book. GLA was one of the year's biggest surprises, and Spider-Man/Human Torch was absolutely delightful.

He may not have written a ton of material, but I feel like Slott knocks it out of the park every time.

1/05/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

"I considered Casey, Mr. Lungfish, but decided that for consistent goodness, Vaughan was better."

This is true, and I certainly can't complain about Vaughan. Patrick's point about Dan Slott is also well-made: I haven't read a bad Slott comic yet.

1/05/2006 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

One of the problems (and it really isn't much of a problem) with "Best ___" things is that there is often call to "defend" your pick, especially in relation to other writers.

I like to steer clear from that, because the result is that you often sound like you're knocking the people that you DIDN'T pick, rather than praising the ones that you DID.

Why go negative?

I don't think other writers are BAD, I think Grant Morrison is GOOD.

And I will never consider "I think Grant Morrison is better than you" an insult.

That being said, there WERE some other good writers who did some very good stuff this year in limited quantities (Lungfish named a bunch, as did MarkAndrew), but while I could see myself putting together an argument for someone like a Burns over Morrison, I was just so impressed by the quantity of goodness as WELL as the quality of goodness of Morrison in 2005 to go elsewhere.

1/05/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"Wow. No love for Charles Burns, David B, Jason, or even Joe Casey or Robert Kirkman? I mean, Klarion and Guardian were pretty neat, but the God Of All Comics has put out quite a few duds this year ("I've never seen one of them break the fourth wall like that!" "You bet, Surrogate Me... at least not since I did it in fucking ANIMAL MAN, when at least it made sense!"), and there ARE other people writing comics these days."

As far as I can tell, though, it was a weak, weak year for original material.

(And, granted, I was kinda out of the loop this year having been drug kicking and screaming from a vital local comics culture in Olympia to the backwoods of Michigan...)

But I'll give my two cents on your choices, last t' first:\

Robert Kirkman: The zombie book was pretty solid, but Invincible and Marvel Team-Up... well, I can't really judge 'cause I don't remember a darn thing that happened in either of them.

His superhero stuff bores me, basically, but I'd like to see a Mystery or a Western.

"Joe Casey"

The only decent post-Crisis Superman writer, sure.

And lots of interesting experimentation with his stuff.

But it's all fairly hit or miss for me in the past. I always feel like his reach, (Which is epic) often exceeds his writing grasp, for now. But I'll probably vote for him in 2008.

And, certainly, his "Milkman Murders" was creepy suburban horror-in-innocuous-places-stuff but it wasn't nothin' compared to stuff by

"Charles Burns"

Who released a grand total of one issue of new material this year.

Which is what I was judgin' on.

I did call "Black Hole" a runner-up for best reprint collection, but not numero uno.

"David B."

Epileptic was published in French in 2003. I didn't even think about calling this new (an' therefore eligible) material.

Plus I didn't read the whole thing. I wasn't hugely into the first half which was published a year or two back, BUT I read it fast at the comic shop, and a bunch of people who's comic-fu I really trust (Including blogger's Jog and Beaugoup Kevin) really dug it, an' I got it on order at the library for another look.


WILL YOU ALL STOP HOUNDING ME! I miss ONE comic and I'm a bad blogger!


I hate you all.

(Review of "Why Are You Doing This?" forthcoming in the next couple months. When we were talking about the best writers and artist by decade a while back I did name Jason as my favorite writer of the aughts, but I totally missed his latest.)

But overall it was a fairly weak year for amazing stuff in the just-incredibly-good NEW stuff division, I think.

1/06/2006 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Although... If Black Hole was an Origninal Graphic Novel, I almost certainly would've called Burns Best Writer. But it seemed just a tech unfair to me to measure this huge project that dude did over ten years of his life

(Awesomely creepy 'n effective as it DID turn out to be, no question. Those Snake Things. Brrr.)

against anyone else's output from a single year.

Which sort of isn't fair, because Black Hole would be the same story taking the same ammount of time to complete whether it was serialized or not.

But that's arbitrarly how I voted.

1/07/2006 04:39:00 AM  

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