Friday, June 12, 2020
Denny O'Neil Merges with The Infinite
I am terribly, terribly sorry to report that Dennis "Denny" O'Neil has passed. I am often genuinely saddened when I see someone has gone on to their reward, but sometimes it hits harder.
It is difficult to measure the impact O'Neil had on comics, popular culture and culture writ-large. And I doubt many people outside us comics nerds (and possibly only comics nerds of a certain age) know his name. O'Neil was one of the giants, someone I "liked" as a kid when I'd read his stuff, but as an adult and went back through the history of DC and saw all he'd accomplished?
O'Neil is one of the creators largely responsible for the version of Batman you know and love. He revitalized and solidified Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), making them relevant as sounding boards for the issues of the day. He updated Superman and took on the challenge of turning Wonder Woman into a secret agent (with mixed results). You may know the long runs on Batman that wound up informing Batman: The Animated Series, or the famous "Hard Travelling Heroes" period of Green Lantern/ Green Arrow. His run on Superman is actually pretty well written, if unsustainable. The run on Wonder Woman is flat out wild and strange, and - issues though it may have - it's a fascinating attempt to try to update (and maybe a good cautionary tale for every time the internet tells DC to update Wonder Woman).
I first learned his name, I believe, on the cover of The Question (along with Denys Cowan), and soon I looked for his name in association with a certain level of storytelling I thought surpassed most of what was on the rack.
O'Neil didn't just tell stories that took DC heroes on new journeys and challenged them in new ways, he invented a large number of characters for DC and more. Those characters were a huge part of comics of my youth from O'Neil and others, and wound up in cartoons, movies and more. Scroll down this page to see a list of his contributions.
It's odd to see the passing of someone who was part of the second generation to enter comics, the folks who were handing off the torch as I was showing up as a reader. But O'Neil in particular is going to be missed. But us comics folk aren't the type to forget a person's contribution or what they did to advance the narratives that inspire and entertain us. And inspired others to create more on the foundations they built.
We'll miss you, Denny.