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Best Creators 2021

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Best Creators 2021

Post by Cable » 20 Dec 2021, 13:30

2021 was AGAIN a year in which we definitely needed quality entertainment so lets celebrate those writers and artists who brought us the best in comics.

I once again kept track throughout the year of the best comics and their creators and now have the final results of who I believe gave us quality material to keep reading these past 12 months.

Note that in comics it isn't always clear how much of effective storytelling is due to author or due to artist. Therefore I did not consider writers and artists separately; if a story was the best, both the writer and artist received credit for that story. Thus the artists aren't necessarily who I would pick as my stylistic favorites, but they are the ones who were often involved in the best issues of the year.

So to my list, and in response I would love to see your own opinions about who did the best work in 2021.

X-Men Comics


1. Benjamin Percy
I feel like this might be a controversial pick lol. I am not going to pretend the very best moments of the year were written by Percy, but neither were the worst ones. Percy gets to the top through consistency. He is the solid foundation upon which the other ever-changing titles move around. It is worth noting as Hickman's time on the franchise comes to a close that while other writers have branched off to play in their own niche, Percy has remained most faithful to the vision that HoX/PoX established. While some have found X-Force not quite the spy title they were promised, what it has become is a Crichton-like examination of the folly of a scientific mind believing that if he can get every variable just right then he can provide the perfect protection for Krakoa: Beast's technocratic hubris fails to heed the lessons of chaos theory and the black swans that can't be predicted. Somebody page Moira MacTaggert! Beast's failures reflect the larger Hickman narrative of Moira stuck repeating her own experiment over and over as she tries to make the future bend to her whim. And while this dark tale has unfolded Percy has seeded numerous plots that linger in the background before returning to blossom, a practice sometimes unappreciated by modern fans but well-loved by those of us who once feasted on Claremont's style. These plots also play with the overarching theme I mentioned while also adding complementary notes (one is what some have scoffed at as a returning motif of evil 'plants'--what is actually a noteworthy nod to how arms races often result in ever more escalation, in this case as biotech is going to be met with ever more perverse biotech. Again playing in Hickman's shadow). And while I agree that this title has woefully underserved much of its supporting cast, the notable exception is that Percy actually made Quentin Quire likable. That feat alone is worth getting on a top list! And last but not least lets not make the mistake that I think sometimes happens around here: letting talk of Percy's X-Force crowd out any discussion of his solo. Percy's Wolverine isn't revolutionary in any way but it is a solid entry into the tradition of the character's solo runs, mixing the obligatory ideas from his past with ideas of the future (worth mentioning that other than Wells with Tarn, Percy has done more to actually develop interesting Arrakoan characters than anyone else, with Solem and to a lesser extent Blackmore). Two solid titles puts Percy at the top of the franchise totem pole and makes it not a surprise that he will be writing the next big event at the start of 2022.
Highlight Issues this year: X-Force #16 and #18 and #23-26, Wolverine #9 and #11 and #14

2. Zeb Wells
As I have said before elsewhere, anyone can take a title of A-list characters and make it shine. But to take a ridiculous cast like Hellions and make it into one of the best books on the shelf? That takes real talent. And Wells clearly has it. To someone who has not read Hellions, it is hard to explain all that it encompasses. It is somehow a book simultaneously depraved and beautiful, both utterly ridiculous and emotionally powerful. It is a bunch of broken misfits led by a craven miscreant and ends up as disastrous as that would suggest but also bringing a revelatory poignancy. Unfortunately it was too good and got Wells promoted to writing Amazing Spider-Man instead!
Highlight Issues this year: Hellions #8-12 and #15 and #17. And Amazing Spider-Man #75!

3. Leah Williams
X-Factor was arguably the book with the best premise in the Krakoan Age, and Williams made it a fun title that many of us were sad to see go. And maybe awarding her this position is premature on my part as we haven't seen yet how she sticks the landing on Trial of Magneto, but regardless of outcome her attempt to head-on tackle the problematic relationship of Wanda Maximoff and the X-Men is a boldness to be admired and one sure to generate lots of interesting discussion.
Highlight Issues this year: X-Factor #8 and #10, X-Men Trial of Magneto #1-3

Honorable Mentions:
Vita Ayala
Gerry Duggan
Al Ewing


1. Stephen Segovia
See above for how fantastic Hellions was, and considering he drew 13 out of the 18 issues the book was every bit as much of Segovia's creation as it was Wells. Segovia is just as talented at action and interplay with panels as he is with the quiet expressions and drawing a Mr Sinister that is such a smarmy douche. See where he goes next and follow.
Highlight Issues this year: Hellions #8-12 and #17

2. Lucas Werneck
Werneck first got his foot in the door of the franchise by contributing beautiful designs to the Hellfire Gala issues before being given full issue privileges in Trial of Magneto. And whatever misgivings you might have about the plot of the latter, the book is gorgeous (see that spread of Wanda and the vines in #1? Or that stunning final image of petals? Or that full page in #2 of Wanda blooming amidst feathered wings? Or Wanda's reunion with Vision? or etc etc)
Highlight Issues this year: X-Men #21, X-Factor #10, X-Men Trial of Magneto #1-3

3. Bob Quinn
Si Spurrier is a weird dude and you have to give him an artist that can channel that onto the printed page. Quinn's art on Way of X wasn't so bizarre as to be off-putting but had an undeniable style all its own that helped bring out the eccentricity of the title. And then he came back for Cable Reloaded to show he can make big guns and bombs a heck of a lot of fun too!
Highlight Issues this year: Way of X #1-2, Cable Reloaded

Honorable Mentions:
Valerio Schiti
Billy Tan
Marcus To

Non-X Comics


1. Al Ewing
The writer in this #1 spot last year was Al Ewing. Here he is again and oh he is up in the Honorable Mentions for X-books too now. In other words, Al Ewing continues to simply be the finest talent at Marvel Comics. This year he finished his immortal Immortal Hulk run and continued to make his stamp on Marvel cosmic with GotG and SWORD, while also helping conceive of a new era for Venom and pushing his high-concept sci-fi to crazy new levels in Defenders.
Highlight Issues this year: Immortal Hulk #45 and #50, Guardians of the Galaxy #15 and #18 and GotG Annual, Defenders #2, Venom #1, SWORD #2-3, Cable Reloaded

2. Kurt Busiek
Busiek is a classic comic writer (winner of both the Harvey and Eisner awards back in the 90s) and this year he showed he still retains every bit of talent as he enters his 60s. Between both the great King in Black tie-in mini for Namor and his latest The Marvels series, Busiek has shown a real knack for mining Marvel history to showcase new connections between characters that serves to enrich the universe we all love to live in.
Highlight Issues this year: King in Black Namor #4, The Marvels #3-5

3. Kieron Gillen
Don't you know the book is always better than the movie? If you found the Eternals film underwhelming, don't hesitate to pick up Gillen's series that is a masterclass in world-building. The politics, the intrigue, the drama, the pathos...I had no knowledge of this corner of Marvel before picking up Gillen's book and now I can't put it down.
Highlight Issues this year: Eternals #1 and #3-4 and #8

Honorable Mentions
Nick Spencer
Jed MacKay
Rainbow Rowell


1. Esad Ribic
Ribic is the other half of the equation that has made Eternals a success. His work has a strange quality: the ability to look both surreal and gritty, sometimes very real and sometimes unreal. It is just the right fit for this book about the mysterious gods that walk among us.

2. Jan Bazaldua
Bazaldua is an underrated talent at Marvel but hopefully not for long. Open an issue of Winter Guard and you can immediately see she has a real talent for dynamic layouts that make her stories tons of fun to read. And her work on Last Annihilation: Wiccan and Hulkling showed she can do the quiet scenes as well as the loud.

3. Yildiray Cinar
The Marvels is a book that works through history, showing both the beginnings of the modern Age of Heroes and the present. This requires the art to have a timeless quality to it and this might be something very hard to find but the editors managed to do it in Cinar. His work impressively rides that line between looking like it came from a classic book but while also managing to not look dated.

Honorable Mentions
Andres Genolet
Joe Bennett
Marcelo Ferreira
Best Comics of Week 37

X-titles: Astonishing Iceman #2 by Steve Orlando (2) and Vincenzo Carratu (2)
Non-X titles: Avengers Inc #1 by Al Ewing (2) and Leonard Kirk (2)

In parentheses number of times creator had best comic this year

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Re: Best Creators 2021

Post by Blackcyclops » 20 Dec 2021, 13:52

1. Zeb Wells
Hellions is the book that nobody (except for me) was excited about when they saw the cast and what ended up happening? Wells gave us the best Xbook of the year. Now it shouldn’t come as a surprise as his New Mutants run during the Regensis Era was excellent too but this book was certainly his best outing.

2. Gerry Duggan
I think Duggan is the kind of writer where his work is never fully appreciated in the modern comic world because it’s not as high-concept as say a Morrison or Hickman but I think his work on both X-Men and Marauders has been consistently good. He created a X-Men title that feels like a traditional superhero book, which I don’t think the X-men have really had since Gillen or maybe even Whedon. He’s even begun to delve into lesser established characters in the run and I always love a running subplot. Meanwhile in Marauders, I can’t but help to love the story he’s been telling with Emma and Kate. Sure I want more from the other characters but the machinations of Emma make this title a top contender alone.

3. Leah Williams
How can you NOT love X-Factor? Even the rushed ending still have the character and love that ever preceding issue did. She worked with a great premise, an eclectic cast and gave us prestige quality month after month.

Honorable Mentions:
Al Ewing
Vita Ayala
Jonathan Hickman
So on one hand we have the existence of a being who can reset the entire timeline, destroying everything…, and on the other hand we have a few mind wipes and some gaslighting. You're right, totally evenly weighted.

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Re: Best Creators 2021

Post by Oldmanlogan79 » 25 Jan 2022, 11:34

1-Jonathan Hickman - more for continuing to live in his Krakoa than for the amount of comics... anyway Inferno was incredible

2-Gerry Duggan - His Hellfire Gala Special and his first XMen comics have seemed great to me. I hope he doesn't lower the level or change the style (because I was never one of his Marauders)

3-Benjamin Percy

1-Pepe Larraz - His work with Duggan, just like he did on HOX: SUBLIME

2-Valerio Schiti

3-Stefano Caselli

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Re: Best Creators 2021

Post by Magnus » 16 Feb 2022, 05:49

Ya know Cable, after seeing your post for 2020, I labored to keep a spreadsheet of my own grades for each issues... and then promptly failed to consistently grade things, falling behind, kept telling myself I'd catch up, and never did. I barely managed to even get 30 grades written down. And here it is in February and I'm already behind on this year too...

My own rankings, for writers (I don't have enough comments on artists):
1. Al Ewing - SWORD was great, even being pulled in so many different directions/events
2. Si Spurrier - Really loved his work on Way of X
3. Zeb Wells - Hellions was a great surprise, very consistent
4. Leah Williams - honorable mention for X-Factor, though it had a rough ending and Trial of Magneto was a mess (that I'm not sure I blame on her entirely)

The only issues I had rated a D or less were Doctor Aphra #9 (which was so boring I stopped collecting the title) and X-Men #18, which I thought was terribly decompressed.

Every issue I rated X-Force a C. Consistent, sure, consistently lame. :P It was bad enough I dropped the title, so you won't need to hear my complaining any more, except that I think I'll need to keep up on X Lives/Deaths.

Hopefully next year I'll have a lot better details to share...

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