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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Default Marvel's Most Versatile Writers in Different Titles

    Something I have been thinking about for a while. Who would you consider Marvel's most versatile writers? We can talk about so-and-so being a great Daredevil writer and a great Spider-Man writer but often you have issues where they don't do that well in X-Men and so on. So that made me think of examples of writers who wrote excellent and great stories for multiple titles and teams.

    Obviously, Stan Lee, the first EIC of Marvel's continuity is a natural starting point. On account of Marvel Method issues with Ditko/Kirby/Romita/Everett, there are a lot of stuff we can qualify but at the very least he wrote the scripts, i.e. in-page dialogue and captions (based maybe on notes and stuff left by Kirby/Ditko according to one '60s interview where Lee admitted as such). He did do that, and it can't be denied that the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, X-Men, Dr. Strange, The Mighty Thor, The Avengers, Iron Man all speak with his voice. So he definitely qualifies and of course Lee has that unique quality where even though his writing style is inimitable different characters sound different to each other. Peter Parker's balloons read with a diferent voice than Ben Grimm or Reed's, Jameson reads different from Dr. Doom, and that applies to everyone. Writers after him tended to be more active in plotting and scripting and deciding the story. Roy Thomas was I think the first one, Gerry Conway was another. If we consider Kirby and Ditko as writers, then Kirby is probably the most versatile there is -- FF, Mighty Thor, Captain America, X-Men. And unlike Ditko, and even Lee, Kirby's post-'60s career actually did produce great comics. The DC Stuff yes, but also stuff like Madbomb for Captain America (for which he has writing-artist credit). Yet, you can also say that Kirby's stuff are large canvas epic stuff, mostly the cosmic and divine stuff, with Captain America being the only "Street-Level" stories and even then Cap battles on a big canvas, stuff like secret societies, foreign threats, legacy villains of Nazi war criminals and so on. In the case of Ditko consider that he did Spider-Man, neurotic, grounded science-fiction stuff and at the same time did Doctor Strange, going cosmic and mystical, doing all kinds of trippy and weird stuff. Ditko didn't do as many titles as Kirby but his two big Marvel creations diverge from each other more sharply.

    So who would you rank as most versatile after that?

    My pick would be Roger Stern. He wrote a great run of Spider-Man, a great run of Captain America, a great run of Avengers, showing he can handle the small-scale street stuff and the big scale cosmic stuff. He wrote the 10-page heartbreaker The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man and stuff like Under Siege and Assault on Olympus. He also wrote arguably the greatest Doctor Doom story of all time -- Triumph and Torment, and he did a lot of work on Doctor Strange (who is also a big part of T&T albeit that story is still Doom's). So he handles different corners of the Marvel Universe with aplomb and can do all kinds of stories. I can't think of someone else with that kind of solid record.

    Who else comes close in your view?

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Inversed's Avatar
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    I don't know what THE most versatile writer is, but I think Chip Zdarsky recently has proven himself to be one of their most versatile writers. Howard The Duck, Star-Lord, Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-In-One, Invaders, and Daredevil are all incredibly different kinds of books and on wildly varying scales and tones, and no matter how big a fan I was of his beforehand, he's always constantly surprising me how he handles each series and character so differently.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inversed View Post
    I don't know what THE most versatile writer is, but I think Chip Zdarsky recently has proven himself to be one of their most versatile writers. Howard The Duck, Star-Lord, Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-In-One, Invaders, and Daredevil are all incredibly different kinds of books and on wildly varying scales and tones, and no matter how big a fan I was of his beforehand, he's always constantly surprising me how he handles each series and character so differently.
    Good pick. I'd also throw Al Ewing in there - the Immortal Hulk is a big departure from his previous work for Marvel, but it's just excellent.

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  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    I am most familiar with Zdarsky's Spider-Man stuff but I know of course he does different titles so that's cool.

    To define versatility I am talking range, different characters and different genres, different kinds of stories, and overall consistency. By that I mean you can't be outright bad on a title and character. You need a certain level of consistency.

    Take David Michelinie and John Byrne. Michelinie had great runs on Ant-Man, and defining runs on Iron Man and Spider-Man, he also wrote great Dr. Doom stories. His characters -- Scott Lang, Taskmaster, Rhodey/War Machine, Venom, Carnage -- are still big, popular, and enduring. But he wrote Avengers #200. I don't know if his other Avengers stories are as good or better but when you have Avengers#200 on your watch (among the 3 or 5 worst Marvel stories ever published), you kind of cancel your goodwill. John Byrne with Claremont wrote a defining run on X-Men, on his own he did defining takes on She Hulk and Fantastic Four. But his run on Spider-Man is one of the worst. I don't think Bendis has ever been outright bad, but I know that his run on team titles and event books is often controversial and contentious. While his best runs are in Ultimate Spider-Man, and in 616 Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and on Luke Cage, and he handles the small-scale street stuff better than the big scale ones. And his run on Iron Man while not bad is not quite good.

  5. #5
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    I'll go with Fabian Nicieza. It's impressive how he's managed to adapt his style to many different approaches. When he was writing New Warriors and X-Men and X-Force they were very different team books, running the gamut from the house style of early '90s X-Men to the EDGY EXTREME style of Liefeld to the lighter teen-angst style of New Warriors. And then he was able to write in the late '90s neoclassical style and successfully take over from Kurt Busiek on Thunderbolts and other projects, and to the '00s on Cable & Deadpool.

    It says something that he was able to successfully write the original version of Deadpool that he co-created and the very different version of Deadpool that other writers built up.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gurkle View Post
    I'll go with Fabian Nicieza. It's impressive how he's managed to adapt his style to many different approaches. When he was writing New Warriors and X-Men and X-Force they were very different team books, running the gamut from the house style of early '90s X-Men to the EDGY EXTREME style of Liefeld to the lighter teen-angst style of New Warriors. And then he was able to write in the late '90s neoclassical style and successfully take over from Kurt Busiek on Thunderbolts and other projects, and to the '00s on Cable & Deadpool.

    It says something that he was able to successfully write the original version of Deadpool that he co-created and the very different version of Deadpool that other writers built up.
    I also like his minsieries, Spider-Man : The Final Adventure which was put out in the Clone Saga. It's kind of hard to get into now because of all the messes and retcons that happened after that, but read as a What-If and AU it's quite good, and very nice. Also good use of Spider-Man's supporting cast.

  7. #7
    Invincible Member XPac's Avatar
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    My vote goes to Roger Stern too.

    Iconic Spider-Man run, my all-time favorite Avengers run, and my favorite Dr. Strange story of all time. THat's some pretty impressive range.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Inversed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    I don't think Bendis has ever been outright bad, but I know that his run on team titles and event books is often controversial and contentious. While his best runs are in Ultimate Spider-Man, and in 616 Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and on Luke Cage, and he handles the small-scale street stuff better than the big scale ones. And his run on Iron Man while not bad is not quite good.
    I am a big Bendis guy, though I probably wouldn't consider him to be super "versatile", just because any time he writes a book, no matter how differently the character, genre, tone, etc., it feels like Bendis and you're not surprised if you find out after reading it its him. I think the best versatile writers are the ones you're surprised by when you're reading a new book by them. Like, not knowing who the writer was before reading Invaders or Daredevil, I would have never expected that was Zdarsky. Ditto to Al Ewing and Immortal Hulk which someone else mentioned.
    Current Reading List: Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider, Sonic The Hedgehog, Absolute Carnage, Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man, Gwenpool Strikes Back, Runaways, The White Trees

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inversed View Post
    I am a big Bendis guy, though I probably wouldn't consider him to be super "versatile", just because any time he writes a book, no matter how differently the character, genre, tone, etc., it feels like Bendis and you're not surprised if you find out after reading it its him. I think the best versatile writers are the ones you're surprised by when you're reading a new book by them. Like, not knowing who the writer was before reading Invaders or Daredevil, I would have never expected that was Zdarsky. Ditto to Al Ewing and Immortal Hulk which someone else mentioned.
    True. We can't forget that many of Marvel's best writers aren't versatile. Frank Miller never tried to nor did he seem like he wanted to do anyone but Daredevil. Having said that, in Born Again he wrote the defining Captain America scene and dialogue, and he collaborated well with Claremont on that Wolverine series. But again there are common themes of these suffering masculine types. Chris Claremont's work outside X-Men isn't as good or notable. But then the X-Men itself is so big and vast and so much at the heart of Marvel. Walt Simonson did amazingly on Thor, and he did a few good Fantastic Four stories.

    JMS when he worked at Marvel actually clocked a number of titles, he did ASM, Fantastic Four, a Silver Surfer non-canon miniseries (which is quite good), and then did a run on Thor after he finished ASM that was quite influential on Kevin Feige when he did the first Thor movie. So that's a huge range of titles there. One defining run on Spider-Man, one of the better runs on Thor, a good miniseries on Surfer. Don't know enough about the Fantastic Four. But JMS could be inconsistent, and while OMD isn't his fault, Sins' past definitely is, and it's kind of weird that a great run like his on ASM with a lot of highs also has this low.

    Matt Fraction is another one. He wrote one Spider-Man story but that's one of the best Spider-Man issues ever done. Then he did Hawkeye which is this famous run, and his run on Iron Man I've heard mixed stuff about it, some like it others don't. And apparently he did some weak X-Men stuff.

  10. #10
    Incredible Member Steroid's Avatar
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    I definitely have to go with Roger Stern. That man can make any series a great read.

  11. #11
    I am BLACK GUY dreyga2000's Avatar
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    Mark Waid...everything he touches is gold

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member Jekyll's Avatar
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    Add another vote for Zdarsky. He has proven to be a great and versatile writer. He can write silly slapstick, but he can also bring it on a more serious title as he is proving right now on Daredevil.

    His Marvel 2 in 1 was an absolute hidden gem and had it all! It was funny, heart felt, etc.


    I would also add Ed Brubaker who not only had an outstanding Daredevil series but Captain America as well. Not as well versed on older material outside of Spider-Man and Daredevil.
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  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jekyll View Post
    I would also add Ed Brubaker who not only had an outstanding Daredevil series but Captain America as well. Not as well versed on older material outside of Spider-Man and Daredevil.
    Brubaker also did Books of Doom (awesome Dr. Doom origin retelling that puts it in a cold war context), and Iron Fist, which a lot like. So that's good range. The only Spider-Man comic he ever did was a What-IF issue (where Aunt May rather than Uncle Ben died).

    Quote Originally Posted by dreyga2000 View Post
    Mark Waid...everything he touches is gold
    Yeah, Waid is generally consistent across the board. He had a great run on Fantastic Four, a great run on Daredevil, and wrote Spider-Man fairly well, and did a good series on Doctor Strange. So excellent range.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Charlie_1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreyga2000 View Post
    Mark Waid...everything he touches is gold
    not everything he wrote is good.

    He balances from good runs on determined books like his Daredevil or Fantastic Four and other that are by far so mediocre (Indestructible Hulk)

    My vote goes for Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Roger Stern

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie_1981 View Post
    not everything he wrote is good.

    He balances from good runs on determined books like his Daredevil or Fantastic Four and other that are by far so mediocre (Indestructible Hulk)

    My vote goes for Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Roger Stern
    Roy Thomas' fill-in issues for Spider-Man weren't so good and he admitted that he didn't get the character. Weirdly he got better on the newspaper strip which he has written since 2000.

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