You did your top ten Superman Artists before, who are your top ten Superman Writers? (I know you've already given your number one, but I'd still like to see your thoughts on the other 9)
Honorable mentions up front: There are the great creators who worked on him in the Silver and Bronze ages such as Leo Dorfman, Edmond Hamilton, Cary Bates (who would be VERY close to the top in a ranking of the best Luthor writers), and of course Jack Kirby. Mark Millar’s work with the character is consistently among the best of his career, and his nebulously upcoming miniseries has every chance of shooting him into the top ten. Max Landis’s American Alien is easily the best Superman story of the last few years, but given his atrocious previous shot at the character in Adventures of Superman and his frequently inconsistent quality across the board, I’m not certain yet that wasn’t a lightning-in-a-bottle moment. Making better showings in Adventures were Joe Keatinge and Matt Kindt, who blew me away with their respective pieces and I think could make real impacts if properly utilized. And while his work with the character was fundamentally compromised and cut short, Chris Roberson’s vision of him was one that tremendously appealed. Finally, while he’s never ‘officially’ worked on the character, Samuel Hawkins’ all but unknown Tales of Smallville for the site Superman Thru The Ages are absolute top-tier, all-time-great stories.
10. Greg Pak
What an utter goddamn shame; Pak was by all rights destined to be The Definitive 2010s Superman Writer, and DC shit all over him until he finally gave up and vanished back to Marvel. But in between the endless crossover nonsense and making him and poor Aaron Kuder put up with the New 52 suit, his Clark had a visceral sense of humanity and physicality that made him feel true and lived-in in a way few if any other writers have matched over the years, driven by a sense of righteous anger and pained compassion. If, god willing, he ever gets the subsequent shot he deserves (preferably with Kuder) and isn’t constantly compromised and undermined, expect to see him ultimately wind up significantly higher.
9. Joe Casey
Maybe the most frustratingly underrated guy in my top ten. In spite of a few gestures in a more radical direction - he explicitly wrote Superman as a pacifist, which obviously didn’t take - he didn’t particularly reinvent the wheel during his time with the character, especially given it was only for about his last year that he actually got to work solo rather than as a quarter of a complete unit. But that last year’s adventures are some of Superman’s best, with a vivid quirkiness and grand scope grounded in a particularly humble and introspective take on big blue that deserves its due as a cult classic run with the character.
8. Alan Moore
While I hold dearly to my contrarian take of For The Man Who Has Everything being significantly overrated, Moore’s other Superman comics more than make up for it, with both Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Jungle Line scratching down to the bloody raw floorboards of his mind and demonstrating his vulnerability in a way that remains unmatched. He is to date the one and only truly great writer of Dark, Grim Superman Comics.
7. Otto Binder
Binder contributed more to the raw depth of Superman’s world in terms of mythology than anyone other than Siegel himself, ranging from Brainiac and Bizarro to Supergirl and Kandor and the Legion of Superheroes, with stories such as The Old Man Of Metropolis! and The Return Of Superman’s Lost Parents! proving he could also hang in there with the best of them in delivering the emotional gut-punches that Superman’s best tales so often rely upon.
6. Jerry Siegel
I don’t think any reasonable person could seriously contest that Siegel belongs on any list such as this by default. But his position on it comes down not just to creating the dang guy, but the caliber of his material, particularly in his 1960s return where his stories ranged from mournful (Superman’s Return To Krypton!) to blackly comic and gleefully celebratory (Superman’s Day Of Doom!) to relentlessly heartbreaking (The Death Of Superman!) - just as he provided the rolicking adventure and bombast that birthed Superman alongside Joe Shuster, he and the contemporaries that walked in his footsteps found the wistful, melancholy heart that still defines his creation to this day.
5. Garth Ennis
He’s only written him the twice (thrice counting All-Star Section Eight, though he doesn’t pull focus in there in the same way, and it goes in a…different direction), but twice is enough for a lifetime in this case. The one superhero Ennis seems to hold sincere affection for as opposed to liking well enough at the absolute best, his Superman is whip-smart, ethical, self-aware, entirely understanding of how the world really works and the limits of what he can accomplish in it even as he grieves his inability to do more, and in Ennis’s own words “constantly let down by humanity, and never giving up on them”.
4. Mark Waid
The ne plus ultra of Superman fans, that he’s never secured a long-term tenure with his hero surely frustrates him even more than the legion of fans who’ve waited in vain for decades to get his deserved shot. What he *has* gotten to do has shown it would be more than worth the wait: while his vision with Alex Ross of an elder Superman in Kingdom Come weighed down by regret and lost in a strange new era resonated with a generation, his take is clearest in the criminally disregarded Birthright, whose alienated and passionate version of a young Clark Kent represented a scale of potential in his early days that has yet to be truly captured.
3. Kurt Busiek
Another underrated writer, Busiek’s time on Superman proper - while never getting to reach its proper culmination as he left to work on Trinity - is easily the best run that main title has ever had, with a warm, clever, classic Superman up against wild new threats that tested both his abilities and his ethics; in other words, the platonic example of Good Superman Comics. What pushes him into this kind of rarified air though is Secret Identity, with the most purely down-to-Earth, vulnerable, and thoughtful ‘Superman’ of all at its heart letting readers attach themselves to the fantasy he represents more acutely than maybe any other story.
2. Elliot S! Maggin
The first Superman writer to not only recognize that he was working with a modern legend but consistently and overtly write his stories with that in mind, it was under his pen that Superman gained a sort of self-awareness, questioning his methods and mindset as he tangled with some of his most astonishing threats. As Siegel provided Superman with his muscle and heart, Maggin was the first to actively map the contours of his mind and place in a larger universe, with a portrait of a truly alien intellect anchored by the most human of concerns and an unshakable ethical base that still resonates, bolstered by an equally well thought-out Luthor and a firehose spray of heady ideas - especially in his essential novels Last Son Of Krypton and Miracle Monday - that set a standard that has rarely if ever been recaptured.
1. Grant Morrison
Whether with a spitfire 20-something charging through the streets of Metropolis in a t-shirt and jeans, an unstoppable champion uniting with his counterparts from throughout the multiverse to rescue the very concept of story, or a relaxed god-man floating through his bittersweet last days among us, Morrison reaches deeper than anyone else into the vague, intangible essence of what Superman is to us - the goodest of guys, the one you can rely on, the one who’ll never fall and never stop believing in you - and grabs hard. With seemingly his every talent and every thematic preoccupation throughout his incredible career tailor-made to suit telling Superman stories, whether in his crushingly foredoomed attempts at redefining him for a new generation in Action Comics or All-Star with its mythic self-image and subtle character work, the very fact of Grant Morrison Doing Something With Superman constitutes an event unto itself. He fits the fundamentals together in the framework of his own unique cosmic approach and love for the material, with a model for Superman that while more flexible than any other always maintains his compassion and cleverness and unyielding spirit, and as it happens, that’s the tack that’s worked the best across all these 79 years and counting.