Legendary Comic Creator Denny O’Neil Has Passed Away at Age 81

DENNY O'NEIL

Dennis J. “Denny” O’Neil has passed away from natural causes at the age of 81. The legendary creator passed on the night of June 11.

Born in 1939, O’Neil was a comic writer and editor who worked on some of the biggest titles and, along with Neal Adams and editor Julius Schwartz, helped guide Batman from his campiness to the character we know today.

O’Neil began his career at Marvel Comics after Roy Thomas left for DC. Thomas suggested O’Neil take Marvel’s writer’s test which lead to him being hired and working on Doctor Strange, Strange Tales, Daredevil, and more. He and Neal Adams revived Professor X in X-Men #65.

From there, O’Neil went to work for Charlton Comics using the pseudonym Sergius O’Shaugnessy.

But it was his work at DC Comics that many know him. Joining the company in 1968 he went on to work with characters such as The Creeper, Wonder Woman, and Justice League of America. He depowered Wonder Woman setting her off into a world of international intrigue, something that didn’t sit well with longtime fans. He redefined Green Arrow, stripping him of his wealth and making him a more grounded urban hero. Working along with Neal Adams, the two recreated the character into the socially focused left-wing character we know today. This was the hailed period when Green Arrow’s ward Speedy was revealed to be addicted to heroin.

Along with Adams and Schwartz his work on Batman might define his career. During their 1970s run, the trio moved the character back to his darker roots, getting away from the campiness of the 1960s television show. That shift is felt today and O’Neil helped create such characters as Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Leslie Thompkins, Azrael, and Richard Dragon. He also oversaw the death of Jason Todd and revitalized the Joker and Two-Face.

Along with Neil Adams, O’Neil co-wrote the famous Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in 1978.

Denny had numerous stints and both DC and Marvel editing Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil. According to Bob Budiansky, O’Neil came up with the name for the Transformer Optimus Prime.

O’Neil’s work reverberates today with the creation of characters or interpretations of characters that define how they’re depicted now. From Batman to Superman, Green Lantern to Green Arrow, Wonder Woman to the Justice League of America, Spider-Man to Daredevil, the Hulk to Iron Man, he was and is one of the greats.