Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Denny O'Neil!

Tomorrow, May 3, is the 73rd birthday of comic-book writer-editor and novelist Dennis O'Neil. If you know comics at all you probably know Denny's name. If not, I am absolutely sure you know OF him.

Denny was the man who, along with editor Julie Schwartz and artist Neal Adams, re-invigorated Batman after the "camp" TV show ended in 1968. He helped make Batman into The Dark Knight, returning him to his Gothic roots. He also co-created arch-villain Ra's Al Ghul, featured in the blockbuster BATMAN BEGINS. He also revamped the Joker, making him less of a "crazy goofy" crime boss and taking him back to the murderous maniac he had been and we now all know and fear.

Denny helped revise the dull Batman copy-character of Green Arrow and make him into the loveable cynic we all know today. Then he teamed Green Arrow with Green Lantern and set them on their iconic road trip in the early 70s. He wrote one of the most famous scenes in modern comic books, adding "relevance" to the industry more than it had EVER seen before.

And he is from my home-town of St. Louis.

So I just naturally want to like him. However, to me Denny O'Neil will always be the man who doesn't like Aquaman! He took over JUSTICE LEAGUE with issue #66 and wrote it for two years. During that time he kicked Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter out, added Black Canary, and ignored Aquaman. Members like Batman, Superman, and Hawkman appeared in nearly every issue; Aquaman, however, appeared only ONCE. I suppose I should be glad he didn't write him out completely, but still....! Even in the storyline about world-wide pollution, he didn't use the guy who actually *lives* in water!

Aquaman's only appearance in JLA
for two years!! Thanks, Denny!
A few years later Denny was editor of a wonderful collection of DC super-hero origins, SECRET ORIGINS OF THE SUPER DC HEROES. In that book, too, Aquaman is nowhere to be seen. Hmmm....a conspiracy?

Besides that obvious flaw in his record, haha, Denny O'Neil has done a tremendous service to the comic-book industry and deserves our recognition. So for the pages and pages of entertainment you have provided us all, Mr. O'Neil, Happy Birthday! 

PS...FREE COMIC BOOK DAY is Saturday, May 5!!!
This coming Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. So go to and type in your zip code to find your nearest participating store. Then you can go in on Saturday and pick out an issue of STAR WARS, AVENGERS, DC NEW 52, PEANUTS, BONGO, or several others. And tell them *I* sent you. :-)   

1 comment:

  1. I remember all those comics very well. I loaned The Joker's Five-Way Revenge to so many people as an example of a great comic that it fell apart.