Note: I use a three tiered verdict system for rating each creator's progress in the past year. The metrics are:
- On the Cusp - denotes people that have made strides towards super stardom, but have yet to really break out to the point they are a namebrand.
- Made Man - people that have proven themselves and command high profile or critically acclaimed books. These are the people that you trust to headline events, big and small, and will always have ongoing work in some form or another.
- Super Star - these are the creators that can pretty much call their own shots. Have achieved both critical and commercial successes, ranging from awards to top selling books to headlining major events.
What I Said About Him Last Time: "Of all the creators on this list, Matt Fraction is the one closest to the cusp of greatness. [...] I expect him to be headlining many of Marvel's best books and events within a few years, similar to what Bendis has been doing recently with the Avengers titles, House of M and Secret Invasion."
What He's Done Since Then: Finished up his Ages of Thunders series of Thor one-shots, continued a critically acclaimed run on Invincible Iron Man, which he won an Eisner for, took over as solo writer for Uncanny X-Men, and even headlined his own Dark X-Men/Dark Avengers minievent.
Verdict - Super Star. I said Fraction was close last year, but I didn't expect him to achieve this much this fast. Hell, the only bad thing I can think of related to him is that his creator owned book, Casanova, was put on hiatus, most likely due to his ongoing success with mainstream projects.
Interested in Matt Fraction? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
2. JASON AARON
What I Said About Him Last Time: "Jason Aaron is a name you'll be seeing a lot of in the future. While he kick started his writing career with his creator owned Vergito title, Scalped, DC foolishly let Aaron sign an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics and he has already made his name known with a, as hard as it is to believe, much talked about and critically acclaimed run on Ghost Rider and, more recently, a brief, but excellent, arc on Marvel's cash cow, Wolverine, with the Get Mystique! storyline."
What He's Done Since Then: Finished up his run on Ghost Rider and currently writing mini-event to cap off the storyline, was given the job of launching the only current, ongoing Wolverine title, Wolverine: Weapon X, was picked as the new writer for Punisher MAX, handled the Fat Cobra issue of Immortal Weapons and continues to write his critically acclaimed, creator owned Scalped.
Verdict - Made Man. While I'm the biggest Jason Aaron fan you'll likely meet, I don't think he's quite made Super Star material yet. He's about where Matt Fraction was a year ago or so. Give him another year and he'll be headlining big ticket events and, hopefully, winning awards for his achievements.
Interested in Jason Aaron? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
3. CHRISTOS GAGE
What I Said About Him Last Time: "At this point, it's only a matter of time before Marvel rewards Gage with an on-going title of his own [...]. If he is to take over such high profile books, it's only a matter of time before this underappreciated talent earns the much deserved recognition he is currently lacking."
What He's Done Since Then: Gage continued to be Marvel's go to guy for random projects and tie-ins, including stints on House of M: Civil War, House of M: Masters of Evil, Warmachine: Weapon of SHIELD, and X-Men/Spider-Man, as well as the odd bit of Wildstorm work. He also finally received an ongoing gig from Marvel in the form of taking over Dan Slott's Avengers: The Initiative. On top of this, he's launched a creator owned title called Absolution.
Verdict - On the Cusp. Gage, as solid a writer as he is, still hasn't quite made the impact I was expecting from him. He's taken significant steps in the right direction, but will require more time before making it as a Made Man. If his work on Avengers: The Initiative goes well, he could move to bigger and better things much sooner than that.
Interested in Christos Gage? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
4. STUART IMMONEN
What I Said About Him Last Time: "While I'm not sure Immonen's name is big enough to sell a book on its own yet, it's only a matter of time before this speedy and highly talented artist is given the respect he deserves. "
What He's Done Since Then: Took over art on Ultimate Spider-Man and pencilled from #111-133, as well as co-pencilled two Requiem specials, before the series was cancelled and relaunched as Ultimate Comics. Has moved on to be the new ongoing penciller for one of Marvel's top books, New Avengers.
Verdict - Made Man. Before moving onto Ultimate Spider-Man, Immonen was sort of where Mark Bagley was for most of the 90's - the solid, go to guy with clean, expressive art that told a story, but not a name people associated with big projects. Today, Immonen is a Made Man. His time on Ultimate Spider-Man has proven him enough that he's now writing one of Marvel's biggest titles, New Avengers, and a stint on that could see him following in one of his predecessors, Leinil Francis Yu, footsteps and headlining his own event book.
Interested in Stuart Immonen? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
5. RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
What I Said About Him Last Time: "While I don't think Albuquerque will be selling books on name alone just yet, I suspect he'll be moving on to bigger and better things in the near future, especially with DC throwing him more and more mainstream work, as seen in the recent Robin / Spoiler Special. While I'm not sure if he'll ever reach the mass appeal of a Van Sciver or Cheung, look for Albuquerque to fill that unique Yu, Ramos and Bachelo art niche in the future."
What He's Done Since Then: Finished up on Blue Beetle when the series was cancelled, has done some creator owned work, handled the odd one shot from DC, did some guest pencils for Captain America #600, is doing various cover work for Marvel, and became the new ongoing artist for Superman/Batman.
Verdict - On the Cusp. Albuquerque has made significant strides in the past year, but only recently settled down as the new ongoing artist for Superman/Batman. With such high profile job (Superman/Batman is one of DC's highest selling titles, typically in the low 30's sales range), combined with guest work in Captain America #600 and covers for various Marvel titles, I suspect Albuquerque will make significant strides in the next year. While still one of my favourite artists, he's had very little output since Blue Beetle ended, so it'll be interesting to see where he goes now that he's out of that transition phase and on a new book.
Interested in Rafael Albuquerque? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
6. DAN SLOTT
What I Said About Him Last Time: "While it hasn't been all success for Slott over the years, it's not hard to see he'll be a major player in the comic industry over the next few years."
What He's Done Since Then: Amazing Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man and more Amazing Spider-Man. Headlined the first Spider-Man centric event since Brand New Day with New Ways to Die, was the headline writer for the graphic novel-sized and landmark Amazing Spider-Man #600 issue and passed the baton for Avengers: The Initiative to Christos Gage. Most recently, he took over as the writer for Mighty Avengers with issue #21, to much critical acclaim.
Verdict - Made Man. Being one of the main proponents of the Brand New Day era of Amazing Spider-Man may be enough for some, but Slott is also dipping his feet in the Avengers pool with Mighty Avengers and we all know that Avengers are the new X-Men. If you're writing one of the main Avengers books these days, you're officially a Made Man. All Slott really needs is a big ticket event book, critically acclaimed creator owned project or a major award win and he'll officially be a Super Star.
Interested in Dan Slott? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
7. ROBERT KIRKMAN
What I Said About Him Last Time: "For those unaware, Kirkman is the writer of two of the most popular Image titles, Invincible and The Walking Dead, and Invincible has become so associated with the publisher that he is seen sort of as the Superman or Spider-Man of Image Comics, especially with his unique stylized I costume emblem."
What He's Done Since Then: Continued writing Invincible and The Walking Dead, the latter of which is now Image's top selling comic and optioned for a television series. Also launched a new property, The Astounding Wolf-Man, which was well received by critics, but will be cancelled shortly. For Marvel, he finished up a less than stellar run on Ultimate X-Men and, most recently, wrote the Destroyer MAX miniseries. The biggest news for Kirkman, however, was his being named partner at Image the first new partner and only writer since the company was founded. Is in the process of doing major projects for Image, including a new series with Todd McFarlane called Haunt and an event book, featuring art from all of the original Image founders drawing their own characters, called Image United.
Verdict - The Midas Touch. Literally, there's no way Kirkman can get any better than this. Writes two of Image's best comics, has one licensed for a TV show, is headlining major events for Image, was made partner at the company, managed to get Todd McFarlane to do pencil work again and, with few exceptions, has achieved just about everything anyone could possibly want in the medium. Easily the biggest mover out of this batch of Must Read Creators.
Interested in Robert Kirkman? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
8. DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING
What I Said About Them Last Time: "They aren't burning up the monthly sales charts, but Abnett and Lanning will forever be known as Marvel's cosmic go to guys and could be this generations Starlin or Shooter."
What They've Done Since Then: Finished up Annihilation: Conquest, continued to write the critically acclaimed Nova, launched Guardians of the Galaxy, headlined another successful cosmic Marvel event, War of Kings, and are planning its aftermath, Realm of Kings, as we speak. Also did a few guest spots with DC, such as with Superman/Batman and Superman Confidential, and are the writers for Wildstorm's The Authority.
Verdict - Made Men. With all of the success of these two have had, the only problem I foresee is that they will get pigeon holed into the cosmic universe stories, similar to a Jim Starlin from the 90's with the Infinity series of events and cosmic stories for Marvel. Other than that, they've made the most of Marvel's cosmic universe playground, which was all but extinct before they helped relaunch it with Keith Giffen during Annihilation. To progress from here, though, I think they have to let go of some of the cosmic titles and expand to the main universe or forever be stereotyped as 'cosmic guys'.
Interested in Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning? Check out their past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
9. CHRIS YOST & CRAIG KYLE
What I Said About Them Last Time: "With the highly successful X-Force relaunch, along with an acclaimed run on New X-Men and several enjoyable one-shots together, expect to see these two writers becoming a staple of either the X-Men line or the Marvel Universe, itself, in the near future."
What They've Done Since Then: Continue to write the well received X-Force, have headlined their first X-event with X-Men: Messiah War and are currently planning their next one, Necrosha. Are also the writers for an upcoming painted X-Force graphic novel. Yost, in particular, moved on to also write several X-Men one-shots and miniseries, such as Emperor Vulcan and Kingbreaker, as well as became the ongoing writer for DC's Red Robin and guest writing a two issue arc for Streets of Gotham. Yost is also a writer for Marvel's Iron Man: Armoured Adventures cartoon.
Verdict - Made Men. Technically, I'd put Yost as a Made Man and Kyle as Undefined, as I'm not sure the extent of his involvement, especially in light of how much extra work Yost has on his plate in comparison. Yost has dipped his foot in many projects, from Marvel to DC to creator owned work at Image and even work in cartoons. Kyle, in comparison, has only been credited with work he's done with Yost. If he carries his weight on X-Force, he deserves to be a Made Man as well, but, if he's merely co-plotting or helping with dialogue, he's in danger of being left behind by his more successful co-writer. However, as their relationship is not defined to my knowledge, both are considered Made Men for now and with good reasons with the work on X-Force, multiple events and general success.
Interested in Chris Yost & Craig Kyle? Check out their past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
10. PETER TOMASI
What I Said About Them Last Time: "And this is only Tomasi getting his feet wet as a comic writer! I can't even begin to imagine what we've yet to see from this incredibly talented writer and DC would be foolish not to make sure they lock this guy up to a long term exclusive contract because he's going to be huge in the near future."
What He's Done Since Then: Wrote Nightwing until in was cancelled. His Green Lantern Corps work has been fantastic, outshining the main Green Lantern title coming into Blackest Night. Is set to write several Blackest Night tie-ins, too. Also launched a creator owned title called The Mighty.
Verdict - On the Cusp. Currently, as good as GLC and his other work is, Tomasi is still on the sister title and, as far as everyone else is concerned, taking cues from the super star, Geoff Johns, in regards to Blackest Night. His creator owned work and solid writing on GLC will take him far, but he will have to move out from under Johns's wing or pick up additional mainstream work if he is to become a Made Man. Until then, he'll always be considered a second fiddle and not get the credit he deserves, limiting his options.
Interested in Peter Tomasi? Check out his past work with the following trades and help support the Weekly Crisis!
Well, it looks like I made some pretty damn good calls for future Must Read creators, if I do say so myself. I was actually quite shocked at how far along several of these creators have come in the past year or so and look forward to seeing more of them in the future. What do you think? Have these guys made much progress in your eyes? Who surprised you the most? Do you agree with my assessments? Who do you see as Must Read Creators moving forward over the next year? Let us know in the comments below!