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R.I.P. Denny O'Neil (1939–2020)

#1 · Posted: 14 Jun 2020 09:44
The comics writer and editor Denny O'Neil has died at the age of 81. He was a major influence on American comics and played an important part in bringing them into the modern era.

For me, he is most notable for his stories of Green Lantern/ Green Arrow of the early 1970s when the two superheroes confronted many political and social issues including poverty, racism, religious cults, environmental concerns, overpopulation and other aspects of life in modern society. Most famous of all was a 1971 storyline in which Arrow's protegé, Speedy, was discovered to be a heroin addict.

O'Neil is also noted for his work on Batman. In the 1970s, he returned Batman to his darker roots - in contrast to the camp version that the comics had depicted in order to match the 1960s TV show with Adam West. He co-created the notable new villain, Ra's al Ghul.

Between 1986 and 2000, O'Neil was the editor for the half-a-dozen or so Batman-related titles. This included the Batman: A Death in the Family storyline in which readers were asked to phone a special number and decide if Robin (aka Jason Todd) should survive a trap set by the Joker or not.

They decided not and Todd was killed, an important event in the Batman mythos (ruined when O'Neil's successors brought Todd "back to life" in 2005).

There was also Knightfall in which Batman suffers a major defeat by a fearsome new villain called Bane.

The Green Lantern/ Green Arrow stories, with the real-life issues that they raise, are almost like Hergé and Tintin at their best. A collected edition of these stories is well worth getting.

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