Our every four years countdown of your all-time favorite comic book writers and artists continues!
Here are the next five writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time (out of roughly 1,008 ballots cast, with 10 points for first place votes, 9 points for second place votes, etc.).
20. Roger Stern – 623 (4 first place votes)
I think the best attribute in Roger Stern's work is his heart. His stories tend to be rooted in the decency of heroes - his heroes have HEART, as it were. His Captain America has an interesting reaction to having to kill a vampire (as well as possibly running for elected office), one of the best scenes in his legendary "Under Siege" storyline in Avengers are those where we see the facade behind Captain America crumble a bit when he loses his only photo of his mother.
Speaking of "heart," here is "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man," where Spidey visits his biggest fan (SPOILERS AHEAD! Just skip these images if you don't want to be spoiled on a comic that is well over 30 years old).
Stern was an editor before he began to write a bunch of books for Marvel, and those skills allowed him to pretty seamlessly work his various books together. For a while there, Stern and John Byrne, along with Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson and Walter Simonson really made it feel like the Marvel Universe was one big story in a way that it had not appeared to be since the earliest days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
One of the more remarkable additions Stern made to the Marvel Universe during his time on the Avengers was the addition of a new, female black Captain Marvel. Monica Rambeau debuted in an Amazing Spider-Man Annual and then transitioned to the Avengers, where she began as a trainee member before graduating to a full-fledged member of the team. Monica had all of that heart that I mentioned before in regards to Stern and she slowly became one of the most reliable members of the team and even took over as the leader of the team. In the end, Stern actually got fired from the Avengers because he refused to go along with a proposed plot by his editor to diminish Monica's leadership skills and get her out of the book.
Stern moved over to DC, where he succeeded his friend, John Byrne, on the main Superman title. Stern worked alongside Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and later Louise Simonson in shaping the vision of Superman for DC Comics in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Superman brain trust got Superman engaged to Lois Lane and later, in 1992, they shocked the world by actually killing off the Man of Steel! Stern later wrote the novelization of the Death of Superman.
During that same period, Stern also introduced a brand-new Starman for DC. Stern actually ended up returning to Marvel to write more Spider-Man stories in the 1990s, even getting the chance to finally resolve a storyline that he had introduced during his run on Amazing Spider-Man where he had a mysterious bad guy become the Hobgoblin. After he left the series, the Spider-Man staff came up with a different Hobgoblin than the one that he intended to reveal as the real deal, so he was allowed to return to Marvel to reveal who the Hobgoblin REALLY was all along!
19. Jonathan Hickman – 675 (13 first place votes)
Jonathan Hickman thinks on a different scale than most writers. He has these complex ideas of how his stories are going to go and he manages to tell entertaining individual stories while establishing a much larger narrative. He spent years on the Fantastic Four telling effectively one loooooooong story and he is then followed it up with a similar epic story with his run on the two Avengers books. That all culminated in Secret Wars, one of the best-written crossovers Marvel has ever had.
Not only did Hickman turn his Avengers run into a giant epic, he did so while still telling major event WITHIN that larger epic. First, the Infinity crossover and later, the Time Runs Out event (where the Avengers have to find a way to keep Earth from colliding with Earths from other realities that are "invading" this reality due to a weakening of the Multiverse - this is what led to Secret Wars).
The Infinity crossover event told the story of the Avengers heading out into space to head off an invasion of Earth by a powerful race of aliens known as the Builders. The Avengers formed an alliance with the other major alien races in the Marvel Universe against their shared enemy, the Builders, but things were going so poorly that Thor appeared to surrender to one of the Builders. Hickman knows how to write some epic single moments, so check out how this "surrender" turns the tide of the war (the gorgeous art is by Jerome Opena)...
Hickman is much, much more than just superhero comics, of course, though. He has done a number of inventive series for Image, including his long-running East of West, as well as the twisted The Manhattans Projects, which revealed that the development of the nuclear bomb was not the ONLY project that the scientists on the Manhattan Project were working on. Instead, things got a whole lot more freaky than you would ever imagine (like Albert Einstein being taken over by his evil alternate reality self after Einstein discovered a portal to an alternate reality).
18. Marv Wolfman - 725 points (6 first place votes)
What I think has always made Marv Wolfman a compelling writer is the way that he lets his characters drive his series. His most famous work at Marvel is probably his long run on Tomb of Dracula, and there, he was able to write such effective horror stories because he was so good at developing the characters within the series so that when bad things happened to them, there would be more of an impact to them. In addition, he has always been adept at quickly introducing characters and getting you to care about them - Blade was a cool character right off the bat and Hannibal King has one of the all-time great introduction issues. His work on Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man were a bit more plot-driven but then he came to likely his most famous work, the New Teen Titans, and there it was ALL about characters - and what characters! Wolfman and George Perez created in Raven, Cyborg, Starfire (plus essentially brand-new takes on Changeling and Wonder Girl) characters so interesting that decades later they were easily adapted into a hit cartoon series. As much as we were reading the New Teen Titans to see superhero adventures, we were reading it to check in our "friends," and to see how they were progressing in their lives. That's what made moments like New Teen Titans #39 resonate so much, where Dick Grayson gives up being Robin...
See how each character is given a chance to shine in very little space - that's Wolfman to a tee. It's no surprise that the Titans he created have become such popular icons in the Teen Titans Go cartoon, as Wolfman was a master of coming up with great characters.