Decade in Review: Trends & Tops of the '00s

Mon, January 4th, 2010 at 3:58pm PST

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer
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The world of comics that fans found in 2009 was a vastly different one than seen in the year 2000. Change typically doesn't happen overnight, though. Some things start to grow and evolve over time and can't be pinpointed to a specific year. So as the CBR News crew gathers to close out our "Decade In Review," we've decided to analyze a few trends that have become prominent in the comic landscape over the past ten years as well as the marquee characters, comics and companies that shaped the industry.

Guiding you through this "last hurrah" on the first decade of the 21st Century are CBR reporters Tim Callahan, Shaun Manning, Kiel Phegley, Dave Richards, Steve Sunu, George Tramountanas, and Josh Wigler. They all look a bit tired from this walk through the last ten years, but the first trend they found to discuss seemed to be one that pleased these writers to no end...

Writers Become Superstars of the Comic Industry

Kirkman and Bendis are two of the writers who came to prominence in the 00s

George Tramountanas: In the 80s and 90s, it was all about the art...and the storytelling often showed that. Now, books can sell on the strength of the writer alone.  As much as I love Steve Epting, I don't think anyone would care about a Captain America book drawn by him without Ed Brubaker. Maybe it's due to the fact that the average age of comic readers is around 30, but more and more fans want to feed their brains "good food" instead of just consuming candy for the eyes.

Shaun Manning: I've always tended to follow writers. It's difficult to read a good story spackled over with shitty art, but a shitty story, no matter how beautifully illustrated, is unreadable. If you just want to look at awesome art, find yourself a gallery. Actually, that's something worth doing anyway, but I digress.

Tim Callahan: I used to be a writer-first kind of guy, but as I get older, I'm more and more willing to buy comics just because of the artist involved. It is a visual medium after all. And maybe my eyesight is getting worse and I just want to look at pretty pictures.

Aw, who am I kidding, I'm still a writer-first kind of guy (except with J. H. Williams and Steve Rude), and I'm glad to see writers get more control over the characters and long-term direction of series. Now, they should just take that power and go a bit more crazy with it. Stop being so conservative, writers! Be the mid-to-late 80s Bill Sienkiewicz versions of writers!

Dave Richards: I think we're all in agreement here. I'm a writer guy and I think a lot of the early Image books showed what kind of book you get when the art becomes more important than the story.

Kiel Phegley: I'm not sure if this is the idealist in me or the cynic, but I tend to think the best comics work both sides perfectly, and that seamless connection between works and picture is what everyone should be working for. Certainly, the writing in mainstream comics has taken a big step forward over the past ten years in terms of some of the basics of what we understand as storytelling in general, but the "writer is king" mentality has also led to some very plodding and visually boring stories along with the more sophisticated works. Writers have certainly been on top, but I'm not convinced that's made for better comics as comics.

Novelists and Hollywood Writers are Tapped to Write for Comics

Geoff Johns made the Hollywood to comics transition

George Tramountanas: Did Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, or Greg Rucka kick this off? In any case, it's standard operating procedure now. We now have the fortune of reading comics written by Duane Swierczynski, Charlie Huston, Victor Gischler, and (especially) Joss Whedon! Just don't get me started on Tyrese Gibson...

Shaun Manning: Don't hate!

Tim Callahan: I can see the appeal for companies, what with bringing in the established fanbase and all, but writing comics is completely different than writing prose. And just because you are an actor and have an idea for a movie, that doesn't mean it would make a good comic book series. Virgin Comics used to exist, remember?

Dave Richards: I'm glad to see this as well. I discovered some of my favorite novelists thanks to their comics work. I think we've gotten to the point though where we're starting to see the downside of this as well. We're starting to see a phenomenon like you see in science fiction novels, where a big name actor is acknowledged as the writer of the book, when really it's their less-famous friend.

Kiel Phegley: There are ups and downs to the outside recruitment trend for sure, like you guys have said. But I still find the voices that are having the biggest impact on where comics are going are ones that worked up the ladder of small press comics publishing from Matt Fraction to Jonathan Hickman. The Hollywood guys have dropped a solid story here or there, but the guys invested in the medium in and of itself remain my bread and butter reading.

Comic Books Shipping Late

Late shipping got worse in the 00s and then began to improve as the decade wound down

George Tramountanas: This has always has been an issue for publishers and remains so. From the lateness of some books over the past decade though - and with the success of books like "52" and the thrice-monthly "Amazing Spider-Man" - I'd argue that more publishers have made a concerted effort to correct this issue when possible. Of course, we're still waiting on the end of "Captain America: Reborn."

Shaun Manning: This has been getting better of late, though it's still a problem. And saying, "Oh, X is really busy with [his other commitments/film/playing Rock Band], but we're going to give him time to do it his way" - that's a terrible way of thinking. And that's primarily a problem with the editor, not the creator. You're in the business of getting that material out of the creator or finding another creator who can actually deliver on his commitments.

Tim Callahan: Extremely late comics annoy me, but not as much as fill-in artists. I'll take the delay over the guy-who-almost-draws-in-the-generic-house-style any day.

Dave Richards: Probably the biggest way I've been affected by late books is that I've come to favor artists who do quality work and do it quickly over those who are flashy and take forever.

Steve Sunu: This actually still frustrates me. I think that, to a certain extent, there should be a safety net for writers and artists. But for something like "Final Crisis," where the main event affects your understanding of everything else that's going on in the DCU, the book just can't be late. I would agree that publishers seem to be getting better about it though, and for that, I thank them wholeheartedly.

Kiel Phegley: Eh. I don't mind waiting because I read most stories in trade once they're finished anyway...speaking of which!

Trade-Waiting Becomes Prominent

Collected editions saw their popularity rise

George Tramountanas: I can't pinpoint exactly when this happened, but it definitely became more of the norm this decade. I'd assume, at least in part, that it had to do with Quesada and Jemas getting Marvel's trade program in line and having writers de-compress storylines. Along with the increase in cost of a monthly issue and the availability of discounts for trades from online retailers, well, it just makes sense that this is the way many folks go - including me!

Shaun Manning: Building stories for the trade definitely helped this along, as did Marvel's onetime practice of releasing trades not long after the final issue of an arc hit. I think writers and publishers are finally finding an equilibrium, at least as far as storytelling goes. For awhile, there would be six- or eight-issue arcs where the first couple issues were all build. Sorry, serialized storytelling still needs to be serialized - if there's not something in issue #1 to make me come back for issue #2, I don't care how good it might get in issue #3.

Tim Callahan: I want to be a trade-waiter. It would make my life so much easier and my storage room so much neater. But I don't have it in me to wait for the collected editions. I am a serial addict, and I know it. I do buy hardcover collections of things I already own, because I am a foolish serial addict.

When I do wait for the collections of stuff I haven't read in floppy form, I always forget to buy it in the end. I vaguely remember that there was something I was interested in waiting for the trade to read, but I never get around to picking it up. That frustrates the heck out of me, not because I missed it, but because it shows that I didn't really want to read it all that much in the first place, and that would probably happen if I stopped reading most serialized comics.

Surely, the weekly doses must keep readers around. I can't be the only one who would buy dramatically less if waiting for the trade alone, can I?

Dave Richards: Like Tim, I want to be a trade-waiter, but I don't know what I'd do without my weekly dose of comics. I'm finding it easier and easier, though, to wait for trades thanks to the price of comics. Plus, my local library carries a lot of trades, so that solves the problem of having to store everything.

The Rise and Fall of Manga

Titles like "Naruto" dominated the charts

George Tramountanas: At the beginning of this decade, manga was on the rise.  Everyone was reading the little "backwards books" and publishers were trying to figure out how to hop on this zeitgeist. Since then, several American manga publishers have either had to reduce their output or have gone out of business. I guess I wouldn't actually say that manga has "fallen," but it's definitely not as prominent as it was in the early '00s. As for reasons behind this - I have no idea. I don't know if it was an overabundance of material, or if fans are getting their manga digitally now (I understand lots of Japanese kids are reading manga in a digital format). In any case, it's something I'll keep watching - and reading!

Tim Callahan: I don't know what caused the manga boom, but my understanding was that it was fed by a couple of forward-thinking buyers at the big book chains. Those companies clearly overextended themselves and created a false boom. I don't think local comic shops were hit by manga fans at all. It was primarily a bookstore/online situation. But after that boom, manga has ingrained itself more deeply in the culture, and that's a good thing. There's more mainstream coverage of manga this decade (before the boom, there was none), and even "The Comics Journal" started talking about manga pretty heavily. Manga can't be ignored anymore, even if the bubble has burst a little bit.

Dave Richards: I also work part time at my local library, and the manga bubble doesn't seem to have burst there. It's still very huge with our teenage patrons, especially girls. You'll regularly seen teens check out 10-12 manga books at a time, and there will be long hold lists for the latest volume in a series.

Kiel Phegley: Yeah, "fall" is a bit harsh, but the manga industry was built up early in the decade as the final answer to the long-lingering question of, "Will the general public and/or kids read comics?" Ultimately, I think the failure was publishers assuming the young and largely female readership they gained out the gate would stick with them over the course of their lifetimes. But just like when I was a kid and my classmates collected pogs or how my younger brother's set went crazy for Pokemon for a while, there's a big chunk of the manga audience who was simply following what was cool amongst their peer group in buying massive amounts of "Fruits Basket" and "Naruto." Still, there is a core of fans there who will continue to read that material for decades to come, very similar to the superhero crowd now, and because of that we're getting a lot more cool comics here that we never had before.

Comic-Cons Become Pop Culture Cons

George Tramountanas: As noted by many in the media, the San Diego Comic-Con is no longer truly about comics. Less than half of the panels and floor space are dedicated to comic book celebrities and publishers, and more and more cons seem to be going in that direction. Wizard has actually started to call their con a "pop culture" affair which, at least, is a more honest label. I'm torn on how I feel about this, because while I love my industry, I also like hearing about the big movies studios have coming out in the summer. But it was still strange to find the cast of "Glee" at the last SDCC...

Shaun Manning: San Diego, however, still has a lot of major comic activity. Wizard has the Greatest Wrestlers of Yesteryear and a few dealer booths.

Tim Callahan: San Diego is so crowded now (and for the rest of eternity, it appears) that you have to wait for 3-4 hours just to get into a panel of moderate interest. So, no more San Diego panels for me, I guess. That's fine. They're mostly just hype and a bunch of dudes asking about whether or not their favorite characters will appear anytime soon. "Aquaman?" "We think you'll be very pleased." Repeat ad infinitum.

Dave Richards: Hollywood has indeed co-opted San Diego. It still is the "Geek Superbowl" when it comes to comics, though. It will be interesting to see if any of the emerging comic conventions (like the big New York one) will eventually take San Diego's place in the hearts of comic fans.

Steve Sunu: I'm still really most excited about the smaller, more comic-centric shows that take place every year, like Baltimore and HeroesCon. They really give fans of comics a chance to come together without Hollywood influence.

Digital Comics Explode

George Tramountanas: Outside of Zuda and Marvel's DCU, digital webstrips have become powerful entities in the business.  "PvP" and "Achewood" continue to have large audiences, and "Penny Arcade" has a following that's practically cult-like. If you've ever attended Penny Arcade's PAX Expo, you'd see zealots having the best times of their lives. I love my daily dose of these strips!

Kiel Phegley: I was realizing the other day while reading best of lists online how at the end of 1999, there were no such write-ups or blogs or even news organizations on the net. At least not the kind that the general public tap into like exist today. The entire shape of the internet as a cultural tool has grown by massive leaps and bounds in the past ten years, and web comics have become as much a part of web culture as YouTube or Facebook. Yet, the shape of that space has yet to be cemented into place, with some cartoonists serializing strips for print and others making a living off of T-shirt sales. There's no real model for transitioning print comics (or printed material!) to the web yet, so in a way, despite the big gains in this space, I think the real digital comics explosion is just around the corner.

The Fall of "Wizard"

Wizard isn't quite what it used to be

George Tramountanas: There isn't a specific event to tie to this phenomenon, but it's definitely occurred over this past decade. Subscriptions are down, attendance at Wizard's conventions are down, and comic book publishers (who so desperately wanted Wizard's spotlight in the '90s) seem a lot more indifferent about Wizard's approval. Now, I'm not rooting for their downfall (as I like having a paper magazine for paper comics), but things aren't looking so good for the company. And, truth be told, they only have themselves to blame.

Shaun Manning: I've long said that I'm not rooting for Wizard to fail, either. I grew up with the magazine and think there is some value to having a print magazine about popular (as opposed to scholarly, as seen in "The Comics Journal") comics. But increasing mismanagement, seedy business practices, and a de-emphasis of relevant content tells me that, if Wizard closes, they've brought it on themselves. And Gareb Shamus' new venture, GeekChicDaily, seems to be an email list for sending me an advertisement for Star Wars toys every day.

Tim Callahan: "Wizard" has always been a terrible place to read about comics. It has never gone into anything in-depth, even when intelligent writers have been working on staff there. It's all little blurbs and flash and superficiality. I've been rooting for it to fail for 15 years, not out of animosity, but because it's not a good magazine. All it does is promote the idea that comics are commodities like baseball cards or encourage readers to think that it matters who the hottest superhero chicks are. It's sub-juvenile nonsense. The internet is classier than "Wizard."

Dave Richards: Like Tim said "Wizard" was a completely juvenile magazine. I enjoyed it when I was in junior high school and high school, but I grew up and the magazine didn't. Plus, it was hurt by the growth of the internet, which can immediately cover breaking news. "Wizard," the magazine, couldn't.

Kiel Phegley: Look, I know I probably have the least amount of room to talk here considering I worked at Wizard for three years, and I honestly don't think I have much to offer in terms of why the company has faired so poorly beyond the general market turns and suspect business practices that are well worn gristle for the internet discussion mill.

That said, I think the classification of the magazine itself as completely juvenile or worthless is totally unfair. Even in issues of "Wizard" with the most cringe-inducing "Match the Ass" graphics or the most shameless "Hot Comics to Resell" hype, there are smartly-written stories covering plenty of different kinds of comic books with a fair and positive spin. You can say that from what you've seen, the balance doesn't work for you or that the more (call a spade a spade) stupid elements ruin the whole, but I think it's way harder to write off the entire endeavor and the hard work of some very talented writers based on some of its more juvenile qualities.

And ultimately, I think that "Wizard" as a magazine may have a bit longer life ahead of it than a lot of people expect if management can continue to keep their other areas of business in check. Say what you will about the state of Wizard cons, but that magazine is still on sale in damn near every drug, book and grocery store in my neighborhood. You can't say that about "Amazing Spider-Man," and I think there's still a strong enough readership for a monthly comics magazine of any kind to keep "Wizard" in print for a while yet.

And that wraps the crew's blow-by-blow coverage of the most important news stories and trends that rocked comics from 2000 to 2009! But we couldn't let this nameless ten-year period go without picking our "Tops of the Decade" from what characters and creators left the biggest impact on comics to what publisher ruled the minds of readers. Read on for some of the staff's personal picks for the biggest and best comics of the past ten years!

COMIC BOOK CHARACTER OF THE DECADE

Spidey and Bucky made the cut for the Character of the Decade

George Tramountanas: I think I'd have to give this one to Spider-Man.  Straczynski helped make him top dog of the Marvel U again, he led the charge in making the Ultimate Universe rock, his movies showed Hollywood that comic characters are blockbusters, he joined the Avengers, became un-married, and his books are stronger than ever!  Whew.  Busy much, Spidey?

Tim Callahan: Spider-Man's a great pick. And I could see how Batman might be as well, though mostly for his theatrical accomplishments - and a lot of that rests with Heath Ledger, anyway. Hal Jordan stepped it up in the 00's, thanks to Geoff Johns, and that shouldn't be ignored. But when it comes down to it, I have to give the prize to Superman.

He hasn't had a great decade in a long, long time. The 90s were terrible to the Man of Steel, and the 80s reduced him to a sweater-wearing, depowered yuppie. The 70s had some good moments, but we also had plenty of groaners. With "All-Star Superman," his role in the various Crises, the "Action Comics" issues with Gary Frank art, well, Superman hasn't been this good since the Silver Age. Sure, his movie was a misfire, and they removed him from his own titles at the end of the decade, but this was the decade that Superman became a great character again. And if anyone deserves to be back on top, it's the guy that started it all.

Dave Richards: For all the reasons George gave, I've got to give it to Spidey as well. Plus, his successes in the movies and on TV are a way for comics to continue to live on. In this decade, Spidey captured the imagination of kids everywhere. I'll never forget when my ex-girlfriend's six-year-old revealed that if he could have any wish, he'd wish for the ability to web-swing. Another good candidate who came on strong at the end of the decade is Captain America. Steve Rogers' disappearance from the Marvel U showed just how important he is to it.

Josh Wigler: On that note Dave, I'd tip my hat to Ed Brubaker for making Bucky such a fantastic, fantastic character. It's been said before and it'll be said again - nobody ever expected to like the resurrection of James "Bucky" Barnes, nor did anyone imagine they'd root for his ascension to Cap's mantle. Not only did both of those things happen, but a lot of fans - myself included - are legitimately concerned that the return of Steve Rogers means the departure of Bucky Barnes.

It's a testament to some great writing and great ideas, but beyond that, it's a testament to how badass Bucky turned out to be. He's definitely my favorite character of the decade, though I'd stop short of saying he's the greatest character of the decade.

Steve Sunu: I'm with Josh on this. I just managed to pick up the first omnibus of Brubaker's "Captain America," and I'm amazed at how seamlessly Brubaker was able to return Bucky to the Marvel U and actually make some fans prefer him to Steve Rogers. I think a big part of what makes Bucky-Cap great is that he doesn't try to be Steve Rogers. He takes the lessons and morals that he learned from Steve and figures out his own way to accomplish his goals.

Steve Rogers may have been Captain America for the better part of the 20th Century, but Bucky's the Cap of the 21st. I, for one, would be seriously disgruntled to see Bucky go and, as Josh mentioned, it's a testament to the general badassery of Bucky Barnes as Captain America.

Shaun Manning: While I'd have to agree that Spidey is the man to beat and some amazing things have been happening with Bucky-Cap, can I put in a word for Mr. Scott Summers? He's gone from unlovable stiff to Supreme Badass Leader of the Whole F***ing Mutant Race. A lot of the seeds Grant Morrison planted in "New X-Men" have been uprooted, but Scott's new and awesome personality isn't one of them. Cyclops is a trip - something no one would have said ten years ago.

COMIC SERIES OF THE DECADE

"SiP" and "Walking Dead" are two of the CBR staff's picks for the decade's best series

George Tramountanas: I'm going to give this one to "Walking Dead."  It's a huge success of an indie, it led to Kirkman eventually becoming a partner at Image, and it brought back a renaissance of the zombie genre.  Didn't you love "Marvel Zombies?"

Tim Callahan: I revealed my #1 comic book of the past decade in the first "When Words Collide" of 2010. But, like you George, mine is neither a Marvel nor DC book. Though it wasn't an easy pick...

Dave Richards- Okay, it started in 1997 and (if I remember correctly) ended in 2000, but I think you can make a case for Grant Morrison's run on "JLA" here. It lead the way for big widescreen-style books like the Authority and the Ultimates. And it was also the first "big guns" style superteam that we had seen in awhile. I also believe the popularity of that book lead to Marvel asking themselves why not do a "big guns"-style book of their own, and in 2005, "New Avengers" was born - a title that is one of the biggest and most important books in the Marvel U.

Josh Wigler: I gotta go with George here and say "Walking Dead" for all the reasons he listed, not to mention how utterly ruthless the story gets at times. For the five of you who aren't reading this series, I won't spoil anything, but let's just say that our heroes go through some pretty rough patches. More so than any other "mainstream" title out there, "The Walking Dead" is a book where you truly feel that nobody is safe. That's a hard premise to buy into month in and month out, but it makes the ride very satisfying.

Steve Sunu: I know it started well before this decade, but since it concluded in 2007, I'm going to go with Terry Moore's "Strangers in Paradise." It's probably one of my favorite series of all time, and it's the only book whose ending ever gave me chills after reading it. I was sad that it had to end, but it was consistently amazing, branching out into a bunch of different mediums, including novel prose and music. Also, I've got to give some major props to Moore for the accomplishment that was "SiP." It was mostly self-published, and he's been able to carry that success over to "Echo," which is also a fantastic series.

Shaun Manning: I was thinking "Strangers" as well. Possibly the only comic that was recommended to me by someone who doesn't read comics (and didn't know that I read comics), it had some of the best portrayals of real human relationships in a comic series, plus a bunch of mob stuff.

GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE DECADE (originally published as a GN)

"Asteros Polyp" and "Alice in Sunderland" top the Graphic Novels of the Decade choices

George Tramountanas: This is a tough one for me, but if I'm going to play by the rules, I'd have to go with Doug TenNapel's "Creature Tech."  It took me to places that surprised me, and did it in a way that I couldn't have imagined in a hundred years.  It's a book I return to often when I think about the power of graphic storytelling.

Tim Callahan: If we're talking about single-volume works, it has to be "Asterios Polyp." If we're talking multi-volume graphic novels, then "Scott Pilgrim" rules the, uh, school. With "Polyp," David Mazzucchelli gives a master class on form and function, showing how the "graphic" aspect of a graphic novel is what it's all about. In "Scott Pilgrim," Bryan Lee O'Malley smashes together the hipster indie comic and the kick-ass video game action comic into a brand new genre that he absolutely owns. I'll take both "Asterios Polyp" and "Scott Pilgrim" and use them to build a wall against that ever-pervasive mediocrity that surrounds the comic book world.

Dave Richards: This is a tough area for me as well, because honestly I haven't read a whole lot of original graphic novels. Time and money doesn't usually permit.  Neil Gaiman's "Sandman: Endless Nights" would be my pick here, but technically it's not a novel, it's an anthology. So I'll have to go with Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido's "Human Target: Final Cut." I was already a fan of crime novels when I read it, but "Final Cut" cemented my love of crime comics. It showed me how powerful, exciting, and thought-provoking they could be.

Shaun Manning: Tough call. I'm going to go with Bryan Talbot's "Alice in Sunderland," just to be contrary. It's a complete history of a place, a man, and a world of fantasy.


ARTIST OF THE DECADE

JH Williams gets some of the nods for Artist of the Decade

George Tramountanas: Darwyn Cooke is my choice.  Between "Catwoman," "The Spirit," "New Frontier," and "Parker," his influence on art and storytelling left a huge mark on this decade.

Tim Callahan: I like Cooke, but the artist of the decade has to be JH Williams III. Even if you take just "Detective Comics" as your sample, he would still dominate the competition. And if you completely ignore "Detective Comics" and judge him solely on his work on Grant Morrison's "Batman" or Alan Moore's "Promethea," he's still the best. He's so good that I don't even want to finish typing this entry - I just want to go look at some of his comic book pages.

Dave Richards: Cooke is fantastic and I loved JH Williams III's work on "Chase," but my budget only allows me to read DC books in trades these days. If I were to judge based on influence, quality, and sheer number of big books they worked on this decade, I'd have to give this to Bryan Hitch and Frank Quitely. If I were going to go by my personal favorite, I'd have to say Michael Lark. I discovered his work this decade and have never been let down by it. His pages on "Gotham Central" and "Daredevil" were always amazing.

Shaun Manning: JH Williams III is a good choice - a very distinctive style and graphically innovative. Hitch and Quitely are better known though, and possibly more influential in the evolution of superhero comics.

WRITER OF THE DECADE

Bendis at MArvel and Morrison's DC work get them votes for Writer of the Decade

George Tramountanas: Brian Michael Bendis is the clear winner here.  One day, I think people will look at Bendis as the second coming of Stan Lee.  You may not love everything he writes, but his books have defined the Marvel Universe (both the 616 and the Ultimate line) and there are few out there more passionate about the comic industry than he. And let's not forget, he also brought us "Powers" this decade...if only he brought this to us more often!

Tim Callahan: I hate that it's such an obvious pick, but I have to go with Grant Morrison here. Bendis may have made his mark at Marvel - and may have changed Marvel in his own image, we might say, looking back at the events of this decade - but his work never matched the genius of "Seven Soldiers," the craft of "All-Star Superman," or the exhilaration of "New X-Men." "We3" came out in this decade too, don't forget.

Dave Richards: I've got to agree with George. My pick is Bendis for all the reasons he gave. And "Powers" is important to note as it's a series that shows Bendis can write more than just Marvel Comics. At the beginning of this decade, I was introduced to Bendis' writing when he personally sold me the first two issues of "Powers" at a local comic convention. It was an intriguing book back then that's only grown more so. Morrison would be a close second.

Josh Wigler: Yeah, Bendis is kind of an obvious pick, but that doesn't mean he's the wrong one. He changed the Marvel Universe's landscape pretty dramatically with his Avengers overhaul, his work on the Ultimate line has been tops, and the trajectory of his actual career - going from being the guy who destroyed the Avengers to being one of the guys working closely on the Avengers movie - is damn impressive.

Steve Sunu: It's hard to go against the rule of the masses here...especially when the masses happen to be absolutely correct. I would like to see him branch out into books that don't involve the Avengers, though. I'd really like to see Bendis take a crack at writing a run on "Amazing Spider-Man." I'm not sure he can call his career at Marvel complete without writing a few issues of Web-Head proper. I would also like to give a shout-out to Geoff Johns for his work in the DCU. Much like Bendis, you may not love everything he writes, but his books never go unnoticed and his writing is always spot on in DC continuity without sacrificing creativity and ingenuity.

Shaun Manning: My preference would be Morrison, but Bendis has undoubtedly had a greater impact. A focus on naturalistic dialogue, while sometimes done to excess, has changed comics for the better. It would be hard to say his influence wasn't felt, especially when he was writing 90% of Marvel's line.

PUBLISHER OF THE DECADE

George Tramountanas: I'd have to give this one to Marvel.  If anyone would have told me back in the late 90s that a majority of my current pull list would be Marvel, I would have been very surprised.  But the company has gone from one on the edge of bankruptcy to the publisher that now drives the industry.  Go Joe (Quesada)!

Tim Callahan: Make mine Marvel, too. Joe Quesada made their comics worth reading again, and his aggressive courtship of some of the best writers and artists in the business have made Marvel comics the mainstream superhero books that harness the cool. DC may have Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, and JH Williams III, but Marvel has Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Javier Pulido, David Aja, Michael Lark, and a dozen other guys that I always enjoy. Marvel owned this decade.

Dave Richards - Yep. Make Mine Marvel as well.  Marvel has the best writers in the business and they've shown they're great at finding artists as well.

Josh Wigler: I'm a Marvel fanboy at heart anyway, so it ain't hard to go with the masses on this one. I mean, they had Spider-Man give up his marriage in a pact with the devil, then turned his ongoing series into one of the best reads on the stands a handful of months later. I have no idea how they could have possibly pulled that off, if not for having one of the strongest stables of writers, artists, editors and other decision-makers in the industry.

Shaun Manning: I grew up with DC, love their characters, and adore the company's forgotten and maligned stories...but Marvel is where the excitement is these days, no doubt about it.

That's it for our Decade In Review. It's interesting to note where our reporters agreed and disagreed (and to see where the results they came up with were unanimous). How do you think they did? What books and people did they forget? Well, be sure to swing by our CBR forums and let them know. They're eager for your opinion.

See you next decade!

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