The countdown continues! Here are the next four comic book writers you voted as your all-time favorites (out of approximately 1,023 votes cast, with 10 points for first-place votes, 9 points for second-place votes, etc.).
46. John Ostrander – 211 points (2 first place votes)
John Ostrander started writing comics relatively late, as his first career was in theatre. He has more than made up for lost time over the past thirty years, first at First Comics, writing Grimjack then at DC Comics, writing the suicide squad and Fire storm and then Spectrum (as well as various other miniseries and a run on Martian Manhunter).
Ostrander excels at coming up with multi-faceted characters and then pitting them against each other in thoughtful storylines. His work on Spectrum had some of the most interesting comic book discussions about religion. In the suicide squad, he developed one of the great new characters of the 1980s into Amanda Waller, the confrontational leader of the Suicide Squad. See her standing face-to-face with Batman (who had infiltrated the prison the Suicide Squad was using as a base to investigate rumors that the government is using supervillains as agents)….
Another major character introduced in suicide squad was Oracle. You see, after the killer joke, Ostrander and his wife, Kim Yale, were angered by the way Barbara Gordon was used in this story. Yale in particular really wanted them to try and find a way to give Barbara Gordon back some agency, so they came up with the idea of making Barbara a hacking superhero, while in a wheelchair , giving the world the most remarkable wheelchair hero since Professor X!
Ostrander also wrote for Dark Horse’s star wars line for years, including the launch of one of the best Dark Horse star wars all time series, Star Wars Legacy (established 125 years after Return of the Jedi).
RELATED: Best Comics Artists 46-43
45. Jaime Hernandez – 213 points (4 votes for first place)
Jaime Hernandez has been telling the story of his famous creation, Maggie, for nearly forty years now, and what’s particularly amazing to me is how he’s used that story to make comics even stronger in recent times. years. Take the brilliant “The Love Bungles,” where Maggie gets a second chance at loving Ray, her former love (most famously from “The Death of Speedy Ortiz” in the early 1980s). Hernandez has done such a wonderful job with Maggie over the years that we know her as well as we know any longtime friend or family member. We know how she works. We know its quirks. We know its best qualities. We know his worst qualities. And all are on the line when she gets involved again with Ray, both now middle-aged. Hernandez’s skills are evident in the control he maintains over their interactions, both with dialogue and also his incredible skills with characterization. It’s mind blowing, really, how good he was with these characters almost forty years ago and yet he’s even BETTER now!
That said, I can’t help but want to show off the awesome ending of the most famous love and rockets story of all time, the aforementioned “The Death of Speedy Ortiz”. Look at how Hernandez extracts every possible emotion from these pages…
Such a beautifully haunting work.
More recently, Jaime has had a lot of fun with the character of Tonta (in the same “universe” of Maggie).
44. Al Ewing – 217 points (7 votes for first place)
Al Ewing started working in independent comics in England before starting to get regular gigs in 2000 AD In 2007, Garth Ennis chose Ewing to succeed him on his Dynamite series, Jennifer Blood. At the time, I thought it was an absurd decision to continue the series, since the issues written by Ennis had a fairly definitive ending, and so I thought Ewing was heading for an awful situation. Somehow, though, Ewing made it work, essentially deconstructing the very IDEA of a “justified vigilante” by showing us that our “hero” really wasn’t so heroic after all.
Ewing started getting assignments at Marvel Comics, and he became well-regarded both for his sense of fun, but also for his wonderful way of using continuity. Ewing is well versed in Marvel history, and his stories often use Marvel’s long history in new and clever ways.
His breakout streak for Marvel was Immortal Hulka series that followed a plot introduced in the “No Surrender” arc of the avengers which Ewing worked on with other writers, where we learned the Hulk was, well, you know, immortal. However, Ewing has fundamentally redefined the history of all Gamma-bound beings in a fascinating new way.
Meanwhile, at the same time, his works were HEAVY on characterization, like this origin sequence for a character’s feelings about the Hulk, highlighting just how destructive the Hulk’s past rampages were…
Ewing continues to be one of Marvel’s finest writers, showing off his range and sense of blending continuity with strong character work, like this piece in his series, X-Men: Redwith Magneto…
A series that highlighted Ewing’s sense of fun and his inventive new approaches to continuity was the anniversary miniseries, The ant Manwhich shed light on all the heroes who have used the name, Ant-Man, including a new futuristic Ant-Man, with Ewing using the very nature of the comics telling part of the problem with futuristic technology replacing a “Marvel “style story…
complete with trademark cliffhanger mode…
Very smart work from a very smart comic book writer.
43. Paul Levitz – 220 points (3 votes for first place)
Paul Levitz got his start working on the respected news fanzine, The comic reader when he was still a teenager. He spent enough time communicating with DC Comics that he got a few freelance gigs in the company, including writing scripts, short stories, and editing assistants. While in college, he started getting more and more writing assignments to the point where he was essentially a full-time DC writer before he even turned 20. Levitz had attended college for a business degree, which likely served him well later on. in his career when he became a longtime executive for DC Comics.
One of Levitz’s first regular assignments was on All-Star Comics, where he succeeded Gerry Conway in the newly revitalized team of young heroes following in the footsteps of the original Justice Society of America. To that end, Levitz created the Huntress with artists Joe Staton and Bob Layton, casting her as the daughter of Batman and Catwoman on Earth-2, who becomes a hero to avenge her mother’s death…
Paul Levitz had already had a short, but beloved, run on the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 1970s, so when he returned to the book in 1981, readers had reason to be excited, but after a short time with Pat Broderick, Keith Giffen joined Levitz, and when they came together, they clicked in ways no one could imagine – and soon Legion was probably DC’s second biggest title, next to the New Teen Titans (Giffen joined the book with #285 and Larry Mahlstedt with #290).
It wasn’t long on the book before Levitz and Giffen began the epic storyline that became their most notable work, the Great Darkness Saga, which introduced Jack Kirby’s Darkseid as the villain of the Legion, in one story brilliantly brooding action-adventure that saw the Legion embroiled in a battle bigger than any they had seen before (or at least more visceral).
Check out the stunning revelation that Darkseid is the villain (right after Brainiac realizes that Darkseid has turned the entire population of Daxam against the Legion)…
What a stunning revelation.
Giffen’s works treated both action scenes and character moments with equal grandeur, and Levitz was sure to give him plenty of both, keeping the book extremely grounded in humanity, while keeping the action at a frantic level.
After the Great Darkness Saga and a few character pieces, they had the historic 300th issue, after which Giffen began experimenting with his artwork while starting to have more influence in the writing department.
Levitz, Giffen, and Mahlstedt launched an all-new Legion series together, a brutal storyline that left a Legionnaire dead and Giffen leaving the book.
Levitz continued his run with artists Steve Lightle and Greg LaRocque, until finally Giffen returned for the conclusion of the new volume of the Legionhow Levitz essentially retired from writing to focus on his leadership position at DC (decades later, Levitz returned to writing the Legion before and after the New 52).