- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
O’Neil was born in 1939 and previously worked as a reporter in Missouri before penning a series of articles about the comic book industry in the mid-1960s that led to a career at Marvel and then at DC.
Over the course of more than three decades, O’Neil worked at both publishers, writing and overseeing stories starring a wide range of superheroes, from Superman to Doctor Strange.
O’Neil’s most famous comic contributions, however, arguably came in the 1970s, when his work with artist Neal Adams revived Batman as a grim and brooding detective. O’Neil’s take ignored the character’s then-popular campy image as defined by the 1966 “Batman” television show starring Adam West in favor of a vibe that “channeled the zeitgeist of the times and brought to life a darker, more evocative yet grounded take on Batman,” Jim Lee, DC Comics’ chief creative officer and publisher, said in a statement Friday.
In addition to Batman, O’Neil and Adams redefined the superheroes Green Arrow and Green Lantern in the 1970s, pairing the two in a series that dealt with “topics that were formerly taboo in comics, including drug addiction, racism, and other social ills,” according to DC’s statement.
O’Neil and Adams were also responsible for the character of John Stewart, an alternate Green Lantern widely regarded as DC Comics’ first Black superhero.
O’Neil retired in 2001, though he would occasionally take on projects involving the characters he had shaped for more than 30 years, including the novelization of the 2006 film “Batman Begins.”
Tributes to O’Neil poured in across social media Friday as news of his death went public. Comic collaborators called him everything from a “visionary architect” to a man who had a “luminous career.”
Adams and O'Neil also adeptly addressed social issues in their groundbreaking work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow at the start of the 1970s.
O'Neil's DC legacy includes co-creating enduring characters such as John Stewart, Ra's al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, and Azrael. pic.twitter.com/A0CrvjtDpL
— DC Nation (@thedcnation) June 12, 2020
to wider respectability & acceptance as an artform. Through his work & mentorship, he influenced generations of writers & artists. I was so starstruck meeting Denny for the first time, but he was just the kindest. Our condolences to his family & many fans around the world. 2/
— Jim Lee (@JimLee) June 12, 2020
I later had the pleasure of working with Denny from the very beginnings of my career when he was my editor on my run with Daredevil and then The Dark Knight. Learned so much from him and will miss him greatly.
— Frank Miller (@FrankMillerInk) June 12, 2020
Denny O’Neil made timeless comics by making comics about his time. The revolutions of the 60s, the excesses of the 70s, the corruption of the 80s, the facades of the 90s—he used super hero tropes as brushstrokes to paint a picture of who we are and who we could be. RIP. pic.twitter.com/eWwI6tfnrp
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) June 12, 2020
Many ardent comic readers also took to social platforms to share their own memories of the stories that O’Neil had given them.
Particular appreciation was shown for O’Neil’s willingness to tackle race relations in comics, as evidenced by a widely shared series of panels from 1970′s “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” issue 76, in which a Black man confronts Green Lantern — an intergalactic space cop — and accuses him of saving all skin colors across the universe except for Black ones.
RIP Denny O'Neil
I count myself so fortunate to have been growing up just as he was radically reworking DC Comics. I would struggle to express how utterly exciting it was to experience his reinventions of, in particular Batman, Superman,Green Lantern, Green Arrow & Black Canary pic.twitter.com/EypHarOCsf
— Colin Smith (@Colin_TBTAMC) June 12, 2020
It took me years to find out that everything I love about Batman could eventually be traced to Denny O'Neil. pic.twitter.com/45IY9z93Ft
— Susana Polo (@NerdGerhl) June 12, 2020
Denny O’Neil gave us the greatest moment in comics pic.twitter.com/TucqqhDqRZ
— John Suarez (@littlemac1183) June 12, 2020
I didn't expect to hear that Denny O'Neil would pass away.
As many Lantern fans know, he co created John Stewart and wrote him as what was necessary for the time. And still holds up to this day. pic.twitter.com/HO21tawC7l
— Let's Talk Hal & Comics (@letstalkhal) June 12, 2020
Denny O'Neil was one of the first writers to introduce real world issues into comic books with his and Neal Adams's landmark GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW series. Denny tackled real world issues such as racism. In a way comics had never seen before. pic.twitter.com/3CizT0vZ5P
— ᴀᴅᴀᴍ ᴛʜᴇᴇ sᴛᴀʙᴇʟʟɪ (@AdamofGotham) June 12, 2020
DENNY O'NEIL WROTE THIS IN 1970.
When he was 31. Denny died today. We have lost a legend.
What have you done lately? pic.twitter.com/GiWc3aUq3X
— Chris Buse (@buse_chris) June 12, 2020
Also on HuffPost
Mary Higgins Clark
Harriet Frank Jr.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.