Finally, 2020 is coming to an end. While this has been an overall awful year, the writers were the opposite of awful. Some of the greatest writers in comics were at their very best this year. Here are our picks for 2020’s best writers.
Marcus Orchard – Chip Zdarsky
Chip Zdarsky has come such a long way over the years. 2020 was the year that the creator finally got to show off his range. He is currently working on one of the best Daredevil runs in the character’s history. He also wrote the delightful X-Men/Fantastic Four Miniseries. As if being a powerhouse with Marvel wasn’t enough, Zdarksy also stepped into the world of horror with the chilling Stillwater. All of his works are fantastic contributions to 2020, highlighting why Zdarsky is one of the best in the game.
Brandon Carlisle – Donny Cates
Donny Cates has been on a roll this year. His on-going series Venom and Redneck continue to be strong, and his newest Marvel event King In Black just started. His real best work, however, is in the two new series he began this year: Crossover and Thor. Crossover is off to a fantastic start and is being met with a lot of praise. Thor just concluded its first arc, which was so fun and large-scale. His ability to keep a consistent Marvel continuity through all of his stories is also worth noting, and Thor manages to connect back to Cates’ Guardians of the Galaxy and Silver Surfer runs seamlessly.
Hunter Sandlin – W. Maxwell Prince
Prince’s tragic stories in Ice Cream Man defy genre and experiment with the comic book format. Few writers leave me emotionally impacted and even less can do so in a short 22 pages. Beyond his stories, which would make him a contender for Best Writer on its own, he takes advantage of the format better than anyone I have seen before. Some issues may split the page into three separate but related stories void of text, others are palindromic and can be read forwards and backward. I can only hope other writers take inspiration from him and continue to push forward the art form of comics.
Danilo Téo – Simon Spurrier
It probably isn’t necessary to state that Spurrier is a powerhouse of restarting Vertigo’s old series into DC’s new format. The writer kicked the sandman universe back into gear and has done it again with the new Hellblazer series. Being one who prefers originality over silly nostalgia, Spurrier is a surprise pick for me. I only chose him because he makes what worked back then work today, only under a new light, adapting those kinds of stories to our times whilst maintaining what made them great.
Matt Dillon – Grant Morrison
An obvious pick? Perhaps. But Grant Morrison is still my favorite comic writer of this year. Despite (or maybe because of) all their decades of experience and huge body of work, they still manage to offer something new and different. Their books are still defined by aggressive meta-messages and absurd silver age mythology but those are both reeled in by the humanity of the characters and their stories. Green Lantern is supposed to be Morrison’s last work with DC and if that truly is the case, their contributions to the multiverse will be dearly missed.
Alex Marks – Tom King
I swear, every year I think Tom King has done the best work of his career. Then, a new year begins and he outdoes himself. I know so many people were soured by his love-it-or-hate-it run on the flagship Batman title, but please – don’t let that stray you from Adam Strange and now, Rorschach.
For he may falter on bi-weekly floppies, he excels at the 12 issue maxi-series. Vision, Mister Miracle and Omega Men are prime examples of this. And I can almost guarantee that his upcoming Batman and Catwoman maxi will be on par with those aforementioned series, even if you weren’t big on his Batman run.
His storytelling keeps you invested and on your toes. You don’t know who’s wrong or right and that’s what makes you love it. There’s no black and whites – just stark grays.
Ethan Maddux – Tom Taylor
Tom Taylor is writing so many fantastic books at once that I usually end up buying at least once a week, and yet I still miss some. HellBlazer: Rise and Fall, and DCeased would be enough to put him in the race for the Best Writer spot, but the addition of his digital-first books makes him the obvious choice. DCeased: Hope at World’s End and Injustice: Year Zero are both wonderful looks inside the worlds Taylor has crafted over the years, and they demonstrate what it is that he does so well. He has a knack for placing the characters in these unfamiliar (and on paper, not interesting) situations, and then using that new context to chip away the marble and reveal the characters’ core. He finds the heart in every character he touches and shows us why we should care and relate when maybe we never had before. Though, he could probably use the “the superheroes hug” panel a tad more sparingly.
Ryan Easby- Tom Taylor
Tom Taylor has had one hell of a year. With his two DCeased books (DCeased: Dead Planet and DCeased: Hope At Worlds End), Tom Taylor has proven that his horror is excellent in every way. Injustice: Year Zero proves that Taylor can even revisit his old out of continuity stories and write a prequel with actual stakes, that gets you emotionally invested. With his Suicide Squad run, Taylor has proven that he can write in continuity stories with weight and impact extremely well. All in all, Tom Taylor has proven that he is one of the best writers currently working today.
Alexander Cole – Ram V
Since taking over James Tynion’s run on Justice League Dark I can’t compliment Ram enough. It’s difficult continuing a story that’s written and established by another writer but he’s managed to continue Tynion’s vision without anything feeling out of place. At the same time, he’s also written a number of shorts in the Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular. There might be other writers working on more famous series’ or who have done more work this year but I think Ram V is up there with the best of them. He’s definitely a writer that readers should keep their eye on in future.
Geoff Luu – Al Ewing
The series’ release schedule may have been interrupted this year, but Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk remained a consistently strong standout. Ewing continues to expand upon the supernatural aspect of the Hulk’s abilities through the lore of the Green Door, a concept that has afforded him a huge amount of creative freedom since its introduction earlier in the series. More generally, Ewing’s knack for bizarre cosmic and psychological horror has managed to keep the series fresh and unpredictable after more than two years in. Bringing back classic Hulk villain The Leader late last year was also an inspired choice, and tying the two together following the conclusion of the Xemnu/Roxxon arc in issue 33 has resulted in some of the best and most terrifying issues of the series to date.
Pashtrik Maloki – Al Ewing
I got two words for you: Immortal Hulk. That should be enough.
I mean Guardians of the Galaxy has been pretty great so far, and his new Boom! series, We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, is a great read. But even if it weren’t for those, Immortal Hulk is reason enough.