Power Report: The 30 best comic book writers for August 2016

Hail Hydra

With this Power Report, there are more writers from a variety of different publications than ever before with wonderful new books from not only Marvel and DC but also Valiant, Dark Horse, Black Mask, Boom Studios and Aftershock. It truly is a golden age of comics when such titles as The Vision, Green Arrow, Black Widow and Hellcat are showing that you don’t have to write  an Iron Man comic to create a compelling story that captivates readers and critics alike. Here is the list of the best comic book writers of August 2016. Again, as always, please tell me what you think in the comments!


30. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

The best horror book in comics is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s brilliant love song to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman set within the universe of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. As Aguirre-Sacasa says in the introduction, this is a psychological tale with influences stemming from Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen but, with a Sabrina that instantly casts Melissa Joan Hart out of your mind forever. Much like he did with Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes a story we all grew up with and shows us how it can be twisted into the horror story we always wanted. It should also be said that Robert Hack is the perfect artist to pair with Aguirre-Sacasa in his beautiful portrayal of the macabre. The first trade paperback came out in July and if you haven’t been reading the floppies, put this on your next pull.


29. Bryan Lee O'Malley

Writer of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Bryan Lee O’Malley now faces the dangerous world of….fashion blogging? Yes, this uber-fun comic follows the loveable Lottie, a social media empress who, well, lives up to her Snotgirl pseudonym behind the scenes as she makes a name for herself in the fashion world. There’s a lot to be excited about in this debut issue as O’Malley really gets into the depths of the character of Lottie, her social media interactions, and the solitude that sometimes comes with internet work (as well as provide a pretty good cliffhanger at the end). It’s a welcome return of O’Malley to the monthly serial comic and an excellent debut of a character that is an apt reflection of its time.


28. Dennis Hopeless

With the Civil War going on, it makes sense that Carol Danvers will be wanting to talk with her best friend Jessica Drew, and Hopeless does a great job at mixing in this conversation with the madcap fun of Porcupine amid the discovery that people are, well, eating people without knowing it. The crux of the issue though is Carol and Jessica’s relationship. Carol needs someone to vet Ulysses’s smaller visions to tell how accurate they are and Jessica should be a trusted source to do that. It’s a solid issue from an equally solid run and while the Civil War does somewhat take away from the fun, it’s a well-done tangent. Oh and a special request to Hopeless, could someone please get Jessica a new cellphone? She’s a superhero and they really shouldn’t be carrying around technology from the late 1990’s.


27. Greg Pak

With what happened to Bruce Banner, all comic fans knew the next Totally Awesome Hulk would have to address the big green elephant in the room. Greg Pak does this wonderfully, showing how emotional Amadeus is in dealing with this. Banner was his best friend and the dialogue in previous issues showed a connection between the two geniuses that cannot be replaced. Banner is the only other person to know the power of the Hulk and the anger the lies beneath and Pak’s ability to establish that close friendship provides fuel for the emotional trauma. Of course they don't handle things as well as expected (why can't superheroes ever describe their feelings?), caring more about the Hulk than they do Amadeus, which leads to arrival of plan B in the form of a Hulkbuster from Black Panther. While a fight between Black Panther and the new Hulk looks exciting to watch, hopefully it doesn’t take away the joyful and whimsical style that Totally Awesome has done well to cultivate in its characters.


26. Skottie Young

Each I Hate Fairyland seems to be better (and more demented) than the last as Skottie Young’s warped fantasy just keeps getting crazier and crazier. Now with Gertrude as Queen, she’s still trying to find a way out of Fairyland, but this time through a tricked out VW bus that runs on dragon pee. Yes, dragon pee. Sadly the only dragon that is around is a kid in a dragon suit that doesn’t really work the way they expect (if only that kid was a Targaryen...). Also, Young still showcases how much of an ineffective ruler Gertrude is as her townspeople are continuing to get annoyed with her everywhere she goes. It seems everyone wants her gone as much as she does. But a little violence, as always, cheers everyone up as this issue looks like that the next arc is going to focus on different methods of getting out of Fairyland through madcap ideas. Let the craziness commence.


25. Peter J. Tomasi

Superman turning into a family man is a truly definitive take on the Superman legend but Jonathan Kent proves to be not the only thought occupying Superman's mind. The Eradicator is back again and, this time, wants Jon. The result is a really distinctive Superman that, while may be a little weirder for more conservative readers, definitely packs a punch and rewards those that want to see a different side of the Superman mythos. Oh and fair warning: the series is probably not for animal lovers. You have been warned.


24. Mark Millar

While Jupiter’s Legacy 2 goes back to a monthly schedule and Empress zig zags through the universe, Millarworld is dominating pull lists again... The previous issue left characters stranded on Golgoth after a fair bit of jumping only to get captured pretty quickly. Mark Millar has created story made for action and cliffhangers as everyone in the universe it seems wants to catch this group and each episode thus far has been jawdropping (the movie seems like it would be insane). If you like Millar, and really who doesn’t, this is an exciting space opera that deserves a read.


23. Mark Waid

While both Archie and Black Widow continue to be both incredibly enjoyable in their own right, I would like to use this time to talk about the fantastic Captain Kid, an excellent new comic of Waid’s from Aftershock Comics. Captain Kid on the surface looks to be Waid’s version of Millar's Starlight; an aging superhero grappling with the pains of getting older. Yet Waid’s hero changes back to a superhero kid whenever he transforms, giving him the question of why spend time in the old body, when you could be young. Oh and did I mention there’s a superhero that, for some reason or another, is still stuck in the 80’s (her outfit is pretty killer)? It’s an excellent beginning and, in Waid’s hands, this might be one of the best comics of the summer.


22. Kaare Andrews

Putting the his boot to the throat of the one percent, Renato Jones looks like it’s a personal attack against the rich just in time for this upcoming election. Kaare Andrews has never been one to shy away from anger. His Spider-Man: Reign is still psychologically affecting me years after it was published and his Iron Fist came with nightmares attached, but there’s a personal nature within Kaare Andrew’s Renato Jones that pierces deep. The rich don’t look at those beneath them as people, deciding to be extra cruel when it is possible, and Jones wants to make those rich bastards pay. It’ll be interesting to see where this series goes since Andrews seems willing to take it further than his predecessors in the “punish the rich" genre.


21. Hope Larson

Barbara Gordon is going on a backpacking trip in Japan where she accidentally runs into her friend Kai at a hostel and her fair share of problems in this Beyond Burnside mystery. Other than eating fine delicacies in the fish market, one of the main reason Batgirl is in Japan is to see Fruit Bat, a former superhero who still looks to have some pretty impressive skills.  Larson’s last foray into the detective genre was the wonderful Boom series Goldie Vance, a smart mystery for readers of all ages with a main character that really makes the story glow. There’s a lot of potential for Larson with Batgirl and this is a series to keep your eye on.


20. Charles Soule

Each Power Report we talk about Charles Soule, mainly because he’s one of the best comic book writers on the planet. And each week there’s a lot to talk about since Soule, mainly because he's one of the most prolific comic book writers on the planet. His list of titles. Inhumans, Poe Dameron, and Daredevil, is always admirable in its quality and quantity. But we don’t discuss frequently many books outside of Marvel with Soule…until today. With Strange Attractors, Soule is bringing back a graphic novel he wrote for Archaia Studios about a mathematician’s mission to save New York. This time it is being released by Boom! Studios as a five-part miniseries, Boom! hopes this serial format works as a clever reintroduction to a story that deserves a new audience. Using math in the same way that brought such movies like Darren Aronofsky’s Pi did with brilliant theories that engage without alienating the audience, Strange Attractors is the Soule book that deserves a spot on every bookshelf. While many know him for his incredible work at Marvel, this excellent tale of a New Yorker’s obsession at correcting New York, currently on its third issue, and showcases Soule’s incredible range as a writer.


19. G. Willow Wilson

The mixing of the Civil War with the creation of Pakistan has been a brilliant juxtaposition in G. Willow Wilson’s careful plotting of Ms. Marvel’s break with her hero Captain Marvel. This is the best supplemental story in the Civil War drama. While some of Marvel’s series have touched on the Civil War, G. Willow Wilson character meets it straight on as she leads a task force in rounding up suspects who may be committing a crime in the future. This becomes messy as friends of hers soon get implicated and people close to her quickly turn against her. While previous arcs of this story have dealt more with family, Wilson uses this story arc to focus on Kamala’s relationship with her idol and friend Carol Danvers and the growth and strength it takes to disagree with someone you hold in high esteem.


18. Robert Kirkman

Negan will always go down as one of the greatest characters in Walking Dead history with the latest issue a hallmark in the “best of Negan” series. Witnessing a rape occur in the Whisperers, Negan has to make a choice, whether to use the Whispers against Rick Grimes or, instead, to side with Rick against the Whispers and you get the sense that as Negan is interacting with Alpha, maybe he’s still weighing his options. That is until the end, a twist that is willing to drop the jaws of all the walking dead fans and may create a Civil War-like divide on where the story should go now. It’s a monumental achievement by Kirkman and one that only looks to be the beginning of something special which has been a long time in the making.


17. Kyle Higgins

I never grew up a fan of MMPR but Kyle Higgins has made me into a convert. With the latest issue exploring the Black Ranger and how life was before the Green Ranger joined the team, the comic focuses on a character that haven’t got as much love as they should have in previous issues, namely Zach and how he compares with Tommy. The issue offers a lot of interesting questions, mainly regarding the Green Ranger, and will definitely lead to conversations with the MMPR fan base. It’s a solid one-shot in a story arc that showcases Higgins ability to succeed in the series and whether you're a MMPR fan or not, this is quite simply an awesome comic and one you should be reading.


16. Rick Remender

When Rick Remender left Marvel to pursue more creator owned comics, there was a mixed reception of fans that embrace and love his work on Deadly Class and Black Science combined with those that remember how Uncanny X-Force simply changed the way they looked at comics. His ending of the freshman class with a reunion of Marcus and Saya still fills up the every comic book store with endless comments. It was a twist that nobody, including myself, saw coming but a quintessential Remender style point to always keep the reader on their toes and create a comic where nothing and no one is safe.   


15. Ryan North

Dating is HARD! Internet dating is even worse. But the absolute WORST is when a mole guy won’t take the hint. Such is life for the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl who has beaten Thanos and Dr. Doom (twice!) but now has to face unrequited love. This particular arc has been one of the most hilarious in the Squirrel Girl canon and much better than the previous crossover with Howard the Duck. Ryan North still has many jokes in his utility belt and this comic continues to amaze each month.


14. Benjamin Percy

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of Oliver Queen. This story of a rich guy crime fighter was always never at the top of any of my pulls and, with the exception of Kevin Smith's brilliant Quiver, I’ve never thought that the character was all that amazing. That is, until Benjamin Percy took over. Adding Black Canary into the mix, Queen has to fight for his life with his company stolen and friends continuing to turn their back on him. Every now and again there comes a comic that you run up to people and say "you MUST read this". This is one of those special moments.


13.  Magdalene Visaggio

A little note about myself, I really fell in love with punk music at a young age and never looked back, so when someone does a punk rock comic with one of the characters using a guitar as a weapon, well they’re shooting for my demographic. Kim & Kim is possibly the funniest comic that I read in July. It’s about two bounty hunters named Kim, Kim Q and Kim D, who fly around in a VW van and try to score cash for horror comics and booze. These type of comics rely on the skill of the writer in creating a relationship with the main characters and, with Kim & Kim, it’s a sisterhood that reminiscent of the great Lumberjanes or Rat Queens issues as the two different personalities show that they have a excellent chemistry together. Kim Q is more quirky (she wants to start a punk rock bakery) and Kim D is more business focused (she stresses more about money and logistics) but together they look like a team to closely follow in the future.


12. Jason Aaron

Winner of the Eisner Award for best writer, Jason Aaron, whose voluminous work on Dr. Strange, Thor, Southern Bastards, Autumnlands and Star Wars exhibits a writer whose work continues to provide not only an incredible diversity in the types of stories but also in the quality they present. The next step for Aaron is his entry into television as he’s currently working with his collaborator Jason Latour on a television show for Southern Bastards with the FX network and headlining the last days of magic arc for the viewers that will certainly go from the Doctor Strange movie to the comic. It’s a major task to fulfill but it looks like he can’t be stopped as each and every issue with his name on it garners not only great reviews, but a fan base that keeps growing.


11. Kate Leth

Kate Leth not only puts out one of the best podcasts about comics called Less than Live with Kate or Die in which she brings her infectious personality to discussing comics with some of the industry’s biggest stars such as Erica Henderson, Noelle Stevenson, and Scott Snyder, but she also writes one of the most enjoyable books in the Marvel catalogue with Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat, an all-ages book that not only kicks ass but is enjoyable and funny in a way that mirrors the positivity of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. This is one of the most underrated comics in the Marvel Universe and a perfect accompaniment to anyone who loves Ryan North’s Squirrel Girl.


10. Kelly Sue DeConnick

There are few comics I’m more excited about in my inbox than Bitch Planet. The latest in the series shows finally where Morowa is being kept and what happens to transgender women (always the first to be noted as non-compliant). A lot of this episode occurs with Kam and Whitney in the cell together and the clash between the two fuel what is a fascinating issue between two women in different places of power. Also the action of Meiko’s father offers an interesting progression to the story that we’re sure to see more of in the next issues but, the main excitement has to be that Bitch Planet again looks to be on a consistent monthly release. A comic this good is a crime to have to wait for.


9. Marjorie Liu

Han Solo’s space race in the Dragon Void is the high adrenaline Star Wars series that we’ve been waiting for. While Gillen focused on the political in Darth Vader and Soule went with his main characters charm in Lando, Liu recognizes that any story with Han Solo needs to focus on Solo's accompanimemt to Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon. A space race that not only showcases the Falcon’s ability but also Solo’s swagger and bravado (as well as his ability to problem solve) puts this story into light speed. And, if you haven’t been reading all the acclaim we’ve been giving Monstress, the first trade paperback comes out in July. There is no comic more rewarding and wonderfully complex than Monstress. This will definitely be a comic on our best of the year list.


8. Joshua Williamson

Joshua Williamson has really grown into one of the great comic book writers. The beginning of Nailbiter and Birthright showed incredible promise but to see the continuance of each story, especially in how Williamson expanded Birthright to be such a family affair, with Michael’s grandfather and brother Brennan showing to be of the same mold with powers of their own. Also Williamson’s incredible run at The Flash in which the Speed Storm grants more people with the ability to run at super speed is a clever twist on the story of Central City. Williamson's books keep getting better as the story goes along, which is a major feat as he is quickly becoming one of the best comic book writers working today.


7. Brian K Vaughan

A giant tardigrade and a wonderful bit of dialogue between Erin and her future-self highlight this last issue of the wondrous Paper Girls with a twist at the end that is sure to break anyone’s heart. Paper Girls has quickly gone from a story about the questions surrounding what apocalyptical occurrence is happening in a small town to the story of these four girls and how they react to the environment. Vaughan's dialogue, especially with Erin and her future-self, is particularly heartwarming as it’s impossible to read without wondering what you would say/not say to your past/future self and what your past/future self could say that would mean/hurt so much. It’s a beautiful comic that continually gets more effective as the characters progress.


6.  Kieron Gillen

This is the part of the Wicked + The Divine that we’ve all been waiting for. The cast is set, the characters are on the move, and Ananke is finally being discovered for what she really is. But this snap-happy lady is not going down quietly as the battle to save Minerva has just begun. This is truly a time of shit becoming as the amount of action and humor in this last issue has shown how brilliant Gillen can be in setting up the action for an explosive showdown. This is the payoff we’ve all been waiting for from one of the best creator-owned comics being published right now.


5. Rafer Roberts

My favorite Valiant book throughout the years is easily Archer & Armstrong. The buddy comedy is one of my favorite genres and these two guys put a smile on my face every dang issue. The latest adventure shows Armstrong look for his long lost wife whom he married years and years ago but, he just found out, happens to also be immortal while Archer acting on his affection for, perhaps Valiant’s biggest star this year, Faith. Rafer Roberts knows that he doesn’t have to do anything spectacular to grab the attention of the reader and instead spends time on the dialogue of characters that he understands the Valiant reader loves, bringing out their quirks in their personality; especially Archer’s nervousness towards Faith. It’s a fun story arc that’s perfect for the longtime fan as well as a great jumping on point for those unfamiliar with the universe and wants to see what all those Harvey nominations are all about.


4. Matt Kindt

If you checked out the Harvey award nominations, like I did, the first thing you’ll notice is how much Valiant is absolutely killing it with 50 total nominations. To demonstrate the difference, Marvel Comics only received 10. Leading the way at Valiant is Matt Kindt, who’s work on Rai, Ninjak, Divinity and 4001 A.D. have all been outstanding, an example of how Valiant always puts an emphasis, above everything else, on creating incredible stories. Kindt is also drawing and writing Dept H., an underwater mystery for Dark Horse as well that is not only wonderful in its storyline but intriguing in the beautifully strange suits in which the characters wear. For those readers who only stay with the big two, DC and Marvel, now is the perfect time to pick up some of the incredible work being done at Valiant and Dark Horse.


3. Tom King

The best individual comic written today continues to be The Vision. It’s the Breaking Bad of comics; a book that is sad at times, melancholy, beautiful, and thought-provoking. The use of the narrator, who not only foretells the future events but explains the sometimes heartbreakingly painful thoughts of the characters that strive so hard to do good, is difficult to read but impossible to turn away. Tom King has created a classic, a comic that readers should use as a portal book, like Saga or Preacher, for people who don’t read comics to show the height of the craft. Years from now, we’ll still be having this book on the shelves, waiting to push it on friends that glance in its direction.


2. Jeff Lemire

Let’s start with Dark Horse’s Black Hammer first, as Jeff Lemire, is releasing an incredible amount of quality comics lately, each with new and inventive ideas. Black Hammer is like Jupiter’s Circle entering the twilight zone as a bunch of superheroes are trapped in a small town after one of their own saves them at the cost of his own life. Unfortunately they’re not getting along together as well as one would hope and life with the townspeople is equally as difficult. The comic is a great example of how Lemire uses characters to effectively set the environment, an excellent lesson to anyone creating comics. Lemire’s characters, from Plutona to Bloodshot to Descender to the psychologically brilliant Moon Knight, continue to be the heart and soul of his comics, bringing in the reader with excellent dialogue that allows the reader to piece together the background to each character while leaving the reader always wanting more. Lemire has said in his Twitter account that doing a pull on the next issue of Black Hammer helps out greatly in pre-orders and I’d recommend subscribing immediately. This is going to be a comic you’ll want to follow.


1. Nick Spencer

Nick Spencer is currently at the top of his game. The master comic writer made major waves with his “Hail Hydra” twist in Steve Rogers: Captain America that gets better as it goes along and proves to be a comic that is not intended to shock but instead shows how much thought and planning Spencer went into those two words (all the way to Pleasant Hill). Plus, July was the month for Morning Glories 50, an issue both immense in its revelations, as Casey meets the headmaster and, in typical Morning Glories fashion, gets answers that lead to more questions while The Fix continues it’s absolutely brilliant, and hilarious run. And I haven’t even talked about Astonishing Ant-Man, which is definitely one of my favorite Marvel series this year. Point is, if you find a book with Nick Spencer’s name on it, pick it up. The man has the Midas touch lately with every comic he creates turning into absolute pure gold.

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