Denny O’Neil, Legendary Comic Writer, Dead At 81

O’Neil, Legendary Writer And Editor, Dead At 81

Denny O’Neil, the legendary comics writer, and editor who redefined Batman after the camp era died on Thursday. He was 81 years old. The cause of death was natural causes. The news was announced Friday morning.

Born in St. Louis, O’Neil was originally a journalist after a stint in the US Navy. This brought him to the attention of Marvel writer/editor Roy Thomas, who brought him on. He would write books ranging from Millie the Model to Rawhide Kid to Daredevil. After a short stint at Charlton Comics, he arrived at DC Comics. With Carmine Infantino, he would infamously shake up Wonder Woman’s status quo. Infantino would soon team O’Neil up with artist Neal Adams to create a new title.

This book, Green Arrow/Green Lantern, had the two heroes exploring America alongside one of the Guardians. The socially conscious book was a critical darling and remains a popular series. An infamous two-part storyline, in which Speedy was revealed to be a drug addict, was delayed due to the Comics Code. Marvel managed to get a similar issue out without the code. Shortly after that, DC released the two-part arc. 

Architect Of Batman’s Rebirth

O’Neil would become legendary on his work on Batman. After the 1960s Batman show was canceled, O’Neil felt the show tied Batman down with too much camp. He decided to return the Dark Knight to his more noir roots. Alongside artists such as Adams, he would revitalize villains such as Joker to be legitimately terrifying threats. He would also create, with Adams, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia Al Ghul. He also co-created Dr. Leslie Thompkins, an ally and critic of Batman. 

In addition to Batman, O’Neil would work on Superman (including the famous Superman vs Muhammad Ali), The Question, Captain Marvel, and more. During a brief stint back at Marvel, he would bring on Frank Miller to Daredevil, before poaching him again for DC. In that same stint, O’Neil worked on Iron Man, creating the groundwork that would inspire the eventual movie, including villain Obadiah Stane. O’Neil would also work on Spider-Man.

Editor And Teacher

O’Neil would cap off his legendary career at DC when he was put in charge of the Batman division. He would oversee such major events such as the death of Jason Todd, Knightfall, and No Man’s Land. O’Neil would end up writing the novelization of Knightfall, as well as for two Batman movies: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. He would also pen the DC Guide To Writing Comics

O’Neil also became a teacher, teaching writing courses at New York University and the School for Visual Arts in New York City. He also served on the board of The Hero Initiative. 

Word of the Nerd would like to extend our condolences at this time.


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