The Best Of 2018: The Creators

January 10, 2019

 

This year has been an amazing year for comics. While there have been many amazing creators this year, these are a few that have really stood out. These creators delivered some of the most unique and captivating stories this year. They helped make 2018 a truly special year in comics.

 

 

ED BRUBAKER and SEAN PHILLIPS

 

 

You can't talk about Ed Brubaker without immediately thinking of Sean Phillips, and vice versa. They are on of the most influential and entertaining creative teams in the medium. They truly are masters of their craft. Whenever they announce a new book, you know it's gonna be a hit, this year was no different.

 

Brubaker and Phillips' series KILL OR BE KILLED and OGN, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, were some of the best stories to have come from this phenomenal creative team.

 

I'll start with KILL OR BE KILLED, that series has to be my favorite series from the Brubaker/Phillips team. The story centered on Dylan, a guy that deals with depression and low self-esteem. Dylan begins seeing a demon that tells him to kill people, for every kill he gets to live one more month. While this series concluded this year in June, it definitely made an impact. It is a

story that resonates with you long after you finish. The changes that take place in Dylan's life over the course of  the series, made him one of the most compelling characters created by Brubaker and Phillips. The finale was one of the most unexpected and perfectly executed finales I've ever read.

 

2018 also saw the release of their first OGN, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES. On the surface it's a love story, but it turns out to be so much more. I don't want to give to much away about the story, but if you're a fan of Brubaker/Phillips, you need to read this book. Brubaker writes the most human characters I've read in any medium. They are far from perfect and have real consequences. But, it is Sean Phillips that breathes life into these characters and truly gives Brubaker's words life. This was the perfect story for their first story in the OGN format. I hope they plan on doing more of these in the future This story is also setting up the relaunch of CRIMINAL as an ongoing, which is sure to be another phenomenal book form these two in 2019.

 

DONNY CATES

 

Cates has absolutely been killing it this year, from his creator owned books REDNECK and BABY TEETH at Image and Aftershock to his work for Marvel on THANOS and VENOM. There's no stopping this dude and the amazing work that he consistently puts out.

 

While I first discovered his work on GOD COUNTRY, which was absolutely outstanding, I instantly became a fan and followed his work from there on. His REDNECK book at Image was another book that I fell in love with. A vampire book unlike anything you would expect. His creator owned work is where he truly goes balls to the wall with his storytelling. REDNECK and GOD COUNTRY are perfect examples of that.

 

 

It was his Marvel work this year though, that truly cemented him as one of my favorite writers. He took two characters that I liked but wasn't a huge fan of, Thanos and Venom, and made them must read books. THANOS was an amazing character study of this famous villain of the Marvel Universe. Showing a tired Thanos in the distant future wanting nothing more than to die and transporting his younger self to do the deed. The story was one of the most insane stories to ever take place at Marvel. It also introduced us to the breakout character the Cosmic Ghost Rider, who happened to be The Punisher with the power of Ghost Rider and was a herald of Galactus. I mean come on, only Donny Cates could have come up with such insanity. Not to mention the breathtaking art of Geoff Shaw on the book. I can only imagine what those two have planned with their upcoming GUARDINAS OF THE GALAXY relaunch.

 

Then he did the unthinkable, with Ryan Stegman, he made VENOM one of my favorite books. He introduced a whole new mythology to the character that tied always back to Vietnam. This book has been one of the most consistently entertaining books every month. One of the best scenes in the book so far was watching Venom fly with wings, yeah that's right I said WINGS. Cates has made Eddie Brock one of the most compelling characters at Marvel right now. He and Stegman have really crafted something special, I can't wait to see how crazy this book gets in 2019.

 

 

SCOTT SNYDER

 

Snyder kicked off 2018 by finishing his bombastic, multiverse spanning mini-series, METAL, with Greg Capullo. It was one of the best DC crossovers in years and helped set the stage for NO JUSTICE, which led to him relaunching JUSTICE LEAGUE.

 

After the events of METAL, where the Source Wall was destroyed, the League faced off against a group of ancient Gods that came through the opening. From there Snyder has delivered some of the best Justice League stories in years. The team he assembled is reminiscent of the team from the Justice League cartoon, not just in it's members but in the way they interact. They have a "family" vibe that has been one of the high point of the series thus far. He also introduced aspects from the Super Friends show, such as the Hall of Justice and more importantly the Legion of Doom.

 

From the opening arc of the book, Snyder set the tone. This book was full of big ideas with the stakes being higher than ever. The last arc, "Drowned Earth" was one of the best stories so far. We saw our heroes fighting against Sea Gods from across the universe, not to mention seeing some members of the League dressed in pirate garb. It reminded everyone how badass and powerful Aquaman truly is.

 

It was in JUSTICE LEAGUE #9 where we finally got a peek inside the Hall of Justice, this is where this book really stood out for me. We got to see each individual member's personal quarters and the reasoning behind why they designed their individual rooms. By far one of my favorite issues oft the series. It shows the range that Snyder has and why the "quiet" moments are where he really shines and shows his love for the characters.

 

This is shaping up to be one of the best runs in the history of the title. Snyder has promised big things coming up this year and if it's anything like the past year has been, we're in for a wild ride.

 

 

JEFF LEMIRE
 

This man never slows down. Once again he put out an insane amount of books, BLACK HAMMER, ROYAL CITY, GIDEON FALLS, DESCENDER, THE SENTRY, THE TERRIFICS and there's no signs of him stopping.

 

Jeff has long been one of my favorite writers. While his Marvel and DC work are phenomenal, it's his creator owned work where he truly shines. I finally got around to picking up BLACK HAMMER this year and I can't say enough good things about it. His "Hammerverse" is some of the best superhero work in comic books today. His unique spin on old classics is what brings me back every issue and side series every month. I can't get enough of this series and highly recommend it to any type of comic book fan, this series has everything.

 

 

Not only is Jeff an unbelievable writer, he's a talented artist as well. Having written/drawn series such as SWEET TOOTH and ESSEX COUNTY, he's picked up his pencil to illustrate his story ROYAL CITY. A story set in the small town of Royal City, starring the Pike family and how each member is dealing with the death of their younger sibling Tommy. He shows this by having each sibling being haunted by a different verison of "Tommy". It was one of my favorite elements of the story. This has all the same thematic elements that reminds me of ESSEX COUNTY. From the first issue Jeff draws you in and never lets up. It's a truly special treat when we get a book written and illustrated by Lemire. This was one of his best series so far.

 

Lemire's series, GIDEON FALLS, with artist Andrea Sorrentino also continued to terrify and mystify with each passing issue. It's main characters are so well fleshed out and unique that you get lost in the world of Gideon Falls and it's mysterious "Black Barn". Sorrentino's trippy art choices makes this series an absolute mind- f**k. Just when you think you know what's going on, Jeff takes the story in a different direction. I have no idea where the story is going, and that's the best part.

 

With more books on the horizon for Jeff, both continuing and new, 2019 looks like another fantastic year for Jeff Lemire fans.

 


BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS

 

Having been with Marvel for 18 years, Bendis shocked the comic book community when he announced he was moving to DC Comics. Having worked on so many celebrated series such as JESSICA JONES, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, and MILES MORALES. Many people wondered what he would do at DC.

 

So far his work on Superman has been nothing less than amazing. He started off with is MAN OF STEEL series that teamed him up with A-List artists and introduced us to new villain Rogol Zaar. He has written both ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN for the past few months,with artists Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ryan Sook and more,  and delivered some of the best Superman stories in years. He's introduced new characters, Robinson Goode and Melody Moore, which have already made a huge impact. But he hasn't forgotten the rest of Clark's supporting cast, his Lois Lane is PERFECT. And hey, let's not forget that he brought back The Question, my favorite issue of ACTION COMICS so far. He writes the most "human" Clark Kent, I think I've ever read. 2019 promises to bring in even more amazing stories, it's a great time to be a Superman fan. 

 

 

He also brought his creator owned imprint, Jinxworld, over to DC. Every book Jinxworld (PEARL, COVER, SCARLET, and UNITED STATES OF MURDER INC.) has put out have been phenomenal. PEARL, with Michael Gaydos, stars a tattoo artist who is also a Yakuza assassin. Not only is expertly written but it's also one of the most beautifully illustrated books out right now. Then you have COVER, with David Mack, a book about a comic book artist that works for the CIA as an undercover agent. While this book is said to be somewhat based on facts, even if it wasn't it's been one of my favorite books in the Jinxworld lineup. Not to mention Mack's amazing art.

 

Bendis also got to see one of his creations hit the big screen, Miles Morales. INTO THE SPIDERVERSE has been a massive success both critically and with fans. I can only imagine the joy he feels seeing this movie become such a hit. Not only was it a stunning masterpiece visualy, but it was THE best Spider-Man film in my opinion and one of the best comic book films EVER.

 

I could go on with all the amazing stuff Brian has written, but it is his upcoming Wonder Comics line that has truly excited me. As a lifelong YOUNG JUSTICE fan I could hardly contain my excitement when the book was announced. Not only is he writing that title but he's co-writing NAOMI with David Walker. Both books are must reads for 2019. If you thought 2018 was a good year for Bendis just wait for 2019.

 


DAVID MACK

Mack stormed back into monthly comics this year with the launch of COVER, with Brian Michael Bendis. His style has always been one of the most unique styles in the medium and COVER perfectly showcases it with every issue.

 

Every issue is an absolute delight, creating a feast for the eyes with every issue. Its is without a doubt one of THE most visually appealing books out today. Looking at the art throughout each issue is like walking through a fine art gallery.

 

David Mack is a true master of his craft, he seamlessly transitions from each style to the next with flawless precision. Mack is continuing to expand the boundaries of what a comic book can be artistically. This series is a modern masterpiece in the making. While the series is set to conclude in February we have already been promise a continuation. This is already going to be one of the most anticipated books in 2019.

 

Not only do we have that to look forward to, but Mack is also hard at work at adapting his insanely popular KABUKI, for the small screen. He has also hinted at other Kabuki news in the future, perhaps a new series?? As a huge David Mack fan, lets hope there's even more of his work to enjoy in the coming year.

 


TOM KING

 

 

King has had, without a doubt, one of the most successful years yet. He continued his legendary run on BATMAN, closed to the chapter on Eisner winning series MISTER MIRACLE, and launched the highly anticipated HEROES IN CRISIS.

 

When King first took the reigns on BATMAN, from Snyder, he had big shoes to fill. While he hasn't always hit the mark for me, he has consistently delivered stories worthy of the Dark Knight's long legacy. This year King continued to plant seeds for the future ( Bane secretly plotting to take down Bruce, while imprisoned in Arkham) and at the same time crushing many fans hopes with the failed Bat-Wedding (although I still think there may be a chance for those two). King has weaved some of the most heartfelt and thought-provoking tales in Batman's long history. One of the highlights for me this year was the "Cold Days" arc, where we see Bruce as a juror fighting to prove that Batman was wrong in his handling of Mr. Freeze. It was such a unique story watching Bruce argue against Batman. He was still dealing with the affects of Selina/Catwoman leaving him that he took it out on Freeze. I don't' want to give away the whole story, but this arc truly encapsulates the genius of Tom King's writing.

 

Then there was MISTER MIRACLE, from the first issue of the series, it was clear this wasn't going to be your typical "superhero" story. What we got from Tom King and Mitch Gerads was one of the most compelling, thought provoking and unique comics in the history of the medium. They threw away the usual superhero tropes and brought us a flawed hero that was suffering and at times unsure of himself. This story is sure to be a classic. Tom King's writing throughout this series has been some of his best work. He crafted an intimate and personal story told through Scott's words. These two creators took us on a rollercoaster ride of insanity and emotions. They crafted a story worthy of Jack Kirby's legacy and I'm sure he's looking down, proud of what these two creators have accomplished. This book is an example of what a comic book can and should be.

 

 

HEROES IN CRISIS is just four issues in, but already has made a huge impact on the entire DCU. Coupled with breathtakingly beautiful art by Clay Mann this series is well on it's way to being a classic. It's a story filled with raw emotion, heartbreak and destruction. While I was angry after the first issue at the "death" of Wally West, I'm holding off judgement until the series concludes. Each issue has progressively pulled me in. I'm anxious to see how the story plays out.

 

King has a lot in store for comic fans in 2019. As we get closer to the endgame of King's BATMAN run, will we see Bruce and Selina reunited? What are Bane's true intentions? I cant' wait to see what King has planned for Batman. In HEROES IN CRISIS, the identity of the killer is what keeps me coming back, and will we finally find out if Wally is truly dead? also what do King and Gerads have planned next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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