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The Greatest Denny O’Neil Stories Ever Told!

by  in Comic News Comment
The Greatest Denny O’Neil Stories Ever Told!

Every day in April we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Denny O’Neil Stories Ever Told!


10. Birth of the Demon OGN

O’Neil and artist Norm Breyfogle (who painted his pages) gives us a fascinating insight into the history of Ra’s Al Ghul as Batman tries to stop Al Ghul from uncovering a new Lazarus Pit.

9. “A Dream of Rorschach” The Question #16-18

The Question’s search for two rogue criminals who attacked one of Question’s friends leads the Question on a journey across the country. The middle issue is noteworthy because in it O’Neil has the Question read Watchmen and has him compare himself to Rorschach. It is fascinating stuff. I did a piece on it awhile back. Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar did the artwork.

8. “There Is No Hope in Crime Alley!” Detective Comics #457

O’Neil and Dick Giordano introduce us to Dr. Leslie Thompkins in this re-examination of the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne.

7. “Zen and Violence” The Question #1-5

In this opening arc of O’Neil’s run on Question, along with artists Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar, O’Neil introduces the peculiar (and awesome) corrupt world of Hub City and O’Neil’s own particular take on the Question, replacing Ditko’s Objectivism with Zen philosophy.

6. “Night of the Reaper” Batman #237

O’Neil wrote this chilling tale of how revenge can warp one’s mind in this Halloween issue that was one of the many comic books that used the real life Halloween celebration in Rutland, VT (along with its organizer, the late Tom Fagan) as its inspiration. Neal Adams and Dick Giordano did the art for this issue.

The top five is on the next page!

5. “Iron Monger” Iron Man #190-200

This arc could theoretically go back as far as Iron Man #160, but that seems like a stretch for the rules of this feature, so I figured I’d go with the trade paperback plus a couple of issues beforehand. The concept of O’Neil’s story is that Obadiah Stane has stolen Tony Stark’s company. Tony fell into a pit of despair and self-pity but has finally fought his way back to sobriety. James Rhodes has taken over as Iron Man in Tony’s absence and Tony is fine with that. However, the suit was not MEANT to be worn by someone else for this long, so Rhodey is beginning to crack up a bit. Tony is forced to return to the role of Iron Man, first in an an obsolete armor and later in a brand-new look just in time to take on Stane for one last battle, under Stane’s new identity, the Iron Monger! Luke McDonnell began the story as penciler (with inks by inking team Ian Akin and Brian Garvey) but the arc is filled with different pencilers, from Rick Buckler to Sal Buscema to Herb Trimpe to finally M.D. Bright, who took over as the regular artist with issue #200 (and stayed on the title for quite a while).

4. “Kryptonite Nevermore!” Superman #233-238, 240-242

Denny O’Neill joined Superman as the main writer in this dramatic storyline that did a few notable things. First off, it moved Clark Kent from being a reporter at the Daily Planet to being a TV anchor/reporter for Metropolis’ top TV news station. Next, all kryptonite on Earth was destroyed. Finally, a Sand creature created by the explosion that eliminated all of the kryptonite showed up with half of Superman’s powers. Superman stops the creature, but in the end he loses half of his powers. O’Neil intended the change to humanize Superman (and presumably also make him more of a Marvel-like character) but it lasted roughly about as long as O’Neil’s final issue, which was also the last issue of the story arc. Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson drew the story (with one issue inked by Dick Giordano).

3. “Hard Travelin’ Heroes” Green Lantern #76-87, #89 and The Flash #217-219

This classic long-running storyline by O’Neil and artist Neal Adams saw Green Lantern and Green Arrow tour the United States looking for “America.” They also went on some outer space adventures, as well. The most popular story amongst the issues was the two-parter in #85-86 that dealt with Green Arrow’s ward, Speedy, getting addicted to drugs. Adams was inked by a variety of inkers on this run.

2. “Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” Batman #251

O’Neil and Neal Adams return the Joker to his psychotic ways in this terrifically twisted one-shot issue.

1. “The Original Demon Saga” (Batman #232, 235, 240, 242-244)

O’Neil, along with artists Neal Adams, Bob Brown, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, tell this sprawling tale introducing the evil Ra’s Al Ghul. It all concludes with a tremendous two-parter where Batman has tracked Al Ghul to the ends of the Earth and the two fight each other with swords in the desert. Perhaps THE peak of the so-called “bare chested Batman love god” era of comics.

That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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