Marvel made a lot of hay over the introduction of its five key writers, the Architects, in 2010. “The very fabric of the Marvel Universe is changing and the Architects are the ones leading the charge.” the publisher said in its initial press release. But now, with its event series Avengers Vs. X-Men winding down and Marvel NOW! taking shape for the fall, those original Architects look to be in the middle of a renovation.
Marvel’s chief writer for the past few years, Brian Michael Bendis, is going from three key titles (Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Assemble) to one (All-New X-Men); Matt Fraction is ending his long-term commitments on Iron Man and Thor to work on the Baxter Building with Fantastic Four and FF (along with Hawkeye); Jonathan Hickman is passing off all of his titles to take on Bendis’ Avengers and New Avengers load; and Jason Aaron has shuffled off Wolverine and The Incredible Hulk for just two titles in the Marvel NOW! era (at least, only ones announced), Wolverine & The X-Men and Thor: God of Thunder. Marvel stalwart Ed Brubaker, who revitalized Captain America, has whittled Marvel Universe workload to one book (Winter Soldier) that doesn’t seem to be a centerpiece of the company’s publishing plans.
DC’s big shakeup this fall not only denotes which characters and titles they’re emphasizing, it also shows the creators they’re putting trust, faith and support behind. Back during the 52 era the informal top tier of writers were Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. Both Morrison and Johns remain in heavily use on DC’s top titles, while both Rucka and Waid have segued away for their own reasons.With these new titles on the horizon it gives us fodder to think who’s controlling the DCU; in other words, who are DC’s Architects (to borrow Marvel’s term)?
Looking at the full slate of 52 titles set to begin this fall, the busiest writers are Geoff Johns and Scott Lobdell with three titles each. Johns’ role as CCO and long-time primary writer leaves his place in this top spot as a no brainer. Lobdell had done work before at DC, but with the ascension of Bob Harris to DC’s editor-in-chief spot, it seems their long-time partnership at Marvel is continuing across town. Joining those two at the DC brain trust table are, without a doubt, DC Co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio. In addition to being on the top tier of the office staff, they’re both working as creators (on JLA and OMAC respectively).
Beyond those initial four, Morrison is probably still sitting at this table even though he’s only writing one of the 52 titles announced (Action Comics) for relaunch because of the promised return of Batman Inc. down the road as well as the long-promised Multiversity event series speculated for a winter 2011/2012 launch.
If you’re looking for sixth candidate to be part of DC’s top tier of writers, it’d probably be a knock-down drag-out between the 10 writers who each have two titles to write under DC’s Fall 52. They are: Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, Gail Simone, Judd Winick, Kyle Higgins, Peter J. Tomasi, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire and Paul Cornell. Of them all I’d place my vote for Gail Simone because of her unique voice and long track record of well-written books. If not her, my money would be on Scott Snyder; he’s really blossomed under DC’s watch with Detective Comics and his amazing work with American Vampire. DC’s decision to give him the chance to redo The Swamp Thing is no small gift, so one would assume DC sees a lot of promise in the novelist.