#10 - Joshua Luna
Although the Luna Brothers work as a team, Joshua Luna does the scripts for their series so he gets the #10 slot.
The Luna Brothers are a primarily Indie creative team who have put out a couple of series from Image and they did the art for the Spider-Woman: Origin series written by Brian Bendis and Brian Reed.
Anyway, the thing I like most about the Luna Brothers' work is their characters. They just seem more like real people in a story to me. I have not seen such well rounded characters in most comics that I read. They are really fantastic. I also like the fact that even though most of their books look like genre work, they manage to do something new and unique with each one of them that makes them stand out.
Recommended Reading - Ultra, The Sword, Girls
#9 - Dan Slott
Like Geoff Johns in a lot of ways, Slott has a love for continuity and older/obscure characters without it getting in the way of his writing, but , unlike Johns, with humour! Slott is a great writer with a knack for both characterization and story telling.
He also creates some wonderfully imaginative characters. For instance, Avengers The Initiative, with Cloud 9, Komodo, etc, is just full of them. Plus, his love of the characters and the medium shows in his writing, which makes it stand out from the crowd. Slott also fixed every continuity problem ever in She-Hulk #21. That has to count for something!
Recommended Reading - She-Hulk, Avengers: The Initiative
#8 - Geoff Johns
Johns is one of the best traditional super hero writers around. The thing I like best about his writing, though, is that he stays on books long enough to write long, epic stories, like with Sinestro Corps War in Green Lantern or with his lengthy stays on Flash and JSA.
His stories have plenty of action, are generally good with characterization and he is highly adept with a couple of specific characters. He is also one of the few writers who can use continuity to his advantage, but, at times, it can seem his stories exist solely to fix the numerous problems with DC's continuity.
Recommended Reading - Green Lantern, Action Comics, Justice Society of America
#7 - Mark Millar
Spectacle is the best way to describe Mark Millar's writing style and, really, that's what it is all about when it comes to Millar. Luckily, plot and characterization are not routinely sacrificed and there is generally enough substance to his work to have a more well rounded book than most writers.
Millar can also do some great character/plot focused books as both his Ultimate Fantastic Four and regular, Marvel 616 Fantastic Four have shown to varying degrees of success. Ultimates is also one of the comics that brought me back full time, so that gets Millar some more points in my book.
Recommended Reading - Wolverine: Enemy of the State, The Ultimates & 2, Fantastic Four
#6 - J. Michael Straczynski
Straczynski is another writer that got me back into comics. One of the odd things about JMS's writing is that he can write decompressed and drawn out stories that don't feel like they actually are decompressed. Supreme Power is a wonderful example of this as is his current run on Thor.
Although I enjoy JMS's various takes on "realistic" super heroes, I can't really think of something in his writing that specifically appeals to me. There is generally more depth and nuance in his books and Supreme Power was one of the four books that really got me back into comics full time, so maybe that has something to do with my love of his work. Either way, JMS writes some of the more intriguing comics from Marvel that I read.
Recommended Reading - Supreme Power, Thor, Rising Stars
#5 - Matt Fraction
Fraction won me over when he got rid of over half of the cast in the first issue of The Order. I like a writer that sticks to a book's concept. Like other writers on the list, he is a great idea man. The Order and Casanova are two great examples of the kind of great ideas that he can come up with. The Immortal Weapons, from Immortal Iron Fist, also come to mind.
His comics, and some of the characters he writes, are also a lot of fun, as demonstrated in Fat Cobra from Immortal Iron Fist. Like Slott, his love and appreciation of the media comes through in his writing and he is also one of the few writers I've read that's able to pull off "cool" and not have it grate on my nerves.
Recommended Reading - The Order, Casanova, Immortal Iron Fist, The Annotated Mantooth!
#4 - Warren Ellis
Let's face it, he's f@#king insane, but the kind of insane that breeds brilliance. The brilliance that is Nextwave. And Thunderbolts. And Planetary. And so on and so on.
One of the things I really enjoy about Ellis's writing is that he often takes ideas in a direction that isn't obvious and doesn't come across as unnecessarily forced into the story. He also has a huge imagination, which he puts to good use and he is often willing to try new things.
Recommended Reading - Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E, Thunderbolts, The Authority, Planetary, Apparat
#3 - Brian Michael Bendis
The man who, along with Mark Bagley, got me reading comics again. Ultimate Spider-Man was what originally got me back into the habit of reading comics and it remains one of my top books to this day. As long as USM is good, I'm pretty willing to forgive Bendis for any of his other lackluster works. In fact, there was a time when I liked everything Brian Michael Bendis put to paper. Period. Not any more though.
Although New Avengers was another book that got me back into comics and got off to a really great start, it began to slip with the Collective arc and fell apart after Civil War. Bendis strengths are in intimate characterization. The less characters he has to focus on, the better his writing is. While USM has one of the larger casts on any book he writes, he doesn't have to use all of the characters in every issue/arc like he does with NA, Secret Invasion or House of M.
Either way, he is a fantastic writer, but he does have room for improvement and I've expanded my horizons since returning to comics. However, he still gets a special place in my heart for his work with Ultimate Spider-Man, Powers, Alias and his early New Avengers.
Recommended Reading - Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias, New Avengers, Powers
#2 - Jonathan Hickman
I have not been "blown away" by that many writers in my lifetime, but Hickman is one of the few that has accomplished the feat. When I read The Nightly News, I was blown away. It was one of the most innovative comics I've ever read. While Transhuman is no where near as innovative as The Nightly News was, it was still a fantastic read that I recommend to anyone.
Hickman's writing is brutal in the sense that he doesn't hold anything back. He also just does everything right, for the most part. He writes about incredibly interesting subjects in his creator owned work, which makes him that much more appealing to me as a writer. He writes intelligent comics in the sense that he deeply researches and immerses himself in the subject that he is writing about and it shows.
His work can be very technical at times, but he uses it to the benefit of the story and it makes his work stand out from the crowd. Hickman is a definitely a writer to look out for and may be on the way to being one of the industry's greats.
Recommended Reading - The Nightly News, Transhuman, Secret Warriors
#1 - Grant Morrison
Morrison is easily my favourite writer. First and foremost, he challenges me as a reader. Whether it's the subject/story or the way he tells it, he requires an effort from his readers unlike most comics out there today. This usually leads to a need to reread many of his works, which is another aspect of his work I enjoy. I've read Seven Soldiers of Victory three or four times and there was always something new I caught when I was rereading it. He also respects the readers in a way that I've not seen from most writers, such as letting people draw their own conclusions by leaving some things vague and it shows in the interviews I've read from him that he thinks more of the common reader than most writers.
He also has a way of reimagining or reinvigorating ideas by putting his own spin on it yet staying true to the core aspects of the properties, such as with All Star Superman or his work on New X-Men.
A real plus for me, though, is that even if I don't particularly like a Morrison comic, odds are it's going to at least have some interesting ideas in it and will be different from most standard comics put out by Marvel or DC. This last point is really the main reason why I like Morrison. Simply put, he's willing to try out something new even if it fails and, for me, Morrison's failures are a lot more interesting than many other writers' successes. I have yet to read a Morrison work that I didn't enjoy on some level.
Recommend Reading - New X-Men, Seven Soldiers of Victory, Seaguy, Marvel Boy, We3