Two comic books released last week — the first issue of The Flash: Rebirth (DC Comics) and the third issue of Marvel Comics’ Secret Warriors (wittily subtitled "Nick Fury: Agent of Nothing") — are sticking in my mind for the sheer quality of their writing.
The Flash: Rebirth is writer Geoff Johns’ terrific reboot of the Barry Allen-Flash. (Hey, I know I’m in comic-nerd territory already, so I’m not going to stop and explain who Barry Allen is for newbies; sorry.) What I admire about Johns’ work is the way he so easily handles often-tedious backstories and histories of classic comics characters, and just makes the action surge ahead. He’s done it with Green Lantern, and he’s done it superlatively with Superman during a recent run in Action Comics. With The Flash, Johns (working with artist Ethan Van Sciver) has brought together what seems like every DC superhero who’s ever broken the speed of sound into a tense new narrative about a bad, bad "speed cult."
Meanwhile, over at rival Marvel Comics, co-writers Brian Michael Bandis and Jonathan Hickman are doing a smashing job on Secret Warriors. It’s all about what’s happened since Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. organization has been exposed as a bad-guy Hydra front, now occupied by the super-bad H.A.M.M.E.R. Bendis and Hickman make Fury — an eye-patch with a heart of stone — a poignant figure. As one character remarks, "You’ve been pushed aside by your organization and abandoned by your country… you’re a poor little boy who’s gone and lost his flag, Nick Fury, an agent of nothing."
For my money (at the comic shop most Wednesdays), both Bendis and Hickman write the best dialogue in comics. (Also check out the banter Bendis bats out in the equally-good Dark Avengers.) So there you have it, writers at their peaks: Johns a master of humanizing comics mythology, and Bendis and Hickman creators of conversation that seems real no matter how "super" the action is.
Do you read both? Either? Let me know.