RIP Denny O’Neil – We Mourn the Passing of a Legend
RIP Denny O’Neil
As reported early today, the world of comics lost one of its brightest stars. Denny O’Neil passed away yesterday at the age of 81. O’Neil was one of the second wave of comic greats. O’Neil started his comics career with the help of Roy Thomas who urged him to take the Marvel Writer’s Test. At that time the test consisted of writing the dialog for four pages of a Fantastic Four story. After Stan Lee saw O’Neil’s work he was put to work on several titles for Marvel. These included Strange Tales featuring Doctor Strange, Rawhide Kid, Millie the Model, X-Men and even the last 13 pages of Daredevil 18.
Even with all this, O’Neil was soon out of work at Marvel and made the jump to Charlton Comics with fellow industry legend Dick Giordano. There O’Neil worked under the pseudonym Sergius O’Shaugnessy until Giordano left for an editorial position at DC comics. It was there at DC that O’Neil’s talents really began to shine.
O’Neil and the rest of the Charlton staff imbued the comics that they created with a more modern flare. It was at this time that O’Neil created some of his most popular stories including work on Justice League of America, Beware the Creeper, and finally Green Lantern/Green Arrow. It was shortly after this that O’Neil was tasked by Julius Schwartz with revitalizing a failing Batman. After years of mediocrity following the cancellation of the Batman Television series the camp that once sold comics was a thing of the past. Teamed with Neil Adams on art O’Neil and Adams returned the Dark Knight to his darker gothic roots put forward by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. This would go on to be O’Neil’s most popular work for DC and eventually helped land him the Batman editorial job which he held from 1986 to 2000.
O’Neil worked in comics for over 40 years and in that time amassed numerous awards and accolades including an Ink Pot Award as well as a Shazam Award for his work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow. To be honest, there are not enough words to put down expressing what O’Neil meant to modern comics. From writing and editing to talent management O’Neil was a true giant who will be sorely missed.
A cover gallery of some of Denny O’Neil’s greatest works. If you have a favorite issue let us know in the comments.
Some of O’Neil’s earliest work appeared in Marvel’s Strange Tales where he penned the Doctor Strange’s adventures.
One of O’Neil’s earliest team ups with Neal Adams is in X-Men 65 where the duo resurrect Professor X!
Green Lantern/Green Arrow the Hard Traveling Heroes story line featuring one of the first prominent drug issues.
Batman 251 featuring art by Neal Adams is considered by many the definitive Joker story.
Superman 233, in this classic issue O’Neal begins to clean up the Superman Mythos by removing Krytonite as one of Superman’s weaknesses.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali an over-sized special featuring what some say is Neal Adams’ best work.
Daredevil 220 The Fog, featuring the death of Heather Glenn, in my opinion one of the greatest comics ever written.
Batman 429 “A Death in the Family” O’Neil oversaw the death of Jason Todd the second Robin at the hands of the Joker.
These are but a few of the comics that O’Neil had over lifetimes work in the industry. If you somehow are not familiar with his work as both a writer and editor I would strongly urge you to check him out. For a quick look head over to the Outright Geekery Facebook Page where you can find previous podcasts of “OK Boomer” where we’ve discussed both Batman 251 and Daredevil 220.
RIP Denny O’Neil